What is essential?

I like the word “essential” when we think of parenting – asking ourselves as we make decisions – big and small – about our families.  What is essential? 

 What do we really need today, next year, for our family to thrive?

Much of what is touted to parents as necessary for our children can and should come under our own personal scrutiny. 

 What works for one family does not always work for another.  What works for one child does not always work for another.

Some decisions we make as a family can be life-changing –  perhaps a career change, a move to another area, having more children, a parent returning to the work force or back to school to pursue a degree, down-sizing, home schooling. These kinds of choices are not made lightly.

Yet these can be the very ones that might give us second pause – because change is hard, because friends and relatives may not agree with us, because we are worried about our children’s reaction.

I’ve talked to several parents who have recently made difficult decisions.  One had to leave a place they loved to move to La Crosse for work; another family only being in La Crosse a short time moved for an opportunity too good to turn down; and yet another family made the decision to homeschool their children and find themselves struggling with relatives and friends who disagree.

All of these families have gone through the process of weighing pros and cons – perhaps asking what is essential – what do we absolutely need – to arrive at the answer that works for their family.

The most significant part of this process, however, is carrying out your personal decision with unwavering confidence.  Many parents tell me they feel guilt-ridden because they’ve needed to change their child’s school because of moving, or because the family budget no longer can afford private education, or because their child is now leaving all his friends behind.

Of course, we acknowledge the emotions all of us will be experiencing but children look to their parents to know their life is good, that they are secure both physically and emotionally.

It is within the embrace of the family circle that we grow in the ability to accept change, thrive in new experiences, make new connections and cherish our old ones.

When parents are strong in their decisions – positive, confident, calm – we are providing a true sense of belonging, even in the face of change.

What is essential in your family?

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