Intentional Parenting

God has been whispering to my heart lately about parenting. Specifically about parenting my precocious two year old, Peyton.

God has been showing me that the way I parent Peyton every day directly effects the person Peyton is and will become. It sounds obvious, right? Well, sometimes I take a while to catch on, I guess.

Peyton will be 2 years old tomorrow. As she grows and becomes a young girl, her personality is emerging. She is passionate. She has a strong will, but it is balanced by a sensitive and compassionate heart. She doesn't do anything halfway. She throws herself into each and every experience without holding anything back. To be honest, sometimes looking at her is like looking into a mirror. As I watch her, my first born, I am reminded of the days when my own heart was as free and child-like as hers. When every new day was the dawn of a new adventure. When the world was full of hope and blissful mystery. 

When an education was found in every experience.

For Peyton, almost everything is new. In her 2 short years she may have already traveled the globe, but she still has never seen so many things. She has yet to learn how to count to 15. She doesn't know how many letters make up the alphabet. She's never heard the word "antonym" and she doesn't know about different religions. She's never heard of Lady Gaga, or the South Pole, and she's never seen a snake.

Recently I have been struck with the revelation that what I don't teach my children, they will learn somewhere else.

Peyton loves the movie "Charlottes Web". As you may know, Charlotte (the intelligent talking spider) dies at the end of the movie. There is a brief scene where Charlotte explains to Wilbur (the spring pig) about death and how it is the "way of all of us". As I watched Peyton stare at the screen and absorb the words being spoken, I realized that that was the first time she'd heard of death. I had never spoken to her about it... so she didn't know... but, now she did. And she learned it from Charlotte's Web. Was that really where I wanted her to learn of it?

Now I realize, that chances are she didn't really take in that definition and chances also are that she won't remember that scene long enough to understand it. But, God used that moment to teach me that Peyton is learning and will learn about all the things of this world. The good, the bad, the beautiful, the horrifying. Who will she learn them from? And will her teacher speak with love and tenderness? Or will those who teach her care nothing of how the education they provide strikes her tender young heart?

That same night, after my girls were sound asleep, I knelt down and asked God to help me be a parent. I asked him to help me to be intentional as I teach my daughters. I have to be honest, most days as a mother of 2 little ones, it's difficult to see the big picture. It's easy to simply try to get through the day without always acknowledging the importance of making calculated parenting decisions. But as I knelt there before God, He led me to a passage in His word that I now call my road map for raising my kids.

I want to read this passage over my children every day. I want to write it on their hearts and inscribe it on their hands. I want them to live this way... If they live with this passage as their constant instruction, then I will have been a mother who has done well before God. I can only pray that God will give me the grace and power to teach my children to obey these words:

(Note: I know this is a long passage, but if you are a parent I urge you to take the time to read it through. Pray it over your children today and every day.)

Proverbs 4

"Hear, O sons the instruction of a father,
And give attention that you may gain understanding,
For I give you sound teaching; Do not abandon my instruction.
When I was a son to my father, 
Tender and the only son in the sight of my mother,
Then he taught me and said to me, 
Let your heart hold fast my words;
Keep my commandments and LIVE;
Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding!
Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth. 
Do not forsake her (wisdom) and she will guard you;
Love her, and she will watch over you. 
The beginning of wisdom is: Aquire wisdom.
And with all your acquiring, get understanding.
Prize her, and she will exalt you; 
She will honor you if you embrace her.
She will place on your head a garland of grace;
She will present you with a crown of BEAUTY.

"Hear my son, and accept my sayings
And the years of your life will be many.
I have directed you in the way of wisdom;
I have led you in upright paths. 
When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; 
And if you run, you will not stumble.
Take hold of instruction; do not let go. 
Guard her for she is your life. 
Do not enter the path of the wicked, 
And do not proceed in the way of evil men. 
Avoid it, do not pass by it.
Turn away from it and pass on. 
For they cannot sleep unless they do evil; 
And they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble. 
For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.
But the path of the righteous is like the LIGHT OF DAWN.
That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.
The way of the wicked is like darkness;
They do not know over what they stumble.

My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings. 
Do not let them depart from your sight; 
Keep them in the midst of your heart, 
For they are life to those who find them
And health to all their body.
Watch over your heart with all diligence, 
For from it flow the SPRING OF LIFE.
Put away from you a deceitful mouth
And put devious speech far from you.
Let your eyes look directly ahead
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
Watch the path of your feet 
And all your ways WILL BE ESTABLISHED.
Do not turn to the right, nor to the left; 
Turn your foot from evil."


Melissa Reiner said...

I've been loving the comments from you lately, and I need to start commenting more on your posts! I too always love reading them!! (and I was impatient waiting for a new one from you, hehe!)

These are some heavy thoughts. Wow. I read this a few days ago, and I still keep thinking about it. I've prayed a lot recently about staying in the moment each day, savoring every little thing about my children, but to add in the reality that each "insignificant" instance in our day-to-day lives can be a whole new learning experience to them REALLY keeps you on your toes. I always worry I'm going to forget something really big or miss an important teachable moment.

Kids are just amazing! So much to teach them, and so much we learn from them ..

Anyways! Great Proverb! I plan on reading it more often. I often read a Proverb to the kiddos along with their devotions to start instilling as much wisdom as possible into their little minds and hearts! (I skip the ones with the seductress, haha).

AND Happy Belated Birthday to precious 2 year old girl!!!!!!

Emily said...

I'm same as Melissa above. I read this a couple days ago and have thought of it since. Finally I've had a chance to come back and read the proverb and comment.

You're quite insightful, I have to say. And I really don't want to say "for your age", (cause I hated when people said that to me) but it's really true (sorry).

I love your intentions that you have with your kids, the proverb is perfect and I especially love the last few verses.

Callie Nicole said...

Great post, Claire! I love that you wrote about this, because even though Wyatt isn't old enough to be learning too many things yet (besides how to roll over and sit up), I've been thinking in a similar vein lately.

Truly His said...

wow, claire!! That is sooo powerful. what a wonderful momma you are!!