Do you go from dealing with one issue to the next in your kids’ lives? Like putting out spot fires hoping you can keep everything under control and stop a bushfire from happening in your family.
Many families are caught up in Crisis Parenting. Crisis parenting is much like the business term: Crisis Management. This is where the manager is dealing with one crisis after the next, no forward planning, no strategies, no direction. There’s plenty of action but all happening because of one crisis happening after another. This is how we parent too. We deal with one negative behaviour after the next, no forward planning, no strategies, no direction but plenty of action – but all happening because of one negative behaviour happening after another.
As parents we want to do the best job we can. We read books, do parenting courses, discuss with family and friends; we have all this information to help us raise morally mature children and yet we don’t use this information until there is a problem. We start teaching our child in the middle of our telling off. This is very ineffective.
The answer to Crisis parenting is Intentional Parenting
Definition of Intentional Parenting
An Intentional parent has a plan – they know where they are going, and how they are going to get there.
We get caught up in thinking that parenting is about making the kids grow up and do the right thing but good parenting is actually about teaching the heart – teaching our children’s beliefs, character, will, passions. These things drive our choices – drive our children’s behaviour. When we are intentional in teaching the heart we have something to work with when the negative behaviours start happening.
Admittedly there’re are times when we get so overwhelmed by the demanding crisis that we feel that we don’t have time to work on these important areas. The business world has an adage for this quandary. Important versus Urgent. In a sense we need to have two training programmes working hand in hand. First, the Important – this is the training programme that has at its base the things that you want your child to achieve (obedience, respect, love, responsibility etc) and then running alongside this programme is the Urgent – dealing with the crisis! Dealing with Oh no! My child is biting, Oh no! my children don’t seem to like each other, Oh no! what is that whining! Dealing with these things may be reactive, it is urgent, but it does need to be dealt with – but not at the complete loss of the important, the intentional, the long term.
There will always be the unexpected in parenting. I am not promising that intentional parenting will never give you any surprises. Far from it. But it won’t catch you as unprepared.
- You will know that it is about teaching the heart
- You know what values you want to live by – and teach your children
- You will think about the heart needs of each individual child
- You will know parenting is a journey, and you will have plans for walking that journey.
- You will give children boundaries, helping them to stay within their capabilities of doing right.
- You will know that things go wrong – and have a strategy for handling those crises.
Crisis parenting has no idea where their family is heading, they just hope for the best; they deal with short term issues with short term solutions. The intentional parent is in this for the long haul – this attitude affects how they teach and train their children.
Tips to Being Intentional
1–Know your value system. Unless we sit down and talk about it our value system is there in our heart, but we often can’t define it let alone pass it onto our kids. Know what values you live your life by, know what values are important to teach your kids.
2–Know which particular value you want to teach your children first (or next)
3–Think of difference ways you can teach and practice living out that value
4–Think of ways to correct when they choose to ignore said value – remembering that our correction needs to help them learn not just punish them. (read about giving consequences here)
When I had young children – and establishing your value system in their hearts was full on – I would set aside a time every month to review how they were going. I would consider the things they were doing well, and the things they weren’t doing so well. I would then think of ways to address those concerns. Being proactive takes time and thinking.
Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security because you are busy parenting. The crises will always be there but we can limit them by being intentional. Plan where you are going and how you are going to get there – and spend time diligently working towards it.
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