Step 4: The final piece of “Ease” into Parent Planning

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I started this series on parent planning before the shocking news of the Hansen adoption story broke.  Although we have all been understandably distracted by this story and the tragic consequences of it, I think it is even more important than ever that we highlight parent planning.  Sadly, the Hansen family had no parenting plan and either did not reach out for help or did not get the help they needed in creating an effective one.

That being said:  Here’s Step 4 in “Ease into Parent Planning”

EVALUATE YOUR PROGRESS AND PLAN REGULARLY

Check in with yourself often and hold yourself accountable to especially your short term goals.  Usually when parents are addressing their short term goals their long term and lifetime goals have a way of falling into place.  Why?  Because the short term goals are the baby steps towards the others!  Don’t beat yourself up when you check in and realize that you are falling short in meeting some of your goals.  Remember there is no perfect parent.  Instead—realize that you are off your intended path and get back on.  Give yourself 3 simple goals to be accomplished the next day in order to help get you rolling again.

Recently I myself was feeling my plan slip out from under me.  My life was moving at a frighteningly fast pace and we had found ourselves over committed to extra responsibilities and letting the short term plans for our three kiddos continually go undone.  It was starting to make me crazy.  As some of you probably read in my “Confessions of a Not So Perfect Parent” entry, one big parenting OOPS finally landed us in a parent planning session.  The session started with a glass of wine and a good cry—well the truth is the crying and the wine were both mine.  My dear husband was stuck with the cheerleader role on this particular night, and did an admirable job  if I do say so myself.

He reminded me that I was indeed not a terrible parent because I indeed did have a parenting plan to cry over.  He helped me think of some baby step goals for the next day and week to get me going again and feel like I was moving forward.  And even better, he committed to several himself for the upcoming week, reminding me that it was not all up to me.

In these moments the short term goals can look incredibly insignificant and yet have so much impact in terms of momentum.

That night I typed a goal list on my computer for the next day.  They were not huge or deep thinking goals.  They went something like this:

  • Tomorrow I will get up with my early rising 14 year old (while the rest of the family is sleeping) and make waffles with her.  (She was having a need for me to take interest in her exclusively.)
  • Tomorrow I will stop everything at bed time and curl up and read a chapter with my 11 year old. (As a fellow “affection hound” he was having a need for closeness in a big boy kind of way.)
  • Tomorrow I will comment on my college daughter’s facebook page and call her in the evening to brag that I did so. (She was having a need for new avenues of connection with Mom now that she was living a few hours away from home for the first time.)

Sounds simple, not rocket science.  But so much more happened because I set those short term goals.  First of all, because I wrote them down, I did them.  Doing them made me feel more competent and on the path.  It set a positive tone in terms of all three kiddos and made me want to set new goals for the next day.  Also, all of these simple things fed directly into the longer term goals we have for our children.

Parenting with Purpose implies a parenting plan and a commitment to parenting priorities.  It means educating yourself, analyzing your child’s needs, setting long and short term goals, and evaluating and fine tuning your plan regularly.

I believe all parents should feel called to parent with purpose.  I also believe that for those of us parenting children that began their life in a less than optimal setting,  it is demanded of us by the nature of our children’s needs, and by our children themselves.  The good news is that the urgency and uniqueness of our kiddos’ needs can, in some cases, have a special way of creating excellent parents.

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