Parenting with purposeMar 20, 2023
You’ve probably noticed a shift over the recent years in how we talk about joy and fulfillment. Mental health is now at the forefront of most organizations, corporations, even many of our governments. We have finally come to a point in our development as a society where we have realized that mental health is just as crucial as our physical health, and that is a beautiful thing. And although there has been great strides in organizations providing better benefits, more work-life balance and our healthcare system slowly becoming more sensitive to mental health, it seems as though parents have been left out.
Research demonstrated that many individuals will go through one or many periods of life where they feel less satisfied, less happy, less fulfilled, or at worst numb or depressed. And there are some demographics or particular passages of life that tend to be ‘higher risk’ for these periods or mental health struggles.
Unfortunately parenting seems to be a period of life that is high risk. Postpartum depression and anxiety is now pervasive, ever present, and yet so poorly managed. And there are many reasons for this, sleep deprivation and overwhelm certainly playing a great role, all of which will be tackled within this book, but first, let me introduce another cause you may have not considered yet.
You have probably heard of the famous mid-life crisis. Why do men and women with good jobs, marriages, nice homes, children etc suddenly have an urge to buy a motorcycle, quit their jobs, or worst. We’ve all seen the movie of the 45 year old man who suddenly divorces his wife, leaves his family behind, to date the 22 year old who could quite literally be his daughter. For some reason, women tend to handle themselves a little better in this mid-life crisis than men do, as we do when fighting a cold!
As confusing as the mid-life crisis is, there is a simple explanation. Up until that point in our lives, we had specific goals that we all seem to thrive for (or many of us anyways) and these goals are set by the society in which we live. If you live in a western society these goals tend to be to graduate with some kind of degree, find a good job, get married, buy a home and have a baby, perhaps two, a girl and a boy. The all American Dream anyone? The issue is, once those goals are achieved we tend to fall into ground-hog day. We forget to set new goals. We even convince ourselves to be content with what we have, because greed is ‘bad’.
The problem is, our brains don’t like this. Our brains are engineered to be goal driven. Ever notice that you get as much joy planning a vacation, if not more, than the joy you get from the vacation itself at times? This is because your brain strives on achievements and the building of momentum. All the planning, the deadlines, the preparation etc brings us joy. The achievement of the goal itself does bring us joy, but it's usually short lived. A simple, yet powerful example is someone who has spent years building a business with the ultimate dream of selling it and then living out the rest of their days on the beach. In reality what tends to happen is after a short while sipping margaritas in Cabo, our millionaires start to get bored, unmotivated, unfulfilled and so they search for the next thing. This isn’t the sign of an ungrateful person but rather a simple biological factor: we are not meant to be idle in life. Our brain does not function well unless it is growing, expanding, and challenging us in some way. Our society has made this out to be wrong somehow, as though the pursuit of new goals is greedy and ungrateful but in truth there is a strong difference between being grateful and being content. Being grateful is expressing happiness and love for all that we have while continuing to strive for more. Content, is to convince one-self that what we have is what we have, and to want more is wrong. We tend to associate this to money but unfortunately if this is how you view money, it’s also how you will treat your relationships, your health, your career and so much more. We find motivation, self-fulfillment, purpose, joy and excitement in the pursuit of goals that matter to us, that create burning desires within our hearts. Maybe you can remember the first day of college, or the first day on a new job you worked so hard to get, and even waiting impatiently for that beautiful bundle of joy to be born. Once there are no more exciting goals to work towards, our mental health begins to decline.
One of the reasons we accidentally fall into this trap of no longer setting goals is because we have mistaken the starting line as the finish line. Take marriage for example. When you were dating, chances are you and your partner got dressed up, sent cute messages, thought of creative ways to make the other feel loved and cared for, flirted with each other and made time to do things together. We often mistake the day we finally get married as the finish line. We made it! We made it and now we are celebrating in LARGE. Funny how much we are willing to spend on ONE DAY and yet we can’t seem to splurge on a new pair of leggings for ourselves… We’ll talk about this later! However what happens next? We see happiness in couples decline after marriage and of course that has to do with new shared responsibilities but also with a decline in intention and effort: the goal has already been achieved. We stop trying to purposefully love on eachother and marital happiness declines. We become like roommates or coworkers. The reality is, marriage is not the end point, it’s the beginning of a long marathon.
