Updated: May 9, 2020
I want a life of excellence, not a life of autopilot. This especially applies to our family life. As Aristotle said, “Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”
I have long been a fan of Bruce Feiler’s book, The Secrets of Happy Families. I read this book when my kids were young and it was instrumental in shaping the intentional parenting style we practice today. Someday, when I’m 90 in my rocking chair in the nursing home, I hope that I can say my proudest achievement was raising and having a close, intentional relationship with three thriving kids, who are well acclimated, resourceful, kind individuals. One can only hope.
Mr. Feiler recently gave a TED Talk about Agile Parenting, and I was hooked from forty seconds in. He states that our children sense that we’re out of control. (We being the parents.) “Ellen Galinsky of the Families and Work Institute asked 1,000 children, ‘If you were granted one wish about your parents, what would it be?’ The parents predicted the kids would say, spending more time with them. They were wrong. The kids' number one wish? That their parents be less tired and less stressed.”
To deal with this stress, he suggests that families go agile. Inspired by software programming agility, he proposes a bottom-up idea flow. This doesn’t mean that the kids are in charge, but that the children and parents have feedback and accountability from each member of the family.
As Feiler was observing families that have implemented agile parenting, he describes the morning of an Idaho mom with four kids, ages 10-15. He states, “So on the morning I visited, Eleanor came downstairs, poured herself a cup of coffee, sat in a reclining chair, and she sat there, kind of amiably talking to each of her children as one after the other they came downstairs, checked the list, made themselves breakfast, checked the list again, put the dishes in the dishwasher, rechecked the list, fed the pets or whatever chores they had, checked the list once more, gathered their belongings, and made their way to the bus. It was one of the most astonishing family dynamics I have ever seen.”
Astonishing, for sure. This is definitley not how our mornings look. By that case study alone, I knew we needed to try this within our own family. I know results won’t be immediate, but I look forward to continuing to implement this practice of intentionality. I hope you find this video as valuable as I did! (Click HERE if you're having trouble loading the video below.)