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New Year, New Parent?

Our parenting columnist usually doesn't make New Year's resolutions, but this past year of parenting has her wondering if maybe she should?

Are you resolute, or do you make resolutions?

By definition, being “resolute,” means one is “firm or determined,” or “unwavering.’ “Resolution” is defined as the “state or quality of being resolute.”

Definitions aside, however, I think there is an anecdotal difference between the two—at least when it comes to New Year’s resolutions.

These types of resolutions often aren’t very resolute statistically—25 percent don’t make it past the first week of the new year.

Mindful of this fact, I usually I don’t make resolutions at the beginning of each new year—at least those I tell people about—but this year, I confess I have been tempted.

Like most gearing up for Jan. 1, I would like to lose a few pounds, manage my finances better, take my career to the next level, and travel more.

But, those things aren’t what made me start thinking that 2012 was the year to start making resolutions.

My desire for this New Year is to have a better plan in the parenting department, because I feel like 2011 kind of kicked my rear end in that respect.

Going in, you may expect that parenting will be hard, but there comes a moment, or a year, when you know it, because you are “in it.”

My oldest son’s fourth year on planet Earth has been that kind of year for me.

Forget the "terrible twos," the fours have been a “rubber meets the road” parenting year in our household, one where our parenting principles have been put to the test, and I feel like we’re covered in skid marks.

I could make a bad joke about potty training at this juncture—just one of our big challenges this year—but I’ll refrain and spare you. Let’s just leave it at, “those too.”

Parenting this bright dynamo has tested my husband and I in ways that have just left us speechless more days than we care to remember.

Humbling is an understatement. Frustrating is another one.

Yet, at the same time we have been just as speechless at the many moments—often on the very heels of behavior that literally makes us want to drink—of his sincere sweetness, unmatched inquisitiveness, and pure joyfulness.

When the going gets rough, this girl makes a list, reads a book(s), and way too many blogs, and resolves to “get it right.”

If I make it past 10 a.m. with that one, it’s a good day.

Mindful of the adage, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” I’ve been exploring what kind of plan I should make for myself in the New Year to better serve my kids, and prevent ulcers for my husband and I. 

I’ve read everything from subcategorized goal sheets, complete with planning and management binders (that appeals to my type-A nature), to super minimalists who simply advise you to ask yourself, "what do you want for your kids," and to “be that.”

That one initially made me crazy. Really? That simple is it?

But as I was prepared to discard that one, I thought about it, and I thought, that’s actually not a bad place to start from to make personal goals.

When I just think about myself, exactly what I should work on seems a little fuzzy (and overwhelming), but you can be sure that when I am asked what I want for my kids, I am far more concrete, and my priorities go beyond things I can find in a mirror.

With just a few days to go, I still haven’t figured out my plan for the coming year, but I have a clearer starting point.

Whatever I come up with, I feel that it has to stress “resolute” over the fickle “resolution” of any one arbitrary date.

If this year has taught me anything, it has been that I will need all the unwavering dedication and stamina to keep picking myself up and trying again that I can muster to ever have a hope of “getting it right” as a parent.

New Year’s is as good a time as any to start laying down exactly what that looks like.

What does it look like for you?

Becky Joyce December 30, 2011 at 06:07 PM
Four was a very difficult year for us, too. (we're nearly to five!) One book I've really loved and put into practice is "Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus." It focuses less on getting good behavior and more on shaping children's hearts and character by pointing to their need for a savior. It's turned quite a few of my parenting techniques in their heads, actually. And to answer your question, this year I'd really like to be more interruptable. I'm guilty of putting off playtime in order to finish chores, blogging, editing photos, etc. I'm aware that the amount of time I have left to really play with my kids dwindles each passing year. :(
Kirsten Branch December 30, 2011 at 07:38 PM
Thanks, Becky! Adding that one to the book list! I struggle with being interruptible as well...or more to the point, what I deem as important enough to interrupt me. Thanks for commenting!
Heddi Cundle December 30, 2011 at 08:34 PM
So for 2012, I've made a stance to have just one resolution - to go to Ecuador and work on a monkey sanctuary for a few days (it's my cousin's). I've always had a ton of resolutions I never keep so this is a 1st for me. I'm saving $$ each month on www.mytab.co and planning my trip. I cannot wait to hug a chimp!

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