The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto: Embracing Vulnerability in Parenting

Video brene brown parenting manifesto


In the realm of conscious parenting, embracing vulnerability and open-heartedness is paramount. Renowned researcher Brené Brown understands this significance all too well. In her book, “Daring Greatly,” she presents a parenting manifesto that serves as a guiding light when fear creeps in or we resist vulnerability. Whether you recite it to your child, your loved ones, or yourself, let these words resonate deep within:

The Essence of Parenting

Love and Belonging

Above all else, it is crucial to understand that you are both loved and lovable. You will come to realize this through my words and actions, for I will demonstrate love through the way I treat you and how I treat myself.

Worthiness and Joy

I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness. Witnessing my acts of self-compassion and acceptance of my imperfections will instill in you the belief that you too deserve love, belonging, and joy.

Courage and Vulnerability

Our family’s strength lies in our ability to display courage, to show up fully, and to embrace vulnerability. We will share stories that reveal our struggles and triumphs, nurturing an environment where both can coexist harmoniously.

Compassion and Boundaries

Compassion will be at the core of our teachings, beginning with ourselves and extending to others. We will establish and respect boundaries, fostering an environment that celebrates hard work, hope, and perseverance. Rest and play will be cherished values and activities within our family.

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Accountability and Respect

You will learn accountability and respect by observing me acknowledge my mistakes and make amends. You will witness me articulating my needs and expressing my feelings, nurturing a culture of honest communication within our family.

Gratitude and Vulnerability

My desire for you is to experience unadulterated joy. Together, we will cultivate gratitude as a practice. And through vulnerability, we will learn how to truly feel and embrace life’s uncertainties.

Spirituality and Endurance

During times of uncertainty and scarcity, we will draw strength from the spirit that permeates our everyday lives. Together, we will face tears, fears, and grief head-on. While I may wish to shield you from pain, my love will guide me to sit with you and teach you how to navigate it.

Authenticity and Belonging

Authenticity will be championed within our family. We will laugh, sing, dance, and create together. Permission to be your unfiltered selves will always be granted here. No matter what, you will forever have a place you belong.

Embracing Wholeheartedness

As you embark on your Wholehearted journey, my greatest gift to you is to live and love wholeheartedly and to embrace vulnerability with all my being. I may not be flawless in my teachings, affection, or demonstrations, but I will allow you to truly witness me—the imperfect yet devoted parent. And in return, I hold dear the privilege of truly, deeply seeing you.


Let this manifesto be a guiding force as you navigate the intricate path of parenthood. Remember, it is through vulnerability, love, and wholeheartedness that we can create an environment where both you and your child can thrive.

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The Child's Bath (detail), Mary Cassatt

Image credit: The Child’s Bath (detail), Mary Cassatt, 1893, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.

Inspiration for this week’s banner image: God to a young mother: I’m watching you get up exhausted every morning, and I’m so touched that you want to spend this time with me [in contemplation]. Really, I am! It just means the world to me. The thing is, I just can’t bear how much I love you. It’s too much! And so at a certain point I rush into the [body of your child and wake her up] because . . . because I want to know what it feels like to be held by you. —James Finley

References: Carol Bialock, “Widening the Door,” Coral Castles (Fernwood: 2019), 87. Used with permission. Carol is a Religious of the Sacred Heart and author of the poem “Breathing Underwater” which inspired the title of my book on Twelve-Step spirituality, Breathing Under Water. Today is Sr. Carol’s 90th birthday and the release of her book of poems, Coral Castles! Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (Avery: 2012), 244-245. Visit Thumbuddy To Love for a copy of the manifesto and other resources.