Proactive Parenting — How to Set Goals for Your Family and Children
By Shelly Walker
So often, we parents get caught in a cycle of reactive parenting. A situation comes up and we react, and that seems to be the only way we parent. We go along, moment to moment and day to day and simply react to the circumstances around us. Taking a moment to step out of this cycle to look at the long-term big picture is a great way to get some perspective and begin to head your family in the right direction.
We’re so busy. Frantic. Hectic. We wait for the weekends (or the vacation) to have fun with our families. We’re on the go, from morning ‘til night and by the time evening does come we’re often so exhausted that we only have enough energy to sit in front of the TV and zone out.
No wonder we are being reactive parents, flying by the seat of our pants! We’re all doing the best we can every day for our families. But there’s another way to parent our children: a positive, loving, long-term view of them and their lives that lends itself to possibility and joy.
By taking just a few minutes today to realign yourself with your goal for your family, you can make a positive change that will rapidly diffuse to every person in your household. If you are married, do this exercise with your spouse. Get on the same page and begin today to work for the same goals. If you are co-parenting with a non-resident parent, get together and spend just a small amount of time that will make a huge difference in the lives of your children. If you are a single parent it is even more important that you take the time to be proactive now, so you’re not chasing your tail later!
Being a proactive parent means that you think about what you want for your children in the long run and take every parenting moment that comes to help them towards that goal. I’ll show you what I mean.
One of the things that I want for my children is for them to be financially independent. I want them to know how to use their money to create passive income. I want them to know that they can live their passions in life and make money, too. I want them to know how to save, invest, tithe and spend their money wisely. So, keeping that goal in mind, how can I parent them in a way that will work towards this goal? Here’s what I do:
That is one small goal that Michael and I have for our children. We keep that goal in mind every single day, in every parenting moment. Sometimes its hard work: maybe I think that the toy John wants is a total waste of money and it’s its hard to resist talking him out of it. But how will he ever learn how to make smart choices if he’s never allowed to choose for himself? Freedom is empowering, though it may be a little scary.
Now it’s time to sit down and do the following exercise. You may be able to do it in a few minutes or you might want to think about it for a few days and then sit down with your partner and put your answers to paper. As Steven Covey says in The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, begin with the end in mind! Begin today to parent with the end in mind: happy, successful children who grow into fully empowered adults.
Step 1: Sit down, relax, get a cup of tea or a glass of water, and just be for a few minutes. If you pray, ask for guidance and a Knowing of the best goals for your family. If you like, you can simply close your eyes for a few minutes and get centered and still. The best parenting comes from that place of Stillness and Knowing that is deep within.
Step 2: Write down these six phrases, leaving room between them to write:
- 1. Financial Security
2. Physical Health
3. Emotional/Spiritual Health
4. Creative Freedom
6. Other Goals
Step 3: Begin to brainstorm and write down any goal or desires for your children that come to mind. Most goals will fit into one of the first five categories. Imagine your children as adults. What skills do you want them to have? Are they happy, successful, empowered individuals? What do their relationships look like? Just keep writing and imagining until you have filled one sheet of paper.
Step 4: On another sheet of paper, re-write your 6 topics and put down your most important five goals for each area of development. It’s okay if you and your spouse have different priorities. Pick one that is very important to you both and each pick two more to add to the list.
Step 5: Choose one area of development to begin working on right away and add the others in as you can. Keep your goals in mind as you parent you children and remember that modeling the behaviors that you wish to see is the most effective way to teach your children. Emerson said, “Your actions speak so loudly that I cannot hear what you are saying.”
Keep your goals handy and update them as necessary. Remember to celebrate your children’s successes with them and let them celebrate yours.
Straight talk from the mom who’s been where you are and knows how to help your family: Shelly Walker is the mother of two beautiful children and the author of Awakened Power and the upcoming book Parenting Keys. Shelly is passionate about children and believes that every child deserves healthy, happy parents. For more information, go to http://www.parentingkeys.com
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