Nourishing our children involves more than providing healthy food choices. A child’s experience of nourishment comes also from the quality of the interaction and the connection you feel with your child. This can be quite a challenge, particularly if you are not feeling as nourished as you would like to be. I suggest that the practice of mindfulness is one thing you can do for yourself to help you feel nourished as you engage in providing nourishment for your children.
My name is Doug MacLean and I am a parent and stepparent. My stepson is now 24 and my daughter is 14. I have been practicing mindfulness for the last 20 years, and I don’t know what I would have done without this resource that I have brought to my parenting over the last 14 years.
Before I tell you about mindfulness, let me tell you that during the first year of my daughter’s life, I was a stay at home Dad where I was initiated to the challenge of parenting and step parenting. I learned quite quickly that the role of parenting involved providing nourishment and understanding. Many times the experience reflected qualities of wonder, bliss, and love. At other times, my experience pushed all my buttons, illuminated almost every insecurity that I had and more, and brought on periodic deep feelings of inadequacy. Does this sound familiar?
Let’s take the example of getting the kids to eat while maintaining an atmosphere of calm and peace. You know the picture….you feel like you are making your best effort, the child is refusing to eat, you are feeling under pressure from other demands and before you know it the situation escalates. This situation can lead to actions and words that you can later regret and intuitively you understand that providing nourishment is more than just having your child eat a healthy diet.
The practice of mindfulness can help you to cope with the difficult moments and the automatic reactions that can surface in us. Mindfulness will enable you to see and observe inwardly your growing reactivity. Reactivity can include physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions. While these may be very powerful, your practice of mindfulness can put you in a situation where you can choose what to do. The impulses to react, as you might out of deeply ingrained habits, can be overruled by your intention to maintain a peaceful environment.
Mindfulness will also help to find deeper insights into the behaviour of our children and also insights into the understanding of yourselves. In the end, mindfulness provides the freedom to choose a course of action that is most consistent with your intention to nourish your child’s need for food, and nourish the child’s need for well-being that comes from a loving and peaceful relationship between parent and child.
I am interested in your comments and your experience with the nourishment of your child and yourself.