It's January - the month when we look to the new year ahead with promises to ourselves and resolutions to improve, including our resolve to be better parents. As we contemplate parenting in the new year, I'd like to share a recommendation for 2020 and beyond - focusing on being present with our children. My children are 26 and 28 years old, and I'm still working on being a better parent and learning how to put aside my work and be present.
Presence is about more than putting your phone down when you're talking to your children. It's about being "mentally and emotionally" in the moment with your children, developing "an attitude of curiosity" about their behavior, and most importantly, showing up, according to Dan Siegel, M.D., and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D., co-authors of The Power of Showing Up: How Parental Presence Shapes Who Our Kids Become and How Their Brains Get Wired.
The impact is that your children will ultimately feel "seen" - a key factor, according to research, in long term happiness and success in adulthood. In a recent New York Times article about their new book, Siegel and Bryson share that in the modern world of American "hyper-parenting," parents are often so focused on spending time and money giving their children every possible advantage, that they can unintentionally create a parent-child relationship where children feel pushed and labeled rather than understood.
"It's not about reading all the parenting best sellers or signing your kids up for all the right activities. You don't even have to know exactly what you're doing. Just show up," they explain. "Showing up means bringing your whole being — your attention and awareness — into this moment with your child."
Of course, we can't do this in every moment of every day, but Siegel and Bryson suggest ways to be present and show up in our children's lives in meaningful ways despite our busy daily realities. Join me as we strive to be our best selves in 2020!
Click here to read, Do You Really "See" Your Child? from the New York Times Parenting Blog.