During this time of year, it can be easy to put our children into situations where they are set up to fail. Where there is too much stimulation, too much going on, too much forced affection, too many expectations. Because of our own hope and fear in family and friendly gatherings, we can meet our children with a lack of understanding and compassion when they act out or do not conform with how we or others think they should be behaving during these times.
An important part of mindfulness during this season is to continue to cultivate gentleness and understanding towards our children. We can look at our schedule and see where things need to be dropped in favor of providing some quiet time for our family. We can provide some extra nurturing to ourselves and our children to bolster everyone for interactions with groups of family and friends. We can stay aware of our own expectations - are we projecting lots of hope and fear onto a situation? Are we being influenced by how others may be viewing our children, rather than viewing them from a place of basic goodness, compassion, and awareness of what their experience of the gathering, the gift, the person actually is?
Rather than reacting with disappointment and aggression when our children do not act as we think they should during this time, can we continue to cultivate gentleness, by acknowledging our own fear or sadness around what has occurred and out of that soft spot, helping our children by reassuring them, cuddling them, acknowledging their difficulty, their discomfort, and letting them know it is ok to feel what they are feeling?
My own family will be attending a Christmas gathering where I know my children will be overstimulated and will most likely, not be at their best. I am laying the ground this week by continuing to find spaces for us to pause and reconnect with the ground of goodness, to join our bodies and minds in the same place, to be gentle, gentle and again, gentle. There are lots of opportunities during the holiday times to really work skillfully with what is, to be aware of the story line we are creating around situations, and to cultivate our appreciation and compassion. This may actually be the greatest gift of this time!
Wishing everyone a mindful and peaceful season.