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The Art of War and Parenting

Posted by on May 8, 2015
If it can apply to business, why not parenting?

If it can apply to business, why not parenting?

Miss me? Moving really upends your life, doesn’t it? Anyhow, I’ve thought about writing a new post a thousand times, and every time the thought came I’d be overwhelmed with feelings of futility and writer’s block. I finally decided I needed to write something – anything. So…

While I was unpacking from the move, I came across some notes for a blog post drawn from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”.  When I first read it, I highlighted a lot of quotes and marked the pages they were on. Later, after almost 6 years of parenting, I stumbled on the book again and flipped through it. As I skimmed the highlighted quotes, it occurred to me that there might be some wisdom that could be applied to parenting. I mean, if it can be applied to office politics, corporate strategy, and NFL coaching, why not parenting? Besides, what parent hasn’t felt like they’re fighting a losing battle? 😉

So, without further ado, here’s what I found. Feel free to share your insights in a comment. 🙂

“When one treats people with benevolence, justice, and righteousness, and the reposes confidence in them, the army [or family] will be united in mind, and all will be happy to serve their leaders [or please their parents].”

Pretty self-explanatory. 🙂

“If wise, a commander [or parent] is able to recognize changing circumstances and to act expediently. If sincere, his men [or children] will have no doubt of the certainty of rewards and punishments. If humane, he love mankind, sympathizes with others, and appreciates their industry and toil. If courageous, he gains victory [or security for his family] by seizing opportunity without hesitation. If strict, he his troops [or children] are disciplined because they are in awe of him and afraid of punishment.”

In other words, be flexible, decisive, consistent, compassionate, and grateful.

“Generally, management of many is the same as management of few. It is a matter of organization…And to control many is the same as to control few. This is a matter of formations and signals.”

While I don’t think raising one or two children is the same as raising several, but experiences I’ve had and stories I’ve heard incline me to believe that there’s a point of diminishing difficulty with increasing numbers of children. Heck, once you’re outnumbered, what’s one more? 😉 As for formations and signals, we have a few that help manage the chaos. For instance, we have a consistent bedtime routine, and we use sign language to communicate silently during mass. What are your families formation and signals?

“Order or disorder depends on organization, courage or cowardice on circumstances, strength or weakness on dispositions.”

“Now when the troops [children] gain a favorable situation the coward is brave; if it be lost, the brave become cowards. In the art of war [or parenting] there are no fixed rules. These can only be worked out according to circumstances.”

As Navy Seals say, under pressure we’d don’t rise to the occasion but sink to the level of our training. So, be organized and prepared. On the other hand, you can’t always predict what will go wrong or who will have a tantrum, so learn to adapt to circumstances. To quote Colin Powell, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy”. 😉

“When you see the correct course of action, act; do not wait for orders.”

That one’s for the kids.