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Monday, 13 June 2016

Intentional Parenting

Recently my daughter had a milestone birthday and I asked a bunch of friends, some mutual, some not, what life advice they would offer this young woman. I can post their answers another time, but a mother of two young girls turned the question around and asked me what advice I'd offer those in the early years of parenting. I started thinking about it and I have a lot of advice! So as not to create one big post that will have your eyes glassing, I'll begin with some of my thoughts today and carry them over several Mondays. They won't be in any particular order. Feel free to use whatever seems appropriate for you and your family. No guarantees for perfect results are assumed or offered.

1. When it comes to parenting, don't be a pantser. In other words, don't fly by the seat of your pants (if you're curious about how the idiom came into use, go here). Basically what I'm saying is don't make things up as you go along. Don't be reactive, but be proactive as much as possible. Before you even attempt to get pregnant, learn as much as you can about what you can expect - not just during the pregnancy itself, but in the years that lie ahead. Ask your parents, your friends' parents, parents whom you admire in your church or other circle, exactly what their parenting journey has been, what they have learned about effective parenting, etc. Listen to programs like Focus on the Family, read books about parenting and the different ages and stages of childhood, the teenage years, etc. Because as you'll find out if you become a parent, children do not come with instruction manuals and you'll need all the preparation and guidance you can get.

2. Along with point one, as you learn about parenting, you'll need to formulate some idea of the kind of parent you want to be, the sort of children you want to raise, and how you will make that happen. As with most life plans, these may have to be loose - personalities and circumstances will come into play - but if you have no plan at all, you will be like a sailboat minus the sail, and heaven help you when the winds come up, as they surely will. 

3. Ideally, you and your spouse will discuss your learning with one another and develop some parenting guidelines you can both live with. It's important to be on the same page as much as possible because if children discern any lack of agreement, they will play you against one another. Divide and conquer is as effective a strategy in the home as it is on the battlefield. Even if you and your husband do disagree on how to deal with certain situations that arise, keep a united front in your children's presence and discuss your opposing thoughts in private. Your children should view both parents as one voice and mind on key issues. If you've thought these through ahead of time, it should help.

4. Pray for your children before they are born and every day of your life thereafter. If you're too busy to pray, you're likely too busy to have children, and believe me, if you don't pray for them proactively, you'll find reason to pray for them reactively! Better the former than the latter. A solid prayer life, where God is the centre and you are not, will stand you in good stead whether you have children or not.
Avoid the temptation to revolve your life around your children.



  1. Great advice, especially that one under the image. It is easy to let your life revolve around your child, but they need to see you have your own goals and past times.

    If I could go back and do things over, I would start the habit of chores early when cleaning and sorting is fun. In the old days, my girls would actually fight over who got to clean the toilet!

    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.

    Great idea for blogging. I also like this book of essays: Seasons and Reasons, A Parent's Guide to Cultivating Great Kids by Debra Ross, available on Amazon.

    1. Thanks for sharing your additional advice - chores and technology are definitely something I'll be addressing in an upcoming post! Thanks for the book as well. I'll look into it, although my 'kids' are pretty much young adults now.

  2. Such a good post. I wish I'd had this advice about thirty-seven years ago. I had no idea what I was doing when my son was born. Not having a plan with his father, who is now my ex-husband, led to a lot of conflict and problems. The way my husband treated me led to my son learning to mistreat me. As he got older, he understood that it was wrong. He grew up to be a good and loving son. We're quite close. I was a better parent to my daughter, who came along six+ years after my son, but it was because I had a plan. My husband was not on board. As far as prayer is concerned, I can't imagine not having time to pray. Prayer is what it's all about in my daily life, right up to the minute I fall asleep.


    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Janie. Affirms the value of preparing for parenthood and what to watch out for. Glad to hear you and your son are close today and that you were able to do a better job in parenting your daughter.

      Thanks also for affirming the necessity of prayer for daily living. It is a privilege and a blessing to pray.


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