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The hidden element of parenting

Updated: Jun 16, 2020

A few years ago at the end of a meditation workshop, I invited the students to share their experiences. One of the students - a mother of 3 kids and a VP of a company with a busy life shared, “This program helped me be a better mom. I feel I can be a better mom to my kids.”

To me, that was a bit of a surprise. She was a good mom, I thought. Her kids were so put together, well behaved, brilliant. She herself was so involved in their lives. Besides her work and family, she was also highly involved in the community.

I dug a little deeper. “How do you mean?” I asked.

She replied, “Now I can take care of myself, and that will help me take care of them.”

A simple but deeply perceptive realization. As a pediatrician, I have seen a person’s whole world shift when they become a parent. It is no longer about them. It is all about the child. An unconditional love, relentless care, and protection poured out of them for their child.

And yet, I've also seen the detrimental impact a parent's mental state has on the child’s physical and mental well being. A parent may be too busy or stressed to make a beneficial shift (like switching from sugary juice to water in the sippy cup as a way to avoid hyperactivity), but instead may want a quick fix (like medication). Or so often with children with depression and mental illnesses, the root cause lies in the home dynamics.

While many parents focus unwaveringly on the child’s health & development, they often don't pay as much attention to their own mental well being. But your mental state as a parent, plays a bigger role in your child’s development than you imagine.

Learn about Parent half hour: Finding calm in chaos

Pulling back to give more

James Baldwin said, "Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them."

Have you seen those cute videos of young kids talking like grown ups on the phone or scolding their elders? Wonder where did they learn that from? From the adults around them of course.

A parent’s state of mind and behavior have a remarkable impact on the child. Children pick up subtle cues from people around them.

A child does not grow up in a vacuum, but rather in an environment consisting of family, school, social groups. You, as a parent are an essential part of that ecosystem.

Children will learn a lot from you - communication, understanding and trusting the people around them, coping skills, behaviors under stress etc.

So while you as a parent, focus on providing the best nutrition, education, development to your child, I encourage you to also focus on taking care of yourself.