Parents Share What They See as Their Role in Raising Their Kids
Parenting involves a lot of minutiae, and from sunup to sundown, the days can feel crammed. And amid all the details—changing diapers, potty-training, making meals, driving everywhere, helping with homework, doing bedtime—what can get lost is the bigger picture.
Even if your kids are older and don’t need as much hands-on attention, your days are likely quite full. Which means it can be tough to pause and reflect on your role in raising your children.
Yet, knowing your role as a parent is vital. It’s like a writer knowing the theme of their story. It’s the infrastructure for everything that happens, driving their plot and what their characters do. Your role as a parent guides your actions and the choices you make in raising your kids. It guides your answers to tricky questions and situations.
We asked parents to share how they see their roles, along with suggestions on how you might go about identifying your own role. After all, it’s personal.
Ryan Howes, Ph.D, a psychologist who has 7- and 9-year-old boys, sees his role as a mirror: to help his kids see who they truly are and how they can be effective in this world. For instance, he might tell one of his sons who’s an introvert: “You have a big event coming up, and I know how those exhaust you, so let’s take some time to be mellow today.” He might tell his other son, who’s an extrovert: “You’re so excited to be around people! That’s wonderful! Let’s see how you can use that skill to help others feel included.”
In other words, how Howes guides his kids really depends on who they are—not on what society subscribes or what his past or ego believe they should be. He wants to help his kids become the best version of themselves.
“My biggest fear is that they work for years to reach some external goal, only to realize it was never congruent with who they are at their core,” Howes said. He tries to find ways to encourage their natural tendencies and interests. If one son loves playing music, Howes finds instruments and makes time to help him learn. If the other doesn’t like crowds, Howes helps him to decline those invitations and learn to cope when saying not isn’t an option.
Therapist Shonda Moralis, LCSW, who has a 16-year-old and a 6-year-old, sees herself as an unconditionally loving guide. This includes allowing her kids to “venture out, discover what lights them up, make mistakes, and enjoy successes.” It includes picking “them up when they fall or nudge—sometimes kindly shove—them back in the right direction when they veer off-course.”