Agile: adjective, noun: Agility (Oxford dictionary)– able to move quickly and easily; nimble.
In the professional world, a more formal definition of Agility is the focus and commitment to achieve the right outcomes* in a timely manner despite the impact of situations that are unpredictable, uncertain, ambiguous, complex etc. through timely inspection and adaption, leveraging the collaboration, collective wisdom, innovative and creative potential of people involved.
To all the people out there on the parenting rollercoaster ride, especially in the current COVID phase, does the above mentioned intrigue you?
We are well aware of the need for parenting commitment and focus to achieve the right parenting outcomes despite the regular and known challenges in normal times. With COVID came new challenges like home schooling, work from home for parents, impact on daily routines, absence of house help and support systems, impact on social life, health safety issues etc. Whilst some of us may have experienced each of these challenges individually and one at a time, the collective impact of multiple challenges at the same time, along with the urgency to deal with these without any point of reference, has been extremely overwhelming for parents and children alike.
Hence along with the parenting commitment and focus, there is also an urgent need to reinvent existing parenting skills and abilities to handle the new unknowns and challenges.
Parents now need to be able to deal with uncertainties and respond to new and unknown challenges with the required urgency and caution whilst avoiding any adverse impact on health, safety, children’s morale, finances etc. Hence the ability to separate assumptions from uncertainties becomes important. Furthermore, a minimalistic and risk managed approach for validation of assumptions helps you make informed decisions for formal investments thereby avoiding costly failures.
With so many things to juggle at the same time – home schooling, office work, house work etc. the art and skill of slicing the multiple focus areas into smaller units, and prioritizing these, becomes key to ensure that the right things are done at the right time.
In this phase, no one has all answers and hence the need to pool in collective wisdom, enhance collaboration, commit to ‘being in it together’, taking small incremental steps, inspecting and adapting along the way is key to tackle the challenges effectively.
Lastly the ability to leverage the constraints to your advantage (to the extent possible and beneficial) allows you to move beyond just embracing and surviving towards tapping into implicit and explicit opportunities. For example, the lockdown limitations have been a constraint. However, in some scenarios, being at home, without the hectic traffic commute for parents and school-sport schedules for children, there is more time and opportunity to bond as a family. In other scenarios where some parents still had to be at work and / or in the case of single parents where the impact of challenges may be multifold, this has been an opportunity for parents and older children to support each other with empathy, further allowing children to be exposed to this skill more explicitly. Also, as parents and children face new challenges for the first time, it is an opportunity for parents and children to learn together thereby enhancing their bond.
The lockdown situation has also provided us more time for reflection and retrospection for revaluating many aspects of our life. It has created an opportunity for us to step out of our comfort zone to learn / experience / do things that we never had time for before. All this is helping us to enrich our lives in different ways.
If you acknowledge the above, you are either ready for, or already on, the agile parenting journey. While the skills, abilities and key focus areas outlined above are necessary to survive challenging phases, they will also help you to thrive in the longer run and in normalcy. Acknowledging it a bit more formally and delving deeper into it allows you to get the best of agile parenting.
Irrespective of whether we are in normal or challenging times, as our children grow they start getting exposed to the world out there, resulting in a mind / opinions / views of their own. This is something to be encouraged and, if handled in the right way, it positively contributes to nurturing their growth mindset – a necessary skill in today’s world as opposed to ‘doing what they are told’, without questioning, and hence blindly doing it without an understanding of many related aspects’.
This is especially important for older children who are moving towards independence and hence need to be equipped with the right mindset to successfully navigate challenges and opportunities.
Hence it is key for parents to evolve their parenting style from managing their children’s lives to being their guides and mentors and displaying the parenting leadership to let your children discover and realize their best potential. Parents need to collaborate with their children (in an age appropriate manner) to redefine / realign parenting goals to support and guide them towards the right achievements. Any hurdles must be dealt together leveraging the collective wisdom of parents and children (who see these aspects with a different lens) thus implicitly nurturing an important skill of “being a part of the solution rather than the problem’ in your children
Agile Parenting helps parents to embrace, survive and thrive in this world by not only getting a grip on the most effective way of parenting for the new age, but also ensuring the right outcomes from parenting i.e. making our children ready to survive and thrive in today’s world which requires a very different set of skills that what we as parents were exposed to as children. So, there is agile parenting that helps us to survive the rollercoaster of parenting responsibilities and there is the effective outcome of our parenting that is realized and demonstrated through our children.
In Part two of this series we focus on some of the many identified aspects of agile parenting particularly for teenage children. This is based on the author’s own parenting experience of her teenage daughter.
*The right outcome is defined by something that provides valuable benefit (qualitative or quantitative or both) in a feasible, viable and sustainable manner.
Written by Dipti Batta