An Intentional Family Summer

I’ve been talking to families a lot in the last few weeks about their summers.  Mostly, the kids talk about what vacations they’re taking and friends they’re planning to have over.  Mostly, the parents talk about time—and time—and time.  And they also talk about ways... they’re wanting to see their kids grow this summer.  You may have been thinking something along the same lines.  How can you make your summer more intentional?  How can you come together, not just to fill the time, but to connect in ways that grow your relationships?

This blog is our summer guide to lots of those ideas...

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Modeling Forgiveness

Think on the story of the Prodigal Son.  As much as the father extended mercy and forgiveness to this young man, he modeled it as well.  Kids learn more through observation than information.  This boy had wasted all of his father’s money.  He hadn’t invested it wisely, he didn’t have a formal education to show for it, and the money was simply gone.  He didn’t deserve the mercy extended to him.  His father demonstrated something powerful in this exchange.

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Balancing Boundaries and Freedom

This most often shows up in our attempts to set healthy boundaries while also supporting our kids’ independence and allowing them to have freedom.  We speak to this throughout the Intentional Parenting book in our conversations about the importance of allowing kids to struggle.  Tim Kimmel calls them “designed dilemmas,” and the folks at Love and Logic call them SLO’s (Significant Learning Opportunities).  They are simply moments where we avoid jumping in and rescuing, and allowing our kids to learn through their decisions (good and bad).  These moments are always about developing character, and strengthening resilience.  

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Balancing Discipline and Relationship

One of the ways that we steward and protect our kids is with discipline.  We are asked about discipline in our offices on a daily basis, and about every time we speak on parenting.  The topic of discipline generates a plethora of questions, a range of emotions, and a variety of opinions.  We often get stuck on the mechanics of disciplining kids and lose the purpose of discipline.  The Message translates Proverbs 13:24 this way, “A refusal to correct is a refusal to love;  love your children by disciplining them.” 

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Balancing Time

In the first chapter of Intentional Parenting, parents are invited to consider doing a time/activity assessment to put a magnifying glass, to the ways you spend time as a family, and to dissect the amount of time you spend doing the activities you do as a family.  The challenge was to see how this aligned (or didn’t align) with your mission or core values.  This basic exercise can have some surprising results.  I love hearing from families who’ve attempted this, and the strategic, creative ways they choose to adjust the rhythm of their family.  One family I know chose to turn an annual spring break trip into a staycation and opportunities for service.  They alternated days and would explore a different part of the city on one day and serve in some capacity on the following day.  Their children were actively involved in developing the structure of that time.  

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What Do Santa Claus and Victoria’s Secret Models Have in Common?

Not long ago, we released a book titled Intentional Parenting.  It’s full of stories of some of the wise, responsive, intentional parents we’ve had the opportunity to sit with over the years. 

In the book, we introduce a concept called learning through observation - how we can pay attention to the words and actions of people around us.  For example, if we see coverage in a publication or the daily news that highlights an individual acting courageously (or foolishly).  What can we take away from their experience?   Sometimes it’s a friend or classmate of one of our kids who makes a daring or destructive decision.  How can we learn from that? 

Recently, I heard a story about an intentional mom in our community.  She took her young children to the mall to meet Santa Claus and have their photo taken with him.  She established her place in line amidst the masses and then heard her son say “Mommy, why is that woman wearing her bathing suit in the winter?”  continue reading

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