Ethan Nichtern – The Road Home – Ep. 8 – Mindful Parenting with Dr. Christopher Willard

Ethan Nichtern - The Road Home - Ep. 8 - Mindful Parenting with Dr. Christopher Willard

This time on The Road Home Podcast, psychologist Dr. Christopher Willard shares a conversation with Ethan about how parents and children can wake up together.

Dr. Christopher Willard currently teaches at Harvard Medical School and works part-time in private practice as a therapist. He also speaks to medical, mental health and educational professionals and parents nationally and internationally. His first of many books, Child’s Mind, was published in 2010 and Chris recently has published Raising Resilience: The Wisdom and Science of Happy Families and Thriving Children in 2017. Learn more about Chris’s work around the intersection of mindfulness, psychology and childhood development at

Show Notes

Waking Up To The World (Opening) – Chris shares his background and how his early introductions to mindfulness came to inform his practice as a psychologist. He and Ethan talk about the different life circumstances that lead young people to find value in mindfulness and meditation practices.

“I think there is a real challenge for our generation that is growing into mindfulness and raising kids, trying to figure out how do we share these practices that have been so helpful for us with our families and pass this on.” – Dr. Christopher Willard

Parenting and the Many Paths of Practice (12:00) – How does becoming a parental guardian effect one’s contemplative practice? Ethan and Chris talk about staying on our spiritual path when we take on the responsibilities of raising a child. They look at the many opportunities for mindfulness practice that present themselves when we don’t have time for the meditation cushion.

“There are those moments that we can find practice in. Just holding our small child and rocking them to sleep while focusing on our breath and being with them fully in that moment. When you are a parent, the formal practice shifts and your expectations shift. Sometimes for me, it is laying down and trying to practice when my son is falling asleep.” – Dr. Christopher Willard

Jessica Lahey, a teacher, writer and mom, shares strategies for effective parenting that allow children to learn and grow from failure on Ep. 79 of The Indie Spiritualist Podcast

Finding Our Way With Compassion (18:20) –  What kind of practices are available to parents who want to cultivate compassion and forgiveness for themselves as they develop experience as caregivers. Ethan and Chris talk about the difficult political and social climate that parents have to navigate for themselves and somehow find a way to interpret to their children.

“For years, I listened to NPR in the car. In just five minutes of listening to NPR on the short ride to school my son catches everything and he has a lot of questions about it – so I don’t listen to the news in the car anymore. At this age, what I am trying to do is protect him from that stuff and teach him good values that are about being kind, being generous and acting in ways that are caring and helpful – really trying to teach those basics as well as understanding his own emotional experience and how he can regulate himself to respond to difficult situations.” – Dr. Christopher Willard

Parenting Without Patriarchy (25:15) – In an era with increased awareness towards the shortcomings of our systemically patriarchal society, what responsibilities should fathers be holding themselves up to in an effort to break centuries-old patterns of harm that have established by these exclusionary influences? Chris and Ethan also talk about the difficulties of teaching Buddhist practices in an increasingly secular world.

Ethan Nichtern - The Road Home - Ep. 8 - Mindful Parenting with Dr. Christopher Willard


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