Dr. Dan Siegel summarized the results of many studies saying that “The strongest predictor of a child’s wellbeing is a parent’s self-understanding.”

But what does it actually mean to have self-understanding?

And how is self-understanding going to help my kids handle their feelings, get out the door on time, get their school work done, or get along with their siblings?


What is self-understanding?

The main point is this…

In the absence of self-reflection, history often repeats itself, and parents can pass on to children unhealthy patterns from the past.

Even if you don’t like how you were parented (or had a traumatic childhood) you can still be an excellent parent by:

  1. Understanding your own feelings, history, and values
  2. Empathizing with your children
  3. Helping your kids make sense of their feelings

When we do our own work (the things mentioned above), we can bring that knowledge into all our other everyday parenting struggles to make them easier. We can begin to understand why it’s so hard for our child to get their school work done, get along with their sister, or get out the door. And we can help our child to find solutions.

How to grow in self-understanding

Now, you might be wondering, how do I grow in self-understanding as a parent?

My current favorite book about self-understanding (and lots of other things) is “Zen Parenting: Caring for Ourselves and Our Children in an Unpredictable World” by Cathy Adams.

We recently talked to Cathy Adam about her book, how she defines self-awareness and what parents can do to grow in self-understanding.

Cathy has been practicing self-awareness and mindfulness for decades in her work as a social worker, parent coach, yoga instructor and momma of 3.

Here’s a video of Cathy’s response about how to grow in self-awareness…

Reflection Questions

Here are 5 reflection questions from Cathy Adam’s interview to get you started:

  1. What is your history? What are the positives and negatives that you have from your past?
  2. What are your values as a parent?
  3. What are some of your needs?
  4. What are your strengths?
  5. Where can you reach out for assistance?

And if you are interested in going deeper into the topic of self-awareness, I wholeheartedly recommend Cathy Adam’s new book “Zen Parenting”. Cathy combines her personal stories, warmth, non-judgment, research, and deep wisdom about how to grow as a person while being a parent.

In addition to talking about self-understanding, Cathy covers a wide range of topics in her book including creating emotional safety for kids, creativity, sexuality, self-care, mindfulness, learning differences, talking to kids about race, play and being true to yourself.

Big Hugs!


    Get more information about Cathy and Todd Adams and Zen Parenting Radio and all their resources at Zen Parenting Radio.

    Get the full interview, weekly coaching, video/audio library of relevant topics, and a caring group of parents in The Village by Happily Family.

    You can be on LIVE, while we talk to luminaries like this AND get coaching with Cecilia and Jason.

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