As each new year approaches, I begin to ask God how I can be more intentional in different areas of my life.  One of these areas is parenting.  As a mom, one of the most important assignments I have is to raise my children to know, love, and follow the Lord.  These children are only under our roof for about eighteen years, so I want to make the most of this time! Yet with all the busyness of life, it is easy to become less intentional with that goal. 

But thank God for new years and new starts and a chance to pray and 5 Practical Goals for Intentional Parentingdetermine how God would like me to grow in intentional parenting.  Here are five areas God has put on my heart to be intentional with my kids this year.

1. Intentional to Listen:  One of my biggest struggles in intentional parenting is not taking time to LISTEN to my kids.   I have taught my children the character trait attentiveness.  (eyes looking, ears listening, mouth quiet, and hands still.)  (For more on this concept, click here.) I want to be a good model for them, but too frequently I find myself distracted by thoughts or media and am not paying attention. 

My goal is to plug in my cell phone during meal times, school/homework times, and special family times like playing games or reading with the kids.  I want to take advantage of the time I have with my children, so I can learn what is going on in their world and heart, to know how to best care for and encourage them.

2.  Intentional to Disciple:  I want to continue to focus on discipling my kids spiritually this year. We have been doing family devotionals, and I want to set aside time to for individual devotions and find out how they are doing in their relationship with God.

To make sure I do this, I am scheduling a time once a week to sit down and talk about spiritual things one-on-one, ask them what they have learned, and find out ways I can pray for them as they grow in their relationship with God. (For family or individual devotions for kids, check out my Resources tab.)

3.  Intentional to Train Character:   One area I want to be more consistent with is character training.  Kids always have weak areas that need character growth, and it is our job to help refine their character and get rid of the “weeds” that pop up in their heart.  When I notice these  “weeds,”  I talk about what issues I am seeing in their hearts, and we make a behavior chart that includes the character trait to be worked on, a Bible verse, and the consequences of not displaying the character trait.  We discuss specific examples of how we can work on that character trait and how we would respond in given scenarios. 

Once one weed is pulled, there is frequently another one that pops up sooner than later, but the key is recognizing these “weeds” and getting to their roots by training their heart and not just punishing their outward behavior.  For more on training character, check out Five Ways to Teach Godly Character.

4.  Intentional to Minister to Others:  My pastor likes to say we are “ministers on mission” for God. As followers of Jesus we are all called to minister to others and share the good news of Jesus with people who are open to receiving that good news.  It is so difficult to remember that very important role on a daily basis, so my goal this year is to have our family be open to being used by God to bless someone wherever we are.

I would like to make more opportunities to get to know people we meet, whether it is a waitress or the man bringing the groceries to our car, and find out how we can encourage them and lead them one step closer to Jesus.  We plan to pass out tracts when we feel led, such as at gas stations or with the tip at a restaurant, and I hope that we can all grow in having a missional outlook as a family. For other creative ideas to minister as a family, check out  Sharing God’s Love  family interviews and Serving With Kids  resources.

5.  Intentional to Pray for My Kids:  Finally, when it comes to intentional parenting, I want to be more proactive in praying for my dear kids.  I love the book, The Power of  Praying Parent, and there have been times I have been good at praying through these specific prayers for my kids.  I hope to incorporate this prayer time as part of my quiet time, so that I am always covering my children in intentional prayer each day. 

I also want to take time to ASK God what He wants me to know about my kids, how I can be praying for them and encouraging them each day.  He promises to give us wisdom when we ask Him in faith!  I know the times I do ask Him, He gives me wisdom I wouldn’t have thought of on my own.

I pray that this new year, you will seek God in how He wants YOU to be an intentional parent.  You may not like new years resolutions or making goals, but you CAN ask God where He wants you to grow as a parent and take one step towards that for the new year!

If we make a point to be intentional parents and ask for the Lord’s help, I believe God will use us to make a great impact on our kids for His kingdom!!

Let us not become weary of doing good, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Gal 6:9