What Kind of Adult Are You Raising?
“Begin with the end in mind, but let go of the final results.”
This is the 4th principle of ScreamFree Parenting.
In last week’s post, I wrote about creating a vision for the kind of parent you wish to be. This week, I want to help you explore the vision you have for your kids.
As I mentioned in this post, the ultimate goal of parenting is to raise adults. Every parent – whether they realize it or not – has ideas about the kind of adult they hope to send out into the world.
Responsible. Honest. Giving. Caring. Confident. Motivated.
These are just some of the words my clients have used to describe the ideal characteristics they want their children to demonstrate when they grow up. Maybe your list even includes words or phrases like:
Married. College-educated. Financially independent.
Physically fit. Religious. A doctor. An involved parent.
Take some time to imagine what your kids will be like when your youngest child is 25. Don’t judge yourself for having an “ideal”…we all do. Just let yourself dream and write down whatever comes to mind.
The ScreamFree exercise goes into great detail by asking specific questions about the future such as: How does your child carry himself around others? What do his friends say about him? What is his profession? What do your interactions with him look like? What would you talk about?
After you've written your list, ask yourself: How much of this outcome can I actually control?
If you're like most, your answer will be something like, “Well, sh#t. Not much. Now what?”
While you may not have control over your kids and the choices they make as they get older, you can:
- Model the behavior you wish to see. Show her that you're able to stay calm even when you're frustrated. Show her compassion and empathy when she's had a bad day. Show her how you set boundaries when she asks you a personal question.
- Give positive reinforcement and focus on the behavior you want. Use encouraging statements and express your appreciation when your child does something helpful.
- Point out qualities in other people and talk about why you consider those traits positive or negative. You can talk about fictional characters in books or movies, or about people you actually know.
- Provide opportunities to cultivate the skills and characteristics you want your kids to have. For instance, if you want them to be more responsible, put them in charge of something! They may make mistakes or do it differently than you would, but that's all part of the learning process.
The last step is letting go of the final results. Realize that your kids are separate from you and have their own dreams and visions for themselves. When you have a vision for your kids, you can use it as a tool to guide your parenting decisions. And when you let go of the results, you give your kids the freedom to become who they're meant to be.
Leave a comment below and tell me: What are some words you hope to use to describe your youngest child at 25? What are you currently doing to encourage these traits?
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