Often as parents we find ourselves making things up as we go along – we think about what we want our kids to do right now, then take actions that give us quick results in the moment. Those actions may or may not be in alignment with our long term goals or visions of yourself as a parent – I’m sure we’ve all had moments of thinking “I can’t believe I just said/did that!!”
One step you can take toward becoming the parent you want to be is to define – in writing – what that means. This can begin with a process of brainstorming your goals and values, maybe even writing a vision and a mission statement. Then as you find yourself muddling through your parenting days, you can occasionally take time to reflect – am I on course toward my goals? What could I do to course correct a bit? You don’t have to be perfect every day if you’re remembering to check in from time to time to make sure you’re still pointed in the right general direction.
Brainstorming the Basics
Here are some questions to ask yourself to discover what’s important to you.
- What are your family’s strengths? What do you do best?
- What are the most important values you want to pass on to your child?
- What is the place of education in your family? What value do you place on work?
- What are your family’s attitudes toward money?
- How do you view religion/spirituality, and what part does that play in your daily life?
- How important is it to you to help other people or participate in your community?
- How would you like to relate to one another?
- When do you feel most connected to one another?
- What makes you happy?
- What makes you fulfilled –brings you satisfaction, leaves you with a sense of completeness?
Answering those questions may be the insight you need to get started.
Figure out what the endpoint looks like
Another approach is “Begin at the end” – think ahead 15 years. What is your vision for:
- What is your child like as a person?
- What skills have you nurtured in them: Curiosity? Confidence? Compassion? Determination?
- What are your child’s core values? (see above)
- If your child is “successful”, what does that look like?
- What are the relationships amongst members of your family like?
- How would you like your child to describe what it was like to grow up with you as a parent?
Creating a Vision Statement
What is a vision statement?
- It describes what your ideal family life would look like and what you want your family to be someday.
- It provides inspiration for what you hope to achieve in five, ten, or more years;
- It functions as the “north star” – helps you understand how your work every day ultimately contributes towards accomplishing over the long term; and,
- An effective vision statement is inspiring, yet short and simple enough that you could repeat it out loud from memory
Some sample visions from organizations are: “To improve the health and well-being of each person we serve.” (a hospital) “To inspire students to create a better world.” (a school) “We believe that strong families begin at home and building strong families creates thriving, healthy communities.” (a family support organization) “To be a vibrant and welcoming community, feeding the human spirit, lighting a. beacon for love and justice.” (a church.)
Write your parenting vision statement. (Try several approaches until you find the one that sings to you.)
Creating a Mission Statement
A Mission statement focuses on a shorter time frame (1 – 3 years). There are lots of possible formats. One format answers three questions
- WHAT you will do – what specific actions will you take?
- HOW you will do it – what will be the quality of your actions (this is where you can articulate your values for how you want to interact with your family)
- WHY – what results or benefits you will see when you look at your kids / your family in a few years?
Here are some sample missions, from the web… I don’t endorse any in particular, they’re just examples.
We are a family who believes that relationships matter most! We value spending time together. We hold each member of our family accountable for responsible behavior. We support each other in our individual pursuits of personal and professional interests. We cheer each other on. We laugh whenever possible. We hold our marital relationship as a top priority because this relationship serves as the foundation of our family. www.everythingmom.com/dynamics/the-family-vision-statement-a-solution-for-challenging-decisions.html
Our home will be a place where are family, friends, and guests find joy, comfort, peace and happiness. We will seek to create a clean and orderly environment that is livable and comfortable. We will exercise wisdom in what we choose to eat, read, see, and do at home. We want to teach our children to love learn, laugh, and to work and develop their unique talents. www.happyfamilyhappylife.com/examples-of-a-family-mission-statement/
Our family mission: To always be kind, respectful, and supportive of each other, To be honest and open with each other, To keep a spiritual feeling in the home, To love each other unconditionally, To be responsible to live a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life, To make this house a place we want to come home to. [also from happy family… cited above]
I choose to raise children who are respectful and believe they are worthy of respect. I choose to raise children who are confident and who know themselves enough to be true to the song in their hearts. I choose to raise children who are kind and caring and see kindness and caring in the world as well. I choose to raise children who are honest and value the power of truth. [in the post, the author gives concrete examples of how their parenting will reflect this mission http://lusaorganics.typepad.com/clean/2011/12/a-peaceful-parenting-mission-statement.html]
Implementing Your Vision & Mission
Write your Vision & Mission down, and post it where you can see it.
Review it on a regular basis and see how you’re doing.
Narrowing the Vision – Action Gap: when the theory of what kind of parent we wish we were meets the reality of how we respond to our child when we’re tired and they’re challenging, it can be easy to get discouraged. Be gentle with yourself – don’t beat yourself up for your mistakes, just use it to help you remember your goals. Ask yourself what you could do differently the next day to move in that direction.
Revise your mission as needed to in order to reflect new values, hopes, and dreams.
On this blog:
- Here is a free printable worksheet for developing a mission/vision statement.
- Read about Parenting Style: Authoritarian, Permissive, Balanced and Uninvolved are ways to describe the intersection between how high the demands are that you place on your child, and how responsive your rules are to their individual needs and goals. Are you your child’s Boss? their Friend? A Friendly Boss?
- Read about Connecting Your Child with their Cultural Identity. What traditions and values will you bring in from your cultural background?
- Think about what rituals you will incorporate – how will you celebrate holidays? What about the tooth fairy? Bedtime routines? It’s often the little things that define our families.
- Becoming the Parent You Want to Be: A Sourcebook of Strategies for the First Five Years by Davis and Keyser. Simply the best book on this topic.
- How Family Traditions Help Form Stronger Bonds: https://www.verywellfamily.com/family-rituals-meaning-examples-3288187
- Discover and Define Your Family Values: https://raisingkidswithpurpose.com/defining-family-values/