Sometimes when talking about Intentional Parenting, there are misconceptions that because intentional parenting means to plan, that children will have their hand held, and everything planned and organised for them in a strict, structured regime. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Whilst intentional parenting does mean being intentional in your actions and taking into consideration every iteration of your parenting journey, it also means to consider the impact of big lifestyle decisions, such as a job change or overseas move, on the family. Having this awareness and mindfulness promotes recognition that time with our children as children is precious and short, so each moment must be considerately planned to make the very most of the moments we have.
Here, we’ll use some of the guiding principles of intentional parenting to best dispel the most popular myths.
1. Is it all about planning out a rigid schedule for my child?
No! While Intentional parenting does encourage the addition of things like a chores rota or a routine, this is so that your child can learn structure and productivity, both which are only beneficial for their future. Having structure promotes good work ethic through the gratification of completing a task or event while chores invoke responsibility and empathy. These are all key tools which later translate into being mindful, and intentional, of the impact of their actions on other people’s environments, such as in a job or shared accommodation.
2. Do I have to be strict?
Absolutely not. Intentional parenting encompasses consideration, which means communication. If you are in a family unit with a partner, communication between the two of you is a core value of intentional parenting. Both of you should agree boundaries and non-negotiables ahead of time, and work as a unit to shape your child’s path. Do not let one parent say “yes” and another say “no”. Instances like these can confuse a child and muddy the waters of boundaries. Receiving the same feedback from both parents makes it easier to lead your child in the direction you wish them to take.
3. Do I have to plan ahead and protect them from everything?
When you practice as an intentional parent, you teach your children the importance of having intention in their actions. A great, educational place for this to begin can be from natural consequences of their choices. For example, how many children put their new shoes on and tell you that they will not need a band-aid, only to later need that band-aid? When safe to do so, allow children to experience what happens if they make the wrong choice. This will teach them how to weave intention into their decision making and allow them to make better, more informed decisions later on.
4. Do I need to have had a good upbringing?
Not necessarily. If you feel your upbringing was not an all-round positive experience, ask questions of the type of parenting you received. What did resonate with you, and what didn’t? Why not? Use this mindful awareness of the good and bad to fuel your parenting approach. If something was bad for you, be intentional in avoiding repeating that experience with your child, or if there was a beneficial lesson in it, just perhaps approached the wrong way, approach it from an entirely new, different perspective.
5. Should I restrict and regiment their screen time?
All children should favor connection with the real world instead of a screen, but living in a consumer society does make it easier for children to be influenced by mainstream marketing of popular products, leading to materialistic values and traits. Instead, be intentional in your approach to preventing entitlement by teaching the true value of how much things cost. Introducing a savings or allowance system can help children to learn the true value of money and make them better prepared for handling financial responsibilities later in life.
6. How do I discipline with intention?
Intentional Parenting discards discipline and instead promotes an open, constructive discourse as to why the behavior was unacceptable or negative. Children will push boundaries, but the word no is often a closed response, and not beneficial in guiding them to a better direction or decision. Instead, be intentional in your methods to not only dissolve the situation but restructure the problem in a way that is both more fulfilling and meaningful for your child should it ever occur again.
7. Should I talk about big life events with them?
Yes. A key value of intentional parenting, encourages us as parents to be present and transparent with our children at all times. That means inciting mindfulness of the impact your decision could have on their life, such as when you move house or change jobs. It also means being especially considerate when it comes to family time. We are all guilty of bringing external stresses home, but these negatively impact the harmonious family connection. Switching off and being present means committing yourself fully to being in the moment and enjoying your children.