Keep the End in Mind

Mountains with 3 kids walking the path If I were to summarize the best parenting strategy my husband and I committed to it would be this: keep the end in mind. One day — way sooner than you think, your children will grow up. They will move away, build their own careers and families.

When you break everything down to the most important qualities you want for your children when they become adults, what stands out as the most critical?

I wanted my kids to become independent, fulfilled, productive, thoughtful, kind, and loving members of a community.

 

Let’s be real; in the midst of daily life it’s easy to lose sight of the end goal. Some choices are influenced by other factors like lack of sleep, frustration, business, and plain old survival. That’s all normal parenting.

But, what if we could approach parenting more strategically with a clearer vision and focus?

Though not always easy, it’s possible to parent with a focus on the adult you want to raise while raising the child in front of you.

It starts with a commitment to a few fundamentals:

1) Value relationship over winning.

When it comes to choices, decisions, and parenting styles, the only thing that matters in the end is the quality of the relationship you have with your child. You can be right, but if your child doesn’t feel loved, you lose.

2) Choose collaboration instead of obedience.

It’s easy to get caught up in power struggles. After all, children eventually have to learn to go shopping without a tantrum and not to hit their siblings. However, when we focus on getting kids to do what we say solely for the sake of obedience, we win the battle but lose the war. If we want our children to be self-reliant critical thinkers, we must allow them to learn their own lessons with our guidance, but free of obligatory compulsion.

3) Choose love over perfection and impatience.

Unconditional love means free of conditions. Sometimes, even with our best intentions, we nag kids to do things that aren’t important in the long run. For example, when a child walks into the room it’s easy to start in with reminders like, “did you brush your teeth?” or “what took you so long?”.  Imagine if you simply reduced the number of behavior prompts while increasing ways to show your love.

Now that I’m on the other side of parenting two adult children, I can say we made some right choices. We also have things we would do differently if we could. Although, it’s never too late to be a better parent.

The magic of parenting adult children often flies under the radar. It’s way easier to come alongside and support adult children without the pressure to solve anything for them. Now, I often find myself discussing politics, current events, as well as our joys and challenges with my children in ways that blow me away sometimes.

After all…

“Ensuring that children internalize our values isn’t the same thing as helping them to develop their own. And it’s diametrically opposed to the goal of having kids become independent thinkers.” Alfie Kohn, Unconditional Parenting

Being on the other side parenting adult children isn’t too bad. I miss the snuggles and innocence of childhood. But, now I find myself reaping the rewards of raising confident kids.

Keep the end in mind. I promise it’s worth it.

Love Unconditionally

Children are like mirrors. They reflect their parents’ every strength and flaw in ways that test everything a parent believes to be true about themselves.

As parents, sometimes we like what we see, admiring our skills and beautifully executed strategies. Other times, however, we bump into a version of ourselves that we don’t like and never thought we’d become.

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Consider the Message

Envelope with red heart and message inside. “Thank you, God, for the damparents.” ~ Jacob Harris, age 3-4

When our kids were little we had a nightly prayer ritual. Each night we would thank God for various blessings including friends and family members. For a couple of years, Jacob replaced the word “grandparents” with “damparents.”

We’ve laughed throughout the years over the irony of his mispronunciation. Clearly his intent was good. But, the actual words used could have easily led to misunderstandings.

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Challenge the Norm

A circle of green fish swimming opposite of one blue fishWhen did elementary and middle school promotions become such big events? We have parents arriving an hour or two early to get a good seat with balloons and flowers in hand. I’m not sure why or how these promotions became such a phenomenon.Continue reading “Challenge the Norm”

Challenge the Norm: How My Grandma Lived Her Way

Grandma opening a presentHe was a little guy, perhaps around 8 years old with sandy blonde hair that reached his shoulders. His dad was twice his size. Tears fell down the little guy’s cheeks as his dad spanked him hard and yelled something to him about manners.

My grandma and I were right outside of Disneyland’s crowed entrance, leaving after a full day. In a huff, my grandmother grabbed my hand and walked over to the dad.Continue reading “Challenge the Norm: How My Grandma Lived Her Way”

The Secret to Raising Independent Children

Young lady college graduate spreading her armsAll that friendly advice starts the minute folks discover you’re expecting a baby. I’m more than two decades into this journey, and people still share opinions about how I should parent.

“When you’re pregnant, people feel like they can come up and give you unsolicited advice. When I was nine months pregnant, this one woman came up and she said, I have one word for you: epidural. And I was like, Oh my God, thanks. But we already picked a name.” ~Bonnie McFarlane

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Live With Integrity

Silhouette of man looking at a museum artifact.

Living with integrity means consistently operating within one’s own value system. Simple, eh?

Not so much. The big things are obvious. Keep your promises, hold to your vows, and set priorities accordingly.

But then, life and all its pesky annoyances start to wear us down. Eventually, all parents hear something like this: “But, mom you promised.” “Yes, but…”

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Honor Failure

Drawing of a sad girl with a rain cloud.

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” — Winston Churchill

When we see success we admire its perfection. We applaud the magic of actors, athletes, writers, musicians, and others who make it all look so easy.

But, here’s the deal. Very rarely does anyone succeed without boatloads of failure along the way.

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Embrace the Light

Sunrise over ocean water
Recently, I had a friend tell me my son is absolutely wonderful. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a “humble brag” post. It is, instead, a reminder to me and you to embrace the light within our children.

If we are to embrace the greatness in our kids, we first have to recognize it.

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Parenting Life Episode 1: Alex’s Take on How to Raise Independent Kids

Blonde mother and adult daughter

Alex is my outgoing 23-year-old daughter. If anyone knows anything about our parenting style, it’s our own kids.

You should know that Alex has never been shy, nor does she hold her opinions close. If anything, she’s learning to temper her emotionality with thoughtful reasoning.

Since Alex was little, she has studied people. She watches, thinks, and works to figure out what makes people tick. Her dad and I were not always immune to her ability to use her knowledge of us as a tool to convince us to give in to things we might otherwise say no to.Continue reading “Parenting Life Episode 1: Alex’s Take on How to Raise Independent Kids”