Poet Khalil Gibran quoted ''our parents bring us into the world, but in the end, we are responsible for what we become'' and what we become depends on the choices that we make.
Have you ever wondered that every day you make a thousand choices, right from small choices such as what to eat for breakfast to what to wear for work to big decisions such as how to make a presentation for a client or what course your child should choose? Some of these choices have a small impact on us but there are others that can change our life forever. The choice to be a parent is one of them. How you bring up your children and what choices you make for themwill have a big impact on their future. How often then do you make intentional choices in parenting your children?
What is an intentional choice?
Making intentional choices means to be thoughtful and deliberate in the choices that you make, and taking responsibility for them. It means to be aware of your choices and not just react to things that life throws at you. An intentional choice in parenting is about thoughtfully choosing significant actions that encourage mindful growth in your children.
The first step in making intentional choices is to realize that there are options from which you can choose.
A mother of a new born child may be wondering about the right time to join work and whether to leave the child in a day-care or take help from parents or in-laws. A father of a teenage child who is in the 10th grade may be worried about what course their child should choose and what coaching classes they should attend. Another parent may be concerned about their child’s eating habits and wonder what foods they should choose. Be it any concern, it is important to understand that you always have multiple options from which you can choose.
You do not have to accept choices dealt to you, you can make your own. Instead of trying to choose the most perfect one, try to choose the best one for your child and you under any given circumstance. For instance,leaving your child with your parents or in-laws while you are at work, may be what you want.But if they are not available then the best option would be to choose a day-care which meets your child's needs. You need not feel guilty about it and know that you are doing the best you can.
The next step would be to weigh the impact of your choices.
Parenting is definitely not an easy task and most parents are paranoid about doing everything perfect. But is there a perfect way? Think about your own childhood and how your parents raised you. It is possible that both you and your partner may have had a very different upbringing. The way you want to bring up your child may be very different from what your partner does. The key then is to understand the kind of parenting you both want your child to have and then being on the same page with your partner when it comes to making choices for your child.
Weigh your choices and understand how it would impact your child. Something which worked for your first child may not work for your second child. For instance, your first child may have loved the appreciation he or she got while reciting nursery rhymes or dancing to a song to an audience, but your second child may be very shy and prefers not being noticed by others. Enrolling your first child in a dance class may enhance his or her skills but if you do the same with your second child, it may not work. Being sensitive to their feelings and their likes and dislikes can help us in making the right choices for them. If you are in doubt about how certain choices may impact them, consult with a specialist. It could be their school counsellor, doctor, teacher or your therapist. Remember, you are not alone in deciding what is best for your child.
The last step would be to take responsibility for the consequences of your choices.
Taking responsibility for our choices means to move into the driver’s seat and take onus of our life rather than passively feel like a victim and react to it.It is easy to take credit for our choices when the consequences are positive. But the moment we encounter some hurdles we look at ways to blame others and complain about things being unfair.
For instance, when children throw tantrums, we could blame our parents for pampering them too much. While in reality the children may be throwing tantrums just to get our attention and time. Remember that not making a choice is also a choice. So what are we achieving by blaming others?
The reason why we feel so upset when things go wrong is because we want things to be perfect all the time. Understand that it is okay to make mistakes. Some mistakes can happen in parenting too. Writer Leo Babauta says that parents set examples for their children and “how to act when things don’t go our way is much, much more important than the rules we set for them”. We learn from our mistakes and experiences in life.
Take time to reflect and see what could have been done better instead of beating yourself up and feeling like a failure. This will help you to invest your energy positively in the right direction for your child in the future, as well as empower you to be an intentional parent.
Afterall, happiness works best!