I’ve been thinking about parenting style or parenting strategy lately. What does it mean to have a parenting style? Why do we even need to have different styles; isn’t there just one best style? Why don’t we all just use the perfect strategy? Military generals, poker players, race car drivers, and football teams use strategies and styles that they think they will defeat the other strategies and styles. Are we competing against other parents to create the winning kid?
Maybe style and strategy just emerge, condensing as a pattern out of the many individual decisions we make without much thinking. The famous McGill professor Henry Mintzberg made a career out of saying that most of the best business leaders don’t even know their strategy except by looking back and calling their successful past decisions a strategy.
I think it makes the most sense to have a vision of the outcome and make decision that we think will get us there. Let’s look at what we want to create with our children. When they grow up we want them to be a certain way, to have certain properties: Confidence. Intelligence, Wisdom, Courage, Motivation, Integrity, Creativity, Leadership. Whatever they are. Our day-to-day parental actions should favour those properties, and disfavour the opposite.
I have a vivid imagination and sometimes I develop an extremely rich one-shot picture of an outcome, complete with the emotions and thoughts of the players. When I consider the future of my sons, I have one of those visions.