Intentional parenting is kind of an ambiguous term. Most of us have good intentions as a parent but often, we unintentionally fall short of our goals due to schedules, jobs, family obligations, or lack of planning.
Some days we are just trying to survive. We are doing the best we can, but when things fall apart with our kids we feel inadequate to remedy the situation.
What if your parenting had more focus? Perhaps even goals to achieve on your parenting journey. If you are a Christian mom, I can’t stress enough the importance of intentional parenting because it is the key to passing your faith down to the next generation.
What Is Intentional Parenting?
What is intentional parenting? Is it making sure your kids have the latest gadgets, sports equipment, or lessons? Perhaps it is more about making everyone think all is perfect with your child, no matter what is happening.
Maybe you are exhausted and have fallen into autopilot parenting. You are so busy that you aren’t even sure what is going on with your kids. You don’t have any real interaction with them because you think it’s up to the school or church to instill values, not you.
In fact, you have left them up to their own devices (literally) because you don’t know what else to do to be a good parent.
There is another way…
Intentional parenting is about making parenting choices that are thought out in advance. There is a purpose to what you say and do. If you are a Christian, intentional parenting takes on a spiritual tone that reinforces a biblical worldview.
Take time to honestly assess your child’s character traits. Ask yourself if you are consistently reinforcing God’s truth daily. Furthermore, how you can take them to the next level in their spiritual walk through intentional parenting.
How Can I Be a More Intentional Parent?
Check out these 11 awesome examples of intentional parenting as a Christian mom. These tips will help you bond as a family and also develop godly character traits in your kids.
1. Devotion at mealtime
Read a devotion that focuses on good character traits. Ask a few questions at the end of the story to reinforce the moral. Use this time to focus on the choices that were made–good or bad. Let your kids talk freely.
10-15 minutes is plenty of time to focus on a biblical worldview each day and pass faith down to the next generation.
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2. Prayer/Bible time
Implement a quiet time during the day or before bed. Have your kids read the Bible and pray. I used this scale as an idea for their spiritual time: age=time. If your child is 15 years old, encourage a 15-minute Bible/prayer time.
Younger kids can do a modified version such as color a biblical coloring page, listen to a Bible story, or Bible songs.
This is intentional parenting at its best.
Find a place to volunteer together as a family (elementary age or older). Most schools require a certain amount of volunteer hours. Use the summer or holidays to do it together. You will have something to talk about when you are done.
Talk about what happened, how the people reacted, and how it impacted you as a family.
4. Mission trip
For years we did a family mission trip in the summer. Both of my kids say this was the best thing we did as parents. It was life-changing for our whole family.
If you can’t go, send your kids on a trip. Intentional parenting isn’t always easy, but it is worth it.
5. Teachable moments
Take time to talk about things that are important to your kids. (Driving home from school, the dinner table, or bedtime are great times to do this.) It will change as they age.
Younger kids will be more interested in things that affect their small world, while older kids will wrestle with how culture affects their ever-growing environment.
Nonchalantly go back to the Bible when they are struggling with what is right and wrong. Ask questions. Talk through the issue and let your kids wrestle with it. You don’t have to have all the answers.
6. Focus on character traits
Pick a godly character trait each week. Your kids can help pick it out so they have ownership of the choices. Weave that character trait into discussions all week long.
You can start with the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5: 22-23). There are free Fruit of the Spirit printables to color such as love, joy, peace, patience, etc. for younger kids. Older kids can center their quiet time around the theme of the week.
This is a wonderful intentional parenting activity.
7. Give to others
Have the kids work around the house or do a lemonade stand. Teach them how to give tithes and offerings with their earned money. Or have them help an older neighbor for free.
This will develop a heart that is not centered on themselves and curb entitlement later on.
8. Pray together
Pray together every day at meals and at bedtime. Your kids are never too old to pray. (I prayed on the phone with my 19-year-old the other night.)
Pick someone outside the family to pray for such as a missionary or friend. Or let them choose an issue they care about such as the homeless, hunger, etc., and pray for ways to help those who are hurting.
Intentional parenting means you consistently reinforce the same Christian values throughout the day and night. Prayer is the thread that ties it all together.
9. Eat together
I can’t tell you how important it is to eat with your family most days. Turn off the TV and talk to each other. You will find out a lot just by listening. Give time for each person in the family to talk. Intentional parenting has to be fought for.
It is a non-threatening environment that gives you a clear window into your teen or child’s heart. I suggest there never be any harsh punishment given while at the table. It will muddy your time with the family.
10. Have fun as a family
Some families do really well at having fun together while others of us have to make time to get out and play. If you are strapped for money, you will have to get creative. (Before you say you have got this covered, attending soccer practice or games doesn’t count.)
I am talking about intentional time together with only family where you actually talk to each other and create good family memories. Yeah, not always easy when your kids get older but schedule in time because it’s important. Camping is one of the best ways to do this!
Download your free TENT CAMPING CHECKLIST PDF and have some real fun as a family!
11. Focus on gratefulness
Many times we forget how good we have it. Most of us have food on the table, clothes to wear, and a roof over our heads. Many of us have way more than that!
Teach your kids to say thank you and to be thankful for what has been given to them. This is not easy in the age of Instagram and Facebook when it looks like everyone else has more. But keep trying! Gratitude is a great character trait to have.
Trust me, we all have something to be grateful for. It is all about perspective. By the way, God doesn’t like complaining and entitlement. so it is a good idea to model it before you teach it to your kids!
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What Does It Mean to Be Intentional with Children as a Christian?
Intentional parenting for a Christian parent means spiritual parenting if you think about it. If you want to take your job as a parent seriously, then find out what God says about raising kids.
I would start in Proverbs. There are 31 chapters full of wisdom. One chapter for each day. You can start with this verse…
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it”(KJV).
One thing to remember…you can do all the right things, but at the end of the day, your kids get a choice. So don’t try to force or control because it will only produce good external behavior. You are going for the heart. This takes a lot of time and patience (and prayer).
How Can I Be a Better Christian Parent?
First of all, there is no such thing as a perfect parent. We are all flawed.
Most of us go into parenting with biases, hurts, and thoughts about how we are going to do it right. Even right the wrongs that were done to us. Unfortunately, the baggage we carry many times passes down to the next generation unintentionally through unforgiveness. (I know firsthand. Read my book below.)
If you want to know how to be a better parent, you are going to have to work at it.
Read books, listen to Christian podcasts, read parenting blogs, or get counseling if you are stuck in a hard place. Focus on your junk, and it will help your kids. Break the spiritual stronghold with you so you pass down positive character traits, not negative ones.
For more intentional parenting tips check out the Crazy Cool Family podcast. They have wonderful ideas on how to be an intentional parent too.
What kind of intentional parenting are you doing with your kids? Share your ideas below!
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