As parents, a majority of us want our children to be kind, helpful, morally courageous, persistent, have manners, and so on. However, few are intentional in their approaches as to what to do in order to make it happen. The question of how is crucial to intentional parenting.
How can I make this happen?
How can I guide my children to learn this?
“How” is at the heart of answering what is intentional parenting. Intentional Parenting is all about being intentional in your actions, and planning intent and consideration into each iteration of your parenting journey. By incorporating intent, we encourage awareness and communication, strengthening our connection to our children.
Here are five further reasons why your children can benefit from having intentional parents.
1. To experience mindfulness.
Intentional parenting encourages the art of self-awareness and mindfulness to translate into presence. In today’s fast paced world, it can be easy to become swamped in external stresses, anxieties and worries, and fail to slow down and connect with our children just by being.
In intentional parenting, we are encouraged to find the off switch, and to leave the outside world outside once we close the door. This mindfulness also extends to decisions which could leave an impact on the family life, such as taking a different job that extends your commute time, and therefore disrupts routine, or even more significant like moving house. By keeping our children at the centre of these conversations, everyone’s viewpoint is seen, heard and understood which makes for more collaborative discourse and for the easier, more harmonious resolution of problems.
2. To learn responsibilities.
One of the teachings of intentional parenting is the opportunity to introduce early structure into your children’s lives. This structure often takes the place of a chores rota, or a morning routine, as well as having early discussions about money.
By being intentional in implementing a structured schedule, we encourage the values of problem solving, independent thinking and responsibility into our children. Thoughtfully planning a routine will help later in life when they are attending work, and experiencing reward through completing tasks in something like a chores schedule promotes good work ethic. Additionally, we are teaching our children to be mindful of other people’s environments, which promotes empathy: “I won’t leave my dirty dishes behind, because someone else will have to clean them and they are my responsibility.” This intent is embedded into their actions, only benefiting relationships with friends, colleagues and spouses down the line.
Additionally, conversations around money can prevent our children developing a mindset of entitlement. Modern media often promotes living affluent lifestyles, when this is not always an attainable goal. By teaching our children the value of money early, they will be better prepared for being more mindful when faced with balancing their own financial responsibilities.
3. To learn natural consequences.
As parents, we all want our children to be happy and safe, but it is not always achievable for us to protect them from experiencing consequences of their own decisions.
Just like learning responsibilities, children can be encouraged to think independently and be more decisive in the impact that their decisions will have on themselves, other people, and their environments. Intentional parenting therefore recommends allowing children to experience consequences – when it is safe to do so – of decisions that we perhaps would have made with more insight. A good example could be your child forgoing to wear a coat when you know it is weather that requires one. By allowing them to make this choice, and them quickly experiencing it is the wrong one, they will be more inclined to think through the decision in future.
4. To be better communicators.
Part of intentional parenting is compassion, and that compassion stems into communication. As we mentioned before, by being mindful of including our children into discussions around significant events, we nurture empathy and ultimately, respect.
It is this art of being mindful and respectful of others, how they perceive the world around them, what opinions they may have, and where their viewpoint stems from that encourages healthy communication. That communication then extends into more challenging scenarios like topics of boundaries and expectations. Our children will be more mindful of behaving how we would wish them to because they are aware of viewpoints that are not their own, and will therefore consider this going forward. In the future, this is a great skill to have not only in working relationships, but in their friendships and romantic relationships too.
5. To truly be understood.
The first step in any intentional parents journey is the art of self-awareness, and this begins with you. A core part of being able to parent with intention is understanding the type of parenting that you received, and being able to emulate or reject parts of that experience.
If a part of the parenting you received has left what you perceive to be a negative experience on you, you may not want this being passed down to your child. In order to prevent this, we must find a more mindful approach to how to extend a similar lesson, without repeating the methods of the past.
This level of understanding of ourselves extends into our children, and teaches them to always be mindful of how they feel when facing situations. By being seen, heard and understood they will be more inclined to be more genuine and therefore are likely to make more informed choices.
Intentional Parenting helps us to raise children that are empathetic, kind, understanding and capable in themselves and their responsibilities. All in all, this ensures we are raising a generation that will positively contribute to society, allowing us to be the most successful parents we can be.