Category: Reflecting on How I Parent
It is all too easy to settle into a place of comfort and blindness when it comes to a partnership, and harder still to see and appreciate the subtle but essential aspects of teamwork that make a family work when life gets busy and loud.
Today we encourage a reflection on your parenting with your partner, and a challenge to identify things that would be on your list titled “What I like about us.”
Perhaps it’s the way one parent plays off of the other when a child needs a different approach. Maybe you appreciate the way you make hard decisions together, or simply the way the first one up warms two mugs for coffee. Whatever it is, start the list and keep noticing things you can add. –n&t
Now look at what you’ve written and tease out what elements made them memorable. Was it being asked to take on a more grown up task or responsibility? Was it time alone with a friend or an adult? Were you surrounded by family? By yourself? Outside?
As parents we hope that family life provides lasting and loving memories for our children. And thinking back to our own childhoods can be a great source of inspiration not necessarily for the activities (e.g. the hike, the vacation, the amusement park) but rather for the essence of what made certain moments special (i.e. connection with others, being in nature, experiencing something challenging and new). -n&t
As parents, so much of what we read (blogposts, parenting books, magazine articles) can make us feel bad about what we could be doing better. Be patient. Don’t yell. Spend more time with your family. Get off the phone. So today, we tee up an activity that allows you a well-deserved pat on the back.
Take a few minutes to list 5 things you are most proud of in your parenting. Do you raise your voice less than your parents did?
Do you learn the names of the players and positions because your son loves the Steelers? Did you make a kick-ass birthday cake? Were you patient and calm when you really wanted to scream? Do you set an example that you are proud of? Whatever it is, take the time to note it and be proud! – n&t
We have posted an activity in which we asked parents to list things they admire about each of their children. In this one, we ask that you think about your partner. Unless someone already has kids to bring into the mix, the “parent” in your partner is a mystery until the kids arrive. Even if someone enters a relationship already having children, something new is born of every unique family dynamic.
We find that person awesome enough to want to make a go at creating a life together. Then there are other people (i.e. children) in the mix, what have you discovered and come to appreciate about your partner in their role as a parent? List 5 things. Do you applaud the patience, appreciate the teaching, marvel at the depth of dedication and love? Was the birthday cake exceptional, do they manage in some superhuman way to continue to both care for the family and care for themselves? Do you love the way they fold a onesie?
Amid the busyness of life with a young family, it is easy for these things to go unacknowledged. Taking the time to identify them – and moreover, sharing them with your partner – can be incredibly powerful and bonding, in all the right ways, as your family grows and your relationship evolves.
Go forth, people, and share the love! -n&t
For any other job in life, we set aside the time to prepare, to think things through, to define our objectives and the actions necessary to get us to our goal. For parenting, we mostly just show up and throw ourselves in. But what if we gave ourselves a little, even a very little, focused time to pre-think?
Whether we’ve articulated it or not, we each have a vision of the parent we want to be. Some of these ideas stem from our own upbringing – ways we’d like to emulate our parents, and in other ways, things we’d like to do differently. And there are other people we see in action, who do things in a way we admire.
The goal of this activity is to identify the characteristics that describe the parent you want to be. Once named (the basis of the “pre-think” in this instance!), these ideas can serve as a lens through which you can evaluate how things are going from time to time.
List 5 adjectives you hope your child would use to describe you.
(e.g. hard-working? fun? funny? relaxed? driven? understanding? smart? playful? independent? available? kind? generous? strong? creative? dependable? present?)
Now take each of these adjectives and think about whether your interactions with your kid(s) over the past few days (or weeks or months) would reflect the parent you aim to be.
Here we ask ourselves: are we making choices and behaving in ways consistent with our goals? If “fun” is on the list, is enough time being allowed in the day for the lightness required for fun? If “patient” is on the list, what can be done to avoid the harried rushing? If “forgiving” is listed, how is it being modelled?
Keep in mind, we parents tend to be too tough on ourselves. Don’t do it! This parenting stuff is hard work, and some days are simply better than others. We try to take the long view and use our adjectives as goals, to serve as reminders of the parents we want to be more of the time. -t