How to Be a Psychologically Flexible Parent
What Does Psychologically Flexible Parenting Look Like?
Psychological flexibility has 3 components, according to Lynn Bufka, PsyD, a Clinical Psychologist with the American Psychological Association and author of When the going gets tough…
1. A willingness to live in uncertainty.
Psychological flexibility allows you to build the kind of emotional resilience your child needs to navigate their world. You are willing to explore the unknown instead of trying to manage all outcomes.
2. The ability to form new habits in the face of chaos.
Psychological flexibility means you can keep moving forward, despite inevitable setbacks, failures, and setbacks. This mental state allows you to work through your challenges without giving up.
3. Contingency management skills.
Kids can’t always get what they need from us right when they need it.
Stop Trying to Fix Your Kids, and Yourself, for That Matter!
No one in the world enjoys criticism, criticism from their parents, their peers, or a device. There is nothing we can do to make it go away. It’s a natural consequence of trying to solve problems for our children that they won’t fix on their own. Resist the urge to always be doing or fixing for your kids. It’s not your job.
“Lack of psychological flexibility is a significant cause of disease, social alienation, financial risk, and family conflict. A healthy parenting style is one in which individuals have the capacity to adapt to, tolerate, and even embrace their children’s natural psychological diversity.
Compassionately Allow for the Discomfort of Parenting
As a child and even as an adult, I used to get really anxious when I had to stay with my parents for extended periods of time. It made sense. I felt at sea when I was there with them. In one way, I was anxious because I was away from my parents. But in another way, I felt anxious because I felt out of control of what was going on. My feeling of being out of control of a certain situation also let me know that I was in control of my own feelings.
I think that’s what my Dad always wanted for me: that I could feel comfortable in whatever situation I was in. He told me time and time again that his relationship with my mom was based on their ability to peacefully, respectfully, and lovingly work through differences. It was very good. He felt great and so did my mom.
Act on Your Parenting Values, and Support Your Kids on Finding Theirs
Parenting is an act of forgiveness, forgiveness of yourself for the mistakes you have made, and forgiveness of your kids for their mistakes. This forgiveness must come from deep inside.
My recommendation? Spend at least 30 minutes or more of each day being as fully present and engaged as possible with your child(ren). While walking the dog, visiting the playground, hanging out at home, whatever works for you, try to go full-bore while the child(ren) are around.
This practice of full-bore means really living in the moment. It means not listening to the voice inside your head that tells you that you are multitasking by checking your work email, Twitter, your Facebook page, while hanging out with your child. It means truly connecting with your kids while you are engaged in their care.