Management Theory in Parenting

I have spent this past summer enrolled in MGMT 620: Organizational Behavior. While I have to admit taking summer courses is a struggle for me (this is only my second time ever taking summer courses) the course itself has been extremely rewarding. The text for the course is Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, and Leadership by Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal. Bolman and Deal believe that most management problems can be solved by applying one of four frames; structural, human resources, political, or symbolic.


I appreciate these frames because they are extremely practical and can be applied to situations outside of a professional setting. I was particularly appreciative of this recently because one of my discussion prompts was to apply these frames to a situation I was in personally. I struggled to think of a professional example, but I was able to successfully apply these frames to a parenting situation I was in. My oldest daughter is learning how to use the toilet. As this is a critical skill for her to master as she moves through her life, I am eager for her to master it. I am also eager for her to master it as it means that (at least for a little while) one member of the team will take up slightly less financial resources. Over the last several weeks she has demonstrated a mastery of the skill that I have been excited and impressed by. So today, as with other days over the last few weeks when we're home, she got to shed her pull-up in favor of her big girl pants. Unfortunately for me (as I hold dual roles as manager and janitor) today has not gone splendidly and a significant amount of evaluation has been necessary.

Looking through the structural frame, the distribution of rewards and penalties to control performance has been rapidly shifting. We have gone from getting an M&M every time she sits on the toilet to no treats if she's sitting on the toilet following an accident. In addition, the grievous consequence of missing "Mickey and the Roadster Racers" has been implemented.


From a human resource perspective, Elizabeth and I have had several conversations designed to help her grow & improve in this skill. Topics covered in our conversation include the consequences to others when she has an accident (others in this case also include the characters on her underwear) and what we can do together so she doesn't forget to say something when she needs to use the toilet.

From a political perspective, Electric has the opportunity to exercise power over herself. It's a great opportunity for her to develop autonomy. It is also a good opportunity for me to exercise power in a somewhat unusual way. Rather than being powerful in a dictatorial sense, I can use my power to empower others.


Symbolically, there are roles we both play in the rituals around toilet use. We each have a role to play so that she can learn the order of things. I pull up the stool to the toilet, she climbs on and prepares to sit down. I read some type of toilet-time related story (What is Poop? is a current favorite). When she goes I ask for a high five, help her clean up, and then she flushes and picks out a sticker to put on her chart. We wash our hand, saying in a singsong fashion "Goodbye germs, see you never!"

Teaching anyone a new skill, regardless of how elementary you may view that skill to be, involves a lot of evaluation along the way so that the skill is learned successfully and everyone keeps their sanity in the process.

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I found this to be really funny. I hope you continue to apply management theory to parenting small humans and write about it. Most parenting content is so serious.


Thank you!! I haven't for a while, but I have a few posts simmering on the back burner related to this topic ☺️.

Rachel- I am feeling your potty training struggles. I love your allocation of resources perspective. Bon chance! T


Thank you! She's wearing big girl pants at daycare today, I hope it's going well.

I just followed and upvoted you. I will be very happy if you do the same and continue upvoting each other on Steemit.
Thank you!


Thank you so much! I followed you as well 😁.

This is such an amazing reflection on parenting roles. I feel your struggles, and love your intellectual approach!


Thank you so much! One of my favorite things about this particular class has been seeing how a lot of management theory is present in parenting life. A course to help parents who have been out of the workforce for a while is brewing in the back of my mind.


That sounds like an amazing course topic.


Thank you! It can be so hard to articulate the lessons you learn when you're parenting.