By Danny Huerta
Intentionality in parenting means making a purposeful decision to spend time connecting with your children. Read how intentionality is one of the seven traits for effective parenting.
What would you do if you had an extra hour every day that you could spend doing anything you wanted to do? Would you sleep, exercise, or squeeze in some extra work? Or perhaps you’d spend more time with your children or your spouse.
As parents, we are bombarded on a daily basis with decisions, activities, and tasks. In our home, my wife and I bring our different backgrounds to our parenting. She was raised in a low-key, relaxed home. I come from a family that always seemed to be on the move. We’ve had to explicitly define the amount of activity our family will take on. And our children are good at speaking up, at telling us when they feel over scheduled. Family time is so valuable, and we’ve tried to manage it wisely.
Intentionality in parenting means making a purposeful decision to spend time connecting with your children. This helps your child in several ways:
Valuing family time
Children with intentional parents learn that time together as a family is a valuable priority. They see their house as a home, a refuge, a place to connect—not a place to leave as soon as possible.
Children learn that rest is important for effectiveness and connectedness. Rest is an important time to grow in wisdom for the rest of our chaotic lives. Rest helps children mentally and physically prepare for the next set of life challenges.
When parents are intentional in connecting as a family, their children learn to listen, think, and respond. They learn how to ask questions and how to share about their experiences. Making time for communication is essential to learning about each other and growing together as a family.
Balancing time and priorities
Children from intentional homes better understand their own energy levels and capacity for activity. They learn when to agree to more activity and when to decline an opportunity. They are better at not letting worries or fears dominate their decision-making because they know that in authentic relationships it’s OK to say “no” when they need time to rest.
Learning character formation and serving others
Intentional parenting involves imperfectly modeling and teaching character-based values. Children learn about honesty, responsibility, respect, love, joy, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, and self-control. They also learn to serve each other in the home and others outside of the home.
I’ve met several parents who have honed the trait of intentionality. Their children tend to show gratitude, maturity, discipline, and balance. Yes, these parents would be the first to admit that raising their children this way isn’t easy and takes lots of energy and thought, but they would also say that it has gotten easier over time. Like many parents, my wife and I have had to sift through options for camps, sports, activities, clubs and all the other things seeking our attention, time, and money. The trait of intentionality—purposely designing hours and evenings for family—isn’t always fun or easy, but the precious time we’ve spent with our children have proven to us that the effort is worth it.
Copyright © 2017 by Focus on the Family
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