There are as many parenting styles as there are parents. Most everyone is internally motivated to raise a child that has great qualities and will be successful in life. The problem lies in the fact that although most people have an idea of what they want their child to be like when they are an adult, they are consistently going about the “business” of parenting with little to no thought or planning. Without a business model or a plan, any business is likely to fail. Parenting most certainly is a business and parents are the leaders and directors of the company.
Every single moment that you are interacting with your child from birth is a teachable moment. Parental leaders need to be always in tune to the heart-beat of their company and how their parenting style will impact the final outcome product i.e. the adult that you are raising your child to be. Unfortunately, parents frequently parent with randomness contingent on the moment rather than deliberately focusing on how their actions will impact their future product. For example, one fatal error that many parents make happens all over the world, every single day. Go to any large grocery store or super center on any given day and you will see fatal parenting in action. The scene goes something like this: Mom is in a hurry to get through the store before little Johnny gets any crankier. Mom approaches the check out area with fear and trepidation because Johnny has been losing his patience since passing by the cereal and pop-tarts. Now, Mom has to make it past the strategically placed candy by the register. Mom moves in. Johnny sees the candy. Mom begins to let her gaze stray around the store to see how many people are around and within hearing vicinity. The store is busy and small sweat beads begin to run down Mom’s forehead. Johnny also cases the place and has quickly surmised that with enough volume he can accomplish his mission of obtaining candy. Johnny deploys a tactic that any bystander would know he has used many times before. Johnny begins to demand the candy, cry for the candy, and scream for the candy. Mom is placing her items on the counter and telling Johnny “not right now.” Johnny has no intention of taking “no” for an answer and his volume increases until Mom hands him a package of candy. Fatal parenting at work.
What has Mom actually done? A great deal of future damage to her final outcome product. Mom has selfishly thought of herself in the moment. Getting out of an embarrassing situation that she has put herself in from previous failures is more important than considering the long-term ramifications of what she is actually teaching Johnny. Let’s bullet point what that fatal parenting error actually does to the product:
*Teaches the child that they can control your behavior through social embarrassment.
*Teaches the child that patience is not required to get what you want.
*Teaches the child that they don’t have to earn or work for things because they can demand them, manipulate for them or behave in a negative and controlling manner to get rewarded.
*Teaches the child that there is a positive reinforcement for rude and obnoxious behavior.
*Teaches the child to expect instant gratification.
*Teaches the child to have no concern for how their actions impact others.
*Teaches the child to not be socially aware of their behavior.
*Teaches the child to have no self-control.
*Teaches the child no self-regulation.
*Teaches the child not to self-soothe and that they can get everything that they want.
*Teaches the child that if they cry long enough you will pacify them.
There are more, but you get the point. Everything about that moment in time is a fail in terms of your final product. Let’s go back in time even further. When a baby cries, they get fed, cuddled or their needs met. This is normal and good and teaches the baby to trust you. But, once all of the baby’s needs are met and they still cry (which is also quite normal) what do we do? We stick a pacifier in their mouth. What does the word “pacify” mean? It means to “cause” someone who is angry or upset to become calm. Does this sound like a good thing to put into your final product? If YOU are “causing” the person to become quiet or calm, is the person learning anything? Are they going to be able to self-soothe, self-regulate or be self-reliant if you are always pacifying them? The point is that sometimes we as parents do pacify. We want our children to be calm and quiet in most situations. But, if you are repeatedly behaving in a way that is “you” soothing and pacifying “them” and making everything all better under all circumstances for your child, you are damaging your final outcome product. The product that is destined to hit the shelves one day will be a fail.
What is a final product? A final product is the adult child that is going out into the world to go to college or go to work, to be a husband or a wife, an employee or a boss, a service worker, agent, teacher, counselor, representative or whatever they choose to do. The consumers of your product, a.k.a. the people that have to put up with the individual that you raised, are the bosses, employees, customers, co-workers, family members and others in society. When I encounter completely obnoxious people that make my life miserable, I secretly loathe their parents. You are the manufacturer of this product. Take some responsibility for that product before it hits the shelves.
You, as the leader of your family business, need to recognize and understand that you have a small window of time to have an impact and imprint on the slate of who your child becomes. Learn what successful company leaders do and how they are successful. You need to model this same behavior. Effective company leaders motivate, inspire and guide others to be the best that they can be, to be team-players, to be confident, competent and compassionate. Great leaders inspire others to follow the company mission, vision and philosophy. As a leader of your organization, consider developing a family mission statement, vision and philosophy that will go into your parenting style. An example of a company philosophy might be “to raise self-reliant, socially aware and empowered adults that will positively impact their world.” Using this philosophy as a guiding principle, a parent would know better than to give into Johnny’s demands at the store because it goes completely against the company philosophy. Your company vision should include what you envision for the future as well as your business strategies of just how you intend to create this. Your mission statement is simply your idea of your company’s purpose. What is your idea of your purpose in parenting and in the “business” of parenting. Have a detailed list of the qualities, characteristics, and core principles that you want in your product before it hits the market. This may seem a very strange way to view parenting and children, but it is far more loving to consider helping your child to know how to take care of themselves and to feel safe, and confident navigating life than it is to make certain that your child is frightened and dependent and ill-prepared to handle adversity.
Even if your children are older, it is not too late to model qualities and character that is vital to your concept of a successful outcome product. Don’t just consider the product that you like or that makes you feel good about you because you need to feel needed, consider the final product. Consider how much better for your child and your child’s future if they are socially aware, self-reliant and empowered rather than dependent, obnoxious and demanding. Deliberate parenting is about considering what kind of outcome you want in every teachable moment rather than parenting in the moment or doing whatever is easiest. Deliberate parenting positions you as the leader, role model, teacher, mentor, coach and head of marketing and product development. And, because you are head of product development, if you produce a product that has a negative impact on society, then you have some accountability in that.
Now and then, under the best of circumstances and with the best intentions, some adults will just not behave in a way that the parents had hoped and dreamed. This happens and there is no point in beating yourself up. We cannot control what happens after the product hits the shelf. All that you can do is put all that you can into your product before it goes out into the world. All of your efforts should be concentrated on the long-term effects of your parenting style rather than on momentary pacifying.
Now, I should probably let you go as I know that you have an important business to run.