Got your parenting map handy?

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map-455769_1280In the school where I worked for 18 years, we took two long backpacking trips a year, four days in the fall and six days out in the spring, and that with 12 – 14 teenagers. I pored over maps and planned the days minutely, allowing room for injuries and wrong turns, because however carefully you plan, things turn out differently than expected. But you don’t set off into the Alps with a group of kids without a map.

Yet, as parents, we most often set off on arguably the most challenging and important journey of our lives without a map. A map simply serves as orientation; it in no way comprises the trip itself, and yet its service is invaluable. Well, here is a process for creating a parenting map.

I begin nearly every workshop and talk with this exercise as it provides the parameters for where we want to go with children. I’ll break it down into three main steps over two blog posts so stay tuned. I think it will be most fruitful and fun if we do this together on the Facebook page.

STEP I: I invite you to think of and list all the things your children do which really drive you batty, frustrate you, or concern you. Parents and teachers can usually fill up a flip chart on this within a few minutes, even fighting for floor time. You can write as many things as you like and we can see how many of the items overlap. I don’t want to reveal the next step yet, but this initial step is essential in constructing a parenting map, just as when you plan a hike you need to anticipate potential hindrances and challenges. So over the next few days, notice these kinds of experiences with the children and then post your list on the Facebook page so we can all share. Anything goes like, for example, whining, hitting siblings, grabbing, interrupting, and so on and on.

STEP II: Now make a list of all the qualities and characteristics you’d wish for your child as an adult in order for him or her to be a thriving and contributing member of society. Would you want your child to have the qualities of honesty, integrity, courage, etc.? Please make a list and post that on the Facebook page as well.

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