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Confident Parents Make Time for Reflection and This

by | Dec 28, 2021

Why is the ocean blue? 

Why are the leaves green? 

Why do you always buy red cars?

Why does one come before two?

Why do I have to sit here in between?

Why did they name that planet Mars?


(Did you catch that poem? You’re welcome.)

Reflect with a Child’s Curiosity

If you have a child over the age of three, you’re likely very familiar with questions like these that start with “why?” But did you know that if you adopt your child’s desire to find out why when you take time for reflection and make it a habit, you will be happier, less exhausted with life, and more proactive than ever before?

Whether you find your child’s questions charming and a beautiful expression of their burgeoning curiosity or a torturous phase to simply be dealt with (or both), children go on an asking-why rampage because they are trying to piece together the world around them.

They’re trying to fill in the blanks about what they are experiencing, so they ask and ask and ask until they get a satisfactory answer.

As the year comes to an end, we each have a great opportunity to reflect and ask questions about our lives. If we approach reflection with the same curiosity our children have, we can learn some very important things.

So instead of making New Year’s resolutions that you abandon by February, take some time to pause and reflect on all that happened during the year. Let us help you establish the foundation for how 2022 will be great for you and your family.

Make Time for Reflection

The ability to reflect is a severely underrated skill. Most of us never learn to make it a habit because we’re so focused on being productive. So, let’s clarify why reflection is actually an incredibly productive thing to do with your time.

Building a reflective practice into your life is enormously helpful in building your self-awareness. In turn, it’s what lets you sort through and eventually clarify the blur that life sometimes becomes, especially around the holidays.

Think of it like one of those makeover shows some people (possibly you) love to binge-watch. But instead of disappearing into a Queer Eye or HGTV oblivion watching people’s ugly cluttered living rooms get overhauled into hygge masterpieces, your reflective practice is doing that overhaul for your brain and, ultimately, your family.

Building in a year-end time for reflection will allow you to be ready in January to stop what hasn’t been working, start what you believe will work, and continue what is working.

At Raising Families, we like to call parents family leaders. Reflection is a major part of effective leadership at every level, from the boardroom to the classroom to the living room.

One of the first objections leaders have about making time for reflection is that they don’t really understand the process. So, let’s make the first step easy.

Start by reflecting on the following:

  1. 2021 was a wonderful year for me and my partner because …
  2. 2021 was a tough year for me and my partner because …

Then answer these statements with yes, no, or sort of, in preparation for the next step:

  1. I had a game plan at the beginning of 2021?
  2. In 2021, I gained confidence as a parent?
  3. My partner and I were aligned about our role as parents?


Understand with the Why Approach

Now that you’ve reflected a bit, it’s time to adopt the same curiosity young children have and ask why. It’s called the Why Approach.

The Why Approach helps us identify the key things that cause something to happen. Some people say you have to ask why a minimum of five times; others say seven times. I ask myself enough whys to get to the point that I feel comfortable and then move on. When am I comfortable? When I think I understand why!

Start by asking why about each of your reflections. Here’s an example:

  1. 2021 was a wonderful year for me and my partner because we talked more and agreed on more things.
    Why did we talk more and agree on more things?
    We made a point to have family meetings.

    (2nd) Why?
    Because we were tired of not knowing each other’s schedules and what the kids were doing.


    (3rd) Why?
    Because we’re not working from home anymore, and the kids are back in school. We don’t see each other as much, and we miss the peace we had when we were more in control.

Let’s now look at the other question:

  1. 2021 was a tough year for me and my partner because we had to watch the family finances more closely. Why did we have to watch the family finances more closely?
    Because we’re driving more since we’re no longer working from home, gas prices are on the rise, and food is more expensive.

(These can also be done in regards to your kids.)

Now, let’s look at the reflection statements again using the Why Approach:

Here’s my answer to the first statement to help get you moving in the right direction:

  1.  I had a game plan at the beginning of 2021 that helped guide me in my relationship with my partner and my kids? (Yes, No, Sort of)

    Why did you or did you not have a plan?
    Part of my upbringing is that I’m a planner. I also took a class a long time ago about setting personal goals and having a plan at work. It really helped me translate my dreams into an action plan.

    I think about what I want to accomplish, write it down, and then keep track of how I’m doing. Without a written plan, I get distracted by only doing what’s in front of me and not working on things that need to get done. Plus, I can only remember two or three things at a time. So, I have to write things down.

    If you had a plan, what worked and what didn’t go so well and why?
    The good news is I had a plan that I looked at most days. The bad news is that I always tried to do more than I had time for. At least I had a plan to look at, so I could reset priorities for the day or week or month. My long-term goals remain the same.

Create Your Intentions for the New Year

What do you do with all of this information?

Generally, with the “things that went well” category, the conclusion is that you’ve set up certain behaviors that resulted in a positive outcome and you want to continue doing those things or supporting your child to do so if applicable.

In the example we gave, the conclusion would likely be:

For the “things that didn’t go well” category, the conclusion might be:

  • You talk about family finances at your next family meeting to see if there are areas the family can cut back on spending. Then that money can go toward the increased prices of gas and food. 

It’s not enough to say this was good and that was bad. Finding the reason behind the good and bad things gives us a way to move forward. That’s the step most people forget or don’t know to take. With this information, you are now ready to stop what hasn’t been working, start doing what you believe will work, and continue doing what is working.

Your conclusions from using the Why Approach create your action items for 2022.

Action items, or goals or intentions, whatever you want to call them, combat another common objection people have about making time to reflect, not getting anything useful out of the time.

If you got this far, give yourself a big pat on the back; you’ve earned it. When it becomes a habit to take time for reflection, you will be happier, less exhausted with life, and more proactive than ever before.

Make sure you put your answers in a safe place where they are easy to refer back to as needed—they will help guide you into the New Year so that 2022 is a great one for you, your partner, and your kids. 

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Rick Stephens

Rick Stephens is a co-founder of Raising Families. With 33 years of experience as a top-level executive at The Boeing Company and having raised four children of his own, he is able to support parents and grandparents by incorporating his knowledge of business, leadership, and complex systems into the family setting. In his “free time” Rick enjoys road biking, scuba diving, visiting his grandkids, and generally trying to figure out which time zone he’s in this week. Read full bio >>