What is Intentional Parenting? (Guest Post)

Oh, friends, you are in for a treat today as my wonderful friend and fellow Oswald
Chambers devotee, Mary Felkins, reflects on intentional parenting! I love her 
transparency and that little bit of sas...but you'll see. Let's just let her talk. 
Then you can read more about Mary at the end of the post.

“Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”

He (Peter) said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said,  “Feed my sheep.” -John 21:17

parenting pine cone“But Mom, I meant to.”

Believe me, that’s not the worst I’ve heard from any of my four kids, it’s just that this one particularly sandpapers my soul. Maybe because it sounds like code for, “I really didn’t give a rip.”

If they were ever to come home from a long day at school and find no food in the house, it wouldn’t go over well for me to say, “I meant to go to the grocery store, but, well, other things mattered more, kid.”

When I’m intentional about a matter, it gets done. I place my energy and attention on it, part the waters, and make it happen. To be intentional about a matter as it relates to my children means…

  • I must shuffle my priorities in order to invest in them, always keeping His purpose for them in mind, not what I hope they’ll become.
  • I must partner with God and pray for teachable moments.
  • I must place them on my radar.
  • I must reject the notion that my job is done when they reach a particular age, somehow believing that it’s okay to let things happen however they will once their training wheels are off and they begin to ride around on their own.

Intentional parenting means I need to make the children God has entrusted me with matter more than all that may be good in the moment and, instead, offer them the best.

When my daughter lugs her backpack into the car after school and climbs inside, I choose to be intentional and ask – with a smile – some kind of leading, non-threatening question.

“Can you tell me something good?”

I may get a non-answer. More often a connection is made and I get something good. It creates a safe place for her to share, and it softens the soil of her heart should the need for correction arise.

God certainly knows intentional parenting. He divinely purposed to be my Father and that I be His child. There’s nothing haphazard or random here. Similarly, He purposed that I be my child’s parent so that I may, in turn, be intentional and teach them about Him.

God purposed that I be my child’s parent so that I may, in turn, be intentional and teach them about Him. (click to tweet)

As my children have entered adolescent years, I’ve had to do less for them (can I get an ‘amen’?), but it hasn’t meant to teach less, to model less, or to neglect teachable moments in exchange for letting them fumble through on their own in order to see how my years of investment plays out before they leave home. They are still students beneath my roof.

However, there is a point beyond which a parent can become, well, too intentional.

There is a dreadful word tossed around like a hot potato at support group meetings and parenting Sunday school classes. It’s… enabling.

In my intent to teach, to instruct, to become involved and connect, it’s necessary to ask, Am I elbowing into my children’s hard places to ease their suffering? If so, that’s enabling and it produces a self-centered child who will grow to become a miserable adult.

It’s likely that the circumstances they face were engineered by the Lord to teach them, create a dependency on Him for all things. Maybe the Lord begs that I become quiet in order for my children to hear His voice. So, shhhhhh.

There are also moments – even seasons – when the Lord has simply invited me to serve them. With intention.

When one of my two sons texted: “Will you please scramble some eggs with grated cheese, chopped ham and fresh torn spinach?” (a pretty particular kinda guy, bent on eating well), at first I cringed and thought, “Now why can’t he get down here and do that himself?” The answer? He could. But in that moment, the Lord said, “Feed my sheep. Serve your son. He’s upstairs studying as he should.”

I’d like to think that morning’s intentional parenting moment was successful because several weeks later I heard the clink and clatter of dishes and flatware in the kitchen. He’d chosen to empty the dishwasher. Without being asked.

Basically, he gave a rip.

You can be sure I plucked a piece of “intentional parenting” fruit from that tree. Because years of, “Kid, I meant to” won’t taste so good once they’ve left the nest.

“So you love Me, Peter? Be intentional. Feed My sheep.”


Mary FelkinsMary Albers Felkins writes contemporary Christian romance. She considers scripture the most alluring romance ever written. She is a feature writer for Sophie Woman’s Magazine (www.sophiewomansmagazine.com) and for Polished Conference LLC (http://www.polishedconference.com/magazine.html), a ministry to teen girls and moms. She is married to Bruce Felkins. They have four arrows in their quiver, Anthony, Alexandra, Jonathan, and Caroline, as well as Dottie, a smooth-haired Fox Terrier and most faithful friend.


Call To Love (working title). A self-reliant ER nurse has to choose between leaving her hometown to pursue a dream job and staying to help support her widowed mother’s struggling ministry. Even if it means facing the risk of falling in love with the kind of man she said she’d never marry.

And when two crisis-driven careers collide, who will be the first to answer the call to love?

For stories that stir the soul, visit Mary’s website www.maryfelkins.com

Connect via FB, Twitter @MaryAFelkins, Pinterest

Email: maryfelkins@charter.net