Thursday, October 30, 2008
Do You Set Goals?
As part of your parenting, have you set goals? I don't mean "I want my kid to be a doctor" or "I just want my kids to grow up happy." I mean goals of what kind of person they will be. What you hope to teach them and inspire them and lay as their foundation. Have you thought about that foundation and what it needs to consist of? I frequently say that one of my main goals is teaching self-responsibility. I want my kids to understand that they control the choices they make, they control the way they manage the consequences to the decisions they make. I very much believe that you can't choose what you feel but you can decide how you behave in reaction to that feeling. Merriam-Webster defines "responsibility" as accountability, reliability, trustworthiness. Hence, recognizing the power one has in life by realizing the power of choice means being accountable to one's self, being reliable to one's self, and being trustworthy to one's self. That sounds like an amazing person (to me). Another important goal is compassion and empathy. I want my children to feel. To understand. To have the ability to imagine someone else's shoes (or lack of shoes, for that matter). To see many sides of the same story or situation. Merriam-Webster definitions... Compassion- sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it Empathy- the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner Just as I audit my parenting style and look to see how my choices are impacting our home culture, so to do I have to stop and evaluate if I am not only parenting and disciplining with these goals in mind but also living my life with these as my personal goals. Do my children see me being compassionate? Do my children witness my empathy? Do my children hear my own self-responsible self-talk? Unfortunately, I think the one that I need to work on the most is empathy. I can be very empathetic towards people who don't live under my roof. I would think that it would be easiest to show empathy towards my husband, my children. And yet, those are the people that I most easily take advantage of. It is somehow easier to dismiss a fall as not really hurting, reduce a headache to not being that bad, excuse or ignore tears or sadness. It takes more time to sit down and dig into it. More than time or energy, it takes vulnerability. And maybe that is my biggest weakness- allowing myself to be vulnerable by showing my concern, by taking the time to validate. It also takes admitting to being selfish and putting my own demands and needs and wants ahead of all others. And that isn't a place I like to admit being in. So I am challenging myself. For the next 4 days, I will make every effort to be more empathetic and compassionate towards my family members. I will let down my walls. I will take the time. I will focus on my loved ones and their hurts. This takes my parenting audit a step further. It's about more than keeping off the computer and sitting on the floor. It's about engaging in all interactions. One thing that I can sometimes do really well and that I can pull from is when we show up to pick up the kids from daycare and Teagan has had a rough end of day and is feeling sad or down. Man, can I relate!! It would be so easy to stay tough and hurry her out the door and snap at her to change the way she is behaving... but I feel better and she feels better when I just stop and get on the floor and pull her in and hold her. Because I understand how it feels to have had a rough day, to have wanted to be with my family, to have wanted to be home. I can't really understand her perspective but I know how I feel when I have a rough day and how eager I am to get to my soft place, my home. So look for updates over the next 4 days... my goal is to be more empathetic, more compassionate, more soft, more connected. With my kids, my husband, my self.