Isn’t the New Year Also a Time for Making Parenting Resolutions?

diane sitting on steps with three kidsMaking resolutions is a tradition many of us engage in: resolving to implement important changes to reflect our values and beliefs, promising ourselves we will do things differently in order to promote greater health and happiness for ourselves and our families.

In this whole process, how many of us stop to get specific about our parenting resolutions?

Just as it is important to take stock of our lives and consider the changes we need to make (like those listed above), it can be just as important—or perhaps even more important—to spend time reflecting on the health and effectiveness of our parenting practices.

It can be so easy just to go day by day parenting our children, moving through life without pausing to reflect on and then commit to intentional parenting that promotes emotional and relational health in our children.

Here are 6 ideas for parents to consider:

  1. Write or record your resolutions and keep them handy so you can regularly reflect on them to re-inspire yourself and be vigilant to promote each. Make regularly checking your resolutions one of your resolutions!
  2. Share your resolutions with other family members who can gently hold you accountable for working on them. Posting them on the refrigerator is one idea. If your children know what you are resolving to do, trust me; they will hold you to adhering to those resolutions!
  3. Take time to consider your short and long-term goals for each of your children. Find specific ways to promote each of these goals in loving, clear, fair and meaningful ways.
    Write these goals in ways that are measurable! Don’t just say you’ll be kinder to your children, write some of the specific ways you will do that. For example, record you will promise to take a deep breath before possibly saying something critical and not expressing anger in ways that diminish your child’s self-worth.
  4. Resolve to spend time with each child…the sort of time that lets them know you are focused on them, interested in them, attuning to their feelings and needs.
    a girl with her hands covered in paint, smiling at the camera.Again, be specific. How much time every day with each child do you resolve to spend? What are the specific behaviors you will exhibit in order to show them that you are attending to them? “I resolve to make sure I sit down at dinner, look at each child in the eyes and gently invite each child to share something about his or her day.”
  5. Resolve to learn more about what healthy parenting involves (especially if you are aware some of the ways you were parented fell short of the mark). Resolve to read a certain number of parenting books, or to read articles and blogs that will inform and inspire you. Again, be specific.
  6. Resolve to be patient with yourself, knowing that none of us will ever be a perfect parent.Take time to care for yourself, and again, be specific about the ways you will do that. “I resolve to take at least 15 minutes a day just to be in a mindful place, calming my inner self, and affirming my right to care of myself. I know this assertive care also models for my children they too need to stop and take time to care for themselves.”

Making a list of resolutions can be a wonderful practice in slowing down and reflecting on those things that are important to us.

For one thing, it helps us decide to do a better job in the future to honor those values.

Too, making resolutions is a way to claim our power to be more in charge of ourselves, our attitudes, beliefs and behaviors.

By making and focusing on parenting resolutions, we up the ante to embrace the value of healthy, intentional parenting. We focus on the important and specific ways to nurture, strengthen, love and cherish our children.

Don’t forget to hold yourself accountable.

In the coming weeks and months bring to mind those things you have resolved to do or change and see how you’re doing. Do what you need to motivate or re-motivate yourself to uphold what you resolved to do at the beginning of the year.
I wish you peace, love and clarity about how you want to parent in 2018!

Invitation to Reflect

  1. Sometimes it is helpful to start with making an assessment of the current state of your family, the emotional health of each child, and the health of your relationship with each child. Pause to reflect on each of these as you consider what you want to preserve and what you want to change.
  2. Use the time in creating resolutions also to celebrate all those wonderful things that are true about you, your children, and your family.

Diane Wagenhals, Director of Lakeside Global Institute