“Listen to the wind—it talks.
Listen to the silence—it speaks.
Listen to your heart—it knows.”
― Native American Proverb
How do we know we are doing what’s best for ourselves, our kids and our families?
If you are like most parents I know, you likely find yourself questioning your parenting approach and decisions fairly frequently. Thankfully, many of us sort through these doubts and worries with the help of loved ones, our kids’ teachers and sometimes clinical providers. And what if I told you there is a strategy you can practice on a daily basis to help you better access your inner wisdom?
As you know, our Teku programming is informed by Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). DBT teaches the skill of “wise mind” and promotes the intentional integration of our logical-thinking mind and our emotion-processing mind. Ultimately, the goal is to learn to balance the two as we strive to make thoughtful, value-based decisions throughout our lives.
As parents and caregivers, we know how intense our emotions can become from one minute to the next. It is also very likely that you have observed what happens when your “rational” mind becomes overly active, leaving you inflexible and rigid as you navigate challenging situations. Wise mind can be an effective tool for parents to deepen their connection with their kids as it helps integrate the emotional and rational input from our bodies, minds and the environment. Wisdom helps us contextualize our inner reactions to our cultural and social needs.
Emotional regulation is a necessary skill for all parents and caregivers who wish to foster meaningful relationships with their kids and families. Conflict is often not resolved with more yelling, fighting and intentional harm–these practices often leave us physically and emotionally depleted and often cause additional struggles. You can read more about the three main options we have when navigating struggles in a previous blog post.
Wise mind helps parents regulate their own emotions before reacting to a situation. Kids are unpredictable and their emotions can go from zero to one hundred very quickly. As parents, we can find ourselves triggered by our children’s behavior…this, in turn, can result in impulsive and emotional reactions. By incorporating wise mind into our parenting approach, we can take a step back, observe our emotions and our reasoning, and then choose how we wish to respond to the situation in front of us.
Wisdom arises when we apply our knowledge, which is fostered from past learnings and experiences, to our current situation. As parents, we are always encountering new situations that require the application of past learning to a new context.
As much as we wished there was a clear-to-follow, foolproof parent manual, no such thing exists.
As much as we wished there was a clear-to-follow, foolproof parent manual, no such thing exists. Instead, we can practice non-judgemental observation of our physical, emotional and cognitive awareness to access our deepest learnings to the task at hand. When we foster this practice, our kids win by experiencing the safety and comfort in knowing that we are doing our best, given our current abilities, knowledge and capabilities. As they watch parents access their wise mind during challenging times, kids can learn to access their own, slowly as they grow older.
Wise mind is a skill that must be practice intentionally. Eventually, wise mind becomes a daily habit that is ingrained into your life. As your practice grows, wisdom nourishes your everyday interactions without much effort. Our Teku community fosters this practice through our free wellness center and our community gatherings. We hope you will join us in this journey toward wise, connected parenting.