Big Picture Parenting

Big Picture Parenting

Big Picture Parenting with no pictures and few words is designed for the busy parent!  It gives and overall look at the Goal, Role, Job, and Tasks of Parenting.  It identifies some of the challenges and offers some exercises that make parenting a little more doable.

Once you have digested the information, when you have a doubt about a parenting behavior, you can ask yourself a few simple questions and see the path to becoming the parent you want to be.


• Goal of Parenting:  Raise a Responsible, Capable Adult

o Role of the Parent:  Meet the Needs of the Child
o Job of the Parent:  Empower child to meet own needs
o Tasks of Parenting:  Teach the child coping skills

The Goal, Role, Job and Tasks of the Parent are intertwined!  When you do one well, it affects the others!  When you change your behavior in one area, you change your behavior in all areas!

When changing your behavior is not easy, keep the Goal in mind!  Parenting is an investment in the future, invest well!

Making a change may not work the first time! Or the second! Or the third, but by the fourth, fifth or sixth time, it will pay off!  Honest!  Consistency builds strength.

Goal of the Parent:  Raise a Competent, Responsible Adult

This simple statement may be the most powerful implement to changing your parenting style.  Parents have gotten off track and just want their children to be happy. But what is the child learning when happy?  A lot!  Like, the world revolves around me.  This attitude can corrupt a child’s soul.
We need children to fit into the world (see Tasks of Parent) to make it a better place, yet so many parents literally knock themselves out trying to change the world for their kids.  This is NOT working!

How does a responsible adult act?  What are you modeling?

Children become competent by making mistakes, learning from them and trying again.

Children learn to become responsible by making choices and accepting the natural and logical consequences of those choices.

Choice + Consequences = Responsible

Challenges:  You will need to know what are:

a. age appropriate choices, (which pajamas do you want to wear tonight?  Do you want your story before bath or after bath?)  The younger you start, the better it is.  For children that cannot make up their mind, let them know that tomorrow is a fresh start.  (breeds hope)
b. natural and logical consequences (when dirty clothes are not in hamper, they do not get washed) Missing someone’s birthday party is NOT a logical consequence of leaving a bike out in the rain.
c. age appropriate responsibility (putting away any toys, helping load, unload dishwasher, placement of clean laundry or dirty laundry)

Remember, the traits that cause most frustration in child make wonderful leadership skills in adults: curiosity, persistence, agility.

Role of the Parent:  Meet the Needs of the Child

• Food/Water
• Clothing/Shelter
• Medical/ Hygiene
• Rest/Exercise

• Power/Control
• Safety
• Belong or be loved
• Unique or to be special

• Sense of God
• Sense of right and wrong
• Sense of Self
• Sense of duty

Needs are easy to understand, how we deliver them makes the difference.  How do we deliver?  Is it a chore?  Are we grateful for both the child and the opportunity to provide for his/her needs?

When we meet these needs in a loving manner, we strengthen the bonds that connect. (see Emotional Need #3) We are creating a healthy attachment.  When we complain, we infuse guilt, and diminish their self-worth.

NOTE***Children cannot translate sarcasm or humor.  I used to say terrible things to my children before I started taking parenting classes.  Things like, “if you touch that again, I will break your arms off and stuff them in your pockets!”  And I thought I was being funny!

1. Each child has these need, but in differing amounts.  You may need to change up your parenting behaviors for different children.
2. Examine your own needs, how do you meet these needs for yourself? (If you do not have a healthy delivery system, you cannot create a healthy system.)


Story:  I was in a Walmart late one evening and a young father was yelling at a toddler, “Where did you go?  I told you to stay put!  I was scared!”  This Dad had it backward, he was supposed to keep the child safe, it was not her job to keep him safe.

The Job of the Parent:  Empower the child to meet own needs

The BEST use of power is to give it away by empowering others!  Not easily done, but necessary as a parent.  It requires both humility and patience.  Patience when they don’t get it; humility when they do it better than you do!

Needs:  Physical
• Food/Water -meals and refreshment
• Clothing/Shelter – purchases, laundry, care of the home
• Medical/ Hygiene – bath time, teeth brush, doctor’s appointments
• Rest/Exercise – bed time, play time

Needs:  Emotional
• Power/Control – making choices, having control
• Safety – being aware, notice the environment Teach safety, NOT FEAR!
• Belong or be loved – saying and feeling and doing loving behaviors.  Caring for others in the family.  (Chinese food story)
• Unique or to be special – allowing self-expression and acceptance

Needs:  Spiritual
• A sense of God – knowing you are not in charge, there is a higher power
• A sense of right and wrong (Morality) – honesty, respect, jealousy, gratitude
• A sense of Self – what are virtues and character defects
• A sense of duty to others beyond self – charity

1. When you do things for children that they can do for themselves, you are adding to feelings of inadequacy (or laziness?)
2. Allowing children to do things, when you can do it faster takes patience.
Story: In my journey through parenting, there were several times when I knew I was getting it right, this was one.  We went out for Chinese food one night and ordered a Pu-Pu platter, when it arrived, I was moved to tears.  Each child knew what the other liked and wanted.  And the not only shared but reveled in watching each other enjoy.  “Hey, DJ, you will like the beef!”  “Save the shrimp for Brett!”  I had always told them, “There is not enough “Happy” in the world, you need to learn to share in other’s happiness!”

Tasks of the Parent:  Develop child’s coping skills to deal with life.

Life brings change, it is inevitable!  How kids handle change sets them up for success.  As parents, we need to empower and enable kids to make change in all forms work for them.

Change comes in all shapes and sizes.  Teaching them to face change as an adventure can reap countless benefits for both parent and child.

