What exactly is parenting supposed to look like?  We all have memories of our childhood and strong feelings about what was right and wrong with ours, but how does that translate to our kids?

Do we become doormats because of our overbearing parents?  Helicopters or tigers because we felt neglected or unworthy?

No matter your style, we can all admit parenting is exhausting, trying, nerve wrecking and sometimes the sweetest sound in the whole world is a few minutes of pure silence.  It’s tough, I get it.  This is not a criticism of any parent.  I’m here to stoke the fire of intentional parenting.  Days blend together and weeks turn to years in the blink of an eye.  Sometimes we don’t have a moment to think if we’re wearing matching socks much less how we want to show up for our children.

I’ve heard people speak of children as a burden on time, resources, and patience.  It breaks my heart.  I don’t see our role as parents to control, seek compliance, use them to fulfill our hidden dreams or craft into something we’re proud to show off as we’re in the background polishing our parenting trophy.

They are a beautiful gift some would kill for. Ours to nurture, teach, love, prepare to really live and navigate life.  Show them how to find that little voice in their heart and never let go.  Even enjoy as we watch them bloom and grow into their own person and personality. Prepare them for the day they venture out on their own.

This is not a spectator sport.  We need to be hands-on and develop with them in our own way.

My daughter has been one of the most amazing teachers I’ve ever had.  Not only in theory but application as well.  She challenges me to grow in ways I never knew possible. I am a better person because of her in so many ways.  Sometimes I have to put my money where my mouth is when I feel little eyes on me even though it would be so much easier to give in or give up.  Others, leave me re-think my approach to life so I can work in more quality time and connection.  The biggest change of all, I’ve had to learn how to feel and openly communicate in the heat of the moment.

Picking up on what we model is a core learning skill for children.  I think we do them a disservice by hiding our frustration, tears, and problems.  I’m not suggesting we burden them with our struggles, but show them we struggle too and how we work through.  When things don’t go right, talk about what can be done differently next time.  Admit our mistakes, even apologize to them when we’re in the wrong.

Their feelings will get hurt, kids will be cruel, they will doubt their abilities and life will get them down.  Sometimes the best thing we can do as parents is give them the tools to do it themselves, show love and support then stand back and watch.

We all want the best for our kids.  Sometimes in an effort to show it we pile on the external things and fail to nurture the essential.  I do it too.  But what they need more than our presents is our presence, love, honesty, and connection.

Here’s to you and yours on this adventure we call parenting!