As Peter and I look back on our parenting journey – we now have grown and almost grown kids – we see the importance of being intentional. Even before I was married I looked at spheres of my life and said to myself – where to do I want to be and how am I going to get there? These two questions helped me plan action steps. And it is the same with parenting – what do you want your kids to be like – and how are you going to get there.

quote: Intentional parents know what they want for their family, and plan towards that.

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Here are ten things that we’ve done in our family as a part of our being intentional. These ten things aren’t fireproof ways to get morally mature kids, they aren’t guarantees to have friendship with your kids when they are adults or surety that your kids will love and serve Jesus – but they are ten things we’ve done with those things in mind.

 

1–A yearly WOTB (said: what-bee)

Actually this came from a business seminar we went to and it means: Working othe Business.  We often get caught up in doing the daily stuff of life that we rarely step back and see the big picture – set the vision, write the goals and determine the processes.  We have tried to have a WOTB yearly – a time where we get away from the daily tasks, and focus on what we want for our family and how we are going to get there.

 

2–We’ve invested in Professional Development

When our family was young we discussed the need for Peter as a Vet to have a certain amount of professional development and he budgeted for the costs of that.  We realised that if we were serious that my work was at home, raising our kids, then I too needed professional development (as did Peter as Dad) so we budgeted for the costs of that.  It takes time and money to learn how to be a good parent and homemaker.  Parenting courses and other reading material, time to network with other mums finding and giving support, and time on the phone to my mum who was my parenting mentor and guide.

 

3–Intentionally taught Character

I see character as the quality of our response to people and circumstances, based on our moral values.  Character is a life skill – how we respond to people and circumstances.  Using Character First as my main resource, we intentionally taught our children to connect their actions and attitudes with a moral value.   We taught them to be kind and loving in their words, because people and their feelings are important.  We taught them to care for their belongings because Daddy worked hard to buy those things, and we need to learn to be responsible for the things we have.  Each action or response is tied in with a moral value.

 

4–Create specific family time where we can relate to each other

These times have evolved and changed over the years but central to our family life is that we seek time where we can be together.  As our children have grown older and have connected with more outside of the home activities it has become even more critical that we have set aside time to connect with each other.  Meal times is one of the easiest to be consistent with (we all need to eat) but also the quickest to let go by the by.  We can also set aside an afternoon, an evening and regularly plan activities to do together – it doesn’t have to include food!  Some families have their children plan these times, others brainstorm ideas together, and sometimes the parents treat the kids to a surprise activity.  There is no right or wrong way to do family time – the key is that we do it – regularly.

 

5–Taught our children to think in terms of a Biblical Worldview

A worldview is simply how you understand the world around you.  We wanted our kids to see the world – and all the issues concerning living in this world – through the lens of the Bible – what does God say about these things.  We’ve taught that by referring to God’s word when we talk about everything, asking questions about the characters of books they read and movies they watch – questions that prompt them to think about the issues the characters faced

One resource that we highly recommend for senior highschool students and all adults is The Truth Project which is produced by Focus on the Family.  It addresses the foundational thinking for each sphere of life.

 

6–Planned Heart Training

I would regularly (sometimes weekly, sometimes monthly, sometimes quarterly) look at each individual child and see where their heart is at.  Their heart is their beliefs, character, emotions, passions, choices – what’s going on in their life and what do they need to learn.  I would then intentionally plan a heart lesson – they may need to learn orderliness, or be reminded of pride vs humility, or see the consequences of their choices.   I would also think through the consequences that I could use to help them learn the importance of the lesson I could see they needed.  Reminding myself of Bible verses, stories, and natural ramifications meant I was prepared when conflict came into our home.  I knew how I was going to handle things.  I also reminded myself during this planning time of my kids love language and made sure that I was showing them love.

 

7–Used my time Intentionally

I looked at all that I needed to do – maintain family relationships, look after the home, homeschool the kids, help in the community, learn things myself, and not to mention finding time to relax and refresh myself – so I looked at all that I had to do, and I looked at the hours in my day, and I made time slots for each priority.  I also looked at the things that I was doing and looked for opportunities to teach my children something.  If I was doing housework – that was a time to teach my children life skills.  If I was helping someone out, it was an opportunity for my kids to learn to help others.  If I was having my quiet time, it was an opportunity for my kids to learn to have time in their Bibles.  I also made time for specific things – when I saw a gift/skill in my children I made time for them to practice that or get lessons to grow in that, when I saw a need, I would arrange my time to address that need.  We often complain that the busyness of life just rushes us on, but we need to be intentional about how we spend our time, and when we are, we can meet our priorities.

