Parenting comes with a lot of decision-making. We’re given the responsibility to influence and essentially direct the life course of our children.
What kind of life are we going to live? Who will our association be? What health choices will we make? What educational choices will we make? Where do we turn to for guidance and support? What are our family values and policies, and how do we implement them?!
It’s not easy to come to these decisions with 100% certainty. Some decisions are easier than others. In reality, it’s a little bit of an experiment, isn’t it? We try something, see how it goes, then assess if we want to adjust course.
This uncertainty of how things will unfold causes anxiety for some of us parents, probably most of us. We want to do right by our children! We do not know ahead of time if our decisions will serve our children in the highest sense.
So many choices fall in our hands.
There’s no single right way to respond.
How are we to know what to do?
No one can answer this question for us except ourselves.
I see something empowering and nourishing about this responsibility. What an opportunity to stand tall, get clear, be in integrity, and assertively act.
We’re called upon to be our best selves. We are corralled, in a sense, by the responsibility of parenthood and by our love for our children to develop a clear conscience. To gather knowledge while following our instincts.
How do I cultivate a clear conscience? Where do I turn to for knowledge? What is my gut telling me? How can I know the best course of action? These are sober questions thrust upon the responsible loving parent.
There are two types of knowledge, and a 3rd sub-type, all three of which can be fostered within our lives to support our decision-making processes. They are experiential knowledge, authoritative knowledge, and a sub-type I’ll call feedback. Feedback is a sub-type of experiential knowledge.
Employing the knowledge and exploring the feedback means we’re taking assertive action.
Experiential knowledge is what we can know from direct experience. “I tried out eating this type of food and my stomach hurts.” “Every time I’m around that person, I feel disturbed.” “This situation always supports my consciousness.” “When I do this, I feel that.” “My instinct is saying no.” “I’m experiencing __________.”
This directly experienced knowledge is centered around YOU. Your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations. If we choose to experience our experience, and not avoid or distract ourselves, we will have important pieces of information for our decision-making.
When we avoid, numb, and distract ourselves from our honest authentic experience, we loose touch with our truth and thinking becomes more difficult.
It’s not an easy path to feel our feelings and honor the knowledge coming from within. It’s difficult because, in various ways, we’ve become conditioned and accustomed to avoiding, numbing, and distracting.
The world we live in fully supports and supplies many forms of distractions. We are offered consumerism, intoxicating substances, entertainment, busyness, a bazillion things to look at on the internet… Those are just a few examples of temporary gratifications we can choose for our lives instead of tuning in and connecting to the spirit inside.
It’s not about blaming the world. We are not victims. At the same time, it’s not an easy path to experience our authentic experience in a world going the opposite direction.
So yes. Experiential knowledge is a large part of what we need as parents to move forward with important life decisions.
Authoritative knowledge is knowledge that comes from authority. The term ‘authority’ can carry a negative feeling for some us, understandably. There are people in positions of authority who are corrupt or who have personal agendas other than to serve others aligned with truth.
However, while it can be a challenge to discern where to turn to for knowledge outside of our self, it is still a necessary and worthwhile pursuit to find authority and use their information.
We turn to experts everyday. We go to meteorologists to learn about the weather. We turn to mathematicians to learn math. We go to the mother to learn how to take care of the baby. In all areas of life there are authorities who can give real knowledge.
Anxieties come in the process of finding our sources of knowledge. Some people have trouble trusting. Some sources are untrustworthy. Some situations really are quite sticky. There are ethical dilemmas and considerations within and outside of our control.
As parents, in reality, we’re forced to act, one way or another. Time is ticking, there is the child, growing up, and we are their guardian. Who will we go to for knowledge, guidance, and support?
Ideally a true and bonafide authority! Someone who really speaks the truth without an ulterior agenda.
The responsibility lays in our hands to distinguish and choose where to get authoritative knowledge. In many ways this is a great thing!
