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As a busy parent with two young kids and a full-time job, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed and stressed out. That’s when I stumbled upon Stoicism. At first, I wasn’t really sure what to make of it, but as I started reading more about the philosophy and how it emphasizes living in accordance with reason and virtue, I began to see how it could be really helpful for someone like me.
I mean, who couldn’t use a little more perspective and focus, right? And the idea of accepting whatever happens as being outside of my control was really appealing – it’s not like I have much control over my crazy schedule as it is! Anyway, I started incorporating some of the Stoic principles into my life and it’s made a big difference. It’s not a cure-all, of course, but it’s definitely helped me to manage my stress and feel more in control of my life. I’m definitely not an expert, but I’ve found Stoicism to be a really valuable tool in my parenting toolkit.
Stoicism has a long and rich history dating back to ancient Greece, and it has had periods of greater and lesser popularity throughout the centuries. In more recent times, Stoicism has gained renewed attention and popularity, with a number of books, podcasts, and other resources available on the subject.
I found myself looking at philosophy and Stoicism specifically for that reason. My second child was here, I was working full time and I was looking for a healthy way to manage my life and “learning to enjoy life”. I started with Marcus Aurelius “meditations”, Seneca “Letters from a stoic” and Ryan Holiday’s “The Daily Stoic”.
Now, I listen to podcasts every day on the subject and actively recall some of the lines from the greats over the years.
It is not uncommon for people such as me or even you if you’re here to be drawn to Stoicism during times of stress or uncertainty, as the philosophy emphasises the importance of maintaining equanimity and focusing on what we can control in the face of challenges. Stoicism can offer a sense of perspective and guidance for how to live a fulfilling and meaningful life.
I have found it really helpful but it is something to always work on.
What is stoic philosophy and how could it help parents?
Stoicism is a philosophical approach that emphasizes the importance of living in accordance with reason and virtue, and accepting whatever happens as being outside of one’s control. It suggests that we should focus on what we can control, rather than getting upset about things that are beyond our control.
In terms of how Stoicism can help parents who may be having a tough time, the philosophy offers a number of potential benefits:
- Perspective: Stoicism can provide a sense of perspective, helping parents to view challenges and setbacks in a more rational and balanced way, rather than becoming overwhelmed or upset.
- Focus: The emphasis on living in accordance with reason and virtue can help parents to stay focused on what is most important, rather than getting bogged down in negative emotions or distractions.
- Acceptance: The Stoic idea of accepting whatever happens as being outside of one’s control can be particularly helpful for parents who are struggling with feelings of powerlessness or uncertainty. This can help parents to let go of unnecessary stress and anxiety, and to instead focus on guiding and teaching their children in a calm and rational manner.
- Personal growth: The Stoic emphasis on living a virtuous life and being the best version of oneself can inspire parents to strive for personal growth and to set a positive example for their children.
- Duty and community: Stoicism also emphasizes the importance of living a life of purpose and fulfilling one’s duties to others. As a parent, this can involve a sense of responsibility to provide for and protect one’s children, as well as a sense of obligation to contribute to the larger community.
In comparison to other things that can help with mental health, Stoicism is a philosophy that focuses specifically on cultivating a rational and virtuous mindset, rather than addressing specific mental health conditions. However, many people find that the principles of Stoicism can be helpful in managing stress, anxiety, and other challenges that may affect their mental health. As with any approach to mental health, it is important to find what works best for you and to seek professional help if needed.
How to get into stoicism if you’re a stressed parent with little time
If you’re interested in incorporating Stoicism into your life as a parent, but don’t have a lot of time to spare, here are a few steps you can take, these are some of the steps I personally did myself.
- Start with popular books: To get a quick overview of Stoicism, consider starting with some of the most popular books on the subject, such as “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius or “The Daily Stoic” by Ryan Holiday. These books offer a summary of key Stoic principles and ideas, and can be a great introduction to the philosophy.
- Reflect on how Stoicism aligns with your values and goals: As you learn about Stoicism, think about how it aligns with your own values and goals as a parent. What aspects of the philosophy resonate with you, and how might you be able to apply them in your parenting style?
- Practice Stoic techniques: There are a number of techniques that Stoics have traditionally used to cultivate a rational and virtuous mindset. Some examples include the practice of negative visualization, which involves considering the possibility of losing something you value in order to appreciate it more; the “view from above,” which involves considering your place in the larger scheme of things; and the practice of “premeditation of evils,” which involves anticipating and preparing for potential challenges and setbacks. These techniques can be done in just a few minutes at a time, and can help you to stay grounded and focused even when you’re feeling stressed.
- Connect with other Stoic parents: Consider joining an online community or forum for Stoic parents, or look for local groups or meetups that focus on Stoicism. This can be a great way to connect with like-minded individuals, get support and advice, and discuss how Stoicism can be applied in the context of parenting.
7 Relatable Stoic Quotes for parents
Here’s a taster of some relatable stoic quotes for parents and how you can read these words and apply them to your mindset whenever things get tough.
- “The impediment to action advances the action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” – Marcus Aurelius
- “What is in our power is our own will, which is subject to neither hindrance nor compulsion.” – Epictetus
- “Our actions may be impeded, but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting.” – Marcus Aurelius
- “The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control.” – Epictetus
- “The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.” – Epictetus
- “We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.” – Seneca
- “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” – Marcus Aurelius
It won’t cure all of your problems
Philosophy, including Stoicism, can be a helpful way to gain perspective, manage stress, and cultivate a more rational and virtuous mindset. However, it is important to remember that philosophy is not a cure-all, and it requires ongoing effort to incorporate into one’s life. As the Stoics themselves emphasized, it is important to constantly strive to live in accordance with reason and virtue, and to keep working on oneself in order to make progress. While philosophy can offer guidance and inspiration, it is ultimately up to each individual to put the principles into practice and to make the necessary effort to live a fulfilling and meaningful life.
Parenting in a modern world
Parenting can often make life more uncertain and fast-paced because it involves caring for and guiding the development of another human being, which can be a challenging and unpredictable task. Children go through many stages of development and can be influenced by a wide range of factors, such as their environment, their relationships, and their own individual temperament. As a result, it can be difficult for parents to predict exactly how their children will behave or what challenges they will face.
Furthermore, parenting often involves a high degree of responsibility and can be demanding, both physically and emotionally. Parents may feel pressure to provide for and protect their children, and to make decisions that are in their best interests. This can create a sense of uncertainty and added stress, as parents try to navigate the various demands and responsibilities of parenting while also taking care of their own needs. All of these factors can contribute to making life feel more uncertain and fast-paced for parents.
Resurgence of stoicism in the modern day
There are many potential reasons why Stoicism has gained renewed attention in recent years. One possible reason is that the philosophy offers a sense of perspective and guidance for how to navigate difficult circumstances and find meaning in life. In an increasingly uncertain and fast-paced world, many people may find comfort and inspiration in the Stoic emphasis on living in accordance with reason and virtue, and accepting whatever happens as being outside of one’s control.
Additionally, the principles of Stoicism, such as the importance of maintaining a clear and rational mindset, the value of living a virtuous life, and the idea of focusing on what we can control, may be particularly relevant and appealing to many people in today’s world. The philosophy has also gained attention through the efforts of modern proponents and popularizers, such as Ryan Holiday and Massimo Pigliucci, who have written books and produced podcasts on the subject.