What is your goal for parenting during this quarantine? Is it to just “survive” the process? Or perhaps might it be to “make sure I don’t screw them up too bad?” I often joke with friends that I don’t have a college savings fund for my kids, I have a therapy savings fund. My kids will probably need twice the therapy to work through their dad being a therapist. This next generation might need twice the therapy because of being stuck at home with their parents for months on end. Bless them!
Regardless if we’re talking about parenting during the quarantine or not, parenting is a two-fold challenge. First and foremost, we have to learn how to raise the kid inside ourselves. We have to be kind, respectful, loving and at the same time tough, hold boundaries, and be willing to say no to that part of us that wants instant gratification. We cannot be helpful parents until we have first admitted that we’re not that much further along than our kids are.
The second challenge is to raise our kids as unique individuals with similar and different challenges in life than what we ourselves face. Parenting our kids as though they wrestle with the exact struggles as we do is narrow minded and not helpful guardianship. I wrote about this last week in regards to parenting our kids uniquely, not as a group. Setting specific goals for our kids is a great way to drive that point home.
Similar to the SWOT+ exercise, setting of goals will also include an acronym: Parenting goals need to be REAL. Relational, Empathic, Attainable, and Loving.
We need to set goals for our kids that are relational, not transactional. A goal for our kids to “keep them from bothering us so we can work” is not a relational goal, that would be a transaction. A relational goal means that both parent and child maintain connection in the process.
Put yourself in your child’s shoes. As you think about goals for them, walk around in their life for a bit. What’s it like for them to live in your house (which was not their choosing!)? What’s something that they see from their unique perspective that would be helpful for you to see as their parent? Set goals for them that consider the difficulties they are facing either in efforts at school, with their siblings, with their parents, or unique challenges. .
Set goals for your kids that they, and you, can attain. Start small, get some small wins that will snowball into something bigger. Unattainable goals are discouraging and demotivating. Enlist your child in helping to make sure the goal is attainable. Getting them to buy-in to this process will go a long way in their participation.
Above all, make sure that your goals are out of love. One of the best ways that we can show love to our children is by showing interest in their life. What do they watch? Who are their best friends? What worries them? What excites them? The great author C.S. Lewis said it really well, “love is not an affectionate feeling for someone, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” We don’t have to like our kids to love them.
There are two parts to setting goals during this time. The first is goals for you as a parent. Try to set some specific goals for yourself in relation to each kid. The second is to set some goals for and with your kids. Engage them in the process. Structure, which I will talk about as boundaries more in the final assignment, provides clarity and safety for both parents and kids.
Take some time to reflect on the two previous assignments of your parenting style, and the SWOT+ and then answer the questions below.
- What have I learned about myself as a son/daughter of my parents? As a parent?
- What have I learned about my kids (name them individually)?
- Taking into account (child’s name)’s unique strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities/threats from me as a parent, what is one goal I want to accomplish as a parent?
- What is one goal I want to help my kid accomplish?