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Is parenting a journey? I think I need directions!

“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide, there is always someone who tells you that you are wrong. Difficulties always arise that tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To chart a course of action, action and following it to the end requires courage.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882); essayist, philosopher, poet

Parenting is a journey and the journey begins with the birth of a child and continues until they leave home at the age of 18 to begin their solo journey in the world. And every journey requires a ROAD MAP. The parenting journey is no different because, without a roadmap, it’s easy to get lost in a dead end of confusion, frustration, and disappointment.

Consider these scenarios:

Have you ever felt more like a firefighter than a parent? It seems like you don’t have the time you want to spend connecting with your kids because you’re too busy putting out small fires all day, praying you don’t come face to face with a family-consuming wildfire sooner. You make it out the school gate.

Or maybe you feel like a referee, putting one kid in the penalty box while the other gloats on the touchline?

And I’m sure at some point you felt more like the maid than the mother: too busy picking up toys and doing laundry to enjoy the little fun times with your kids.

These scenarios, along with others, are what make up the dead end syndrome. As parents, we know this is not what we want, but we don’t know how to prevent it from happening again tomorrow. A parent roadmap can help you and your child identify 3 things.

Creating a Parenting Roadmap for Success

1. Identify your starting point

The starting point is the same for all parents. It’s where you are today. It’s the things you do that interfere with a strong, healthy relationship with your child and his ability to become independent and self-sufficient.

The child’s starting point is where he is today. It’s the things they do that you would consider “naughty, annoying, or troublesome.” Not only do these behaviors cause mischief around the house, but as an adult you know they won’t serve your child well between the ages of 18 and 80.

Step one: Identify a specific interfering behavior in yourself: scolding, reminding, or lecturing. This may lead to yelling, threatening, or sending your child to time out. Maybe you feel so defeated that you give in or resort to bribery to keep your day from falling apart completely.

Identify a specific behavior in your child, maybe it’s whining for attention, or throwing a tantrum when he doesn’t get his way, or teasing a sibling. You could have a child who “noodles” and is “off task” at all times which puts the whole family in a state of stress.

Take a moment, right now, while these images are vivid and right where you and your child are.

Example: I am a mother who dictates. I have a son who is closed.

2. Identify your final destination

The final destination is who you want to be as a person and as a parent in 2 weeks, 6 months, or 18 years. Ask yourself this question: What can I do to improve my relationship with my child and support his growing independence?

Your child’s ultimate destiny is a specific character trait that you believe will enhance their experience in the world, with other people, and continue to support their independence.

Second step: Identify your top 2 values. Maybe it’s respect or kindness. Maybe it’s compassion, loyalty, or honesty. Identifying our values ​​helps us identify who we want to be and how we want to parent.

Identify a specific behavior in your child; Perhaps your child has a strength that is not yet fully developed. Perhaps you expect your child to show honor, compassion, faith, or forgiveness.

Take a moment, right now, while this is fresh in your mind and write down where you would like to be in the future.

Example: I am a mother who demonstrates radical faith in myself, my children, and the world in general. I want my son to have the confidence to participate in the world.

3. Sailing the middle distance

You know where you are, you know where you want to be, and now you want strategies to help you get there.

Step three: Identify a situation that causes you to parent using your interfering behaviors. Maybe it’s leaving the house on time, traveling by car, eating or going to bed.

Identify how your child responds to this same situation.

Example: I start directing so I can leave the house on time. My son starts to shut down and moves slower, not responding to me. I start directing more and they start closing more.

Step four: Identify what you will do differently in the next 7 days and set a realistic goal for yourself.

Identify what you would like to see your child do, instead of shutting down, and what kind of progress you think is reasonable in 7 days.

Example: I will practice radical faith by leaving the room, keeping my mouth shut, etc. This will show my son that I believe in him and give him time to get into his own life. If we can get out of the house on time 1 day and I stop dictating by 20%, I will consider it a success.

I will give my son the opportunity to make more decisions in the morning, even if it means he will be poor for a few days. I will encourage and acknowledge all progress (without praising) and continue to send the message that I have faith in his ability. If my child stays “awake” 20% longer and we are out of the house on time for 1 day, I will consider it a success.


The roadmap can be used in various ways. You can use it to set short-term and long-term goals. You can do what I did and invite your children to create their own road map for school. They set academic, athletic, social, and community service goals. When my daughter left for college, she knew how to navigate her way with ease and confidence.

At the end of the day, our children will describe us according to how we behave most of the time. A roadmap for parents will help you clearly identify who you want to be, and then support you as you make the necessary changes to reach your final destination with a smile on your face and a song in your heart.

To learn more about creating a parenting roadmap for success, visit us online at http://www.parentingontrack.com

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