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Monday, 20 June 2016

Intentional Parenting, 2

Today I share part two of a multi-post series on parenting. Feel free to use whatever seems appropriate for you and your family. And I’ll reiterate: no guarantees for perfect results are assumed or offered. Sometimes parents do ‘everything’ right and still run into problems; sometimes they make a mess of things and still wind up with pretty decent ‘kids.’ There are so many variables, it would be impossible to list them all. But I still believe there’s value in being intentional, so that at least you do the best you possibly can. Remember, if you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time.
In case you missed the comments of reader TamaraNarayan last week, I’m going to expand on a couple of points she made. She said:

If I could go back and do things over, I would start the habit of chores early when cleaning and sorting is fun... I'd also not buy them iPad minis. They spend too much time staring at these screens or the TV. I'd encourage more physical activities as well.

Amen to those points!
1. Do not be afraid to start your children on chores from the get-go, doing what they are capable of at particular ages and stages. This will develop good habits in them, and all benefit from being given responsibility. It seems today that we expect very little from our kids, and therefore we get very little. Show your children that you believe in them and they will surprise you with what they can do.

Some may think that you are being too hard on your children by ‘demanding’ work from them, that you are in some way robbing them of their childhood. The fact is, you are giving your children a good work ethic that will stand them in good stead all their days, and you are enabling the family to have more quality time together. I mean, the work has to get done, and if you and your spouse have to spend all your time doing chores and picking up, not just after yourselves but everyone else, the opportunities for fun outings/activities that bond family members together will shrivel up.

People say that house cleaning will always be there, enjoy your kids while they’re still young and under your roof, and there’s some truth to that, but let’s face it, if nothing else, you need clean clothes to wear and clean dishes to eat off of. There are certain aspects of even these basic chores that your children can do. 

Child washing dishes = YES!
2. Okay, moving on to technology. I agree. Even though we live in an increasingly technologically-based world, the iPads, the mobile phones, the video games, etc., are changing – in positive and negative ways - how people think and interact. There are complete volumes devoted to this topic (just visit your local library or go on Good Reads), so I hope not to write a book here. 

Involve your children in physical activities, whether it’s team sports that teach things like how to work together on a common goal (pun intended), individual sports like golf and judo that focus on personal growth and build discipline, or family-oriented activities that build memories and provide opportunities for meaningful conversations (e.g. hiking, fishing, etc.). If I had it back, there would be no Nintendo or X-Box, and the only screen would be the TV for watching movies as a family, with lively discussion afterwards. 

Child glued to screen does not equal pretty picture
I know, kids will whine if they don’t have access to the same sorts of things their friends have, but you know what is best for your children and for your relationship with them. It’s easier to give in, but don’t. Just breathe, grit your teeth (if you have to) and say calmly, “in our family, we put the priority on face-to-face interactions,’ or however you care to phrase it. The outcome will be its own reward, though you may have to wait!

3. I’ll likely bring up prayer in every one of these posts because I feel it is so foundational to successful living, not just parenting. I know the Bible talks about going into your prayer closet and being alone with God, but your children should also see you praying and not just hear you talking about it. This models the prayer life for them and gives them an idea of the kinds of things they can talk to God about (everything!). Let them see that prayer is not like putting a coin in a vending machine and asking God for things, but that in addition to making your requests known, you use prayer to praise God for who He is, to thank Him for what He has done and is doing, and to confess your sins and mistakes, with an attitude of repentance. Encourage them in their own daily prayers, and let them know that any time is a good time to go to God. He wants to hear from us.

Ixnay on the vending machine approach!

The best picture! A praying child. Courtesy of Steve Evans from Citizen of the World


  1. Bravo! Our children were always included in what we were doing, even if it was working around the house. Be it housework, yard work or vehicular maintenance. My daughter starting washing her own clothes in about the 5th grade. Both children were in charge of tending to our animals from their early teens on. Both children bought their own cell phones with their own money when they were upper class-men in high school. My kids watched their fare share of cartoons, but they also spent lots of time outdoors. Frisbee, basketball, paddling around in our pond, building clubhouses in the woods. They can raise a garden, butcher an animal, cook from scratch. We played cards, dominoes, and other games together from before school age. They both could read to some degree before they started school. Bubba could do long division on the chalkboard in kindergarten. Hannah understood the concept of algebra in kindergarten. Because every day occurrences were teaching experiences. Bubba say me fight for my marriage through prayer. Hannah saw me (and helped me) prepare to teach children's church week after week.

    Twenty years ago, the women I worked with were talking about how their children wanted these $100+ dollar tennis shoes and how they were going to make it possible to get them. I told them I would never buy Bubba, then 5 years old, shoes that cost more than the boots his daddy made our living in. They laughed at me. But I never did.

    Barbara from Life & Faith in Caneyhead

    1. Thanks for the affirmation and encouragement, Barbara. Sounds like you did an awesome job of raising your kids. It's our job to raise them to be able to function on their own and to be contributing members of society. More parents need to be training their kids in the way they should go instead of leaving it up to day cares and the school system. No one loves your kids more than you do or has more of an interest in how well they turn out.


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