Wanting to spend more time with your child is a normal desire for a parent, and you may be feeling guilty for not being able to be there for them the way you think you should be. A large part of this guilt comes from our culture, as American parents are pressured to dedicate superhuman levels of time and energy to caring for their children to ensure optimal development. This notion is so prevalent, it’s even garnered names like “helicopter parenting” and “intensive mothering.” However, this style of child rearing is extraordinarily taxing on one’s mental and physical health, not to mention that many believe such obsessive control not only doesn’t work but may actually harm a child’s development.
If you feel this guilt, take heart. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that for children aged 3 to 11, there was no statistically significant association between the amount of time they spent with their mothers and their outcomes in terms of behavioral health, emotional health, or academic performance. The study did find that teens experienced less delinquency when they spent more time with their mothers, but this outcome occurred with teens who spent an average of six hours a week with the family—not exactly a massive commitment. What’s more, the study found when parents are stressed, anxious, and guilty, spending time with kids can even be harmful. Perhaps becoming aware of this now can let you off the hook and free up your time for self-care first.
“Mothers’ stress, especially when mothers are stressed because of juggling work and trying to find time with kids, may actually be affecting their kids poorly,” study co-author Kei Nomaguchi said in an interview with the Washington Post.
As with many things, successful parenting involves finding a healthy balance between caring for your kids and caring for yourself. It’s vital for you and your children to develop a self-care routine that allows you to devote regular periods of time each day to relaxing and recharging your mental, physical, and spiritual resources. There are countless self-care methods, but one of the easiest, least expensive, and most effective practices is mindfulness meditation.
Although the word often conjures up images of monks, monasteries, and mountaintops, meditation is no longer the sole domain of mysterious sects. Today, meditation is practiced by millions of Americans, regardless of religious affiliation or lack thereof. Even the busiest parents are sitting quietly each day to reduce stress and cultivate mindfulness—the ability to maintain non-judgmental awareness of one’s moment-to-moment experience.
The fact that meditation works explains its wide-spread popularity. Dozens of clinical studies have shown that meditation offers myriad benefits: stress reduction, decreased emotional reactivity, increased relationship satisfaction, enhanced memory, sharper focus, and expanded cognitive flexibility.
Now, some people may believe that they can’t possibly add another item to their daily to-do list because they simply don’t have enough hours in the day. Lucky for them, meditating for just 10 to 15 minutes a day is enough to generate results. Once you experience meditation’s benefits, you’ll likely wonder how you ever got by without it. Just ask Shana Smith, mother of two and author of Meditation for Moms and Dads: 108 Tips for Mindful Parents and Caregivers. Her book intimately details how meditation made her a better mother and kept her healthy and sane during parenthood’s most trying stages. Indeed, she believes that meditation should be mandatory for busy parents, not just a possibility.
“If I forget to meditate, I’m much more likely to be overwhelmed by parenting’s physical, mental, and emotional demands,” she said. “With meditation, these demands are more easily kept in perspective within life’s bigger picture.”
Maintaining perspective on life’s big picture is a critical part of estate planning as well. During a Family Wealth Planning Session, as your Personal Family Lawyer®, we’ll help you assess what’s most important for your family’s well-being and security and protect those assets in a comprehensive estate plan. To this end, estate planning—like meditation—can reduce anxiety and stress over your children’s future, allowing you to take better care of both your kids and yourself.
This article is a service of Levi Alexander, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.
Photo by Marcus Aurelius: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-practicing-yoga-6787217/