Parenting in the Moment

by Amy Steele, Courier & Press, May 22, 2015 –

Parenting is our greatest gift, our greatest joy, and at times, our greatest source of stress. The list of things we want to instill and impart to our children is endless.

We want our children to have a strong moral compass, friends, education, skills, a bright future … on and on. These are not just one-time items we can check off our parenting “to do” list. These are the building blocks we want to continuously add to our children’s foundation.

On top of that, we must attend to the daily routines of after school activities and homework, not to mention our own lives filled with work, obligations, household duties and hobbies (when we can squeeze them in). As parents, we have so much on our minds. For many, living in the moment takes a lot of intentional effort.

Parenting in the moment means that we meet the child in the here and now, regardless of their mood or current situation. We enter the moment with love — with the only focus being the child — just the way he or she is right now.

This is not the time for us to explain, fix, change or adjust anything; we just experience it. We enjoy their smile without making a mental note to schedule an orthodontic evaluation. We listen — really listen — to what they are saying, not correcting their grammar, because what they are saying to us matters more than how they are saying it.

Take time to show and tell your child that you hear their frustrations, you want to learn about their interests and friends, and you enjoy their silliness. When they realize they have your undivided attention, they will gradually begin sharing the “big stuff” with you.

Each day with our children is a gift. Your child will never be this age again, and what we miss out on with our children today we will never get back. In addition, we never know when the “last time” will be that we will read them that favorite book, the one they’ll choose to read to themselves next time; the last time they let us tuck them into bed before they are “too big” to be tucked in anymore; or the last time you have their attention in the car on the way to practice before they start getting their own rides.

Our children deserve our fresh, intentional love and energy, not the leftovers of a busy day. When we give this focus and energy to our children, we can find ourselves and our children more patient, more spontaneous and more connected.

In addition, these intentional focused times with you are motivating to kids. When they feel joined with you and are being heard, increased cooperation often follows; they know that cooperating is a way to continue the closeness they are feeling.

The next time you catch yourself playing a game on your phone, looking at Facebook or doing any of the other countless things that distract us, switch your focus to experiencing the moment with your child. The house will still need cleaning tomorrow, the dishes will still be there and the person calling can leave a message. Being present and in the moment is a gift for you and your child, one that has big lifelong benefits.