Psych Central

The Dirty Little Secret About Parenting Experts

By Carla Naumburg
Illustration by Jim Stoten for The New Yorker

Illustration by Jim Stoten for The New Yorker

“A recent study has shown that if American parents read one more long-form think piece about parenting they will go fucking ape shit.”

That’s the opening line to the latest New Yorker piece making the rounds of my Facebook feed, and the rest of the article is just as brilliant.

You may find it a bit odd that someone who writes a parenting blog (and has written an upcoming parenting book*) would share such an article. The truth is, I didn’t just share it. I LOVED IT.

Here’s the other truth: we parenting “experts” (and as I have said before, I don’t consider myself a parenting expert, but I don’t yet have a better word for those of us who are either gutsy or stupid enough to spout off about something as personal, complicated, nuanced, and unpredictable as flawed human adults raising hopefully-not-as-flawed-but-who-the-hell-really-knows human children) don’t really know what we’re talking about.

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Mindfulness in the Face of Family Crisis & Uncertainty: A Guest Post

By Carla Naumburg

In this touching guest post, Nicole Snyder, the co-founder of Inspired Family, shares how she and her husband made a truly difficult, but ultimately hopeful, decision in the face of heartbreaking news. (Full disclosure: I’m speaking at the Inspired Family Mindful Parenting Conference this Saturday in Philadelphia. You can find more information about this conference below.)

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To me, mindfulness has always meant remembering to be present and attending to situations with thought andconcern. When I got pregnant with my son in December 2011, this became my reality. What do I need to eat and do to make sure this little boy arrives happy and healthy? When he arrived in September 2012, my focus became raising him with a mindful parenting approach. At sixteen months old, he is thriving, happy & extremely healthy. This is not to say that I am by any means a perfect mother and have never lost my patience – every day is a work in progress. We found out on my birthday this September that we would be expecting again. We were  thrilled and I was certain the pregnancy would go just as smoothly as my son’s. Our family was expanding just like we had always planned. Life was good!

Everything came to a halt, when we went for a follow up to our anatomy ultrasound. The radiologist had trouble getting a good view of the baby’s heart, but could tell it was not 100% normal. After a two hour echocardiogram, we were brought back to a consultation room with two doctors, a nurse, and a social worker. You can imagine how devastated I was when they broke the news that our sweet little girl had a very rare congenital heart defect. It was as though someone had sucker punched me. A haze suddenly fell over me, as I tried to absorb the information being presented, while attending to our son who had been very patient all morning during testing but was ready for lunch and a nap.

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The One Thing We Can All Do to Become Better Parents

By Carla Naumburg


If I had one piece of advice for how any parent can become a better parent, it would be this:

Get More Sleep.

Now, I know that for many of you—especially single parents or folks working two jobs or feeding newborns every two hours—this may seem about as likely as a unicorn pulling a sled full of money, coffee, and babysitters parking itself on your front lawn.

I get it. I really do. Nothing challenges our ability to sleep more than children. (They really can an inconvenient truth, can’t they?) I remember when my second daughter was one week old. I had a toddler in a cast, a baby who wouldn’t sleep longer than an hour at a time, and a post-partum body I could barely recognize. My husband had the gall to ask me if I wanted my salad before or after the chicken, and I immediately burst into tears and lashed out at him. In my state of overwhelming fatigue, even that level of decision-making was more than I could handle.

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What is Mindful Parenting?

By Carla Naumburg

I am so pleased to host Dr. Kristen Race, the author of Mindful Parenting: Simple and Powerful Solutions for Raising Creative, Engaged, Happy Kids in Today Hectic World, on the blog today.

COVER copy_Mindful Parenting

Mindful parenting is not something that is setting parents up to fail.

Mindful parenting is the awareness that we do our best for our children in each moment and the ability to have compassion for ourselves when we don’t make the best choices.

Mindful parenting is not a one-size fits all approach to parenting.

Mindful parent is the understanding that each family, child, year, month, and day is going to be different.

Mindful parenting is not a type of discipline.

Mindful parenting is a practice that helps us to make the best discipline choices.

Mindful parenting is not a goal to be achieved.

Mindful parenting is an approach to life and to parenting that helps us to live in the moment, create strong relationships with our kids, and build resilience to modern day stress.

Mindful parenting is not a touchy-feely fad.

Mindful Parenting is rooted in brain science and provides easy to implement tools and practices to helps us feel calmer, become more focused and efficient, and be more engaged with the people around us at home, at work, and at school.

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Moving Past the Mom Guilt

By Carla Naumburg

I just love this guest post by my friend Jennifer Richler. It really is time we mothers started appreciating our own hard work a little more.


Perhaps you saw the image making the rounds on Facebook, as I did a few weeks ago. In the top half, a mother liesawake at night, eyes wide with angst, a bunch of thought bubbles surrounding her head, including: “I should play with the baby to aid her brain development,” “Why can’t I be more like Gwyneth?” and “Oh God, I’m such a terrible mother.” In bottom half, a father sleeps serenely next to his angelic-looking little daughter, with only a single thought bubble: “I’m a pretty awesome dad.” My first reaction was to chuckle, “like” the post, and write “So true!” in the comments. But my next thought was, if this is true, isn’t it a little sad? Why do we mothers have such a hard time thinking of ourselves as good parents, the way fathers seem to do so effortlessly?

I think it stems, in part, from a double standard for what constitutes a “good mom” versus a “good dad.” When I return from a solo trip, for example, friends will tell me what a “great job” my husband did with the kids in my absence, but as far as I know, my husband receives no glowing reports about me upon his return from time away.  As a mother, I’m expected to parent competently, whereas when my husband does it, it’s cause for praise.

