What does being a parent mean to you? Joy or chore?
HOW do you feel about being a parent? Whether you are one now, or believe that you will be a parent one day in the future, what does being a parent mean to you?
Is being a parent a chore to you, or is it something refreshing and vitalising?
Parenting is a job, and any job has its down days, as well as the good ones.
When we go to work, do we go just to be part of the daily grind with a hope of a pay check, or do we go to work believing in what we are doing and doing everything in our power to make it meaningful and worthwhile?
So with parenting, is it just a daily grind, or do you actually believe in a powerful, positive outcome.
One of the fascinating things that I believe about parenting is that when we parent, we are actually going through the process of revisiting our own upbringing and working out what we missed out on, and what we are going to do better.
Most people have had moments that as parents they have sworn to themselves that they will never do certain things that their parents did… and some bemoan that despite swearing so crucially that they would not be like their parents, end up fulfilling the same patterns.
Another way of thinking about this, is that the act of parenting our children, is actually the act of parenting ourselves.
What we believe about ourselves in relation to parenting then becomes crucial for the kind of parents we can become.
A key question then to ask yourself then is: "Do I believe I am good enough as a parent?"
The more doubt that creeps in about the answer to this question, then the more uncertainty that the parent will have in terms of making wise and loving decisions for their kids.
When we are uncertain, our kids pick up on our uncertainty. When we doubt ourselves, our kids pick up on our doubt. If we feel ashamed or beat ourselves up as parents, our children will feel it.
If we don't want to face our own potential, our kids will pick up on this, too.
Some parents spend their time trying to pretend that they have everything covered and under control, that what they say goes, and their obedient kids are proof of what a good controlling parent they are.
These parents are only actually fooling themselves, not their kids.
Ask any kid, or anyone who has ever been a kid, what their parents were really like, and they will be able to tell you. In great detail.
The thing about kids is that they want to please their parents, they want to make their parents happy, and when they pick up on a parent doing one thing and believing another, at some level the kids will feel responsible for it.
Kids are amazing learning sponges, and the thing that they learn best of all is how to judge the world and themselves through their parents eyes.
So what happens then when a parent makes the decision to start being more passionate about being a parent?
Loving the rollercoaster for the thrill ride it is. Enjoying the ups and the downs.
And realising that what they do as Mum or Dad actually matters far more than what they might be comfortable in admitting.
The result will be children who feel more loved, because they can trust their parents more. This allows children to live more to their own potential.
Paul Stewart is a personal coach with Compassion Coaching, and also supports the inSight Men's Circle and Teen Tribe programs run through Hopelink.