The Purposeful Parent: Less TO & FOR and WITH a Little More!

Purposeful parent

As I continue to work with groups of parents as well as individuals, I find that many adults are committing to more activities outside of the home.  In addition to a full time job, some are also involved in volunteer work, part-time jobs, higher education, and hobbies.  All of these extras are fine as long as they don’t leave a child feeling like an inconvenience to your day.  When family time is compromised children begin to feel disconnected.  And disconnection leads to problem behaviors.

As we have mentioned in previous Purposeful Parent blogs, WITH TIME is essential for a child’s healthy growth. It’s also healthy for parents to pursue activities outside of family sometimes, but let this blog serve as a reminder that we should never do so at the expense of maintaining a presence with our children.  They need to know not only that they belong, but that family is paramount!

A while back I wrote a little poem to be read in a workshop dealing with this subject.  It’s simple and rhymey, but I think it will serve here to emphasize the influence our presence and commitment to family can have on behavior and health.

Dear Parent,

Did you REMEMBER your WITH today?

Or has it been awhile since you could say,

“I did this with my daughter, and I did that with my son;

I take time to do WITH

We make time to have fun?”

There was a time in my past when I did lots of things TO

when my child wouldn’t do what I wanted him to.

Yes, I punished and yelled.

I took things away—

the things that he loved

and the games that he played.

I used spanking and grounding, bribing, and blaming.

I warned and rewarded end even tried shaming.

These are tricks of the trade! It’s what all parents do!

To make them behave, we MUST do things … TO, right?

Well, I certainly bought it hook line and sinker,

until I met a grand teacher, a mentor— a thinker,

who prompted me kindly, “What guides you, my dear?

Are you directed by love, or directed by fear?”

“And what if?” he added, “This habit of TO,

is actually creating more problems for you?”

Indeed I was acting with worry, and doubt!

“If I don’t do things TO him, why he’ll

never ‘turn out!’”

Then I learned fear was an illusion that I would want to replace

with love and with faith,

with trust and with grace.

We all crave to be connected

and with children it’s most true—

To cultivate a caring soul

consider an invitation of being WITH you!

A WITH can be cooking.

A WITH can be walking.

A WITH can be pretending, or just laughing and talking.

You can fix something old,

or build something new.

Let him invent a new something together WITH you!

When families commit to WITH

children feel connected.

They are less inclined to misbehave

knowing ‘family’ might be affected.

Yes, when needs of connection are met,

believe it or not, you’ll find

as the need for WITH is met each day,

a child is more compassionate, respectful and kind.

About the author

Kate MartinKate Martin has been a high school teacher for 27 years and retired from the Racine Unified School District in 2015. 

She taught students with special needs as well as those in general education. While working with hundreds of parents over the years, she discovered that there was a significant lack of resources and educational opportunities to help them navigate the many demands of parenting today. 

For this reason, in 2013 she founded The Purposeful Parent, offering workshops and resources for parents, teachers, and caregivers.  

Buy the Book by Kate Martin: The Best Thoughts To Think Five minutes Before Bed 

Kate Martin and the Purposeful Parent-Child Epectations