Parenting with Intention and Attentiveness Amidst Change

family parenting Nov 12, 2023
Parenting with Intention and Attentiveness Amidst Change

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”

– Ecclesiastes 3:1


 

Introduction

Parenting is anything but stagnant. Even new fathers and mothers with a six-month-old know this. As soon as we feel we’ve mastered a certain stage of parenting, a child changes. An excellent sleeper starts teething all night long. A cheerful toddler becomes defiant. That sweet ten-year-old becomes a moody eleven-year-old. And that’s just their personalities! Your son who loved superheroes suddenly hangs up his cape for Star Wars and Minecraft. Your daughter who has danced for four years is no longer interested in the skills she’s developed, wanting to dive into volleyball instead because her friends are playing. It seems that the one constant promise in parenting is that nothing is constant.

Just as our kids change, grow, develop, and try new things, we must also mature in our own skills and knowledge. Parenting strategies that have worked for years may not be producing the same result on a twelve-year-old as an eight-year-old. This isn’t a bad thing, but simply a fact of life. Adjustments must be made.

It’s also important to remember that each family is unique. Your seven-year-old is different than your friend’s child who is the same age. What works for them will not necessarily work for you, and that’s okay. It’s vital that parents remain attentive and intentional as their children grow, rather than fall into the easy mistakes of disengaging because of a “phase” or making parenting choices based upon the culture around us.

 

Step 1: Review

So how do we make sure that we remain attentive and intentional on this journey with our kids? We recommend that you find time to review your parenting plan on a regular basis. This should include reviewing the vision, values, and guiding principles of your family. It doesn’t need to take a lot of time, but reviewing these things as a family ensures that everyone knows what is included in the plan and is on the same page. (If you have very young children, this can be done as a couple.)

Practicing this habit reminds the entire family of your goals and vision, and helps to keep you on track. Personally, we do this weekly. We often review our parenting plan, family vision, values, and guiding principles when we’re driving together in the car. Occasionally, we may choose to do it at our weekly family meeting.

Having friends that do this can be a great blessing as well. Like-minded families can share their plans with each other for inspiration and encouragement, as well as feedback. Mentors can be an incredible asset too. Remember, the purpose of reviewing isn’t necessarily to make changes, but to assess and keep focus.

 

Step 2: Revise

After you have assessed your family’s situation, you can specifically set aside time to make any changes to your parenting plan if you believe it is necessary. We recommend you do this about once per year. First, you can begin by looking at your vision, values, and guiding principles to determine if you need to make any changes with those. Then, consider your parenting plan. Are there any specific areas that you haven’t developed yet, but now may need to because your kids are getting older (i.e., driving, cell phones, dating, etc.)? Are there parts of your plan that are no longer applicable for the same reason (discipline tactics, schedules, chore assignments, etc.)? Are there any new ideas that you want to try out?

Any changes you make should be intentional and reflective of your family’s specific strengths, weaknesses, and culture, not simply because of what everyone else around you is doing. And as with your regular review, any adjustments should be made public to all members of the family so that everyone can be on the same page. Once you decide on any changes, it’s a good idea to come up with a plan for when they will be implemented. A couple of good questions to ask each other are:

  1. Is there anything we need to eliminate from our life to make room for these changes?
  2. How will we build these new routines into our family life?
  3. Do any of these changes require a budget modification?
  4. How will we know that these changes are a success?

 

Conclusion: Your Journey

We are never done being parents. These are roles God has blessed us with for the entirety of our lives. What a joy and blessing this is! There will be hard days and amazing days, and this job God has given us is truly enormous. Therefore it is vital that we remain in His Word and prioritize it in our lives. This also must be an intentional part of your plan: passing on the faith. This cannot happen by accident or osmosis. It is a lifelong process that we will never perfect. But we are called to faithfulness, not earthly perfection, and God promises to give his people all they need for life and godliness.

 

Key Points

  • Many things will change throughout your parenting journey, but the most important thing is to remain focused on God - individually and as a family.
  • It is important to parent with your family’s unique strengths, weaknesses, and culture in mind, and not necessarily based on your previous experiences or the world around you.
  • Make sure that you have a good plan for implementing any changes you decide to make in your parenting plan.
  • Change is difficult, so it is helpful to have others (mentors, parents, or coaches), to help provide support and encouragement and help hold you accountable on your journey.

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