Are you parenting on auto-pilot?
As parents, it’s easy to live in survival mode each day, rarely taking the time to think about the state of our parenting. Some days parenting on auto-pilot is all you can do. Life brings tragedy, frustrations, hurts, and difficulties that drain you of your ability to be intentional. Those seasons are understandable, but if they persist, your auto-pilot parenting will rob you and your children of the joy of bonding, growing and loving together.
I think it’s fair to say that many parents live unaware of the condition of their parenting. They don’t stop to think if they are on auto-pilot because the days are busy and the kids are consuming and who has the time for reflection?
Parenting on auto-pilot means that you are not fully present for your kids emotionally. Yes, you do their laundry, cook for them, take them to school and practice. You do everything that’s needed and expected as their parent, but much of the time, you are not fully engaged. Your kids are talking and you are a million miles away thinking about work or your to-do list.
Can I encourage you to take a few minutes in the next day or two to ask yourself some questions in order to determine if you are parenting on auto-pilot? Whether it’s in the shower, in the car, or as you go to sleep in bed at night, set aside a brief time to ask yourself these self-evaluation questions. My desire is to help you stop and think about your parenting strategy, your parenting effectiveness and your parenting stress.
Am I exhausted and easily irritated with my kids by the end of the day? If so, chances are pretty good that you are parenting on auto-pilot because you simply don’t have the emotional energy to do otherwise. In those moments it’s easy to not follow up on something you said or not follow through with a consequence you set. In those moments, it’s easy to snap at the kids, tune them out or push them away because you just can’t handle them right now.
Do I take time to totally focus on my child each day? Whether it’s in the morning, after school, at dinner or before bed, do you give your child your full attention? Do they know that they have your undivided focus? Doing this will snap you out of auto-pilot pretty quickly. You cannot give your child your full attention AND stay on auto-pilot.
It’s impossible to do this all day long, but if you set up routines that allow for this focus time, you will enjoy treasured moments of truly connecting with your child.
Do I discipline out of emotion or out of thoughtfulness? If you are parenting on auto-pilot there’s a good chance that you will discipline out of your immediate reaction to something your child has done rather than take the time to think through the situation and respond in a way that will help your child learn from their mistake.
Remember these two questions when you face conflicts with your child: What does my child need to learn in this situation? What is the best way for me to help them learn it?
Am I hurting too much right now to fully engage with my children? I know a young mom who recently lost her six-year-old daughter and is struggling to parent her other two children because of the pain she is in. That is totally understandable and I can only pray that she is getting the support and help she needs to get through this horrific time.
Maybe your marriage is suffering, your job is a nightmare, your finances are in shambles or you face a scary health diagnosis. Whatever pain you are in, I beg you to get the coaching, counseling and support you need. Parenting on auto-pilot may be all you can do for a short season, but with help you can move back to intentional parenting because your kids need it from you.
Do I even stop to THINK about my parenting strategy? If not, you may be just doing whatever you feel in the moment without really thinking about the consequences. Effective parenting means you must be intentional, you must have a target to aim for, and you must be constantly aware of opportunities to help your child learn and grow to become the independent, kind adult you’d like them to be.
If you do not want to be a parent who just wings it every day and has no direction in your parenting, then take steps to get off auto-pilot and re-engage.
I can help you take those steps. Please schedule a free intro call with me and let’s talk about how to get you re-engaged. Schedule here.