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Picture of Catharine Hannay, MA

Catharine Hannay, MA

Catharine Hannay is the founder of MindfulTeachers.org and the author of Being You: A Girl’s Guide to Mindfulness, a workbook for teen girls on mindfulness, compassion, and self-acceptance.

10 Thought-Provoking Quotations for Parents

Here are a variety of perspectives on the challenges of parenting and the impact parents have on their children. 

I’ve also included questions to help you reflect on your role as a parent, your relationship with your kid(s), and whether there’s anything you’d like to change.


“Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.”

Robert Fulghum

  • Can you think of any ways that you tell your kids “do what I say, not what I do?”
  • What types of lessons do you want your children to learn from you? Is this always consistent with your words and behavior?

“It’s important to confirm that the person complaining is actually looking for advice before offering it. It’s much more likely they are looking for support, understanding, or validation. Offering suggestions at the wrong time may leave the well-intentioned advice giver feeling annoyed, unappreciated, and helpless while the complainer feels misunderstood and rejected. The cycle doesn’t end well and, without proper communication, will just continue to repeat itself, leading to even more frustration.” 

Whitney Goodman, Toxic Positivity, p. 178

  • How do you typically react when your kids are talking about their problems?
  • How can you validate their experience without necessarily agreeing with their complaints

“It’s much easier to tell your troubles to a parent who is really listening. He doesn’t even have to say anything. Often a sympathetic silence is all a child needs. […] There’s a lot of help to be had from a simple ‘Oh… um…’ or ‘I see.’ Words like these, coupled with a caring attitude, are invitations to a child to explore her own thoughts and feelings, and possibly come up with her own solutions.” 

Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, How to Talk So Kids will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, p. 11-13

  • Does your tone of voice, facial expression, and body language show your kids that you’re listening to them?
  • What happens when you let them talk through things? Do they come up with solutions on their own? Are they willing to discuss possible options with you?

“When things happen a certain way a number of times, we form the habit of expecting things to continue happening that way.  And so we act as we have in the past.  But in actuality everything is always changing.  No two moments are the same. […] In Zen we have a saying that if you haven’t seen somebody for two minutes, don’t assume he or she is the same person.  Maybe that person has changed, or maybe circumstances have changed.”

Bernard Glassman and Rick Fields, Instructions to the Cook: A Zen Master’s Lessons on Living a Life That Matters

  • How have your kids changed in the past year (or month or week)? How have you changed?
  • Are you caught in a frustrating cycle of miscommunication or arguments? What might happen if you tried to start over?

“Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on […] their children than the unlived life of the parent.”


  • How are your children similar to you? How are they different?
  • What are your goals for them as they grow up? Are these the same goals you had for yourself?
  • How closely do you identify with their successes and failures? 

“People focus on role models; it is more effective to find anti-models—people you don’t want to resemble.”

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes, p. 39

  • Do you find it more useful to focus on role models or anti-models?
  • Do you want to raise your children the same way you were raised? Why or why not?

“Parenting is a shame minefield. Not only do we hang our self-worth on how we are perceived as parents, but we hang a big part of it on how our children are perceived. […] We don’t want to be perceived as bad parents and we don’t want our children to be perceived as bad kids.”

Brené Brown, I Thought It Was Just Me, p. 284

  • Do you ever feel ashamed of your children’s behavior? Why or why not?
  • Do you ever feel shame or guilt as a parent? Why or why not?
  • Whose opinion of your parenting is most/least important to you? Why?

“I couldn’t let go of the idea that there were Good Parents and Bad Parents, and even though I had some Good Parenting moments, I needed to learn more and buy and do more of the Right Things (whatever those may be) if I ever wanted to join the club. What I know now is that the secret to great parenting isn’t about learning or working or doing more. It’s about paying attention. […] Our ability to pay attention—to our children and ourselves—with kindness and curiosity is fundamental to effective parenting.”

Dr. Carla Naumberg, Parenting in the Present Moment, p. 2; 13

  • Most of the time, do you consider yourself a good parent? Why or why not? 
  • What might happen if you paid attention to yourself and your kids ‘with kindness and curiosity’?

“It may help you to keep in mind that other families whom you are quite certain rank a 9 or 10 probably look a lot better from the outside. […] Actually, I suggest that you avoid rating scales entirely.”

Harriet Lerner, The Dance of Connection, p. 28-29

  • Do you try to have a ‘perfect’ family, or compare your own family to other, ‘better’ families? Why or why not?
  • Do you know any families with similar challenges to yours? If so, how can you support each other? If not, where could you connect with them? 

“Not every day with your kids is going to be perfect. We’re going to make mistakes, be irritated, want to pull out our hair, but a few meaningful moments can go a long way. These become the moments our kids remember, the ways they will define us as parents , and the keys to maintaining a healthy relationship as they get older.”

Dr. Kristen Race, Mindful Parenting, p. 208

  • When your kids grow up, what would you like them to remember about you and about their childhood?
  • What type of relationship would you like with them as they get older? 
  • What can you do now to impact your future relationship?

A Few More Questions for Reflection

  • Did any of these quotations provoke a strong reaction in you? Why or why not?
  • Did you disagree with any of these quotations? How is your perspective different?
  • What changes (if any) would you like to make in your approach to parenting or your relationship with your kids? 

If you’re located in California and need help determining if your child and/or family need professional help, contact Family Spring by submitting an inquiry at this link.

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