Tuesday 30 March 2010

Gentle Parenting

I have been trying to see things from my children’s point of view recently as I feel that sometimes I am telling them off too much. More yelling from me is only going to mean more noise and chaos not less, so I realised I had to do something different to get a different outcome.

With some synchronicity, I picked up Eckhart Tolle’s book recently, A New Earth. Reading randomly from the middle of the book I came across the chapter of the book which deals with ego, role-playing and parenting. Basically, this discusses the way we adopt different roles according to who we are dealing with – our boss, children, the janitor and friends and subtlety change out behaviour depending on who we are interacting with. In doing so we are no longer our self, but are adopting a role we play out. So when we become parents, we do not interact with our children as ourselves, but via the role we adopt as parents. We end up doing what we should do, rather than what the situations needs, because we are acting from pre-prescribed roles rather than from ourselves. When we give our children attention it is often a demanding type of attention: have you done your homework? Put your shoes on! When we are in a more present frame of mind we give a more undemanding form of attention to our children, just listening, being present and available and open to our children. I admit I am guilty of this, I find myself distracted far too often with my kids battering me and yelling Muuuuuuuuu-uuum! to get my attention.

I didn’t get as far as reading Tolle’s solution to this problem aside from encouraging us to be more present in our interactions, to spend more time “being” rather than rushing around “doing” all of the time. This concept of “being” and gentle parenting are two concepts I keep returning to, failing at and then having to try again.

I do think that giving your children attention, really turning your focus on them and absorbing what they are saying and doing is important if you want your children to feel valued and have a strong sense of self-esteem and self-worth. The effect of a parents gaze turned upon their child is extremely underestimated in terms of the power it has – to throw a spotlight on the child, to show they are being listened to and that they are worthy of our time and attention, to silence or warn.

I find with my kids, often I am trying to get something done and they will not let me concentrate because they need me to see something they have created, because they need to tell me something or because I am having to pull them apart and sort out the he-said’s she-said’s. I end up getting frustrated, the kids feel I am not listening, I feel guilty and nothing gets done. I have found that on those occasions when I stop what I am doing and give the children my full attention and am fully present without trying to judge, respond or get back to what I want to do, the children spend a short (and pleasurable) time to get what they need from me and then move away even if I feel like I could do with more of the interaction by this time. I am then left free to carry on with what I need to do.

But this takes being present and conscious about what you are doing and how you are interacting with people and this is something I am working on now: to be present in the moment, to not worry about later or what needs to be done or to look back and to really listen.


  1. Jazakillahu khayran for a great post! I really needed this! Maybe I should get the book too.

  2. Great post. How do you cope with working and bringing up children? Do you ever feel like you would have more energy and time to play and interact with them if you didn't work? Do you ever feel guilty, or not really?

  3. Btw, I'm still waiting to hear about the wedding :)

  4. Assalam-alaikam,

    Sis Fruitful,
    I thought it was a good book, I didn't agree with everything in it froma spiritual/faith point of view (a bit New-Agey), but there were lots of things I found usefu;. Will read it through at some point and do a review...my to-read pile is a joke right now...

    Sis Cosmic,
    (between the two of you and some of our other Muslimah bloggers, there is no shortage of cool names!). I sometimes struggle with trying to balance work, family and ensuring my children have the time, care and attention they need from me. I can only do everything I attempt because of the support of my husband, family and in-laws, otherwise I htink I wouldn't know if I were coming or going.

    Definitely, sometimes I think if I were at home I could do a, b or c, but I know even if I were at home, I would be studying, running my business from home or working from home in some other way (which sounds soooo appealing right now).

    I think guilt plays a big part in a modern mothers life, whether she is working or at home, there is no getting away from the feeling that we are not doing enough no matter how much we do. Understanding that, talking to older mothers and seeing my kids happy most of the time have helped me to deal with what has felt like immense guilt over the years.

    OMG the wedding! Oh my it was something else!
    I am waiting for for my sister to send me some pictures, so I can chop the head off and do a write-up insh'Allah (the bride and groom both looked drop-dead gorgeous, seriously)

  5. Umm Salihah,

    Thanks for explaining. I suppose it takes times and really depends on the kind of support one receives from ones husband and family.

    I look forward to the wedding post :)