Glimpse: The Mindful Family

A look inside our family feature from the December issue. What psychologists Stefanie and Elisha Goldstein say about parents might surprise you.

Illustration by Nomoco

In the December issue of Mindful magazine, psychologists Stefanie and Elisha Goldstein describe building the mindful family as a three-fold effort: raising the mindful self, the mindful couple, and the mindful child.

And when it comes to bringing mindfulness into the family, most parents forget the “self” part.

“When parents bring their children in to my office, they say they want more of this mindfulness stuff for their kids,” says Elisha. “But the parents aren’t necessarily doing it themselves.” Stefanie explains that mothers especially have challenges with this, where they assume that thinking about their own needs is not part of good parenting.

“There’s this notion that you have to give up yourself in order to be a parent, and that’s what is to be admired,” says Stefanie. “But if you’re not okay, your kids are not okay.”

Stefanie shares a few ways we can inject a little “me” into daily family life.

• Make self-care a priority. “For me, it’s giving myself permission without providing excuses to take time for myself,” says Stephanie. Whether it’s a yoga class, a movie, or a nap it’s worth making it a priority in your day or week.

When you mess up, forgive yourself and move on. The basics of mindfulness help here: when your mind strays, invite yourself back to the present moment—without judgment.

“As parents, you’re absolutely going to mess up. You’re going to stray from your intentions,” says Stefanie. “But when you come to that moment of realization—whether it’s because your child is mirroring that to you, or your partner is, or you realize it yourself—that is the moment of ‘oh.’ That’s when you can really forgive yourself as best you can and invite yourself back.”

• Let your kids be your mindful guides, sometimes, too. When Stefanie’s two-year-old refused to fall asleep for a nap one day, she recalls yelling at him. Her four-year-old then told her not to yell. It served as an “oh” moment for Stefanie—to stop, take a moment to breathe, and then re-engage in a different way.

“There are a lot of parents who could get defensive in that moment—I have— and then maybe lash out at their four-year-old for calling them on it. That’s because it’s so painful and so humbling to say, ‘Wow, you’re right, I can do that differently.’”

—Stephany Tlalka, Assistant Editor, Digital

For more than just this Glimpse: