06/27/2014 10:47 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

A Letter to All the People Parenting Right Now

Dear Parents,

What you are doing is huge. 2014-06-27-1537667_10104062753850590_1910419327_o.jpg
It's important.

It's life and world-changing.

And, it's challenging. It's time-consuming (to say the least) and draining and emotional and messy and beautiful and miraculous and everything in between. You are caring for growing people, people who are learning and changing and unfolding right before your very eyes. It's intense for you and it's intense for them.

Many of the moments are sweet and wonderful and joyful, but when you are overtired and overwhelmed and overdone, which you might be a whole lot of the time, it can feel really frustrating and even scary to be "The Parent."

You don't want to miss anything, you don't want to mess this up. You don't want them to grow up not feeling loved or confident. You don't want them growing up to be people who aren't kind and compassionate and loving. And still, you often worry that that's exactly what's happening.

So, what's a parent to do?

Most of the time our default reaction is to look at them and say, "If I can get you feeling good, then I'll get back to feeling good."

It would be nice if this did the trick, but that's not how it works. The massive development that's taking place in their brains and bodies makes them extremely prone to being emotionally wobbly. As a result, they can quickly loose their emotional balance and are slow to return to feeling steady. They need your help. Not your words or advice -- they need your example.

I'm about to say something that will change your life. You ready?... OK, here goes...

YOU, dear parent, set the emotional tone in family life.

Feeling good, finding as many moments of joy -- in the ordinary and the extraordinary -- is what will keep you all humming along.

That's right, you finding ways to make yourself feel good -- right now, as a person -- is the key to feeling good as a parent.

So, I end this letter with a wondering. What are the little and big things that bring you joy? What are the things you can infuse into your life now, to bring you happiness? On this massive journey, guaranteed to be full of ups and downs and twists and turns, you deserve to enjoy the ride. They want and need you to enjoy the ride. Tapping into the joy of your own life, and savoring the sweetness of it all, is the very best thing you can do for yourself and the growing people you love so very much.

With a heart full of love and respect,