Keep those lines of communication with your kids open- even when it's tough!
Lisa here. We hope last week’s blog helped you find some clarity on your problem-solving style. This week, we’re talking about a feeling that can challenge even the most confident parents – guilt. Even when you know you’ve made the right decision, parent guilt can rear its ugly head and make you second guess yourself. If you don’t work through the guilt, you will struggle to be an effective parent.
Keep in mind that guilt is not necessarily a bad thing. Guilt is an emotion, and just like any emotion, its job is to alert us to something important. When we feel guilty, there is a chance that we have done something wrong. As a parent, it can be difficult to deal with feeling that you have done something you should not have. An additional complication is that children are very good at triggering guilt in their parents, especially when they figure out that guilty parents often give in.
As a parent, it can feel like you’re always supposed to know the answer and that you cannot be wrong. However, that is far from the truth. Yes, you are a parent. But you are also a human being and human beings make mistakes. Accepting this goes a long way to reducing the amount of guilt you feel for your parenting decisions.
So what do you do? First, you must figure out when guilt is warranted and when it is not. Ask yourself why you are feeling guilty. Do you feel like you should have said yes? If you gave a knee-jerk response or if you reflect and legitimately change your mind (not because your kids are pressuring you), then that’s fine. It’s okay to reverse a decision if you realize you made a mistake.
However, parent guilt frequently misfires when it’s triggered by other people, especially your kids. Do you have a hard time when other people are upset with you? Does it affect you when your kids are upset even when you know you made the right decision? If so, parent guilt may be a frequent occurrence.
Once way to counteract this guilt is to parent with intention. When you have made conscious decisions about the kind of parent you work to be and your parenting actions are tied to your purpose/values, you have less guilt. Your foundation is strong, so it is harder for your kids to make you feel guilty for your parenting decisions.
That does not mean they will not try. Kids can lay it on real thick, especially when they sense you feeling guilty. In those moments, it’s important to give yourself a mental reset and remind yourself of your reasons for your decisions. It’s okay if your kids are sad, mad, or disappointed sometimes. That is part of life, and they have to learn to deal with not getting their way all the time. When you are able to recognize that your kids are pushing your buttons, it will be easier for you to resist feeling guilty for your sound, intentional parenting decisions.
Sarah here. We hope you enjoyed last week’s blog on roadblocks to intentional parenting. Hopefully, you did the guided self-reflection, so you’ve begun thinking about how to get past these parenting roadblocks. This week, we’re focusing on what you do when you don’t know what to do- that is, your problem-solving process.
Problem solving, decision making and learning styles are well-studied domains in the world of psychology. Rather than boring you with an exhaustive research paper, we thought we’d highlight a couple of dimensions related to problem solving on which people may vary. Today we’re focusing on the social aspect as well as the thought style of problem solving.
When faced with uncertainty about what to do, some people try to figure things out on their own, while others seek support. Even among more social problem solvers, there can be variation. Some people go to a few trusted individuals, while others more broadly “poll the audience,” asking anyone and everyone they encounter for opinions and advice. Among those who use minimal social engagement while problem solving, there are those who prefer to get professional support (from a therapist or physician) and those who get support from a close friend or family member. Some people prefer to ask for support electronically (via text or on social media) while others feel more comfortable doing so in person.
With respect to thought style, people are often categorized as being more intuitive or more logical in their thinking. These styles impact problem solving. Intuitive thinkers may be more likely to trust their instincts while logical thinkers may have a more methodical way of approaching problems. Intuitive problem solvers tend to focus on their sense of things, “listening to their hearts” or “trusting their gut,” while logical problem solvers rely most on their brain to lead them to the best solution. At times, these styles may affect speed of problem solving- it can be far easier to rapidly solve a problem for more intuitive thinkers, given that logical thinkers’ deliberate style just takes more time.
We hope you can see that there isn’t a “right” or “wrong” way to solve problems along these dimensions. Issues can arise when we rigidly approach all problems in the same way. Being mentally flexible and being able to adapt your approach to the situation at hand is consistently associated with positive well-being. So, it may be useful to consider how you solve problems along these social and thinking dimensions. If you’re feeling stuck or you’re struggling to overcome a particular roadblock, maybe it’s an opportunity to do something different. If you prefer figuring things out on your own but you haven’t been successful, it may be useful to ask for help. If you are generally a logical thinker but you’re struggling to make a decision, maybe it’s time to start listening to your instincts. Whatever approach you take, be sure to evaluate how it went so you can learn from your experience.
Sarah here. We hope you enjoyed last week’s blog on parenting with intention. Hopefully, you’ve been able to put intention into action. Last week, Lisa talked about roadblocks that can make parenting with intention more difficult. This week, we’re going to continue focusing on some of things that get in the way of your best efforts to be intentional as a parent.
Parenting with intention isn’t a one-and-done act. It isn’t an accomplishment that you can complete and check off a list. Instead, parenting with intention is like meditation- it’s an ongoing practice that you can always do more or less of. Because of this, the roadblocks to parenting with intention may be dynamic over time and across situations.
We want you to engage in a little practical self-reflection. Read through the questions that follow and notice what thoughts come to mind after you read each question. Focus on the present and recent past when reflecting. If you’d like, you can jot down your answers, but no pressure. Remember there are no right or wrong answers.
So, now that you’ve reflected on possible roadblocks to parenting with intention, what do you do? That depends. In some cases, how you intentionally parent may need to adapt. For example, if your intention was to spend time outdoors together as a family but there’s a blizzard outside, then adapting your intentional action makes sense! Perhaps you could spend some purposeful time together as a family indoors. If your self-care is abysmal right now and you can’t even fathom being intentional because you’re so sleep deprived, then prioritizing sleep and self-care now is the intentional action that will allow you to intentionally engage with your family later.
Remember that roadblocks aren’t a sign to quit- they’re just a sign that we need to do something different. By periodically doing this intentional parenting self-reflection, you’ll be able to identify and address barriers and avoid stalling out. And, incorporating this type of self-reflection into your parenting practice is itself a great way to be intentional as a parent.
Feel free to peruse our blog and see what Sarah and Lisa had to say about topics related to your needs as a busy parent. We will talk about everything from parenting values, to life hacks, to realistic self-care.