Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What is Your Goal?

My parents owned businesses the entire time I was growing up. From healthcare to software, they started companies from nothing and turned them into flourishing organizations. Much of their people management skills translated to our home lives and to their parenting styles. They included us in decision making, let us decide our own punishments and, most importantly, kept us focused on our goals. I find this incredibly important as I make daily parenting decisions.

My boys and I go on a walk every morning and almost always end up in an empty lot filled with dirt and tire tracks. Their current favorite is only a block or two from home and we spend at least twenty or thirty minutes there every day. We have a group of ten neighbors that do laps around the neighborhood and stop and talk to us. One of them will always say, "You haven't made it very far!" I'm sure she says it because she would get frustrated waiting to walk while the kids spent time getting filthy, but distance isn't my goal. My goal is to have children that only need a pile of dirt and their imagination to have a good time. My goal is to have my children discover the small joys of nature like footprints from an animal or a beautiful shell. I achieve a tiny piece of this every morning as I watch them explore in their giant sandbox.

This extends out to every facet of my parenting. Will I let them pour the water into their cup even though I know they will probably spill? Yes, because my goal is to have children that can pour independently. Will I give them what they want when they are screaming for it? No, because I don't want children that are demanding and rude. Will I let them go to a party with beer at 16? Probably, because my goal is to have children that can make good decisions even when faced with temptation.

I encourage you to come up with an idea of the kind of people you want your children to be. What character traits do you want them to have? What kind of employee, friend, parent or sibling do you want them to be? How do you want them to make decisions without you? Once you have this in your mind, it just might help guide you when aren't sure what to do. Believe me, this is not always easy. Sometimes I just want to handle it for them and move on to whatever seems more pressing at the moment. But then I remind myself of my goal of raising smart, loving and independent people. It keeps me focused and reminds me that, in the end, nothing is more important.

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