Contours of Courageous Parenting – The Good Men Project | #parenting


The short read

If you have been following my work, you will know that I work by connecting dots. Here are the dots for today’s post:

  • Parenting is like hiking in un(der)-developed terrain. There is no road map. If you are lucky someone who came before may hand you a contour or topographical map. Bring your own compass.
  • Any parent will tell you that what worked with child one often does not work with child two. Each child is a unique parenting journey.
  • There are highs and lows throughout the journey.


The longer read

Why is the book titled “Contours of Courageous Parenting”?


Did you have one extra-curricular activity that you really enjoyed in high school? One that has left its mark as you moved into your adult life?

For me, that was being a girl guide. My favourite activity was the various hikes we had to do to earn our badges. The moment my hands touched that peculiar green that is so characteristic of contour maps, I was in my happy place! I’d study the concentration of the contour lines. Then, armed with some water and a compass, I would set off into the relative wilderness with my troop.

There were journeys where the terrain was gentle. And those where the climb was much more challenging, and the steep climb took a lot out of you.

Each time the team’s experience reflected the various conditions. Besides the topography, there are other elements that also had an influence. If you got caught in a downpour or had to cross a creek, that made for a very wet journey but was the story that tied us together years later. Food was an integral part of the journey with memorable sandwiches that tasted all the better for the effort expended before you indulged. If you made it to the top of a hill, you got to enjoy the beauty of your surroundings.

I learned a lot from being a girl guide. Including “Be Prepared.”

Parenting is also a journey

Parenting is just such a journey into uncharted territory.

We start off in the lives of our young babies aged 0–3 years having full responsibility for them. Our decisions determine their lives. They are reliant on us.

We feel our way forward on this parenting journey. Just when we think we have made it through swampy terrain, finding that firm foothold on solid ground, we find ourselves back in quicksand.

We work hard to develop their independence.

We first anxiously teach them to walk and talk. (What were we thinking?!)

We take them on playdates and encourage them to make friends. So they can learn to socialize.

We teach them their numbers and alphabets and send them to school.

Each child is an individual journey. Their triggers are different. Their personalities do not blend. They each like a different vegetable and a different sport.

We have to find the North Star for each of them, so that they maintain their individuality.

We steer by an internal compass that responds to their specific needs.

We sit patiently on the sidelines as they move through kindergarten onto elementary, high school and then post-secondary.

We sit tentatively on the bleachers as they perform pirouettes, referee a soccer game or (worst) are in the net as a hockey goalie. (One day I will write a blog titled “Worst position on the team is Mother of the Goalie.”)

Highs and lows.

We evolve in our role. From caregiver to commander to coach to consultant.

As we do, our journey changes.

The nexus of our influence over their lives and their decisions stretches.

Once we had to find the faith to make it through the night nursing a sick child with 103F fever.

Now we have to find a new courage.

The courage to be quiet. Yet remain supportive.

The courage to allow them to test their own boundaries.

The courage to allow them to fail, so they can see their way forward.

The courage to show confidence in their ability to get it right in the long run.

So that our child can grow into their own version of an adult.

So that the cycle can repeat.

We all grow. We all continue to mature.

It is the parenting journey.

And I would not trade it for anything.

Contours of Courageous Parenting — Tilting Towards Better Decisions

The book is now published and available on most Amazon sites (link below in references).

It is the book I felt I needed in the pre-pandemic days of COVID-19 when there was no guidance. Governments were still trying to wrap their heads around what was fair to ask of their citizens, and what was a step too far. Doctors and scientists were still trying to figure out mortality, treatments, and transmission.

There are decisions that are within our control. And some that are not. This book helps us focus on the former, and let go of the latter. And it helps us feel confident in the decisions we make while learning to roll with life’s inevitable punches. It is a set of guidelines and tools that give us a little more control in an ever-changing world.

Make. Take. Talk.

How will you interact with the information you have learned today? Here are some suggestions:

Make: a decision

  • Make a list of all your ups and downs in your parenting journey
  • Track a recent decision that went well. And another that could have gone better. 5 words each.


Take: an action

  • Take some time to journal your reflection on this post.
  • Read the book.
  • Sign up for the newsletter to learn about related activities and webinars.


Talk: share your learning

  • Share your thoughts on this topic with another parent.
  • Call your parents and discover more about their parenting journey — the highs and the lows.


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Hi! I’m Karena and I am a Future of Work strategist. The concept of 21st Century skills is discussed in my upcoming book, Contours of Courageous Parenting — Tilting Towards Better Decisions. Discover simple strategies for decision-making that can help us and our children be a little bit better than yesterday. Sign up for the newsletter on my website. The book is now available on Amazon.

Originally published at on March 6, 2021.

This post was previously published on


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