3 Ways to Improve Your Intentional ParentingMar 13, 2021
3 Ways to Improve Your Intentional Parenting
Are you looking for a way to raise resilient and well-adjusted children in today’s modern world? Wondering how to have a better, more healthy relationship with your child? Then let’s talk about intentional parenting. First off, what is intentional parenting? What exactly does it mean to be an intentional parent? And how can you be a more intentional parent?
We’ll walk through it all and then I’ve got three quick suggestions for you. You want to know the beauty of this? Being an intentional parent and forming an intentional family culture isn’t complicated. You don’t have to go and Google “intentional family definition” or read a stack of books. And there isn’t a list of scripts you need to memorize in order to parent your child. Really, intentional parenting is quite natural once you get to the root of who you are as a mother and reconnect with your true self. Let’s jump in.
What is intentional parenting?
So what exactly is intentional parenting? Intentional parenting is an approach that focuses on building a strong relationship with your child. The focus is on empowering you to build a strong relationship that starts when your child is a toddler or younger, and continues all the way through adulthood. When it comes down to it, intentional parenting really starts with intentional living. It’s about being intentional with your thoughts, feelings, and actions, and working on your relationships with yourself, others, and your children. It’s about being responsive instead of reactive.
What does it mean to be an intentional parent?
To be an intentional parent means that you’re present with your child. It means you’re doing things with them to form a deep relationship. It means you’re supporting them in their interests and creating a safe place for them to grow and explore.
Being an intentional parent also means providing clear boundaries and establishing healthy routines that help your child feel secure. As an intentional parent, you understand that a parent-child relationship is very different from a peer-to-peer one. Yes, you are friends with your child, but you are first and foremost the parent. This means you have a responsibility to guide them and provide gentle, yet firm love when needed.
Being a parent is a big responsibility. But guess what? You already know the type of mom you want to be. Yes, we all have our own “intentional moms” right inside ourselves. What does that mean? I’ll explain, so stay with me.
How can I be a more intentional parent?
Here are three tips you can start implementing today to become a more intentional parent:
- Understand what it means to be an intentional parent
- Examine your beliefs about yourself as a mother and challenge them
- Make some changes and give yourself credit
1. Understand what it means to be an intentional parent
I want to go a bit more in depth on what it means to be an intentional parent by talking about some different parenting approaches and where they sit on a continuum (this video might help also). On one end, you have what I call fear-based parenting or authoritarian parenting. This is a type of parenting where you parent using rewards, punishments, and threats.
What are some examples of authoritarian or fear-based parenting? Maybe you act against your child’s need for love and belonging by putting them in timeout or grounding them. Or perhaps you dig at their sense of attachment and connection by taking away their favorite toy. This type of parenting works in the short-term, but over time it can really cause your relationship with your child to deteriorate, as they lose trust and their sense of security. You will also find that you have to constantly “up the ante” by yelling more, threatening more and taking away more, to produce the same results that you used to.
On the other end of the spectrum sits permissive parenting. This parenting style lacks rules and boundaries and essentially just lets the child roam free without any boundaries or consequences. Some people confuse this with positive parenting. Positive parenting and permissive parenting are NOT the same thing.
What are some examples of permissive parenting? Permissive parents may let their kids stay up as late as they want. They may indulge their children by catering to their every need, regardless of whether it’s good for their child’s emotional or physical health. They are more of a “friend” to their child, not giving healthy direction or guidance, but rather letting the child take the lead.
A permissive parent may buy their son or daughter a new toy at the store simply because they asked for it. Or they may go out to eat fast food several times a week just to satisfy them. While giving your child whatever they want in the moment can be easier than saying no, it’s not effective in the long run. Children who don’t have boundaries ultimately end up feeling confused and less free in the long run. They lack a secure, safe environment where they can learn what they must do to be healthy and happy. They need guidance, nurturing, boundaries, and direction in order to build a solid foundation for a happy life.
Natural parenting is right in the middle. Also called intentional parenting or positive parenting, it’s about forming an intentional bond with your child. A bond that is natural and built on trust, where your child doesn’t feel like they’re living in an authoritarian dictatorship, but also doesn't feel as if they can simply run free with no consequences. Natural, intentional parenting leads to a bond that is natural and secure. This bond isn’t built in a day though. You may need some time to become a more intentional parent, and that’s ok. Parenting is a process. Moms of all ages are improving and growing each day. Nobody’s perfect. In fact, perfection isn’t even the goal because it’s not only unattainable, but an unrealistic and harmful ideal. We’re all learning and progressing as humans. Parenting will always be imperfect, but accepting our imperfections and learning from them each day is what will help us keep moving forward.
2. Examine your beliefs about yourself as a mother and challenge them
The way you parent often comes down to the way you view yourself as a mother. What are you saying to yourself? Are you comparing yourself to other mothers? Are you focusing only on the negative? What stories about your own motherhood do you have? Challenge your thoughts about how you’re doing as a mother. Look for evidence that you’re doing a good job. Chances are you can always find at least something you’re succeeding at. Focus on the positives. Challenge the negative thoughts you have about yourself. This takes some work.
How do you begin? Start by writing down all the thoughts that come to your mind about yourself as a mother. Write down EVERYTHING. Do a brain dump. Get it all out there on paper. Next, take some time to look at each thought individually. What are you saying about yourself? What are you believing to be true? Is there any evidence that what you feel is actually true? Is there evidence that you really ARE succeeding as a mom?
Challenge every belief and work on journaling daily to fight back against the negative beliefs you have. Rewrite the way you look at yourself. Say it aloud. Rewire your brain. Once you see yourself as a good mom, you’ll naturally start to parent differently. Changing the way you view yourself will do more than reading any parenting book ever will. It sounds simple, but don’t dismiss it before you give it a try. If you are struggling with this process, I give a lot of tips on Instagram, so reach out to me there and I can help.
3. Make some changes and give yourself credit
Once you start improving your relationship with yourself, you can then turn your attention to your relationship with others and with your children. Think about some simple changes you could make. What would you do as a mother if you knew you were a great one? Guess what? You already ARE a great mom deep down. You just need to believe that you are. “I’m a great mom, so I’m going to…” Try writing that down several times and filling in the blanks to make some simple goals for yourself. A wise man once said, “We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day.”
What can you do to build a stronger relationship with your child? What small step could you take to improve? Maybe you could make the morning routine less of a chore by putting on some fun music. Or perhaps you might decide to create a fort and do some reading together. Make some small, manageable goals, and start making a few adjustments. Above all, just remember that mindset is key. Consistently envision in your mind the mom you really are and want to be and filter everything through that. Once you start believing you’re a great mom, you’ll become the mother you’ve always wanted to be.
I firmly believe that becoming an intentional parent is much simpler than we may believe. I know you can do it. If you’re feeling a little stuck right now, don’t feel bad! I’m always here to help.
Crystal The Parenting Coach