Taking Care of Yourself is the Start of Being a Great Parent

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.

To be a healthy personal physically you need to know what it means to you to be fit and healthy, then you set a goal and then you put in the work.  It also takes work to be a fit and healthy in the other areas of our life: spiritual, moral, emotional, social, intellectual.

  • 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 is one of our many resources and we need to look after it.

 

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 fibre of our emotions, our relationships, our thinking, our abilities, our talents – then we have something out of whack.  

 

We are more than a parent. (Though I know men read this – I am going to keep writing with women in mind – though the ideas are applicable to men and women).

 

We are first of all a person – created in the image of God.  Secondly we are (most likely) a wife. We are also a parent – yes, 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.

 

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.   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 in health.

 

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 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.  Life 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 rein 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.

 

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
  • Listening to your inner voice – what do you tell yourself is important as you go through your day
  • Reflecting on your feelings – acknowledging your feelings are what they are is good, it is our acting on our feelings that often get us into trouble!
  • Keeping a growing list of your values as they come to mind
  • Building a personal profile by taking personality and strengths type tests

 

When we know ourselves, and then when we are honest with what we see, we give ourselves the best opportunity to grow.

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Take my self-awareness test and start growing towards being a healthy person. 

To be a healthy parent, you need to first be a healthy person. It starts with self-awareness so you can grow to be the best parent you can be.

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 trite and expected – the reality is God is not only the measuring stick of 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 wrongdoing, 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 own 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 practical helps when necessary.

3–Make a Plan – I know there are many things that God works on in my life that I’m not even aware of.  But there are also 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.  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 on paper.  I have an up and down success rate – but the idea is that once I am aware of 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 that doesn’t reflect or honour God.

 

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 find our weaknesses, our baggage, our stuff impacting our parenting.  We may project our hurts and issues onto our kids, we may live 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 sanctify 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 together and not make mistakes.  But we do need to be growing and changing – we do have to do the hard work of being a healthy person.

To be an intentional parent means you need to be an intentional person.

To be a healthy parent means you need to be a healthy person.

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Do you need help in your Family?

Hi! I’m Belinda

About Me

Belinda and her husband, Peter, live in the far north-west of Australia on a small farm. They have four adult children whom they homeschooled from prep-year 12. Over this time Belinda has taught and supported women both face to face and online. Her heart is to encourage families to be intentional, relational and heart focused in all areas of family living. She continues to do this in her new season of life – as her kids leave home one by one leaving her with more time.

Certified Life Coach
To be a healthy parent, you need to first be a healthy person. It starts with self-awareness so you can grow to be the best parent you can be.

Download Healthy Parent Assessment

Challenge yourself to look at the different aspects of your life to find areas where you need to grow.

Over to you:

So what do you think about the issue of self-awareness?   
Can you have an honest look at your life?  Your responses?  Your challenges?
Have you intentionally taught self-awareness to your kids?

4 Comments

  1. Anna

    What a fantastic resource. Thankyou Belinda! I certainly have gone down that road.

    Our first child has some sensory difficulties, which took us a long time to figure out what was happening, at the same time we were devastated by some miscarriages and difficult pregnancy sickness. I was stuck in a dark hole for a long time..able to do the bare minimum and feeling very unwell and depressed. I did still take my son to the park etc but it was all very hard. I learned through that that I was powerless and unable to do ANYTHING extra. I couldn’t exercise as I was not able to stay hydrated or keep food down.. I . couldn’t even sit and watch tv with my husband. I had to lie down as soon as my son got to bed. It was horrible but so worth it to be blessed with 2 babies in heaven and another here.

    Now we are feeling that we are recovering from all of that we can begin to rebuild other areas but there certainly has been some .. atrophy? Of the muscles in some areas. I am thankful I have kept some friendships but some did suffer.

    Now I need to unlearn some of the things I experienced as too hard/impossible but I also do have a husband who works nights and is away and on call at times so I find I feel very stuck in terms of not being able to do things without the kids and not being able to plan things incase my husband does go away….

    I love your teachings here about striving for health in all areas and do feel positive that I can aim for that. If we were to get pregnant again it would probably knock us back to survival mode again. Do you think the aim of seeking to be healthy in all areas is a good reason to decide against more pregnancies? Because yes we would likely suffer either with more grief and loss and or more pregnancy sickness for the duration. Ok to sign up for that knowing that it is temporary? God is in control, does he want us to avoid those tough times?

    When it was all happening (17months pregnant/miscarrying/sick/finally baby) I was so upset that we were so sad and sick and of NO use to anyone in terms of ministry, and was not sure why the Lord would want us to be so beaten down, a young married couple should be of great use for discipling in our church… but we were a wreck. Now I can see some deepening that He had worked through that time but during it, it was simply a matter of holding on while we were in agony.

    Ummm… ok not sure where I’m going now. But sometimes being healthy isn’t an option? But now we can be. So time to lift our eyes.

    Reply
    • Belinda

      Wow – thanks for sharing your story. I think it all depends on your definition of healthy – Lets take your very challenging circumstances that made you less than healthy in the physical in that your were limited with what you could do with your body – but your body was working hard and you were doing what was necessary for health of sorts. Maybe not what we see as rosey cheek health – but well being. It isn’t about shining health in all areas – it is about working on the areas that need work, and growing. Another thought I had as I read your comments was that ultimately God wants us to reflect him, and to grow and mature in our relationship, delight and dependency on him. These hard circumstances may not look like health through our human eyes – but when we keep our eyes on Jesus, things have to look different. Whether you do or don’t have more children, you are right – God is in control of that. He is in control of what goes on – and while it is all going on – he calls out to your heart to lean on, to depend on, to trust him – and his purposes will come to fruition – whatever those purposes maybe in the natural, we know that his purpose is to make us more like Christ.

      Reply
  2. Michelle

    Anna thank you for sharing. We are also in process of trying to know whether wise to try for another child. My health issues are long standing and unlikely to go away. Belinda what do you mean by health, as ever since I’ve had children, nearly 6 years, being a wife and a mum pretty much takes everything out of me. I get to lunch and I’m done for the day. Im notreally being a blessing to any outsider. Im greatly fatigued and dizzy daily. We would love another child, i am older, but wonder if wise to continue to try if already stretched and it most likely will mean focusing on my husband and kids only. Our parents are ageing and live a few hours drive away. An outsider looking objectively at our circumstances would think insane, the specialist i see pretty much thinks so, yet our hearts still ache fot another kid. Am over 40 so greater risks and complications. God is bigger than these things but he also wants us to be wise stewards, to try to meet our responsilities. I feel its wrong toforce God’s hand i.e. we are already struggling so is it wise to put more pressure/responsibility. I know God will provide everything i need to be godly but i still think he wants us to make wise choices based on our circumstance/what we see from human eyes…a king first counts his army before going into battle.

    Reply
    • Belinda

      Michelle, I was really talking about an inner health. Inner health is where we are controlling and functioning well in areas of our emotions, our character, being connected to God and people. We can go through physical challenges and still be functioning well in the inner parts of our life. I guess I was thinking of times when we carry burdens, or guilt, or unforgiveness and we project that onto our kids. Times when we are spiritually depleted we can’t call our children on to follow Jesus. Times when we don’t live by the values that we espouse. Some of our circumstances, or physical limitations are actually beyond our control but usually our inner health is something that if we are aware of we can change – even though it takes time.

      Inner health is about dealing with the circumstances we find ourselves in with character.

      Reply

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