2. How to understand your purpose and clarify your values

We need to start with your foundation (core philosophy and value system).

Here I will try to make something very complicated a lot less complicated. What is so complicated? Well, you’re not just a parent; you’ve been a child and teenager yourself and have had parents bring you up with their ideas and their methods. Now, that may have been a wonderful experience, or it may very well have been a very traumatic and complex experience.

Maybe one reason for joining this course is to avoid repeating the mistakes you’ve been exposed to or simply wanting to be better at that parenting thing that can be so stressful and easy to get wrong.

You have to know that you are not alone if you think parenting is a challenge. We are not here, however, to delve into your own childhood experiences, traumas, or “baggage.” Instead, we are here to think, search, experiment, and learn.

Your behavior is partly formed from your attitudes, values, or philosophy about parenting. It’s hard to “walk the talk” and connect our values to our behavior, but we all try. 

The easiest way to get at your attitudes, values, or philosophy is to make a few lists. (It’s also a good idea to keep a journal.) Don’t spend a lot of time on this; just quickly and spontaneously put 3-5 things on the following lists on the topic of your parenting:

3-5 beliefs about what good parents do well

3-5 things I don’t want to do or do less of as a parent

3-5 things that I want to do or do more of as a parent

3-5 examples of when things turned out well for me as a parent

3-5 examples of things I would like to learn to be better as a parent

3-5 of my fondest memories as a parent

Yes, some answers will be the same, and that’s just fine and emphasizes what’s important to you.

Homework: Summarize your main message to yourself in one sentence after reading over the lists you wrote. It could be in the form of a message or advice to yourself about your parenting. Remember to….

What is your purpose as a parent? Sure, you have to provide the basics – food, safety, security, acceptance, encouragement, and a sense of inclusion.

At the same time, you never know exactly how things will turn out. Some things we know to be true:

Your children will not always think as you do.

Your children will not always do what you do or follow in your footsteps.

Your children will not always value what you value.

Your children will not likely always do what you want them to do or what your think is good for them.

Your children will not always be happy, kind, respectful, or responsible.

Your children will not always be the brightest, most athletic, most musical, or most motivated among their peers. Maybe in a few things, but not in everything. 

We certainly wouldn’t mind all this happening, but the likelihood is small, and just maybe it’s not even a good idea to hope for.

In the end, what do most of us want for our children? I am guessing that the overwhelming majority of the people joining this course would want:

Children that take the initiative and have creative ideas

Children that can cooperate with others

Children that can think independently and are not the victims of peer pressure

Children that are curious and motivated to learn and try new things

Children that can talk, discuss and interact constructively at home, school, and with other adults and, of course, their friends

Children that know how to be polite, take responsibility, and put in an honest effort in what they do

Children who understand the importance of helping others and being sensitive to other’s feelings

Children who are not afraid to share their thoughts, feelings, insecurities, and achievements

Children who understand that they can’t always immediately get what they want, but it’s OK to wish, hope, and work for what they want

Please add to this list.

Do we agree with most of the things on this list?

If so, well, how do we get there? One way is through the art of conversation – how we share, ask, discuss and talk about what’s going on in our lives. That is the focus of this course.

My point in this lesson is to suggest that you regularly remind yourself of your purpose and values. Your purpose is to help your children learn, grow, and become responsible and constructive family members and citizens. You nurture and support your child to bring out their strengths, talents, and inner wis

When in conflict, when in confusion, when in frustration, or when in a state of uncertainty, remind yourself of your overall purpose and values. It will help you take a step back, regroup and move forward in your relationship. 

Remind yourself about your long-term commitment and purpose as often as possible.