There are two parallel tracks of parenting.
The Experiential Track: our experience of raising our children and help them to grow into happy, healthy and holy adults.
The Wisdom Track: reflecting on our experience of parenting, the good, bad and ugly.
Because it’s not urgent, most of us neglect the second. The urgencies of daily parenting tasks keep schedules packed, right? You’re probably thinking “Seriously Roy, what parent today has the time or luxury to reflect? I barely have time to bathe!”
Reflection doesn’t mean a commitment to daily meditation in the Lotus position.
It could mean investing a very small amount of time at the end of the day, week, month or even year–whatever works for you-to ask yourself a few questions.
Experience is valuable.. But wisdom, something our children desperately need, comes only through reflecting on our experience.
Questions for Reflection
What am I doing well as a parent?
In what (small and large) ways have I “broken the cycle” and given my child something, or prevented my child from something I experienced?
What is one of my strengths, gifts as a parent? What’s something that comes naturally to me that other parents seem to struggle with?
When my child did ______________ I felt ________________ and did _______________. (one situation we’re proud of and one we can improve upon)
When was a time I made one of my issues about my child?
When could I have used more patience as a parent?
When could I have used more courage?
When could I have used more trust?
In what ways was my child “bidding” for my attention or affection and how did I respond?
How did I try to communicate through one of my child’s love languages?
What is one thing I can do this week to connect with my child?
How have I grown as a person this year as a result of parenting my child?Am I smarter, wiser, more patient, more understanding, more flexible?
In what ways have I avoided being vulnerable with my child? In what ways could I practice being more vulnerable? What difference would it make?
In what ways have I been weak in avoiding setting or enforcing boundaries with my child? What is one thing I can do better? What difference would it make? For my child? For me as a parent?
When was a time I felt powerless as a parent? How did I get (or am I getting) through it?
Who has helped me, through encouragement, support, advice, listening, challenge, as a parent?
What’s the hardest thing about being a parent right now? What about it makes it especially hard for someone like me? What could I learn about myself from this? How can I grow through this experience?
What scares me as a parent? What am I doing to address that fear? Is there an action I can take? Is it a rational fear? Whom could I talk to about it? How do I cope with anxiety and worry? How do I help my child who is worried, anxious or scared?
If you’re still reading, pat yourself on the back. You have, just by reading this list, done more for your spirit, your child and your family than you realize. If you never come back to this list, at least one of these questions will stick.
Our children know exactly how much we want them to grow. And they’re watching us to see if we hold the same standard for ourselves. Trust me–they know. And when they see us grow, which is accelerated through reflection, our invitations, challenges for them to do the same will be much more effective.