Craft a Parenting Mission Statement — Part One

Clearly and Accurately Define Your Goal

Whether you are a new or expecting parent, or if you have older children, you can make a Parenting Mission Statement to guide you through the future. Before putting your deeply held principles to work, it is important to know what you are trying to achieve. In The Seven Habits of Highly EffectivePeople, Stephen Covey says,”Begin with the end in mind.” Everything we do begins in the mind. First we create a mental picture, then the physical manifestation follows. The more clearly we can define our goal, the more quickly and accurately we can reach it.

We are often caught up in the busy hustle of everyday life, reacting to everything that comes our way. We react automatically, based on what we have internalized — the “blueprint” of information we have from our life experiences. Parents are often surprised to hear themselves sounding exactly like their own parents. These internalized scripts are usually ineffective, sometimes outright destructive. Many people just go along reacting to everything in this way, not examining their blueprints and creating something new for themselves — and then they wonder why their children are disrespectful, sullen, and rebellious.

We Have the Power to Change the Scripts We Have Been Given

We all have the power to change the scripts we have been given, to alter them so they accurately reflect our values and the timeless principles we decide to consciously embrace. The operative word is consciously; it requires a deep desire and daily practice to change. We must examine our values with regard to our families, and engage with our principles as passionately as we can. Only then will we have the requisite spiritual fortitude to communicate those values appropriately to our children. Covey says, “If you want to raise responsible, self-disciplined children, you have to keep that end clearly in mind as you interact with your children on a daily basis. You can’t behave toward them in ways that undermine their self-discipline or self-esteem.”

Kids Know When You Respect Them

Children are experts at detecting hypocrisy. They know, even if on a subconscious level, when you are parroting sermons rather than communicating what you deeply feel and believe; in this way, they lose respect for you. They also know if you respect them. In over thirty-five years of working with babies and parents, it has become very clear to me that even infants know if their parents respect them or not. Babies invariably become fussy and irritable when their caregivers are doing the right things but their minds are a million miles away. Nobody likes to be treated like an object.

QUOTE 2RESPECTING BABIES_oThanks to Janet Lansbury http://www.janetlansbury.com

Consider Parenting as a Mission

Becoming aware of our deeply held principles and committing ourselves to living congruently with them is the means by which we realize our mission as parents. “Mission” may sound very big. But what is bigger than being a parent? What job or role is more important? What has a more direct and intimate affect on society, or creates a greater legacy for generations to come? When we think of parenting in terms of “mission,” we begin to give this part of our lives the respect it deserves.

Qualities to Model for Our Children

For good or ill, you learned most about being a parent from your own parents’ example. Bringing both the positive and negative sides of these childhood experiences out into the open can help you clarify what you want and what you do not want. Sometimes we need to start with what we do not want, and this will show us the way to what we want. Being congruent with what we deeply want is the best insurance for happiness and success. Being what we admire in others engenders high self-esteem, perseverance through hard times, and joy for living — all important qualities to model for our children.

W QUOTE 9

Your Parenting Mission Statement

Completing the following short version can help you write a paragraph, a sentence, or even a few words that will express the values you feel are most important to you as a parent. Your Parenting Mission Statement is your compass that guides you through the beautiful, messy, amazing, turbulent, and — always — worthwhile waters of parenthood.

The following exercises can help you clarify which aspects of your mission as a parent are most important to you. Set aside some time to complete them and commit yourself to total honesty. I have included, with permission, the responses of a friend who completed the exercise for me.

Short Version

Imagine that your children are grown and they have become successful, happy, and famous. They are interviewed for television and asked, “How did your parents contribute to your success and happiness?” What do you want them to say?

Example:

 I want my children to say that their parents supported them in every way. I want them to say we taught them values of integrity and responsibility, that they were loved unconditionally, and that their parents’ values and sacrifices made it possible for them to succeed. I want them to smile when they think of us. I want to see their love and respect for us shining in their eyes.

Now distill this into a paragraph, a sentence, or a few words that reflect, in present tense, from your point of view, what you want to be as a parent.

Example Parenting Mission Statement:

I support my children in every way to find their dreams and achieve them. I teach them integrity and responsibility by modeling these values in my own life. I love them unconditionally, and I make sure they know that every day. I am willing to sacrifice, if necessary, so that my children may succeed. I earn my children’s respect by being a good role model for them to follow.

Next: Craft a Parenting Mission Statement — Longer Version

© 2014 Vimala McClure

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