About Compassionate Parenting
What do I mean by “compassionate parenting” and why did I choose this as the name of my practice?
The answer is that I like the flexibility of the term as it refers to practicing compassion for others, such as our children, and compassion for ourselves, or self-compassion. Compassion is necessary for our well-being and that of our children and in order to teach our children compassion, we first have to give it to ourselves.
Dan Siegel and Mary Hartzell in Parenting From the Inside Out, describe compassion as “tenderhearted” (p. 224). Of compassion and parenting, they write,
“…parents can learn ways of being with their children that promote the development of empathy and compassionate understanding.
This way of being is rooted in a parent’s compassionate self-understanding. When we begin to know ourselves in an open and self-supportive way, we take the first step in the process that encourages our children to know themselves. This intentional stance, this attitude of being centered in self-awareness, is a purposeful, mindful approach toward parenting.” (p220)
Paul Gilbert and Choden in their book Mindful Compassion (2014) note that compassion is “tuning into and being moved by and empathic toward pain and difficulties” and then “cultivating the qualities of wise engagement and kindness” (p. 2). It is this wish and effort to relieve suffering that distinguishes compassion from empathy. The effort to relieve may be as simple but as significant as being present with someone in their sadness.
More about Self-Compassion
Kirstin Neff, a leading researcher, author and advocate of self-compassion, writes that self-compassion is comprised of three elements:
- Being kind to yourself.
- Recognizing that suffering is a shared human experience – we all feel isolated and imperfect sometimes.
- Being mindful – just noticing any feelings we have, whether they be of joy or pain, without trying to push them down (in the case of unwanted feelings) or hold on to them (in the case of feelings we like).
For more information on Kirstin Neff and her work, go to:
Hi, I’m Suzanne
I hold a Masters of Education in Counselling Psychology from the University of Victoria and am a Registered Clinical Counsellor with the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors (RCC# 2141). I have been supporting children, youth and families in the lower mainland for over 25 years.
At the beginning of my career, I spent over ten years working in the recreation field with children and youth. In 2000, I decided to go back to school and build my clinical counselling skills. After earning my Masters in Counselling Psychology in 2003, I worked as a clinical counsellor with children, youth and families in a variety of community organizations, including not-for-profits and the RCMP. In addition to my private practice, I work with a lower mainland school district helping to ensure schools are safe and welcoming places for children, youth and families; I am also Associate Faculty at City University of Seattle and facilitate workshops for The Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education.
counselling or one of my workshops
What is Counselling?
The goal of counselling is to support individuals, couples and families in making changes and moving towards a better understanding of themselves and/or others. This is done by being in relationship with a counsellor who provides a safe and non-judgemental space for clients to explore their thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Through this process of exploration, they will become more hopeful and content, as well as learn skills and strategies that they can use in their daily lives.
Areas that people often seek counselling for include conflict with family, abuse/trauma, mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, stress, loneliness, feelings of worthlessness, substance use, life transitions, grief/loss, parenting, anger and communication.
It is important that the counsellor respects the client’s values and preference for counselling approach. Some other things to consider when looking for a counsellor include:
- What is the counsellor’s level of education
- Do they do either phone or in-person free initial consultations to help determine best fit
- How long have they been in practice
- Does their availability fit your schedule
- What are their fees
- Are they part of a professional association
From counselling, a client can expect to experience:
- Increased self-awareness
- Increased understanding of self and others
- Increased emotional awareness
- Greater clarity
- Ability to articulate challenges and strengths
- Increased resilience and coping strategies
- More peace and sense of contentment
- Increased sense of hope