How a Plan Can Help Your Parenting Be More IntentionalDec 31, 2023
"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
In our experience, it is critical to have a written Christian family parenting plan! Some may feel that’s a little too formal – do we really need to write it down? Can’t we just work it out as we go?
In this blog post, we will outline 5 compelling reasons for a written Christian family parenting plan! We will present some thoughts, some ideas, and a whole lot of questions to help spur conversation between you and your spouse regarding your ideal parenting plan. We’ll also share a bit more of our story with you so that you can see why we’ve found this practice to be so foundational to our parenting.
Without further delay, here are 5 compelling reasons to show you how a plan can help your parenting be more intentional:
Reason #1: You can agree on your parenting style when formulating your written Christian family parenting plan.
When we got married, many of us likely figured that we and our spouse would have largely the same approach to parenting. After parenting together with your spouse for any length of time, we imagine you’ve already come across some surprises in the differences in how you want to do things. The following questions will help you get back on the same page – fewer surprises equal a more intentional approach to Christian parenting!
- Are you committed to a pretty rigid stance, or do you find yourself more laid back? Most of us likely find ourselves somewhere in the middle. However, it is too easy to assume that you and your spouse are on the same page about these things and then find yourself running into trouble down the road.
- How will this Christian parenting style change as the children grow older? Do you believe in allowing children more freedom to make their own decisions as they grow older, or do you feel it’s best to provide a large amount of guidance throughout their time at home?
- Will you be taking the same parenting approach with each of your children, or are you going to tailor your style to their personalities, love languages, etc.? Do you need a separate parenting plan for a special needs child?
- How consistent or flexible will you be in various environments? Do you have an identical standard of behavior for your children at home to the one you’ll hold on vacation? What about at church, or in other settings?
- Are there other parents you can point to that you desire to emulate? Do you have any spiritual heroes or role models that you both agree to look to for guidance? Any books that have been written that have inspired your perspective and you can find unity on?
Reason #2: You can develop your parenting goals and purpose.
The basic parenting goals of keeping children fed, bathed, and clothed are pretty foundational for most of us. Maybe you also hope to raise your children to be good citizens and good servants of the Lord. In your marriage, you may find that one or both of you have some unspoken goals that, if they remain unvoiced, may get in the way of your parental unity. Consider the following questions as you seek a unified written Christian family parenting plan:
- What are your short and long-term goals for your children?
- Are you in agreement on which goals are most important in the current stage of your child’s development, and which ones will become more important down the road?
- Are these priorities and goals the same for each child, or do you need to make separate lists?
- What is your action plan to help each child accomplish these goals?
- Are you currently spending your time as a family in ways that work toward those goals, or is there a dissonance between how time is spent on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, and what you say is most important? Are you spending more time on the higher priority items or are you getting distracted by smaller things that feel most emotional or pressing at the moment?
- What can you do to lead them down the desired path more effectively or efficiently?
- How are you going to handle obstacles and failures that come along? How much do you value letting your child experience failure, and/or experience the consequences of their failure?
- Will you have specific expectations for their social behavior and treatment of adults? Is it important for your 4-year-old to look an adult in the eye when someone speaks to them, or would you rather allow him or her to make that choice based on comfort level?
- When you think about the time your kids will move out when you’re done parenting them in your home, what skills do you want them to have? Are there practical and tangible skills as well as social and emotional skills? Are they going to be ready to face the world without having a parent to hold their hand?
Reason #3: You can determine what velocity with which you’re pushing your children toward these goals.
- What direction do you want to guide your children in the areas of religion, character, academics, athletics? Which ones are most important and time-sensitive? Least important?
- Are you and your spouse on the same page with both the direction and the velocity with which you want to move your children along that path? Some parents want their children to be incredible athletes from an early age. Other parents may not feel that’s so much of a priority and may prefer to allow the child to pursue those interests at their own pace or timeframe.
Reason #4: You can discover which topics are most important to you.
The following is a list of items you can consider as you put together your written Christian family parenting plan. Please note that this list is not exhaustive – we are sure there are many more!:
- Quality time
- Discipline – it is critical to be on the same page in this area!
- Health including physical, emotional, and social
- Family or household contribution (Will you have chores? Will you be paying for these chores? How will you frame these expectations?)
- Activities outside the home/extracurriculars
- Technology – what role will technology play in your household?
- Educational resources
- Friendships – what level of involvement will you have in helping your child choose their friends, and will that change as your children get older?
