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Oregon Family Magazine

Balancing Long-Term Parenting Goals

02/01/2024 ● By McKenzie Days
As January concludes and February rolls into our lives, we often find ourselves becoming more idle with our New Year's resolutions; the spreadsheet of our long-term goals and our day-by-day planner have completely disappeared underneath our desks. Often, this is the case with new parenting goals as well; we forget, become frustrated, and angry with ourselves.

Reflecting after the turmoil of the holidays and implementing new changes in your family should be encouraged: It shows parental self-awareness. However, setting parenting goals is not just for the new year; parenting goals shape your child’s life. In addition, parents who are overwhelmed with their day-to-day responsibilities often feel burdened by these overarching goals at times. This is why we work with families on breaking down long-term goals into achievable pieces. We help balance the long-term goals with the short-term goals.

As an example, we can examine a family who has the long-term goal to build their child's confidence and independence. The parents may ask what their toddler can do for themselves, how their toddler can allow extra time for them to practice self-care skills, and think about methods to incorporate these into pretend play. This is a long-term goal because it requires the investment of teaching time upfront and fosters skill development. It focuses on shaping the child’s future and requires more patience and thought.

However, if this same family wanted their child to learn capability and learn the value of help, they may feel conflicted. At this moment, we are reminded of the value of short-term goals and that there are lots of opportunities for parenting. These short-term goals can fill in the gap in-between the more overwhelming long-term goals and make them feel more digestible. In the example of independence, short-term goals remind us that it's okay to go ahead and step in for our children if parents are in a rush. These can become opportunities to be more compassionate with ourselves and our children, while still working towards our goals of helping them learn how to be in the world.