One of the ideas that have shaped Peter’s and my parenting – or family life – has been our desire to be intentional.  Our understanding of being intentional is to know where you want to go and how you are going to get there.  Our hope is that we respond to situations rather than react, that we are prepared, and we deal with the heart issues, not just the behaviour that we see.

But that doesn’t mean we won’t get surprises. We will miss stuff. Things will catch us off-guard and leave us floundering. We are left saying, “Ooops! Missed that one!”

This is true of every intentional parent – we won’t ever get it 100% right 100% of the time. And that is okay.

Being Intentional won’t cover it all

So what do we do when we realise there is something missing in our kid’s life – and maybe we should have already taught them that, but obviously we haven’t. What to do?

We need to change our own thinking first:

  1. It is wrong thinking that would tell us that because we’ve been intentional, because we’ve done this or that, that we will cover it all. That is pride.
  2. It is wrong thinking that predetermines a timeline for learning – there is no order in which our kids learn the lessons of life. We cannot plan and plot their maturity to fit our schedule.

 

We have to be prepared for the idea that there will be things that our kids don’t get – there will be gaps. These gaps will become apparent at different times in a child’s life. Just like there are going to be gaps in your child’s education – they can’t know everything about everything – there are going to be gaps in other areas of their life as well. They won’t always immediately know the right moral choice and they will make mistakes, they won’t know how to fix something, make something, or do something, they won’t always know how to respond to a friend, they will make social gaffs where you wished they didn’t, and they won’t always know or understand what God’s word has to say.

 

Now what?

How should we respond then, when we realized our kids aren’t where we thought they would be?  What do we do when it is apparent we need to do some more teaching and training?

Knowledge puffs up while love builds up (1 Corinthians 8:1). This verse is talking about when we know something but others aren’t in the same place – we can jump up and down on what we know is true, or we can show love. I think this is the heart we should have for our children when they aren’t where we thought they would be (in the matters of the heart, or lifeskills, or knowledge). We can jump up and down and say “We’ve taught you this before!!” or we can show love.

The Bible has so many ways to love one another – in this case our children are the ‘one another’:

  • Accept one another (Romans 15:7)
  • Instruct one another (Romans 15:14)
  • Be patient and bear with one another (Ephesians 4:2)
  • Be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32)
  • Forgive one another (Colossians 3:13)
  • Teach and admonish one another (Colossians 3:16)
  • Abound in love toward one another (1 Thessalonians 3:12)
  • Encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
  • Spur on one another (Hebrews 10:24)
  • Do not grumble against one another (James 5:9)
  • Pray for one another (James 5:16)

We can be sideswiped when these surprises come our way because we thought we had covered it, we thought we had taught them these things. We thought they understood. And yet, here they stand in front of us, obviously not getting it, obviously not understanding. Being sideswiped is about our feelings – our frustration, our pride, our expectations; showing love is about them – accepting where they are at and choosing to walk along side of them as they continue to grow. We have a choice, which will it be?

 

Further Reading

 

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Be Intentional

 Every week I'll email an encouragement to stay intentional and relational in all your family life.  But for now, download your set of reminder posters - posters which I've used over the years to remind me to keep my eyes and heart on what is important.

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