1. Embrace Imperfection
You are going to make mistakes, you are going to hurt your children’s feelings, and you are not going to be able to show up in all the ways you want to or the ways your children want you to, but none of that makes you a bad parent—it only makes you a human one. When you can move into a place of acceptance of this you are able to shift into a greater ease and grace within yourself.
2. Listen with Curiosity
When we pause and listen to each other more in our lives, we can engage the experiences in our family with a growth mindset. We can see the struggles and triumphs as opportunities for learning and growth. Instead of judging each other, we can get better at recognising when we don’t understand where the other person is coming from, lean in with curiosity and say, “tell me more.” Or we might try and stand in their shoes to understand their perspective by asking ourselves, “why might they be acting this way?”
3. Communicate Courageously
Being clear and honest with each other about what you need and how you feel is ultimately an act of kindness that creates trust and connection. This means showing up with our partners and kids with an open heart and an open mind. It builds on listening with curiosity and creates space for everyone to feel comfortable to share how they feel and what they need.
4. Practice Appreciation and Gratitude
While words of affirmation may or may not be your primary love language, we all want to be seen and appreciated and there’s a surprisingly simple way of doing this that can have huge benefits—intentionally practicing being appreciative and expressing gratitude to one another. By taking the time to acknowledge our kids or our partner when they empty the dishwasher or are ready on time, we can shift the culture of the household from demanding and frustrated to cooperative and grateful
5. Forgive Ourselves and Each Other
In practicing mindfulness we come to understand that our mistakes aren’t signs of failing at being a human. Instead, they are opportunities for learning about the inevitable pitfalls of life, what gets in our way and understanding the optimal route to get back into a space of balance and connection.
The simple phrase of “forgive, investigate and invite” can be enormously helpful. If we have transgressed, we can set the intention to “forgive” ourselves for this wrongdoing, understanding that we can’t change the past, remembering that we aren’t perfect, and realising that we often make mistakes out of ignorance, confusion or upset feelings.
6. Practice Support and Generosity
Our kids are always watching us, learning how to be in the world and modelling our behaviours. So it’s important that we model this way of being in the world and include them in these acts as often as possible. Want some ideas? You can consider getting involved in service projects at a local school or organisation. You can encourage your kids to make pictures or cards for their grandparents or someone who is ill. These small or large acts are the essential healing agent within the family system, our culture, and the world. Ultimately, connection is the cornerstone of well-being and it starts in the family.
7. Remember to Play and Have Fun
It seems silly to say that any of us would forget to have fun and enjoy each other but it’s more common than you think. Raising children is probably the most important job you will ever be tasked with and the pressure of raising good humans can be weighty. So much so that we can fall into a pattern of taking things too seriously and being overly focused on tasks (chores, homework, activities, etc.) that we lose the enjoyment of being together.