Intentional ParentingThis past week I had the privilege to travel down to Leon, Nicaragua with a team from my church to drill a clean water well in a remote village.  It was an incredible experience which I will share more about later.   Our trip had us out from Saturday to Saturday.  This was the longest time that I have been away from my family in a long time.  You know the old saying “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”?  Well I think it is absolutely true because, man, I missed this clan.  What a privilege it is to be their parent.  We are a crazy bunch, but we do know how to have fun along the way.  I’m so thankful for my wife and kids.  Throughout the trip I had plenty of time to slow down and think about what it means to be a dad.

In my book “Empowered” (available on Amazon for all you Kindle readers) I shared this thought about the American Life and one of the dangers that we face…

When we scurry through life at the maddening pace of the culture around us, we run the risk of losing out on what is most important.  We walk dangerously close to missing out on the sole purpose for why we are still breathing.

Mom’s and Dad’s, in this season of life God has tasked you with the incredible responsibility and privilege of loving, shaping, & leading your kids.  Don’t miss out on this!  The one thing that I hear consistently from parents farther ahead of me is that it goes by incredibly fast.  No one ever says, “Parenting dragged on for years and years…”  No, they ALWAYS talk about how quick it went.

So if it goes by that quickly, shouldn’t we be intentional with every moment?

Here are 4 ways that we can be intentionally shaping and pouring our life into our kids.

1.  Laugh

We are huge fans of laughter in my house.  We are always laughing, sometimes it’s at my antics, I’m not afraid to say that.  And other times it is over a good book, a funny movie, or a card game we are playing.  I want to hear my kids laughing, and I want them to hear me laughing.  Laughter is good for the heart and good for the soul.  I tell people all the time that Tiffany and I survived the early years of marriage and parenting by laughing our way through it.  And yes, more often than not we were laughing at our kids, and recently we have been laughing with our kids.  They say some of the funniest things.  Right now my 3 1/2 year old is calling all of those festive orange globular shaped gourds “punknicks”.  It took me a moment to figure out what she was saying, but then I realized she was trying to say pumpkin.  If children don’t make you laugh then you aren’t listening hard enough.  Lean in and listen, and have a good belly laugh.

2.  Be Fully Present

We have become amazingly good at appearing to be focused on those around us while we process a ton of other content at the same time.  We split our energy all the time.  We give some to the person we are talking with, while we give some to our iPhone, to the music in the background, or to whatever other thought is running through our mind at that moment.  Give your kids your full attention and presence.  I have to be honest, this is one that is difficult for me.  It is hard for me to sit on the couch and watch “Pippi Longstocking” and not check email, or scan through the news of that day.  I need to fight against that urge, and chances are I’m not alone in this.

3.  Play

I’ve said this before publicly and I will say it here as well.  We need to play with our kids.  This means getting down on the ground, and wrestling with our kids.  It could mean building lego’s, playing clash of clans, learning mine craft, or having a tea party with all the dollies.  Kids long to see you step out of your work uniform and into the role of mom and dad.  They want to know that you understand them, and playing shows that you do.

4.  Listen

Typically I would say that we need to listen to our kids, and I think that is true, but I am becoming increasingly convinced that we need to be listening to ourselves too.  We need to listen to what voice is directing us in that moment.  Are we speaking from the voice of one who is frustrated?  Are we speaking from the voice of mercy?  Or is it the voice of justice, or Grace?  Our conversation with our kids will change dependent upon the voice that is directing us.  Listen and figure it out.

Time with our kids goes by too fast for us not to be intentional with it.