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Aug 24

Right Brain Parenting


Do you or you spouse ever feel this journey of parenthood is not exactly what you thought it would be? In many entertainment magazines and tabloids, parenthood has been a cause de célèbre, especially when movie stars make being a parent the new “in” thing. You see pictures of celebrities taking their young children to the park or on other outings looking blissful and beautiful. You wonder why these stars look so happy and you are not, right?

The truth is parenthood is the most challenging yet rewarding “job” we will ever have. There are moments of pure joy mixed in with times of sheer frustration and terror. The question is: Can we realistically expand more times of joy being a parent? Practicing right brain parenting might be the answer.

Right brain parenting is defined as the ability to use that part of the brain that is emotional, creative, playful, and intuitive while parenting. This approach came to me while asking a good friend of mine how he came up with an incredible creative game with his son. It was not only fun for him and his child to partake in, but it also had a learning component to it. I realized that the joy he got doing this came from using his right brain.

The brain is divided into two hemispheres that control different functions, yet are connected to one another. Left-brain functions include analytical and mathematical thinking. When you are being creative, allowing yourself to daydream, or using your intuition, the right side of the brain takes over. Often while parenting children, we are constantly in a state of questioning our actions, with thoughts like, “Is this the right way to handle this situation?” or “What if he/she can’t do this task and what should or can I do about it?”

These thoughtful questions allow our left-brain to take over to come up with logical answers. There is nothing wrong with these left- brain induced thoughts, but it begins to become tiresome when there is no balance of right brain parental action. You know when this happens when you feel more stressed, less joy out of parenting, and overwhelmed.

Here are three ways to activate the right brain while parenting and get more fun and joy out of being a parent:

1. Allow a creative flow of ideas in the form of games or projects to play with children. Start off with an idea of what could be a fun way to teach or explain something to your children. It could also be some way you want to spend time and interact with them. Don’t over analyze the idea and enjoy having fun playing around with the creative aspects of it. You can include your children in this right brain idea formation and ask for their suggestions. The how to’s of putting it into action will be the left -brain’s job to do.

2. Tune in to that intuitive voice when you’re not sure how to handle a situation with your child. Instead of immediately reacting to a situation, take a few deep breaths and then ask yourself, “What would be the best way in my child’s highest interest to handle this particular situation?”

Listen for the answer that sounds like a voice talking to you. It’s our right brain tuning in to the wisdom that comes from our intuition that is usually correct. The stress in parenting comes from the not knowing how to handle a child’s problem or issue.

3. Create more right brain parenting thoughts. For every “I should do this for my child” thought, counter it with “What would I enjoy doing with my child?” thought. Too often the “shoulds” of what to do make parenting tiresome. Also when you switch the thoughts around, this allows you to see different perspectives and gives you more choices while parenting.

You do not have to react to every right brain thought or even do them at that moment, but it alleviates the stress of too much logic in parenting and not enough fun—and fun in parenting leads to more joy!

Dr. Andrea Weiner is the founder of Emotionally Smart Beginnings

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