Who better than my spouse and I to guide our children, using experiential and authoritative knowledge, to the best of our ability, considering all factors, including our unique family values and the unique persons who we are?
Feedback is such a blessing. Feedback is available from within a person and from the external world. I say that it’s a sub-type of experiential knowledge because we are the receivers. The feedback comes through us for our translation.
Feedback is information about how those decisions we made are working out. If we are fortunate, we have the opportunity to adjust course.
If we cannot easily adjust course, what we have is our experience. A lesson learned. The growing process. The healing process. A new beginning.
From one perspective, it’s quite a grave and heavy thing to be a parent. We are the bottomline, apparently… We are left with the consequences of our actions.
Parenting is not really something to take lightly. At the same time, there is joy available to be tapped into!
Once we have sufficient information, once it is time to act, we act. It may take courage. Or it may feel easy. Regardless of our feelings, we’ve used our intelligence and the time comes to assertively and boldly take a stand. “To the best of my knowledge, this is the best way forward for my family.”
Then we can rest knowing we followed the due process of honoring experiential and authoritative knowledge. We listen to the feedback. We adjust course as needed.
Assertiveness is compassionate, communicative, steady, and aligned. It’s a state of being that takes practice! In comparison, passive decision-making may look like stalling or not honoring experiential knowledge such as intuition. Aggressive decision-making may be hasty, or it may look like ignoring information in pursuit of own’s personal agenda.
What’s possible for us as parents is that we can joyfully take on the responsibility of raising our children. We can do so in a sober, connected, open-minded, open-hearted, decisive, and adventurous way! We can have full access to our intuition. We can find and follow true authority. We can surrender to our knowing, trust ourselves, be trusting, and gracefully move through life.
We do not need to numb ourselves, avoid, and live in fear!
The reality is we’re going to struggle making decisions, time and again. We’re going to make mistakes. Life is a journey! Family life is itself rollercoaster-type of journey! Lots of ups and downs. Lots of new encounters we’ve never met before.
Everyday is a chance to re-calibrate. Everyday a chance to joyfully practice assertiveness.
Please take these questions with you to support your decision-making in family life.
1) What is my instinct telling me?
2) What is in my way of connecting to my authentic truth?
3) Where do I have blind spots in this area of my life?
4) Who can I turn to to give me honest feedback?
5) What am I experiencing emotionally, mentally, and physically?
6) What do I observe as true for my family members?
7) What have my family members told me about what they want/need?
8) Who do I turn to as an authority in this life area?
9) How can I research and find a reliable authority?
10) What is my deadline for making this decision?
11) What is my strategy for making this decision?
12) What am I avoiding?
13) How checked out or numbed out am I allowing myself to get?
14) How close do I feel to myself?
15) Am I staying overly busy to avoid the reality of the situation?
16) Why am I choosing indecisiveness?
17) Why am I so hasty in my decisions?
18) What inspires me?
19) What do I want?
20) What are my family values?
21) How committed am I to act in integrity?
22) What messes do I need to clean up first before moving forward?
I could keep listing questions, but I think you get the idea.
From a place of genuine openness and curiosity, you can navigate decision-making and let go of the results of your actions. Life will unfold as it does. All we need to do is show up.
I also have questions pertaining to spiritual life that I might ask. What message am I getting from God regarding this decision? Are my actions aligned with the teachings of God and his representatives? How am I supporting my family in their self-realization in this situation?
When I hand over the results of my actions to God, I trust that somehow or another, He has some plans that will be manifest in my family life. Maybe he wants my actions to go according to plan. Maybe what serves God most is for my decisions to result in a failure.
I’m actually not the bottom line, God is. There’s a bigger picture. I’m a small soul in a big universe, effecting only small changes, if God allows. This perspective enlivens and reassures me deeply!
How to make decisions in parenting life and feel clean, clear, and happy with our choices? To sum the answer into one sentence, I would say this:
Know yourself, experience your experience, connect to authority, connect to God, listen, surrender, and enjoy the process!
What do you think?
Sending my support!