 

8–Celebrate and Affirm the Individual

We mainly do this at Birthdays, but also on major achievements. Our birthday traditions include special food, sometimes a party, no school, no chores (a reality check once adult life and working starts!)  We celebrate 10 years old with a unique experience negotiated with each child, and we celebrate 18th with a community celebration as they enter adult years – the highlight of this celebration are several gifts which celebrate who they are as individuals, and reflect their passions and talents.

Each year I like to write each child a letter, reflecting my heart for them – I affirm my love for them, sometimes I record their growth and I leave them with my mother-heart prayer for them for the coming year.  This is private, and they have rarely shared those letters with anyone.

 

9–Create opportunity for our Children to be a part of the Body of Christ

Our children are a part of the family of God and as such we have tried to get them involved – they have helped us on rosters – taking up the offering, picking up communion cups, serving morning tea, cleaning.  As soon as appropriate they have been on the roster themselves to read the scriptures, greet at the door or give a kids’ talk.  When I organise food to help others out, they help me cook and deliver.  When I meet with someone who is distressed, they join me in prayer first and then disappear giving that person time and space in our home.  When we drive to church they think about who they can be a blessing to instead of just wondering what they can get out of it. I want the body of Christ to be my children’s family – and to that end I get them to be a part of it.

 

10–Tell God Stories

We don’t do this enough – but I believe it telling of the good things that God has done – or the modern way of saying it is: giving testimonies.  We often see testimonies as our ‘salvation story’ and yet God does more for us – our salvation was just the beginning.  So often we are asked to pray and we don’t celebrate the answer (maybe we don’t even expect one) – but God does answer prayer, God does speak to our hearts, He does intervene in our lives; He is our provider, our protector, our strength and wisdom – when we celebrate and make known how he is involved in our life we build up our faith and the faith of those who are listening.  I have used a scrapbook to document the good things God has done – but we can keep a memory box of representative memorabilia.  But regardless of how we keep the story – it must be told to our kids.

 

These ten things obviously reflect the things that we want for our children – your ten things may differ.  But the key is to ask yourself what do you want for your family, and how are you going to get there?

Over to you:

What area do you think is the most important to be intentional in when it comes to raising your kids?

13 Comments

  1. leephiggy

    Dani,

    This was another great article from Belinda Letchford. Thought you would enjoy it 🙂

    Stephanie

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Reply
    • Heather LaGuire

      So thankful for your words of wisdom!

      Reply
  2. Kathy Gossen

    What a great list and inspiration. Definitely referring back to this. Hope you link this up to Titus 2 Tuesday this week. This would fit in perfectly!

    Reply
    • Belinda Letchford

      Thanks Kathy – yes, I’ll be there on Tuesday!

      Reply
  3. OurParallelConnection

    I love no.4 snd one I do without intentionally doing it. It’s important to know where each child is emotionally

    Reply
    • Belinda Letchford

      It is great when we find ourselves doing something significant without intending to – one less new habit to learn!

      Reply
  4. Bonnie Lyn Smith

    Awesome list! Thank you for the time you put into this to give examples. So helpful! Blessings from Espressos of Faith via #Mom2MomMonday!

    Reply
  5. Angela @ Setting My Intention

    I love these tips. Especially the mom letters. I know with all good intentions, there are times when things get forgotten. This is a good reminder to be intentional about one thing. Visiting from Women with Intention

    Reply
  6. Naomi@WhatJoyIsMine

    Great list! Intentional parenting always keeps our heart focused on our agenda for our children. I loved #10. Like you, we have intentionally parented our children. We still have two adult children living at home and still make evening bible time something we do with them while they are here. Thank you for sharing this list at Monday’s Musings. 🙂

    Reply
  7. Terry Yaceyko

    Hi Belinda, I am a fellow home school mom and I really enjoyed reading your blog at livelifewithyourkids.com. I also work with a small non profit magazine that goes out to home school parents (mostly in Alberta, Canada). I came across your article here: https://livelifewithyourkids.com/2015/07/10-things-we-did-as-intentional-parents/ and I would love to have your permission to reprint it in The WISDOM Family Magazine. We will of course give you full author credit with directions to the blog in your bio. I’d also love to send you a copy of the magazine, too. Please let me know when you have a moment. Thanks so much!

    Reply
  8. Taylor Johnson

    HI Belinda! I just love this list! One that stuck out to me was the heart training. I would like to be more intentional about this, and I feel when I do, it’s so beneficial! Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us! You are truly a blessing!

    Reply
    • Belinda

      Thanks Taylor. Understanding the broadness if heart training changed how I parented!

      Reply

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quote: Character is the quality of our response to people or circumstances.

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Belinda and her husband, Peter, live in the far north-west of Australia on a small farm. They have four adult children whom they homeschooled from prep-year 12. Over this time Belinda has taught and supported women both face to face and online. Her heart is to encourage families to be intentional, relational and heart focused in all areas of family living. She continues to do this in her new season of life – as her kids leave home one by one leaving her with more time.

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