Having a baby. Oh we dream of having that beautiful baby in our arms. We optimize our health, go see our doctors, take prenatals, track our cycles so we can become pregnant and then we spend 9 months preparing for the arrival of our little one. We buy cute baby clothes, we wash them, and fold them carefully. We paint and decorate a nursery while trying to determine what travel system to buy. Maybe we attend a few classes and even read a book on childbirth and breastfeeding. The problem is once the baby is born, and the exhaustion and overwhelm sets in we forget: Giving birth was NOT the end goal it was the starting line of a life long, 24/7 endeavor.
What tends to happen next is we survive parenting. Day by day, challenge by challenge, we ‘deal’ as we go. We turn to doctor google, parent groups on social media, family and friends for quick fixes when we face a hurdle or obstacle. We put out fires. Now if you’ve ever been in a leadership position you know this spells out disaster. A leader who puts out fires rather than preventing them is basically signing a death certificate for the growth of any organization and for everyone who relies on it for a paycheck. It leads to exhaustion, overwhelm, unhappiness, dissatisfaction and pchaos. The same thing happens in a family.
Your family is an organization: a group of people, who ideally, should be working towards common goals… In fact a family should have clearly defined beliefs, value systems, mission statements and goals. Weird right? Nobody told you that when you were expecting, and that’s because most people merely survive parenting, day by day. The ‘go with the flow’, and the flow tends to lead them to fire after fire.
So what’s the alternative? Leading a purposeful life and parenting journey. This is what we do at BeBaby, it’s our magic (along with getting kids to sleep through the night!). The goal of this book is to introduce you to and walk you through our approach to purposeful parenting: The Peace of Mind Parenting Approach.
Purposeful parenting means to parent with purpose (wow Sam really?). Purpose, in our lovely dictionary, means ‘the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists’ as well as ‘a person's sense of resolve or determination’. In the context of parenting what we mean is having an end goal in mind, a clearly definable, measurable end goal, for the family we want to create, the health and wellbeing of its members, and ultimately the type of adult we hope our children will become.
In other words, we want a sturdy framework, by which we can make decisions as a family, that lead us each day in creating a life today, and a future, that aligns with what we truly want and desire as individuals and what we value as a family. This framework gives us ultimate clarity to make decisions with ease, give us clear actionable steps to parent with ease, and to promote health, love, prosperity and so much more for our families.
That may seem like a very loaded endeavor, and it is, but with the Peace of Mind Parenting approach, we have made this system easy and fun to use. Imagine having absolute faith and trust in the decisions you make as a parent for the wellbeing of your children, your marriage, your own health and every other part of your life?
One of the biggest secrets to the happiest and most successful people in life is that they make life happen FOR them rather than letting life happen TO them, and they do so by living purposeful lives. And that, a purposeful approach to life and parenting, is my personal secret sauce to happiness, health and wealth in all areas of life. We ultimately have control over much of what happens to us in life: the relationship we have with our children, spouses, friends etc, our physical and mental health, our success in our careers, our financial health and so much more. The problem is we were not taught how to exercise that control to make life happen FOR us rather than TO us.
Now yes, don;t get me wrong, some things will happen TO us. But if we live with clear purpose, it is much easier to handle these hurdles and obstacles, and in some cases, even use them to our advantage.
And although it may seem daunting to accept unwavering responsibility for every area of our lives, or what type of adults our children ultimately become, it should actually, and will over the course of this book, give you a sense of relief. You can create the life of your dreams, no matter how crazy those dreams may seem at this moment.
Parenting and living with purpose means creating a life you love. To parent with purpose we first have to get clear about what we want to accomplish as a family, as individuals, in our marriages and for our children. From there we can create clear action plans to get there, and finally, at BeBaby, we aim to give you the resources to achieve all of this.
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