Marie Roker-Jones shares the lessons she learned by setting goals instead of having unrealistic expectations of her journey as a parent.
When we set goals, we embark on a journey of self improvement and self-discovery. Setting goals gives us clarity and peace of mind for what we hope to achieve in life. However, when we allow expectations to cloud our goal setting, we set ourselves up for frustration and disappointment.
I used to spend my time focusing on expectations and trying to fulfill the expectations of other people. What I discovered was that I didn’t feel capable or complete when I was led by expectations. Setting expectations was about control, controlling how I interacted with others and outcomes. These interactions made me anxious, angry and impatient. As a mom, my perception of parenting was distorted and my priorities were in disarray.
By setting goals instead of expectations, I was able to gain self-control and clarity about my role as a mother. Setting goals created clear lines of communication and boundaries and allowed for me to see parenting challenges from a different perspective. I learned how to align my parenting goals with my values. The most important life lesson for me was I had to get it wrong in order to get it right. I had to ask myself, “What did I want to achieve as a parent?” I wasn’t just raising boys, I was shaping lives. How could I shape lives if I was attempting to control outcomes? It was unfair to my sons to set expectations without considering their emotional, mental and spiritual development. I didn’t realize that my parenting expectations created an unbalanced dynamic in my relationship with my sons. I had no control over how my children felt and behaved but I did have control over how I responded and reacted to their feelings and behavior. When I began letting go of expectations, I was able to break through to a new understanding. I shifted from being parent-centered to child-centered.
I began setting simple goals such as improving my listening skills and being more patient. I learned to be more compassionate toward myself and to not judge my parenting skills. I learned to taking loving actions towards myself and my children and in doing so reduce power struggles. I learned that the major roadblock to my parenting was setting expectations.
My parenting goals helped shift my thoughts from “How can I change this?” to “What can I learn from this experience?” By focusing my attention on my overall goal as a parent, I was able to dissect this big picture goal into smaller parenting goals. The most important factor in setting goals as a parent, is keeping the end in mind. By having a clear mental vision of the parent you want to be and what’s in the best interest of your son, you can create a supportive environment for your son.
If you’ve been thinking about your parenting relationship with your children, consider setting parenting goals that create respectful boundaries, give personal attention to pertinent issues and allows for you to see life from your child’s point of view.