When Nothing Goes According to Plan
If there is one thing you hear Parenting Power say more than any other it is, “Parent with a Plan!” We teach it, we live it, and we believe it. So…what happens when nothing goes according to the plan?
In June 2013, many of us heard that a flood could be coming and most of us had no idea what that really meant. Even hours before it hit, people around us, living in the flood plain thought that the whole thing was an exaggeration and didn’t bother to go home and check things out. Then, in a matter of hours, hundreds of thousands of people were out – out of their homes, their neighbourhoods, out of time.
They were without control. Even those of us who were in our homes were without control. We couldn’t help, we couldn’t get there, and we couldn’t make it better for those we saw who were suffering. It was not going according to plan.
There are all sorts of life events that don’t go quite the way we planned: loss of a job, loss of a friend, loss of a marriage, loss of a dream, loss of a family member, arrival of illness, arrival of pregnancy, arrival of a headache of a boss.
Feeling like you have no power can be terrifying. It happens to kids much of the time – that’s when they fight back for whatever power they can get; just like the people trying to get back into their homes when they weren’t allowed to be there, or when hoards of helpers descended to help when they didn’t know what they would do – they just went to help and to find some feeling of power in the powerlessness.
When we want to give kids power, we create routines. We make things predictable all over again. That is what gives a sense of power.
That’s why, when nothing goes according to plan, the only way to parent is…to Parent with a Plan.
Start with AWARENESS: When you haven’t got much else, you still have your values. What are they and how do you live them in this situation? What’s working and what’s not working?
Then add STRUCTURE and CONSISTENCY: Keep some things consistent – whatever you can. Be clear about your expectations and follow through.
FEELINGS come next – Share yours respectfully. It’s okay to let kids know that you are feeling unsure or exhausted or concerned. It’s not their job to cheer you up AND together, you can get through it. Acknowledge theirs. Don’t tell them what to feel, let them feel what they are feeling and get the feelings out. The most important thing to remember about feelings is that they change. It won’t always feel this scary.
PROBLEM SOLVING – when you can, get your kids to help with the problem solving. When they are allowed to take responsibility or help out, they feel more power.
ENCOURAGEMENT – Notice rather than judge. Notice effort. Notice kindness. Notice courage. Notice when your kids are living your values and call them on it:
When you picked up your brother after he fell, I saw kindness.
When you took your dishes to the dishwasher, I saw responsibility.
When you stopped at the corner of the street, I saw you taking control of your body, like I knew you could.
When we encourage people, we give them the courage to try. Help them to believe that they are capable, that you believe in them.
When nothing is going according to plan, you have the power to parent with a plan. That’s all the Parenting Power you really need.