Friday, May 25, 2012

The End in Mind.

It's a common phrase in the work place; plan with the end in mind, begin with the end in mind, work with the end in mind.  But I wonder.

Do we do it enough in parenting?

I think the quick and dirty answer is, "Yes.  Of course we do." 

But do we?  Do we really?

And I'm not talking about sitting down and making a list of everything that you want your child to accomplish by the time they're twenty, what awards and scholarships you hope they're granted, and ultimately what career path they choose.

I'm talking about deciding what kind of individual you want to release to the world at eighteen and what they'll be able to bring to wherever they go in terms of work ethic, intrinsic motivation, judgement, wisdom, compassion, empathy, a moral compass, and an authentic and viable love for people. 

It's very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day consequences, routines, procedures, and conversations.  It's very easy to get upset if our children don't listen to us the first time they're asked because it's an inconvenience, it's irritating, and's not appropriate. 
It's very easy to want our kids to be stars at whatever they do because we believe it will make them well adjusted. 
It's very easy to want our kids to do well in school because we think it means they'll probably be able to get into a good college, and eventually, a great career path. 

But what I'm talking about here is a lot less tactical and a lot more contemplative.

It makes me think about parenting on a deeper level.

  • How will staying consistent on my expectation of looking people in the eye and saying hello contribute to a better grown-up Georgia?
  • Is it that big of a deal if Georgia eats a Fig Newton for breakfast?  Isn't it really the same as a Nutri-grain bar?  I mean.....really.  Long-term what will it mean?  That she likes figs and fiber?  Okay. 
  • What is the significance of teaching Georgia to talk in a quiet voice versus an always-yelling voice?
  • How will I send the message that it is absolutely never okay to grit your teeth and squeeze my neck because you're frustrated?  
  • How do I want Georgia to learn to give to charities and donate her money to important causes once she has some if she never sees me do it or even talk about it?
  • Do I need to care that Georgia would rather watch other kids go down a slide at the park, and cheer them on, than do it herself because she's too timid?  Like really, do I need to get that irritated?
  • Do I need to think about what I praise her for and what doesn't really need to be praised?  Like being a hard worker and kind and enthusiastic over being cute and pretty and smart and funny?  
  • Should I teach Georgia that we need to clean up one mess before making another one because it's how we take care of our things?
  • Should I let her jump on the bed?

And really, you know, these questions don't end.  And everyone will answer them differently based on what kind of person they want to raise--and that's okay.

But what does end, sooner than we'd like it to, is the every day opportunity that we have to pour into our children's lives.  Pour into them the stuff that really matters.  The things that will lend themselves to being a friendly person, a controlled person, a charitable, comfortable with herself, responsible, and motivated person.

I think we need to parent with the end in mind.  We need to concentrate {hard} on how what we enforce, freak out about, pass off, model, obsess over, draw a line in the sand for, and dole out consequences for will lead to a person we know will make a positive contribution to the world around them........or how they won't perhaps.

When I'm carrying Georgia out of a store while she's losing her marbles and then actually carry out the consequence that I told her I was going to carry out--even though she's calmed down by the time we get to the car--I believe that will make her a wiser person.

And when she looks this beautiful, but instead, I tell her that I'm so proud of her for working hard on writing G's and not quitting--I believe that will make her a hard worker.

And when she tells me that she doesn't really want to run and play with the other kids right now, but she wants to stand by me........I'm okay with it.  She might not be this extroverted-out-there kid, but she's loyal--and that's a fabulous character quality.

Everyday I'm getting a little better at REALLY thinking about how 'right now' will look manifested in sixteen or seventeen years.  I'm trying to see beyond just 'getting through the day' (even though that's necessary sometimes) and seeing instead, a grown-up version of my daughter and what I want that to look like.

Sure.  It's fun to live in the moment.....and live for today.......but ultimately........our kids need to be ready for what lies beyond that.  And we have to help them, by parenting with the end in mind.

And on a side-note.........Georgia acquired her first scrapes of the summer tonight..........

After the tears subsided she embraced her new shins and announced, "I want to keep these boo boo's.  They make me look tough."

Have a great weekend!


  1. I love your insight, you are so right about keeping the end in mind. Great pics of G too.

  2. Fabulous post! I think there are so many parents these days who fail to keep this mindset. I'll admit that I am guilty of it sometimes too. Because thats the easier way to parent. But parenting is far from easy. Reminding my kiddo for the upteenth time in a single day to look someone in the eye and respond when they say "good morning, Kendry" instead of simply walking by them gets tiresome - but I know that if we keep at it eventually he will do it on his own. When I'm tempted to let something slide, I find myself thinking "How much worse will he react the next time, when I really do have to stand my ground and stick with my no?" More often than not, that brief thought process gives me the courage to stick to my guns and my boundaries. And now that he is 3, we are starting to see some of the rewards for our hard work. :)
    I am a new follower and really enjoy your blog!

    1. So glad to have you Jody! I also have to remind myself that what's bearable (kind of) at three will be horrible at eight--so it's so important to stand that ground.

  3. Great post! Great reminders, too! I must try to remember these things when I'm frustrated and irritated with the little things.
    Your Georgia is a beautiful girl!! And I love the Fig Newton and the boo boos stories!

  4. Great post - I love the reminder of that looking at the end. I think about that a lot when I am trying to decide what my kids should do with their it more important that they experience everything possible or whether they are everything you talked about...charitable, loving, fair...etc. :)


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