If you are buying the premise of strategic parenting, then you recognize the value in establishing an overall aim for your children – not necessarily hard, but a critical reference when coming up with a plan. With the aim(s) selected, defined and agreed upon, the next part is crafting the "grand design" before you do what is definitely the hardest part - implementing the plan / raising the children (but that is later ... and takes longer).
Devising the master plan means deciding on what parental approaches to apply to match your given goals. This may seem fairly regimented on the surface, but in reality, it should be a dynamic discussion over several years between the parents. This then creates a framework that helps each appreciate what the next two decades (give or take) will entail. I believe this can, or should, be done before the oldest turns five or six years old. If you look at it that way, after the oldest is potty trained, take the next 2-3 years and deliberately talk this out, then adjust as you need to after they start kindergarten.
To have what I would consider an advanced level of discussion, each parent must be prepared, mature and available. This requires the couple to be "all in" and willing to invest the requisite level of energy to talk through personal philosophies, what is desired for their children “20 years from now” and what are ways to enable. If either parent is not fully invested, then this coupled “strategic” planning quickly dissipates. In which case parenting approaches may be contradictory or the default of "go with your gut" in long range planning when you find time or think about it (which can be limited to months or a few years beforehand). In my house, I took on the responsibility to initiate the conversation, but what is most important is that the conversation is had and both parents invest in it so that goals and approaches are known.
I will share a personal example of one of our philosophies and the respective approach to enable realization. I share more in the book, for this one and others, but for this blog I will summarize “raise kids to be functional adults.” To enable this philosophy / goal, we intentionally sought to have mature, advanced talks about post-high school / college responsibilities and challenges. We used failure as opportunities to teach, did not shy away from adult topic areas, and set conditions for non ‘yes-no’ situations to be dealt with positively. We tried to treat them ‘age-appropriate’ and increase levels of responsibility as they got older. I paid them for making my lunch, initially hourly then salaried, and mandated money management. We talked about them living on their own, paying bills, owning a car or home, but did not avoid the costs associated and limitations based on income. Much of this started “sooner than later,” primarily before they turned ten, and was reinforced the following 8-10 years.
This required a certain mindset for us. A mindset that demanded we do things at certain ages or times and not forget what our long-range goals for them were. This became more challenging once we got into “the rat race,” but we refused to compromise this aim even when the day-to-day got more demanding. We were fully aware that each of our children would ultimately set their own goals as future adults, but it was on us to set the conditions for them beforehand.
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