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Growing Champions



Align Your Parenting Decisions
with Your True North Values
by David Benzel

CompassJames Burke was the CEO of Johnson & Johnson in the 1980s during Tylenol’s biggest crisis. When contaminated Tylenol made it on to the shelves of stores in Chicago, Burke insisted on pulling his product from every shelf in America to ensure the safety of the public. This led to high praise and increased levels of trust for Johnson & Johnson because the leader did the right thing, in spite of the huge expense. For Burke the decision came naturally because of his moral compass.

We each have a built-in "compass" that offers direction for decision-making. Just as a mechanical compass shows magnetic north, your internal compass shows you True North values. These values should be considered whenever you lead family choices. There are five crucial parenting choices observed by your children everyday. Are your choices in alignment with your True North values?

1. Setting the Mood
The mood you choose to display when you arise each morning to meet and greet your children is the first observable behavior noticed. Parents often underestimate the significance of these moments, but children tend to take a "reading" from a parent’s mood and internalize it. It’s quite natural for children to make assumptions about the family’s health and future based on the climate created by the mood of the parents. The mood of a parent ripples throughout the family like electricity.

2. Response to Challenges
Your demeanor when reacting to family challenges is another indication of your commitment to True North. A calm tone in your voice says, "I’m confident we can handle this situation," whereas panic in your voice says, "I’m threatened by this and you should be, too." When a crisis or challenge hits your family, all eyes will look to you for a reaction. When family life is under attack, be sure to reflect a calm resolve that says, "I believe in you and our ability to solve this issue."

3. Initiating Change
Your choice in how you initiate change within the family is critical to the success of that change. While change is inevitable, the choices you make regarding how and when will say volumes about your True North. Your style of delivery about any change telegraphs the level of empathy you have for your children who must adjust quickly to the change. Share your understanding of the discomfort change creates.

4. Reacting to Behaviors
How you choose to react to appropriate behaviors and inappropriate behaviors indicates your True North values. Are you able to separate the doer from the deed? When behavior does not meet agreed upon standards, is compassionate correction readily available, or only punishment? When it comes to praise, children watch for consistency. Do you praise effort or only results? Your approach will appear fair if you’ve provided a clear definition of what excellent behavior looks like.

5. Treatment of Coaches
Nothing speaks louder to children than how their parents treat coaches. How you react to your coach shows everyone how it should be done. Your values in terms of respect, self-control, responses to winning and losing are obvious to your children as they watch you react to both the good coaches and the struggling coaches.

Parents with high credibility are the ones who have strong convictions about what they value. They are admired because their beliefs are very clear, and their actions are consistent with those beliefs. Demonstrate to your children that you not only know your True North, but you intend to honor it – even when it’s not the easiest thing to do.


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