- Love languages and their strengths – we highly value these in our family, as we believe they constantly remind us to encourage the use of our kids’ individual strengths and help us understand how to show them love based on how they’re wired. The 5 Love Languages of Children is a great book to help with this aspect of your plan.
Reason #5: Having a written Christian family parenting plan improves communication and consistency between parents
- Writing these ideas out helps you to work as a team rather than operating in two different worlds
- It forces parents to sit down and discuss these topics rather than having vague ideas or general concepts that you occasionally discuss or mention.
- It gives you a document to refer to as needed. When something is written down, there is less ambiguity about what was decided. If a question comes up from one or both parents about whether a given situation is consistent with your agreement, you will have something to review.
- This document should be reviewed and modified as needed – it is a living document! Try to do this every year, at a minimum. You will both be exposed to new ideas through books, podcasts, mentors, etc. as you grow and mature as parents. You will also likely discover that some of the things you committed to in your parenting plan aren’t working out the way you intended. That is okay! It does not mean that you have failed as parents. Parenting is a journey, not an exam.
- Have a great amount of grace for one another as you seek to find the things that work. As you review this document and adjust your plan, communicate your appreciation for the sacrifices that the other parent has made. This job is hard work, and a little encouragement from your teammate will go a long way in building great unity.
- Remember that there isn’t one “right way” to create a written Christian family parenting plan or even one right way to parent. The point of establishing a plan is to make sure that you’re unified, not that you determine who is right and wrong.
- Stay unified. At some time or another, most kids try to “work the system” by consulting the parent they think will give them the answer they’re looking for. Writing down your parenting plan helps greatly with consistency because it serves as accountability for both parents. When your kids try to push buttons, feel free to communicate to the child that you are not going to give them an immediate answer without consulting the other parent. This is something we practice regularly in our marriage and parenting.
- Make sure kids are both disciplined and rewarded consistently by both parents.
- Make sure to frequently communicate the same messages and lessons to your children.
- Resist the temptation to parent your children exactly the same way you were raised. Your parents may have been excellent, but it is important to work together as a team with your spouse and recognize the best parenting plan for each child – they are all unique!
- It is key to develop this document together. One spouse may have stronger opinions concerning your collective parenting approach. That is okay, but both parents must have buy-in on the final agreement or it will be much more difficult to stick to.
- Don’t try to be perfect. No one is a perfect parent. Don’t spend too much time trying to create a perfect written Christian family parenting plan the first time you sit down. Just because it’s written down doesn’t mean it’s set in stone – remember, this is a living document that should be modified regularly.
- Don’t keep up with the Joneses. Understand that what works for one family may not work for yours. It can be easy to compare yourself to others, but it can also be a great distraction that sets you up for failure. Being inspired by mentors is a good thing, but constantly feeling defeated because you feel that you’re not measuring up to the standards set by another family in your church or community is not.
We are sharing the ideas in this post for the same reason we created this blog in the first place – we learned these things firsthand (usually the hard way) and we want to help other families learn as well.
When we were first starting as parents, we both had a lot of ideas about how we wanted to raise our children. Some of these were voiced and some were not. Some were from what we experienced from our parents, and some were just ideas we had come up with. Our thoughts and ideas were not always consistent and they were not organized into a plan that we could follow together. This led to some inconsistency in our parenting – we were definitely not always on the same page.
We each had some individual goals, shared goals for our family, and goals for our children individually. However, we did not have a clear plan for how to achieve those goals. When we finally set a time to sit down and write out our thoughts and ideas in a clear and organized manner, we had a huge collective sigh of relief.
While we are still far from perfect parents and continue to struggle and fail regularly, we feel we are now more consistent in our parenting and are working toward achieving the goals we have for our family and our children in a more efficient manner. It has forced us to communicate more about our parenting style and philosophy. It has motivated us to continue to read and research different parenting techniques to help make us better parents.
As a sample, we wanted to share the following example of a written Christian family parenting plan vision statement.
Weichel Family Parenting Plan Vision Statement
We will bring up our children in a Christian home, daily sharing and discussing God’s Word. We will provide them with a Christian education that allows them to discover and use their own God-given gifts. We will spend quality time with the kids individually and together as a family. We will consistently train (discipline) our children in a God-fearing way. They will understand the expectations for contributions to the household. When appropriate and time allows, they will be able to pursue opportunities they enjoy inside or outside the home, individually or with friends. We will continually seek to educate ourselves and refine our parenting vision.
- A written Christian family parenting plan should be a high priority for all Christian parents.
- A written parenting plan and vision will improve communication between the parents and consistency in parenting.
- Many different areas can be included in a Christian family parenting plan and each family should determine what is most important for them.
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