Conscious parenting: When the going gets tough

Anyone that has kids knows that parenting can be really challenging. However, like most suffering in life, it’s workable and can be transformed with the right mind set of conscious parenting. I find that parenting still pushes my psychological limits but I do have a workable strategy that I want to share. The key is to change my attitude to the situation.

Conscious parenting - AnAccidentalAnarchist.com

Even simple things like a child’s bedtime can be a challenge as a parent. Take my youngest of 6 years as an example. Β His routine involves, cleaning his teeth, changing for bed, an upside down ride which is me carrying him upside by his legs to kiss his sister good night, a story in bed and then some kisses and cuddles. Simple enough on paper. However, the critical challenge around bedtime is that everyone is tired, for my part, a single parent, I have been busy with them for 12 hours and would really like the quiet time of the evening to arrive, to arrive as soon as possible. It is that mindset that causes the problems.

There was a time when I would try to rush this routine so I could get to the ‘me time’ quicker. This led to me feeling tense, objections from my boy and to a general feeling of suffering in myself, the feeling that “I just did not want to be doing it”. There is a better way though. A more conscious approach to parenting uses acceptance, concentration and mindfulness of the now to bring peace into these moments. How does it work?

Firstly, I surrender to the moment and give away the desire for anything other than what is taking place. I drop that desire to get to the ‘me time’ and instead put all of my awareness into the tasks at hand. In essence, I align myself with events rather than aligning myself in opposition to them.

Conscious parenting - AnAccidentalAnarchist.com

Mindfulness then becomes important once I have made that mental commitment to let go of my desires in this moment and to concentrate. Mindfulness at this point involves not judging what takes place but instead witnessing it more fully. This allows me to look at my boy more fully, suddenly I might see his face, his eyes, his smile, I sometimes see his tiredness, his fatigue and grumpiness, this allows me to feel compassion to his state of being and to feel love. While engaged in the task, I try to engage with themΒ fully, for example I might read his story with gusto rather than as a chore, I might really look at the pictures in the book too, I just try to concentrate on the task and not to let my mind wish it were elsewhere. This approach is very nourishing for me and also for him.

A great inspiration in this attitude for me comes from the “Three questions” short story by Leo Tolstoy (spoilers of this story incoming) and I often find the answer to these three questions come to my mind when I find myself in an objectionable moment. The story involves a King seeking answers to three questions, namely 1) What is the most important moment? Now, it’s the only moment we can influence, 2) What is the most important thing in life? The thing you are doing, in the case of a child’s bedtime it is the child himself and 3) What is most important to do? To care, to care for the moment and the person, to love. So that’s my approach to parenting when it gets tough. It’s really liberating to feel a stressful moment collapse into something more peaceful. It’s like suddenly finding myself in the eye of a hurricane.

Its not something I always remember to practice, I am no saint nor Buddha, but when I do remember it brings about a transformation of the situation. Suddenly the situation becomes more alive, more pleasant, more peaceful.Β I hope others find this approach useful. It’s really nothing particularly special. It just an application of acceptance and mindfulness practice into everyday life, someone of my personal art of living well.

Author: Simon AnAccidentalAnarchist.blog

Author of AnAccidentalAnarchistBlog.wordpress.com Trainee Gestalt counsellor

107 thoughts on “Conscious parenting: When the going gets tough”

  1. This is an excellent approach! I have a 4-year old daughter who also quite fond of disturbing me when I am busy doing something at home like work or writing. My initial reaction is get really irritated but I try to calm myself and realize that she is “deliberately” disturbing me because she wants to spend more time with mommy.
    Every time I think it that way, it makes it easier for me to just stop whatever I am doing (I can always get back to it anyways) and shift my focus and attention to my daughter with a loving approach. πŸ™‚

    P.S. Your children are lucky to have such a caring dad like you!

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  2. This is an excellent approach! I have a 4-year old daughter who also quite fond of disturbing me when I am busy doing something at home like work or writing. My initial reaction is get really irritated but I try to calm myself and realize that she is “deliberately” disturbing me because she wants to spend more time with mommy.
    Every time I think it that way, it makes it easier for me to just stop whatever I am doing (I can always get back to it anyways) and shift my focus and attention to my daughter with a loving approach. πŸ™‚

    P.S. Your children are lucky to have such a caring dad like you!

    Like

  3. As a full time single parent for 7 years, I can so relate to this post! Thank you for sharing. Keep writing – you’re helping others. Have a blessed day. L

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  4. As a full time single parent for 7 years, I can so relate to this post! Thank you for sharing. Keep writing – you’re helping others. Have a blessed day. L

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  5. Awesome post. Exactly my situation at bedtime . I’ve a 3 year old girl who does not seem to fall asleep at night. And I so want her to sleep early so I could do some writing. Many a times I do practice the right approach and those times are more peaceful. Need to do more regularly. Thanks for the beautiful post!

