“Intentional is my word. I am not looking to live a perfect life. I want an intentional life. I am not aiming to be the perfect parent. I want to be an intentional parent. I don’t want a perfect home. I want an intentional home.” – Su Soutter, The Intentional Home (www.susoutter.com)
The above words more or less reflect my own motto when it comes to raising kids and building a home. My husband and I are far (oh, so very, very, very far!) from being “perfect” parents but we do strive to parent – and do everything else, actually – with intention.
The reality is that there is no such thing as “perfection” in this life because we are only human after all. We each have our own faults and failures, weaknesses and warts. Specifically, as parents, we fail our children many times. We fall short and often hurt them, too. This may become a source of discouragement for us at times, but we must not give up.
Yes, let’s not give up! The good news is that despite our imperfections, we can still do our darndest to be intentional in raising our children. One practical application of this can be seen in how we make joint decisions as parents. How do we decide to raise our kids? What if we don’t agree about certain things? What decisions are especially crucial?
While I am certainly not an “expert,” allow me to share a few tips based on wisdom from a decade of parenthood:
- Decide on how you want to raise your kids before you even have kids.
This is something I realized when my husband and I became new parents to our eldest child. To be perfectly honest, we had not discussed in detail how we wanted to raise our kids before I gave birth. The only thing we had agreed upon was that we both wanted our child (and his future siblings) to know, love, and serve God.
We didn’t take the time to talk about more practical matters then, like whether to breastfeed or not, whether to co-sleep or not, how to discipline the kids, and so on and so forth! So we ended up “winging it” for a while. By God’s grace though, we seem to have done all right even with so many mistakes along the way.
So, if you’re reading this and you’re not a parent yet, I highly recommend you discuss your parenting style and philosophy with your spouse (or future spouse). But what if you don’t have a clue regarding parenting styles and philosophies? Read on.
- Stay up-to-date with parenting trends but also be guided by tried-and-tested parenting philosophies.
Nowadays, there are many resources available to parents. There are even parenting classes which you can attend (if you’re in Metro Manila, I highly recommend those organized by The Parenting Emporium). You can also go online and find lots of useful information there. The key, though, is not to be overwhelmed with what’s out there and to discern well what will work for you and your family.
This is where “tried-and-tested” parenting philosophies come in. These can be in the form of parenting tips and advice from well-respected parents in your circle, like your own parents or maybe even grandparents. I know my husband and I rely on our parents’ wisdom many times when it comes to raising our kids!
- Communicate regularly with your spouse.
Communication is key in any relationship, and I think this is especially true once you and your spouse become parents. My husband and I try to be consistent and intentional in regularly talking to each other about different topics, including the kids. Of course, we sometimes argue about how to raise the kids, but we do our best to reach an agreement that will best benefit and bless our family.
- Pray, pray, pray.
Last but certainly not the least, turn to the One who knows your kids way much better than you ever could. Ultimately, our kids are not ours but His. Pray to God and ask Him to guide you in whatever decisions you need to make. We make it a point to do this often because we know that all our human wisdom and efforts are nothing compared to His!