The importance of setting long term parenting goals!

As parents we often tend to parent from a certain kind of short-term goal; which is a quick fix where we aim for peace, quiet and happy kids in the here and now. But I would like us to start with the end in mind and explore why we should parent from our long term goals.

Let’s start with, what is a short term goal? A shortterm goal is something you want to do or achieve soon; maybe now, today, this week or this month and want to accomplish soon.

But the consequences of parenting from the above short term goals are:

  • We might say YES when we really want to say NO. We know deep down that it is a NO to staying up longer – but we are too tired to deal with the battles that often follow so we say YES to get peace in the here and now.
  • Maybe we give in, bend our own rules – when we have said NO already. Again we do it to meet our short term goal which is to make our kids feel happy or stop getting angry in the moment.
  • There is a chance that we end up losing our temper because we know that it works in the SHORT TERM – it has an immediate effect.

BUT what happens here is:

  • We are in danger of raising kids who don’t respect / accept boundaries – if they are used to a situation at home where if they push back hard enough they get away with what they want (or don’t want) to do (we have thought them ‘manipulation behaviours‘ – which is a learned behaviour that can be unlearned)
  • Our kids might become lazy when they are used to getting away with not meeting their responsibilities i.e. tidying their room, packing their own school / PE bag or in general cleaning up after themselves
  • Maybe we rob them of a great opportunity to become independent and develop strong problem solving skills. This can happen if they get used to us fixing too much for them i.e. if having friendship issues, or when they have done something wrong, we step in too quickly without giving them the chance and tools to try and sort things out them CLICK here to read about what happens when we become ‘helicopter parents’.  
  • We send a message that we don’t trust them with our boundaries – or they are not worth our time and energy, which is really not great for their self-worth now and later
  • But most of all, we undermine our own authority and make OUR life so much harder in the long term which also knocks our parenting confidence.

But the good news is: if you have been parenting from these short-term goals so far and your kids behaviour has become learned action, they CAN be unlearned with lots of awareness, practice and consistency.

But there is another kind of short-term goal, that will help us parent better. That is when everything you do in the here and now is a planned process that will lead to a bigger picture, your long-term goal.

These short-term goals are tools, that you can learn and will help you to build your parenting toolbox that you will parent from

But before we can parent from this kind of  short-term goal we need to start with the end in mind – your long-term goal.

I would like to start with the end in mind – your long term goal.

So what is at what is a long-term goal? A long-term goal is something you want to do, accomplish or achieve in the future. Long-term goals require time, thoughts and planning. They are not something you can do this week or even this year. Longterm goals are usually at least several years away.

How to set your long term parenting goal:

  • Think about what kind of women or men you want to raise? What qualities and skills do you hope they will possess in 5, 10 or 15 years time e. when they are 25 years old? Independent, respectful, content, kind, considerate, helpful, resourceful, adaptable, open minded etc.
  • How do you want them to feel about themselves, others and society? Confident, happy, secure, loving, excited etc.

Once you have set your long-term parenting goal this will become your compass – your parenting guide for how you will raise your kids – your short term goals: Every time you are about to say YES when you mean NO, i.e. give in and bend your own rules – scream, get angry and point fingers etc. STOP and THINK, how does what I am about to say and do match my long term goal?

Example: my long-term goals are: independence, respect, self-worth and kindness.

  • Allowing them to get away without doing their chores / responsibilities – doesn’t match the goal of independence and self-worth.
  • Giving in when you have said NO or bending the family rules – doesn’t match respect and resilience.
  • Stop asking them to help and being afraid of the battles – doesn’t match kind, helpful.
  • Giving up on setting boundaries because it’s too hard – doesn’t match self-worth and confidence.
  • Shame and blame and screaming at them – doesn’t match respect and kindness; because they WILL copy your behaviour!

Benefits of parenting from your long-term goal:

Having long-term goals in place to guide your everyday life is a great tool for helping you make the right decisions on how to raise your children and shape your family life. It will help you find more depth in your relationships with your children; they will respect you when you live by what matters to you. It helps you to live closer to your values and what is important to you. This is not only a huge confidence booster but also helps you to live by who you are and want to be and be someone you want your kids to copy. You become a positive role model for them.

Wishing you all the best Mette

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