The foundations of mindful parenting are sovereignty, empathy and acceptance. They form the SEA-BED on which children can bloom into happy and well-balanced adults. Let us explore them:
Sovereignty: It is important to recognize sovereignty as a fundamental attribute and birthright of each child. Each child comes into this world with his or her own attributes, temperament and genius. We have to recognise that, accept them as they are and not try to change them to be what we want them to be. We should allow them to grow and change in the way they want to while guiding them and helping them not to fall into the really bad things of life. We need to accept our child as he is, for who he is. It does not mean that they can have whatever they want-unbridled entitlement. But they are entitled to a lot: loved, cared for and protected for. This means we pick our baby up when she cries, child-proof the house, keep a close eye on what they are doing, do not discourage them constantly by fearful warnings, removing things that could harm them, appreciating their unique views, skills, insights, struggles and strengths, being silent at times, talking with them at times and setting definite limits with firm kindness. This cannot be done with thinking alone. This requires empathy( feeling what they feel) and acceptance( accepting them as they are and not being attached to a certain outcome). If we do that, then self-acceptance, self-esteem and self-confidence and trust in one’s nature and path start to take root in our growing child.
Empathy: When we cultivate empathy, we try to see things from our child’s point of view. We try to understand what she may be feeling or experiencing. We try to bring a sympathetic awareness to what is happening in the moment. We also try to be aware of our own feelings as well. The way we express this empathy changes as our child grows up but it is necessary if we want to be mindful parents. It may be the way we fondle them when they cry at sleep to holding hands to just simple listening. It just means we try to see, feel and think as they are and be there with them.
Acceptance: Acceptance is an inner orientation which acknowledges that things are as they are, whether they are the way we want them to be or not, no matter how terrible they may be or seem to be at certain moments. It does not mean that we accept any behaviour, but it does mean that we accept them even if we don’t accept their behaviour. But it is difficult. When children engage in what we believe as negative or unacceptable behaviour, it is important to stay calm and being mindful can help a lot. We need to accept them at that moment and not judge and later at a more peaceful moment, we need to see what is really happening and why?
As we can see, these three things are interrelated:
- Sovereignty: Accepting that our child can choose what he wants
- Empathy: Seeing things from our child’s point of view
- Acceptance: Accepting our child as they are
These three things, which can be remembered as SEA can make a sea-change in the way we parent our children and how our children grow up into happy adults.