Living the Questions

Happy new year to you and your family! I can’t help but linger on the big questions during the gray days of January. After the decorations have gathered dust and been put away, there’s a bareness and a simplicity to our home. That lack of clutter allows me some clarity of mind as I consider those questions that, in the busyness of our days, don’t typically get asked. 

In addition, I’ve recently been challenged on the very role and purpose of family. Why do we choose to live in a family when we could choose another lifestyle? It made me consider. As a researcher, I went directly to the literature. But then, I paused, moved away and considered for myself. Why is family life so important and what purpose does it serve in our lives that no other context can serve?

There were two commonalities I found as I sorted through writings on families from the science-based to the philosophical and spiritual. Family offers a support for our physical and mental health. The implication of this is that our own health and well-being have a direct impact on the well-being of others in the family so care for ourselves and others is a priority. The second is that family serves as the hub of our core values. As we anchor to those values, we can see evidence of them in our everyday choices and actions. Becoming clear as a family about what values we want to intentionally embody, nurture and promote can offer us a focusing path as we learn about and improve ourselves and our ways of parenting.

Here are some of these questions you might consider too.

What do I stand for? What does our family stand for?

What is my life about? 

What gives me a sense of meaning?

Who do I want to be as a parent? 

What do I value as a parent and as a husband or wife, daughter or son and family member?

How am I living those values and in what ways am I not? 

Where do I need to become more intentional to ensure that I am living my values?

How am I helping my son or daughter discover their own sense of purpose and meaning?

How do I regularly share power with my son or daughter to ensure they are growing their responsible decision-making skills?

How am I contributing to the world? How am I finding small ways my son or daughter can contribute?

I find the following quote so comforting as I consider the bigger picture. May you live the questions this January to start the new year in a considered, reflective way.

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

– Rainer Maria Rilke


Jennifer Miller of Confident Parents, Confident Kids will be doing a fireside chat with Mike Todasco, Senior Director of Innovation at PayPal Headquarters (and long-
time dear friend) in San Jose, CA. Can’t wait to talk about parenting hopes and dreams and how we can promote social and emotional competence in ourselves and our children with the PayPal Team. Thanks Mike Todasco for this awesome opportunity!

2 Comments on “Living the Questions”

  1. Great questions. I find parallels between this and Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead book about identifying our own values and leaning into them in all things. Your words helps illuminate the intersection between my work and parenting. Thank you!

    • Karly, I love that! I read that book not that long ago so I’m sure it’s influenced my thinking! It’s in interesting question to consider – if we are leaders at work and leaders at home, how does that look? And how can we use social and emotional skills across those very different settings? Thanks for your comment and happy new year! 🙂

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