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122: Self-Compassion for Parents

Your Parenting Mojo Banner Episode Image showing the episode number and title of the episode 122: Self-Compassion for Parents with the Your Parenting Mojo logo on the image and slogan reading Research-based ideas to help kids thrive. And image of a person in an orange raincoat standing with back to the viewer standing in from of a sea and an incoming storm.

In this episode we draw together threads from across a number of recent episodes.  Most obviously it picks up on our interview with Dr. Moira Mikolajczak where we discussed parental burn-out.  After that episode concluded, Dr. Mikolajcak and I emailed a bit about tools that could potentially help parents and the primary one she found useful and important was self-compassion – so that’s what we’re going to discuss today.

This topic also picks up on the conversation we had with Dr. Chris Niebauer about the stories our left brain tells us by giving us some concrete strategies on how to do that, and it builds on a conversation we had about three years ago with Dr. Brendan Ozawa-de Silva on the topic of compassion.  We also look touch on issues related to patriarchy and go deeper into some of the mindfulness tools that Hunter Clarke-Fields shared with us recently.

And here to do all this with us is Dr. Susan Pollak, who is a psychologist in private practice in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  She is a long-time student of meditation and yoga who has been integrating the practices of meditation into psychotherapy since the 1980s.

Dr. Pollack is cofounder and teacher at the Center for mindfulness and Compassion at Harvard Medical School and the Cambridge Health Alliance, and has just stepped down as President of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy, a position which she held since 2010.  She also writes regularly for Psychology today on the topic of integrating mindfulness into daily life.


Some key points from the interview:

4:08    Many of us, present company included, we’re not raised to be kind to ourselves.
10:47  Mindful self-compassion acknowledges that we need to start with mindfulness. (I’ve been teaching this course for over a decade, and I’ve seen that) a lot of people just can’t start with compassion because it’s foreign for most of us to treat ourselves kindly.
53:59  Allow yourself to rest for a moment feeling that you have distance from the storm, some space from the turbulence to recognize that you are not the storm. (paraphrased)
59:03   It’s such a common misconception about mindfulness that you have to sit still and not think about anything. And, you know, people are relieved to know that [mindfulness] is not about stopping our thoughts. It’s really about finding a different relationship with our thoughts.


About the author, Jen

Jen Lumanlan (M.S., M.Ed.) hosts the Your Parenting Mojo podcast (, which examines scientific research related to child development through the lens of respectful parenting.

Her Finding Your Parenting Mojo membership group supports parents in putting the research into action in their real lives, with their real families. Find more info at

She also launched the most comprehensive course available to help parents decide whether homeschooling could be right for their family. Find out more about it – and take a free seven-question quiz to get a personalized assessment of your own homeschooling readiness at

And for parents who are committed to public school but recognize the limitations in that system, she has a course to help support children's learning in school at

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