I recently read Daring Greatly by Brene’ Brown. In it, Brown shares her parenting manifesto. Reading it inspired me to think deeply about the values, dreams and goals I have as a parent. My own parenting manifesto ended up as a letter to my children. I’ve decided that it will be a fluid document that changes as I continue to learn and grow but below is what I hope to be imparting to my kids on a daily basis with my words and actions. And when I don’t, I hope they will still learn by watching me offer a sincere apology, work to make amends and then get back on track to becoming the parent I want to be.
Dearest Molly and Carter,
More than anything, I want you both to know that you are unconditionally loved and your lives are filled with limitless possibilities.
Dad and I desire for you to always be your true authentic selves. You are each uniquely you and standing in that truth is the greatest gift you can give to yourselves and others. We will never ask you to look, act or be different from who you really are.
In our family, we view mistakes as opportunities for growth and learning. We focus on effort rather than achievement and on the process rather than the outcome.
We practice kindness, patience and compassion with ourselves so that we can offer all these things to others.
We want you to know that you are never stuck. We are always here to help you and no problem is without a solution. Sometimes, the bravest move is knowing when to make a U-turn or change direction.
We hope to teach you to go after your dreams by going after ours. We will celebrate together when we challenge ourselves and are willing to take risks.
Any and all feelings are accepted in our home. This is a safe place for you to express your emotions, even those that are the most uncomfortable like sadness, anger, jealously and resentment. We want you to allow those feelings to move through you rather than bury them deep inside.
In our family, we recognize that words are powerful and we will use them to build each other up rather than tear each other down.
We know that we will encounter challenging times and during those moments we will work together to create a deeper connection and understanding between us instead of distance or alienation. We will show respect for each other’s struggles and our home will be a soft place for us to fall. We will provide one another with comfort on difficult days.
We will practice gratitude and prayer together daily and always remember that we are all connected to one another on this planet.
When one of us does something that leaves us feeling scared, lost, lonely or ashamed we will help that person get in touch with their inherent goodness rather than treating them in a way that reinforces their belief that they deserve to be feeling any of those things.
We will always seek to listen and understand before asking to be heard and understood. We will value openness and we will learn from one another.
Finally, we will remind each other that we are the authors of our own lives. We will be careful about the stories we tell ourselves because those stories will in fact become our lives.
Dad and I are deeply honored to be a part of yours.
With love, hope and gratitude,