Through the joys and sorrows, nothing has illuminated my parenting as much as my mindfulness practice, especially when parenting teens and young adults.
The best part of mindful parenting is the increase in your belief that you are a good parent, that you are competent and you can make it through the 20-plus years, the next stage of development, and sometimes the next few minutes.
This belief in your ability to master your environment is called self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is an internal voice that says “I can do this.” you can build parenting self-efficacy through your mindfulness practice. Self-efficacy along with parenting satisfaction can wax and wane. You might be delighted with yourself and your 8 year-old, but when kids hit puberty, it’s common for adults to report decreasing parenting satisfaction.
Today’s letting go exercise: Adapting and flexing your parenting style with emerging adults
The best part of mindful parenting is the increase in your belief that you are a good parent, that you are competent and you can make it through the 20-plus years, the next stage of development….. and sometimes the next few minutes.
1. Normalize – It’s normal for teenagers and young-adults to test boundaries, challenge authority, and make mistakes. Keep in mind that their frontal lobes are not yet fully formed. We know now that the human brain, in particular the part of the brain that governs impulsivity, is not fully formed until the mid-twenties. So don’t focus on mistakes. Instead, just like when they were toddlers, focus on keeping them safe. Having said that, this is where your letting go practice can be helpful. With teens and young adults we have to give up control. Teens and you adults generally don’t like being plopped into playpens. Think in terms of harm-reduction vs. boy(or girl) in the bubble.
Here’s a secret: Teens and young adults are so annoyed by their parents because they still need us. They hate this fact. It makes them very irritable. But they need our financial support, or at least financial advice, the lodging we can provide, and sometimes comfort and advice when they are feeling down.
2. Non-attachment – Teenagers and young adults give us a lot of opportunities to practice non-attachment. Practice mindfulness by picking your battles. Let go of the little things, like the soda cans and empty chip bags all over the family room. Instead, focus on what matters. If your child has hit a rough patch, visualize him or her in the next best place. Ask if they would like you help to get there.
3. Take the consultant stance – Here’s a secret: Teens and young adults are so annoyed by their parents because they still need us. They hate this fact. It makes them very irritable. But they need our financial support, or at least financial advice, the lodging we can provide, and sometimes comfort and advice when they are feeling down. To keep irritability down and communication high, consider taking the consultant stance: mindfully stand by for the moment they need you, give them your take on the situation, then calmly step aside. At this point in your parenting career, you can expect to not like some of the choices your young adults make. How you respond to these choices, out of fear and control, or patience and respect, will determine your stress level and quality of relationship you have with your adult kids.
4. Curiosity – Raising even the most mature young adults can be challenging. Watch your reactions with curiosity. Be curious about your responses to your teen’s music, clothes, and choices in friends. Your reactions might be a response to some unfinished business from your own childhood. This might be an opportunity to re-parent yourself.
5. Self-care – Don’t forget to take care of yourself. One of the best ways to do this is to have a gentle exercise routine that includes mindful movement. Keeping up with your mindfulness practice even when you think you don’t have the time will help your stress level stay in a healthy range and help you make better decisions. Check out our mindfulness basics if you’re just getting started.
How has mindfulness helped you on you parenting journey? Let us know.
We wish you twenty minutes of mindfulness every day!