What I do recall is the couple to my right and the way they spoke about their children. Their stories indicated their kids didn't behave how I thought kids typically behave. Siblings were actually kind to one another...their consideration for others was obvious. The parents weren't arrogant or showing off, they just liked their children and it was natural for the conversation to veer towards family stories.
I distinctly recall thinking, "That is what I want my (yet-to-be-born) kids to be like...!"
What I didn't understand then that I know now is I was already forming my parenting philosophy.
* * * * * * *
When my children were younger, I read a lot of parenting books and articles (though, embarrassingly, beyond Dobson I can't recall titles now. I'm old, remember?). We even took a parenting class at our church.
But perhaps more than anything else that affected the way we parented, watching other parents a few years our senior is what I paid the most attention to...
...not just any parents, but those whose kids were polite, respectful, considerate and a general delight to be around regardless of how young they were.
Casually, I studied them, noting the qualities of parent and child, their reciprocal treatment of one another, and on occasion, I'd ask questions.
“If you don't know where you are going,
any road will get you there.”
~ Lewis Carroll
And it hit me, if we didn't have an end goal in mind for our kids, what were we parenting toward? Bringing intention to our choices, our decisions and the way we interacted with our children made a difference...for them and us.
This only magnified as they reached middle school, continuing to intensify in high school.
Having an intentional parenting philosophy doesn't need to be complicated. In fact, my husband and I never articulated it as such. You wanna know how simple it is?
Identify the values and character traits you deem important and desirable in adults, and throughout your child's life, parent with them in mind.
Have a goal, a target, in mind and and let your decisions and style flow from that.
For us, we valued the instruction found in scripture; respect for authority and manners mattered; consideration for others was crucial; and so on.
As our kids hit their tween then teen years, we didn't have to make major adjustments to our parenting style because the end goal never changed; it helped us to remain consistent.
Assignment for you (if I'm doing this everyday, YOU gotta do this everyday!) ~
Formulate an intentional parenting philosophy; or if you realize you're already doing this, discuss it with your spouse if you haven't already. And please share YOUR thoughts in comments. Your wisdom may be just what someone needs to hear!
If you have friends with elementary aged children or older, I'd be honored if you'd let them know about this series. Also, if you haven't subscribed to PENSIEVE already, might you do so in a reader or by email?