Moms and dads–I’m in the parenting trenches with you. I KNOW how difficult life with little ones can be.

How natural is it to concentrate on surviving–getting through the current developmental stage, or, let’s be real–getting through the DAY.

As a pediatrician, I’ve been in the doctor’s office with parents just like you, answering your strained questions over the sound of your crying newborn or whining toddler. This is a beautifully tough journey.

But here is where I want us to be different.
Yes, there is value in the advice we hear ALL the time about appreciating the present because children grow up too fast. I agree, and being present is important. I want to take us down an even better path, though. Focus on the FUTURE. Think about the kind of adults you want your children to be.

• What kind of friends, employees and parents will they be some day?
• How do you picture them as parents to your grandchildren? (Whoa–that IS far off in the future.)

I realize my actions as a parent TODAY truly do affect the kind of adults my daughters will become someday. (No pressure, right?)

Example of focusing on the future with a decision today:

• Sometimes I say “no” to yet another extracurricular activity or another social outing to leave space in our schedules for my daughters to be kids. To play. But also, to learn responsibilities around the house and learn to be independent.

What about résumé-building?

• Skipping extra sports and clubs and declining invites seems opposite from focusing on their futures, right? Many parents assume that résumé-building needs to happen at a young age to prep kids for college acceptance and landing the best careers. That will come in time. Your job as parents includes preparing them for LIFE. That is, preparing them to be a good friend and a good human being.

Be the kind of human you want your kids to be someday

That’s why I choose to focus my energy on modeling the behavior that I want them to absorb. Many times I fall short, so that’s when I try to make those behavior changes in myself.

Think about the end goal. Let that remind you not to focus only on the moment. Think about what your decision in those moments means for your child’s future.

I teach these principles in my parenting course, but I also use them daily in my own parenting challenges:

• Figuring out a workable bedtime routine for my toddler

• Deciding if my 11-year-old may stay at a birthday party past her bedtime

These challenges can appear to be endless.
The real challenge, however, is to pause and reflect on what is happening so that your decisions are not abrupt. It’s okay to take a deep breath and assess the situation before you respond to it, and I encourage you to do that.
Remember: pause + reflect
Okay, here’s your challenge for the next 7 days in three simple steps (the trick will be breaking your old habit!):

1. Hold off on giving an answer immediately when your child asks you a question.

2. I will even give you a script! You can say, “You know what? That’s a good question. Let me think about that, and I promise to give you an answer when I’m ready.”

3. Then, really wait until you’re ready to give that answer because they’re going to ask again, and you need to know that when you’ve given them the answer, you’re giving one that you think is best for them and for you.

Let me know how this challenge goes for you after a week. I’m excited to hear about your successes and even your hiccups!

Speaking of successes and hiccups–we’d love to have you in our private Raiseology Parenting group on Facebook as we support each other and offer advice for the many challenges that pop up with our kids.

I’m also excited to invite you to join my parenting course that will launch this fall. It will offer solutions for your family’s long-term happiness. I hope to see you in the course!

*This blog post is for informational purposes only and should be used to supplement rather than substitute the care provided by your physician.