“Many parents describe their lives as a numbing , constant sense of stress, striving, and strain that is perpetuated by their feelings of desire, aversion, and indifference. It’s a fool’s game and deep down they know it.” (Susan Kaiser Greenland)
What a sad, desperate description of being a parent. Yet most of us parents will recognize the state outlined above, even if it only true some of the time. For parents to experience this kind of stress most of the time must be devastating. As with so many things, living in the now offers possible solutions.
Desires are based on the future, rather than the present. They are often linked with happiness in our minds: I’d love to have my own house – when I have my own house, I will be happy. When I grow up/ leave school/ get married/ have my own business, win the lottery etc etc – the list is endless – I will be happy. But what about now? It’s fine to plan for the future and have ambition, and we do that in the present. But if we live in an imaginary future, we miss the present. The present, now, is the only reality. Everything else is a figment of our imagination.
Children need to learn that they can’t interrupt adults whenever they feel like talking, but I have found one of the most effective way of meeting a child’s need to be heard, is to give the child your full attention for a couple of minutes when they need it. Make full eye contact; just listen to what they’re saying, rather all the other stuff in your mind. In that moment, now, let them be the only focus of your attention. Respond from a clear mind. Every human being needs acknowledgement of their existence. They need to know that they matter.
Of course, this is not always possible, especially if you’re dealing with 5 children for example! But if the intention is there, opportunities will present themselves. I’d love to hear from you if you try this out (or if you don’t!)
Remember always to be kind and gentle with yourself. Being in the now is simple, but it’s not easy!