Big-picture parenting: The new year is a great time to consider long-term goals

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As parents, we can quickly get stuck in the daily minutiae of child rearing and forget to look ahead. A new year is a perfect time to reflect, review and renew. Set aside a quiet hour, grab a pen and paper, and write down your long-term parenting goals. Here are ways to become a more purposeful parent in 2019 and beyond.

Visualize your kids as adults. Whether we are raising toddlers or teenagers, we must aim for adulthood and slowly begin strengthening our children today to become the adults who can capably and confidently leave us tomorrow. Visualize your son or daughter as an 18-year-old walking out the door and into the real world. What type of person do you envision your child growing up to be?

Prioritize core values. What character traits will serve your son or daughter well as he/she heads off to college, the military or the job force? Integrity? Humility? A strong work ethic? Patience? Compassion? Think about your spouse, partner or best friends. What is it about them that you love? What traits do you admire? Focus on ways to teach those values this year.

Learn from the experiences of others. Parents whose children are a bit older than ours have much to teach us. What challenges are they facing? How can we begin to prepare ourselves and our families now? Technology is one of the most significant battlefields for parents of older kids. How can you purposely limit screen time in your family this year to allow your child more space for boredom, solitude and real-life connections?

Walk your talk. If we want to raise compassionate, hardworking and grateful adults, we must be those things. Let children watch you loving and helping others on a regular basis. Do your children see you working hard without complaint? Do they witness you being thankful or respectful of others in your everyday interactions? Here are some concrete ways to model gratitude, generosity and closeness:

• Write thank-you notes, and have your kids do the same. If they are too young to write, they can still show gratitude by scribbling a picture or making a video that can be emailed or texted.

• Start a blessing jar. Set an empty glass jar on your counter and encourage family members to drop change or extra cash into it throughout the year. In December, gather as a family and discuss whom you can bless with the money. This tradition keeps family members regularly focused on giving to others and helps make generosity a habit.

• Prioritize family dinners. Let your child grow up around a screen-free family table surrounded by loved ones as often as possible. The Family Dinner Project — a Harvard-based nonprofit that promotes the benefits of nightly family meals — says that kids who grow up gathering for family dinners do better in school, have higher self-esteem and possess a greater sense of resilience. Make an effort to gather regularly for meals, and even monthly family meetings, so that meeting up around the family table and connecting in person is a habit in your home.

Parent on Purpose in 2019 and Beyond!

Raising Arizona Kids and Modern Milk are hosting two February events featuring writer/speaker Amy Carney.

6-8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22 at Modern Milk Scottsdale
13802 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite 162
480-999-1585

6-8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28 at Modern Milk Gilbert
3244 E Guadalupe Rd. Suite A106
480-534-8192

During these “parents nights out” Carney will talk about the bold decision she and her retired NHL husband made to quit their jobs, pull their children out of school and travel as a family around the United States in an RV for seven months. It was during this adventure that she began writing her book.

Learn how you can create your own parenting vision statement and how you can live it out in today’s complicated culture. Cost is $25, which includes a signed copy of Amy’s book. A portion of the proceeds will benefit AZ Helping Hands, the largest provider of essential needs for kids in Arizona’s foster care system.

Modern Milk is an innovative community center for moms, offering everything from lactation consulting and support to baby/breastfeeding products and fitness classes, education and its signature Happy Mom School.

Space for both events is limited. Preregistration is required. modernmilk.com