Parenting in the Present Moment: How to Stay Focused on What Really Matters

Parenting in the Present Moment: How to Stay Focused on What Really Matters

by Carla Naumburg

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Overview

This generation of parents is overwhelmed with parenting advice; Carla Naumburg sets out to remind them that they have everything they need to raise healthy, happy children. Mindful parenting is about paying attention to what is going on with your children and yourself without judging it or freaking out about it or thinking everyone, including yourself and your child, should be doing something differently. In Parenting in the Present Moment, Naumburg shares what truly matters in parenting—connecting with children in ways that are meaningful to them and you, staying grounded amidst the craziness of parenting, and staying present for whatever life throws your way.

With reassuring, compassionate storytelling, she weaves the most current theories—about healthy relationships, compassionate self-care, and mindfulness—throughout vignettes of her own chaotic childhood and parental struggles. She shows how mindfulness creates a solid foundation for any style of parenting, regardless of your cultural background, socio-economic status, or family structure. She also introduces the STAY model for tough times: Stop whatever it is you’re doing; Take a Breath; Attune to you thoughts and those of your child; and Yield to what is happening so you can respond from a place of connection and compassion.

Parenting is an ongoing journey that constantly challenges every parent. Parenting in the Present Moment will help each family find its own way.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781937006839
Publisher: Parallax Press
Publication date: 10/14/2014
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 1,330,710
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Carla Naumburg is a clinical social worker, writer, and most importantly, a mother. She is the mindful parenting blogger for PsychCentral.com and a contributing editor at Kveller.com. Carla's writing has been featured in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and Parents.com, as well as in a number of academic articles and online magazines. Carla holds a B.A. from Middlebury College, an M.S.W. from Smith College School for Social Work, a PhD from Simmons College School of Social Work, and she has an advanced certificate in mindfulness and psychotherapy. Carla grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Bay Area of northern California, and she currently lives outside of Boston with her husband and two young daughters.

Read an Excerpt

I really want to believe that there is some piece of information, some item I can buy, or some self-help program I can start—something, anything, I can do—that will make parenting easier and help me feel more competent and capable. I long ago accepted that there is no handbook for life, but somehow I struggle to let go of the dream of an instruction manual for parents. Apparently I’m not the only one, because versions of that book have been written time and again, from every angle and perspective, filled with advice ranging from brilliant to useless to just plain wrong. I’ve read many of them, and I am, at times, a better and a worse parent for it. Over the years, and through many, many mistakes I have come to remember a fundamental truth that I somehow lose sight of again and again: The challenge of parenting is in learning to stay connected with my children, grounded in myself, and as present as I can possibly be for all of it.

Undoubtedly, I will stray from this. For each time that I remember those words, I will undoubtedly forget them. I will seek answers from those who know me and those who don’t, I will convince myself that just the right purse or cell phone or toy or parenting class will solve my problems and set my family on the right path. I will embrace the tempting delusion that I can control who my children will become. And I will doubt who I am in the face of others who seem, at first glance, to be so much more than me. Thanks to my habits of consumption, control, and comparison, I will be frequently confused about motherhood: who I am and who I want to be, both for myself, and for my children. This is the double-edged sword of living in the modern world, in a world of constant connection and endless information. If I choose to benefit from it all (which I do, on a daily basis), then I must also accept that I will suffer from it.

Mindfulness—the increasingly elusive but ever accessible ability to stay present and accepting of whatever is going on—represent a path out of that confusion. Mindful parenting doesn’t require that I purchase a product, give up my job, become a master chef, discipline my children in ways I might not feel comfortable with, or be anyone other than who I truly, deeply am. The heart of mindful parenting is connection—with our children, ourselves, and the present moment. Learning to stay in connection challenges me to be with doubt, fear, shame, frustration, sadness and anger without wanting to fix it, change it, control it, or wish it away.

This is incredibly simple and incredibly hard to do. I am constantly distracted not only by everything in the world outside of me, but also by the endless chatter and dialogue in me own brain. In addition, it’s hard to know exactly what it means to stay connected, grounded, and present. Those are lovely words to say, concepts that seem to make sense, but what do they actually mean? It’s one thing to read yet another parenting book and agree with the latest piece of “expert” advice; it’s quite another to know how to respond when my child is flat out on the floor screaming and all I want to do is run away. It’s quite another to know what to do when my child is in pain, be it physical, emotional, or existential, and I am drowning in helplessness because the only thing I want to do—make her feel better—is the one thing I just can’t do. It’s quite another to find a way to know how to move forward on those days when I look in the mirror and see a stomach that I still haven’t found a way to accept, dark circles under my eyes, and lines around my mouth that I swear weren’t there yesterday.

The reality is that there are many, many skillful ways to respond to these difficult situations—thoughts I can embrace or let go of, words I can speak, silences I can tolerate, embraces I can offer—each of which may lead to a deeper connection with my child and acceptance of myself. There are also choices I can and do make that, despite my best intentions, seem to widen the gulf between my children and me, intensify our suffering, and leaving me doubting myself and my parenting ability. As we will see in the chapters to come, the ability to stay connected, grounded, and present makes all the difference.

I am still learning how to do all of this, and if I am lucky, I will be learning how to do all of this for as long as I am a parent, for as long as I am alive. Some days I get it wrong, some days I get it right, but the difference is that now I have a compass, a northern star I can always orient towards, one that helps me loosen my obsessive grasp on finding the right answer, solving every problem, and worrying about that which I can’t control. Mindful parenting brings me back to the little people who are in front of me in this moment and back to the person I am in this moment. The trick, of course, is learning to stay there.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Losing Myself in Motherhood & Finding the Truth of My Childhood
3. Staying Connected
4. Staying Grounded
5. Staying Present
6. When We Can’t Stay
7. Conclusion and Resources

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