20/20 Parenting

I recently asked parents: What is your greatest wish as a parent? One answer stuck in my head:

“I wish I could know I am doing something right and when I am doing something wrong.”

I found this answer fascinating, first because what is ‘right parenting’ and ‘wrong parenting?’ Many parents tell me that they constantly question their choices, their ability, their success as a parent (Is there even success?). I call this 20/20 parenting, the desire to have a perfectly clear picture of yourself, your choices and your family.  I do not know if we can ever get 20/20 parental vision, but there are a few things that help encourage correct mindsight.

1. Learning How to Fail

This goes for parents and kids.  It is OK to fail, it is natural to fail, you need to fail to appreciate success! 20/20 parenting is about learning how to fail–learn from it, grow from it and contextualize it.

2. Don’t Use Family Parenting

I am seeing “Family Parenting” a lot.  This is when parents step out of the parent role and siblings, grandparents and nannies step into it.  It is very very important for a 20/20 parent to actually be the parent and do the parenting, it is impossible to see if your decisions are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ when your other children are making the decisions for you.

3. The Secret of Being Wrong is Not to Avoid Being Wrong

Parents fear being wrong, but half of the battle is how people act because they are afraid of being wrong.  It leads to inactivity, indecisiveness, fickleness and weakness because when parents are afraid of being wrong, they do not act…and then someone else (usually the child does). Then, see number 2.

4. To Build Resiliency, Be the Scaffold

You hear psychologists talk to parents about helping children build their foundation.  I think this sends the message that parents have to be a part of the structure of their children.  I like to think about it a different way.  I encourage parents and youthologists in training to be the scaffolding for kids. You support around the beautiful, growing, changing structure of the child, but let them stand on their own. This way, one day the scaffold comes down and you have shaped them, but are not responsible for keeping them up anymore.  Too many parents raise children and when those children get to college without their support system they crumble.  I think this is because parents have built themselves into the building and not helped support it to eventually leave it.

20/20 parenting is an art not a science.  Every family and child is different.  The main idea I wanted to get across in this post is that right and wrong is impossible to decipher.  Failure is not a bad thing and parents should never be afraid of failure or being wrong, acting with their instincts is always right.

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One Response to “20/20 Parenting”

  1. Jen Parker
    January 22, 2010 at 9:07 pm #

    I believe it’s important to let your kid know that you’re not perfect. If you are wrong, let you child know that you are indeed, wrong, but that you’re trying your best. I’m not saying that you should let your child run the show, but they, too, need to know it’s okay to learn from mistakes, too.

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