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What's your parenting theme for 2013?

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Goal-setting, list-making and prioritising come with the start of a new year.

You know the drill. You sit down and write a big MUST-DO list; firmly commit to achieving this hit list; and then promptly forgetting it a few weeks later. After a month you can’t even remember where you put the list. Ah well. There’s always next year!

There’s a simple alternative to goal-setting, which you can use many areas of life including parenting. Rather than making a long list of goals, choose a theme for the parenting year ahead.

My parenting theme for 2013 is a big, broad & bold –2013 is the year of........ doing parenting even better! I intend to apply this to both the professional side of parenting and also my own family life. It will challenge me to stretch myself into areas I haven’t been before, and also really fine-tune my communication skills to be the parent my kids need at their stage of life.

My challenge for you is to establish a parenting theme that will stretch you and build your capacities as a parent. Your theme may come as a result of what your kids need from you; or it may simply be about time you stepped up in a certain area of your family-life.

Here are some thoughts and ideas to help you formulate your parenting theme for 2013:

1. Stand up dad: We underestimate the social impact of under-fathering at our peril. In the past under-fathering was seen as an economic issue. Now many of our social problems such as the violent behaviour shown by Toolies at various Schoolies Week locations last December can be partly attributed to poor fathering, or no fathering at all. It may be the year that dads take over!

2. Gather around your girls: Why is it that girls are starting to match the boys in all the wrong areas, including teenage drinking, predatory sexual behaviour and violence to their own gender? Just as young men benefit from being around men during adolescence, girls need to be guided, protected and supported by wise women as they move through their adolescence, and start to make decisions for themselves.

3. Conscientiousness is the new persistence: Perseverance is huge success trait, but conscientiousness is even more important. It permeates all areas of life. Schools value conscientiousness; and all workplaces now demand it. So this year make this important trait a priority; build language around it and start catching kids being doing what’s right, not what’s easy!

4. Raise socially-conscious kids in a materialistic world: The job of modern parents is to move kids from self-centredness to social-consciousness. This is harder in small families as there is less opportunity to help out and share your time and space with siblings. Encourage generosity, volunteering and helping at home....without being paid!

5. Mental health is the new normal: This year make mental health a parenting priority. Kids with good mental health feel better, learn better and are better equipped to handle life’s curve balls. There are plenty of ways of promoting good mental health but many people overlook the importance of sleep, exercise, play, relaxation and having someone to talk to. These are the building of mental health for kids.

6. Do less, so your kids can do more! Okay, so if you have read my book Thriving! and followed my email guide Happy Kids, then you’ll be familiar with my thoughts around independence-building. Your job as a parent is to make yourself redundant so step back a little and let your kids do more things for themselves.

7. Make mealtimes magic: You can build a family around the kitchen table. Mealtimes are more than just eating pit stops. It’s where thoughts are aired, complements are given and food is shared. If you want to get a window into a child’s world then you need to sit and have a meal with him or her.

So what will be your parenting theme this year?

Think about what’s important to you as a parent, then think of a snazzy, all embracing title which sums up your theme. If you can’t quite nail a title because you can’t get the words right don’t sweat it.

Simply choose a working title until something better comes along......usually at about 4 o’clock in the morning!

Then make it visible. Make a poster and place it on the fridge. Turn it into a screen saver. Put it in your wallet. Increased visibility increases the likelihood that you’re theme won’t be forgotten, as so often happens to goals and hit lists.

Then share your parenting theme for the year with other parents on my Facebook page and also on this Blog in the comments. The best 3 themes will receive a parenting pack of resources valued at over $100.

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