When anticipating change, set yourself up for success by Managing Expectations:

“What do you think is going to happen?”
“Why would you think that?”

Asking these questions gives you access into your child’s emotional world.  Staying calm and responding as accurately as possible builds bridges and opens the gate to effective communication that you will be able to build upon.

What are some coping skills you have?  Do you think of change as an adventure and dive in?  Do you have to have absolute structure?

Following are Parenting Pages to assist you in developing these coping skills, but what would you like to talk or ask about?  E-mail me comments or questions at

Empowerment Ms. Heidi turns business theories into parenting understanding, (Zapp! The Lightening of Empowerment by William C. Byham, Ph.D. with Jeff Cox”)

Elements of Empowerment:
o Responsibility
o Authority
o Identity
o Energy

When I first started to think about empowerment, I thought it just meant give responsibility, but it is more.  Authority, or authorship, was child involved in creating or writing chore list?  Identity what are this child’s gifts and talents as well as his challenges?  What is the child’s energy level?  These elements will make a difference in how you empower him to meet his own needs.

When empowering your child, note his or her Emotional and Spiritual needs.

Does the chore:

Saps a child’s enthusiasm?
Have value
Have enough resources for completion
Have specific directions
Have too many directions and not enough time

When completed:

How will the child recognize success?
Will someone else get the credit?

CHORES: the greatest tool for children to learn to meet own needs.


1. builds healthy power and control skills
2. helps the child belong in the family
3. shows off and develops special talents

Secrets to making chores work!

  • Focus on the process, not the result. It is about being productive NOT being perfect.
  • Break them down: Not: Clean the Bathroom.  Instead, clean tub, clean toilet, wipe mirrors, change towels, wipe out sink.
  • Turn into game:  Write down tasks on small pieces of paper and place in chore jar.  (Be sure to include some fun tasks like stand on one foot and sing happy birthday.)
  • Set the timer.  (3-5 minutes per chore) Do not OVEWHELM.

Teach about different chore categories:

  • self-care,
  • family care, and
  • community care.

When you divide them up into categories, it helps kids organize and think of others besides themselves.  It makes chores more manageable.

Implementing chores
• Age appropriate
• Doable
• Change weekly

Remember:  Screen time is NOT a right, it is a privilege and is not allowed until all chores are done!

Maturity is doing a difficult task WITHOUT being difficult!  Let your child know that sometimes no one likes doing certain tasks, but maturity is a good thing.


CLOTHING/SHELTER – What do kids know about mortgage/rent?  Do they know that one must pay to live where they live?  Do they know what clothes cost?  Do they know about used and new?

FOOD/WATER – Do they know the value of water?  How important it is to both their own good health and the universe?  Do they know how food grows?  How it is processed? How to purchase and how to prepare?

BE LOVED and Belong – people feel love in different manners.  Check out Love Languages.  If you are not speaking the same language, your child may not feel the love you are sending.  It is not about your language, it is the child’s language that needs to be spoken.  They cannot translate.  Chores help children belong and be needed in the family.  Let child know how important it if for them to put away the silverware, they have saved you time to read them a story or enjoy something else.

BE UNIQUE-Everyone likes to feel special in some way!  This is their self-esteem.  When building child’s self-esteem, it is not what they do well, it is what they enjoy doing that counts.  What gives the child energy?  Do they like creating or do they enjoy fishing?  Do they enjoy organizing or singing?  Let the child know the special gift they bring to the family!  Say things like, “I like the way you forgive!”  I like the way you laugh!  I like the way you pick up your room without being asked!  I like the way you share with your friends!

Exercises:  buy a Newspaper!

Have kids check out the cost of housing, rent.
Check out the cost of food, sale prices on food that they like.

The four basic personalities of kids are Fearful, Flexible, Feisty and Combinations of all three.  Flexible kids may become Fearful or Feisty when stress is introduced.  But what is stress to one kid, may not be to another.

Kids are also born with temperaments that may make life easier or more difficult for them.

SURPRISE:  For the first two years of life, parent’s work to properly attach to the child.  From age 2 to 7 we, as parents, must switch from attaching to healthy detaching, allowing the child to become himself.
Discipline versus Punishment

It is very, very, very important to know this difference.  Discipline is about learning – Disciples.
Punishment is about Power Over, not empowering.  Punishment is about hurting.  Why in the world would you want to hurt this child that loves you so very much?
I’ll tell you why!  They are behaving in a manner you do not like.  And spanking stops the behavior; but at what expense?  What are they learning?  What are they going to carry forward into their adult life?  That the big guy wins, that it is ok to hurt people to get the behavior that you want?

What they are learning will circle back to their own needs.  If the child has a high need for power and control you will be butting heads for the rest of your lives.  If the child has a high need for safety and they are afraid, they will not learn.

Lesson for child:  Behaviors have consequences.

Lesson for Parent:  Separate the person from the behavior!  You love your child, it is the behavior that needs to change.

Story:  They (the kids) are not out to get you!  But it may feel that way.  I remember walking in on my 3-year-old daughter, dropping eggs on my newly waxed kitchen floor. I wanted to scream! All the hard work!  But I somehow remained calm enough to ask what was going on.  She looked up at me, with a tear rolling down her cheek and responded, “I’m looking for the hard-boiled ones!”

The week after I shared this story with my parenting class, a mom came rushing into the classroom so excited to share.  “Oh, MS Heidi, I walked into my kitchen, and there were boxes of cereal emptied on to the floor!  It was just like your story.  So, I did not get angry, honest, I asked, what are you doing?  And just like your daughter, a tear started to roll down his cheek as he responded, “Mommy, where is the one with the milk in it?”

Lesson:  They only want to love and be loved by you. (Emotional Need #3)

To be continued…