Not only is this great advice for the squeaky wheel kid in the backseat of the minivan who can’t wait for the vacation to start, it’s also great advice for all of us parents.
“If life is a journey, then family life is… a summer road trip through the desert without air conditioning, and someone’s suddenly car sick.”
-thought every mom & dad at least once in their life
Who hasn’t felt this way from time to time? Family life doesn’t have to be the road trip from Hell. It’s not going to be pleasant each and every moment—that’s not realistic, but there should be fun, excitement, and laughter along the way too.
What if the way we approach our roles as moms and dads allowed for more living in the moment and enjoying each leg of the journey? Maybe we are considering it the same way the child who’s strapped into the car seat is—so focused on the far off destination, we forget to enjoy what’s right in front of us.
What if we approach parenting and family life in a way that celebrates all the adventure & new discoveries? What if we lean into some of the awkwardness that leads to real growth and renewal? Could we learn to celebrate—The Art of Becoming?
The “Art of Becoming” is a completely different mindset than the “Are we there yet?” mentality. One acknowledges that growing as a family is something that takes time, but offers much to be appreciated every step of the way. The other approach is a negativity trap most of us fall into at some point or another—if only our marriage was stronger or our family were more happy, more respectful, more unified… then, we’d be where we need to be. But we’re not there yet, so we are anxious and frustrated with… just about everything.
Developing strength of character is not the same as baking cookies—you throw some ingredients together, toss it in a 350 degree oven and… voila! Becoming more grateful, orderly, honest and respectful requires practice.
Strength of character is built one small daily step at a time. And those itty bitty steps in the right direction become the biggest and most gratifying steps of a lifetime.They add up and put us on a path towards more. This way, we can appreciate all the “desserts” family life has to offer the whole way.
So, what are some practical tips in order to quiet the cranky “Are we there yet?” voice that wants to dominate so much headspace in our parenting? How can we empower an attitude that celebrates “The Art of Becoming”?
Tips to embrace “The Art of Becoming” in family life:
Celebrate Daily Wins!
If you don’t actively seek out the good in each day, you’ll miss it. We have to have eyes of gratitude that uplift and empower everyone’s effort. Spend time together at family meals discussing good things you’ve learned, experienced, and witnessed that day. Remember these can even be mistakes and setbacks when we share the lightbulb moment they provided. Try to encourage yourself and everyone to appreciate the right now. Find the good in the present and the future will naturally be brighter.
Cultivate Vulnerability & Forgiveness
Some of the most breakthrough moments our family has experienced are when we take a moment to offer our sincere apologies at the end of the day. It’s amazing how my kids respond when I ask for their forgiveness. They’ve never once denied it. Instead, they rush at me with affection and love. And how amazing it is to offer an apology to my husband in front of them. “I wish I had put my phone down after dinner and asked you about your day. Will you forgive me?” Try to work forgiveness into your own day, but make it part of the family’s daily or weekly ritual. This acknowledges that each person is a work in progress and we need to keep at it in a loving, encouraging way. How refreshing to know as children (and adults) that we are approaching each new day with a clean slate within the family, rather than a long list of grudges & past mistakes.
Pick one character strength each month & go for the goal (or let us guide you with Adventure into Character)
You know what your family’s strengths and struggles are, maybe it’s organization & order, gratitude or respect, self-control (hello, screen-time overload!) Whatever it is, start each day with that as your family’s daily intention. Gather before everyone disperses for the day and remind them of some powerful ways to live out the character strength. It should inform the day’s thoughts and actions. The challenge is not to take on too much. Families always have loads of areas to work on, but pick one and give it time to transform your family dynamic before moving on to the next one. You can’t work on 5 different character strengths at a time. Remember, it’s about small steps. Once you’ve nailed it, build on that amazing progress.
You’re not only headed towards a brighter future down the road, as amazing intentional parents, you are artfully becoming what you need to be right now, courageous explorers leading your crew on a wild adventure of a lifetime!
Don’t miss out on our signature subscription box experience, Adventure into Character. Our one-of-a-kind character kits lead you step-by-step into the “Art of Becoming” all your family is meant to be. You'll unbox fun, engaging activities to rally the whole family around character strengths that encourage more cooperation, respect, and togetherness. All roads lead to a brighter future!