II really loved this article entitled, “The Milestones That Matter Most”. One of the things this article brought up was the cultural biases we have that play into our parenting. I have long been fascinated with this subject; when my older children were tiny I read and re-read Meredith Small’s “Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent”.
What is interesting to me is that, of course, different things are valued in different cultures. Our one milestone that we might feel every child needs to reach may not be the same in another culture. One of the ways we may combat bias in parenting is to consciously examine our own biases in regard to development and culture. Do we, for example, assume that babies have to sleep through the night by themselves? Do we assume that babies should be able to “self-soothe”? Do we assume that toddlers will have a “terrible two’s” period? Do we think children have to go to school to be “educated”? Do we assume that children will be “defiant”? Do we think that children should have a lot of responsibility for themselves or no responsibility? Do we assume that children should be able to self-regulate by a certain age? Do we assume teenagers will battle against their parents and be rebellious?
Some of these questions have an inferred bias that we must examine consciously and continually as we go through our own life changes. Some of the biases we enter into in parenting may change over time as we are in the ttrenches of dealing with our own children and watching other parents. Human development, growth , and change is never done for the parent or the child. It is part of being human, especially if we are trying to live in a conscious manner and we take responsibility for our own throughts and actions.
IOne thing that can really assist us as parents is to have a family mission statement. In our family, we have had the same family mission statement – KIPPA (Kindness, Integrity, Patience, Positive Attitude, Adventure) – for several years now. Acronyms can make things easier to remember. The process of creating a family mission statement can help us see where our biases are, what our values are, and what we think will be a course that will sustain us through parenthood and our children into a connected, happy adulthood. Have a personal mission statement in connection with your parenting and what you want to model in life is also a great conscious step.
Things I find that can carry through many years of parenting includes connection, rresolving conflict, setting boundaries in a healthful way , and taking responsibility for one’s actions. Kindness is always a modeled value. So perhaps the milestone your child most needs to reach isn’t learning to read, or learning any other academic skill, but instead the milestones of being able to offer and accept love from other human beings, being able to assimilate into a humanity and offer goodness and kindness. Perhaps those are the best milestones a human being can reach.
Please share with me your family mission statement, or the values you have found that have carried you through many years of parenting that you try to model for your own children.