Intentional Parenting 101 – Figuring Out the Foundations of Parenting
First, about you
If you are reading this, you are
- About to be a parent
- Already have a little kiddo or more
- Have a teen in your life
- Have young adults that call you Mom or Dad
- Are a Grandma or Grandpa
That’s a huge range! But if you have a child, you fit this bill in one way or another.
What is your current reality?
If you fall in categories 2-5, you already know:
- how hard it is to be the parent that you want to be
- how hard it is to consistently give your best to your child
- how hard it is to help them to be their best self – often in spite of their efforts to stop you!
If don’t have a cute little squirmy living with you yet:
Both on your new baby, but just as importantly, on having the wisdom to think concretely about parenting in advance! That shows heaps of wisdom and humility already (PS. Two of my favourite qualities in life).
I have gathered here for you:
- 72 collective years of parenting
- 12 collective years of university kids coming and going
- 9 years of grandparenting (I didn’t add up the collective years because their parents are responsible for them, not me!
- Brain Story Certification – which essentially means that I have access to the latest and growing body of research addressing the importance of how we interact with a new babies and small children. “It’s easiest to get it right the first time than to fix it later”
- Certified Birth and Postpartum Doula Certification knowledge and experience
- A background in Sociology. How is that important? I use the study and knowledge of patterns to help you to understand your life in greater depth:
- extended family and generational patterns
- patterns of behaviour in your family unit
- the broader patterns of social influence
- all of these things quietly influence how we think, feel, and behave as parents.
What Parents are Saying
Back to the present
With all that I have to offer you, is my life perfect? Not at all! Which is why I have so much to give you! I have worked through so many challenges, including
- Four kids in under five years – that’s six years straight of pregnancy and breastfeeding. I weaned #4 early so my other kids could have their mom back. Or maybe, just find her
- Moving to Australia with 2 kids: one was two years and two weeks, and the other two and a half months
- Then we lived in six places in four years
- One of those moves happened very quickly: a lost and unopened piece of mail came to the surface with news that we had been given notice to vacate. That was a Tuesday. On Saturday we moved. With three kids.
- The seventh move brought us back to Canada – with four kids. In January. I said I would not come back until the littlies were all toilet-trained and could do up their own snowsuits. One was securely toilet trained. Zero on the snowsuits.
- My intention to be married to one person for life ended abruptly. I became a solo parent to four kiddos: 4, 5, 7, & 9.
All that adds up to one experienced mama who is always determined to find a solution! And it led to writing a course.
What exactly is in Figuring Out the Foundations of Parenting?
And how will it not only help you and maybe even change your life?
There are 10 modules. (Don’t be overwhelmed!)
- They are pretty short ( ’cause I know you’re busy)
- They are very thought-provoking (see the summaries below)
- There are handouts for you save or print that will help you think through each module
- In fact, if you put all the handouts in a folder or binder, you will have the start of your very own parenting handbook, written by you, for you. Isn’t that a great idea? This will be information that is unique to you, your partner (if you have one), and your tiny beloved.
- As the title suggests, this course helps you to identify and understand the thoughts, feelings, and expectations that surround how you think, act, and behave as a parent – your very foundations. Many of those things are not actually on your conscious radar and will pop up at the most inconvenient times!
- Figuring Out the Foundations of Parenting (FOFP) helps you to explore many of the silent influences that inform how you think and what you expect of yourself and of your partner in parenting.
- Next, FOFP gives you a framework to understand how to organize all of that information and use it in your daily lives
- It won’t be long before you will be able to respond confidently to any situation with wisdom, grace, and also important, dignity, for both grownups and kids.
- You will have access to a private FOFP Facebook page to chat with other parents
- You will be able to participate in monthly live, one-hour Q&A sessions with other parents.
When we start on a journey of any kind, it’s almost always a good idea to have some sort of plan or objective in mind. In this module, I share my objectives with you and then ask you to think about yours. What do you hope to get out of this course? Your goals or objectives might be general, or they could be very specific. Either way, by taking time to think about your goals, you can recognize when you have met them and, if they are things that can only grow over time, you can be encouraged with small successes.
We end this module with an outline of the course and three encouragements that I am hoping you will seriously take to heart!
Many of us begin our parenting experience with the idea that this is a brand-new start, a blank slate, but then we quickly discover that the interactions with our little ones actually have deep histories! Not only that, but as anyone who has more than one child will tell you, these tiny humans arrive with their own interpretation of the world and their own means of engaging. What I mean is that they have their own preferences and ideas and they begin to express those individualities very early in their lives.
In this module, we explore these hidden influences in your child’s life – no matter how old they are and no matter how old you are: it is never too late to learn and grow into new understandings!
We also learn that it’s ok to get messy! Actually, it can be an indication of things going well, because usually, re-arranging things – including thoughts and habit -gets messier before it gets better.
This is a pretty important module in that it addresses influences that are significantly present in our everyday lives, every single day! Not only do influences subconsciously infiltrate and inform our thoughts and actions, but they impact how we interact with our little ones, that being, how we parent.
These hidden influences also have the potential to make us feel like our job of raising a tiny little person is not very important. It is an uphill battle to do a good job when you feel like your job doesn’t have much value. Likewise, it is super-challenging to be a good parent when you don’t feel that it is recognized as being the important work that it is.
