Purposeful Parenting Tip: Having a parenting strategy can guide your steps through your child’s life journey.
Recently I attended a Lunch and Learn at my new job where the topic that was being presented was “Strategic Inflection Points”. Strategic what? This phrase was coined by Andrew Grove, former CEO of Intel and refers to what happens to businesses when a major change takes place in their environment.
These changes can come from a variety of sources – competition, regulation, just to name a few – and if not anticipated or planned for, can wreak havoc. Sometimes even resulting in complete bankruptcy. Think Kodak with the introduction of digital photography. Think Blockbuster and Netflix. Think Borders and Amazon.
You’re likely wondering what does this have to do with parenting? I admit, it’s a bit of a stretch, but…stay with me, ok?
Many new parents welcome their little ones into the world and don’t have a clue about what kind of parent they’re going to be. Will they be firm disciplinarians? Will they parent as partners? What structures or routines will they put into place? Who will be responsible for feedings or diaper changing? These thoughts likely never entered their minds as they simply try to get a full night’s sleep.
Silly as it sounds, not having this type of discussion is sure to lead to an argument or two as new parents struggle with exhaustion in those early days. If no plan or strategy exists and neither parent has taken on a specific role, it’s highly likely that when a major event occurs in their or their children’s lives, they will be unprepared. Instead of having a plan of action, they will fumble their way through or worse, ignore it, and simply hope for the best.
In short, they will be just like Kodak, Blockbuster, and Borders. Only instead of losing millions of dollars, they will have lost something priceless – their child.
As a parent, it’s critical for you to stay one step ahead of the competition, uh I mean, your children. When they are beginning to roll over, you need to think about how to child-proof your home. When they begin to walk, you need to consider how you will teach them to stay by your side when out in public places. When they enter school, you need to have a stance on homework.
The list goes on and on but just like in business, where many hours are spent in corporate boardrooms planning activities to ensure their continued success, parents must do the same.
It’s likely none of these things are thought about as you nuzzle that little angel in the wee early days of their lives. I don’t blame you. Who wants to think about homework when you’ve got a little hand reaching out and touching your face for the first time? Believe me, I get it.
But you know the saying, “fail to plan, plan to fail.” I love this because it applies to everything from the simplest project like planning a birthday party to the more important things like discussions about drugs or texting while driving.
Having a parenting plan is a near guarantee that your parenting journey will go much smoother. Who will do what in your household? What will be the guiding principles? What is your vision?
A vision for parenting? YES! Why? Think about it. Every successful person or organization is successful BECAUSE they had a vision for their life, business or project. Then when any sort of hiccup occurs, they can go back to that vision and either course-correct or stand firm.
Parenting is no different. Having a vision for your child and a strategy for how you will parent them will be critical especially when you are faced with your own parenting strategic inflection point. You’ll be prepared for things like bullying or a failing grade or deciding when it’s time for a cell phone or an earring. You’ll know just what to do because you’ve planned for it.
Some of you may be thinking of a famous quote – “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” and you’re right. We can’t plan for everything, but planning for nothing is a recipe for disaster.
I’m soon to be facing a few strategic inflection points of my own soon. My son, nearly 16, may want his driver’s permit. I can tell you right now, that my son and a moving vehicle NEVER entered my mind as I held him in my arms on that long ago November day in the hospital. Do I have a plan? What will I do when he asks about it?
On a slightly less dangerous note, my daughter has asked about wearing make-up. Again, not something I thought about or planned for, but I will tell you this. I’m thinking about it now and I’d better come up with a solution fast because the days and months are slipping through my fingers.
Having a plan, developing a strategy and a vision is about making choices. Tough choices at times, I grant you, but better to make these decisions when there’s time, than when outside forces make them for you.
So along with the development of your birthing plan, spend some time thinking about the kind of parent you want to be. Think about a strategy for how to achieve that. Consider how you’ll handle your own strategic inflection points. Birth is over in a few hours, but parenting lasts a lifetime.
Remember, these choices will either lead you on a path of growth or pave the way to Chapter 11.
It’s your decision.