We live in an information age with various digital devices that make so much available to us. This is a gift that comes along with unique challenges for parents
Parents are often hungry for information to support their parenting but are also vulnerable to input overload from laptops, television, Smartphones and other handheld gadgets. Feelings of parental stress and overwhelm can be exacerbated with nonstop access to information in our modern world.
Parenting is a process that tests the relationship between the rational and emotional interactions in our thinking. It’s one of the most rigorous personal learning experiences an adult human being can choose to engage in – if they’re really open to it.
The problem is, you can find yourself overloaded with information in your busy life if you’re not careful. Some of the information you receive can trigger worry, self-doubt and fear. Not a great trio of emotions for confident and effective parenting.
Sifting through the heaps of facts, data and opinion that we have access to requires time, focus and thoughtful consideration to be of practical use in your daily life.
As a parent, you’re not only often short on time, but also challenged to sustain your focus to think critically and mindfully on all the incoming input on the “information superhighway”. And like all speedy and action-packed places, stress and harm to your sense of wellbeing can emerge.
Constant or excessive information seeking isn’t the solution to feeling and acting your best as a parent. Knowing something isn’t the same as feeling something. Clearly connecting the heart and mind is a dynamic process of inner knowing, learning (and unlearning), taking action while thinking critically and creatively. Clarity is the key to more parenting joy, ease and success.
But how do you find – and feel – parenting clarity?
Clarity of Thought Is Not Always Easy
Taking the time to define and map out what’s really important to you in your daily parenting life is wise, but not easy. You might make excuses for not getting around to it or simply just allow life to happen to you without asserting your unique intentions based on your values. Dr. Linda Elder puts it bluntly,
The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your thinking.
Your life is intimately interwoven with your child’s life and the foundation we create can have lasting effects for you and your child. Whether laying this foundation is intentional or not, you have a powerful influence over your child’s social, emotional, cognitive and personal development. It’s really quite incredible.
Why not make the foundation as positively intentional as possible so that you can sustain an enjoyable parenting experience that will open the door to the outcomes you want most for both you and your child.
Develop Your Own Path to Clarity
Here are three suggestions for you to begin to intentionally make your own way through to parenting clarity so that you can move forward with more confidence and ease:
1. Anchor your Bond.
If you’re looking to self-educate yourself about the art and science of positively anchoring your parent-child bond, I have some excellent suggestions for you as solid starting points. A number of well-known parenting experts have written about the importance of a healthy parent-child bond based on valuing relationship in developmentally appropriate ways.
Get well informed with these three books: (1) Parenting From the Inside Out: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive by Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell, (2) Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté and (3) Parenting Well in a Media Age: Keeping Our Kids Human by Gloria DeGaetano.
2. Think Critically and Creatively.
We usually think of critical thought as the kind of thinking necessary for academic success. Creative thought complements and strengthens critical thought. Both critical and creative thinking are important in your parenting life and beyond. It’s so easy to get stuck in thinking patterns that don’t help you to improve the quality of your experience of family life.
Have you neglected cultivating your mind in a way that will support you on your parenting journey? How confident are you to self-direct, self-monitor and maintain rigor and mindfulness in your thinking as you parent in your day-to-day life? If you are looking to improve your ability to analyze, evaluate and communicate more effectively in your parenting, it helps to surround yourself with others who are like-minded…and like-hearted.
3. Connect Mindfully.
The term “mindfulness” is soon to become a household term as many in the education and business world begin to explore the power of navigating the cognitive interplay of emotions and rational thought. Or as the Executive Director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Jon Kabat-Zinn puts it,
Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”
Engaging in mindful parenting invites us to gently explore our inner focus with intention and an orientation to one of the most important places you can be with your child – the present moment.
The Dance of Parenting Clarity
Ultimately, your strategic plan of action for raising kids who actually can enjoy being focused, love learning and who develop the ability to persevere relies, in part, on the foundation that you create directly (and indirectly) for yourself and for your children. Holding a positive and pro-active approach to life is not only powerful, but also helpful in creating your own confident parenting path.
Parenting is like a partner dance that requires give and take, leadership and followship and the confidence to flexibly and positively adapt to varying levels of resistance that will indeed show up. An enjoyable partner dance is one in which you learn from, respect and have fun with your partner. When you’re clear as a parent, you never lose sight of who is leading and who is following but there is also a precious collaborative part in the whole process.