“Parent the adult you want them to become, not just the child they are now.” –Stephanie Shott
Parenting is hard work. There are so many things we are expected to do in addition to just keeping tiny humans alive! I think it’s easy to get caught up in both external and internal expectations, so I want to make it simple for you.
Your goal as a parent is to love and provide an environment for your children that will mold them into adults who positively impact this world!
Strip off the layers of parenting pressures and focus with me on how you can better parent with that idea in mind!
My husband and I were sitting down the other day talking about our hopes for our children when he suddenly asked: “What are we doing right now that’s helping nourish all these good things we see in them? What are we doing right now to help them become the best version of themselves for later in life?”
I sat there puzzled. Sure, practicing their number recognition or drawing shapes will be valuable when they are in school, but was I spending all my time trying to make them “smart” or “athletic” rather than fostering my daughter’s compassion and my son’s need for adventure?
It was time for us to start intentionally parenting their unique strengths!
Every child is different, so my hopes for my children are different as well. My daughter is very cautious, so if my hope for her was to be a risk-taker, I think she would end up pretty unhappy and I would be disappointed. My son is wild and free, so if I hoped he would bring calm and peace to the world, I’d be setting him up for failure. My point is that our hopes for our children should be based on their strengths.
We also need to be creating environments that allow our kids to discover these things within themselves. If I never let my daughter around people who faced various struggles in life and only kept her around the “happy-go-lucky,” positive people, she would never be able to use her gift of compassion! If my son was forced to stay indoors and given a gaming system or limited toys, his sense of physical exploration and adventure would be immediately suppressed. Start thinking about how your environment encourages your children’s unique design.
Our children have weaknesses as well (which I’m sure you already knew). These weaknesses may overtake their strengths one day in a battle that will be hard to stand by and watch. We must be intentionally preparing them for that battle one day that only they can fight. Come up with a game plan of how your children can navigate their weaknesses in healthy ways starting right now! For example, my son is very impulsive and hard headed. This could one-day damage relationships very easily or keep him from being able to accept criticism that would work to his benefit! This is an area I hope to encourage him to come to know and understand about himself so when he finds himself in those patterns, he can flip a switch when necessary and not burn any bridges.
Intentional parenting includes a lot of observation, reflection, and constant “check-ins” with you and your spouse. So to help you get started with this process, we created the worksheets below. You can print out a set for each child, and create a plan to support him/her from now until adulthood. Remember to frequently come back to visit these pages or update them as your child grows. The answers should remain similar, but your methods of parenting will change as your children grow and should be reevaluated.
“To be intentional means you know where you want to go and how you are going to get there.” –Belinda Letchford