3 Questions Every Parent Must Answer to Avoid Drift

Life is busy, am I right? We often look for daily routines that can save us time, headaches, or hassle when trying to deal with the pressures of the day. These days stretch into weeks and before we know it, if we’re not careful, we can find ourselves in a rut, stuck in the monotony of the daily grind. It’s during these low times when it’s often easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. 

I’ve suffered from this. Heck, I think everyone has at some point. There have been many seasons of my life when I blink and suddenly months have gone by and I find myself not having achieved what I wanted or maybe I didn't do a certain “thing” I promised my wife or one of my kids. Then the guilt sets in. I not only question my skills as an adult but my ability to parent and lead a family.

But there’s hope for all of us who are prone to succumb to these types of cycles in our lives. And the best way to deal with them is to avoid them altogether. A proactive step we should all take is to start asking ourselves the right questions.

Here are 3 questions every parent must answer to avoid drift:

1. How do you want to be remembered?

Our time on earth is limited. Our impact is finite. If I’m to keep things real here, most of our lives are full of just as many tense or stressful periods as they are happy ones. When life gets difficult—and it will—how will we handle those seasons? Will we let crisis define our limited moments with our loved ones? Or will we cast our worries aside and persevere? It really is a choice and we must continually be asking ourselves: how are we shaping the memories our children will have of us? When we know the answer to this question and actively consider its consequences, we’ve taken the first crucial step to avoiding drift.

2. What is important to me?

It may seem obvious but again, when we get lost in our busy routines it’s so easy to lose sight of what truly matters to us. Our survival instincts have a funny way of making us think a tad irrationally at times. So here’s a quick tip to help keep this thought on the front burner. Create priority accounts in your life. In other words, document and define broad buckets of things in your life that really matter to you. For example, in my case, I would (in this order): God, me, family.

Now, that may seem selfish on the surface but if you’ve ever flown commercially, it’s likely not the first time you’ve heard this thinking: put the air mask on yourself before you try to strap it to your child. The reason? If you’re not taking care of you (getting oxygen in a decompressed plane) then you’ll quickly pass out and won’t be able to help your child. If we aren’t taking care of ourselves, then we won’t be in any state of mind to help those around us. And again, for me, my relationship with my creator is where I start, then I move to my overall physical and mental health. When these are both in check, I know that I’m the best person I can be for those people who are important to me.

3. What single brave decision or action will I make today?

Trust me, if you’re in a long-term relationship or have kids, especially older kids, you’re faced with having to make a lot of brave decisions. Things like: 

  • Do I tell her about the issue I’m having with her parents?
  • Do I tell her that I’ve overcharged the credit card—again?
  • I heard my kid’s friend was having sex with her boyfriend. I need to have “the talk” with my daughter.
  • I suspect my kid might be involved with alcohol or drugs. If I walk into his room, what will I find?

Don’t get me wrong, brave decisions don’t always have to revolve around negative scenarios, but it’s often more difficult to face those things head on (with bravery) than it is positive scenarios. Those are pretty easy.

When we’ve been stuck in a rut we generally find our attitudes and behaviors suffer. This can, if we’re not careful, lead to poor decision making over time. So continually ask yourself, what can I do today that may require courage but will put me or my family in a better position tomorrow?

Spend time today and ask yourself these questions. Do they apply to your life now? Chances are they do in some way. Once you have formulated answers, write them down. Keep track of them and refer back to them often.