With kids ages 25, 23, and 17, some might say that we’re in the 23rd hour of parenting. Our two oldest, one of whom is married, are both out of the house—working and totally on their own. Our youngest is driving, working, knocking school out of the park and thinking about life post high school. We are coasting to the “finish-line,” right?
God has clearly told us, “Ummm, no, you are not. There is MORE I want to show you.”
When we were expecting our oldest over 25 years ago, we attended parenting classes, read books, and had countless conversations with others. But, as time went by, we slowly became “comfortable” in parenting and settled into our “style” of parenting.
Over the last nine months, we have been truly focused on “intentional parenting” as we recognized new things we needed to learn. This recent journey opened doors of communication that once felt closed, and expanded our knowledge and understanding, which deepened our family relationships.
Here are some ways we have learned to be intentional.
Intentional in our Belief
Know you have influence and believe it! No matter the age of your child, you have the power to be the greatest influence in your child’s life. God has a plan for you and your child; He made you a family. Believe He will continue the good work He began in your child THROUGH you (and you’ll see Him continue the good work He began within you, too!).
As our belief changes, so does our perspective. For instance, our youngest is 17 years old. Instead of thinking we don’t have much time left with him as a junior in high school, our mindset is now, “WOW! We still have two more years to make an impact!”
Intentional with our Time
Most important things in life are accomplished over time, not just in one “magical” moment. Though moments do matter, it’s creating those moments steadily over time that have the biggest impact. God has given us the gift of time, and hopefully 18+ years while they are at home. Be intentional in how you spend those 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
As a parent, it’s important to create an environment that you and your child want to be in.
Love your child.
Be an example to your child.
Make memories and have crazy fun together.
Use your words to encourage and affirm them.
Allow them opportunities to work and make a difference.
Be present with them and listen.
Use the time you are already spending together—at mealtime, in the car, at bedtime—to do something intentional. You will be amazed at the conversations that happen…over time.
Making memories and having fun is so crucial in the life of your child. There is so much in our world that’s hard, especially during a pandemic. We recognized how little we were laughing, that we were rarely giving ourselves something to look forward to. Pay attention to this in your home. And remember that, no matter the age of the child, they still want to spend time with YOU and have fun with YOU.
Intentional in Being the Adult
In your relationship with your child, you must remember one key fact:
You are the adult.
This means that if a challenging conversation needs to happen, more than likely it will need to be started by you rather than your child, even if your child wants to talk. This also means that you have to set Godly examples of how to handle conflict, deal with disappointment, and how to take responsibility for your own actions.
As part of being an adult you also need to think forward on what kind of adult you would like to raise your son or daughter to become. As your child gets older, the role of a parent should always be outwardly focused on your child, considering their hopes, dreams, and aspirations rather than your own.
This means you need to get to know your child and learn about their strengths and weaknesses, and then help them focus on their strengths while working to improve on their weaknesses.
NONE OF THIS IS EASY.
But you’re the adult! No one said it would be easy. The Creator of the universe trusted you to be the mother or father of your child, so take that responsibility seriously.
You can do it…be the adult!
Intentional with Resources
You will never know it all because your child is ever-changing. Take time to rediscover your child each month when they are young, and then every year once they are in school. As we found ourselves in a “parenting crisis” of not knowing what to do, we recognized how we had just been coasting along.
So, change began within us, the parents.
Once again, we started talking with others, reading books, and doing studies on parenting with the goal to learn. God brought resources into our lives right at the time we needed them. Learning and changing became a priority and with that, change is taking place in our parenting and family.
Our kids are “little adults” and have so much to learn. God has given them us—their parents—to raise them up. Being an intentional parent does NOT mean you are a perfect parent. Perfect parents don’t exist—and if you question that as a parent, please go back to our first tip, being intentional in your belief.
You are the greatest influence, not because you are perfect, but because you are their parent. God knew what He was doing, so trust Him—you’ve got this!
For more information check out the “Intentional Parenting” study on RightNow Media. Join other parents and learn together in a small group. We have done this study three times—it’s amazing! (Get free access to RightNow Media through PCC, CLICK HERE.)