Posts in MINDFUL PARENTING
Meltdowns and hard times
 
 
mother and baby photographer in Pasadena

What do you do when your kids lose their mind? 

Intense feelings like anger are easy for all of us to relate to, yet it's hard for most of us to let our children express them.

My response varies depending on where I'm at with myself. If I'm busy, in my head and not really connected with her experience, then I also lose my mind. I may raise my voice and complain about her attitude – which usually adds fuel to the fire. A sad example for her to follow. A waste of a great opportunity to model empathy and compassion.

Now if I'm grounded (somewhat grounded is often enough) I might lower to her eye level and actually listen. I might be able to empathize with her feelings and mirror them with words so she can hear how they sound and feel heard. "You seem upset. You didn't like that I took the knife away from you." (as if!) 

It's amazing what a calm voice and empathetic words can do. I don't have to stretch my boundaries, I just need to connect, empathise with the feelings, and do what I feel is safe.

Photoshoot at    Lauren   's house in Los Angeles. In this photos baby wasn't actually having a meltdown. He fell down and Lauren run to him for support before she had time to finish dressing. Real motherhood stuff right there!

Photoshoot at Lauren's house in Los Angeles. In this photos baby wasn't actually having a meltdown. He fell down and Lauren run to him for support before she had time to finish dressing. Real motherhood stuff right there!

When a child has a meltdown or a temper tantrum, there is no reasoning with them. What they need is the space to feel the wave of emotion, in the company of an adult able to stay with them through it and remain calm. After all, if we lose our minds too, then who can they rely on for safety?

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Sometimes these words come to mind:

 

“We might imagine we are a large sheltering oak tree in this storm, a solid, overarching friend, not necessarily understanding or having answers, but offering a sympathetic presence.”

 

Wise words from Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn #mindfulparenting

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A five year old
 
 
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This little girl.

Almost 5 years old and eternally creative. Her favorite game is to play pretend she’s a baby dragon or a princess queen or that she’s me and I’m the daughter.

“Mama, let’s pretend you found me and I was a baby dragon and you can keep me and give me a name."

I usually struggle with this type of play for a few reasons. One, it's childish, and as much as I wish it would be different, I feel super silly playing kid games. I'm in my head, trying to make sense of it, creating rules but they keep breaking. Two, it's repetitive and I don't love doing the same thing multiple times. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way.

But, I do notice a deeper want that softens me: 

1. The need for physical touch. 

She wants me to pick her up like a baby and give her love. To hold her tight and look at her like there's nothing she could do that could ever upset me. Sigh. At 5 she already knows that's not true, but I can tell she wants to create play in which to pretend it's possible. Instead of asking for it, she finds games that include that.

2. The trial and error. 

She needs to pretend to be someone else. Not only is it fun for her, but it allows her to try things out, to see what works and what doesn't. What feels true to her. To get to know herself and continue growing into who she wants to be. 

3. The power struggle. 

It gives her power when she needs some and takes it away when she wants to be cared for. 

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This New Kind of Parenting
 
 
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Parents used to think babies came to the world as blank canvases. Containers for the kind of person they needed to create in them.

Parenting was the “making” of an adult who would fit in whatever mold society thought was appropriate.

Now we know babies are full human beings from the start. Each one with their own personality, yet to be discovered. And now we redefine our role as parents, not as makers of people, but as mindful guides and supporters.

I believe my goal as a mother is to honor my daughter’s true self - even when I can’t really see it, while continuing to discover my own. Respect, love, clear boundaries and kindness for those moments when one or both of us aren’t able to be our best.  

Photos from a motherhood session in Burbank, CA.

Photos from a motherhood session in Burbank, CA.

When I start a session, I find the time to connect eye to eye with everyone, and that includes newborn babies (if they're awake). I want them to know  I see them and respect their space, even when I’m putting a big black camera in between us for a bit. I tell them I will pick them up before I launch my arms at them. They might not be able to answer, and maybe won't even understand, but I believe they can sense my energy. Open, respectful, patient, trustworthy. Everyone’s true nature is unique and sovereign and I believe my job in this planet is to recognize that uniqueness in each person I connect with. 

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