There is little doubt that becoming a parent to one or more evolving souls is a challenge worthy of both saints and warriors! How you tackle the task is not so much determined by yourself as it is by the unique characteristics of your offspring.
This means that, by being a parent, it is yourself that experiences true spiritual transformation and not so much the other way around.
Breathe through This succinctly encapsulates the task in hand when she states that “The challenge when raising children is to achieve a balance between your open mind (mindfulness) and your warm heart (heartfulness) so that you can combine intense feelings with judicious actions—especially when things are not going to plan.”
Distress and Confusion
Eline Snel is a therapist who has been developing meditation and mindfulness training programs for over twenty years.
In her book she shares her the expertise that she has gained working with children, teenagers, educators, parents and mental-health professionals. She shares true stories of some parenting nightmares borne from adolescent confusions and throughout aims to help her readers to resolve their own issues and problems.
The book is divided into three sections. The first if these deals with the sense of inner courage that parents need to develop, to learn how to observe without judgment, to explore the close mind-body connections that exist in parent and child, to face one’s own deep feelings, to cope with the stress involved and, most importantly, finding the courage needed to establish boundaries.
Part two of the book considers the role that compassion plays in parenting. Eline believes that self-compassion, as an important pre-requisite for showing it to others, is important because it allows you to
…remain in touch with your inner source of wisdom and your intuition….
The third and final part of Elines book talks about the sense of trust -both in yourself as well as in your child, that needs to be developed. She explains how sometimes that trust needs to be so strong that, as an adult, you feel that you can give your children the space to fly – and hope that they will not crash too badly.
Eline suggests that at the end of the day it is kindness and non-judgmentalism that wins out and that a strong internal experience of happiness will eventually percolate into the hearts of the younger generation allowing them to grow up as balanced and self-actualized individuals.
Breathe through This takes a very hands-on, practical and grounded approach to raising adolescents and guiding them through the most difficult years in their lives.
The book not only includes exercises for both teenagers and their parents but also links to audio programs that are specifically aimed at helping both parties.
For those parents who are struggling to be strong and effective guardians—whose deep sense of anger and frustration, borne from a sense that they are failing in their given role, may well discover that the simple techniques outlined in this book offer a solution.
Sometimes the greatest challenges have the simplest solutions at their core and if you feel that your own children would respond effectively to this form of mindfulness therapy then the book will be invaluable.
Others, on the other hand, may find its approach a little too simplistic and lacking in offering advice on taking a more disciplined approach in the case of more troublesome and challenging adolescents.
Once again it is a judgment call as to whether this book is going to be of help in your own particular set of circumstances.
The path to good parenting is marked with scars borne from emotional conflict and intense frustration. In Breathe Through This we are offered a somewhat less-confrontational approach to child-rearing and one which might just lessen the dangers and pitfalls that line the route.