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Why setting goals as a parent is important

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  • Title
    Devon's story

    Devon had always been a confident parent who felt like he was in sync with his son, Trevor. He felt that parenting had come to him instinctively; when Trevor was upset, he knew how to calm him down, and he could always tell when Trevor needed more space. But when Trevor was diagnosed with cancer just after his high-school graduation and spent the summer in treatment, Devon suddenly lost all confidence in his ability to be a good parent. He was no longer sure what his son needed, and didn’t feel like he could keep track of all of his medications and appointments. He even found himself avoiding serious conversations with Trevor, afraid that he wouldn’t know what to say.

  • A social worker assured Devon that what he was feeling was completely normal, and in order to feel better about it, she suggested that he articulate his goals as a parent and set a couple of specific intentions to focus on. So after talking to Trevor to be sure it would be helpful, Devon decided his primary goals were to learn more about his son’s medications and follow-up appointments, and to have a regular check-in with Trevor each day, in which he asked his son how he was doing and listened deeply to his response.

Why setting goals as a parent is important

For Devon and many parents and caregivers, the shock of a serious diagnosis of their child can feel like entering an unfamiliar world, and each transition that occurs along the journey can feel like another destabilizing loss. It is common for parents to feel as if they are starting over on their parenting journey or aren’t able to provide the support they want to. 

Setting parenting goals is a way to break down your wish to be a better caregiver and parent into manageable steps. It can help provide stability as you navigate transitions and keep your parenting values intact during crises and other times of uncertainty. 

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