In this module, we zoom back in from the larger corporate world to your personal history, if you are parenting alone, or your combined histories if you are parenting as a couple.
Walking through this module will help to remember how you thought and felt as a child so that you can bring a greater level of compassion, understanding, and overall thoughtfulness to your special little person. Without this, it can be tempting to be detached when they do perplexing or annoying things! Looking back on your own experiences can also help you to define what kind of childhood you would like to make for your little one.
In the last module, we talked about your own experiences as a child – this module is similar, but it focuses specifically on how you perceived the grown-ups in your life when you were little. In casting back to revisit these often-forgotten understandings, you can practice learning how to see how your child experiences their life – which, in turn, can lead to more compassionate parenting!
This module also talks about generational behaviour and how you can take control to keep the things that you want and work to change the things that you don’t.
As we introduce these four amazing tools, you will begin to see how you are already using them, and how far you have come, maybe without even knowing!
By exploring the definitions of love and success, we will see how they can unintentionally get tangled up in the world of parenting.
Zeroing in on love, we attempt to define it and explain what it looks like in day-to-day life.
It turns out that its not so straight forward! That’s why there are two modules devoted to love!
When is it love? When is it actually not love? How to show love when you really, really don’t feel like it!
In Module 8, we carry concept of love into Planning Ahead, and we do that because we can use love, both the emotion and the love that we can act out even when we don’t feel like it. This is a way of taking concrete step to make really good plans for your child. And for you, the parent. And in ways that enhance and build the short- and long-term relationship.
In this module, you can take all that you have learned in the first half of the course (Modules 1-5), together with the new thoughts and ideas of how to express genuine love and define of action!
Planning Ahead can be a really fun part! It carries the ring of a new beginning, of a fresh start, and of having the ability to make good choices for your future.
It’s like writing your own history, yours and your child’s! You are planning for what you hope to achieve!
For most of us, Being Consistent is the most challenging these four tools, and yet it can be so important for our little ones.
Tool number 3, once again layers on top of the first two tools: Love and Planning Ahead. Getting the hang of Love and Planning Ahead makes being consistent easier and brings it more within your reach. We talk about the value of today, of being consistent from your kiddo’s perspective and how regular experiences of inconsistency can devalue your child’s capacity to trust you and respect you.
We also talk about super-star charts – for YOU!
Making good memories is harder than you think! We can be intentional in memory-making as much as in choosing to Love, Planning Ahead, and in Being Consistent. In this last module we talk about three kind of memories, the easy one, ways to manage the harder memories, and with the garden metaphor, how not to leave all of the harvest until the end.
All of this wonderful and enlightening stuff is bundled together with knowledge that I am super-excited and passionate about:
making the most of your child’s brain development.
Did you know that infant and childhood experiences affect not just the psychology of brain development, but the actual physical development of brain?
The “Brain Story” Certification is an amazing program put together by The Alberta Family Wellness Initiative (AFWI). The AFWI “facilitates research into early brain development […] and applies this research to policies and practices that support positive lifelong health outcomes” (emphasis mine). Have a look at this short video to see how what you do today impacts not just today but overflows into your child’s future and their engagement with the world.
When I first learned about these things, I understood why I felt like I was running in deep water for so many years and how early negative experiences silently affected my parenting (and many other things).
But here is the key for you and your family:
Knowledge is Power!
And getting it right the first time is so much easier than fixing it later.
But if you think you didn’t get it right, take a deep breath! No one gets everything right. And some of us are more bogged down by history than others. But, it is important to have hope, and to know that
Today is a new and fresh start!
Little brains are highly responsive to repair because they have such amazing plasticity – that means the ability to change and grow. We can change and grow at any stage in life, it just takes more work the older we get.
Back to the course and what you can hope to get out of it.
By the end of Figuring Out the Foundations of Parenting, I am certain that you will:
- Feel more confident within yourself and in your role as a parent
- Be able to see your own strengths, enjoy them, and feel comfortable to clearly share them with others, including your child
- Learn ways to work with your partner so that you can both appreciate your differences and learn how to grow through them together.
- Have learned a 4-step process of thinking through your responses to parental challenges
- Become lightning fast at using these 4 steps for those in-the-moment needs
- Get clear on your parenting objectives and goals for today, and for 20 years from now. Really! And they will shift and change with time and growth, but having them with give strength and structure to daily living and decision-making.
- Understand how to use the 4 steps to put those long term plans into action and be flexible with change
- And, you will have written your own parenting handbook, reflecting the uniqueness of your family. Don’t worry! I will guide you through this and it will not be hard. This all by itself has so much value in so many ways. I’ll name one really important one: you will be able to see how you have grown and changed over time, whether that is measured in weeks, months, or a year. And that is super-encouraging and confidence-building!
Lives with special challenges
Parenting is hard. We all have mountains to deal with but some have higher mountains to climb than others. And those mountains can take many shapes and forms. The key point is that you feel that your mountain is getting in the way of you being the parent that you want to be.
Take heart and be encouraged.
I have faced some giant mountains in my life.
Thinking them through – both the failures and the successes have led to identifying key principles that have made a significant difference in bringing those mountains down to size.
These steps and the principles in FOFP still guide my thinking and contribute to ongoing growth as an individual, as a parent, and as a grandparent.