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  6. Awesome post. Exactly my situation at bedtime . I’ve a 3 year old girl who does not seem to fall asleep at night. And I so want her to sleep early so I could do some writing. Many a times I do practice the right approach and those times are more peaceful. Need to do more regularly. Thanks for the beautiful post!

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  7. Love this! I have two young boys, that I had later in life, and I recently had to remind myself of the days when I had no one and ached for their arrival. I feel like my boys and I have longed to be together in this life for decades and I need to slow down and savor their deliciousness. I love your thoughts and writing and look forward to more. Thank you for visiting my site and your support.

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    1. That’s really sweet of you. It’s such a precious thing to have children, hard work and tiring but at the same time such a selfless love. I struggled to have kids, lost my first child as a still birth which perhaps makes me more thankful for the two that I have. Sometimes the moments are so lovely with them, I just concentrate like mad hoping that I can sear the memory into place forever.

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  8. Love this! I have two young boys, that I had later in life, and I recently had to remind myself of the days when I had no one and ached for their arrival. I feel like my boys and I have longed to be together in this life for decades and I need to slow down and savor their deliciousness. I love your thoughts and writing and look forward to more. Thank you for visiting my site and your support.

    Like

    1. That’s really sweet of you. It’s such a precious thing to have children, hard work and tiring but at the same time such a selfless love. I struggled to have kids, lost my first child as a still birth which perhaps makes me more thankful for the two that I have. Sometimes the moments are so lovely with them, I just concentrate like mad hoping that I can sear the memory into place forever.

      Like

  9. Great post! It’s sooooo easy at the end of the day to be short with my children, too, and want the “me time”, but really they deserve “Mommy (present and with them) time”.

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  10. Great post! It’s sooooo easy at the end of the day to be short with my children, too, and want the “me time”, but really they deserve “Mommy (present and with them) time”.

    Like

  11. Single Parenting can be tough and the tension often mounts when the things we want as parents gets in the way of us handling the present moment. Even now I still find myself fighting with what I’m doing as opposed to what I want to be doing, this is a great article which helps to put it all into perspective. Thank you for your awesome insight.

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  12. Single Parenting can be tough and the tension often mounts when the things we want as parents gets in the way of us handling the present moment. Even now I still find myself fighting with what I’m doing as opposed to what I want to be doing, this is a great article which helps to put it all into perspective. Thank you for your awesome insight.

    Like

  13. Thank you, Simon, for your insightful and beautifully written experience with mindful parenting. Even though my children are all now in their 20s, it was fun to read how you learned to switch your perspective, as I also learned to do that when my children were much younger. Again, it isn’t the situation but how you react to it that matters more. I love how you broke it down into three aspects, in connection to the Leo Tolstoy story – I now have something new to look up! Haha! – And once you have embraced that way of mindful thinking, it’s still there in “now” experiences with children, as I continuously see with my kids even now. πŸ™‚ And thank you also for stopping by my blog. πŸ™‚

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    1. Thank-you for the lovely comment. Kids are fundamentally quite pure, it’s a joy to witness that and I wish I was ‘awake’ more consistently to witness them. Adults though πŸ˜‰ a harder proposition but I believe they are much the same, this inner goodness that can be seen albeit somewhat distorted by years of ego perspectives. I wish I had known this earlier, life would have been easier for sure πŸ˜€ peace and love to you.

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  14. Thank you, Simon, for your insightful and beautifully written experience with mindful parenting. Even though my children are all now in their 20s, it was fun to read how you learned to switch your perspective, as I also learned to do that when my children were much younger. Again, it isn’t the situation but how you react to it that matters more. I love how you broke it down into three aspects, in connection to the Leo Tolstoy story – I now have something new to look up! Haha! – And once you have embraced that way of mindful thinking, it’s still there in “now” experiences with children, as I continuously see with my kids even now. πŸ™‚ And thank you also for stopping by my blog. πŸ™‚

    Like

    1. Thank-you for the lovely comment. Kids are fundamentally quite pure, it’s a joy to witness that and I wish I was ‘awake’ more consistently to witness them. Adults though πŸ˜‰ a harder proposition but I believe they are much the same, this inner goodness that can be seen albeit somewhat distorted by years of ego perspectives. I wish I had known this earlier, life would have been easier for sure πŸ˜€ peace and love to you.

