Several years ago, 2010 in fact, I wrote a blog series titled "Intentional Parenting." Maybe you were around here back in 2010 and read those posts. But maybe you're new here and have no idea what I'm talking about. This series is for you. And for those who read the first time through. And for pretty much any parent who wants to think critically about this important job God has given you.
I recently sat down with the friend who inspired several of the posts in the original series, a friend who didn’t even have kids of her own at the time but who now has three children. She felt it would help her to read through these posts again with new eyes (six more, to be exact!) and certainly, she said, I’d have more to say on the topic since six years have passed.
Reading about parenting when you have no children and reading about parenting when you have three children is a different ball game all together. In fact, you’re not even playing on the same field or even in the same game. Life looks so different for me six years later, but I’m sure it looks radically different for my friend.
So I thought about her words, pulled out the old posts, and dusted them off a bit. And I thought, why not? Yes, I’ve learned a few things since then, but mostly I still believe that intentionality in the area of parenting is one of the best things we can do for our families.
So I’m doing this for you, sweet mama of little ones. And for you, sweet mom of tweens. And for you, sweet mother of teenagers. Because intentionality can be practiced at any time—not just at the beginning stages. Because I believe it’s so important. And because our families deserve the best we can give them.
[Here’s a funny side note about going back to these old posts that I hadn’t read in several years. When I looked at my first post about Intentional Parenting, I was so surprised to see that the very first comment I received was from the amazing Emily Freeman who right away saw potential in this idea. She suggested that I work these ideas into a book proposal, which I have done, but I’m still waiting for just the right publisher (hint, hint) to run with the idea.
I’m open to discussion, though. :)
Anyway, Emily's comment was, to me, worth going back for. God knew that I needed that sweet encouragement right now, yet I didn’t even realize that it was sitting in my comments all along.]
So here we go. I’m not quite sure how my posts will change, but I’ll be sure to link to my original posts along the way so you can compare the old with the new. Sometimes my words and ideas may change very little, but other times they may change a lot.
So. Intentionality. What is it?
Well, it’s a buzz word, that much I know. Throw out the word “intentional” and you’ll get an eye roll and maybe even a groan. Parents have been told ad nauseam to be intentional about everything from the diapers their babies wear to the food they feed their kids to the types of sheets they use to the schools their children attend.
Advice for parents is everywhere about pretty much everything. I get that.
But have you ever thought about being intentional about not just the external details of your child’s life, but about the internal? About developing his or her character?
And how would one even go about doing that?
That’s what this series is going to address. Yes, intentionality is a buzz word, but I can’t think of a better one to help guide our thinking about forming the inner qualities that we’d like to see in our kids.
Let me say right off the bat that I wasn’t a parenting expert six years ago, and I feel like less of an expert today. My three daughters are nearly grown now, and as I look back on their early years I think I have more questions about my methods than answers. I feel helpless on so many days, I wonder if I’ve done this well, and I worry about their futures now that my parenting is so much more hands off.
Which is why I need so much grace.
And so do my kids.
Please know that my words are just that—my words, my ideas, my trial-and-error experiences over the past 24 years. And know that I come back to these posts with deep humility, very much aware of the many days I got things wrong more than I got them right.
I am also much more aware that each family is unique. Each family has its own set of challenges and opportunities for growth. And because of the incredible uniqueness of each family, the different challenges facing each one of us, we ultimately have to decide for ourselves and for our children what areas we need to be intentional about.
My friend, Kate Batistelli, has a sort of famous daughter. Francesca was a gifted, only child who was homeschooled in order to allow for her God-given talents to be developed fully. Kate was intentional about placing her daughter in situations that could help develop her character and her talent for the glory of God.
I know another family with eleven children. Also homeschooled. Also talented. But the areas that this mom must be intentional about are probably quite different from those that my friend Kate could help nurture in her daughter.
Because each family is unique, each parent must ultimately decide which areas of intentionality to focus on for the unique needs and challenges of their children and their family. This is not a one-size-fits-all idea. What I will offer over the next several weeks are some suggestions--ideas for our family and our kids that my husband and I thought about, prayed about, and tried to implement, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.
So this week I want to encourage you to prayerfully think about what makes your family unique. What values do you want to shape your family? And how would you begin to go about developing those qualities in your children and in your family?
Next time we’ll talk further about what intentionality looks like.
One more thing: I’d love your thoughts along the way. Would you please leave a comment with thoughts, questions, words of encouragement for other moms in your situation? I’d love for this to be as interactive as possible as the weeks go by.