Doing things with a purpose

by Brittany Gilbert

Without a doubt, my biggest goal in parenting is to be intentional. Being intentional simply means doing things on purpose and taking advantage of moments to use them as opportunities to teach or spend quality time with your children.

Being intentional may look different for different ages and stages of your child’s life. You’re being intentional if you’ve set limits, created rules, pray over meals or provide training in different areas of life.

One way that we are intentional with our kids, ages 3 and 1, is by finding teachable moments. They are in such an active stage, so it can be difficult to stop everything and learn something, so we have had the best luck in finding these teachable moments in their very active moments.

One of the best times to teach a child is when they are upset or in trouble. It isn’t convenient, but it is so important. It is easy to get upset with your child when they are throwing a fit or acting up, but keeping your cool and using the moment to teach them how to be angry is rewarding. For example, our 3-year-old, Canaan, threw a fit at the gym recently. He didn’t want to leave, so he let me know in a very loud and defiant way that he wasn’t going to obey. It was embarrassing, but instead of losing my temper, I used the moment to teach him that there are consequences to your actions.

One of the best places to have a conversation with active kids is while traveling in the car. Sometimes it’s great to play music and be goofy, but it can be just as important to talk to your children about different things. Sometimes I use car time to teach our son about different things that we see — buildings, stop signs, traffic lights or other things that he notices. Other times, I may talk to him about strangers, being nice to his brother or even ask him questions to find out more about the things he likes. It’s always amazing to me just how much he retains from these little conversations.

For parents with any children, but I would imagine it’s even more important for older kids, being intentional can mean that you are paying attention to the media your child is exposed to. Although some songs are catchy, certain celebrities and TV shows are popular and social media and specific apps are what everyone else is using, that doesn’t mean your child has to follow suit. The most popular songs on the radio often have explicit lyrics and grown-up themes and messages that most teenagers shouldn’t be exposed to.

Modern technology can be so useful, but it can also be very scary. The scariest and most harmful device your child may have is their own phone. When not used responsibly, a smart phone can be dangerous, so intentional parenting can help your student avoid real trouble. Maybe you have “phone time” at home when they can only use their phone between the hours of 6-8 p.m. and you keep their phone in your room overnight.

A filter for computers and laptops is a must these days to avoid spam and exposure to everything the World Wide Web can offer. Also, consider random searches of your child’s phone and laptop. It isn’t an invasion of privacy, rather an intentional way of ensuring that your child is being responsible with the privileges you’ve given them.

As a former high school teacher, I have seen and heard too many stories that revolve around poor use of technology. Students are exposed to adult material at such a young age, and while it may not be possible to avoid every situation or image, it’s a step in the right direction.

There are so many ways to be intentional with your children, but again, the main idea is to do things on purpose. When people comment that my children have good manners, I know that it comes from the moments where we taught them to say “please” and “thank you” and that holding doors open for other people is kind and appreciated.

Important steps in being intentional include creating time, turning off technology and making connections. In the hustle and bustle of life, it’s more important than ever to really be intentional.


Brittany Gilbert is a former FACS teacher at Maumelle High School. She and her husband, Levi, have two sons and live in Conway. Brittany can be reached at [email protected].