One dad’s parenting resolutions for 2017, using baby steps

January 3, 2017

A chore a day … (iStock) It’s the season where many of us make resolutions to guide our efforts in the coming year. As a parent and a middle school teacher, I’ve been doing this as well. Most of what I want to accomplish as a father comes down to parenting for the long-term, building skills and traits that will endure well after my day-to-day influence has faded. As my oldest children have gone to college, this has been impressed repeatedly on my mind. However, as with all resolutions, it’s easy to overpromise and under deliver. I’ve found in the past that having a few simple goals with associated steps can make all the difference. So, here are my resolutions and baby-steps to get there. I will allow my kids to struggle and even fail. This is perhaps one of the hardest challenges of parenting. Everyone understands, and most agree, with this principle in theory. But when our children encounter honest-to-goodness struggles, we are hard-wired to jump in and protect them. However, struggles are the way a child learns to be an adult eventually, this is how they grow. In addition to struggling with this as a parent, I see the other side all the time as a teacher. I truly can’t count the number of times I’ve received an email saying something such as, “I really believe that kids need to struggle, BUT …” followed by an explanation of why this time is different, why this struggle is unfair or beyond the pale. This is somewhat like saying, “I believe in exercise, but don’t want my child to perspire, get sore, or get their heart-rate up.” Unfortunately, there are not usually benign, loving-but-firm, Mary Poppins sort of challenges that will help children grow in a comfortable way. The obstacles they need to develop into self-sufficient, functional adults are usually going to be uncomfortable. As I find myself...

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