The hustle and bustle of parenthood makes it difficult to find time to even breathe, so it’s no wonder that many parents fail to schedule periods of self-reflection. Life is thrown at you so fast that occasionally, it feels like you’re doing nothing more than reacting to situations as they arise. But at what cost? Intentional minds have the clarity needed to plan for the best, instead of responding to the worst. One effective way to be most beneficial as a parent is to mentally check-in to analyze which habits are helpful and which are harmful. To accomplish this, all parents should ask themselves these four questions.
“What kind of adult am I raising?”
In the grand scheme of life, we have ultimate influence on our children for such a short time. It’s vital that we continually ask ourselves how they will fair once they leave the nest. Our greatest hope as parents is to raise children who better the lives of the people around them, diligently work to make the world a better place and make us proud of the adults they grow to be. But results like that don’t happen by chance, they happen with intent.
Intentional lessons, well rounded experiences and strong moral compasses all develop their roots at home. Your children will of course be tested in adulthood, but that’s precisely why the foundation you lay plays a significant role in who your child will later become. Take time to consider what kind of adults you treasure most in life, then ask yourself what steps you are taking to raise your children with similar traits. Which parts of adulthood have you struggled with most? You now have the opportunity to help your kids avoid those same pitfalls. Actively plan out and follow through on the initiatives that will help your child become the best they can be.
“What do I excel at?”
While it’s important to be introspective and honest about parenting areas we can improve upon, it’s equally important to acknowledge our wins. In an improvement focused world, few people take time to pat themselves on the back for their accomplishments. We often compare ourselves to others and chastise our own inability to replicate fellow parents’ highlight reels. Instead, make it a point to excitedly celebrate your strengths (and teach your children to be aware of them, too). This skill will also help you identify parenting habits and behaviors you would like to intentionally repeat.
“Is my child happy?”
As parents, we tend to emphasize our children’s distant futures, consequently focusing most of our efforts there. Daunting questions constantly run through our brains. What colleges will our children attend? How should we best prepare them for marriage? What will their future careers be? But we sometimes look so far ahead that we forget and underestimate the importance of now. Your kids will only be kids once. Every day births a new chance to build the story of their childhood. Their upbringing will only be as joyful as you make it. Childhood is a time that should be blissfully void of adult-like stress and worry. It’s their time to experience the world, be boldly uninhibited and free to make reasonable mistakes. Take some time out to consider whether your child is happy. If not, adjust.
“Am I happy?”
A quote by author Eleanor Brown elegantly says, “You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” In simpler terms, airline safety instructions advise, “Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.” Both mantras speak to the importance of self care. Even with the best of intentions, you cannot thoroughly offer assistance or guidance to anyone if you are running on fumes, either physically or emotionally. The prior question asked if your child was happy, but as their parent, you are their first model of what happiness looks, feels and sounds like. To be the best role model your child can have, you must actively take care of yourself and prioritize your own joy. If your answer to this question is no, seek the help you need to make the life, schedule or mindstate shift that will lead to your happiness.
The gift of parenthood holds the weight of great responsibility, but comes with priceless reward. We are raising the future and have a unique opportunity to shape the world through our children. To ensure you are equipping them with the most imperative lessons and experiences, make a habit of self reflection, starting with these four questions.