The Product Manager’s Guide to Parenthood

Applying good product principles to being a parent.

A while back I wrote the “Programmers guide to weight loss” where I described how to apply programmer’s common sense to losing weight. In this post, I will try to take best practices of building great products and applying them to parenthood.

Disclaimer: While I have two happy, well behaved, and loving kids, I do not claim to know everything about parenthood. Whoever tells you they got it all figured out is lying.

The core of product management, is applying good principals while dealing with unknown. That has been my experience with parenthood. My hope is to provide the principles that worked for me. Not sorted by order.

Be Consistent

How it applies to parenthood: A lot of young parents get this wrong. If you said “You need to go to the shower” and after some crying, you say “OK, go play on your computer”, you teach your kids that crying is the way to skip showers. Why would they act any other way? If you are consistent your kids will know that what you say will happen, and you will be surprised how much happier they will be.

Be Aligned

How it applies to parenthood: Another very common mistake is not showing an aligned front in front of your kids. When mother says “go to bed” and father says “stay and watch TV”, it undermines the ability to parent consistently. Parents who are not aligned are an easy target for kids who divide and conquer. Another negative side on parents who are not aligned is that they seem to “fight all the time”. This does not mean that you need to be in constant agreement, but try to sync as much as possible, and support each other in a united front.

Prioritize

How it applies to parenthood: Parenthood can be nerve wracking and very stressful. Especially if you are trying to do everything perfectly. You need to be calm and thoughtful, and prioritize what you want do, and what you are asking them to do. Ask yourself what is the most important thing I want for your kid. For me, it was for them to be kind and happy. All the rest were trimmings.

Communicate mindfully

How it applies to parenthood: You can get a lot done without arguing, if you know how to communicate in a way that works for your kid. Be attentive to when your kid can listen and when they are not open to listening. Build your arguments in a way that make sense to your kid. Be clear, concise, and when possible charismatic.

Listen to your kid. Kids are fantastic at clearly saying what they think and want. You do not need to give them everything, but listening will get you a long way.

Be Empathetic

How it applies to parenthood: Kids have bad days too. Kids want to be treated fairly, to be heard, to have fun. Understand your kid’s wants and needs. This does not mean that you need to fulfill all these needs all the time (or else your kids will be chocolate filled potatoes next to the TV). Understanding your kids and acknowledging their point of view goes a long way. “dad/mom do not get me” is a common complaint for kids. Make sure your kids know you understand them.

Being empathetic does not mean doing everything your kid wants. You can be empathetic with someone and yet not agree with them. Many parents confuse this.

Be Logical and Predictable

How it applies to parenthood: “It’s not fair” is another common complaint that drives parents and kids to fight. Together with consistency, being logical and predictable, give your kid a solid ground. They know what are the rules and how the game is played. Knowing the rules and being able to predict outcomes makes kids much more confident in life.

Trust and earn trust

How it applies to parenthood: Kids start by trusting their parents, they do not have any other way. Parents start by not trusting their baby, there is no other way. Your job it to keep the trust your kid has in you, and to grow the trust you have in them. They grew up and they are no longer the toddlers who stick their fingers in every electric plug —your trust in them will make them trust themselves.

Learn and improve

How it applies to parenthood: This is probably one of the most important things in parenthood as it is generally in life. One thing that surprises parents is that their kids constantly change. You kid is super cute at 2 weeks, and then turns into a noise machine at 8 weeks. You kid sees you as a leader until they are 13 and as the opposition until they are 21 (if you are lucky). What worked for you today might not work for you tomorrow.

I tend to ask my kids “what will you complain about me to your psychologist?” (after telling them most people complain about their parents to a psychologist when they are big). Their answers always surprise me and give me ideas how to grow and improve.

Conclusion

CPO and co-founder of Reshuffle.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store