It is often quipped that being an intentional parent is more about the parent than the child. And it is true. We cannot be a healthy parent unless we are a healthy person. Today’s society is very fitness and health aware – and we go to extreme lengths to look after our body – but our physical body is only one aspect of our health. We need to be healthy in all areas of our self: spiritually, morally, emotionally, socially, intellectually, and physically. So today we are looking at the idea that a healthy person equals a healthy parent.
Taking care of yourself is the start to being a better parent. We know what it means to be a healthy person physically – we have to eat, drink, exercise and sleep. When we are not in good shape physically and we want to make changes we know that we need to have a goal or a plan, and you then have to put in the work. We go through the same process to be fit and healthy in the other areas of our life: we need to have a goal, know our why (know why that is important), think about our how and then do the work.
- Do you make time for your relationship with Jesus? Are you growing in your understanding of who God is and what He asks of you? Are you growing in your ability to live a holy, set apart life?
- Do you make choices based on your moral values? Do you grow in your resolve to stand firm for what is right?
- Do you know, or are you growing, in understanding yourself, what makes you tick, and how to communicate your inner emotions?
- Do you make time for people, to build relationships and community with others, giving and taking as friendships grow?
- Are you exercising your intellect? Always learning – be it wisdom, knowledge or skills?
- And the physical – The body as you know, is one of our many resources and we need to look after it.
These are the types of things we need to be aware of in our life, we need to know why being healthy is important – and how we are going to move from areas of un-health (for want of a better word) to a place of health.
Being a Parent can be an Excuse
Though we feel like parenting is all consuming it shouldn’t be. If we feel that being a parent fills every fiber of our emotions, our relationships, our thinking, our abilities, our talents – then we have something out of whack.
We are more than a parent.
We are first of all a person – created in the image of God. Secondly, we are (most likely) a wife. (now, I know there are some dads here and some single mums – and these principles apply to everyone. )
And yes, we are also a parent –it is a significant relationship and role that we have but we are also a daughter, sister, friend, we are a community member. And we know deep in our heart that we have passions, and interests, abilities and talents. We are more than mum – because we have been created more complexly than that.
And though women are often told they can have it all – we can’t. We are finite beings – we do have limitations but we can find a place where we balance all the different spheres of our life – especially if we are intentional about our goals, and our choices.
When parenting consumes every thing (and I’m talking about everything) we have no time for our husband, we have no time for friends and we have no time for recognising that we are a person as well, we may even have no time for God. This is not being healthy. This is like exercising one part of your body – like just exercising your legs. The rest of you will have some degree of health but your legs – wow they look strong – but what are strong legs if when you walk somewhere to do something your arms aren’t strong enough to lift or carry?
We need to be healthy as a whole person – all areas of our life.
It starts with being Self Aware
As Christians we have been told that we have to be self-less, be others aware. And that is so true. That is following in the footsteps – and words – of Jesus for sure. But – Jesus knew who he was. Do we know who we are? Jesus knew when he was depleted, He knew his priorities and when he had to push through or when he had to retreat.
When we grab hold of one principle – like, be selfless and be others aware – we ignore other principles – like, we are made for a purpose, we have God-given abilities and talents.
Being an adult is about finding our way to balance more than one principle at a time!
So being self-aware is about knowing ourselves – knowing what you believe and value, knowing your strengths and weaknesses, knowing your motivations, knowing your gifts and abilities, knowing your passions and dreams.
Once you know these things it doesn’t give you a free reign to live a self focused self aware life – we learn to know who we are so that we can become more like Christ, so that we can be a blessing to others.
As a Christian our self-awareness starts with our awareness of sin. Even as a redeemed and restored child of God we need to be aware of the effects of the flesh in our life, and the state of the fallen world that we live in. The Bible tells us to renew our mind – but we can’t do that unless we are aware of the wrong thinking we are living out in the first place.
We can become more self-aware – that is aware of our inner makeup (the good and the ugly) – by
- Writing in a journal and looking at recurring patterns that you keep doing or thinking about
- Listen to your inner voice – what do you tell yourself is important as you go through your day – right or wrong!
- Reflect on your feelings – acknowledging your feelings for what they are is good, it is our acting on our feelings that often get us into trouble!
- Keep a growing list of your values as they come to mind so that you can be conscious of what is important to you.
- Get to know yourself by building a personal profile by taking personality and strengths type tests – over the years I’ve done tests like – temperaments, love language, spiritual giftings, strength finders, and more recently the enneagram.
