Anyone who’s ever been a parent, including me, knows that it’s one of the most challenging, even terrifying, jobs a person can ever take on
Yes, being a parent certainly qualifies as a job
Not a particularly invigorating or inspirational word, is it?
Instead, the word conjures up all sorts of other words that may include drudgery, responsibility, thankless toiling and labor.
There’s no doubt that being a parent is a full-time job. But the good news is that mixed in with all of those challenges are also joy, excitement, anticipation, hope and great feelings of fulfillment.
The anticipation of planning for a child, giving birth and beginning the parent journey is one of the most exciting experiences in life. Seeing that newborn baby’s smiles and blissfulness rates right at the top when it comes to feelings of contentment and genuine happiness.
And then it happens…
Somewhere along the way, we realize that we have more questions than answers. We wonder what happened to all the endless bliss and exhilaration, because parenting has taken on a very different feeling.
Becoming overwhelmed, afraid, anxious and even confused is very common for all parents sooner or later.
For some parents, those feelings start early while, for others, they might not show up until it’s time for those cuddly cheeks to start their formal education and leave the comforts of home.
For some, the “Who kidnapped my sweet, innocent child and replaced him with an alien life form?” question doesn’t show up until puberty hits.
But trust me; sooner or later those feelings will happen.
Ever wondered why it seems that some parents have all the answers?
Why it looks like their kids are always clean, well behaved and on their way to perfection
Well, don’t be fooled.
It may appear that way, but I can assure you no parent gets out alive without experiencing the questioning, doubts and fears accompanying a role so high stakes and important to each of us.
I’ve heard it said that having a child is like watching your heart walking around outside of your body.
And this is very true
As parents, we try in vain to control all the environments, circumstances, people and experiences that might somehow injure or have a negative impact on our offspring.
After all, that’s our heart walking around out there exposed to the elements!
What hurts them hurts us.
What wounds them wounds us.
And yet, we somehow realize how futile it is to completely insulate our kids from what life holds for them, the good, the bad and the ugly. And that is where the frustration and anxiety begin.
So here’s the question…
Are you more focused on sparing your kids the discomfort and pain that comes from challenges in their lives or are you more focused on their GROWTH?
You see, their growth is what is going to get them successfully through life.
Their own growth will allow them to successfully navigate the inevitable challenges and failures in their lives, learn from them and move on!
So the next question is, “how to I as a parent help them grow?”
The most important thing you can do is have a growth mindset yourself!
I was a public school educator and administrator for 30 years and I’ve spoken with literally hundreds of parents. I’ve watched carefully as they’ve interacted with their kids.
And I’ve learned so much through witnessing their ups and downs, failures and successes.
I’ve also had my own parenting experiences, some of which were my most triumphant celebrations and some, my greatest regrets.
From all of those experiences, I’ve come to understand some important things about the answer to the question, “What is good parenting?”
Let’s start with just the basics.
Most would agree it’s pretty obvious that good parenting means providing the necessities of life…the resources your child needs just to survive, like food, shelter and clothing
I also believe good parenting means taking an active role in the child’s life from the very beginning, learning everything you can about who they are as an individual, their personality, their interests and what they are thinking
Building a close and meaningful relationship with your child is just as important to their success as the food and shelter you are providing
It may seem as though believing you are doing an adequate, or even much greater than adequate, job of providing the essentials in life means you’re doing enough
But it’s pretty clear that without building a solid, ongoing relationship with your child, you are already setting yourself up for trouble ahead.
When we hear the expressions “good parent” or “good parenting,” we need to remember they may not mean exactly the same thing as being an effective pare
I’ve come to understand that being an effective parent means you are taking intentional actions and have intentional behaviors that move you toward the outcomes and successes you want your child to experience now and later in life.
It also sounds like, as a parent, I’m going to have to do some intentional thinking about all of this.
I’m reminded of Thomas Edison who said, “Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.”
I’m constantly reflecting on my behavior to see which one of those groups I am in.
Getting the great results we desire as a parent means we have to commit to the work of upfront thinking so that we aren’t forced to contend with backend consequences.
It’s much better as a parent to “prepare” on the front end than “repair” on the back end.
The amazing gift we have as parents is we get to decide how we parent.
We get to make decisions every day that we’ve thought about and we can choose to take deliberate intentional action.
So here’s the key to your kids’ success.
Be relentless in your focus on your own personal growth so that you have incredibly valuable gold nuggets to sow into their lives.
Our kids deserve parents that show up as their best selves!
How committed are you to being your best self for them?
The years we have been given to raise our kids fly by so quickly, but the intentional decisions we make each day are the ones that matter the most