New Paradigms for Your Family

Arrow on Brick WallThe New Year has begun and my story circle has me thinking about paradigms! As usual, I think about these things in the context of parenting and management, so here are a few thoughts to share.

A paradigm is a typical pattern or world view. A paradigm shift is a change from one way of thinking to another…a revolution, even a metamorphosis.

Dr. Stephen Covey has an excellent example in his book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” He writes that he was “traveling in a subway, a man gets in with his two sons, the sons are running all over the place bothering the people, this continues, so he finally gets irritated enough to ask the father why he doesn’t do something to control his kids. The father replies, “We just got back from the hospital where their mother died. I don’t know how to handle it and I guess they don’t either.”

Suddenly you see the everything differently and that is the incredible power of a paradigm shift. Those are the same kids yelling and screaming in the subway, but you look at them and understand them in a different way.

When we seek to understand our children’s point of view, we often experience paradigm shifts.

That “ah-ha” moment where you finally get where your teen is coming from and the internal logic that has set his or her decisions in motion. That blinding flash of the obvious when you realize that your child isn’t rebelling, but separating from you in the only way they know how. That sick little feeling in your stomach when you realize that your behavior, as seen from your child’s point of view, is unfair or hurtful.

What do you DO when your paradigm shifts?

It depends on the circumstances, but I have found that at the very least, sharing my new way of thinking with my family has been the most constructive. I apologize as well, if that is appropriate, and express to them what I am going to do differently.

This decision leads to open, honest conversation and accountability. It also shows your children how to do this work themselves.

What would happen in our relationships with our children if we consistently and sincerely owned up when we are wrong? If we admitted we don’t know it all and often we don’t see things the same way they do?  If we practiced what we preach to them and “walked a mile in their shoes?”

I have found that great things happen. Respect, transparency, honor and understanding are just a few.

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