In a world full of information, suggestions, and advice from family, friends, magazines, and experts, you might feel a little lost or overwhelmed with figuring out what's the best way to support and guide your child.
One thing that has helped me tremendously in my parenting journey of my neurodivergent children is to have a path to guide me that is based on my priorities and values. That way, when I get off track, I can sniff my way back to what is most important to me, my children, and my family.
In our online course and community for parents of neurodivergent kiddos, Dr. Rebecca Brandstetter and I have developed a pathway based on our WISE model, which stands for Wisdom, Intentionality, Self-Care (and self-compassion), and Everyday Strategies.
Let me break down the WISE model briefly
I’ve talked a lot about mindfulness in past blogs, so I’m going to focus on the “I” in the WISE model and dive into Intentionality today.
What is intentional parenting?
You might have heard the term conscious parenting, which is the parenting style that focuses more on being mindful with parenting choices. Well, intentional parenting is similar in the way that it comes from our parenting wisdom and helps inform and guide us.
Intentional parenting simply means adapting your parenting style to your priorities in a mindful way. It’s being aware of our values, so we have intentionality and tailor our actions to meet our child’s needs to their unique needs. It provides intentions (different from goals) to focus on and reminds us of how we want to show up with our kids and family. It helps us identify what we can do to support our child and what we can let go of so that we can focus on connecting with our kids and with ourselves.
Intentional parenting means you bring conscious attention to what's happening NOW instead of being hijacked by your emotions and/or distractions. It's not about being the perfect parent, and it's not something you can fail at; it's simply paying attention to what you are feeling right now and letting go of the shame and guilt of the past. It's accepting rather than trying to change or ignore.
Why do your kids benefit from you being an intentional parent?
Through intentional parenting, we become more aware of our own thoughts and feelings and get clarity to be less scattered and more focused on priorities.
Over the years, I realized that having intentionality in parenting can help move us away from default mode (survival mode), where you are trying various strategies to help your child without a clear vision. That can be like throwing spaghetti at the wall to see if it’s cooked enough.
Ultimately intentional parenting helps us feel more at ease and raise children who grow up in the world equipped with confidence, kindness (to themselves and others), acceptance (of themselves and others), and unconditional LOVE.
How to be an intentional parent
Here are three tips that I used (and continue to use) to raise my children with intention:
Intentional parenting is about making that special bond every day, even if it's just sitting near them which they have a snack, or listening to their new favorite song (I just did this with my 15-year-old, and it was so powerful to hear his take on the lyrics), etc.
And if you want to get specific on what you can do with your kids every day, you can grab my activities calendar here.
As you can see, intentional parenting is about deep reflection to get clarity and then to use that clarity daily to be mindful so that you can engage and support your child with more ease and joy!
There is no one else chosen for the role of parenting your unique and amazing child but you. No one can raise your child the way you can. It is all meant to be, and if we can accept that gift and appreciate it, our children will also appreciate it and will thrive because of it.