Parenting

The One Essential Thing All Highly Effective Families Do When They Get Off Track

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

You’re going to blow it. No. Really. You are going to do it wrong quite often. The problem with raising children is that their parents are human. They make mistakes.

Here’s the best news of the day. Ready? It’s ok. Life is so much more than an Instagram moment. It’s really ok to have really bad days. Days you don’t want to take a picture of.

If you didn’t take that as good news, you are probably convinced that you must be the best parent you can be at all times. Yes, of course, we all want that. But the undercurrent of that thought is that if you can be a good enough parent your children will not suffer from the stupid mistakes you’ve made. They will grow up to be wonderful, smart, and trouble-free. You can save them from the evils of the world—if they will just listen to you because you love them so much.

Of course, we don’t say that out loud. I don’t even think it’s a conscious thought. But deep down, isn’t that what we all want?

The problem is we are all imperfect. We make stupid mistakes. We get overworked, lose our tempers. And life hits us hard in the middle of trying to be good parents. Again, it’s really ok.

There is something you can do to make sure that, in all your humanness, there is a way to fix it.

Stephen R. Covey explains it like this in his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families:

It’s like the flight of an airplane. Before the plane takes off, the pilots have a flight plan. They know exactly where they’re going and start off in accordance with their plan. But during the course of the flight wind, rain, turbulence, air traffic, human error, and other factors act upon that plane. They move it slightly in different directions so that most of the time that plane is not even on the prescribed flight! Throughout the entire trip there are slight deviations from the flight plan…But barring anything too major, the plane will arrive at its destination.

How does that happen? Constant correction.

Having a vision for your family is like the flight plan. What do you want most for your family? I know I dreamed of creating the family I didn’t have growing up. So my vision for my family was that my children would be close all their lives—that no matter what happened, they would always have each other.

Did they get into fights? Sure. Did I get mad? Well, of course, I did—quite often. That’s when you take a step back and see where you’re off course. I could usually trace it back to being too busy or allowing my kids to become over-tired.

So, that’s when course correction comes into play. Stop and look at the situation and readjust. Be like your GPS. No need to berate yourself, just recalculate—and make a U-turn at the next exit. You’ll get there.