3 Keys to Understanding ‘Deliberate Parenting’ and How It Can Transform Your Childs Life

Personal Development for Dads Who Want to Excel in Life and Parenthood

3 Keys to Understanding ‘Deliberate Parenting’ and How It Can Transform Your Childs Life

I want to highlight three keys to understanding what I mean by ‘deliberate’ parenting. I genuinely believe that most parents go through their lives blind to the effects that their lives have on their children. It’s not a popular thing to say, but I honestly believe it to be true.

Sure, most of us want to be good parents, and we would all confess to being a great dad if we were asked. But that doesnt actually make it true. Parenting deliberately means more than just thinking about the big choices – what school to send them to etc, but a whole host of other things. This article will spell out three key aspects to parenting deliberately.

I should say that in writing this, I never for a second want to give the impression that I am talking down to any parents. Almost every parent fails to parent with any kind of intentionality, at least at first. I know for a fact that I did, in the beginning. I honestly think my eldest child was maybe seven years old before it truly dawned on me what it took to be a “real” parent.

There is no rule book for this stuff, there is no pre-game briefing in which the important stuff is spelled out to you. In fact, if anyone had this, it was me. As part of a church, my wife and I went through a detailed marriage preparation course before they would agree to marry us. In this it was spelled out how important relationships and marriage were. All of which transfers pretty easily over to parenting.

But I think that part of the problem with being young is that you are not able to grasp the significance of moments in your life at the time they happen. It took my brain the better part of a decade to catch up with the reality of the situation; which was that I was in a very important relationship, where massive consequences (ie the fate of my children) hung in the balance. One of my main hopes for the Dads Eye View project is to help as many people as possible to short cut that process for themselves.

Deliberate parents consider the bigger picture.

There is more to parenting than providing for and caring for your children. There are countless aspects of being a parent which many people do not factor in. Things which all have effects on the children in question. Now, some of those effects may be small, but others, not so much. And the real challenge is, its impossible to tell at the time which factors will be a major deal for your kids and which will not. Let me give you an example.

Your relationship with alcohol

This does not only apply to alcoholics. We all have a relationship with alcohol. Some of us drink way too much, some of us try to drink in secret from our kids. Others don’t drink at all, others drink responsibly within full view of their children. Every variation that I just listed would have an impact on your children. That’s just a fact.

Now, its not my place to tell you what you should be doing with alcohol. Honestly I don’t want to push my own opinion on this. All I want you to do is to think about how your relationship with alcohol affects your children. There are few clear-cut right or wrongs here… mostly just opinions.

The majority of parents go through their lives without giving this question any thought at all. And the outcome just sort of happens accidentally. Parenting deliberately involves looking at the choices you make and deciding what’s best for your children as best you can, and changing behaviors in order to map out the best childhood for your children.

As a side note, although I used alcohol as the example here, I could have just as easily used almost anything else. You can re-read this section substituting in food/physical appearance/television/cars or almost anything else you can think of, and the arguement would be the same. We all have realtionships with all of these. How you choose to live – the wider picture of parenting is critical to how your child develops, yet most people do not give it any thought.

Deliberate parents are self aware.

Self-awareness is key to parenting well. It just is. Let me give you an illustration to emphasise this point:

Selfish or selfless: Which is the best advice?

There are many men out there for which the best advice they could receive would be to stop being so selfish and to aknowledge that as fathers/husbands/partners they need to prioritize the needs of their children and wife/partner over their own.

Yet there are many men out there who need to hear the opposite – that need to be given permission to be selfish, since their family unit needs them to be operating at a high level, and the best way to ensure that is to make sure the father is happy. This is a case where it is literally being selfish in order to be selfless: to ensure your own satisfaction with life in order to be able to fulfill your role as a father and as a husband/partner.

You see – totally opposing advice. I have no idea who reading this needs to hear the former, and which the latter. How could I possibly know that without meeting and in depth conversation?

Be mindful of your intentions.

The secret is for each of us to know ourselves well enough to be able to determine what we need. Sadly I have no idea how to teach self awareness. But I think that one of the keys in this is to ensure that your intent is pure. If you can honestly say that in your every action that your intent is to strengthen your family unit, to provide everything your children need – be it physical or emotional, then its going to be hard to go too wrong.

Deliberate parents are on a constant quest for self awareness. Most people have no idea what they truly need and what will make them genuinely fulfilled and happy.

Deliberate parents make tough calls.

The path of least resistance is a well worn and wide pathway, frequently traveled. This is the life that most people lead. Its the one that you will find yourself on very quickly when you stop looking with a proper perspective on the events in your life and the choices that you make.

The problem with the path of least resistance is that it has no definitive end goal or objective. In other words its a route that does not take the traveler anywhere specific.

And that can be very sad.

I remember coming back home after graduating university, I moved back with my parents in my hometown for a little while until I had sorted out the first step of my career and found a place of my own to live. In that brief window, I found so many of the people I had grown up with as children were still frequenting the same haunts – drinking in the bars their fathers had before them and had not moved on or developed themselves. I was stunned. In the four years or so since I had left, my life had been a whirlwind of self-discovery and learning. I was a totally different person from when I left. In reality, I had left a boy and come back a man. It jarred my thinking to see some of my high school friends in the same routines as when we separated just after high school graduation.

In short, the path of least resistance can lead you round in circles, or have you walking on the spot, or even have you unaware of your downward trajectory.

Deliberate parenting involves a total disregard for the path of least resistance. We need to learn to forge our own paths and to plot our own destiny.

The solution to the path of least resistance.

The secret to not following the path of least resistance is first to learn that an easy life is not the same thing as a happy life. There are some aspects of our lives which many of us instinctively know that – like when we have children. It would be easier for us to not have kids, after all children take a lot of work, cleaning up poop and vomit, night feeds, worrying over fevers and when they don’t put on weight… and that’s just the first couple of months. It may be easier just to not bother, yet so many of us burning desires for parenthood.

We need to apply that same level of dedication to other decisions in our lives. Once we accept that a rewarding and fulfilling life may well be hard, we are half way to beating this issue.

But how do you know which path to take, if not the easiest?

Here we have the main stumbling block that so many of us have to not following the path of least resistance.

In order to know which route to take, we need to have a firm idea about where we want to go. Without an end game in mind, we are going to really struggle to know what choices we should make.

But once we know what we want to achieve (be it a lifetime goal, a yearly target or monthly or weekly goal) then we can better choose the paths we take. As soon as you actively start pursing a goal, you instantly fall from the path of least resistance.

Deliberate parents are those that choose as a goal the happiness, well being and highest fulfillment for their children. They choose to develop themselves in order to be a better human being, a better husband or partner, and a better father.

All of which requires us to make the tough calls. Often to choose some degree of suffering or discomfort in life in order to be the man and the father we want to be.

The Potential Impact on Your Children

First of all let me say that there are no guarentees with parenting. None of us know for sure how things are going to pan out for ourselves, let alone our children. But one thing I believe fully is the idea that parents who choose to actively focus and concentrate on the act of parenting and take as seriously (if not more seriously) than they take their careers, are going to be much more likely to find the kinds of outcomes they desire for themselves and their children.

That is not to say that parents who do not care cannot have outrageously successful and talented children – of course they can, this happens all the time. But as men who take our responsibilities seriously, and understand the potential ramifications of leaving all of this to chance, we know that choosing to parent deliberately is the best way to stack the odds in our favor.

There are no sure things – but that does not mean there are not clear methods and processes for impacting the results of our life choices. That is what deliberate parenting is all about, and the reason for the Dads Eye View project.

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