This past Saturday I had the opportunity to attend a parenting seminar at Mainstreet Church. I guarantee I was the only non-parent at this seminar, but regardless, it was phenomenal! So much truth, so much wisdom, and so many practical ideas given throughout the day. It is my hope to just scratch the surface and wet your appetite by giving you an overview of the 10 ways to be an exceptional parent in a quick fix world!
Doug and Cathy fields, the authors of the workshop and workbook I am pulling from say "Yes, parenting is hard. But what you do as a parent every day and every week matters. Your actions - over time - are the single greatest influence in the life of your child...Time is one of the consistent realities of life...All humans share this in common: sixty seconds to a minute, sixty minutes to an hour, twenty-four hours to a day, and 365 days to a year. Time clicks on. Time matters. Your child's 18th birthday makes up 6,570 days. That calculates to 936 weeks or only 216 months. The brevity of those 216 months requires you to develop some intentional parenting actions so you don't miss out on your opportunity." [Intentional Parenting Workbook, p. 7-9]
10 Ways to be an Exceptional Parent in a Quick Fix World:
Action 1: Strong Belief
Intentional Parents believe they have incredible influence on their children.
- Your role matters!
- View parenting as a priority
- Begin with the end in mind. Cathy and Doug's end goals for their children are:
1. To display confidence
2. To express character
3. To have strong convictions
4. To show compassion
5. To become competent
Action 2: 24/7 Role Model
Intentional Parents understand that children learn from observing them as their primary role models.
- Hold up the mirror - what are your kids watching and learning from your lifestyle?
- The baton of faith - are you passing on your faith by modeling a Christian lifestyle?
- What other adults are involved in the life of your kids as significant role models?
Action 3: Encouraging Words
Intentional Parents regularly use words that are positive and life-giving.
- Quick-fix parents don't give thought to their words and allow emotions to dictate their words.
- Don't expect encouragement to be returned by your child
- Encourage toward your end game
Action 4: Genuine Affection
Intentional Parents liberally give affection
- Your children need to be held, hugged, wrestled and kissed. Daily. Regularly. Liberally.
- As children get older, the expressions of affection may need to change, but the regularity of affection shouldn't.
- The kids who don't get appropriate affection at home will seek it out in other ways.
Action 5: Consistent Presence
Intentional Parents make sacrifices in order to be consistently present.
- Presence is big! It communicates that you care about your child's world.
- Recognize that your kids need your presence more than the presents your work affords.
- How is your presence perceived? Are you physically present but not available? Distracted with work, phone, TV, etc? Be intentional with your presence - communicate availability.
- Remove the digital leashes. Suggestion: ditch the phone when you're in the car with your child.
Action 6: Peaceful Home
Intentional Parents create a shelter from the storm.
- A peaceful home is a safe home.
- A peaceful home doesn't necessarily mean a quiet home, but it does include:
- Discipline without screaming and yelling.
- Boundaries, but not too many rules.
- An environment that is welcoming to friends.
- Words of encouragement rather than critical comments.
- Warm and consistent affection.
- Parents who express love for one another and display a secure marriage.
- Freedom from being compared with siblings.
- A place where kids can be themselves and they don't have to pretend.
- A shame-free atmosphere.
- To create a peace-filled home, you must become a peace-filled person (which comes from Jesus).
Action 7: Delicate Discipline
Intentional Parents view discipline as guidance with love.
- Discipline is a sign of love.
- Yelling doesn't work.
- Discipline with caution. Deal with your own anger before you discipline so you can be delicate and thoughtful.
- Discipline by choice. This includes: (1) a fair consequence that is (2) clearly communicated ahead of time, and (3) connected to the offense.
Action 8: Activate Responsibility
Intentional Parents provide opportunities for their children to develop responsibility and pursue healthy independence.
- Some ways we might be contributing to our children's irresponsibility:
1. By always picking up after them and not making them contribute.
2. By making money too easily available and not valuable enough.
3. By telling them they can do no wrong.
4. By solving all their problems and saving them from experiencing consequences.
- One of the primary purposes of chores is to teach responsibility.
- A child's ability to make decisions and avoid consequences can build self-esteem.
Action 9: Positive Memories
Intentional Parents pursue opportunities to become memory makers.
- Imagine your adult children reflecting on their childhoods and experiencing a flood of positive memories. Of course their will be some bad memories, but what if the positive memories outweigh the negative ones?
- Some ideas to become more effective at making memories:
- Family vacations!
- Spontaneous adventures!
- Made-up traditions!
- Capture memories!
- Write letters, cards, and notes!
Action 10: Serious Fun
Intentional Parents nurture laughter and fun.
- Model fun for your children
- Adults who are fun, or at least open to having fun, are the ones who are able to best connect with teenagers.
- Lighten up!
- Oxymoron: Scheduled fun. You may have to be intentional about scheduling family fun!
- If kids don't get fun at home, they'll find it somewhere else, and it may not be the kind of fun you had in mind!
- Smile more. Laugh at the little things.
Are you excited about taking some steps to become a more intentional parent? I hope so! I'm excited for you. I truly believe you have one of the greatest roles in the lives of your children, and want to encourage you to be the best parent you can be!
If after reading these highlights you'd like more, please contact me! I'd be happy to allow you to borrow my workbook (which gives you access to the videos online). Or, if you'd like your own workbook, you can buy them for $24.99 at http://dougfields.com/intentional-parenting-workbook. Each Action Point has workbook pages that allow you to process and implement what you are learning.
Thank you for allowing us to partner with you in growing extraordinary students who love God, love people and make disciples! I'm praying for you and your family as you strive to become more intentional in your parenting! I'm excited for what God has in store!
All information taken from Intentional Parenting: 10 Ways to Be an Exceptional Parent in a Quick-Fix World by Doug and Cathy Fields (Kitchen Table Academy & Doug Fields, 2015)