Looking For Answers:
Meditation as a Parenting Tool
by Rev. Marie Senestraro
Sometimes I think it's just me. Something will come up and I have no idea what to do as a parent. It crosses my mind that other mothers must know what to do, as if I was born missing some vital information that others have, but when I look around, I see other mothers are just like me: they don't always know what to do either! Where to look for answers?
The quickest answers are the ones I remember from my childhood, but they are not always the ones I want to use. For example, my parents considered spanking a legitimate parenting tool, so when one of my children has pushed me to the limit and continues to repeat a behavior (hitting, for example) that I've told him a hundred times not to, the first thing that comes to mind is to hit him. But somehow hitting him and saying "don't hit" just doesn't make any sense to me.
I've read many parenting books that direct me to time-outs. I like time-outs; they allow for both the child and parent to take a time out and regroup. Some of the best conversations I've had with my children have been after a time-out. We both have a chance to talk about what happened, and what we can do to keep things from escalating in the future. Even so, there have been times when we continue to run into the same trouble spots. In these cases, I've found my best answers in meditation.
Meditation is a fabulous parenting tool. Like a time-out, it gives you time to decompress. It gives you a way to release frustration and emotionality so you can deal with the cause of the situation and not just the symptoms. Meditation has also helped me to see that what I often think is a behavior problem in my children, something I need to change in them, is really something I need to change in me.
When my son was two, he went through a phase of saying "I hate you" to me. This was very disturbing, to say the least. I didn't want to just shut him up so time-outs didn't seem appropriate. If I made him do a time-out for saying it, he would just learn to not to say what he was feeling, to hide his emotions, so I talked to a friend and teacher of mine about the situation. She reminded me that children are healers, If they see a disturbance in you, they will keep pushing the button until you either make them stop or you heal yourself and clear the disturbance or "button."
She suggested I use my meditation techniques to clear what disturbed me when my son said, "I hate you," so I went to work looking for the answers within by meditating. My son is a big healer, and he gave me lots of opportunities to work on this. One day, we were driving somewhere and he was in his car seat in the back singing, "I hate you, I love you" over and over. I knew I was making progress when I found myself laughing about this as I reminded myself to just continue to release whatever was disturbing to me.
Within two weeks, I felt much better. As I used meditation to heal myself and remove the "button," my son quit pushing it. I changed his behavior by changing mine. By using my meditation techniques, I didn't have to shut him up, and was able to validate him as a healer by taking advantage of the healing opportunity he provided. I've seen this work for others as well.
A friend of mine told me one day that she was very concerned about her three-year-old son and thought he needed help. He was saying to her, "I am evil and I have an evil gang." I told her my experience and suggested she use her meditation techniques to heal herself. Sure enough, when I saw her two weeks later, she was feeling much better, and her son had quit saying he was evil. She had healed herself and her son by meditating and looking for answers within.
Using meditation as a parenting tool helps me to remember that my children are learning how to navigate in this world and that some of the situations they create can be great learning experiences for them if I have a spiritual perspective. Meditation can help you to have a spiritual perspective. An example of this was my sons interaction with a neighbor child; he was five at the time. Every time he played with this boy, he would come home a wild man.
My first reaction was to not allow him to play with the boy, but I decided to meditate about the situation. As I meditated, I found I was having trouble having a spiritual perspective about this situation, so I asked God what I should do. The answer I heard was to teach my son to make separations from the neighbor.
When interacting with people, it is easy to take on their energy. Have you ever experienced talking to someone who is agitated and then feeling agitated yourself? That is what was happening to my son. Making separations from people is simply returning their energy to them and bringing your own energy back to you.
The next time the situation came up, I told my son the information I had gotten in my meditation and asked him if he knew how to make separations from another person. He said no, so I taught him how to use his meditation techniques to do this. As soon as he made separations, he was back to himself. My problem was solved, and my son now had a tool he could use the rest of his life to not be overwhelmed by others.
As a parent, I find that there are always new challenges. I think we are fortunate to have so many wonderful resources to help us meet these challenges, to find answers. I know for myself that when I'm looking for answers I'll continue to talk to others, read parenting books and articles, and Ill continue to meditate.