Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Survival Parenting

Parenting is hard work. It comes with lots of joys, no doubt, and countless, special memories, but there are also many moments when we're simply in survival mode. A friend of mine made a comment recently that she and her husband aim to never criticize anyone's parenting because they know how hard it is and how we're "all just trying to survive." Anyone with children knows how true that is. But we can't just leave it at that
--we've got to work hard to set the bar a little higher.

So how do we break out of survival mode and hit intentional parenting?

I think it all starts with goals, vision, purpose. We've got to have at least a rough idea of a few things we want to achieve with our kids each day--whether that be chores we want them to do, learning we want them to accomplish, places we want to go, etc. If we're not guiding the day--at least somewhat--we will end up simply surviving it. And it may not be pretty. On the other hand, benchmarks and a basic direction isn't going to prevent crises throughout the day, but as parents, we'll feel less like they're ruling us and more like we're presiding over them. It's the perspective.

Not only do we need some daily goals, we are wise to intentionally think through what we want our families to look like long-term. What kind of character qualities do we want to see in our children? What kind of religious values do we want to instill? How do we want them to handle practical aspects of life, such as money management, teamwork with siblings and peers, conflict, and more? By knowing what we're aiming at, we can steer the course to instruct with focus in those areas.

With a little planning, we can rise above crisis survival mode. Planning may not prevent us from hitting the bulls-eye each day, but at least we'll know what we're aiming for. Then we have a better chance of reaching the target.

Practically, I find the best daily planning for me happens early in the morning before the kids are up. I read my Bible and pray about the day ahead, thinking through and praying about what I might like it to look like--knowing we won't achieve the vision perfectly, but at least there are some plans for the day (or parts of it). The weekend, usually Sunday afternoon, affords time to envision the week ahead. Coffee talks with your spouse can result in intentional goal setting for family life in general.

How else do you think we can break out of "survival mode" into something more inspiring?

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