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Find Your Compass

The following post is from Amanda of and Impress Your Kids:

source: gwgs

Before I had children, I was a great mother.

I knew the parenting style I wanted and I was ready to go! I knew how  my kids would act and how I’d react. I knew the best way to raise my kids and I was ready for the challenge of working it out!

Then I had children.

And everything I knew was thrown out the window. And to make matters worse, great parenting ideas seem to ebb and flow. Some days my approach works perfectly. Other days it seems to be the catalyst for more bad behavior!

As I have approached these different stages of behavior with my kids, I tend to search out a new book or website that instructs me on the “best” way to raise my kids. So, I try out those strategies for a couple of days or weeks; and invariably, they seem to crumble in their effectiveness and I’m back to square one.

I recently read the Wall Street Journal article, Why Chinese Mothers are Superior, and it left me flabbergasted. At one level I was appalled at the idea that Chinese mothers berate their children into good behavior and success. On another level I felt appalled that Western mothers let their children rule the roost and turn out deadbeat kids. {That is a huge oversimplification of the article, but the idea is the same. Please read it if you haven’t!}

Although this article only suggests the two extremes of parenting, there are so many different parenting styles {positive parenting, dictatorship, permissive, and even get-off-your-butt parenting!} that it’s hard to know which one is right. The pros and cons seem to be equal, depending on who is explaining it!

But at times, I want opposing things for my kids…

I want my kids to have good self-esteem. But I also want them to be able to take criticism.

I want my kids to be self-sufficient. But I also want them to stay young and innocent.

I want my kids to understand that life isn’t all about them. But I also want them to know the extreme value they have in our family.

I want my kids to experience the consequences of their actions. But I also want them to obey the first time.

I want my kids to respect their elders. But I also want them to confide in me as a friend.

So, how do we do this?

How do we find the lovely middle ground? How do we decide which style of parenting is right for us — and more importantly, is the best for our children?

It’s easy…really!

Just find your compass.

You need to figure out what is the most important thing to you. What’s the one or two or three things that you want to see in your kids’ lives?

Do you want them to obey you immediately without a question?

Do you want them to follow in your footsteps in sports and school?

Do you want your home to be one of pillow fights and ice cream for dinner?

Do you want your kids to grow up knowing the value of a dollar and the empowerment that comes from a hard day’s work?

Do you want your kids to have a strong self-esteem?

Do you want your family to be full of “BFFs” who regularly kid and joke?

Do you want your kids to study hard and excel in school?

Do you want your kids to focus on spiritual things?

Once you’ve found your “North”, write it down.

Place your “written compass” in a spot you regularly see, and refer back to it often. Maybe add a picture of your kids next to it. Then refer to it when you need to remember what your role in motherhood is.

When you’re trying to decide if your son should play a back-to-back season of ball look back at your compass. If you are wondering if a punishment is better than the whining, you need to look at your compass.

If the parenting style you are following doesn’t line up with your “north”, then find one that does. Don’t stress about doing it like everyone else. Don’t worry if you’re not following all the rules. Follow your compass and then you’ll be able to sift out the chaff and enjoy the wheat. You’ll be able to actually do Motherhood…Your Way. Really!

Need more insight on figuring out your “North”? Download Mission Statements for Moms, a free ebook by fellow Motherhood Your Way contributor, Kat!

What’s your parenting philosophy? What’s “North” for your family?

Amanda is a stay-at-home mom of two who blogs at and Impress Your Kids. In her former life, Amanda was a Children’s Pastor — overseeing, organizing and developing ministry for kids in nursery through middle school, but now that she is a mom, her “skills” are used up on her kids!