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Parenting Resolutions: What are Yours?

By Alice Bradley

I’m not usually big on New Year’s resolutions, but this year I’m coming up with a few. It seems like a good idea to step back, look at how this last year has gone, and focus my attention on making some changes. What better place to start than with some of my less-than-exemplary parenting habits? And I was thinking about them—really, I was—when I saw that already came up with 50 resolutions for me. Before I even glanced at them, though, I resolved to come up with my own. New resolution for 2009: Do my own thinking first. (I just made that up, right now.)

Five Parenting Resolutions for 2009

1. Maintain a unified front. Henry has become extraordinarily adept at playing Scott and me off each other. Usually this occurs when I disagree, either loudly or with violent eye-rolling, with some parenting decision of Scott’s. This year, however, I will maintain a dignified and solemn appearance no matter how much I disagree with my husband’s pronouncements. (And I only mean in front of the kid. When he’s not around, readers, al bets are off.)

2. Teach more, do less. It’s easy to do everything for Henry: get his breakfast ready, tie his shoelaces, spell “poop.” This year, I’m going to focus on teaching him how to do all these things and more on his own. It takes more time and energy, but that’s the point.

3. Let him make mistakes. Alternately, let him do things his own weird, idiosyncratic way. So when he decides he wants to warm up his Cheerios and milk in the microwave , I’ll let him try it out. He might think it’s gross, but on the other hand, he might be proud of his new (disgusting and soggy) breakfast invention. There’s nothing wrong with Hot Cheerios, as long as I don’t have to watch him eat it.

4. Model frustration management. Like most six-year-olds, Henry’s not especially adept at handling frustration, and like a few adults, neither am I. This year I’m going to take any opportunity I can find to model maturity and composure in the face of frustration. So when we’re running late for school and I can’t find my damn keys, I might take a minute to talk through where I saw them last, instead of, say, cursing and stamping my feet. Not that I ever do that. Ahem.

5. More celebration. More using the fancy china for mac ‘n’ cheese. More toasting of Wednesdays. More board-game marathons. More sit-down afternoon teas. More birthday parties for his favorite bear. Not every day can be special, but more of them should be.

So those are mine.

My Favorites from

Teach kids this bravery trick. Tell them to always notice the color of a person’s eyes. Making eye contact will help a hesitant child appear more confident and will help any kid to be more assertive and less likely to be picked on.
Show your child how to become a responsible citizen. Find ways to help others all year. Kids gain a sense of self-worth by volunteering in the community.
Give yourself a break. Hitting the drive-through when you’re too tired to cook doesn’t make you a bad parent.

Of all of these, giving myself a break might be the hardest resolution to follow, but the most important one in the long run.

So, readers, what do you think? What are your resolutions for 2009?

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Alice Bradley
About the Author

Alice Bradley

Alice Bradley was a regular contributor to Alpha Mom, writing about current events as they related to parenting. You can read about her daily life at her personal blog, Finslippy.


Alice Bradley was a regular contributor to Alpha Mom, writing about current events as they related to parenting. You can read about her daily life at her personal blog, Finslippy.

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I just discovered your blogs through momversation and your posts really click with me. I have a daughter who will be 5 this spring, and I have two “plans” for 2009. 1. Eliminate the “stuff” – No I’m not going to doo it all at once. As we go when she outgrows toys, I’m not replacing them. When birthday and other special occasions come up, I’m going to expand on what we have that she uses (Little Pets Shop, art supplies, games for the Leapster or Wii). Any new stuff will be far and between and of good quality. This… Read more »

Alice Bradley

Thanks, Erin! I like your resolutions, too. I think I need to learn some life-skills myself, so I can pass them down to Henry…


I love the way that each time we look at how we parent and how we live, we shed layers and discover new ones. I am so hopeful for all of us.
Oh, ya, and I am going to try to swear less 😉

Sherry Artemenko

Hi Alice,
I really like your resolutions, especially the one about modeling positive reactions to daily frustrations and using the words to talk through resolution. As a speech language pathologist I teach parents how to talk through problems beginning when their child is a baby, to get in the practice of modeling working through conflict, using language. You are helping equip your child for better personal relationships. I offer lots of tips on building language skills through talking, reading and playing with your child on my website at


Alice, Happy New Year! I love that clean slate feeling at the beginning of a new year. My resolution this year is to clear out the clutter and get more organized. My house is fairly clutter-free, but don’t you dare peek in any of my closets lest you’ll be attacked by my dark secret. I have 6 closets that need to be cleared out, pretty much down to the studs, so I will choose one a month and spend the last 6 months admiring a job well done. Or choose 1 every two months and finish just in time to… Read more »

PB Rippey/sleepless mama

Now that my son is 14mos. and into everything, everywhere, all the time, I think my biggest resolution is finding alternatives to saying, “No, no, not that”. I saw a kid’s tee shirt that said “My name is not no-no”. Yep. My boy could wear that. There must be options.
Also: playing fun music every morning to help start the day. That’s as far as I’ve made it in the resolutions dept. Apart from take more vitamins and possibly some kind of protein shake or magical herb so I never, ever get that awful cold/flu thing again.

Alice Bumgarner

Playing catch-up with Wonderland, which I was feeling behind on. And now that I see I should have made parenting resolutions, I realize I’m even more behind than I thought.
I laughed at the tip on modeling frustration management. Just did lousy job of that yesterday and wrote a post about it: