Accidents are what happen when people drive cars, ski down the slopes and cut up vegetables with sharp knives.
But accidents do not have to characterize the way you parent.
Accidental parenting means you fly by the seat of your pants, winging it day after day, month after month, and year after year.
Accidental parenting means you do not look ahead, plan ahead, or prepare. It means you constantly REACT, instead of RESPOND to your kids.
In sports terms, it means you are constantly playing defense because you can’t seem to move forward enough to get on offense.
The bottom line is this: accidental parenting means you are letting life push you around.
Of course, accidents will happen to you. Life will throw you curve balls. There are obviously going to be situations that you simply cannot, and quite honestly should not control. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about abdicating what you can control because you’re unaware of how to take control or because you’re too tired or busy to try.
If you do not want to let life push you around and if you do not want to parent by accident, there are ways to switch to offense and be a more intentional parent. Start with these 4 tips:
Establish Family Core Values
Core Values are simply a list of things that are important to your family. There is no right or wrong way to come up with that list. Just have a family meeting, talk about what’s important to your family and make a list.
For example, one of the things on the list might be: family. Take that word and expand your thoughts: Family is important and we will always look for ways to grow our family bonds.
Or maybe you want to focus on character traits. Example: Honesty. Expand on it: We will strive to always be honest with each other, even when it’s hard.
If you are struggling with your core values, do some research or get some help from someone who can coach you through it. Core values will guide your parenting decisions from here on out.
Set Weekly, Monthly, and Yearly Goals for Your Family
Once you have core values established, you can use them to help you set some goals. Going back to the example of family as a core value: Family is important and we will always look for ways to grow our family bonds.
If family is important, set some goals of how you can grow those family bonds. A weekly goal may be to have at least ___ (you pick the number) of family meals together each week. A monthly goal might be to have one fun family outing. A yearly goal might be to have a family vacation.
Or let’s look at the honest core value: We will strive to always be honest with each other, even when it’s hard.
Encouraging honesty begins with good communication, so a daily goal as a parent might be to be a good listener when your child is talking to you. A weekly goal might be to have at least one quality conversation with your child where you ask them questions showing your interest in what they are thinking. A monthly goal might be a reward for an “honest month” if your child earns it. A yearly goal might be to read a book about honesty with your child.
Obviously, these are just suggestions, but I think you get my drift. You set goals in your finances, fitness, careers and health, why not in your parenting?
Change the Filter on Your Parenting Challenges
When you are faced with your child’s challenging behavior, what’s the first thing you do? Get angry? Ground them? Withdraw in frustration?
I’d like to suggest a new filter and it’s really very simple. When your child’s behavior is driving you crazy or is testing your limits, ask yourself one question: What does my child need to learn from this and how can I help them learn it?
Stop, breathe, then ask yourself that question. If you have to give yourself a time out to think of the answer, that’s okay too. It’s all part of parenting by response, not by reaction.
What kind of human beings do you want to raise? How would you like your kids to be seen by others when they are adults?
Be specific. What kind of traits do you want them to have? Once you answer that question, you have established another guideline for your parenting decisions.
Looking ahead requires thought. It takes time and energy and sometimes it’s hard to do so much thinking when most days it’s all you can do to get the kids home, fed and in bed.
But the time you spend on planning and thinking ahead is not wasted and it will, in fact, save you headache and heartache down the road when accidental parenting catches up to you and you realize you wished you’d done things a bit differently.
Are you tired of accidental parenting? I can help you form a plan for your family’s success. Schedule a free consultation here.