It’s late June, and as parents, we’re sighing a collective sigh of relief. Our families survived another school year, and we’re ready to relax and enjoy summer.
Being intentional about anything is the last thing on our minds, right?
And yet, I’ve been convicted of something lately: Summer is the ideal time to create an intentional parenting plan in order to emotionally invest in our children and to strengthen family relationships.
In summer, we have so much time together without the pressures of homework, school schedules and practices! That's why I’ve been challenged by these questions:
- As parents, how can we use summer to intentionally invest in our children’s spiritual and emotional needs?
- How can we strengthen family bonds with new, fun ways to connect with our kids?
- And, most of all, how can we convince our kids (through our intentional investments) that they are fully and completely loved—by both their parents and God himself?
It all sounds good, right? But if you’re like me, without a specific plan these lofty parenting goals simply won’t come to fruition.
I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve felt this conviction about summer parenting goals for a long time, but, because I haven’t been intentional about them, I’ve let many summer days and weeks slip by without choosing to intentionally invest in my kids.
No more. This is the summer that I’m choosing to intentionally invest in my kids and my family with a specific plan for each child to grow them spiritually and emotionally.
And you can do it too! Let me show you how you can be a more intentional parent this summer and create an intentional parenting plan that strengthen’s your child’s spiritual and emotional needs.
Why Intentional Parenting Should Be at the Top of Our Summer Goals
I have four children and they range in age from 14 to 5. And honestly, it is such a blessing to parent such a wide range of ages because it continually reminds me that my kids won’t be in these stages forever.
In fact, my husband and I have a saying that keeps us grounded when we’re tempted to let intentional parenting fall by the wayside: “Only five years.”
In five years, our family will be dramatically different (and I’m guessing yours will too).
Our oldest son will be 19 and off to college. Our second oldest son (only a year behind him) will also be leaving for college. That means that we’ll probably only have two kids living under our roof (who will then be 14 and 9).
Wow! Put yourself in the future 5 years (and consider what age your kids will be) and let that sink in for a minute.
Pretty scary, isn’t it?
I’m telling you, the at-home parenting marathon feels incredibly long at times, especially in the beginning when our kids are little. It seems impossible to think that these little babies will one day grow up and leave the nest.
But one thing parenting a teen has taught me? Our kids do grow up. They do start to become more mature and to become more and more like adults that we can trust and depend on.
And as a parent, this transformation is both beautiful and bittersweet to watch.
I’m also learning (again and again) that in order to guide our kids through the teen years we need to have developed a strong relationship with them where they feel loved and cherished. That takes tons of intentional parenting (and tons of dedicated time).
Ready or not, our kids are growing up and they desperately need intentional parents who will take advantage of these priceless moments (like summer break) to invest in their spiritual and emotional growth.
Now is the time! We can’t put it off, parents! The clock is ticking and we must to do everything we can to intentionally pour godly truth and wisdom into our kids!
Let’s talk about the first step of creating an intentional parenting plan: Asking ourselves what we really want our kids to know.
What Do You Really Want to Teach Your Kids This Summer?
Jim Burns, an incredible Christian speaker and author of many books on parenting and marriage, spoke recently at our church and shared three important ways that we can intentionally invest in our kids:
- bless them with our presence;
- bless them with our affection; and
- bless them with spiritual deposits.
While these aren’t new concepts, I can’t tell you how much these truths hit me like a lightening bolt as I considered how to intentionally invest in my kids this summer.
My husband and I also feel strongly that, in this season, God wants us to teach our kids about true confidence that is founded in the promises of God (and not in our own self-worth).
So, what does our intentional parenting plan look like for the summer?
- Focused Bible time at least 3-4 days a week around the 10 truths we feel every child should know about God (learn more about it in this post).
- Time to practice godly principles and serve others (including a missions trip to Mexico).
- Continued once-a-week coffee dates with each child.
- One-on-one time each week helping each child with a project or craft (that’s sewing for my 9-year-old daughter, learning to play the guitar for my 12-year-old son, arts/crafts projects for my kindergartener, etc)
- 1 hour daily learning time (to prevent summer slide). A lot of that summer learning will be through Epic!, an awesome online reading tool (like Netflix, but for kids’ books) that my kids can do on any electronic device.
- Reading through a book with our kids (Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is) for our 14-and 12-year-old boys; and Lies Young Women Believe for our 9-year-old daughter)
We're not being super rigid about this, but my husband and I have committed to these intentional parenting plans, and we're going to check in with each other regularly to make sure we're being faithful to meet these summer parenting goals.
But that’s our parenting plan. Yours will look completely different because you have different kids with different talents and who are in different seasons!
Let's talk about how you can develop an awesome intentional parenting plan for your family this summer!
4 Simple Ways to Spiritually and Emotionally Invest in Your Kids This Summer
1) Learn exactly what your kids need in this season.
What are your kids struggling with? How are they wired to receive love? Summer is a great time to learn more about our children's needs and to discover how we as parents can best meet those needs.
Here are three books that I'd recommend:
The Legacy Path: Discover Intentional Spiritual ParentingPass It On: Building a Legacy of Faith for Your Children through Practical and Memorable ExperiencesThe 5 Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively
2) Join your kids in what they already love.
What are your kids interests right now? Even if you may think they are silly, find ways to connect with your kids in these activities.
For example, my daughter wants to learn about sewing right now. I am far from a great seamstress (and honestly, it's not how I'd like to spend my summer!), but I know that sewing could be a great way to intentionally invest in my daughter this summer and spend time with her.
So I'm dusting off the sewing machine and we're coming up with a few fun projects that we can complete together.
3) Bless them with times of your undivided, intentional affection.
When Jim Burns spoke to our church recently he shared how intentional Jesus was in how he spoke to children. In Mark 10:14-16, we learn how Jesus loved other kids by making them feel welcome, and by literally calling them into his arms and offering them a blessing.
We underestimate how much our kids need our physical affection. But they are desperate for it!
4) Choose to make intentional spiritual deposits in their lives.
As parents, we have the privilege of sharing God's truth with our kids. And because we have a looser schedule, summer is an amazing time to really invest in our kids spiritually!
What do your kids need to learn about God right now in order to grow to become confident adults? Some simple ideas include to read a book together on a spiritual topic and to host a regular family Bible study time.
P.S. Go here to learn an easy, free way to teach kids how to study the Bible (perfect for individual study or group Bible study). This amazing Bible study method is how I teach my kids to really understand and apply biblical truths to their lives.
How to Make a Plan to Intentionally Invest In Your Kids
1) Decide what you want to teach your kids.
What do your kids really need to discover right now? What can you share with them this summer that can change their lives?
2) Make a specific parenting plan (as detailed as you need it to be) for each child.
How do your children love to spend their time (and how can you join them in their fun)? In what areas do your kids need growth? What are they struggling with?
3) Take it one step at a time, asking God for his grace and strength.
Each week, ask yourself: God, how can I best encourage my child right now? What spiritual wisdom do they most need?
What Will Your Intentional Parenting Plan Look Like for This Summer?
Friend, I hope you’re feeling inspired to put together an intentional parenting plan for the summer!
I have no doubt that you love your kids and want to invest emotionally in them. However, it’s so easy to just read something like this and not take action (remember—I did that for many summers!).
Today, right now, stop and decide what you can do to invest in your kids this summer. Start small if need be and celebrate your successes along the way.
This intentional parenting plan is such an important investment in our kids! Won’t you join me in putting together a plan to grow and strengthen your kids this summer?
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