For a lot of us, some sort of planning gets us through life’s stages. We set a goal for where we want to go to college, strategize about our first job and career trajectory, and are very deliberate about the person with whom we shall spend the rest of our life. And of course, we plan for our children’s future as soon as we find out that we are pregnant.
Goals, plans, deliberate choices, and strategies – all these connote intention.
The word intent, however, hardly figures in our consciousness when we talk about parenting, especially on a day-to-day, day-in-day-out basis. Though we set great goals and plans for our children’s future, most of these are general plans. Busy fussing over our babies or marveling over our young children’s accomplishments, we neglect to think about how we are exactly raising them.
Like in our other relationships, we usually go on autopilot in child rearing. We aim for the smoothest and less eventful ride. Our default mode is to give what we possibly can, according to the trends of the day: great toys, fashionable clothes, topnotch education, amazing activities, and memorable vacations. Why not? Those are obvious roads to success.
But you know what? There is another way to parent our children. It is one that goes beyond providing material comfort. It is about focusing on the young lives we are blessed to have, the ones who have made us parents in the first place. It is a kind of parenting that is intentional, with goals from our heart.
Intentional parenting is not just a byword or a parenting trend. It is an ideal to live by. It is a choice we have to make everyday to be with and see our children for who they really are. It is a goal or a plan that we make and follow daily.
The road to being intentional parents is not easy. It is full of challenges, doubts, and distractions. Here are 4 steps that we can take towards becoming intentional parents.
1. Enjoy our time with our children. Spending time with our kids gives us the opportunity to talk to them, to listen to what’s going on in their minds, and to model behavior and attitudes that we want them to have.
Though it is definitely great to dedicate time for our children, it is more important to be conscious of how we spend that time with them. We need to be present when we are with them, to turn off the laptop, and to live our life with them away from our smartphone.
Our children want to be with us. They will drop whatever they are doing to jump at a chance to play with and talk to us. Let us make the most out of our time with them.
Here are some things to think about our time with our children: • How much time can you fully dedicate to your child in a day? • What distracts you from your time together? • What can you do to be more present when you are with your child?
2. Observe and connect. Let’s make it a point to get to know our children as individuals separate from us. As parents, we should consciously make it an objective for our children to find and stay true to themselves.
By observing and taking note of what excites them, they will know that we are looking at and listening to them. And who will balk to make a connection with someone interested in what you think and what you have to say?
Here are some things to think about making a connection with our kids: • Do you play with your child? Playing is the perfect time to observe children. It is when they are at their most natural. • Do you ask more questions about what your child is showing you or do you just make comments about what you think about it? • Do you plan surprises or activities that your child will like or what you think he should like?