      Like

  15. By the way, Simon, I just read your post – that you had tagged above – of your retelling of Leo Tolstoy’s story. I thoroughly enjoyed it! And since there are the options of sharing it – I couldn’t see one for re-blogging (which I would have loved to do!), I hope you don’t mind if I share your post on my facebook page. πŸ™‚

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  16. By the way, Simon, I just read your post – that you had tagged above – of your retelling of Leo Tolstoy’s story. I thoroughly enjoyed it! And since there are the options of sharing it – I couldn’t see one for re-blogging (which I would have loved to do!), I hope you don’t mind if I share your post on my facebook page. πŸ™‚

    Like

  17. Loved your post. Bedtime often turns into a drama in my house. I have two kids, 5 and 1 and Im always anxious when I need to put them to bed alone. The little one takes lot of time and I am feeling like I am neglecting the older one who often is still not sleeping yet and is on her own in her room while I am giving all my attention to the younger one. You are totally right that it goes downhill from the moment I focus on the ‘me time’ (and how badly I want it) waiting for me right after everyone is asleep.

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    1. So glad to have inspired you in some way. It’s an amazing gift for me to think that I could take this practice that brings such a calmness and goodness to a situation, and to share it with someone and then have them transform their world to something more lovely. Utter pleasure πŸ˜€ ❀

      Like

  18. Loved your post. Bedtime often turns into a drama in my house. I have two kids, 5 and 1 and Im always anxious when I need to put them to bed alone. The little one takes lot of time and I am feeling like I am neglecting the older one who often is still not sleeping yet and is on her own in her room while I am giving all my attention to the younger one. You are totally right that it goes downhill from the moment I focus on the ‘me time’ (and how badly I want it) waiting for me right after everyone is asleep.

    Like

    1. So glad to have inspired you in some way. It’s an amazing gift for me to think that I could take this practice that brings such a calmness and goodness to a situation, and to share it with someone and then have them transform their world to something more lovely. Utter pleasure πŸ˜€ ❀

      Like

  19. Great post and significant thoughts. I love Viktor Frankl’s writing, especially “Man’s Search for Meaning.” It takes his belief and attitude to survive the Nazi camp.
    The Forward of the book says, Frankl saw three possible sources for meaning: in work (doing something significant), in love (caring for another person), and in courage during difficult times. Suffering in and of itself is meaningless, we give our suffering meaning by the way in which we respond to it.
    Frankl’s insight is that, “You cannot control what happen in life, but you can control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.”
    Will be back to read more of your post.

    Like

    1. So many sources of information seemingly point to the same thing, namely that letting go is key to finding peace and happiness. I find myself musing something but always arriving back at the same conclusions. Glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for the comments πŸ˜€

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  20. Great post and significant thoughts. I love Viktor Frankl’s writing, especially “Man’s Search for Meaning.” It takes his belief and attitude to survive the Nazi camp.
    The Forward of the book says, Frankl saw three possible sources for meaning: in work (doing something significant), in love (caring for another person), and in courage during difficult times. Suffering in and of itself is meaningless, we give our suffering meaning by the way in which we respond to it.
    Frankl’s insight is that, “You cannot control what happen in life, but you can control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.”
    Will be back to read more of your post.

    Like

    1. So many sources of information seemingly point to the same thing, namely that letting go is key to finding peace and happiness. I find myself musing something but always arriving back at the same conclusions. Glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for the comments πŸ˜€

      Like

  21. I love the part where you stop and look at your child with compassion – that is beautiful and surely changes the dynamics. Life is funny, especially when you look back at what your intentions were about anything before the actually came to fruition.
    I’ve always considered that my children’s ambition, even when little was that of being good, without resistance – a lot of people use to ask me what my secret was and I really didn’t know. I do now.
    It was that I had no resistance and even though lots of routine, I did as you just wrote… I was enthusiastic and grateful about their existence.
    As I look back now and realize that I never expected anything less from their beautiful little souls and always saw them as perfect, pure and full of goodness.
    Thanks for reminding me of how wonderful this part of my life has been.

    Like

    1. Thank-you. I have my lapses but this practice generates such a good world. It’s hard to explain to people though, some who expect obedience and discipline over compassion and love. I have the view that kids (and people) have a fundamental basis of goodness, every behaviour has its cause which is at least rational for most people from their perspective. Opening my eyes, not judging, not labelling, I see this more and more, but I am still a slow learner. It’s lovely to hear your story of parenting and how you loved it, what a joy for them and you, a true expression of human heaven. πŸ˜€ ❀

      Like

  22. I love the part where you stop and look at your child with compassion – that is beautiful and surely changes the dynamics. Life is funny, especially when you look back at what your intentions were about anything before the actually came to fruition.
    I’ve always considered that my children’s ambition, even when little was that of being good, without resistance – a lot of people use to ask me what my secret was and I really didn’t know. I do now.
    It was that I had no resistance and even though lots of routine, I did as you just wrote… I was enthusiastic and grateful about their existence.
    As I look back now and realize that I never expected anything less from their beautiful little souls and always saw them as perfect, pure and full of goodness.
    Thanks for reminding me of how wonderful this part of my life has been.

