Creative Child

Conscious Parent Tip: Cultivating Self-Compassion

by Rebecca Eanes

The one thing all conscious parents must have, I’ve learned, is self-compassion. As we become increasingly aware of the deep impact of our words and actions upon our children, it’s easy to get caught in a cycle of guilt and shame each time we miss the mark. We can put so much pressure on ourselves to be ever-present, aware, attuned, emotionally regulated, and self-controlled that anything less than perfection can feel like complete failure.


On her website,, Dr. Kristin Neff defines compassion as having 3 parts:

  1.  A notice of suffering
  2.  A feeling moved to respond with warmth, caring, and a desire to help the suffering person, offering understanding and kindness rather than judging harshly, and
  3. A realizing that suffering, failure, and imperfection is part of being human.

Therefore, self-compassion is acting the same way toward yourself when you fail or are imperfect. She says, “Having compassion for yourself means that you honor and accept your humanness.”

Brene Brown, world-renowned researcher and author of The Gifts of Imperfection, says that self-compassion and forgiveness is one of the 10 guideposts of engaged parenting that emerged from her parenting research. She admits something that I can identify with very much, which is this: “I always thought that teaching [my children] self-love was mandatory and figuring it out in my own life was optimal but optional. This research has forced me to let go of that idea.”


I’ll be honest. I hate to let that idea go. I’ve already had to do so much inner work to be a conscious parent, and now I’m having to take on this, too. My inner critic is ruthless. She berates me on the smallest of things. Nothing ramps up feeling the need to be a perfect parent like being a parenting book author!

Even though my heart knows this journey is about progress, not perfection, my mind has a difficult time accepting that I’ll never get it 100% right. Yet there is one truth I know, and that Brene has reinforced, which is if I want my children to live it, I must show them how, not tell them how. With that in mind, I’ve turned back to Dr. Kristin Neff and her self-compassion exercises.

Highlighted on the next page are 3 of the 8 listed on her site.

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