17Dec

The 7 R's Of Parenting: Review & Reflect

Colloquially, ‘R&R’ is the abbreviation for ‘Rest and Relaxation’ – popularised by the war movies of the 1950s when GIs went on leave. The meaning of R&R here is also about taking a break from the routine. It is our ability to pause, take stock of what’s working or not, celebrate the wins, sharpen our axe, and challenge ourselves to new ways of doing better.

Reviewing and reflecting means to ‘practice the pause’.
I have chosen to call this the ‘R&R’ for the family. This R&R could be personal, or it could involve the whole family at once.
R&R is about making a routine of ‘taking a break from the routine’ and ‘thinking’ about what we are doing. It involves setting aside a regular and consistent gap in our ‘doing’ to pause, reassess, and take stock of what’s working or not, celebrate the wins, and challenge ourselves to new ways of doing better. R&R is as important, if not more so, as the ‘doing’ to realize our Vision through our actions.
R&R is another avenue for learning partnerships to thrive. Taking time out regularly with the family (and our own self) to reflect and review gives opportunities to improve, develop and evolve ourselves. A charter of agreement here could be useful: that during R&R, every win – no matter how small is worth celebrating; any idea – no matter how seemingly trivial is worth considering.
R&R could be part of our routine – and it could be annually (ala the likes of the New Year’s Resolution), quarterly, monthly, weekly ….. or even as often as daily.
How does it work?
Here’s an example of a simple R&R process when conducting our family meetings:

  1. What’s hurting? Review what is not working – and brainstorm suggestions of how to do differently. Be grateful for the opportunity to do better. Indeed: Count your blessings….
  2. What’s working? Too often we forget to count – and in fact discount – what we consider ‘only small wins’. Do you remember in Kindergarten and Primary School how the teachers make small but constant awards to  the children in the class? It is the validation that positively reinforces the behaviour we want developed – frequently, simply and joyfully. Celebrating often is key. Indeed: Count your bliss…
So who is accountable for keeping us to the R&R?  Let me suggest that it could be part of the family charter. The parents could certainly start the process off initially. It would be most effective when all members are expected to facilitate this process. On an individual basis, the buck then stops with you!
When I was growing up, an annual gathering of the family at Chinese New Year created a natural opportunity for my father to initiate the process for the year. We had family meetings and one of the four daughters took the minutes. We rotated the ‘Keeper of the Minutes’. In the same manner, one could elect to have a member of the family be a facilitator for the R&R for the year. In order that it was not dependent on the one person to lead this, a different family member can be rotated to be the ‘Keeper of the R&R’ for the year … which means any routine R&R through the year was that person’s responsibility, say monthly, quarterly or annually.
Should there be an extraordinary need to have an R&R, it would only seem natural that whoever called for the R&R session would be the facilitator.
It is during these R&R (scheduled or extraordinary) sessions that we get our conversational re-setting or re-negotiation of routines. My father  held these ‘family meetings’ – which are more formal versions where minutes are recorded and kept. However, currently the frequency of our communications, and the honesty / transparency to re-negotiate and co-create has not made the formal meetings as necessary. Yet I do not see it as out of the question should it arise in the future…who knows what changes abound?
As simple as it sounds, this R&R is too often underutilized. The excuse is the usual: “There is no time….We are too busy.”  What is the point of existing just to be doing, doing, doing ….? Why not stop and simply be in bliss – no matter how fleeting this may be?  What is the meaning of life? I propose that it is not a tangible endpoint or destination. It can easily be found in daily doses of small moments of joy in our life’s journey. Remembering to count these regularly is what gives life meaning …
Some examples of how we have used R&R in our family:
Stepping away from an emotionally charged experience – which is a common occurrence with being around our loved ones. It allows us to take the charge out of extremely negative (and even positive) experiences which can blind us.I remember as a teenager what it was like to be yelled at, to finish our school assignment rather than abandoning it to run off to a party. If we took the time to step back and look at the situation, and instead of slamming the door on mum as she’s screaming out at us, what would it be like if we sat down and negotiated a “time-out” for relaxation so we can be more efficient in our project upon our return? (Sketching her our intended timeline for completion of the project in the process as we waltz out the door!)
Counting vs Discounting – It could be just a way of stepping back and counting (rather than discounting) all the things (no matter how miniscule) that we have achieved or won during the day. I remember nagging my son about letting his violin practice slide during the holidays. What my scotoma was on is that fact that he had been spending a lot of quality time with his younger sister showing her the beauty of “Game Boy”. Look I am not about to debate the benefits and disadvantages of music practice over those couch-potato-RSI-developing toys (you can tell I am polarized against!!). What I failed to count is the beautiful relationship he is building with his sibling.
Celebrate – Reviewing allows us to ‘count’ and celebrate all our wins (no matter how small). When the children were small – every day was a reflection of their first smile, first words, first steps ….. we need to continue to count our little steps and tweaks to ‘leave things better than when we found them’. eg one of the ways is when picking them up from school, or when I am tucking Jett and Xian to bed – we speak off ‘what was the best thing that happened today’. It’s like going through the daily rushes of our life’s movie. As a director of our own lives, I then encourage them to celebrate and remember to re-create more of these amazing moments
Learning opportunity – Sure there are times when things do not go as planned, in fact it was seemingly way off course! Review and reflecting allows us to take stock of how we could have done better. eg in the same vein, I offer the children to speak of ‘what did not go well today?’ and ‘how does it make you feel?’ It allows them to archive these rushes from the cutting room floor (not discard them as they can be great lessons to refer back to) and I ask them to re-edit it so that if a similar situation happens again – how would they like it to be, how would it make them feel, and how could they make it so? We even have a bit of fun with playing the movie backwards with circus music and getting them to dissociate from it – getting a bit more laughter and creativity (there is a fine line between silliness & genius, right?) – and then re-writing the event and storing it for future reference.
Don’t take my word for it. Do go ahead. Practice the pause. What difference did it make for you?

By Dr Yvonne Sum
Dr Yvonne Sum CSP transforms leaders of tomorrow today: through speaking, coaching and writing. Having been a dentist, RAAF officer, executive coach, leadership facilitator & speaker, author, business partner, wife and mother of two, Yvonne has first-hand experience transcending changes across various contexts. She consistently provokes senior business leaders to ‘lose their minds and come to their senses’ by integrating their leadership lessons at home successfully back into the work tribe in Australia, USA and Asia-Pacific. She has presented alongside Edward deBono, Howard Gardner, Tony Buzan, and David Perkins.  ‘Intentional Parenting – Learning Leadership from your Home Tribe’ is her first solo book due out in 2012.

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