Life's Tool Box – A Guide for Parents and Educators

January 1, 2015

New Year’s Day – 2015 – Re-Solved

Filed under: Tools for Life Posts — by Life's Toolbox @ 7:59 pm
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It is no surprise that today, New Year’s Day, 2015, I am thinking about resolutions. Usually, we think of resolutions as those promises or commitments we take upon ourselves. And the very thought of resolutions may quickly bring to mind our failed attempts, broken promises and unsuccessful attempts to change. For parents and educators, and for everyone, I would like to suggest another way to look resolutions.

The definition of resolution in Old French means breaking into parts, and the Latin resolvere means reducing into simpler forms. The related word resolve provides, I think, a key to the resolution process. Resolutions, are usually made as a final statement, a way to put an end to a problem, to neatly pack away a challenge. This is terribly simple thinking consider the typical content of our resolutions . . . to be healthier, kinder, to change ourselves in complex and difficult ways.

Rather than being seen as an end point, perhaps resolutions should, like the Old French and Latin defintions suggest, loosen us up, invite us into a process of breaking down or reducing our existing way of thinking. In fact, perhaps resolution only comes when we think not of an end to a problem, but an on-going process of re-solving a challenging puzzle.

How might thinking of re-solving impact our approach to making and breaking resolutions? Traditionally when we fail to fulfill our resolutions, we file them away for next year, and label ourselves as failures. If, instead, we commit to re-solving, then a failed attempt is simply important information that can help us generate a new solution – providing us an opportunity to re-solve the problem. In this way, two significant things are accomplished. First, failure is reframed from a derailing event to an integral part of the process, perhaps even a catalyst for change. Relatedly, rather than a repeating cycle of resolution, failure, shame, resignation, we are able to cycle forward, from resolution, through failure, to re-solving, ever moving, ever learning, and ever growing.

There is nowhere that the idea of re-solve is more important than in parenting and education. Just as typical resolutions inappropriately apply simple/one shot solutions to complex problems, in families and schools, we reduce struggling children and students to labels or diagnoses thinking it will allow a simple fix. And just as resolutions end in frustration and failure, so too does approaching a child or student convinced a single, or one-time strategy will be the answer.

When parents and educators re-solve their approach to the children in their lives, doors open and possibilities abound. When we see each challenge a child presents as a chance to try something, consider its success or failure, and then try again, we become true educators, teaching children and ourselves how much is possible when we persevere. When we return to a problem with that Old French or Latin understanding of resolution – a loosening up or breaking apart of assumptions – we demonstrate our dedication to the children in our lives, and our belief that problems are not insurmountable, even when they are complex. We teach those in our care that they are worth the effort, and that we are willing to dedicate our selves to their betterment.

For the new year of 2015, we can do so much if we are resolute, but not rigid, if failure moves us forward rather than stalls us, and if we respect the complexity of problems and the process of change.   We will be better teachers, parents and people, if we resolve to re-solve.

It is wishful, simplistic thinking to hope for a 2015 free from challenge. My wish for all is a year where we have the strength and wisdom to respond to challenge with growth and we re-solve our way towards happiness.

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