A father recently commented that he wanted to up his parenting game, that he wanted to make a New Year’s resolution that would not only benefit him but his children as well. He wanted advice on how to keep the resolution in order to meet his goal. A tall order, but not impossible.
Anything parents do to improve themselves is going to make their child’s life better. A new healthy lifestyle sets a good example for children and sweeps them up in a better way to live. Balancing the books at home provides more security. Healing marital discord creates a happier home in which to live. Winning out over one’s personal demons balances out the parent’s life and makes them more available for a good relationship with their child.
Let’s get started! It is better to pick one goal versus a messy handful. Don’t underestimate the time and energy it takes to build new habits. Be strong, keep your focus. You can pick a second resolution once the first is accomplished even if it is mid-year.
The resolution needs to be achievable. “I will get rich this year,” might be a dream outcome but stands very little chance of success without a specific plan. “I will increase my income” might be more realistic. The goal of “I will get healthy” could be replaced by “I will exercise,” and the goal of “I will stop being a hot head,” could be replaced by “I will learn how to control my temper.”
Next, each resolution needs to be broken down into do-able steps. “Increasing my income” might include the steps of asking for a raise, getting more education, and/or changing jobs, even careers. The goal of exercising should be broken down to where and when. For example: 1) I will walk 1 mile 2 times a week in January; 2) I will walk 4 times a week in February. The goal of controlling one’s temper might start with the step of visiting a doctor to test for underlying conditions, such as depression, ADHD, and diabetes. It could include working with a therapist, joining a self-help group, and/or getting help with possible addictions. You control the timing and the steps.
Do not be afraid of failure. Just slow down, back up, and pick up from where you experienced the last success. You might have needed a smaller step—or a completely different step. Be aware that there will be people in your life who don’t fully support your goals. Some people don’t like change and others may not want to be disappointed if the change doesn’t happen. Keep on track, keep working, they will all come to appreciate you and the changes you have made.
Most importantly, celebrate each successful step. Remember, you are not doing this for you alone but for your children too. They are worth it, and so are you.
Evelyn Satterlee, M.Ed.