Advent Daily: Practical Strategies for Empowered Parenting: What we pay attention to grows
December 6, 2016
Day 4: What We Pay Attention to Grows...
Parenting is hard work. Our children, as wonderful as they are, test us often. They go through "phases" that we may not understand. And, we find ourselves feeling like we are lousy parents and our children are rotten! Well, neither is true, of course, and we can take steps to avoid falling into that abyss of doubt and frustration.
First, refer to Days One through Three. Applying those strategies will help.
Next, get into the practice of appreciating. Do you remember some years ago when Oprah Winfrey made popular the idea of a gratitude journal? The idea was to take time each day to write down at least 5 things for which you are thankful. The idea of appreciating is very similar. To get into practice, I encourage you to start with a journal much like the one Oprah suggested, but instead of focusing on what you are thankful for, consider what you appreciated about your day. In particular, focus on things you appreciated that involved your children. To appreciate means to understand fully. In doing so, we learn to see there are two sides to every coin, but we are able to focus on the positive aspects of a situation. I believe this is more meaningful than simply being grateful because it forces us to be more reflective about the day and our interactions with our children. While it is easy to say, "I am thankful for my 2-year old," it is more meaningful to say, "I appreciate that my two-year-old and I made it through that tantrum today more quickly than usual." Or, "I appreciate that I figured out that my two-year-old needs a better snack in the afternoon." The act of appreciating guides our awareness and leads us to fuller understanding. Ideally, using the journal will be a catalyst for training your brain to appreciate without extra effort. Keep in mind though, that self care is important to being in the state of mind for effective reflection, and ultimately, appreciating.
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