You may not be Santa, but You still Need a List

No, I’m not talking about tracking the relative naughty to nice ratio of your friends and neighbors. And I’m not talking about keeping score on your children’s behavior either. Heck, the list I am talking about doesn’t even have anything to do with being “bad” or “good”.

The list I have in mind today is one I have mentioned in this forum before. And it also happens to be a list I always ask parents in my workshops to make. With all the hubbub about Santa’s watchful eye, and all the focus on controlling children’s behavior this time of year, it seemed like an ideal time to reset the parental perspective to a wider, more long range vista.

So may I encourage you to make a new list, if you have not already done so in your parenting tenure, that describes the qualities you want your children to have learned by the time you send them out into the world. You may want to think of this as the ideal opportunity/mechanism for using the Law of Attraction to manifest these qualities in your children’s lives. Or you may just want to think of it as the literary compass by which to orient your parenting choices. A guide, a destination, and a means of arrival, if you will.

Seem too obvious to be worthwhile? Most worthwhile things do seem that way, though, don’t they? Whether at first or in the long run, the things that mean most to us, or that work best for us, are often also the things that seem most apparent (especially after the fact). And in this particular case, we can use the obviousness itself to create the worthwhileness of the list. But, please, allow me to illustrate with an example…

Below you will find a sample list of some qualities that Natalie and I intend for our three daughters (in no particular order):

High Emotional Intelligence

Genuine Compassion for Self and Others

Personal Integrity

Gentle, Enduring Self-love

Empowering Self-Confidence

Fearless Honesty

Flexible Intellectual Intelligence









Of course, there is no end to the potential of a list like this. It could be something you put up in your room or office to remind you, both of where you are headed, and to continue thinking in terms of the long run. You can even continue adding to the list as you go.

Once you have a list that you like going, you can begin to see the ways in which your actions, words, and choices match with the ideals you have set out for yourself and your child(ren). Then you can use this comparison to refine how you chart your parenting course.

Here’s a little hint: unless you have “Utter Unflinching Compliance” on your list, then you may not want to focus your parenting actions around forcing such now; and unless you have “Be Afraid of Me” you may want to avoid being scary to achieve your agenda. On the other hand, if you want your child to have something like “Genuine Compassion for Self and Others” then it just makes sense to treat them with and model compassion, teach them about empathizing, and celebrate other examples of people treating each other with tender care. If you want your child to have “Fearless Honesty”, then certain actions and choices align with that as well.

The final and overall mechanism of formulating an intention list for our children’s development is that it helps us remember how to do the daily work of raising them in order to help them learn, understand, and develop those qualities. And for that, it’s not only worth making a list, but also worth checking it twice, and twice again.

Let me know if you want more direction or suggestions for making your own child(ren)’s list.


Be well.




About Nathan M McTague, CPCC, CPDPE

I am a full-time parent of three, Writer, Life Coach, Lecturer, Parenting Mentor, and Shamanic Practitioner. In all of the above, I am seeking to assist my fellow humans in their processes of claiming and unleashing their highest potentials.
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4 Responses to You may not be Santa, but You still Need a List

  1. stacey says:

    yes, more direction and more suggestions! as always your words resonate. keep them coming. thank you

  2. kloppenmum says:

    What a great idea, Nathan. I can see how this will help me to focus in my day to day parenting. Thanks.

    • Thanks, Karyn.

      I have found the list amazingly helpful in keeping me oriented toward my largest parenting goals on a day to day basis. The idea (so far as I know) comes from Alfie Kohn’s Unconditional Parenting, a stellar guide to rethinking popular parenting culture/methodology.

      Hope you and yours are enjoying your summery holiday season.


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