We are a culture obsessed with problem solving. We are trained to
seek, discover and focus on fixing problems in all areas of our life. Our schools and our workplaces reinforce this by rewarding the best problem solvers with higher grades, promotions and
the best wages. It’s one thing to be good at fixing problems with machines or equipment or technology; it is another thing altogether when we bring our problem solving skills to bear on our families, more specifically our children.
Revolution in Change" that most schools, companies, families and organizations function
on an unwritten rule. That rule is to “fix what’s wrong and let the strengths take care of
themselves.” We tend to skip over what is going well and hone in on what needs to be
fixed. The problem for parents when they bring this perspective home is that children
aren’t problems to be fixed. They are great mysteries to be appreciated, and their
greatest desire is to be known, not solved.
To appreciate something is to value it. Appreciation is the act of recognizing the best in
people or the world around us, affirming past or present strengths, successes and
potentials. Parenting is the rearing of children. It is the methods and techniques used or
required in the development and raising of children. If we combine these two concepts,
appreciative parenting becomes the rearing of children by recognizing the best in them
and the family. It is grounded in affirming past and present strengths, successes, and potentials. It asks parents to perceive those things that give life (health, vitality,
excellence) to the children and the family. It is the radical reordering of problem solving.
My encouragement to parents if they work in a problem-solving work environment is to
consider taking off their problem-solving hat as they drive home every day. I encourage
parents to drive home in silence while shifting into an appreciative mindset where they
might focus on what is going well and be mindful of when their kids are at their best.
Parents can then seek not to fix what is wrong, but rather grow what brings life and
energy to their kids and their family.
What we focus on grows and when we focus on what is wrong there is no end to the
shortcomings we might uncover. But when we focus on what is working and what brings
life to our children we unlock life-giving possibilities for connection and hope.
When are your kids at their best and how can you meet them in that space? When was
the last time you looked at your kids through the eyes of genuine appreciation
recognizing the best in them and the strengths they bring to your family?