If I had one piece of advice I would give my 32-year-old self when my first child came into this world it would be to begin with the end in mind.
Today is the official last day of school – secondary school, that is – for my youngest. It’s also a celebration for me as I celebrate the end of my esteemed career as a mom turned consultant to my youngest.
At PEP, one activity we do early on in many of our classes is the “Out of the Nest” exercise. In this group exercise, parents brainstorm a list of qualities they might like their children to have by the age of 18. Below is an actual list generated by one class; it’s typical of those brainstormed by most parents—whether they’re parenting preschoolers, school age children or teens. I’ve taken editorial license and added the word, “thinking.” The purpose of the exercise is to help parents focus on the things that really matter; the character of their child. When it comes to this, we’re all pretty well aligned. We want to raise kids who are:
- Have self-worth
- Use good judgement
I’ve been involved with PEP for 18 years now in various capacities, and always as a student. When it comes to parenting—whether it’s establishing bedtimes or homework habits, setting limits on screen time or enforcing a curfew—you quickly come to realize these conversations are not “one and done.” Rather they’re iterative conversations with variations on a theme: How much screen time? Why can’t they stay up later? When can they have a cell phone? These conversations can be annoyingly repetitive. You will certainly shake your head and think, “I thought we had figured this out!” But remember to look at your goals. Compliance never makes the list. Raising a thinking child should.
Yours in courageously imperfect parenting,