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Fishful Thinking: Present Parenting

Last night I had the pleasure to dial in to a Fishful Thinking call that Dr. Reivich was running. This call was all about how to be a “present parent” (no…not a gift-giving parent, but one who is actually THERE when you’re with your children).

Dr. Reivich states:

Among the factors that promote resilience in children, connectedness is central. The knowledge that one is understood, valued, and “on the radar” of a caring, adult is essential for healthy child development. Giving our time to our children, therefore, is a critical resilient building parenting practice: “Being with” needs to be valued as much as “doing with”.

One of the greatest barriers to a child’s sense of “togetherness” is their ability to know where Mom or Dad really is in any moment.  Thus, one critical goal for parents is to enhance our ability to be present in the moment.

That means you need to try to find a way to quiet the inner distractions; try to forget about that “to do” list that is never-ending and be fully THERE when you’re with your kids. Dr. Reivich said she tries to activate all of her senses – intentionally – so that she is really just BEING in the moment. Easier said than done, huh? I have a MAJOR problem with putting my phone down and just paying attention to my kids when I’m with them. I’m always checking my email and FB and other sites…

Luckily, Dr. Reivich has some activities to help out. (Below)

Another point that was talked about is that is even more important to be present as your children get older. And if you start while they’re young, it’ll feel more natural as they get older (that’s my take on it anyway).

One of the points that hit me hard was to stop trying to force being present when everyone is tired. Find your family flow and find a time that makes sense for you and your family – and then schedule time in. Also, keep in mind that things are going to take a little longer than normal – but that’s good! Take your time and be in the moment.


These activities are taken straight from a worksheet that we received as part of the call-in session. I can’t wait to try them!!

Awareness activity:

For a week, keep track of your energy, mood, and activities. In one hour blocks:

  • Rate your energy on a 1-5 scale:
    • 1 = exhausted, depleted and 5 = bring it on!
  • Rate your mood on a 1- 5 scale:
    • 1 = leave me alone, I’m in a horrible mood and 5 = feeling positive, happy
  • Identify patterns: Are you a morning person? Evening person? When do you feel happiest?
  • Focus your “presence” time with your child when you have energy and tend to be in a positive mood.

Family Flow Activity:

  1. Set goal to have 20 minutes with your child without distractions (phones, computer, television, etc.) Make sure you are in a physical space that limits distractions (kitchens are not a good spot, bedrooms are better).
  2. Ask your child to pick an activity that he or she enjoys and finds challenging (Sudoku, brain teasers, playing music, etc.)
  3. Every time you find yourself distracted by your thoughts, remind yourself that this time is a gift to your child and refocus on him or her.

“In the Tent” activity (good for young children):

  1. Make a tent with your child out of blankets, or sit under the dining room table.
  2. Post a sign on the outside of the tent/table that says “Don’t disturb until XX:XX (fill in time). The sign helps your child to know that you are all hers for this period of time.
  3. Climb inside/under with books, puzzles, crayons, paper, dolls, action figures – whatever your child most enjoys.
  4. Every time you find yourself distracted by your thoughts, remind yourself that this time is a gift to your child and refocus on him or her.

One Response

  1. I hate the term “present” but I do think the construct is valuable – especially for us working moms!

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