As one year draws to a close and another opens its doors to new opportunities, people often consider what they would like to change or improve in the new year. Perhaps you’ve already made a list of resolutions with the usual: lose weight, read more books, spend less time on Facebook, etc.
Resolutions are a wonderful way to jump-start a new habit, but all too often we start them as binding rules and have lost the willpower to continue by mid-February. Writing a New Year’s resolution often puts expectations on ourselves we may or may not be ready to achieve. Sometimes, those expectations are beyond our ability to control.
Sort of like parenting.
As parents, the temptation to control our children is great. Obviously, we all want to provide a safe environment for our children in which they can thrive. Often, however, we confuse our goals for parenting with expectations–and when our expectations are not met, we feel like failures.
Goals are not expectations or resolutions. Instead, setting parenting goals gives you an opportunity to work toward improvements, and to recognize the individual characteristics of your children and how those fit with your values and anticipations.
Marie Roker-Jones of The Good Men Project says, “Setting goals created clear lines of communication and boundaries and allowed for me to see parenting challenges from a different perspective.”
Some simple parenting goals include:

  • Listen more.
  • Watch for your child’s weaknesses and challenges.
  • Watch for your child’s strengths and talents.
  • Identify your triggers and work to eliminate them. (i.e. Being late makes you frustrated, so prepare for the morning the night before.)
  • Take care of yourself.
  • Ask “What can I learn?” rather than “What can I change?”
  • Establish boundaries rather than expectations.

Goals indicate an achievement that is within reach, and raising strong kids is definitely one to which everyone aspires.