Why “winging it” is no longer a parenting plan
Humans are complex. Human relationships are complex. Human brains are complex. Yet, the traditional parenthood prep doesn’t include reading up on human development or social neuroscience. Normally (and if you Google you will see what I mean), all the parenthood prep is about what you need to buy for that first year survival, or how to financially prepare for a child.
Where is the support, help, or advice on growing remarkable human beings? Don’t we want our children to grow and become even better than us? Don’t we want them to be responsible, independent, empathetic, creative, good problem solvers, and excellent communicators?
We need to start preparing for parenthood differently. We need to be informed. We need a plan. We need to get on the same page as our parenting partner or nanny or grandparents.
Create your vision
Who do you want your child to grow up to be? What life skills do you want them to have? What values are important in your family?
What things do you want to keep from how you were raised and what do you want to let go of?
I have a long list for my child and I am still adding to it. I’m still dreaming about all the things he can become. And as a white male, I want to make sure that he fights for equity, social justice, feminism and understands consent (even better than me). I want him to grow up knowing that feelings are okay, especially for boys. I want him to have intrinsic motivation. You get where I am going here. I’m still working on these things for myself. I’m still learning what this all means.
We can dream big. In fact, our world needs us to. What’s your vision? What’s your big audacious dream for your child(ren)?
The research is still coming in, but what we know today vs. what was available to our parents is radically different. We now know that naming feelings actually tells the brain to calm down. (“That hurt when you fell.”) That when we recount a scary scenario and tell the story over and over, it actually helps decrease anxiety and build resilience.
How we talk to our children has a direct impact on their behavior.
When we model good communication skills, our children learn it too. When we speak respectfully, when we get into their world, when we find the fun – we can invite cooperation and respect. When we use encouragement instead of praise, we are building their intrinsic motivation, their ability to persevere when things get difficult. When we use WHAT and HOW questions, we build problem solving skills and avoid power struggles.
Here are a couple of my favorite books:
Carol S. Dweck: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
Angela Garbes: Like A Mother
Find your community
It truly takes a village to raise a child. No one can do it alone! We all need our friends, or family or neighbors, not just for the help (we need that too,) but because it gives that many more opportunities to strengthen our child’s social emotional development.
Need a community? There are plenty of options out there. We love organizations like PEPS, where they help connect new parents that live near each other to meet and support each other through those difficult early days. Or companies like Om Mama, that offer classes, events, photography and support services to new mamas.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
We all need it sometimes. Fellow parents get it. We’ve all been there. We’ve had the mastitis, we’ve had the emergency room visits, we’ve had the sleep deprivation. You don’t have to be alone.
I am here for you too. Did you know you can email us (in[email protected]) anytime and we will answer your questions?
It is never too late to make your parenting plan. It’s time to start thinking about the future. Who do we want our children to be when they grow up? What do we want our collective future to look like?
Join me. Let’s grow remarkable kids and grow a new generation that is remarkably better than us.
What’s in your parenting plan? What’s your vision? Comment below.
Alanna Beebeis a certified Positive Discipline Educator and the founder of Sproutable. She has 10+ yrs experience in public health & early learning communications, and equity & social justice policy development. She is a former board member for WACAP (now HoltInternational.org), an international and domestic adoption and foster placement agency. She is also a parent and former nanny. You can find other blogs from Alannain theNew Mama Blogs.