Mapping it out

So this week we’re working on the beginnings of our parenting roadmap. The roadmap basically answers the question, where are we now and where do we want to be in one to ten years? Like a family mission statement. For example, instead of reminding, rescuing, and fixing, we want to move into trusting and supporting. Instead of nagging, scolding, and lecturing, we want to be loving and connected. And for the kids, instead of yelling, hitting, and name-calling, help them grow into respect, and cooperation. Instead of fear and avoidance, for them we want confidence and resilience.

Articulating this stuff is not easy. We’ve had to talk and think and think and talk and work hard to uncover what’s really important to us at our core. And we’ve only just begun — refining this is going to take a while, not to mention identifying the steps we need to get there. But just beginning to write it down already feels like a profound shift away from focusing on the negative: “How do we get them to stop _______” toward instead looking at: “What will it take to have, and how can we best model these things that we want.”

Making an actual map with everything written down has been great for Jerry. It really helps him to have this concrete thing to look at and refer to. As we were working, he reflected on his biggest challenge for this week: modeling respect and trust and believing in Charlotte’s strength and resilience. He said, “My biggest thing is remembering not to interfere when they fight. Things like when Fenner gives Charlotte that nasty look, I realized that I then give Fenner the same look! Like, ‘Oh, yeah? Take that!’ … and when Vicki said be careful of violating your own values in search of a quick fix – yeah, she nailed me. You can put that in your blog.”

For me it’s continuing my work on trusting in their capabilities and judgment. Just this morning I had to take Fenner and Charlotte for their annual check-up and drop Ellen off at school on the way. At 7:30 I said, “Fifteeen minutes!” Ellen just got a Nintendo DS for her birthday and she and Fenner were completely absorbed in a game. Charlotte, meanwhile, had found the mini video camera and was busy making her latest look-at-the-cutie-cats movie. No one gave any indication that they heard me, but I kept my mouth shut. At 7:40 I said, “Five minutes! I’ll be in the car!” Still absolutely no movement or acknowledgement. Again, I kept my mouth shut. My stomach tightened as I walked out the door. They won’t come, I thought to myself. They’ve each got their little electronic distractor-gadget, and I’m going to be sitting in the car by myself watching the time tick away. I sat there thinking: please, please, please … And then I saw Fenner through the mudroom window with her back pack on! Phew!

They were still inside when I realized I forgot something from my office and went back in. Charlotte was standing there, looking at her back pack and Fenner was saying, “Charlotte! You didn’t pack your lunch?!” “I forgot!” “Well, you shouldn’t waste all your time watching us play Nintendo, now we’re all ready and you’re not! … Oh … well … Just pack your lunch now and come on.” And she did, and we were right on time for the doctor.

Another thing our roadmap made us realize is that our “Lamm Family Rules” list that’s been in the dining room for the past year needed a major overhaul. We had 20 “rules” written down, and about half of them were all about what we don’t want – like a beacon of negativity: No yelling / No grabbing / No name-calling / No tattling etc., etc. And it came to me that writing those down and displaying them in a family space was like saying, “We expect you to want to do these things, and we don’t trust you to remember not to do them, so just to make sure….” Well they certainly have lived up to our expectations.

And when I sat down and rewrote this list to reflect our roadmap – made it all about the positive and changed the title from “Lamm Family Rules” to just “The Lamm Family,” it was like weight lifted off my shoulders.

Explore posts in the same categories: Week 5: Roadmap for Success

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