Mindful parenting

Mindfulness guru Jon Kabat-Zinn (JKZ) says that parenting and family life offer perfect opportunities to practise mindful living.

“The deep and constantly changing needs of children are all perfect opportunities for parents to be fully present rather than to operate in the automatic pilot mode, to relate consciously rather than mechanically, to sense the being in each child and let his or her vibrancy, vitality, and purity call forth our own. I felt that parenting was nothing short of a perfect opportunity to deepen mindfulness, if I could let the children and the family become my teachers, and remember to recognise and listen carefully to the lessons in living which would be coming fast and furiously.” -Wherever You Go, There You Are (p.249)


JKZ talks about becoming a parent being the greatest transformation of our adult lives. He says that it is the hardest job in the world to do well, and that it demands “the greatest clarity of view and the greatest letting go and letting be I had ever been challenged with”.

As we start to fully engage with the year in so many ways (academic, sporting, culturally etc.) I just want to take the opportunity to share a couple more JKZ quotes with you.

As I see it, all parents, regardless of the ages of our children at any point in time, are on an arduous journey, an odyssey of sorts, whether we know it or not, and whether we like it or not. The journey, of course, is nothing other than life itself, with all its twists and turns, its ups and downs. How we see and hold the full range of our experiences in our minds and in our hearts makes an enormous difference in the quality of this journey we are on, and what it means to us. It can influence where we go, what happens, what we learn, and how we feel along the way.

[…]   the challenge of being a parent is to live our moments as fully as possible, charting our own course as best we can, and above all, nourishing our children and, in the process, growing ourselves. Our children, and the journey itself, provide us with endless opportunities in this regard. This is clearly a life’s work, and it is for life that we undertake it. As we all know down to our very bones, there is no question about doing a perfect job, or always “getting it right.” It seems more a quest than a question of anything. “Perfect” is simply not relevant, whatever that would mean in regard to parenting. What is important is that we be authentic, and that we honor our children and ourselves as best we can and that our intention be to, at the very least, do no harm.

That’s a sobering thought, that the first intention of those with some degree of power— be they parents, teachers, doctors or politicians — should be to “Do no harm”. That’s especially relevant today as we remember the 94 mental patients who died in Gauteng recently as a result of neglect.

On a more positive note, as we appreciate the busy-ness of everyday life at Bishops, let’s try and be as mindful as we can. Let’s appreciate the innumerable moments that make up 2017. All the best to you for the year ahead from us here at the BSU.