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The Family You Want

No matter where you are in your parenting journey, determining the kind of parent you want to be can be one of the most important choices in your lifetime. Who do you want to be for your child? No matter how old your child is, it’s never too late to improve. Just press the reset button and begin again. Yay!

Our ideal evolves when our positive and negative traits eek out. Let me tell you my story. I was the best mother I could be, just like you are now. I was brilliantly insightful about how to draw out the wisdom of my son, Mark, and I wanted the best relationship I could have with him. When I look back, I am surprised at my innate insights, probably just like you have now. Where do they come from?

Then the fateful day came when he was 4 years old, and I found myself yelling uncontrollably at him and could not stop. I woke up to the fact that I unconsciously repeated my parents’ mistakes, and it changed me forever. My crisis opened my eyes to the higher levels of love I wanted with my son.

Have you had your personal crisis yet? Or have you had many? If not, there may be one in your future, but not to worry — it is a blessing. I just want to spare you from the self-condemnation that usually follows. There is nothing like parenting to make us see where we fall short and where we want to be better; that’s the parenting game — improving, growing and morphing.

Nothing brings us to our knees like our love for our children. I don’t think we can even glimpse the meaning of love before then; no matter how much we think love our partner, baby love trumps all!

So, this intense love changes us. Just flow with it because, if you are like me, you will morph and change often. Be honest with your child, admit your weakness and commit anew to being a better you. Your example makes them better people, and later as adults they will easily apologize to their loved ones, which is sweet grace in relationships.

I don’t know if many counselors would advise to be vulnerable to your child, but I do. When we drop the self-important, all-knowing parent mantel, we free ourselves and our lives to be free, fresh, flowing and life-giving. Our children learn to be vulnerable and open, too, which will enhance their future relationships.

When you need to reset with your child, say this: “I made a mistake when I _____. I want to be better because you deserve better. I am sorry. How do you want me to be?”

You will be amazed at what your child says to you, for their eternal wisdom exudes from their little heart. When we hear their truth and feel their forgiveness, it grinds our hearts to powder and we transform.

I gratefully asked my son this question, “How do you want me to be?” and often advise client families to do the same. They are the ones being parented, and, honestly, we usually have no clue (but don’t tell them that.) All we have is our parents’ example, and even though they did their best, it may not be what we want to pass on.

When we ask this question from the place of being the parent, which our kids ultimately need from us, while being open and vulnerable, magic happens. Even though it can be scary, trust the process and let me know how you do.

Write your questions and comments about this below or email me at

Lorraine Pursell has a master’s degree in marriage, family and child counseling and is a board certified educational therapist who helps parents, kids, couples, families, individuals and groups have fulfilling, cooperative relationships that last a lifetime. Since 1995, she’s been in clinical and private practice and given her encouraging message on TV, video, radio, and through writing and public speaking. Pursell is the author of “Affirmations for Kids & Parents” CD and book programs, “The 12 Secrets for Safe, Happy & Confident Kids” coaching programs, and is the featured author in upcoming book, “The Experts’ Success Solution,” Volume 2, by Morgan James Publishers, NY. Subscribe at Respond to this article at