Stuck in the Muck of Parenting? 5 Thought Models Provide Direction

During the summer months I was blessed by grandchildren in my home, with overnights and cousin time a big priority for them and for me. The grandkids blessed me with their love, and I blessed their parents with time off of parenting—a win-win for everyone, right? One three-week stretch was mostly dedicated to these blessings, and I began to remember why being a stay-at-home mom is A VERY HARD JOB.

It’s not all the questions, the noise, the mess, or even feeding people ALL THE TIME! It’s the constant decision-making (short-term solutions vs long-term tenets), the lack of ability to focus on anything for more than 15 minutes, and my return to sweets as a reward for my good behavior (all my clothes got tighter somehow). But most of all, it’s the struggle it brings to my own mind and feeling of self-worth. I am faced every hour with my imperfections and tendencies. There aren’t many compliments or finished products to look at and say, “I did that.” Parenting is a hard job, and at the end of your best day, the toddlers still have a melt-down, the teens roll their eyes, the grade-schoolers want more screen time… Let the self-flaggelation begin.

So, I’m back in the coffee shop this morning, going through all the emails I’ve not given a second thought when the kids were around, and FOUND A GEM: 5 Mental Models to Remove (Some of) the Confusion from Parenting by Shane Parrish. This mere 9-minute read applies to parenting and so many more aspects of our lives. Find a quiet time to read and re-read. Let it sink it. Is there something here for you?

Some teasers to encourage you to read the whole article:

We’ve all dealt with the seemingly illogical behavior of children. Take trying to get your child to sleep through the night—often the first, and most important, challenge…The options are endless, and each of them has a decently researched book to back it up. When any subsequent children come along, the problem is often exacerbated…

Adapt. Too often we see changing as a weakness. We’re certain that if we aren’t absolutely consistent with our children, they will grow up to be entitled underachievers or something. Or we put pressure on ourselves to be perfect, and strive for an ideal that requires an insane amount of work and sacrifice that may actually be detrimental to our overall success.

Velocity. There is a difference between speed and velocity. With speed you move, but with velocity you move somewhere. You have direction…The answers are different for everyone, but knowing the direction you wish to go helps you evaluate the decisions you make. 

Algebraic Equivalence“He got more pancakes than I did!”…The general point about algebraic equivalence is that it teaches us that two things need not be the same in order to be equal. (3 + 2 = 5 = 4 + 1, etc.)

Seizing the middle. In parenting, seizing the middle means you must forget trying to control every single move. It’s impossible anyway. Instead, focus on trying to control what I think of as the middle territory. I don’t mind losing a few battles on the fringes, if I’m holding my ground in the area that will allow me to respond quickly to problems…Make no mistake, seizing the middle is not about throwing out all the rules. This is about knowing which battles to fight, so you can keep the middle territory of the trust and respect of your child.

Inversion.  …Reaching any goal has two components: augmenting the forces for, and removing the forces against. When it comes to parenting, we need to ask ourselves not only what we could be doing more of, but also what we could be doing less of.

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