What’s in my Framework?

I finally finished “Bringing up Bebe” on audiobook the other day. I say “finally” because I wrote this post back here when I said I was going to read the book.

Yes, that was 10 months ago.
I finally just got it on audiobook because I knew that reading it might not happen this year….
It is such a good book, but I do regret not having the hard copy, as I’m sure I would have underlined, highlighted, jotted down notes, and folded a ton of pages. 
Instead, I just have a few key things running through my mind.
Over and over and over.
So key, that even at work, in therapy sessions with clients, or in my weekly group that I run, I find myself mentioning some of these ideas.
This one in particular:
Frames – or framework.
Pamela Drukerman  the author of “Bringing up Bebe“, contends that French parents have a “frame” – or very firm, but set limits about certain things (etiquette, food, obedience) and the parents strictly enforce these things. But inside the framework, French parents give their kids freedom and autonomy.
This idea resonated well with me. I like structure, I like planning, I like order and organization. I think it helps make your home and life run a lot smoother.
The idea of having a framework to contain things fits right into my philosophy about parenting, and apparently about life too as I found myself drawing pictures like this for clients, and for my group.


We need to have a framework to make sure the important stuff is taken care of. But within the framework, we need to have autonomy, independence, freedom, and fun!
With no framework, our priorities can go all over the place and become random, and perhaps make us feel like we are on a path to nowhere.
But, if our framework is too structured, or we have a framework within a framework (within a framework), then we can become too structured, or too orderly, or just plain old rigid. There then is no room for flexibility, spontaneity,  and freedom.
So ideally, our picture looks like this:


Perfect. As perfect as an imperfect life could be. A solid framework that makes us feel safe and secure, knowing that our priorities are all taken care of. And then freedom and autonomy, along with fun and spontaneity.
Except, the one thing that real got me stumped. OK, maybe not stumped, but got me really thinking: What exactly comprises MY framework?
Is there one master framework? Or do I have multiple ones for my multiple roles?
“Bringing up Bebe” talked about the framework for raising kids, so that for me is the natural place to start:
What are the most important things to me that I would want to instill in my kids and therefore set firm boundaries and limits around?

Basically, what are my “non negotiables“? The things I will make a big deal about, insist upon, and engage in a battle over. The things that are so important to me that I must insist that “while you’re living in my house, they will need to be important to you too.” (Yikes).

This was hard to think of, because in reality, I think I have a lot of “non negotiables” since my kids are still young and I feel there is so much teaching that needs to happen. And frankly, I’m the best teacher for my kids (even though I may not be the best teacher, if you know what I mean. Besides, I’m all they have:))

Maybe though the framework changes too  during different stages of life? But I suspect the fundamentals will remain the same, since a framework wouldn’t be a framework if it moved all the time.

Some of the sides of my “parenting framework” that I came up with include:
1. Education – Learn to study and work, make school your priority, take pride in your work, and the expectation to continue your education post secondary. (Oh yeah, and don’t think I’m not gonna freak out if your report card has some C’s on it…)
2. Family relationships – I think I drill home in my kids how important family relationships are – or need to be. Nothing trumps the family. “You better stop hitting your little brother because he’s the best friend you’ll ever have ” kind of thing.  Communication is paramount. Respect, loyalty, and fun together are all important ingredients to a successful family dynamic, so I’m always harping on them about those things. 
3. Etiquette: Rob is the real leader in this area, but as the kids are getting older I’m so appreciative that his parenting framework was very solid in this area and he sucked me in : please and thank you, table manners, eye contact, serving others first. (However, when my kids are rude, obnoxious, ill mannered and totally lacking etiquette (which happens often) please remember we’re all still in training:)

4. Spirituality: How do you put this in a framework, when really it is such an individual thing? Well, this is my framework now, and one that my kids may decide later to break out of, but in the meantime, I want them to learn that they are part of a greater plan, and that they have a higher purpose, a higher responsibility to mankind. I want them to develop a social conscience, a feeling compelling them to do good and to serve. I never want them to feel alone, and I want them to connect with their inner soul and feel the power of faith combined with good works. I consider this area to be where I put all the “character” stuff in too: honesty, integrity, compassion, charity. I’m on them about all this stuff.
That seems like an awful lot for a framework! I showed it to Rob, and he wondered, “What did I not include?”

Good question. Which causes me now to wonder: Is my framework too strong? Do my kids have enough room to roam around the middle with freedom, independence, autonomy, spontaneity and fun? Are there areas that I need to just let go of? How do you balance the two?

What do you – or would you –  include in “your framework”?  


What’s in my Framework? — 9 Comments

  1. Very good post and like the drawings too. Totally supportive and believe in this concept. It was one of the best books I read this year, Reminds me a lot of the basket ABC that I use with clients which I find a very effective coaching tool.
    Yes you are so good with frameworks. I love how you most always know where you are and where you are heading. It is amazing how you are able to so effectively and pass this down to your kids too. Pls help mine to over X-mas ok???

    One thing I think we got to work on for you is more pleasure reading!!!!! You used to be such an avid reader and must miss that:(((

    Loved the post and certainly rings home!

    My framework for my kids?
    Openness and communication
    Importance of long terms vs short terms
    Importance or organization
    Social skills and social etiquette with teachers, family, adults
    Love of family especially siblings

  2. You are incredible! You teach me so much! Gotta look and think now about ‘my framework”….I learn so much from each of your blogs. Like you, I love being organized and having things in order but that takes time, effort,a focus, and a plan! thank you, my amazing daughter for enriching my life with your writing. Your dad is so proud of you as you share with him the love of writing. My journals are my way of recording my joys, my sorrows, my everything I do and say and acknowledging the blessings of my life which are mainly, you and your siblings and all my grandchildren. Until the next blog, thank you , thank you.

    Your mom xoxoxo

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