My Parenting Philosophy

I always thought my parenting was simply informed by my background in psychology. To a large degree, that’s true. But, one afternoon, I was out to lunch with my family, watching my husband and I interact with our kids while the book I was currently reading flowed through my head. It hit me then: I have a parenting philosophy.

One afternoon, we were having lunch in a restaurant. It was lunch on a weekday, so it was far from crowded. Perfect when there are two kids under 5. We were having a good time with my husband keeping our son occupied with some games on one of those devices that lets you order, pay, and play games, and me keeping our daughter from wrecking havoc on the table and destroying the menus. Then I noticed our son was goofing off while Daddy was playing his game for him. Nope, nope, nope. He’ll never learn to do things on his own if we continue to step in. After all, he’ll be going into Kindergarten in August. As for my daughter? I could be nice and continually fetch crayons from under the table and from her feet, but she would never learn to fetch them on her own.

Courtesy of NetGalley, I was reading a book called After the End by Clare Mackintosh. It’s about a couple who have to make an impossible choice about their terminally ill toddler. With my daughter being about his age, it tore my heart apart to read.

Lunch was interesting. Not only was that book running through my head, but I was also caring for and disciplining my children. And that’s when it hit me. How I parent. What informs what I do.

Love them like they’re going to die tomorrow; teach them like they’re going to live forever.

Love them…

Hug them, kiss them, snuggle them. I’m all too aware that my babies are growing up fast. My almost 5 year old has already started running and twisting away. Hugs and kisses become fewer and farther between. My love for them will only grow, but the way I love them will change. Gone will be the hugs and kisses. One day it might just be showing up or leaving them alone or wordlessly handing over a treat without asking questions. Whatever it is, I’ll always love them, and try to love them in a way that they know but won’t find invasive.

…like they’re going to die tomorrow;

It’s a terrible thought, your child dying. After all we go through to grow and birth and raise them, we think they should grow to be old and they should be the ones to bury us. But in a world full of school and mass shootings and stabbings, hate crimes and gang violence and domestic violence and more, not to mention accidents and terminal illnesses, that isn’t a guarantee.

My oldest is off to Kindergarten in August. I’m going to spend his hours at school worried, fearful for his safety. There will be no guarantee he’ll come home alive every day. Beyond that, there are so many things that can happen any time and any where to cut a life short.

So, excuse me while I go love my children like they’re going to die tomorrow.

teach them…

Even though I will spend the rest of my life worried to death about them, I still have to teach them. My husband and I trust their future teachers, but we’re also going to take the reins of their education. But it’s also our job to teach them about life, about right and wrong; to help them develop their values, goals, and morals; to help them learn to socialize and treat people well; to teach them the soft skills; to teach them to be good people.

There’s so much for humans to learn as soon as they’re born. Each thing will build on something previously learned. If I hope for my kids to turn out to be good, contributing members of society, then I have to teach them to be that way.

…like they’re going to live forever.

Even though I love them like they’re going to die tomorrow, I will still teach them like they’re going to live forever, because there’s just as good a chance they’ll live to bury me and live to be 110. Even though I’m afraid of them dying young, I still have to prepare them as though they’ll live forever. They’ll need everything I can teach them.

My Parenting Philosophy

It’s so simple. I must love my kids as though I could lose them at any time, yet I must also teach them and discipline them as though they’ll live long, long lives. It wouldn’t do to do one or the other. I’ll do them a disservice if I only love and cuddle them. I’ll also regret it if all I’ve done is teach them and I end up losing them.

It’s a delicate, daily balance. I look for every opportunity to love and teach them. But there are so many opportunities that can go either way. I can love my kids by fetching a snack for them or I can teach them to be self-sufficient and have them fetch the bag of chips themselves. I don’t intentionally flip between them; instead, I look at the day as a whole and decide if this should be a loving or teaching moment. There are no clear answers, but if I know for sure they can do something and I’ve made them do it or they’ve done it on their own, I’ll choose to love them.

There are no real guidelines to raising kids outside of milestones and what the education system demands they know, so having my philosophy helps guide me. I only stress over whether to cuddle or teach them and not what someone else thinks I should do.



30 thoughts on “My Parenting Philosophy”

  • Exceptionally well said. We have “hug time” that one of my kids (3) randomly calls out and whoever’s within earshot brings it in for an embrace! Doesn’t matter WHAT I’m in the middle of doing, I get excited every time I hear it and jump to my feet lol

    • That’s so sweet! I love that idea. Haha, I think I’ll have to steal it, just so I can squeeze out a few more hugs from my oldest.

