The 7R’s of Parenting: Response-ability

Running The 7R’s of Parenting with Response-ability means leading a great life ourselves to excite our family members to unleash their highest potential through exceptional actions. It is about our ability to respond to the ‘business-as-usual’ day-to-day goings-on, as well as the unusual unforeseen that get thrown our way. After all, we live in a world of exponential change.
It is also here that we help our children become more response-able. Hopefully, through role modeling, they will be picking a lot of this up instinctively. If we are aware, we can certainly guide them. Remembering that this is a learning partnership, if both parties are open and highly sensible (ie ‘sense-able’ – or able to come to their senses to read the situation), as well as able to respond to changing contexts – it will be a very efficient organic system of sustainable operations and change.
It ain’t gonna happen on its own, so this is about the ‘Doing’ part of parenting. This is the engine room stuff. The daily operations of working the Life Plan. It is a cycle of Actioning – Accountability – Monitoring – Tweaking – Actioning… and so it goes.
It starts with you, the parent,  being responsible (or ʻresponse-ableʼ) for knowing and Respecting your self enough. Have you considered and clearly defined your Life Vision? What makes this meaningful and purposeful enough to excite you and your family to come with you? What are the values you will not compromise on? How does this realisation impact your behaviour? What is the first step to lead a great life – first for you, and then with respect to the family? For those of us who have flown often, we are constantly reminded about putting on the oxygen mask first before helping others…
Next, how do we show our selves enough: Role modeling to leave a legacy of loving and living a great life? It is not about making your children (or other raving fans) multiple clones of you and your life. It is  your authenticity that inspires them to in turn lead a great life according to how they define it.
Making sure we are aware of the Rules that drive our behaviours unconsciously is important. Rewrite those rules that no longer serve us. Make these new and useful rules come alive for you and those you love and care for. Clear boundaries is a cornerstone for self-esteem, independence, trust and connectedness. Partnering to create and commit to a family charter according to these rules, beliefs and values so that we can reinforce and enforce the behaviours we have agreed to live by in times of conflict: difficulties in decision, derision and delinquency.
We can then collaborate to create Routines to enable things to run efficiently and effectively – with ease and grace.  Routines free us up to be more spontaneous and creative.
Reviewing and Reflecting (R&R) gives us the opportunity to learn from one another – and how to continuously improve. It helps us live daily moments of bliss and connectedness by celebrating wins and learnings often.  Leave things or people better than when we found them. R&R can help our family’s Purpose or Mission Statement in a variety of ways.
Paul Mitchell, my good friend and well-respected colleague in leadership facilitation, always impressed this on his charges: Come in early as a partner, not late as a judge. It is only through the regular ‘Practice of the Pause’ that we can stop, R&R and seek this learning partnership thoughtfully and openly.
Reorganise. This is then the natural course of things: R&R constantly. Make small tweaks and celebrate often. Ancient Chinese proverb states: “The 1,000 li journey begins with the first step.” Take courage to take the first step. The next step comes easier, no matter how enormous any change could prove to be in the long run.  Just focus on the first step.  The first step is always a change for the better. Reorganising begins with the first step.
So what are you doing about Running It – your Life Plan? Without losing your authenticity, how Response-able are you to changing circumstances?
How does it work?
Perhaps you will notice how all six principles come alive and into their own as I describe the variety of approaches we have been “Running it” in our family. Let me invite you to pick out where Role Modeling, Respect, Rules, Routine, R&R and Reorganise principles come into play:

  1. Independence.  I value my independence as my parents “slowly released the apron strings” – giving us more and more response-ability as we grew up. In order to nurture that in Jett & Xian, I give them this same opportunity. In keeping their room in order (or not), they can keep it in any state they want. I agree not to go in to clean or tidy.  So if they lose stuff in their mess, they need to find it in the piles. They also make their own lunches. So if they forget, they go hungry, or pay lunch from their own pocket money.
  2. The Law. (in place since my children were born) (a) All family members are to treat each other with respect: No screaming, hitting, verbal/physical abuse. Penalty: Time out according to age e.g 1 year = 1 minute time out OR Privileges Revoked  (ref: “The Civil Code”) (b) Safety rules are prescribed by parents for the children’s protection: no electrical sockets to be touched, crossing roads with adult, mount stairs with hand on rails, in bed at curfew. Penalty: Time out OR Privileges Revoked.
  3. The Civil Code.  A set of guidelines on a manila cardboard displayed – in place since Jett was 1 year old: (a) Appropriate conduct is awarded ‘points’. (b) Inappropriate conduct invokes a ‘removal of points’ by the same number eg hitting a person to snatch a toy may invoke ‘removal of 4 points’, whereas sharing a toy voluntarily will be awarded 4 points (c) Privileges decided by child can be ‘exchanged’ for with a preset system of ‘points’.
  4. Responsibilities. Responsibilities are awarded as a regular privilege earned from doing the particular privilege often and well: letting children have 30 minutes unsupervised adult-free time (when parents go down the road to the store) has become a privilege. Naturally, they are both accessible to call us on mobile if any crisis does arise. Also, prior to this ‘responsibility’ being tried – there have been discussions involving Occupational Health & Safety guidelines (such as, in case of fire, what to do, where to meet, who to call). So now the children have adult-free time of up to 2 hours in our apartment.
So what are you doing about Running It – your Life Plan? Without losing your authenticity, how Response-able are you to changing circumstances?
By Dr Yvonne Sum

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