What does Intentional Parenting mean? By definition, it means to make consistent decisions that respond to your child’s behavior rather than
reacting to their behavior. Being deliberate in the way you parent and connect with your child. But how does a parent accomplish that in
Well, there isn’t a simple answer to that question, but rather a series of answers that can be found if we ask the right questions about our own childhood experiences. These can be surface level questions about your childhood or deeper questions. It just depends on your comfort level when it comes to reliving your childhood. When I decided to become an Intentional Parent, my questions started off simple. How do I feel about my parents? Were they too strict? Were they too controlling? Was my childhood good? Now, those answers can provide a general idea of what your childhood was like, but they don’t provide enough depth to change the way you parent.
So, you have to go deeper and ask the questions you’re afraid of answering. Were your parents emotionally available to you? Did they show up for you the way you needed them to? Did they abuse you in any way (emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally, or sexually)? Did they shame you when you made a bad decision? Did they celebrate you when you came in last place or did they tell you that you should have done better? Did they compare you to your siblings or other children of different races as a way to teach you to be better than them because being who you were wasn’t good enough? Did they judge you for your sexual orientation or mannerisms? Did they make you feel like the black sheep of the family because you didn’t go along with the status quo? Did they believe you when you told them someone wronged you? Did they choose their significant other over you? Were you always isolated or alone?
When we answer the deeper questions with honesty and compassion, we can determine if there was a breakdown in the parenting we received, as well as create an opportunity to parent our children differently. Now these types of questions are difficult to ask and answer, because we don't want to come off as being ungrateful or disrespectful to our parents, but let me offer a
different perspective. What if our childhood wasn't the best experience simply because our parents didn't know how to love us with intention?
They knew how to financially provide for us and physically be there for us, but the emotional availability wasn't there because they simply didn't know how to be emotionally available to themselves. Using this narrative can alleviate any resistance you may feel when digging into your childhood, and allows you to offer compassion to your own parents because they are humans that make mistakes just like you. Now that was the easy part. The hard part is using your childhood experiences to create a nurturing environment that your child can thrive in. I personally believe that Intentional Parenting is a trickle-down effect.
Once you start becoming intentional with your own Inner Child, that energy will start to cascade down to your child. When you start showing up for the
little girl or boy inside of you that feels abandoned, rejected and invalidated, is when you can show up as an Intentional Parent to your child. Healing your Inner Child is the gateway to becoming an Intentional Parent. When you have a rough day at work, you deserve some extra care and consideration, even if you have to provide that to yourself. When your child has a rough day at school, show them some extra love, attention and understanding. Pause and take a timeout before reacting harshly to situations. Really think about the lessons you want to teach them, then teach them in a loving way. Be kind to them because they are human just like you.
Speak to them with respect so you can set the bar for how other people treat them. Provide a safe space for them to talk about their feelings and express why they’re having a frustrating moment. Teach them that it’s okay to feel sad, mad or irritated with a situation, and that smiling through everything is not always the best method because it creates suppressed emotions. When they’re exhausted, they should have access to a place of peace for them to rest. We are products of our environments, so a healthy environment is filled with positivity and compassion, not chaos and negativity. Show your child the importance of emotional and mental self-care.
We all need mental-health days or a break from the pressures of life to recalibrate ourselves. So if you see your child is struggling, then offer them a
free day with structured activities that will teach them to rest when the body needs rest, and move when the body is energized enough to move.
Teaching yourself and your child to slow down as needed is a way to strengthen the mind-body-soul connection.
When your child makes repeated mistakes, think of the repeated mistakes and cycles you’ve made. Use those moments as opportunities to show them where they can make a different choice so the outcome can be more favorable. Show them how to retrace their own steps with patience and kindness in your tone of voice. As adults, we tend to repeat cycles until an outside source offers us a different perspective, so be that outside source for your child. Having more open and honest conversations with your child, and taking accountability for the times you were impatient or neglectful towards them are the beginning stages of becoming an Intentional Parent. Children mimic the behavior of their parents, so the parent sets the tone for the relationship. The relationship you build with your child is going to be the template they use to build their relationships in the future. Show your child that positive and loving relationships are built on honesty, respect, love, compassion, accountability and structure.
Reconnect with your Inner Child so you can build an intentional relationship with yourself and your child. Remember, Intentional Parenting is a side-effect of reparenting yourself.
I want to leave you with an excerpt from a book I read towards the end of 2021 that really
catapulted my decision to become an Intentional Parent and strive to heal my Inner Child.
-Healing Through The Akashic Records-
by Linda Howe
“If a child experiences a needy moment, reaches out to a parent, and finds the parent unavailable, there is a jolt to their system, and the child interprets this lack of availability as rejection. It is important to recognize that there is no energetic distinction between unmet needs and rejection for a child. Both kinds of “rejection” equally affect them and create the pattern for Self-Rejection and Self-Abandonment”.