Three questions about the patterns and legacy you are leaving as a parent:
1. What are your patterns?
How can you heal and change the patterns? Do you stay up late or are you an early riser? Do you drive with the pedal all the way to the floor or do you tend to be more cautious on the road? How do you react to someone cutting you off in traffic?
These are just a few questions that show us patterns that make up who we are and how we relate to our world.
All throughout the day you will notice patterns of behavior you do without even thinking about it. This is true for every person. There are patterns to how we walk, talk, and even laugh. Most of the decisions we make throughout the day are made with our subconscious and these choices are directly influenced by our patterns, both healthy and unhealthy.
The more aware we are of our patterns, the more power we then have to change them. We can then develop new patterns that help us achieve goals we have in life. This discussion of patterns could go in many different directions. It is an important part of understanding our marriages, our careers, our friendships, and our parenting.
The first step in changing my patterns is being aware of them on a daily basis. How do I think about my kids when I first wake up? Am I dreading interacting with them or am I looking forward to seeing them? If they don’t do what I say on my first request, do I get angry with them or am I patient with them? When I get upset at them do I hold onto my anger towards them or am I quick to seek forgiveness and repair?
2. What patterns are you passing on to our kids?
Patterns are an important aspect of understanding who I am, and they are good indicators of where I am going. This is why it is so important to raise my awareness and consciousness about the patterns that seem to be dictating my daily life and interactions with everyone I meet.
They are also good indicators of the type of kids I am going to raise. For example, do I meet their resistance with resistance? If that is the pattern, then I am likely to raise kids skilled at either resisting me more or just giving up. I am missing an opportunity to model how to flow with resistance.
Do I meet their rigidity with rigidity, neither one of us willing to bend or compromise out of fear of losing or being wrong? Then, I am likely to raise kids that don’t understand the importance of flexibility in healthy relationships. I am missing an opportunity to model how to collaborate when there are two different perspectives colliding.
The world could use more of that for sure. I am also missing an opportunity to show them that being right and winning isn’t more important than my relationship and my connection with another person.
These are just a few patterns I knew I had to be more intentional about changing as a parent and husband. I wanted to be a husband and a dad that modeled a pattern of respect, empathy, and listening, truly and honestly listening. I feel that would be a pattern I would proudly pass on to them.
What are the patterns you are passionate about passing on and which ones would you like to change?
3. How do you change your patterns so you can be the parent you want to be?
The first step to changing a pattern is to be aware of your patterns. The more you can understand the pattern by noticing the variables in the pattern and how they relate to each other, the more influence you have over the outcome.
When you are aware that your anger is not something your children make you feel but it is something being triggered by your own fear that you are losing control in the moment, then you can change your response. If you can identify this underlying trigger, you can address your fear, and it will help you be more regulated and in control of yourself rather than trying to control your kids.
When my kids do something embarrassing in public and I realize that it isn’t their actions as much as the fear of others judging me as an incompetent parent, I can address the underlying issue that I feel I am failing as a parent.
If I am aware of this, then the moment can slow down for me and I can intentionally change my self talk and tell myself something like, “You are doing the best you can. You are safe and loved right now.” Then I free myself from the pattern and allow myself to begin a new pattern.
If there are patterns you want to change in your life because you are getting outcomes you don’t like, then I would suggest you start “watching the film”. Start doing what great athletes do all the time to change their patterns on their respective fields of play. They watch the film. They spend time on daily or weekly basis reflecting upon what they did well and what they did poorly. They do this exercise not to beat themselves up but to empower themselves through a better understanding of why they did what they did so they can change the outcome.
On a daily basis, think about the outcomes you got that day. Take a few moments to reflect on the ones you liked and be proud of yourself. Then reflect upon the outcomes you want to change. Think about the variables that are a part of the pattern and begin intentionally changing them. Notice how the outcomes are different first in yourself and then in others.