Goals in Parenting

Before beginning any project, you must have a goal in mind and a plan to reach it.  Parenting is no different.  So, what is your goal for your child, and how do you plan to achieve it?  It may be athletic accomplishment, or academic success, or high character, or simply happiness.  Regardless, your goal will define your plan, and without a plan, success is unlikely.  So, let’s start with your goals as a parent?

Your Goals

In the beginning, most parents have grand dreams for their child.  The sky is the limit when they are infants, but even the noblest ambitions can fade over time as fatigue strikes and the challenges grow.  The busyness of life can cloud a parent’s goals for the child and tempt him or her to take the easier route with child-rearing.  Let’s take a look at some potential pitfalls in the journey of parenting.

Entertain or Equip?

Many parents today believe their goal should be to make their child happy at any expense.  These doting parents make it their role to protect the child from all forms of disappointment.  Conflict with the child and correction of the child are to be avoided at every turn, due to the unrest it seems to cause the child.  By meeting or even exceeding their child’s every wish, they feel “good” about their parenting efforts.  For these parents, every day is a quest to find new ways to entertain their child.

Contrast this approach with the parent whose desire is to equip the child for life’s challenges.  Although this parent also desires that the child be happy, she realizes that disappointment and conflict inevitably occur in life from time to time.  Her goal is to teach the child how to handle challenging times and how to enjoy the pleasures life brings.  While encouraging the child to proper behavior, this parent does not shy away from correction when necessary.

Your Reputation or Your Child’s Benefit?

If many parents were honest with themselves, they would admit that their children are mere trophies on display.  Their desire for good behavior from their child actually stems from a selfish ambition to look good in public.  For these parents, a child’s motivation is unimportant, as long as his behavior is in order.  This parent has avoided disciplining the child’s heart and instead has focused simply upon a child’s external behavior.

When a parent has the child’s best interest in mind, she focuses on the child’s heart.  She is willing to sacrifice a lunch with a friend or business dinner with associates to spend time with her child.  She will endure the embarrassment of a child’s outburst in public if immediate correction is needed.  This parent sets standards for the child that are achievable, and then models them in her life as well.

What is your motivation for this parenting venture?  Is it about you, or about your child?  If it’s about you, then you will avoid all conflict and indulge your child’s every desire just to “keep peace.”  If it’s about your child, then you will be willing to sacrifice, endure conflict, correct her when necessary, and invest time/energy in her life to achieve success.

 Companionship or Character?

It’s only natural to want to be your child’s best friend.  Desiring this relationship too early in your child’s life can have pitfalls.  High-quality friendship with your child can only be accomplished through years of development.  This begins with your authoritative leadership when your child’s heart is self-focused and uncontrolled.  Then, as your child demonstrates a maturing heart, privileges, responsibilities, and freedoms are granted over the years.  It is only later in life that you can let down your guard and just be a best friend to your child.

The parent-child relationship must advance when through a series of stages in order to reach a healthy state of maturity.  If these stages are rushed or any skipped, the result will be suboptimal.  Take a look:

The Changing Role of the Parent [1]

Age: 0-12 mos

1-5 yrs

5-12 yrs

12-21 yrs

>21 yrs

Caregiver→ Teacher→ Monitor→ Mentor→ Friend
Protect Teach Teach Advise Assist
Provide Discipline Discipline Discipline Enjoy
Train Control Persuade


It will be tempting to take the path of least resistance.  Don’t do it; resist this “feel good,” peace-loving approach to parenting.  Adopt a loving, authoritative approach that will endure the occasional short-term conflict with your child in order to achieve long-term character maturity.  Expect the best and help her achieve it.  If you simply settle for companionship with your toddler, then disdain and disrespect for you will ultimately develop as you vacillate in your demands and expectations of her, and as you avoid conflict by indulging your child in her self-centered desires.

Ideal Goals for Your Child

Briefly stated, a parent’s goal should be to take the young child from his or her self-centered, self-indulging nature to one of a competent adult of high character qualities, such as:

  • Integrity
  • Respect for Others
  • Loyalty and Faithfulness
  • Self-control
  • Dependable
  • Industrious
  • Confident

The achievement of these goals in your child’s life will not come easy.  There are many factors at play which will influence your success.  The purpose of the Good Parent website is to assist you in meeting the goals you have set for your child.  Take this responsibility seriously.  Develop a plan, stay focused and be persistent.


[1] Adapted from material found in Bruce Johnston’s The Journey of Transition from the Outback America 2005.