Intentional Parenting

In the few years that it’s been since Lee and I become parents to one child, then a second and finally a third, we’ve learned a LOT about this journey called parenting. A LOT.

And from what I hear we’ve only scratched the surface. *deep breath*

One of the things we are learning in large amounts right now is the idea of intentional parenting.

This is not a new or ground breaking concept.  Plenty of people are parenting with intention and Lee and I were doing so to an extent before the year 2009 – but this year has definately been a year of growth for us in our parenting.

While we have been intentional in the past about teaching our kids basic, common sense virtures like sharing, kindness, obedience, etc…We’ve learned this year that we need to step up to the plate and really dig into this parenting thing. 

Before, so much of our parenting took place only in the now.  We were controlling the behaviors in the hopes that the immediate future would be impacted and changed, but we weren’t necessarily thinking of down the road.

Not that we were completely oblivious to the people our children would someday become.  Like any parents, we often dream of who our children will grow into.  We have hopes, dreams and ambitions for them.  And the number one prayer of our hearts since the day any of them entered this world was that they would grow in wisdom and stature and they would find favor with God and man. 

But back to intentional parenting.  This year has been about learning how to parent our children with the future in mind.  Why do we want them to obey immediately?  Certainly immediate obedience makes our day run much more smoothly.  But beyond that, a child who is taught to respect and obey his parents immediately will grow up with a respect for authority and a drive to complete tasks in a timely fashion.

But it’s a not a blind obedience that we’re asking for.  Before this year, I used to think that because I said so was the parental charge for action.  It was the acceptable excuse and was never to be questioned.  Ever.

Now, while I still believe there is a time and place for because I said so, I try harder to give my kids a reason for their obedience.

You need to put your shoes on right away because if you don’t, we won’t be able to get to school on time and you will have to walk into your classroom late and that would be embarrassing.

You need to pick up your toys because if you don’t, mommy or daddy might trip over them and get hurt.

You shouldn’t run in the store because someone might not see you and you could cause them to fall and get hurt or break something.

We’re trying to instill in our kids a moral reason why they need to obey.  Not just demand that they obey.  We’re also reinforcing to them the fact that when they do obey immediately, things will go well with them.  Life is much smoother for a child who knows how to respect the authority of adults.

Life is also much easier for adults who know how to respect their authorities.  Isn’t it?

You see, we’re trying to be intentional about teaching our children how to live responsible lives.  I require them to make their beds simply because it’s a responsible thing to do.  We ask them to clean up their toys simply because they need to take responsiblity for the things that are theirs.  So that someday, as adults, they will know how to live lives that are responsible and effective.

So that I won’t send off two boys into marriage and stick their poor wives with slobs who don’t know how to help out around the house (Lee is a great example for our boys in this area). 

And so I don’t send off my daughter off to be a wife and leave her with no clue how to take care of a home, cook a meal, care for others.

It’s intentional, you see, this thing called parenting.  And it’s hard.  It’s really, really hard.  It’s so much work.  It takes so much energy and time.  And my kids are still young.  God help us when the game of life gets more complicated than cleaning up a little Play-Doh and picking up LEGO’s.

This concept of intentional parenting is very deep.  And if you’re interested in more, I highly recommend the study Growing Kids God’s Way.  It’s an excellent study on the the why’s and how’s of training up morally responsible, enjoyable, godly children.

And now I am off to intentionally get my younger two out the door to a gymnastics class.