This book was recommended to me by my friend Christine, who always seems to be me to be an amazingly mindful and “together” parent, so of course I wanted to read it. It applies the same principles you would find in Zen Buddhist meditation practice to parenting. Given my interest in how I as a non-Buddhist can apply principles like mindfulness to my everyday life — and given how much of my everyday life is consumed with parenting — this seemed like a great fit.
It was a good fit, although the book was not as practical and specific as I’d hoped it would be (there is a good section in the back on exercises and intentions for mindful parenting, which was the most practical part). Mostly it’s theoretical and reflective, interspersed with illustrations drawn from the authors’ real-life experiences parenting their own children.
If there’s one gift I would like to have in my parenting it is definitely mindfulness — being more aware and still in the present moment, rather than rushing ahead to the next. Working with the situation as it is right now, rather than what I wish it was, or think it should be. This book did not provide me with a blueprint for how to do that — there probably isn’t one, sadly — but it did provide me with some thoughtful reflections to help me pursue those goals for myself. The authors’ personal experiences are helpful simply because, for such new age zen-type people, they seem to be very ordinary, fallible parents with very ordinary, annoying kids — so that was encouraging to me as I stumble through my ordinary, fallible life.
My LentBooks reading series kind of ground to a halt with the trip to Australia, so this turned out to be the last LentBook for 2008 — a nice way of wrapping up some of the thinking I’d been doing about what I can learn from other religious traditions that might be relevant and applicable to my Christian life today.