Parenting is rewarding and challenging. There is a lot of pressure to ensure your children grow up into responsible citizens of the world.
My mother grew up in a military family. Her parents were very strict and sometimes cold. She always aspired to be a more supportive and explicitly loving parent.
Once while helping me with my homework, I was probably around 6 years old, I stopped and with rich emotion said, “Mommy, everything I do is too slow, too noisy, or too messy!”
She explains that her internal response was one of deep sadness and regret she thought, “Oh my gosh, here is this person that I love unconditionally and more than anything else in the world yet she doesn’t feel my love, she only hears my judgment.”
On that day my mom wrote herself a note, “give positive feedback early and often” and hung it on the refrigerator. Some 20 years later, that note is still there.
In recent years a new branch of psychology has emerged. The Positive Psychology movement, led by Martin Seligman, is described as,
When you apply the principles of positive psychology to parenting you get positive parenting. Maureen Healy, a contributor to Psychology Today, explains that positive parenting has three requirements:
- be clear, transparent and skillful in your approach.
- establish and maintain firm healthy boundaries that position you as the authority
- focus on what’s working.
So, how exactly do you cultivate this approach to parenting?
Unconditional Loving Kindness
While you likely love your kids unconditionally, it might be challenging to be kind to your kids in times of conflict.
This concept of unconditional loving kindness is a foundation of buddhist thought and practice.
To cultivate unconditional loving kindness buddhists recommend a daily practice of Maitri Meditation.
In it’s simplest form, this practice can be performed in as little as five minutes. Simply sit and breath, while repeating a mantra. On the inhale you say to yourself, “May all beings be happy, healthy, and free from suffering.” Then you exhale and repeat this process.
To go deeper into this practice you can bring a certain person, ideally someone you struggle to extend love and kindness to, into your awareness. For example, let’s say you have a hostile neighbor, on the inhale, you would say to yourself, “May my neighbor be happy, healthy, and free from suffering.”
As you cultivate a larger capacity for unconditional loving kindness you will find it easier to remain positive and be kind to your children in times of conflict.
This doesn’t mean you become a doormat, rather it means you are more responsive and less reactive.
What This Looks Like in Action
At Rich Legacy we recommend to our clients a three step approach to giving feedback.
It’s also important to remember that unsolicited advice is almost always perceived as criticism. We understand that parents will from time to time need to give unsolicited feedback to ensure the safety of their children. However, pick your battles. Timing is everything and when it comes to constructive feedback less is more. This means you must be willing to let your children fail, pick themselves up, and gather their own insights.
To dive deeper into these concepts and explore other high performance parenting approaches, check out these e-books brought to you by Rich Legacy:
8 Ways For Busy Dads To Improve Their Relationship With Their Children
8 Ways For Mompreneurs To Improve Their Relationship With Their Children