by Monica Brancheau

 

The word “purpose” is thrown around a lot nowadays. Living life with purpose, eating with purpose, a job that has purpose, and parenting with purpose — it’s all cerebrally inspiring and makes for shareable Instagram posts. Yet, how does one parent with purpose when on most days, we’re just trying to survive? 

Purpose is defined as both “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists” and “a person’s sense of resolve or determination.” In the most sublime definition, the purpose of parenting is to raise children to live their best lives and become productive members of society. This could be a foundational launching point, but in order for parenting to succeed the parents themselves need to be living their best lives. Without a solid foundation, it will be challenging to have a seed sprout into a healthy plant. 

How does one have a solid foundation when you yourself feel fragile? Throughout the years of raising my kids not only did I have regular parenting challenges, but also single mom challenges, ex-husband challenges, court challenges, and teen mental health challenges. What I know to be true through all of those journeys is that I had to stay strong (by any means necessary) to be able to give strength to my kids. 

Moms, sometimes, you have to choose you! Stop looking at social media and listening to other moms on the sidelines of soccer games as a comparison gauge. No one is living in your shoes and your life. So guess what? Skip a soccer game for yoga class, get a hotel room for the night for just you, see a therapist, take a girl’s trip, and love on yourself. Not just one time, but regularly. Recruit grandparents, aunts, and friends to be a part of your village so you fill up on these fueling moments. Create a tribe of friends who you can be real with — not pretend, going-to-parties-together friends, but real friends. The kind that don’t stop calling you when you tell them your teen is suffering from depression. The kind that don’t judge you because your child’s not in a travel sport. The kind that you can talk to about the nitty gritty, messy, real-life parenting struggles, someone you can have authentic conversations with and not just list a resume of your child’s accomplishments. Build this tribe so you can safely vent, scream, and cry about anything and everything.

Values are the core of any solid home, and how you live them matters. Do you preach hard work but then refuse to get a job? Do you preach honesty but then lie to your children? Do you preach kindness but then gossip about the neighbors? Do you preach having confidence but then complain that your clothes are tight and that you feel fat? Do you scream at a referee because your child got a penalty but then become upset with your child for starting a fight? It’s unfair and unjust to hold our children to a different set of values and rules that we ourselves cannot live.

I’m sure there are many parenting books out there that will give you a step-by-step guide on how to parent with purpose. With my parenting guide book days behind me, and after living through four kids (with the youngest now being 18), I have developed my own definition of parenting with purpose. It should be about creating a safe and loving space for your child to thrive and learn to love themselves.

Bio:

Monica Brancheau is a mom of four who has had multiple careers. She’s a Michigan native and graduate of the University of Michigan who then never left Ann Arbor. She has decades of experience working with children’s issues, from education to non-profit work in teaching in urban settings and non-profit management, marketing, and fundraising. When not working, you can find her gardening, reading, writing, listening to music, and spending time with her treasured family.