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Intentional parenting – divine and otherwise

While we were awaiting word of Jackson Drew’s arrival (yes! He’s here! We’re going to see him tonight – will post pictures tomorrow), we went to a parenting seminar at our church yesterday. The main focus was intentional parenting. A lot of the information was the same as this study we’ve been doing with our team for the last few months, but it was still really good.

Intentional parenting, they said, is parenting now with the end in mind. In other words, what are your goals for your kids, what kind of adults do you want them to be? The speakers assigned us the task of making a list of the qualities we want our kids to develop, then list specific action steps to start working toward that end.

For example (here’s part of our list):

Passionate and obedient worshipers – I want my kids to love God with their hearts, minds and lives. What do we do now? Pray with them. Sing with them. Serve with them. Talk honestly with them about what God is doing in our own lives.

Responsible and self-disciplined – Two words. The List.

Generous – Teach them to give happily and abundantly. We say in our house “things are not important; people are important.” More often than not, this will mean sacrifice.

Those are just a few examples; our actual list is much longer. The hardest, most convicting, trickiest part is that character is caught, not taught. If Michael and I want to see these traits develop in our kids, we must first be an example of these same traits. Ouch.

Just as a butterfly must struggle out of its cocoon in order to build stamina and strength, so our kids must sometimes struggle in order to develop their character. That means allowing my kids to experience difficult circumstances and figure things out for themselves. It means giving them responsibility, expecting them to work hard and with integrity, allowing them to make mistakes. Sometimes it’s not so hard – it just means allowing them to be in situations where they can develop that characteristic, and they don’t give it much thought or even realize that’s what we’re doing.

But here’s the really cool part…God Himself is an intentional parent. He allows us to experience difficult things and make mistakes, and He puts us in situations so that we can be formed and shaped into the people He wants us to be. He wants me to be kind. He wants me to be generous. He wants me to be responsible. So He is going to allow my patience to be tested, He’s going to put me in situations that are hard, and by His word (and thus, His example) He will shape my heart to be more like His own.

I think this may go into my book.

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