  • Omg. Losing my kids is such a traumatic thought for me that I just can’t think of it. 😢When I do think of it, it feels as though I’ve lost them already. You’re so right, balance is the key to anything in life I’m pretty sure, Kat. I will say, though…I’ve settled down a lot when it comes to ‘teaching’ them because I’ve realised they are already learning from the examples I set, and the people, places and things they’re exposed to. I can’t control it all, so I’m trying to let the teaching part happen organically rather than actually setting aside time to say ‘this is the way you should be in the world.’ I’ll guide them, but I think it’s important they discover for themselves how much or little, and in what ways they should contribute to society. I’d hate them to end up like I did for too long in my adult life…so afraid to own my place world, and unsure of who I was because I was taught to follow the ‘rules of others’ so strictly. The result was that I never actually learned what the ‘rules of me’ were. The good news is, I’m finally learning now! Lol. It’s all very interesting, parenting, psychology and life. Fascinating stuff, indeed! Beautiful post, Kat. xx

    • Exactly how I feel about the teaching. I’ve learned kids learn best when it’s incorporated into their play and daily routines, like teaching them to look both ways before crossing the street. My husband and I thrive on academics, but, at 2 and almost 5, most of the teaching involves teaching how to ask nicely for things. I was raised with a lot of strict rules, too, so, like you, I’m just now discovering myself. Could you believe I never seriously studied music because my parents didn’t believe it was a real career option? I would hate for my kids to be raised with the same silly ideas, and I’d much rather encourage their wild, creative sides, but also teach them there’s a time and a place. Somehow I don’t think their teachers would agree that being loud and running around the classroom as a form of self-expression is a good idea. Ah, what a crazy thing life is! We’re told to follow our dreams, but also warned to keep them within limits. I wonder if Mars is ready for life yet…

      • Ha ha ha! I love you Kat! Lol☺️💕 When you find out about mars… please let me know! Just THINK of what we could do there! 😂

  • I appreciate this so much! Most of what you addressed has been on my heart lately as I grow closer and closer to parenthood. It’s so refreshing to read a well articulated philosophy rather than hear “I dunno, it’s just the way I do it” when I ask how people make decisions for parenting.

    • That’s the best part of having this blog. It makes me really sit down and think about what I’m doing as a parent, otherwise I’d be running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I’m so excited for you and your family! Parenthood is amazing, and I don’t doubt you’ll be a wonderful mother.

  • I used to worry so much that one of them would die in his sleep, yet they continue to live and get bigger. Yes, I still worry -especially as my oldest is a teenager and I see signs of depression and angst. But, I agree with you: withdrawing love out of fear would do a lot more harm than loving him as if he will live forever.

    ….if only he’d let me hug him. 😉

    • Get him to toss a ball or a Frisbee with you every week or so.

      People feel more connected and have an easier time opening up when they participate in repetitive back-and-forth activities together. Not to mention, it’s easier to play it cool and not put him off by being a PARENT. Like, “I’ve decided to take up football and I need you to help me with my throw.”

    • My mom keeps telling me the worry never goes away; it just changes. I’m not looking forward to adolescence. Sometimes I wish they could stay babies so I can cuddle them and watch them breathe without making them squirm. It’s so hard to watch them grow up and have to battle their own demons. I know for me it helped knowing my mom was always there for me so my teenage roller coaster didn’t completely derail.

      Definitely trying to get all my huge in now!

  • It’s a wonderful way how you put it. You can’t just cuddle all the time but you can’t just discipline all the time. There must be a balance. I am constantly learning this every day. Thank you for this! 🙂

  • Nice post. Actually we do emphasize more on future and forget the present. What might be happened in forthcoming days——sometime this type of thinking make us incapable to concentrate on present. This creates sometime fear —within us. So better in my opinion is go on with your present. Take care of that and that will take you to the path of future. Who had seen tomorrow? Live on the present and teach child to live on present.

  • Nice post. Actually we do emphasize more on future and forget the present. What might be happened in forthcoming days——sometime this type of thinking make us incapable to concentrate on present. This creates sometime fear —within us. So better in my opinion is to go on with your present. Take care of that and that will take you to the path of future. Who had seen tomorrow? Live on the present and teach child to live on present.

  • Very nice post.I have 3 teenagers and I always need a word of advice for handling them.you are right balance is the key.i give in to their unreasonable demands sometimes as a reward for some good work they have accomplished. I hope thTs not wrong

    • Wow, you must be busy! It’s so hard to achieve balance, but I like to think it’s worth striving for. Parenting is hard and there’s no one to say what, exactly, is right and wrong. But I like the idea of giving in as a reward as it will hopefully encourage them to continue to work hard.

  • That’s a great way of thinking about it. And the best thing is that you can do both throughout a day or even a single interaction.

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