Jen and I try to be very intentional with our parenting. What we find in our attempts to be intentional with each of our five wonderful little ones is that if we don’t try to be intentional with how we are cultivating into their very fertile hearts, we aren’t intentional at all.
You and I as parents have very little control over what will be reaped in the lives of our children, but we have complete say-so over what we cultivate. And we do not want to be laissez-faire about our parenting, or we will intentionally parent unintentionally.
The point is this – you can hope for scheduled, teaching moments and calendared quality time, but it actually happening as scheduled and calendared is rare. Thus, be intentional to sow every chance you get since you have no chance at controlling what will be the reaping of your children’s future.
Simply try to be intentional to emphasize specific things, try to be intentional to discipline for heart-change, and try to be intentional to take advantage of those conversational, learning moments.
(1) Jen and I are learning that if we emphasize a few things over a long period of time, it is much more effective than trying to teach many things in a short period of time. Select a few things that you first and foremost believe are highlights of the teachings of Jesus and that secondly matter to you, then create engaging, non-boring ways to emphasize those over and over again over a long period of time. Like over the course of 2012!
(2) Jen and I are learning that disciplining to correct behavior makes little difference over the long haul, although it may modify behavior for the now. We are learning that disciplining for heart change is much more life-changing and future shaping. Two keys – kindness leads to repentance and challenging them to pray like they need help is crucial.
On the kindness front, are you primarily kind and calm or primarily irritated and frustrated? To be the former is much harder than the latter, especially when you think that acting mad is the only way to get attention and results. However, while Jesus did display anger provoked by selfishness and greed, He primarily displayed a patient grace that gripped the hearts of people causing them to respect Him and what He had to say. If it got His teachings a center stage in the best-selling book of all time, it may be worth a try for us parents.
On the prayer front, encourage your kids to ask Jesus to help them to obey or to be kind or to share or to tell the truth or whatever else. After all, do we need Jesus or not? Can we change ourselves with a more attentive performance, or do we need to give full attention to His performance? Do we want our kids going to college with exemplary behavior or believing in the Example? Do we want them to learn living FOR God or living WITH God? I would suggest that only He can change us as parents and our kids as kids. If our kids could simply better themselves, then Jesus died needlessly.
(3) Finally, Jen and I are learning that we must spend a quantity of time with the kids if we have any hope of having a quality of time. It is in that intentional quantity of time that we look for and take advantage of those conversational, learning moments. They don’t come otherwise. They can’t be forced. They are most meaningful when they slip up on you in the flow of conversation and life together.
So, in 2012, what will you emphasize, why will you discipline, and how much time will you spend with your kids as you cultivate daily into their beautiful lives?
Share your thoughts and insights here so we can be learning together!