I am not a parent. (Though not by choice.) I am an observer of parents. I am an informal interviewer of parents. I am a teacher, and I partner with parents to grow young minds. I love and appreciate parents.

Most likely, if you have found me and are reading this particular post, you ARE a parent. And you feel the joy and the weight of it. So much of your world is consumed with in-the-moment tasks, but in this moment, I invite you to reflect. Check in with yourself, your whole self. How do you feel? How do you want to feel?

You have chosen (perhaps rather unintentionally) to take on the all-consuming journey of raising a child, or children. Thank you. There is no work more essential than this. Regardless of where you are on your journey, I invite you again to reflect. How is it going? And is this the direction you want to be going in?

There seem to be many different ways to raise beautiful human beings. Human beings who are kind, who are capable, who are confident. The happiest and most deservedly confident parents I know have found their own way to raise their children. They are driven by all the values and parts of themselves they had before they were parents, as well as those which evolved in the aftermath.

Here are some things I’ve noticed about these parents…

1. They recognize themselves as worthy of priority and see the value in this for their children. They do what they want most of the time, and what their kids want some of the time. Sometimes they ask, most of the time they tell. They are intentional about caring for themselves, their adult relationships, their work, and their play, as well as their children.

2. They ask a lot from their children. These children carry their own backpacks from the time they can walk. They have chores. They have family responsibilities. They are expected to do their best at school and in life.

3. They are confident in their own parenting. They know that despite the 1,000 things they do “wrong” in a day, they do 10,000 things “right.” Despite what the television or the neighbors or the in-laws say, they can see the positive results of their parenting. They trust themselves, and give themselves the credit they deserve.

4. They enjoy being parents. Sincerely. They regulalry have fun in simple, mutually-enjoyable ways with their children. They laugh, play, smile, and show lots of affection. They don’t have to pretend to like their children because they’re “supposed to.” They truly like their children as human beings because they have raised kids who are likeable (most of the time!!).

Though each of these families looks and functions very differently, they do seem to have these things in common. I find it interesting. As you reflect on your own path, I would love to hear your thoughts!