Improving Your Family Through New Parenting Intentions
by Kathy Slattengren, M. Ed., Priceless Parenting (more parenting articles are available)
(listen to article read by the author)
Have you made new year’s resolutions? Do you remember one of your resolutions and how it went? People often start out a new year by making resolutions for how they are going to behave differently.
Some people decide to get in better shape. Gym memberships spike in January
and participation declines by February. How does it feel if you do not stick to your resolution? Resolutions have judgement built into them. You either pass or fail.
The title of this article specifically uses the word intentions instead of resolutions. Intentions come from your heart. Resolutions come from your head. Setting an intention does not mean you will never fail. It means that when you fail, you will cut yourself some slack for being human. You won’t abandon your intention because you didn’t do it perfectly.
Setting Your New Parenting Intention
What is one thing you’d like to change to improve your family? Any intention that improves your physical, mental, emotional or spiritual wellbeing will benefit your family. Focusing on one priority will increase the likelihood of achieving it.
Here are things parents have said:
- Developing healthy habits for handling stress
- Asking once without having to repeat myself
- Improving work-life balance
- Getting more help from family members
- Increasing kindness to self and others
- Spending more time together
- Having more patience
- Treating each other with respect
- Keeping my anger under control
What is one thing that you believe will have a big positive impact on your family? Write down your parenting intention
. Next envision how things will look and feel once you accomplish this intention.
For example, when my oldest was a toddler, I was traveling for my work. One time my husband took me to the airport to leave for a work trip. He was holding our little daughter as I left to get on the plane. I remember her crying and reaching for me as I walked away. It broke my heart. It was all the motivation I needed to set an intention to cut back significantly on my work travel.
I imagined that when I was traveling less I would feel more at peace. I would enjoy being able to spend time with my husband and daughter every day. When you think about your intention, what will be different once you achieve it?
Various decisions have led you to where you currently are. Making a new parenting intention will involve change. You can expect resistance to change from yourself and others.
Anticipating what is going to get in your way can help you be more successful. For example, I knew that my company needed me to travel to meet our customer obligations. I also was my family’s wage earner so I needed to have a job. Within those parameters, I looked for how I could help my company meet their needs while also cutting back on my travel. This required support from my boss and co-workers.
Watch your own thinking. Question your assumptions. For example, I wrote I needed to have a job. Was that true? It was true that we needed income. What was not true was that the only option was for me to work fulltime. You open up more possibilities when you knock down the walls you’ve put up around certain decisions.
What support are you going to need for your new parenting intention? Do you need help from other family members? If so, you may want to discuss it in a family meeting
. It may make sense to have this intention posted where everyone can see it. Perhaps you check in weekly as a family on how it is going.
Expect failures along the way. Be kind to yourself when setbacks happen. Let go of the shaming voice in your head that says “Why don’t you have this figured out yet? You should be better than this by now!”
Embrace apologizing when you don’t live up to your intention. You’ll be teaching your kids about owning your mistakes and finding forgiveness
. Achieving a big intention is unlikely to be a straight path. Hold your intention in your heart and when you get off the path, you will find a way back to the path.
Your intention may take a long time to achieve. That’s OK. As long as you keep your intention in mind, eventually you will be able to look back and see how you accomplished it.