What would you do if you had an extra hour every day that you could spend doing anything you wanted to do? Would you sleep, exercise or squeeze in some extra work? Or perhaps you’d spend more time with your kids, your spouse or with God.
As parents, we are bombarded on a daily basis with decisions, activities and tasks. In our home, my wife and I bring our different backgrounds to our parenting. She was raised in a low-key, relaxed home. I come from a family that always seemed to be on the move. We’ve had to explicitly define the amount of activity our family will take on. And our children are good at speaking up, at telling us when they feel overscheduled. Family time is so valuable, and we’ve tried to manage it wisely.
Related Content: Take our free 7 Traits of Effective Parenting Assessment to see where you rank in the area of intentionality.
Intentionality in parenting means making a purposeful decision to spend time connecting with your kids. This helps your child in several ways:
Valuing family time
Kids with intentional parents learn that time together as a family is a valuable priority. They see their house as a home, a refuge, a place to connect—not a place to leave as soon as possible.
Kids learn that rest is important for effectiveness and connectedness. Rest is an important time to listen to what God is telling us, to grow in wisdom for the rest of our chaotic lives. Rest helps children mentally and physically prepare for the next set of life challenges.
When parents are intentional in connecting as a family, their children learn to listen, think and respond. They learn how to ask questions and how to share about their experiences. Making time for communication is essential to learning about each other and growing together as a family.
Balancing time and priorities
Kids from intentional homes better understand their own energy levels and capacity for activity. They learn when to agree to more activity and when to decline an opportunity. They are better at not letting worries or fears dominate their decision-making because they know that in authentic relationships it’s OK to say “no” when they need time to rest.
Learning character formation and serving others
Intentional parenting involves imperfectly modeling and teaching these traits through a close relationship with Christ. Kids learn about honesty, responsibility, respect and the Fruit of the Spirit — love, joy, peace patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness and self-control. They learn to serve each other in the home and others outside of the home.
I’ve met several parents who have honed the trait of intentionality. Their kids tend to show gratitude, maturity, discipline and balance. Yes, these parents would be the first to admit that raising their kids this way isn’t easy and takes lots of energy and thought, but they would also say that it has gotten easier over time.
Like many parents, my wife and I have had to sift through options for camps, sports, activities, clubs and all the other things seeking our attention, time and money. The trait of intentionality—purposively designing hours and evenings for family—isn’t always fun or easy, but the precious time we’ve spent with our kids have proven to us that the effort is worth it.