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Heal the Hurry with Mindfulness: A Mindful Parenting Guest Post

By Carla Naumburg

In my latest mindful parenting guest post, Lisa McCrohan of The Barefoot Barn shares her observations about our culture of hurry, as well as a useful exercise for slowing down and getting grounded.

cuddling 1

We are a culture of hurry, worry and busy. Many of us walk around with amped up nervous systems, multi-tasking as we sit at a stoplight handing breakfast to our kiddos in the backseat, checking our email in line at a coffee shop, or sitting down for a half hour “mama time” with a friend while getting distracted at least three times by an incoming text. And  e wonder why we don’t sleep well or have energy, and we react to our kiddos and partner.

We’re addicted to hurry. And I get it. I live it, too. I feel the pressure building the minute I wake up. I feel my mind start to race with the various “to do lists” as I walk to the shower.  I feel the prompt to speed up and get out the door. This is often what I hear in therapy with clients and on the playground with other moms. Our morning starts out in a rush and we set ourselves up  for another day of running, a whole lot of distractions, and little connection, presence, and peace.

Yet we were not meant to stay in stress mode all day long. Our bodies know what to do to come back in to balance. But we impede this relaxation response from clearing our nervous system of the tsunami of stress hormones that flood our bodies just getting the kiddos out the door when we keep going and going.

We intuitively know that something has to change. We want to slow down. We want to make time for what really matters. We want to feel a deep sense of peace – or maybe just feel like we have time to chew our food and hang out with our kiddos.

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Child’s Repose: A Mindful Parenting Guest Post

By Carla Naumburg

I am so pleased to host Cindy Kaplan on the blog today. In this beautiful post, Cindy talks about how yoga helped her see her daughter’s disability in a new way.


Upon entering the world, my daughter Mira suffered a brain injury. Within seconds, my husband and I were thrown into a whirlwind of unfamiliar words, a loss of our vision of a healthy birth, and an unknown future anticipated with both fear and intense love. The doctors said Mira had suffered a stroke, the result of a rare, undetected condition during my pregnancy; a few days later, they pronounced the verdict: cerebral palsy (CP).

Mira spent weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit hooked up to equipment and tubes. I spent hours every day at her side and with her on my body. Every ounce of milk taken by mouth and every tube removed took us one step closer to hope. Every visit with the neurologist, who spoke of her test results, knocked us right back down. He had no answers and couldn’t even tell us how the injury would present itself. We could only wait and see. I agonized for her future, tortured myself with clichéd images of Mira in a wheelchair, head listing to one side, unable to communicate, and isolated from the world. Only when I returned to her side could I be in the moment and see her as the absolute beauty she was—with her full head of highlighted hair, rosebud lips, and gorgeous eyes.

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The Cover of Time and The Reality of Mindfulness

By Carla Naumburg


I finally got my hands on the latest edition of TIME Magazine–the one with the serene, skinny, white, blonde woman soaking up rays or meditating or whatever she is doing on the cover.

The article on mindfulness by Kate Pickert was good if not surprising; it included a general overview of mindfulness, a bit of history about Jon Kabat-Zinn and the development of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and a summary of the current research into various applications of mindfulness practice, including the corporate world and the military.

Here is my favorite quote from the piece:

But to view mindfulness simply as the latest self-help fad underplays its potency and misses the point of why it is gaining acceptance with those who might otherwise dismiss mental training techniques closely tied to meditation—Silicon valley entrepreneurs, FORTUNE 500 titans, Pentagon chiefs and more. If distraction is the pre-eminent condition of our age, then mindfulness, in the eyes of its enthusiasts, is the most logical response. Its strength lies in its universality. Though meditation is considered an essential means to achieving mindfulness, the ultimate goal is simply to give your attention fully to what you’re doing. Once can work mindfully, parent mindfully and learn mindfully. Once can exercise and even eat mindfully.

Its strength lies in its universality.


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The Art of a Mindful Mama Morning Routine

By Carla Naumburg
I’m so pleased to have Shawn Fink of Abundant Mama on the blog today!

For the longest time,  from the moment I woke up, my brain started spinning, turning, flipping, and flopping about what needed to unnamedbe done.

It wanted to think. It wanted to wander. It wanted to wonder.

It did not want to be quiet. It did not want to focus. It does not want to be still.

As a devout early riser, my automatic setting used to be to get up and start doing. Start checking email. Start making lists. Start working. Start writing. Start gathering. Start making.

And what I really spent that time doing was thinking, “What can I hurry and get done before I cannot get anything done?”

It’s as if I felt like once the kids woke up all productivity would end.

And while I’m certainly not as productive when the kids are awake and asking for my help in a million different ways, it’s not true that I’m not productive.

This recent realization has changed the way my mornings unfold. I no longer feel this sense of urgency to be productive, even when I know I have a ton to do. I no longer count the minutes I have left … and, instead, I focus on the minute I’m fully living in right now.

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Hope for the Pressured Parent: A Mindful Parenting Guest Post

By Carla Naumburg

I’m so pleased to host this beautiful reflection by Rachel Macy Stafford of Hands Free Mama on the blog today.

When my children were six and nine, I had a life-changing epiphany. As I applied lotion to my younger daughter’s face, I realized 9780310338147maybe I’ve been too hard on myself. Maybe I’ve been too hard on my children. And maybe, just maybe, it doesn’t have to be so hard. And then I wrote this:

What If?

What if it is more about lotion to their tender skin and less about applying pressure to succeed?

What if it’s less about extracurricular activities, test results, and flash cards and more about bedtime stories, picnics in the yard, and seeing the world from the top of a swing?

What if it’s less about pursuing perfection and more about embracing flaws?

What if it’s less about the number of goals scored and more about how many affirming words come from our lips?

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