Friday, 1 March 2013

The only parenting book you will ever need

'Everyday Blessings: The inner work of mindful parenting.' Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn'

This is it, the holy grail of parenting books.  I've read a lot of them.  This is the one that really spoke to my heart.  This is the one which resonated with me so much.  On every page I would read something that I knew deeply to be true.
 "The very fact that we are a parent is continually asking us to find and express what is most nourishing, most loving, most wise and caring in ourselves, to be, as much as we can, our best selves."
The authors share stories from their own family life raising three children, such inspiring and honest stories, not all of them about the things they got 'right' but they also share the times they got it 'wrong', when they weren't their best selves.  This is so encouraging, to be comforted and reassured by the knowledge that we won't always get it right, even if we are the 'mindful awareness' gurus of the literary world, but we can always learn from our experiences and try to do better next time.
"To attempt to see and honour the deep soul needs of our children as well as our own as best we can."

I could repeat so much of what I love about this book, but you just have to read it and take from it what resonates most with you.  What I can say though is that it has left me touched and moved.  It has left me with the overall feeling that no matter what choices we make as parents in how to raise our children you can't go too far off track if you act with gentleness and kindness and allow one's children a degree of 'sovereignty'.  This is a key term in the book which means that we help our children to develop into who they really are and respect that person and the choices they make.  Viewing our children as the unique individuals they are and giving them the space and the recognition they need.  This was very powerful for me.  I struggle with just backing off and allowing my children the freedom they need to become their own selves and, in truth, to distance themselves from me somewhat because that is what they will increasingly need to do.

As parents we don't need books to tell us about routines and the 'right' way to discipline children.  What this book has to offer is more profound.  In essence it reminds you that you love your children, so start with that and remember it even when they are rolling around on the floor in the middle of an all-consuming tantrum.  Stop, try to bring yourself in awareness and react from a calm place of love; I know, it's so hard, I've been there - a lot, it takes a lot of practice and strength.  I was soothed by the following words though,
"An important part of the process (of mindful parenting) is seeing ourselves with a degree of kindness and compassion."
This book is a wise old owl of a book, which embraces you in a loving cuddle and tells you to take it easy, parenting can be hard but also so joyful, take it moment by moment, be kind to your children and be kind to yourself.  It strokes your hand and plants a kiss on your cheek and tells you to keep trying, keep learning and reflecting and it will be alright, it will be alright.

Namaste Mr and Mrs Kabat-Zinn.

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