    Like

    1. Thank-you. I have my lapses but this practice generates such a good world. It’s hard to explain to people though, some who expect obedience and discipline over compassion and love. I have the view that kids (and people) have a fundamental basis of goodness, every behaviour has its cause which is at least rational for most people from their perspective. Opening my eyes, not judging, not labelling, I see this more and more, but I am still a slow learner. It’s lovely to hear your story of parenting and how you loved it, what a joy for them and you, a true expression of human heaven. πŸ˜€ ❀

      Like

  23. This is so inspiring, and so true. My boy is 7 and bed-time can sometime turn into a true evening challenge when my whole body says ‘stop’ and he says ‘run after me and make me do all the things I’m supposed to do, and make sure it’s fun…”
    Being present is indeed the key, what a great reminder. When I find I enter the bed-time zone with willingness and optimism, and 1/2 hr early, it has a magical effect and reminds me about… All my parents did for MY bedtime. Wow! Thank you for a great post.

    Like

    1. Thank-you for the kind comment. I was with an injury for a while and not able to use the computer to respond, but thank-you πŸ˜€ Glad we can share something of a better way of dealing with the world and its troubles.

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  24. This is so inspiring, and so true. My boy is 7 and bed-time can sometime turn into a true evening challenge when my whole body says ‘stop’ and he says ‘run after me and make me do all the things I’m supposed to do, and make sure it’s fun…”
    Being present is indeed the key, what a great reminder. When I find I enter the bed-time zone with willingness and optimism, and 1/2 hr early, it has a magical effect and reminds me about… All my parents did for MY bedtime. Wow! Thank you for a great post.

    Like

    1. Thank-you for the kind comment. I was with an injury for a while and not able to use the computer to respond, but thank-you πŸ˜€ Glad we can share something of a better way of dealing with the world and its troubles.

      Like

  25. Thank you for this great post! I will try to practice it. Often I get frustrated during bed time and tantrums. Your post have given me inspiration on how to handle it better.

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    1. Aww, that makes me happy to hear πŸ˜€ I was with an injury for a while and not able to use the computer to respond. Hope its working out well, my bedtimes get better and better now with my two.

      Like

  26. Thank you for this great post! I will try to practice it. Often I get frustrated during bed time and tantrums. Your post have given me inspiration on how to handle it better.

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    1. Aww, that makes me happy to hear πŸ˜€ I was with an injury for a while and not able to use the computer to respond. Hope its working out well, my bedtimes get better and better now with my two.

      Like

  27. A good, good, post. One of my areas where I have great admiration for others is with single parents. I tip my hat to you. Your words are powerful, accurate, applicable. This was worth my time. Thanks for this post. And, thank your stopping by to visit my little blog, the Other Side of the Trees. Peace to you, my friend.

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    1. I was with an injury for a while and not able to use the computer to respond, but thank-you. Thanks for the compliment, I try, don’t always succeed but the more I try the more I do succeed in being compassionate. Finding that space to step out of emotion helps a lot. Peace! namaste!

      Like

  28. A good, good, post. One of my areas where I have great admiration for others is with single parents. I tip my hat to you. Your words are powerful, accurate, applicable. This was worth my time. Thanks for this post. And, thank your stopping by to visit my little blog, the Other Side of the Trees. Peace to you, my friend.

    Like

    1. I was with an injury for a while and not able to use the computer to respond, but thank-you. Thanks for the compliment, I try, don’t always succeed but the more I try the more I do succeed in being compassionate. Finding that space to step out of emotion helps a lot. Peace! namaste!

      Like

  29. I love this post. Thank you for your 3-step simple approach. I am on such a similar journey and love to hear stories of how people apply mindfulness and compassion in parenting. Please like my page “Mindful and Compassionate Communities”.

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  30. I love this post. Thank you for your 3-step simple approach. I am on such a similar journey and love to hear stories of how people apply mindfulness and compassion in parenting. Please like my page “Mindful and Compassionate Communities”.

    Like

    1. Glad to help, to be honest, when I found I could do this, I needed it too. Sorry for the late response but I have been madly busy for a long while. I hope its all working out for you.

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    1. Glad to help, to be honest, when I found I could do this, I needed it too. Sorry for the late response but I have been madly busy for a long while. I hope its all working out for you.

      Like

  31. Eckhart Tolle has greatly inspired me. His webinar with Oprah Winfrey, “A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose” has changed my life. He preaches to live in the present moment. For me, it’s the only way to live. Thank you, Simon, for sharing your knowledge with us. Together, we are more powerful! ~dp

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  32. Eckhart Tolle has greatly inspired me. His webinar with Oprah Winfrey, “A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose” has changed my life. He preaches to live in the present moment. For me, it’s the only way to live. Thank you, Simon, for sharing your knowledge with us. Together, we are more powerful! ~dp

    Like

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