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My Twelve Steps of Parenting – Things I’ve Learned in the Last Eighteen Years

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As I wind down to my last few blog posts, I’d like to share this list that’s been kicking around in my ‘drafts pile’ for a while. This list would have looked a lot different two decades ago, however, as we prepare our firstborn for high school graduation and college (and the other three closely behind), this is what I’ve learned so far…


My Twelve Steps of Parenting



1. Prioritize my own peace and happiness.

When I have serenity and joy in my life, I bring that light to our family. After years of putting everyone else’s needs first, it occurred to me that focusing on my own happiness had more of an impact than anything I ever attempted to do for them.


2. Define and heal my wounds.

I carry pain that continually gets in the way of my ability to be fully open, loving, and compassionate. Taking time to understand my growing edges leads to self-acceptance, which leads to accepting my child just the way they are.


3. Confess my flaws and take responsibility for my mistakes. 

When I share my imperfections and expired belief systems with my child, I invite compassion and gentleness into the relationship. Owning up when I’ve gotten it wrong allows me to apologize and commit to improving my behavior, and hopefully invites them to do the same.


4. Embrace my child’s individual journey.

Their journey is going to look exactly as their journey should look. My work is to let go of the way I think their journey should look. I try to do this by listening more than I talk.


5. Don’t do things for my child that they can do for themselves.

Confidence is built by having trust in your own abilities. When I allow my child to do things for themselves, the message I send to that child is that they are fully qualified and capable. 


6. Do what has to be done to love a child who is hard to love.

Sometimes that means digging deep to forgive and embrace the child, but it can also mean setting clear boundaries with them for the health of myself and the family as a whole.


7. Trust in the wisdom of the whole family.

The whole family should be involved in any decision process that impacts our whole family. That way, every individual feels invested and responsible for the decision that’s made. 


8. Be sure my child knows that I’m not the only teacher in the relationship.

My child and I can only evolve together if my heart is humble and open to an ever-changing world. Therefore, their thoughtful observations and feedback influence my choices and our relationship, and I make sure they know that.


9. Give my child the dignity to fall without trying to catch them.

When I invest time into fixing a child’s mistakes, I’m sending the message that they’re not capable of finding their own way through it. So much spirit and inner strength comes from getting themselves out of the holes they’ve dug.


10. Take time to make decisions around giving feedback and discipline. 

This is a mindful choice to respond rather than react to my child. I find so much clarity and wisdom when I pause before offering unsolicited advice, or unreasonable consequences.


11. Create a loving support system.

I surround myself with a community of people who know more than I do about almost everything. These friends and family members speak a language of love, kindness, acceptance, and compassion that’s sometimes difficult for me to decode. The more I listen, the more I learn. 


12. Have faith in my child’s inner knowing, and my inner-knowing. 

When I’m open to truly hearing my child, they often have a strong sense of what the right choice is for them. When I put faith into that knowing, I also put my faith into my child. However, at times, what feels like intuition to my child, is actually fear. This is when I step in and encourage them not to allow fear to govern their decision-making. 


This list, just like me, will be ever-changing and evolving, but for today, this is what it looks like.


Be sure to tune in next week
for my BIG announcement! 


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  1. Bravo!! You have such clarity and wonderful way to get the the heart of the matter and make it accessible xoxo

    • Thanks so much for your kids words Kelly <3

  2. I hear this, Mags – thank you. Lots of wisdom packed into these 12 steps!

    • Thank you Julie!

  3. I absolutely love this list! Thanks for sharing it.

    • Thank you Jennifer
      And, THANK YOU FOR READING IT and taking the time to comment 🙂

  4. This is brilliant and insightful. It is likely the road less travelled as each one of these things take thought, pauses, humility time and practice- How did you narrow all this into 12 ideas? wow!!! Thanks.

    • Rachel, thank you for your kind comment.
      I actually was thinking of about 12 additional steps in the middle of the night last night, HA!
      As I mentioned, it’s a ‘work in progress’ piece…
      And, you’re right — it’s a lot of practice. But I can attest that, in my case, practice really did make progress.
      Things that used to be SO FRIGGIN’ HARD for me, now come very naturally (and I never thought that day would come…)

  5. Thank you for the list Mags, I will refer to these often!

    • Marie — me too, hahahaha!
      They’re so easy to forget when the little buggers piss me off 😉

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