Parenting goals are as varied as the sky is blue. Some parents measure their parenting goals by the way their children behave while others set goals that solely reflect their own behavior.
Truth is, both approaches are an acceptable and justifiable way to measure success as a parent.
Investigating these parenting goal metrics, chatting about which parenting goals are best for you to set, and why setting parenting goals is even important, provides us with the right frame of mind to achieve them.
What are Parenting Goals?
A goal is an object of your ambition or a desired result. When you’re cooking dinner for your family, if the desired result is to fill their bellies and nourish them, your goal isn’t too difficult to achieve.
Honestly, just about anyone could meet this goal when feeding a family. However, if your actual and unspoken goal is to receive lavish compliments, and make a meal everyone raves about, that is a little different.
The ultimate and actual goal you are truly chasing, in any area of life, will determine the effort you put in, the time you take, and your attitude about the whole endeavor.
If we use the same analogy when explaining what a parenting goal is, it’s easy to see why this term is so broad and vague.
The day of a mom whose parenting goal is to “get through the day without yelling,” is going to look different than the mom whose goal is to “take my child one step closer to becoming a responsible, compassionate, and upstanding human being.”
Parenting goals are what you hope to achieve either with your children’s life or with your own.
Either way, it IS a parenting goal. Parenting is about both the parent and the child.
What’s significant to realize here is that regardless of which goal paradigm you set, there is only one metric you can control to reach the goal… your own actions.
Which Parent are You?
Can you say, right off-the-bat, which mindset you tend to take toward parenting? Do you think more about your behavior or about their behavior?
I consider both, however, I lean more towards measuring my success as a parent by my children’s behavior.
The old saying states, “A team is a reflection of its leadership.”
My concern over only measuring my own behavior is that it leaves me to self-judge. Most people are not good at objectively assessing themselves.
Either they are far too harsh or apply subjectivity to every little thing and end up with no real useful information.
But… when I observe my children’s attitude, behavior, and dialogue, I can get a REALLY clear picture of what the environment and culture of our home must be and the level at which I am proactively parenting well!
So I mostly look at them. After which, I turn the table back on myself and say either, “good deal, we’ll keep doing blank” or “Err… that’s not OK, what needs to change?”
That, in turn, affects my behavior.
Purposeful Parenting Goals
The options for parenting goals are vast. Everything from getting your baby to sleep through the night to raising adults who treat other humans with kindness – are noble goals.
Much of the parenting goals you choose depends on the season of parenting you are in with your children.
My goals with a young teen and a kindergartener may be different than those of a brand new, first-time mom. However, if we both have the goal of raising a great human, the goal can be the same, while the path we take will look different.
#1. Parenting goals for child behavior.
As I mentioned above, I focus my parenting goals a lot of my children’s behavior.
One example is that of boldness and communication.
It is extremely important to me that my children be able to talk to people with confidence, boldness, and poignancy.
They are not allowed to be shy. I don’t believe shyness is a character trait. It is a side effect of insecurity. My children will need to stand up for themselves, their future families, their convictions, and their faith, long after they are under my direct influence. So I take their confidence quite seriously.
Therefore, one parenting goal we have is to teach the children boldness.
To reach that goal, we practice speaking to strangers (under my watchful eye,) asking for things themselves, and articulation fluency.
We enforce those standards with positive (and sometimes negative) reinforcements.
Another child behavior goal is in the form of attitude.
Nothing dictates a person’s behavior quite like attitude does. An attitude of entitlement produces selfish behavior, while an attitude of gratefulness lends itself to generosity.
In our home, the more you give away, the more blessed you are. Sometimes, it is because we purposefully bless acts of generosity, but mostly, it happens as a result of reciprocity. One child gives abundantly, so another feels compelled to do the same. And on it goes.
Lastly, behavior goals directed toward child obedience are some of the most worthy of pursuing!
Children who do NOT run away in a parking lot, or display physical combativeness at bedtime, or act destructively – allow a mom to set character goals instead of “dear Lord, let me just get through the day without losing my mind” goals!
Believe it or not, obedience goals are the simplest to achieve. The key to changing a child’s behavior lies almost entirely within the parent’s behavior, actions, and reactions.
Not always easy, but simple.
#2. Parenting Goals for Character
In my, nearly 40, years of life, I’ve some things about character. The most prominent lesson I’ve learned when it comes to setting character goals for your children is the need to be specific and diverse.
Some of the hardest working people I have met have also been the shadiest. I’ve met kind and generous people who would go to great lengths to get out of lifting a finger. Similarly, the strongest work ethic can often accompany the most severe lack of motivation.
Being of good character means little without clearly defined parameters.
I don’t think it’s possible to instill every single desirable character trait perfectly. Your child’s personality and unique set of gifts and talents will play a major role in the character traits that he or she leans into. The second most influential element to the character your child develops is you.
Children pick up habits, and those habits define character.
So if we can’t perfectly train a child to possess every righteous character trait, which ones should we be adamant on?
That depends a lot on your family’s mission in life, your personal convictions, and the lifestyle choices you are making.
I strive to raise well-rounded children.
Well-rounded is a seriously underestimated and under-appreciated adjective when it comes to raising great kids.
It takes quite a healthy formula of upbringing and life-events to become a well-rounded person.
Raising truly well-rounded children isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort.
I attempt to train a portion of all the desirable character traits. As a family, we choose a character trait to focus on each week. We study the trait, the meaning of the word, people who possess the trait, scriptures supporting the trait, discuss how to act it out, and then practice it with role-playing and simulations.
Beyond that, the traits that I feel most strongly about are ones that govern our family.
Those are honesty, integrity, generosity, selflessness, tenacity, and responsibility.
#3. Parenting Goals for Spiritual Health
We are Christ-followers. Because of this, every parenting goal I set for myself and my children is filtered through the lens of eternity.
Indeed, all the parenting goals I set will be empty, hollow, and vain if those goals do not draw my children into a personal relationship with their Savior.
It’s important to me that my children know there is someone they can go to when mom isn’t here who will war on their behalf, provide righteous guidance, and show them greater love, mercy, and grace than I could.
Parenting goals for spiritual health include teaching your children what you believe, then giving them PLENTY of opportunities to experience those beliefs for themselves.
Only when they have had their own, undeniable experiences with their Creator will they develop the kind of unshakable faith that is necessary to navigate the increasingly turbulent and stormy waters of this Earthly life.
The Single Most Important Parenting Goal
When my children were little-bitty, I use to think my most prominent parenting goal was to raise them to be great adults.
Human adults who spoke the truth with integrity, gave of their money and time generously, and served the Lord with their lives.
The older I get, the more of this life I see, and the more biblical prophecy I witness, the more I realize that my goal of raising fantastic adults who serve God, though greatly important, is not the most important.
The most important parenting goal for me is to equip my children with all they need to raise their own children, 20 years from now, in a world even further from God.
My children need an intimate relationship with their Creator, not for themselves, but for their children.
My children must understand the apologetic truth of the Bible, so they can stand firm on that truth when they are confronted with opposition while raising their own children, which they certainly will be!
These precious arrows of mine must have the skills and tools required to combat those who will attempt to pull my grandchildren away from their promised eternity.
Parenting goals are not just for your benefit. They are largely for your children. And they are mostly for the future.
Your child’s future. Their children’s future. The future of the world. The future of life.