Mindful Parenting Fail
Today was not a successful day in the department of mindful parenting. It all started with a battle of the wills between my six year old and my fifteen year old. Emi(6yo) was on the computer and wanted volume up while playing a game. Aly (15yo) was watching tv to try to find out what was going on in Egypt and couldn’t hear it due to the sounds coming from the computer. (I was cleaning my room and did not have a clue what was going on until later.)
Aly asked her Emi to turn it down and she did. However, a few minutes later she would turn it back up which frustrated Aly. After this back and forth a few times I was yelled for.
With full disclosure I will tell you that I was aggravated at being interrupted. I just wanted to be able to clean my room. I did not want to referee what was one of the same stinkin’ issues we deal with on a weekly basis in this house. I did not enter the scene in the right frame of mind or with any measure of patience. Wrong thing to do.
As I was trying to sort things out in irritated tones something happened. Both of my girls tuned me out. Neither of them was listening to me because, honestly who wants to listen to an irritated, impatient individual who is obviously ticked about being there? At this point what I should have done was say “I’m overwhelmed at the moment, let me step back into my room, get myself together and come back in .” Instead, when Aly in her frustration with my frustration, turned the tv up even louder I lost it.
I threw up my hands and said “Fine, if no one is going to listen to me then no one gets to watch tv or be on the computer.” I turned off both and left the room and stayed frustrated and mad for a while.
This one moment, this choice to give in to the frustration led to a whole lot of other battles and upsets for almost the rest of the day. I can list out a whole bunch of reasons why this happened. We live in a small house, the tv and computer are in the same room because there is no where else for it to be, the jack for headphones does not work on our computer, we are all suffering from cabin fever, our sleep patterns are out of whack, they changed the star signs and now we don’t know how to act. Ok, the last one is far fetched but it sounds good.The bottom line is that no matter the circumstances, I had better options.
I can now think of a couple different ways I could have handled the situation. I could have sat down with Emi at the computer and helped her adjust the volume so that both parties were happy. I could have offered for Aly to come to my room to watch our tv. Either of those approaches would have been better than the one that I chose.
And even if I did those things I realize that there is still the chance that someone would not be happy with the outcome. I would still need to maintain my composure. My kids are counting on me to do that. I know I am human and I make mistakes but it is important for me to work on being more successful.
In Everyday Blessings: Inner Work of the Mindful Parenting by Myla Kabat-Zinn and Jon Kabat-Zinn they have a list titled “12 Exercises for Mindful Parenting” Number 8 reads as follows:
“Learn to live with tension without losing your own balance. In Zen and the Art of Archery, Herrigel describes how he was taught to stand that the point of highest tensioneffortlessly without shooting the arrow. At the right moment, the arrow mysteriously shoots itself. Practice moving into any moment, however difficult, without trying to change anything and without having to have a particular outcome occur. Simply bring your full awareness and presence to this moment. Practice seeing that whatever comes up is “workable” if you are willing to trust your intuition. Your child needs you to be a center of balance and trustworthiness, a reliable landmark by which he or she can take a bearing within his or own landscape. Arrow and target need each other. They will find each other best through wise attention and patience.”
I should have read number 8 today. The bolded part is my emphasis. This is where I went wrong. I came to the problem wanting to solve it as quickly as possible in the way that I felt was best. It did not work out. And not only did it not work out it set off a domino effect of sour moods and tons of melt downs. If I had stopped and viewed the situation as workable I am sure things would have gone much better.
Tomorrow is a new day though. Tomorrow, instead of trying to jump into a problem full force I am going to wait, listen and view it as workable. With God’s grace I can become the mindful parent I want to be and the one my children deserve.