Parenting with purpose

Do you feel stressed, overwhelmed and -- at times -- inadequate as a parent? If so, while you think you may be -- you’re probably not alone.

Many people are juggling work and family responsibilities, reacting to the economy and all of life’s many stresses, and, at the same time, trying to be the world’s-best parent. At times, all of this can feel overwhelming and frustrating. Oh, and don’t forget the fact that there often are not easy answers or instruction manuals on how to respond to your unique child and his or her individual needs.

Take a minute as you read this, and gain a moment of perspective. Are you parenting with purpose and interacting with your child based on a clear idea of what you want to achieve?

Tapping into your sense of purpose sometimes can help you weather the storm. This exercise is best done in a moment of quiet with a pen and paper to write your response. First, take a deep breath, maybe a couple if you need to. Then, close your eyes, and imagine you are meeting your child when he or she is 25 years old. Try to picture, in as much detail as possible, what kind of person you would want him or her to be. Think of three words that describe the qualities your 25-year-old child would have and who he or she is in life. Think about how you want your child to act and/or treat other people, and about what kind of relationship you want to have with your adult child. Just sit for a moment thinking about the goal and what all this parenting is about.

Parenting with purpose simply means making decisions with a clear idea of what you want to achieve – for both you and your child. Would you go on a long, difficult trip without your map or GPS these days? The answer is no – especially if you were serious about getting to your destination. Before you embarked on the journey, you would make sure you knew how to get from here to there. Connecting to your purpose as a parent is a tool you can use to help you in those difficult parenting moments when the overwhelming and frustrating feelings start to surface.

But, the next time you feel frustrated, angry or unsure of what to do, you now know that you can stop and take a deep breath. Bring this visual picture of your 25-year-old back to your mind. Then make sure that your response to your child and his or her problems or questions is one that helps point him or her to that final goal. Make sure that your behavior helps your son or daughter with becoming the person you want him or her to be. Align your behavior with what qualities matter the most to you.

This will not solve every situation, but it might help you become calm and deal with that situation the best you can.

Andy Schriver is a licensed clinical social worker with Blount Memorial Counseling and CONCERN. Schriver’s areas of practice include oppositional adolescents, parenting issues and family conflict, family therapy with children and adolescents, and severe and persistent mental health disorders.

© 2009 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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