Last month, we talked about the purpose of being a parent. In the first half of the November, we watched and read about defining your own parenting purpose. Then, we analyzed the parenting purposes of one hundred survey respondents. Today, in the first post of December, we will talk about what stops you from fulfilling your parenting purpose, and how keeping a journal can help you to do things differently to get back on track.
What Stops You From Being the Parent You Want to Be?
Ideally, each of us would always behave according to our beliefs and values, act in alignment with our goals, and adhere to our parenting purpose. But we do not, because we are human beings. In other words, what stops us from acting in accordance with our purposes is ourselves.
While I can’t help you identify something specific about yourself that stops you from parenting the way you would like to, I can provide some examples to stimulate your thinking. Here are three things that stop me from being the parent I want to be:
Impatience – I can be impatient with others in the name of expedience. Sometimes I am too abrupt with my children. When my daughter asks me questions when it is past her bedtime, and I am exhausted because it is the end of the day, I don’t always spend the time to give a good answer – even when I know I should devote at least a few minutes.
Too task oriented – I can be too focused on completing tasks at home, and do not always make enough time to enjoy the moment. When I am helping my son with his piano practice, and he stops mid-song to tell me a joke, sometimes I get irritated. Why not just take a moment to share a laugh, and then get back to the song?
Too critical – Sometimes I have unrealistic expectations for my children. I do not tolerate chaos as well as I would like, and can be too critical of whomever is causing it. An open container of yogurt dropped on the floor by a child, even if it could have been easily prevented, is not the end of the world. Yet I sometimes let my displeasure show a bit too much. The little yogurt dropper already knows that the mess could have been avoided, and doesn’t need to be told that by me.
Maybe some of my examples resonate with you. Maybe they are prompting you to think of those situations when you didn’t behave according to your parenting purpose, and would have liked to handle yourself better. Before moving on to the next section, try answering this simple question:
What stops you from fulfilling your parenting purpose?
What Will You Do Differently?
Despite all our frailties, we human beings have an extraordinary capacity to grow. While we can’t always live up to our ideals, what we can do is gradually work toward them. That is easy to say, but hard to do. It involves continually changing habits.
Before changing your habits, you need to determine specifically what it is that you want to do differently. That involves taking something negative, that is, whatever stops you from being the parent you want to be, and translating it into something positive. It is not enough to simply say, “I am going to stop being impatient.” You have to actually declare what you are going to be. Here are three areas for improvement that I have identified:
Give Time – Instead of being impatient, I need to be generous with my time. I need to give more of myself, for however long it takes, to let my children know they matter.
Connect – Completing tasks at home should be a secondary consideration. I need to make sure connecting emotionally with my children is my top priority – again, so my children know they matter.
Coach – I need to be less of a critic and more of a coach. I need give my children the tools and guidance they need to learn to do things with competence, and to make an impact.
We are going to consider these three areas of doing things differently – give time, connect, and coach – as my milestones for parenting improvement.
What will you do differently? What are your milestones for improvement?
Setting Your Targets
Setting milestones is only a start. If you truly want to make changes, you need to be able to measure whether you are truly making progress toward your milestones. You need to define measures and set quantitative targets.
Below is a table of my milestones, measures, and targets. Further down the page, there is a link to the blank template. You can click that link, print out the PDF document, and write out your own milestones, measures, and targets.
The measures in the table above use numbers ranging from 0-100, but they don’t have to. Any type of scale can be used. It can be set up to include values, probabilities, or rank orders.
Likewise, there are many ways to set up quantitative targets. The table above shows three different approaches. One is an average, one is an improvement from an initial period to a final period, and one is a quota.
There are as many ways to set up measures and targets as your creativity will allow. I am hoping some of you share your own approaches in the comment section, so we can all have the chance to learn from each other.
What are your measures and targets?
Monitoring Your Progress
Once you have defined milestones, measures, and targets, you can make yourself accountable my logging your progress daily. Below is an example of a week I started off poorly, but then finished strong. Further down the page is a link to the blank template.
There are a few things you may notice about the template and the entries:
The entries are brief. You are busy, and may not have the time to write a detailed narrative that covers your entire day. In fact, I would advise against that for this type of journal entry. Being concise means that you have to select the most important moments of the day, capture your key realizations, and record the most momentous events. That will make it more helpful later, when you scan your entries to review what you learned and what you can still do better.
There is only room for one milestone. Focused effort is needed to make any kind of change. I have noticed that when I try to do more than one milestone at a time, I perform poorly on all of them. It is too mentally taxing to consider all the things you want to do differently. The key to making changes, even small changes, is focus. Small changes, over time, can then become substantial changes. It is generally believed that it takes about three weeks to form a new habit. I have found that to hold true for me. I therefore recommend working toward one milestone for an entire month before considering switching to a different one.
The entries are written by hand. Okay, it’s just a font that looks like it’s been written by hand, because I didn’t want to burden you with my chickenscratch. There are various reasons to write by hand instead of with a keyboard, which I will cover in next week’s post.
Link for Downloads
The links below each take you to a separate page with an email entry form.
After entering your email, you will get a thank you page with a link to download the template. If you are not already a subscriber, you will also receive a confirmation email. A healthy subscriber base helps authors like me grow their websites, so I’m hoping many of you decide to stay connected – but you are not required to subscribe to download the documents. They are for everybody to enjoy, for your own personal use.
When The Kind of Parent You Are (the book) is published in February, a companion journal will also be made available. Page templates are being made available for free here, for those who would rather assemble their own journals. Next week, I will share more journal templates you can use to enrich your parenting skills, your children, and yourself.
If you find them useful, of if you have ideas to improve them, please share your comments below.
How to Properly Cite this Article: Brian Vondruska, “Keeping With Your Parenting Purpose Through a Journal”, The Kind of Parent You Are, accessed [date], https://www.thekindofparentyouare.com/articles/keeping-with-your-parenting-purpose-through-a-journal.