New Year's resolutions for parents AND children

December 31 2010 | Guest post by Nita Talwar
311209 The end is where I begin
Photo by Nico Nelson, used with Creative Commons license.
So, it’s that time of the year again — we've been discussing New Year’s resolutions. My children tend to overhear all of our conversations these days and later asked me what a resolution is.

I explained that a resolution is a promise that you make to yourself. It is a tradition that many people practice at the beginning of the New Year. They seemed intrigued. “Why make a resolution? What’s the point?” they asked.

I explained that if you’re able to keep the resolution you make, you feel good; generally you’re doing something commendable either for yourself or someone else. That is the point. They then asked if I could give them a couple of examples. I said, "How about eating at least one fruit and one vegetable every day (thank you American Academy of Pediatrics!)?" My kids asked if that meant every day for the whole year. I said, "Yes." It seemed a bit overwhelming to them.

I wondered if for my kids, I could break it down into monthly resolutions. I asked if they would want to make a resolution for the month of January. "Only the month of January?” the kids inquired. Okay, that didn’t seem totally impossible.

After some thought, my son said he would rinse with fluoride rinse twice a day in January. He just got braces and I have been pestering him about this daily. My daughter, who had been quietly listening to most of the conversation, finally spoke up and explained to me that they discussed resolutions in school and she promised her teacher that she would not talk in the hallways. Wasn’t that enough? Absolutely. So the kids are on their way to trying to keep a New Year’s Resolution.

I then told my children that my New Year's Resolution was to be more myself! My kids were confused. "Aren't you always yourself, mom?" Not really.

Now how do I explain that to my kids? I know that they were thinking "Who do you turn into … Batwoman? A big green monster?" I explained that I sometimes do or say things that don't make me feel good and when that happens, I am not myself. For example, sometimes I react to something someone says and I need to remind myself to pause and decide who I want to be in the moment. Oh! Fine mom, whatever you want. Ah, if it were only that easy.

While I had my children’s attention, I then asked if they were interested in making a resolution to make the world around them better. Where we live in Seattle, everyone composts and the city picks up the compost bins weekly. This is a new concept for me and I know that it helps make the world a better place. I told my children that I was going to be more aware about composting and try to do it.

My son said that he would recycle more. He is very conscientious about recycling, but if he feels that he can do better, so be it. My daughter said she would clean up her room more. Technically, that counts, right? Both are making the world around them better.

I have also decided to make some parenting resolutions. Hopefully, these will improve the life of my children and my own life as well

  • Number one: I will no longer tell my children to stop whining. My kids don’t realize they are whining and the only person it bothers is me. But I will get over it.
  • Two: I will no longer tell them to stop fighting. My kids don’t physically fight, they argue. I am now telling myself they are learning negotiation skills.
  • And three: I will no longer tell them to hurry up. The more I ask, it seems, the slower they go.

With letting go of all of this, I will take the newfound freedom in my head and go meditate, get a massage, or drink a glass of wine. Come to think of it, I hereby resolve to do all three.

Happy New Year!

  1. One thing to try with resolutions and goals is phrasing them positively, as something you WILL do rather than something you WON'T do. It's like the whole "don't think of a pink elephant" thing–telling yourself not to do something only reminds you of it. I find it very useful to thing of goals that I WILL do–your example of "I will eat at least one fruit and one vegetable every day" is much better than "I will stop eating junk food" or the super-vague "I will eat healthier."

    2 agree
  2. I was the master of whining as a child and I think I was pretty self-aware. My similar resolution would be to get better at ignoring it when my dog whines (assuming there is nothing I can do). Dogs are not so self-aware, at least as far as I know.

    Your kids sound amazing!

  3. I love that your kids are getting involved! I used to be a Director at a Boys & Girls Club and a conversation similar to yours inspired some of the older kids and me to start a group called 'The Resolution Revolution'.

    We posted our resolutions on a wall where everyone could see them and we met once a week to talk about how things were going. The kids really helped motivate each other to reach their goals! It's funny – once you make what you want public knowledge, most people really want to help.

    One of my resolutions was to drink more water. I would line up three full thermoses of water on my desk each day and the goal was to drink them all by 5pm. I always had about a dozen kids at my office door at 5pm to watch me chug the last two I hadn't finished. 🙂

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