When we know ourselves, and then when we are honest with what we see, we give ourselves the best opportunity to grow.
Heart Booster #15
Healthy Person – Healthy Parent Journal Pages
Personal growth starts with an honest assessment. Take the time to look at the different areas of your life where you are strong, and where you are weak: then make a plan to move forward.
Growing is Hard Work
Once we have a sense of who we are and where we are at – and how that differs from where we want to be in our life – we can get to work and make some changes in our life.
Here are three ways that help me work on my inner issues:
1–Go to God – though this may sound ordinary and expected – the reality is God is not only the measuring stick for seeing the gaps in my life – He is also the source of strength to make any changes. God is not taken by surprise by our neediness or immaturity. He knows us and He wants us to grow and be more like Christ. When I see a weakness, a wrong attitude or action, an immaturity I go to God and He gives me love, forgiveness, wisdom and grace. It is from this place that I know I can grow as a person.
2–Talk to Peter – though my well-being is my responsibility and something that I have to do – we are not made to do life alone – we are made for community. Marriage is my first community – and then there is family and friends who support me, help me, encourage me. By talking with Peter about the areas that I struggle with, I get his insight, his support and when necessary, his practical help.
3–Make a Plan – I know there are things that God works on in my life that I’m not even aware of. But there are many areas where I am aware I need to change and I ask God for help, and I put all my resources that He has given me to work towards that change. I make a plan – I set goals, I see the obstacles, I find ways around them, and I set to. Of course, this is actually a lot harder than it sounds. I have an up and down success rate – but the idea is that once I am aware of an area that doesn’t reflect or honour God, an area where I need to change, I do what is necessary, to the best of my ability, to work on that area in my life.
Like I said at the beginning parenting is about us the parents being the best we can be. If we don’t do the work then we will find our weaknesses, our baggage, our stuff constantly impacting our parenting. We may project our hurts and issues onto our kids, we may push them as we try to live our life through them, we may withdraw from them, expect too much from them, be unfair, unloving, unavailable, or angry.
It isn’t that we need to have all this sorted before we become a parent. God will use the role of parent to mature us – to shape us to be more like Christ. The key is to be actively working on being healthy in every area of our life – we don’t have to be perfect, we don’t have to have it all together and not make any mistakes. But we do need to be growing and changing – we do have to do the hard work towards being a healthy person.
Heart-focused Action Step:
The heart-focused action step for this week is to download the Healthy Person Journal and Assessment. You’ll find the link in the Show Notes both on your podcast listening app, or on my website.
Find 30 minutes where you can be calm where you can reflect on where you are at, and where you want to be, and take time to make a plan.
I know it can seem impossible to find 30 minutes but to be honest, if you can’t, then that is an indicator that you really need to be able to. Now, I know that isn’t a helpful observation – so here are 3 ways to find 30 minutes in the middle of it all
- Give your children some extra screen time (yep! I said it! It will be okay!!)
- Pack up picnic, find a playground and let your kids play while you reflect (of course, stay close by and aware but they’ll be okay if you don’t play with them every time you go out.)
- Ask a friend to do a babysit swap – you do a few hours for her, she does a few hours for you.
And of course a fourth would be… Talk to your husband about how you can work together to give you a bit of thinking time.
When you are a healthy person you will make healthy parenting choices.
- A healthy person has the energy to focus on their responsibilities.
- A healthy person is content and yet always striving to be better.
- A healthy person has self control and the ability to communicate their struggles and joys.
- A healthy person lives with healthy boundaries in every area of their life.
- A healthy person controls themselves instead of controlling others.
- A healthy person gives to others freely.
Personal growth starts with an honest assessment so have an honest look at how you are doing – and decide today to do something about going forward.
A Simple Encouragement to Act Christlike in my Marriage: Applying the biblical encouragement to put on compassion, meekness, patience, and tolerance to my marriage relationship changes things.
Quiet Time – There are no Rules: Don’t let man-made rules stop you from connecting with Jesus – regardless of what is going on in your day.
5 Character Traits for Busy Women: Busyness robs us of our intentionality and purpose. We need to focus on positive character traits to find balance.
Reviews of Heart-focused Parenting Podcast
Thank you Belinda
I have tried to read your blog and newsletter for years but a podcast is just perfect as I balance 5 kids and homeschooling. Having you say the words helps me remember them throughout the day when things get a bit sticky! Sophie M
So good / so thankful
Thanks for giving me a different way to parent my kids than how I was parented. My husband and I have not really known how to go about that. ~ Alison