What a moment it is when you come to the realization that you are soon to become a father. This is true of me as I am at the point in my life, where a baby will be running the show. My wife and I are expecting our little “bundle of joy” some time in September. But, honestly, I am not overly ecstatic about the child yet. That probably sounds terrible, but I am a realist, therefore, I know that all of his life (we’re expecting a son) and our lives will not just be one big Happily Ever After story.
I never had the desire to have children. Well, not never! When I was a child and knew nothing of the work and money behind raising a child, I would say crazy things like I wanted a ton of kids as if having the children were all that was required in being a parent and a happy parent at that.
Things change when your parents bring in children when you are old enough yourself to help babysit them. I was an only child until I was sixteen years old when my parents adopted my first sibling. Nothing could have prepared me for the late night crying sessions or the diapers that smelled like it should have come from someone who had just ingested mounds of trash. Yes, there were times of laughter and happiness (I was there when this particular sibling first learned to walk, a milestone in his life that I am quite proud of because I was there). Plus, my own father has told me time and time again that it is different when it is your own child. He has tried to get me to understand or accept his belief that I will love having my own child, even when he does things that cause me heartache or disappointment. Lord knows that I gave my parents their fair share of heartache and disappoint. But I understand that life is filled with ups and downs and trials and tribulations and I desire the best for this kid.
My desiring the best for him excludes my knowledge of what his personality will be like and the different episodes he will face that will shape his life.
Regardless, I still desire that he becomes a successful person (whatever that looks like I don’t know, nor do I have a specific standard that he will need to meet). His mother and I do hope and will work toward him enjoying some of the things that we like. My wife and I both enjoy reading, listening to music, and both believe that everything in our lives hinge off of our Christian faith. So, we have had discussions about intentionally rearing him up in the Christian faith, making sure that he reads more books than he watches television, and that he listens to sacred music as well as some secular music that I find to be beneficial to him in positive ways. (That means most of the pop music in the last 20 to 30 years and for the next 18 years will be carefully scrutinized by me.)
I’m grateful that my parents were intentional with me and still are with my younger siblings. I can remember my father and second mother doing things like taking me for walks and discussing with me different issues at my school or in the news. They wanted to listen to the rap music that I listened to and paid so much attention to my room that they found some of my “gangster rap” music and lyrics that I wrote that showed that kind of influence. My parents received some flak for being what some called “strict.” Sometimes, they received some criticism by folks without kids and who may have considered themselves to be a bit more liberal. They were not able to keep me out of harm’s way and innocent all of my childhood, but we all think the work paid off in the end. (I would like to think of myself as a decent person.)
After thinking back through my childhood and remembering things they worked in my growth into adulthood, I came to the conclusion that my parents were intent on being intentional parents. When I thought of myself as being a mediocre person because of my skin color and afro-textured hair, my second mother made it her mission to intentionally make me read and study up on African-American history, which caused me to see the beautiful heritage that I came from. I have never truly excelled in the subjects of science and mathematics, but, in spite of my lack of love for these fields of study, my parents were intentional in going over my assignments with me to help me reach my potential. My father believes that a boy needs help with coming into manhood, therefore, he guided me as best as he could and resolved to have discussions with me about finances, marriage, and discipline and integrity.
My parents showed me that there is more to parenting than giving rules and maintaining authority to the human being(s) that come(s) from your loins. There can be such a thing as lazy parenting or bad parenting. I imagine that educators in the public school system can testify to the prior statement. Nevertheless, there can be successful parenting or good parenting, even if the child leaves the home and makes bad decisions or lives opposite of how they were raised. Maybe an alternative word for “successful” when it comes to parenting may be “active”. Active parenting can mean a kind of parenting that is alive and seeks to put the child in a place where they are a benefit to the society surrounding them; molding the child to understand and reach their potential.
So, successful parenting, good parenting, active parenting….is intentional parenting, and intentional parenting is parenting with a….PURPOSE!
How I dream of being half the parent that my parents were to me. Hopefully, my child will come to see, understand, accept, love, and appreciate Intentional Parenting!
(originally posted on – Ricochet.com – on May 3, 2016)