Posts Tagged ‘Priorities’

Before It Is Too Late

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 04:02 PM
Author: admin

Before It Is Too LateTo be successful, parenting requires love–deep, abiding, patient, forgiving love. Yet, because of the responsibilities parenting includes, it is often the locus of conflict between parent and child, between needs and wants, between growing independence and parental inclination to keep kids close and safe. These dueling priorities can lead to dramatic confrontations, angry words, isolating silences and deep feelings of disconnect. Each side embraces a potent sense of righteous indignation and conviction of the other’s faults, errors and unwillingness to listen and/or compromise.

Certainly, this explosive state of affairs is far from constant. Nonetheless, I’m betting conflict is familiar territory for us. We’ve all lived through the exhaustion, despair and, frustration. As intentional parents, however, we recognize that we must remain focused on our purpose–to build lifelong bonds as a family– and not be distracted by any temporary conflicts. Sometimes it takes a metaphorical wake up call to remind us of our priorities.

Last week’s horrific shooting was one of those events. I’m not going to wade into the gun issues; although a vital conversation, lots of others are shining a light there. Instead, let us choose to learn something powerful for our families. I’m sure those families were just like us. They probably had their points of connection as well as differences. I’m also sure that they all believed that they had plenty of time ahead of them to work through their conflicts and come to a connected, respectful resolution … eventually.

But as we all know, for seventeen Stoneman Douglas families, time ran out. For kids huddled in hallways fearing for their lives, there will never be another hug, another argument, another apology, another resolution, another vacation. All that remains is the memory of whatever final words or texts they shared as well as all the things they wished they could say but now remain forever unspoken. In their final moments, kids recognized what was really valuable to them: their families. Horrified parents who waited in fear for news of their children’s fate scrambled to reach them, prayed for their safe return and then wept as they learned the worst had happened.

Stay focused on the opportunity as intentional families to wake up, to step out of the quicksand of frustration and failed expectations regarding kids behavior and disconnect those negative emotions from the central focus of our mindset. It is so easy for us as parents to crumble under the weight of the arguing, of watching kids break family values, of kids pushing up against boundaries–all that is exhausting and distracts us from “seeing” that we do really care about one another.

Yes, it is important for us to strive to change or improve what is not working. BUT,  we cannot afford to overlook what is working. Take time to acknowledge it. Give it the attention and appreciation it merits. Kids and relationships flourish under the sunlight of attention. It is through those parts of the relationship that are working and connected that more good things come.

As the country struggles to find ways to keep our schools and communities safe, we all agree that “somebody should do something.” In fact, each and every one of us can do something; it does have to be grand or even part of a larger movement. We can start where we care the most. Today. Tonight. Reduce the negative energy in our own families in our own work relationships and friendships. Nurture feelings of belonging. It is a fundamental human need.

For us, there is still time. Why not make the most of it? Please consider this challenge:

Imagine how powerful that could be for the entire family. Two truisms: Family conflict is inevitable and time is finite. Focus on what really matters: love and connection.


Intention, Assumption, Reality: Vital Distinctions for Families

Wednesday, January 25, 2017 @ 02:01 PM
Author: admin

Two weeks ago we asked, “Will 2017 be smooth sailing for your family or will the seas be rough and choppy?” We posed this open-ended question to highlight the importance of distinguishing between what we intend to do, what we believe we are doing and, what we are actually doing. What is the big deal? Why demand nit-picking details? Memory alone cannot provide accurate information to distinguish between intention, assumption and reality. Wishing things are the way we want them to be-regardless of how earnestly we hope– does not make them true. To know what is actually occurring requires factual information.

Before you examine your actual data, pause and predict how well your intention matched your actual expenditure of time. Write down your estimate. Remind yourself of the purpose of this exercise: to help your family. There is no grade to be achieved, no passing or failing. This exercise will yield information that can assist in making more conscious choices. Better information allows us to make better decisions! Better information often reveals facts to which we’ve become blind. It can also highlight needs we’ve overlooked or the need need to identify and connect to resources.

As we well know, time is finite and most of us can never seem to find enough of it. The total amount we have to spend in a two-week period? Precisely 336 hours. Subtract sleep (7 hours/day = 98 hours total) and work (80 hours + 10 hours commuting.) Only 50 hours remain. Fifty precious hours to allot for all other responsibilities and priorities. That’s approximately 3 ½ hours per day. Is it any wonder why time feels so scarce? Or so valuable?

Now take the accumulated data and graph it in the appropriate wheel. Do this by coloring from the hub out towards the edges. Use the graphic on the left as your sample. What do you notice? How balanced is the wheel?  If it were an actual wheel, would it roll smoothly? Which section dominated? Which was neglected? How does your completed wheel align with your priorities?

Mentally list your three Core Family Values. (These are the one on which you can never compromise.) If a stranger looked at your time wheel, what might they infer were your highest priorities? If not, what does that tell you. (Remember, information is power.)

As you study your completed wheel, what gaps between Intention and Execution does it reveal? What was your biggest time magnet? How much of your devotion of time to this category happened by intention, by accident or, by crisis? What garnered the least amount of time? Again, consider how much of your allotment of time to this category happened by intention, by accident or, by crisis? Which values are you living fully? To which ones are you giving lip service? Which ones truly guide and inspire you?

The next step in this exercise is probably the most important part. What will you do with the insight the exercise provided? First, reexamine your Core Values. How, why and when did you choose them? What has changed in your life since then? How did these Core Values serve you in the past? Now? How did they impede you. How have your beliefs changed since you originally formulated your Core Values? What “systems” do you use to remind yourself of these Values in your decision-making processes?

Make time to redefine/update your Core Values. Write them out, display them and share them as a family. This is a vital compass. Rely on it and use it consciously. We also invite parents to read GIFT’s Philosophy of Adoption and then share a serious discussion with your partner. This is a part of your family life that is too important to handle on autopilot. Hash out your family’s personal adoption philosophy and write it down. The process of writing it down will open reflection and discussion. It will reveal points of agreement, dissension and might expose assumptions that are inaccurate. It’s important to know all of these points. It could help avert problems and will certainly help in handling problems. Plus, it is best to explore them before a crisis occurs.

Armed with your updated data, re-examined values and clarified family adoption philosophy prepares you to be intentional and more successful as a family. It identifies opportunities to change and helps spotlight leverage points for adjustment. Set a reminder for three months ahead. Then reflect on how this exercise affect your family. Re-calibrate if necessary. Time brings changes and challenges. Keep tweaking these concepts and priorities on a quarterly basis. How would this approach benefit your family the most?

Next week we’ll look at the data you accumulated regarding money.

By the way, if you haven’t yet taken on this Time/Priority exercise, it is not too late. If you  don’t want to commit to two weeks of tracking, try it for one.  Imagine what benefits you and your family could reap…