I love new beginnings….especially when I feel safe and self-assured.  I am thankful for the times when my curiosity for what-is-to-come prompts me to make new lists, pull out the calendar and envision a new life for myself, my husband, and now my kids, Siena Rose and Petra Lucia.  Fear subsides when I – and others – remind me of my past creations, accomplishments, joys.  Those are the positive experiences from which any new beginning can start…that have shaped me, changed me, provided opportunities for me.  The New Year is often a time of such introspection and goal setting – a time of new beginnings at a time when, thankfully, the days in the northern hemisphere are beginning to lengthen, getting brighter with each start to a new day.

Interestingly, the Powerful Word of the Month, EMPATHY, supports the goal-setting process that comes along at the end of each December.  Dr. Robyn Silverman, creator of the Powerful Word program, points out that the best goals are ones that consider other people.  She prompted me to consider how meaningful goals are not just SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, & Timely); they also result from thinking through ways the goal itself impacts others and/or in whose support is needed to reach the goal.

This goal-empathy connection is at the heart of parenting.  Mr. Brad and I, for example, have goals for our children: grandiose yet general ones such as wanting them to be kind, curious people who can communicate well, and more specific, short-term ones such as wanting to shorten the bed time routine to less than an hour for a week straight without having Siena digress into a temper of yelling for one of us to return to her room.  Our children also have and will continue to create their own goals.  For Petra, it’s mostly about nursing and sleep.  For Siena, it’s largely about play – more time to play and certain friends and family with whom to play.  She also wants her treats – lollipops and mints, for example.  As a surrogate parent at a boarding school, I also did a goal-empathy dance with the teens in the dormitory, and continue to have my own goals for my college students while also trying to understand how they feel and what they want out of my class with them.

In celebration of the New Year, a ripe time of goal-setting, I invite you to consider the ways in which your goals for your children impact them, and who you need to call to your side to help you in reaching those goals with your children (e.g. karate instructors, teachers at school, the neighbor at the bus stop).  What are your goals as a parent this year?

A first step to start fresh and prepare for your parenting goals is to be at peace at what transpired during 2009 – what you did, what you were proud of, what was disappointing about what you did or did not do.  Write out your answers and/or speak to a friend about them. Give your 2009 Parenting Year a Name – a theme, a focus, a title.  Was it the year of experimentation?  The year of “tough love?”  The year of reaching out?  Letting go?  Humility?  Self-care?  Whatever it is, give it a name.  Then, in honor of this Mondo Beyondo exercise, stand up and say it proud, “2009 is my Parenting Year of….” Are you indeed feeling proud – truthfully proud?  Are you being honest?  A critic, but not the toughest, unreasonable critic out there…not one who unnecessarily discounts your achievements?  Welcome a genuine feeling of pride – just like you will welcome into your house when your children walk through the door in 2010.


Karla Scornavacco PhD Ed.