I started out my parenting journey in survival mode: survive the pain, survive the nights, survive the long days when she wouldn’t nap, the unending feedings, the screaming…it was hard! No, of course it wasn’t all that way, but it was definitely an awakening! Not all the rainbows and unicorns I imagined! But somewhere after those first few crazy months, we realized we were going to have to stop just surviving and be more intentional about raising our child: from the simple things like sleep and eating habits to some of the really important ones like character development, correction, etc. It wasn’t just going to magically happen…at least not for us! So we got more deliberate about it. Not overnight – we never sat down and made a list or anything. It’s just been an ongoing dialogue about who God wants them to be and how to best train them for life. But what are the true differences between those “Survival Mode” parents and the Deliberate or Intentional Parents? Here are some of my observations and experiences:
The Survival Mode Parents are directed by their children – their likes and dislikes, their emotions, fits, etc. Often, these are the parents that, sometimes even unintentionally, bribe their children to get “good behavior,” but often overlook the deeper heart issues for a quick resolution in the moment. I’ve done it- more times than I care to admit, honestly. I still have those days sometimes – those days where I just want a quick solution for the sanity. I get it! Maybe it’s because we feel overwhelmed with life and just need compliance, peace, quiet; Maybe it’s because we feel unprepared to deal with our kid’s behavior – knowing the right thing to do in the moment; Maybe we just don’t feel like we have the time to deal with it. Whatever the reason is, it eventually backfires; it snowballs. The demands get bigger; the fits get bigger and forget obedience! After awhile you look up and realize your once small, fit throwing child is now a teenager still throwing those same fits, making bigger demands and ignoring all parental efforts to correct. They’re just bigger and can now get into ALOT more trouble.
By contrast, the intentional parent has great deliberateness in what they are doing. They have a purpose or plan in mind; there is a goal. They know their “why.” Their what?!? Their “why.” They know why they are doing what they are doing. Their why keeps them focused on the goal. It reminds them in weak moments why they have chosen that path; made that decision. It whispers to them when they make a mistake and stands ever more boldly when they see the fruit of their efforts – though it may not be seen in the here and now. It’s the basis of being a deliberate or intentional parent. Let me warn you: this requires HARD decisions. Your kids won’t always be happy with them. Honestly, they might be downright mad about a lot of them, but the deliberate parent knows they aren’t there make their kids “happy.” They are called to train them in the way they SHOULD go, not the way they want to. Our decisions for our children won’t always be understood by friends and family, but your children were entrusted to you; not your family; not your friends. You must make the best decisions you can for them; Spiritual, mental, emotional, social and physical decisions with the “why” ever present. It will keep you committed to the journey, the decisions that you make for them.
So where do you fall in this? What’s your “why?” I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.
Written by Amy Pino
Like this post? If so, sign up for the free LiveIntentional newsletter.