Parenting with agility does not mean a total democracy, but it is parenting without command and control methods that many of our parents and grandparents used.
Many studies confirm that authoritarian parenting, defined as ‘strict and stern’, may not be the best for our kids long-term.
According to parentingscience.com, “Kids from authoritarian families may be relatively well-behaved. But they also tend to be less resourceful, have poorer social skills, and lower self-esteem.”
So what is parenting with agility? Simply put, it is using the values that we take to the office at home. In my family we use the Scrum values of courage, focus, commitment, respect and openness every day.
Here’s how we do it in my family:
We try and push the limits with our children beyond what is age appropriate or taught in schools because we know they are capable of so much more.
“We try and push the limits with our children beyond what is age appropriate or taught in schools because we know they are capable of so much more.”
My husband taught my kids calculus in first and third grade. It’s fun for them, like a game. Because of this, they have no fear of math.
In an authoritarian household, we still want our kids to be courageous, but our approach may be more like, “You will learn calculus.”
Forced courage is downright discouraging.
In the day and age of over-scheduling, we teach our kids to focus on what is most important to them at any given time.
My 9 year-old son loves guitar. Because he indicated that this is his #1 priority, we try to remove distractions so he has time to write songs and play guitar.
He wanted to audition for a musical, but daily rehearsals would leave him little time for guitar. We let him choose, but reminded him to stay focused on his favorite thing. He chose to keep his schedule open enough so that he could continue playing guitar.
In an authoritarian household you may hear, “You will practice guitar 30 minutes a day.” The problem with this approach is it doesn’t properly motivate kids (or anyone for that matter).
My son practices on his own because he has chosen playing guitar as his highest priority and he is self-motivated. Just like that rock star developer on your Scrum team.
As a family team, we make commitments to each other. We all collaborate and agree on what “Scrum jobs” we will do to keep up our household. Scrum jobs are our household chores, and we use sprint planning to self-organize and determine who will do what.
Because the kids are involved and are able to ‘choose’ their jobs, they are more committed to them. As a family, we know that all work for the ‘team’ must be done before we can watch TV or play a board game.
In a more authoritarian household, the parents assign chores. The problem here: the kids aren’t on board, they haven’t made a commitment, and therefore getting them to do these chores is an uphill battle.
We respect our kids’ ideas and consider them valuable contributors of ‘the team’. We expect the same respect in return.
We do a lot of ‘voting’ in our family – where to eat dinner, what movie we want to watch, where we might go on our next vacation. While as parents we have the ultimate veto power, we respect our kids’ ideas and want them to contribute – it makes them feel like respected members of the family.
An authoritarian parent would just say, “We are going to Applebee’s for dinner.”
I have been the authoritarian parent too. It’s much easier to just give command and control decisions than to have an elaborate discussion (or argument). The problem is the buy-in isn’t there and there are a lot of good ideas you haven’t bothered listening to.
Openness is all about trust. Our kids trust us because we don’t (usually) lie to them. We are very open and honest when they ask us questions.
“Is Santa Claus real?” my son asked me. “Nope,” I said bluntly. This did not gain me popularity points among my mom friends, but my kids know that I am being open with them.
Every night at dinner, our family says ‘cabbages and roses.’ This is what we liked or didn’t like about our day. It encourages everyone to open up with each other.
As I think about my more authoritarian grandparents, they were not very open. They held a certain guard up at all times. The problem here: the kids will go to their friends, not their parents for advice. And it’s not always the advice you’d want them to hear.