The benefits of parenting backwards

The first rule of goal setting is to know where you’re going. Without a clear Point B, your Point A has no purpose or direction. I’m guessing we’ve all heard this a hundred times before.

But have you considered how it applies to parenting?

Most of us would say our goal is to raise happy, healthy, well-adjusted people who will one day conquer adulthood and make an impact on this world. That’s the obvious Point B. And over the course of 18 or so years per child, with some highs and lows along the way, I pray we’ll all hit the mark.

But I’m talking about something else. What about the smaller stops en route to bigger milestones? Our incremental goals for the week, the day, the dinner hour or bedtime routine? Those are Point B’s, too. And we have an endless stream of opportunities to reach them.

Yet we don’t.

Because most of us—me included—are going through our daily grind parenting forward, sometimes blindly, reacting to our circumstances, our emotions, our exhaustion, and our worries. We get cranky, we get fed up, we get distracted by a thousand other demands yanking our attention away from the goal of being a loving mom, building sweet memories, and dishing out more hugs than hollering.

And I think I’ve figured out why.

We’re neglecting to identify Point B. The smaller ones. Which means on a day-by-day, moment-to-moment basis, we don’t know where we’re going.

And if we don’t know where we’re going, how on earth are we ever going to get there?

I’ll tell you how.

Start with the end goal in mind—then parent backwards.

My husband has been traveling a lot lately, gone from the family more than usual. And as many of you know, solo parenting can be, uh, challenging. To say the least.

So last week when Dad left for a six-day absence from the household, I was already feeling drained. And starting a journey on empty doesn’t bode well for the driver—or the people in the backseat, i.e., my poor children. After one evening of barking at them to pick up their mess and finish their homework and get their pajamas on NOW-must-I-tell-you-fifty-times!!!—I realized we were in for a miserable week.

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And that’s the opposite of what I really wanted.

What I really wanted was for six days to go by and my girls could look back and say, “We had a blast with Mom!” That was my goal, I realized. My Point B—to provide a week of fun and laughter and mother-daughter bonding that would not only distract my kids from their sadness of missing Dad but also infuse their hearts and souls with a much-needed break from the rush-rush routine.

However, based on my behavior that first night, things weren’t looking so good.

That’s when it dawned on me, like a wake-up call from God Himself. Hellooooo, mother woman. In order to reach my Point B, I needed to change my attitude and my actions at Point A.

I want my girls to giggle? I need to give them something to laugh about today.

I want them to feel accepted, safe and encouraged? Stop harping on every detail of their existence.

I want my girls to say, “This was such a fun week with Mom!”? Then every decision I make between now and six days from now needs to point toward that goal. No more barking, no more self-pity, no more sighing or short answers. Put down the phone and help with homework. Play dance music in the kitchen. Order takeout, a rare weekday treat, and watch a tween chick flick ‘til bedtime.

I must pray for God to keep me fueled so I can pour into my children and turn this challenging week into a sweet memory—instead of a bad one.

Do you see my epiphany here? It wasn’t until I envisioned my Point B that I was able to get my head back on straight and be intentional about how I was handling the moments between now and then. With a clear goal in mind, I could parent my girls in reverse, making choices today that would generate tomorrow’s result.

Do you do that?

Do you want to start?

Let’s do it together.

Let’s identify the end goal. Then parent backwards.

I’m starting with popcorn for dinner. And gratitude in my heart. Because even when parenting feels like a chore, it’s still a gift. And I want to unwrap it again and again, day after day, moment by moment. My girls and I may still have our hiccups over the course of a season, but it’s my choice how I handle them. It’s your choice how you handle your hiccups, too. And knowing where we’re going—and Who goes alongside—will help every step along the way.

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8).

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This post originally appeared on BeckyKopitzke.com and was republished with permission.


Becky Kopitzke is the author of “The SuperMom Myth: Conquering the Dirty Villains of Motherhood” (Shiloh Run Press) and “Generous Love: Discover the Joy of Living Generously”.Becky lives in lovely northeast Wisconsin with her husband and their two daughters, where her home office is overrun with bouncy balls and tween craft supplies. For weekly, keeping-it-real encouragement, visit Becky at beckykopitzke.com.


 

 

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