It seems lately that every time I turn a corner on the internet I see bloggers and business owners trying to establish their personal brand to grow their influence. Have you heard of it before? Apparently, it’s a thing. Personal branding is basically just defining strengths and then relating those to whatever you’d like. In the business world, it could be relating your strengths to how you would be a good fit for the company. For a blog or business, it’s showing the world what you bring to the table. Why would they pick your product over the next person? For parenting, it’s realizing strengths (and weaknesses, sometimes) and using those to help with parenting. Sounds simple enough, right?
I thought it would be an easy process until I actually sat down to do it. I feel pretty confident in my parenting choices and rarely second guess my decisions. After three kiddos, I’ve developed an “I don’t give a crap what anyone thinks of my parenting” mentality, and it’s served me well most of the time. Even though I feel pretty confident in this parenting gig, I still struggled to define my personal parenting brand. I felt like I was an eclectic mix of all different types of stereotypical parenting labels. Almost like I’d lost myself along my 10-year parenting journey and didn’t even realize it, until I sat down to reflect on it. I was a parenting chameleon, changing my parenting style to fit the current situation or trends. Don’t get me wrong, flexibility in parenting is so very important, but who was I as a consistent parenting figure? It took me a minute to reflect and figure it out.
Below, I’ve outlined some questions I asked myself to get my reflective juices flowing:
- What is one word I would use to describe myself?
- When do I seem happiest as a parent?
- What do I complain about most when it comes to parenting?
- What am I really good at?
- What is the most fun thing we’ve done as a family recently? Why was it so fun?
- When is a time I’ve felt success as a parent?
- When do I feel most drained by my kids?
- What do I want for my children in their lives, and what qualities do I have that can help achieve this?
This was a process for me and something that didn’t come easy. I even had to enlist the help of my spouse and other family members. Sometimes the people closest to you are the best judge of strengths. Once I came up with a few things that described me and my parenting, then I was able to name my personal parenting brand. I found it best to complete this step in three sentences: one that begins with “I am,” one that begins with “I will,” and one that begins with “I don’t.” This self-reflective activity reminds me of the personal mission statements I have my high school students write in our Personal Finance class. It’s like a mission statement for parenting, if you will. After much thought and many revisions, my statement reads something like this:
“I am a happy and giving parent. I will continue to show my kids how to live a balanced life by leading by example. I don’t sweat the small stuff.”
The practice of writing out your personal brand as a parent isn’t just for moms. Dads can also benefit from sitting and down and thinking about the type of parent they are and the type of parent they want to become. Goals are a great way to have something to strive to accomplish. This process made me sit down and think about the type of mom I am and the one I want to be. Reflection is the key to self-improvement on any level, and parenting should be no different.
Parenting is a funny thing and everyone is a little unique in their style. There’s obviously no guidebook to follow. It’s the most beautiful thing in the world and creates individuality, but boy, is it hard! It takes grit and consistency, and some days we as parents don’t have either, but knowing who you are as a parent makes those really hard days a little more tolerable. It takes a village to raise tiny humans into productive citizens and no one is expected to do it alone.
As a teacher, I think of the year in seasons, and fall is always a fresh start for us because it’s the beginning of a new school year. This is a great time to redefine parenting and embrace who we are as parents. A clean slate is always refreshing to me, and after a summer home with three kiddos, I need to hit that reset button. As we’re defining who we are, let’s drop the labels society and even we put on ourselves. There are no crunchy moms, soccer moms, helicopter moms, try-hard moms, cool moms, mean moms, and my all-time favorite, Johnson County moms. There’s only one label that really matters and that’s the label of “mom.”
As we soon move into a new school year, take a moment to think about your personal parenting brand. Once you’ve developed yours, it becomes much easier to be understanding and compassionate towards others and their brand. In this season of life, I think we would all agree, a little more compassion would go a long way.