When I began to tell my family and friends that I was going to start a parenting blog with Paulo, I immediately began to receive various questions asking for my advice about parenting. Now let me be clear right now before we go any further. I am not blogging because I think that I am some kind of parenting expert. I am not blogging because I think I have some magic wand for you or because I am trying to persuade you to parent like me. Let me be very clear about this. I am blogging because I really believe that how we parent is super important. So important that I want to make sure that you have as much information as possible on this subject. But let me repeat: I will not tell you how to parent your child(ren). But if I could persuade you in any way, I would offer you just one piece of advice.
So what is it? Well, it boils down to this: parent with intention. The specifics of how to parent are going to vary from parent to parent and from child to child. But I believe that what should ground you and each parenting choice is ultimately your intention. Too many of us are on autopilot with this parenting thing and this role is far too important to not give it the time and space that it deserves in your life.
Now what do I mean by intention? To be intentional is a process. First you must ask yourself “why am I doing that?” Am I on autopilot? Too often the answer to the question of “why do I parent the way that I do” is because “well that’s the way I was raised” followed by “and I turned out well enough.” That could be absolutely true by the way! But first we need to check in with ourselves and figure out if the way that we are parenting is how we want to parent. Did I consciously make that choice to do that or did I just let myself react without giving it thought?
It is also possible that we are not even aware that there are other ways to parent. That would be me. In my experience I grew up thinking that there were basically two strategies to get your children to do what you say: yelling and spanking. I remember watching my friends who are also moms playing with their kids and I was like, “so you are supposed to play with them?” That was like revolutionary to me. So we have to start to think about why we parent the way we parent.
So once you figure out if you are parenting from an automatic reflex (the hardwiring in your brain), the next question is “what am I trying to teach my child(ren) right now?” Discipline comes from the word disciple and literally means to teach so what are we trying to teach? Kindness? Perseverance? Compassion? Work Ethic? Integrity? Patience? What are we trying to nurture in our children? What kind of adults do we intend to raise?
I have heard people say that they want their children to be successful in life, which is often code for I want them to have lots of money. And I know that it is coming from a loving space because many of us have known economic struggle in our lives and we do not want our children to struggle the way that we did. So we want our kids to be well off financially. But if we then use that definition of success – Donald Trump is quite successful. Think about that for a moment. Does he embody the kind of human being that you hope your child(ren) will be? I know I am using an extreme example, but I think that sometimes we can lose sight of the qualities that we decide to nurture the most in our children.
I honestly think about this a lot. I even think about it for myself. What is success for me? I can definitely tell you that it is not about how much money I make. I live a really comfortable existence; money wise, so it is really easy for me to say that money doesn’t primarily motivate me. But believe me, at this stage of my life; it is not what I think of as success. My definition of success is based on whether or not I am doing the thing(s) that I was born to do. Am I using my talents to be of the greatest possible service to others? I want to die empty, with no more talent left to offer. So when I think about my children I think about how can I help them discover for themselves why they were born, how they are meant to be of service in this world, while at the same time nurturing kindness, compassion, humility and strength.
Okay, I think that I have said enough. I hope that I have impressed upon you how important it is to parent intentionally. Madres and Padres out there, please do not move onto the next thing on your to do list without giving these questions some thought. What do you want to teach your children? What is your intention as a parent? Please leave a comment or email us. I would love to hear your responses! As always, if you think this blog would be useful please share it with your family and friends. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your parenting journey.