Lately, I think I'm been "managing" my children more than "parenting" my children. I'm not sure that is a good thing. I've had managers tell me things in the past like, "It's your fault, it's all your fault. If you had one molecule of influence, then it is all your fault"... or, upon me pointing out (again) that we were short staffed and falling behind schedule, "You are not far enough behind schedule for us to do anything about it yet"... and other such gems.
See, with Management - there are goals. Objectives. Key Performance Indicators. And other such things... these seem to work in business, as to how well is a subject of debate... but these are the established practices. We have annual reviews, performance reviews, engagement surveys, etc. all trying to measure how loyal and happy we are with the company, and how well we are performing our jobs, and helping advance the company "goals" and "objectives".
Maybe its because I'm a man, maybe its because I enjoy business, maybe its because I lead a Team at work, but I find that I can easily slip into the Manager Dad role.
Me: Senior K, let's talk about your annual performance review.
Senior K: Huh, wha?
Me: You're performance as Eldest Son this year was a little weak. I think you've forgotten about what made you successful as the Eldest Son. I think you may have lost your focus. Look, chores are down, grades are good, but I don't see any extra effort being put in.
Senior K: ummmmm...
Me: What do you have to say about your performance. You know what, never mind, I'm just going to write something down here on your performance report and file it with Human Resources. Now, Miss G on the other hand has been a stand out Big Sister this year. Yes, I think it is time for her to get a promotion!
Miss G: YAY!!! What's a promotion?
Senior K: What? A Promotion?!
Me: Yup, Miss G, you are now Eldest Son. Senior K, you are being replaced, your title will now be Big Sister, replacing Miss G.
Senior K: What?! She can't be eldest son! She is 6 years younger than me! AND, a girl!
Me: Be that as it may, her performance merits this promotion.
Senior K: Oh C'MON! What can she do that I can't?!
Miss G: I can hoola-hoop while doing the Chicken Dance!
Senior K: Oh you can not!
Miss G: Un-huh... Watch! Da-da-da-daa-da-da, da-da-daaaa-da-da-da, daaa-da-da-da-da, DA! DA! DA! DA*!
Me: Well, that IS impressive!
Senior K: Fine. I'll go move my stuff into the Pink Cubical...
But with parenting, well, it's so very different. There are still goals, and objectives. But the goals and objectives are all wrapped up in the Success of the Child. Not the success of the company, or quarterly earnings, or dividends...
I have to remind myself, sometime more often than I care to admit, that although I could Manage the situation, maybe what my children need is a parent.
One great example of this, was last night... I wanted a good night sleep. I needed a good night sleep. So when our little Bing woke up 3 or 4 times and tried to crawl into our bed, I decided to "manage" the situation. I had a goal... get Bing BACK to his own bad, and back to sleep.
Managing the situation consisted of me having a goal and making sure my "Employee" did as he was told to make sure I could reach me goal. I did get Bing back into bed. And yes, he did stay there. But he was crying and quite upset that no one was consoling him. See, making sure Bing was getting the "love and attention" he needed was NOT on my list of goals, or my current business plan...
Luckily for him, his Mother decided to be a Parent last night, and NOT a Manager. She got up out of bed, after I had returned from managing Bing, and went back to his room, speaking comforting words, and spent just a couple minutes stoking his cheek and making sure he wasn't scared and letting him know that he is loved. He then fell asleep content and no longer scared/crying.
See, if I DO want to Manage my children, then I have to make sure that my GOALS, my objective, business plan, etc. are all built upon my children's success**. Every time I try to Manage my children, I have to ask myself "Is my current decision going to help my child Succeed in life"... had I asked myself that question, I probably would have handled Bing differently last night.
But what I think would be better, is to remember that I am first and foremost, their Father... not their Boss.
* == Yes, she actually dances the Chicken Dance, while singing, and hoola-hooping... and it IS as impressive as it sounds.
** == I'm not going to define what a child's success is, I think every family has their own standards. But it is something we have to be intentional about, or else there may be no standard for success.