Posted on August 1, 2017

The other day, I heard a parent say, “I can’t do the mindful parenting thing. It’s not my style. I’m not into meditation. It’s too hard for me.”

That comment reinforced something I already knew: When it comes to parenting, the word mindful is easily misunderstood. That probably is the fault of us, the parenting “experts.” To begin with, there are a lot of us, and we come from many different fields. Besides licensed MDs, PhDs, and MFTs, you can find advice from parenting coaches, parenting counselors, mom bloggers, dad bloggers, and parenting authors like myself, and we’ve all gotten creative with the way we describe our approach.

The world of psychology traditionally recognizes four styles of parenting—authoritative, neglectful, permissive, and authoritarian. But now we’ve added other parenting “identities”—Attachment Parenting, Authoritarian Parenting, Responsive Parenting, Positive Parenting, Helicopter Parenting, Nurturant Parenting, Dolphin Parenting, Lawn-Mower Parenting. And on and on. I’m not kidding. Here’s a brief official list on Wikipedia .

Recently, parenting writers like me, who have come out of the positive psychology and self-development movements—which emphasize being “mindful” or in the moment—have drawn on that for other descriptions of parenting styles: Mindful Parenting, Conscious Parenting, Present Parenting, Aware Parenting, and so on. You get the picture.

Where earlier experts tried to help you identify or recognize the style that is tailored to your natural parenting personality, we acknowledge that since every child is different, parents cannot—and should not—restrict themselves and their children to particular parenting styles. Instead, they have to adapt to their children’s personalities, ages, phases of growth, and situations by being mindful or conscious.

So what is mindful parenting? Well, let me start by saying it has nothing to do with meditation. It also is not a Zen or yogic practice. You may never have ever practiced yoga and still be the most mindful parent.

  1. Mindful Parenting is simply being conscious or aware of how you parent in the day-to-day. There are two individuals involved, both you and your child. So mindful parenting means being aware of your child’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior as well as your own. When we pay attention to these inner and outer communication landscapes, we become more present, more alert, and more attentive. We sharpen our day-to-day communication with our kids.

Remember, though, that you have a bigger, long-term goal.

  1. Mindful parenting is keeping an eye on building an open and lasting relationship with our kids. Nothing is more important to us than this. That is every parent’s true intention, goal, purpose, desire, yearning, longing—whatever you want to call it. And we all want that. If we keep this goal in front of us, as we invest our daily time in parenting during good times and challenging ones, we are golden!

That’s it! Mindful parenting simplified.

Learn more about being a mindful parent in The Perfect Parent.