Saturday, June 1, 2013

Intentional Parenting

You would think as a family in Children's Ministry, playing would come naturally to us as parents, well, more so for my husband than me. As a busy mom, I can sometimes find it hard to slow down from the housework, churchwork, and homework long enough to give my undivided attention to playing WITH my kids. Sometimes I find myself scheduling and driving them to so many play dates, ball games, and birthday parties to play with other people I forget that what they really want is to play with me. Can you relate? 

I was reading my friend Amanda's blog recently where she had a post about The Legacy of 100. She had these big countdown calculators that show how many weeks, days, hours, minutes until her kids graduate and presumably will be out on their own. Her kids are close in age to ours and honestly it kinda took my breath away for a moment. To think I only have 10 years until my oldest turns 18 and little one not far behind just 2 1/2 years younger. Just a few hundred weeks to influence their lives with the values that I hope will determine the kind of men they will become. 

Time to get intentional about parenting! Amanda is being intentional about parenting by making lists of what she want to do with her kids before they graduate. Check out her great blog for some really creative parenting ideas. Last summer I was intent on having an organized and educational summer. It worked for the most part, but you get what you plan for. My plan included a lot of me time and them time and not a lot of we time. Truth be told, most days they were already up and arguing before I rolled out of bed to referee before 7am. Then the busy-ness of the day started without any quiet time and very little we time. This summer I'm determined to get my priorities in order. I've gotta be armed for the battles of the day first and foremost by reading God's word before I speak a word in the mornings. I've got to be filled up before I can pour out. I'm more relaxed about the schedule after that. Breakfast, cartoons, a few chores...the daily goal for the kids is one book (or chapter for the older reader), one worksheet  from the summer bridge workbook, and one educational game. The catch is that I have to do these things with the kids so it keeps me accountable too.

This year I've realized education is important, but its not most important. Summer learning loss is real and is a big problem in the fast-paced, grades-driven school systems today. But if I look at the bigger picture of the 10 to 13 short years I have until they graduate, I don't want their only memories of summer break to be mom making them do worksheets and play "learning" games. I want them to remember mom reading with them, playing with them, teaching them, laughing with them, doing projects with them...making real memories and learning how to live. I don't care if my kids are the smartest in their class or group of peers. I care that they know there is One True God that loves them so greatly that He took time to create them, He knows them by name, and He has a plan for their lives. 

I'm also very aware that they are watching their dad's and mine's behavior and modeling theirs after it. I need to work on displaying the fruits of the spirit myself - all nine of them: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness  Gentleness, and Self-Control. I also want them to see their Dad and I studying God's word on our own and not just at the breakfast devotional. I want them to see how to handle conflict and know the value of hard work and perseverance. I want them to see us saying "Yes Lord" to whatever God asks of us today, whether easy or impossible, knowing that obedience brings blessing. 

Oh, there is so much I want them to know. The only way for them to know it is to show them. We can't depend on the schools or even the church to teach them everything they need to know for life - that's exclusively a parents job! So muster up the courage to fully engage in parenting this summer. Get down on the floor and play WITH your kids. Don't waste a single teachable moment by saying "not now" and filling your days with tasks that don't matter for eternity. Show your kids how much you love them before they're all grown up.