Intentional Parenting is Not Easy But It’s Worth It


I just spent close to an hour helping my kids figure out their allowance into their Save. Spend. Give. Jars. Our conversation went something like this. Well, it was mostly me asking questions.

“How much did you deposit?
Is it withdrawing money when you are putting money in?
What do I owe you if I’ve missed giving you an allowance for the past 3 weeks?
What does $5 plus $6 equal?
Do you know why you can’t put your “GIVE” money into your “SPEND” section?”

And the endless questions and answers continue every. single. week.

I know, I know, I could just tell him what $5 +$6 equals but I want him to use his little brain because I know, he knows, the answer. I could just tell him the answers to everything or even better I could do it for him. When they come down every Sunday morning for their allowance I could already have it in their Money Jars, almost like magic. Only God knows they might start thinking the “Money Fairy” comes to our house every weekend and deposits money in their jar. Oh, wouldn’t that be lovely–the money fairy! But my whole point in giving them an allowance is to teach them the value of money, teach them how to save their money and give money…

Yes, easy would be nice and sometimes I long for it and sometimes I do it and it works just fine. But I don’t want to be stuck in “coasting mode” where I let those teachable moments pass me by all of the time because I’m too tired–again, I’m checking my social media–again, I’m texting someone, I’m late to a…. whatever else beckons our attention.

If I just did it all for them then the beautiful teaching moments where they get to see it lived out and played out would all be gone. I’d miss the surprised but excited glimmer in their eyes when the light goes off in their little minds and hearts.

All of the questions they have for me (though some days they drive me nuts) are good because they help them process their beliefs and desires against ours.  All of this would be gone amiss–
If I just dropped their allowance in their jars every Sunday morning.
Or if I just made their beds.
Or if just wrote a check to a charity.
Or if I just let them get away with disrespect…
Or if i just gave them the answers and didn’t encourage them to use their critical thinking skills.

kids doing laundry

I want to take these moments so I can connect with them and find out more about their strengths and weaknesses. I want to take these moments to teach them our values, our faith and love in hopes that as they get older they will adopt it for themselves because they saw firsthand how it worked. They experienced why we do what we do. They had the opportunity to give their input into our family life.

I want them to know that they are not just consumers in this household but they are stakeholders, who are deeply loved, seen and known and who are vital in the process of making our family a home.

Oh this parenting thing is a beautiful and messy thing! Intentional parenting in my opinion has nothing to do with helicopter parenting, I would put that in a whole different category. Intentional parenting profoundly impacts the hearts and minds of our children.  Intentional parenting is proactive parenting and not reactive. It’s intentional, thought out, loving, grace-filled and sacrificial parenting. It doesn’t mean perfect parenting it means this phrase we often tell our kids, “When we fall(fail), we get back up again!”

It’s not easy being intentional but our kids need us to be purposeful in our choices and how we raise them.

family time

Intentional Parenting is Not Easy

I told another mom back around Christmas when our boy’s school asked us to “adopt”a child and purchase a toy for the child. Christmas is a busy time of the year, so I’m sure no one would blame me for just going out and purchasing the toy for them and sending them to school with it. But I couldn’t get past the awesome opportunity I had to teach my boys the beauty of giving. The joy of using their own money they have set aside for blessing others.  Let’s just say it was a long evening with them at the store figuring out–how much money they had, the value of a toy, the quality of a toy… Passing on the belief we hold to–we don’t give junk to the poor.

I know what you’re thinking because I’ve asked myself the same question at the end of the day. I wonder, “Was all of this caught by my children?” Perhaps it was but maybe not. All I know, is I need to be the one that speaks into their hearts and influences my children. Believe me there are plenty of people and things that want to replace and take that voice away from me. So I continue on hoping and praying but most of all living it out around the dinner table instead of absently sitting in front of the television eating our dinner every night. I live it out when we pray through our problems as a family. I live it out when I lose it and then come back and ask for forgiveness. I live it out when we give food to the street children or volunteer at the local food pantry.

I can only hope that in this they would have tasted the goodness of hard work, love, grace, responsibility, honesty, faith, laughter, forgiveness… and not want anything different for themselves.

Our children long for our input, even when they don’t necessarily agree with it or care for it.

I’m not saying run yourself ragged by trying to make every single moment of their lives a teachable moment because it’s just not possible.

I’m not called to create a perfect home but I am committed to making our home a life-giving home where my kids know that they are loved, safe, forgiven, valued and constantly learning about life.

I’m also not saying it’s going to be easy. We try to eat at least one meal together as a family and it’s usually dinner. In the picture below do you see all of the attitudes?

My husband was trying to connect with them and all he got in return were attitudes. Sometimes we just press on, sometimes we call them out on it and press on and then there are times we just sit in silence with them. Just remember our kids will do the “attitude thing” or “the I’m too cool for you thing”, from time to time, but maybe lately it has been all the time. But I beg you parents, please do not to give up on them. They need you to fight for them! They need us to be intentional!

family breakfast

What helped me become more intentional was we came up with a list of our core values as a family. I would encourage you to come up with a family mission statement and figure out the 5 or 8 things your family is about.  Think about the foundational things you want to pass on to your children. We did this last school year with our kids and it was fascinating to hear their thoughts about our family and to see them own our family mission statement.

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