Parents are leaders
Fun fact: If you are a parent, you are a leader. How so? Well, like leaders, every parent has responsibility for their kids (their "team") and is responsible for accomplishing the goals of the day. While business leaders are worried about "businessy things" a parent is responsible for something far more important, the life and well being of their child.
Usually, the goal is keeping them alive for one more day, while trying to remember to feed them (as if they would fail to tell you they are hungry), clothe them, wipe their butt, get them a snack, bathe them, remind them to do homework, drive them to practice, play with them, tell them you love them all while noticing the little things, the little things like the fact that this entire paragraph is a giant run on sentence, just like a typical day of being a parent!
Typically, you are writing the run on sentence while battling exhaustion, trying to stay sane, ignoring the self imposed guilt trips about the life you provide for them and....did I mention wiping butts? Honestly? Being a leader in corporate America is easy compared to how difficult it can be to be a parent.
Leadership skills developed by being a parent
Every single leadership skill we discuss here at The Leadership Mission you must make use of and use effectively, if you want to be a parent. All of the leadership characteristics that make great leaders and advice that we give to new leaders, applies directly to parents.
Developing fluency in the leadership styles? Please. You will use all 6 of the styles laid out in Daniel Goleman's book just trying to get your kid dressed in the morning. Want to get better at accepting feedback? Ask your child for their thoughts on your ability to make a PB&J. Want to be better at realizing you are always on center stage? Just watch your kid repeat the one bad thing you said 6 weeks ago in the grocery store to the checkout person.
Want to develop your ability to be flexible? Try making plans for a single day, then re-assess how well your "plans" went that night. Want to be better with accountability? Promise your kid something they really want in the morning and see how many times you get reminded before breaking down and giving it to them.
You are not alone
You are not alone. We promise you, you aren’t. While yes, it so often feels like you are alone, raising your kids the best you can, I promise you, you are not alone.
You will see lots of things on social media that will make you feel inadequate, like you are failing and/or that you generally suck as a parent because you didn’t do the following:
Run a marathon
make an epic craft
meal prepped for 3 months
cleaned your whole house
learned to cut your kids hair
blah, blah, blah
We're here to tell you that it’s all bull crap. I’m sure there is a family out there (let’s just call them the Johnson’s for sake of story telling), that posts every day how awesome they are, how productive their kids have been and how happy they all are when they spend “quality time together”.
Whatever.... good for them, you know what though? If you are just over here trying to survive, you don’t need to compare yourself to that. You don't hate them for what they can do, if they can accomplish that much then good for them. However, if you can’t mentally or emotionally handle comparing yourself to that right now, then that’s okay.
Being a leader means being self aware and knowing your own limits. It is perfectly fine to look at someone else's situation and be happy for them without feeling bad about yourself.
Stop beating yourself up for not living up to expectations you THINK others have of you.
10 helpful tips for our fellow parent leaders
Don’t be upset when you hear one kid say “ I farted” and the other kid says “eewww.... let me smell it!!” They are having fun bonding, let them do it.
Enjoy it when your kids do something cute, one day you will wish they were that little again.
Stop telling yourself you suck because your frustration boiled over and you had to get loud to keep the peace when your kids were about to kill each other. Your child's happiness is important but so is raising them to not be animals.
Stop stressing because you only completed 3 and a half of the 917 “these aren’t mandatory assignments but the Johnson’s will make you feel like crap because they did them and you didn’t” volunteer homework assignments.
Take your power back and tell your kid to “get your own drink”, especially when it’s three feet away from them. It is important your children develop self-reliance.
Don’t be afraid to use phrases like: “this place is a mess and you kids are animals“, “this is why we can’t have nice things” “PUT THE CAP BACK ON THE MARKER” and my favorite, “I’ll get to that tomorrow." Sometimes things just need to be said and done to survive the day.
Don’t be upset when your kid takes off all their clothes and shout “watch me shake my booty”... they just want to make you laugh.
Laugh so hard at a stupid meme that you wouldn’t normally find funny but because you're so tired half the time, you think it's hilarious. Then promptly ignore your spouse’s judgmental stares when they don’t find it nearly as funny as you just did.
Take the win when your kids are able to entertain themselves for 3 hours with a garden hose and a bucket.
Most importantly though, your kids won’t remember the little details, they will just remember the way you acted and how you made them feel. Give your kids your love and it will be returned.
Understand the importance of your role as a parent
Being a parent is tough, there is no doubt about it, however, it is also the most rewarding leadership position you will ever hold. Watching your children grow to become self reliant, imaginative and successful humans is incredibly fulfilling.
While there isn't much praise for a job well done as a parent, the fulfillment that comes from seeing your child sink a basket, tie their shoes or be kind to another child is incredible. If you are blessed enough to take on the role of parent leader in life, cherish the role. It is the most important position you will ever have in your life.