Now We Are Three

This is a little off topic, but it’s a big deal to me 🙂

We hit a major milestone this week. Daughter #1 is off to school. (For my non-US readers, that means university.) We have just one daughter at home, who starts high school this week.

Sending a child to school is not like releasing a product. Products stay released. I fully expect Daughter #1 to bounce back while she’s in school, and if we’re unlucky, she’ll bounce back after she graduates 🙂

But it’s a major milestone in any case. We’ve prepared her–and ourselves–as much as we can for this time. I won’t know if we’ve done enough preparation until too late.

in reality, raising children to be self-sufficient contributing adults is a lot like coaching an agile project. Once the child has hit a certain age (in this child’s case, about 7), parents can coach, suggest alternatives, provide feedback, but there’s not much we could do (aside from safety issues) to ensure she would act a certain way. And raising children cannot be planned like a waterfall or stage-gate lifecycle 🙂

I’ve found the same thing with my project coaching, especially for agile projects. Because the iterations are short, the project team can obtain feedback quickly about what they’re doing (or not doing) or how they’re doing it, and can decide if and how they want to change what they do.

I don’t know about other people, but Mark and I have found that each of our daughters requires a different kind of parenting to help them see where to go and how they’ll decide what to do to get there. I’ve seen the same thing with project teams (and of course, the people on those teams). Sometimes, the people need to see alternatives. Sometimes they need some hand-holding to start and then I need to quickly back away. Sometimes they need to see the big picture of why, and then they’ll choose their own way. There are lots of other characteristics of project teams and how they need consultants to act, but those are some of the common ways I’ve encountered.

So, now we are three. How we deal with the day-to-day things (making dinner, taking out the garbage, doing laundry), will be different. We will have to remake our family connections, still allowing Daughter #1 to return and (hopefully) fit back into our group. I suspect the fitting back in will be difficult–I certainly remember it being difficult for me 🙂

Daughter #1 off to college is a major milestone. And I am very happy we’ve gotten here.

5 Replies to “Now We Are Three”

  1. Congratulations on passing this important milestone!
    And thanks for the description of how projects, like children, need an approach tuned to the context of the situation and the people involved. Whether you are the boss, a coach, or a team member, being helpful in an effective way takes a lot of care and maturity. It takes careful observation of the feedback that lets you know if you’re headed in the right direction or not. It’s hard, and there are no guarantees.

  2. I’ve often said that being a mother is the best preparation for being an engineering manager! You’ll get used to being -1 in the house soon — wait until it’s -2!

  3. Congratulations!
    That software developers are like kids we all know too well, but that our kids might be like software developers is a refreshing idea. Frankly I do not know what would be more challenging :-).
    Best whishes and good luck to your daughter,
    Asher

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