How do you know if your parenting is on the right track?
No doubt – parenting is hard work (regardless of whether you do a “good job” or not). You put in many long hours putting the kids to bed, preparing meals, teaching them, transporting them, consoling them. Through all the pain and monotony, there is a great satisfaction as they begin to grow on their own.
There’s just one problem… as you’re teaching them how to live, you don’t even know if you’re doing it correctly!
The parent-child feedback loop is a marvel. Sometimes, you’ll know within a split second if you’ve made the correct choice. Other times, it takes months to figure out that your actions were a-miss.
When did you last teach your child something?
Think of the last time you taught your child something. What was the thing that caused you to teach them?
Did they ask you a question?
Were they doing something?
Did you purposefully set time aside to impart wisdom?
Day-by-day, you’re dodging bullets. Clean up on aisle 5. Putting out fires. Responding. Reacting.
This is living and learning by experience, which is invaluable. But, if this is the only parenting you’re doing, you’re not able to teach the kids what you need to teach them.
At best, it is only capitalizing on the situations the kids put themselves in.
How do we leave less learning to chance?
By planning what to teach!
What are the limitations of reactionary parenting?
While extremely effective, things go unnoticed and fall through the cracks. Most importantly, the kids don’t learn the guiding principles. If you don’t expose them to the higher-level principles, all the rules will feel like an uphill climb. When they understand the meaning behind the rules, there is no mistaking why the “rules” are as they are.
- My kids still can’t tie their shoes.
- What do you mean you don’t know how to change your own oil?
- If a kid never meets any dogs growing up, they’re going to be timid of dogs.
- If they never handle money, they won’t know what to do when they get some in their hands.
- If they never talk to older people, they’ll miss out on stories and knowledge.
Obviously, you need to have good techniques to use in the heat of the moment. There are many books about this – go find one.
What is actionary parenting?
Sadly, in the busyness of it all, we seldom have time to consider the things that you actually want your child to learn.
Instead, we should be actionary. We need to design learning experiences for our kids to learn the things they need to. Creating situations for kids to learn is critical to ensuring they become functioning adults. This makes parenting more purposeful and easier, because you have activities set out AND a timeline to fulfill.
If we work backwards from what we want to teach, then we can figure out how to teach.
- Make a list of principles you wish to impart.
- Make a list of activities that teach each principle.
- Keep track of progress.
- Celebrate milestones.
- Know you are doing the best you can.