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  • How To Stop Bringing Home The Stress At Work, Says Renowned Filipino Psychologist

    Mindfulness can be beneficial, particularly among parents who typically ‘react.’
    by Dahl D. Bennett .
How To Stop Bringing Home The Stress At Work, Says Renowned Filipino Psychologist
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Often times, even without deliberately doing so, parents function like clockwork: Wake up at 4:30 a.m., wake kids up at 5:00 a.m., prepare breakfast at 5:30 a.m., send kids off to school at 6:30 a.m., get ready for work at 7:00 a.m., and the routine goes on and on. Many of us are so set on “automatic mode” that when something situation disrupts our sense of control, we react instead of respond. In the process, it’s the kids that suffer.

    Reacting vs. responding

    In her parenting talk titled “Galing ni Nanay, Galing ni Tatay: A Conversation on Mindful Parenting” at Miriam College, renowned Filipino psychologist Honey Carandang, Ph.D., said we must be mindful, conscious, and aware to becoming effective parents.

    “You must know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it,” she says, speaking before parents of high schoolers at the Miriam College-Henry Sy, Sr. Innovation Center.

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    Mindfulness can be beneficial, particularly among parents who normally ‘react’ to situations instead of ‘respond.’

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    How to adapt mindfulness in your parenting style

    “When you react — whether you are angry or frustrated — your emotion goes directly to action, and this is very common among families. You will be less that way if you respond. Respond is to pause and be aware of your emotions before you react so you know your action is better,” says Dr. Carandang.

    Learning mindfulness takes time, but Dr. Carandang shares the ways how to apply it to parenting.

    Put something between the emotion and action

    The trick, so as not to be quick to react and regret our actions, later on, is to put something between the emotion and the action, Dr. Carandang explains. “If you’re angry, say ‘I’m very angry now,’ It recognizes what you are feeling, so you put something in between the emotion and the action.”

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    Own your issues

    It is essential to be aware of our feelings, identify our problems and own it, says Dr. Carandang, “It’s not wrong to have issues, but if you own them, your relationship will be better with your children.” 

    Identify your unmet needs

    “If you have a need that you did not take care of, your child will suffer the consequences of that unmet need,” warns Dr. Carandang. “She will suffer not just at the moment but long term. If there is an unmet need from your childhood, your parents, your husband, etc., the most automatic thing you do even if you don’t intend to is to take it out on the child. It’s almost natural. If you’re mindful, you don’t have to do that. 

    Take care of yourself

    Mindfulness is not just a way of parenting but of taking care of yourself. How you live your life more joyfully, find space for yourself, and develop your own talents and interests is mindfulness, shares Dr. Carandang.

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    Why we need to be mindful as parents

    “When we become so stressed, we have first to become aware of our needs because if we don’t do that, we project our stress and our issues onto our children,” Dr. Carandang warns. 

    She illustrates a typical scene in the home when the mother, who had just come home from work, would start checking on what needs to be done when she has hardly put her bag down.

    “The first step is to put your bag down. Go and wash your hands, maybe your face, change your clothes and maybe let go of the stress that you’ve encountered at work or on your way home. This way, you are less likely to vent your frustrations on your child.”

    She adds that because parents bring home the stress, their reaction to a situation involving their children is not frequently proportional to what they may have done. “Your anger is not coming from the child but mostly from somewhere else, and it’s unfair. That’s the reason why we need to be mindful.”

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    In defining mindfulness, Dr. Carandang presents both the western and eastern definitions of the term. 

    Quoting American professor and mindfulness expert Jon Kabat Zinn, she says the west defines mindfulness as “paying deliberate attention and being aware of what is going on inside you and around you at the present moment without judgment.” The east carries the same definition as the west, but the difference lies in adding the phrase “warmed by kindness” after the word judgment as inspired by Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, says Dr. Carandang. 

    While the west started mindfulness and made it popular 40 years ago, the east had practiced it as a way of life 2,500 years ago, she adds.

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