Friday, April 17, 2020

The parenting goals you may have missed

I started working on parenting goals when my daughters turned three and five. They are now five and seven. In the time that has gone by, I’ve managed to establish a night-time routine that includes an activity, a test of comprehension, making a record of what has been learned, prayer, and connection. Because I work at this, I’m not surprised by results like skill expansion, confidence, and relationship with God. These are the consequences of our night-time routine. 

I was surprised to discover however, that despite these efforts, some stuff had fallen through the cracks. Stuff I haven’t worked on because they simply didn’t occur to me. And that they’re important stuff. Things I would have worked at had they been on my radar. 

Several favorable developments in my home brought these lapses to my awareness.

The first was that my children started to chat when they were together. This was new. There was a time when they didn’t converse. And because not conversing was our normal, I hadn’t realized that conversation between them was missing. Until it showed up.  

Another was when their play began to engender more laughter than tears. There was a time when they fought so much that I regularly separated them. This too has changed.

The most recent one, is that one declared proudly that her sister is brave! Without us ever setting, or engineering the parenting goal: teach them to be proud of each other.

It’s as if we took medication that corrected maladies I hadn’t even realized we had. I’m thankful for the changes. And motivated to answer the core questions they raise: One, what caused these changes? Two, how can we know what areas we’ve failed to set parenting goals around? 

If we can detect what we’re missing, we can engineer more expansive results, therefore, I’m choosing to prioritize the second question. 

How can we know the areas we’ve failed to set goals around? 

One way is to dream with a broader perspective. 

Here are three ways to broaden your perspective: give it time, include people, and use a tool. 

Give it time
Your dreams will evolve as you evolve. The goals set by next year’s version of you will likely be superior to the ones set by last year’s version because it has the benefit of two years of growth, input, and experience to inform it. Whether you choose to dream annually, quarterly, monthly or even daily, what matters is that you do it at regular intervals. 

Include people
Another way to achieve a broad perspective is to include diverse viewpoints. In the case of parenting, a vision developed by two parents is likely to be better than one developed by one parent alone. As the Akan adage goes, “Tsir kor mpam” or Two heads are better than one. Successful people, and books like the bible can also offer inspiration.

Use a tool
Finally, you can use tools that help you to be methodical. One such is Lifebook, a tool developed by Jon and Missy Butcher that helps to categorize goals into twelve areas of life. Adapting their tool for the purpose of setting parenting goals would result in a broader set of goals.

Treat your resulting list like a curriculum that you have the next ten or so years to inculcate.