Hoping and Dreaming for Our Brand New Year

The start of the year ushers in a fresh opportunity to focus on what’s most important in our lives, to examine our hopes and dreams and figure out how they might come true through our day-to-day actions and steps toward our goals. Though we may consider our exercise routine or healthy eating habits (which are incredibly important!), we may not stop and think about our most important role as parents. Yet we know that we derive great meaning in our lives and a sense of purpose through our family relationships and our roles as caregivers. So why not take a pause and consider what we value, how we are challenged and specifically what hopes we are trying to bring to life for our children? Readers of this site include parents, educators, grandparents, youth service providers and so many others who love children. Whatever your role, these questions can apply to you!

For some, considering your greatest strengths might be a place to begin and build from. If this resonates with you, you might ask yourself:

  • What are the strengths of my parenting? 
  • How are those strengths impacting my children?
  • What are my hopes and dreams for my child (think of each child individually)?
  • How can I build from my strengths to move toward those hopes?
  • Are there small, simple actions I can take that will add up over time to nurture those hopes?
  • If I don’t know exactly what those actions could be, how can I set a goal and become focused on learning new ways to further build those strengths?

For others, considering your greatest challenges might be the place you want to start. You might begin to ask:

  • What are the greatest challenges I face as a parent?
  • What are my hopes and dreams for my child (consider each child individually)?
  • What are the skills and values I want to teach my child?
  • How are those skills and values playing out in my reactions to those challenging moments? What am I currently teaching by my reactions? 
  • What small, simple ways could I change my reactions in those most challenging moments to better align with skill building and my core values?
  • If I don’t know exactly what those actions could be, how can I set a goal and become focused on learning new ways to react in those moments?

Others may be more concerned with their child’s strengths or challenges and better focus their attention on their child. In this case, you might consider:

  • What are the strengths I see in my child (consider individually for each child)?
  • What are my hopes for my child? 
  • In what ways could I build upon my child’s strengths to reach toward my hopes for him/her?
  • What modeling or teaching goal(s) might I set for myself to reinforce and build upon those strengths this year?
  • What resources can help me learn more to achieve my goal?

And yet others still might be more concerned with their child’s challenges. In fact, you may worry about those areas in which your child struggles. You may consider:

  • What are the challenges my child struggles with (consider each child individually)?
  • What are my hopes for my child?
  • How can I best influence my child’s growth and development in this challenging area?
  • What skills do I need to focus on building?
  • What small actions can I take to help model and support that skill development to reach toward my hopes? 
  • What reasonable goal can I set to become intentional about building skills and creating teachable moments for this coming year?
  • What resources can help me learn more to achieve my goal?

Parents deal with such a wide range of issues from toddlers who need to become potty-trained before entering preschool to third graders who are being marginalized by friends to seventh graders who are feeling anxiety from peers to measure up in sports to teens who are being pressured by peers to try out new adult-sized risks. Yet we can take comfort as parents in the notion that all of these challenges are a necessary part of our child’s development. And our best supports for them build social and emotional skills so that they can navigate these challenges with competence. They can learn to articulate and accept their feelings. They can grow in their empathy for others. They can assert their needs to
others. They can become their own best relationship problem-solvers. 

Each time we, as parents, reflect on our priorities and set our own learning agendas for continually growing and improving in our parenting, we take one step closer to our
achieving our hopes and dreams.

It was a hope and dream of mine to put this concept to this test and see if there truly was an alignment between our biggest hopes, our biggest challenges of parents and the social and emotional skills we know are vital to our children’s success. The new research making that connection has been published this month in the peer-reviewed publication, The School Community Journal. Co-investigators Shannon Wanless, Roger Weissberg and I hope you’ll learn more about this research on our research page, read the journal article itself and indeed check out the entire issue.

As for the many collaborators who contribute to Confident Parents, Confident Kids, it is our greatest hope that we can support you in achieving your hopes and dreams for your most meaningful role as a parent.

Happy New Year!

 

From “Parenting for Competence and Parenting with Competence; Essential Connections Between Parenting and Social and Emotional Learning”:

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