July is designated as Purposeful Parenting Month. What exactly is purposeful parenting in the first place? The definition is fairly broad and adaptable, but often in purposeful parenting, expectations are clearly stated, established boundaries for behavior are put into place yet the child is given the opportunity to make decisions within reason with potential consequences made known. Parents are encouraged to make mindful decisions and to consider their own values and beliefs, as well as the child’s. Think about what you want for your child and your long-term goals for parenting; include your children in those conversations also! I knew that one of my own goals as a mom was to be actively engaged in my children’s lives. Purposeful parenting meant actually thinking about the steps I could take to guide my children, but also how to foster independence and confidence.
While I was learning about purposeful parenting, I looked for easy ways I could parent more intentionally while building a positive relationship with my two boys. Your individual goals for your family and way that you celebrate Purposeful Parenting Month will be unique, but here are some ideas that have helped me to become more present as a mom.
“Put praise on paper” – Author Jean Barnes suggests this idea in her book Purposeful Parenting. My almost-first grader is learning to read and write and he loves trading notes with me back and forth on the Magna Doodle (not exactly paper but you can modify!). Before he wakes up, I leave a note on the Magna Doodle beside his bed with something I am proud of or something special about him. He usually writes or draws something back to me and leaves it in a place where I will find it later. You might prefer to leave a note in your child’s lunch box or another location; make a habit of celebrating your child by identifying what you love about him.
Create family rituals – At our house, we have a goodbye ritual called Hug Kiss High-Five Tickle. Every morning when I’m leaving for work, I gave each child a hug, kiss, 10 high-fives and a tickle (my children came up with this ritual and continued adding components until its present state). Our mornings are usually rushed as we try to get everyone fed, dressed and out the door to work and school, but this ritual allows me an uninterrupted minute with my boys as we start the day.
The “What Would You Do” game– This is a game I began using with my 6 year old when he was in preschool. You can modify based on the age of the child and your child’s abilities. To encourage communication with my son, I start by asking silly questions like, “What would you do if a dinosaur walked into our kitchen and asked for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?”. I also mix in a few serious questions such as what he would do if we were in a store and he was separated from me or what he would do if he saw another child sitting alone on the playground. Both my preschooler and 6 year old enjoy this activity; it’s great for gauging social and emotional development, too!
Whether you use a Magna Doodle or a dinosaur with a peanut butter sandwich to become a more intentional parent, I would encourage you to find ways to connect with your child this summer during Purposeful Parenting Month!
What strategies do you use to practice purposeful parenting?
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