The Mind of a Strategic Parent By Sandra D. Johnson, MHSC
As adults, we often respond to our children based on what we grew up with. Consider this, some of what we grew up with was either wrong or handled incorrectly. Some of the methods of thought and response used in the seventies do not fit neatly into this millennium. We are still picking up the pieces from statements like: “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. Words not only hurt us, but words spoken unkindly can cause deep emotional wounds that have the potential to create mental health trauma and suicidal concerns.
Hello, I’m a Family Coach and I want to take your temperature on family dynamics and strategic planning for the family. I like to call that person, a strategic parent for the 21st century. Let’s have a Family Emotional Wellness talk.
To our future parents: Who is welcome to speak into your life about preparations for parenting children in this millennia?
To our new parents: What is your strategy for getting sleep and creating a structured and emotionally safe environment for your child?
To our elementary parents: What is the age appropriate time for a cell phone or digital devices with passcodes and no filters?
To the parents of anyone over eleven years old: What is the plan for coping with the emotional stress of dealing with the demands of social media and peers of influence?
Each of the questions presented are check points for seeing the need to start thinking about what we need to prepare for in this changing environment. As a parent, now or future, we will be the greatest influencer on future leaders and trailblazers. We have a lot of terms that we use for each generation. I like to call this young generation, born since year 2000, the upgrade generation.
Think about it, everything around them gets an upgrade constantly. This younger generation filters everything through upgrades. Therefore, parents must be willing to have an upgrade in thinking and actions as they interact with children and young people in the 21st century.
I would like to discuss the option of parenting with a plan. When I speak about a plan, I am specifically encouraging the idea of developing a strategy for parenting children and young people at every stage and age of the journey. Parenting is exhausting. Things are happening and changing all the time and the demand on parents does not get easier as the times are changing.
The sample strategies listed below have no specific age range attached to them, but it is recommended to start planning early. When you live in a hurricane state, like I do, you stay mindful of storms and weather concerns throughout the year. The main ingredient for anyone in being strategic is about choosing to think about things differently. Therefore, consider these highlights of parenting strategies as you become more proactive in raising and supporting the leaders of the next generation.
1. A Strategy is a careful plan, method, or style of interacting. We encourage that parents be intentional about building a relationship with children. At every stage of age, the relationship takes on new dimensions. Parents must adjust. Do not assume anything is just automatic. Be Intentional. Everything that distracts the family is based on a strategy.
2. Parent right here, right now. This is about living and dealing with what you are given in the moment. Sometimes we spend too much time dwelling on what did not happen in the past. There is no need to hope for a better past in any of your relationships.
3. Communicate Hope. Here you are being asked to communicate hope with your response in action and words. As soon as we act out or speak out about the failures of yesterday, the hopefulness of your child will be diminished. They immediately go to a place of ‘why try’. Your expression of support of them is bigger than you think. Hope is an energy.
4. Let your eyes and ears create a better sensory experience. See who they really are and who they are becoming. They may look like you, but they are their own person. See and experience your child as a valuable individual. Hear them based on their story. Listen twice as much as you speak (two ears & one mouth). Everyone wants to be seen and heard.
5. Communicate about Life. It’s easy to be distracted by all the duties of living, but please have conversations with the family that goes beyond the chore list and homework assignments. Ask questions about likes and dislikes. Live and communicate beyond assumptions.
6. Lay aside the failures and highlight the successes. Look for what is going well. When it is hard to find, that is an invitation to teach them. After teaching a skill, give the young person the opportunity to display the new skill. Please remember, sometimes we do not The Mind of a Strategic Parent 3 see successful skills because we may be looking for the adult version of the skill. See success on their level. Success can be simple and fun.
7. Respect is a gift. Your example of being respectful is a great communicator to your children. Work on building a relationship with children instead of demanding to be respected. Children need to be shown respect also. Respect does not create the relationship; respect will strengthen the relationship. Respect will automatically grow as the relationship grows.
8. Spend time connecting. What does it mean to connect with your family? This is a question that we each answer separately. Connection can be taking a walk together or going on a family trip. The focus of connecting is to be present. Being present is about shutting down all distractions that drain your energy and require your undivided attention.
These strategies are from Sandra D. Johnson, the CEO of The Madisel Group and lead Family Coach. You can learn more about Strategic Parenting in her new book series: Strategic Parenting for the 21st Century. The book can be found on Amazon and her website at
You can also connect with Coach Sandra on her social platform and podcast on @MadiselCoach