Parenting in the Present Moment: How to Stay Focused on What Really Matters
I am thrilled to announce that my first book, Parenting in the Present Moment: How to Stay Focused on What Really Matters, will be published by Parallax Press in October, 2014. It is currently available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Parallax Press, and Powell’s.
Here’s a short excerpt:
Are mindful parents super calm and zen and blissed out all the time?
Sure. Just call me the Dalai Mama.
Not really. The truth is that we all have our good moments and our not-so-good moments and our totally freak-out-and-lose-our-proverbial-shit moments, but the point of mindful parenting is to try to make those warm, connected interactions when we feel like we’re actually getting this parenting thing right more intentional and less accidental. The point is not that we always respond perfectly to our children, but that we keep trying. We keep coming back to the present moment, with kindness and acceptance, whenever we can. And when we fail, we do our best to be nice to ourselves about that, too.
Mindful parenting is about remembering to find our North Stars. For centuries, sailors have navigated the vast openness of the seas by finding the one star in the sky that doesn’t move. Even when everything in our lives feels out of balance and unpredictable, even when we have no idea what to do or how things are going to turn out, we can always come back to our North Stars. No matter how far we have strayed, we can, at any point, choose to take a moment to get quiet and orient ourselves back to what really matters. While the details might look different for everyone, the North Stars of mindful parenting are staying connected, staying grounded, and staying present.
Thinking about parenting as a North Star practice is also a way of letting go of the idea that we will ever achieve perfection. The Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh describes it perfectly when he says, “The problem is whether we are determined to go in the direction of compassion or not. If we are, then can we reduce the suffering to a minimum? If I lose my direction, I have to look for the North Star, and I go to the north. That does not mean I expect to arrive at the North Star. I just want to go in that direction.”
If a Zen master doesn’t think he will ever get to the North Star, maybe we don’t have to have to hold ourselves up to unachievable standards of perfect either. (If you still don’t believe me, remember the words of author, motivational speaker, and father of nine (!), Stephen Covey: “Good families, even great families, are off track 90% of the time. The key is that they have a sense of destination. They know what the “track” looks like and they keep coming back to it time and time again.”)
I’m going to say it again and again: mindful parenting—or whatever words you want to use to described connected and effective parenting—isn’t about whether or not or even how often we get it right. It’s about noticing when we have strayed, and getting reoriented to our North Stars, over and over again. In this book we will explore the North Stars of mindful parenting in depth, and I will offer you brief, simple, concrete North Star practices to help you get back on track for each of them.
Stop, Drop, and Breathe:
How to Help your Child Focus, Slow Down, and Calm Down Before You Both Have a Total Meltdown
I’ve just begun work on my next book, which will explore how to teach mindfulness to children, with a focus on concrete activities, practices, and tools that parents can use with their kids at home.
The book will differ from other books on the topic in two important ways: First, not only is it intended for parents who want to teach mindfulness to their kids, but it’s going to be based on the experiences and expertise of parents who are already doing it! Many of the current books about mindfulness for children draw from activities and practices used in classrooms and clinics, and while that work is incredibly important, it’s also quite different from the experiences of parents trying to do this stuff at home with their own children.
In addition, the book will not only provide parents with specific ideas to use at home, but it will also encourage parents to learn to identify and build on moments and sources of mindfulness that already exist in their lives. While I certainly believe there are many wonderful ways to teach children to pay attention with acceptance, I also believe the most effective ways are the ones that arise naturally in the course of our children’s daily lives.
The book will be published by New Harbinger Publications in the fall of 2015.
The Good Mother Myth
I am so pleased to have an essay in the new anthology, The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality, edited by Avital Norman Nathman.
Avital describes it this way: “The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality looks to dismantle the myth of the ‘good mother’ by sharing essays from women whose voices and stories are normally silenced or ignored within the mainstream narrative of motherhood. The good mother myth has only gained steam in the last few years, especially due to social media (Facebook, Pinterest, mom blogs, etc…) and by promoting this ‘ideal’ of motherhood in such a widespread way, we’re only making it worse for mothers overall: i.e. ‘mommy wars,’ PPD, general mom malaise, etc…”
Sigh. It’s true.
My essay is titled “Mama Don’t Cook,” and in it I actually confess that I’d rather scrub a toilet than go to a Farmer’s Market. Which is also true.
The anthology is now available on Amazon.com!
Dispatches from a New Generation of Jewish Mothers
I’m so pleased to be co-editing (along with Adina Kay-Gross and Judith Rosenbaum) a new anthology of essays redefining what it means to be a modern Jewish mother. We have a lot of fantastic writers signed on to the project, and we’re really excited about it!
Who are We Now?
My response to the Pew Study was included in this new eBook on Pew and Jewish Identity. It’s now available as a Kindle download from Amazon.com.