‘Present Parenting’ by Madeleine Shaw

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One of the most common laments I hear from parents (including me) is how difficult it can be to feel like you are doing a “good job” at either work or home. When we’re at work, we feel like we are distracted or curtailed by the demands of home. When we’re at home, we’re not really there: we have one eye on the smartphone and our kids know it.

There’s no easy fix for this, but cultivating the ability to do Present Parenting can really make a difference.

Present Parenting means:

  1. Having the ability to be fully present when interacting with your child, and
  2. Making that choice more often.

So, what does it mean to be “fully present”?

It means paying 100% attention:

No distraction, no judgment and no rushing.

Now: When you read that definition, what was your reaction? What did you say to yourself? What emotion/s did you feel? Beginning to tune into your emotions and thoughts as you have them is one of the foundational skills of present parenting.

Present Parenting is not something you would do each and every time you interact with your child. We’re only human, after all – and it’s also perfectly fine for your child to realise that you have other priorities at times – whether that be getting dinner ready or taking a conference call. But having the ability to be fully present more often will make an enormous difference to the quality of your relationship.

Present Parenting can revolutionise your relationship with your child:

  • More joy
  • More connection
  • Less tension
  • Less distance

There are 5 elements to Present Parenting:

  1. Listening without distraction
  2. Accepting your child
  3. Understanding emotions
  4. Keeping calm
  5. Compassion

This isn’t a binary process – you don’t go from struggling then suddenly hit a tipping point and have it all sorted out. It is most definitely a process and from personal experience I can tell you it will involve some backward steps at times! But even if the goal seems inconceivably far away – why not take one little action towards it? The thread that ties these elements together is awareness. So here’s a project for you: over the next 24 hours, when you are with your child, imagine that you are not the weary and distracted parent but are rather a beloved family friend or babysitter. How does your attention and interaction change? Looking at the five elements listed above, did they play out differently in your interactions with your child? What can you learn from that?

I’d love to hear how you go!

© Madeleine Shaw 2014


Madeleine Shaw helps people answer the question “What now?” through her coaching business Real Brilliance (www.therealbrilliance.com). In her work as a senior manager with The Resilience Institute (www.resiliencei.com), Madeleine develops and delivers programs to help people and organisations to flourish.

Always fascinated by people and what makes them tick, Madeleine was keen to study psychology. However, she followed the advice of a high school career counsellor and went into law. Now, well over twenty years later, she has brought all her rich professional and corporate experience with her and come full circle.

Madeleine draws on her unique combination of experience as a former lawyer with top tier firms in Australia and the USA and a major multinational corporation. She has also produced several short films (including Tropfest finalist Pacific) andwas business affairs executive on Ray Lawrence’s highly acclaimed film Jindabyne.

Madeleine receives great feedback on the results she gets helping people develop their inner skills, so they perform at their best. Her clients say she is down to earth, compassionate and empathic while retaining an unswerving commitment to results.

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