Famous baseball catcher Yogi Berra played against slugger
Hank Aaron in the 1957 World Series. An on-plate exchange occurred between the
two when Aaron prepared to bat. Berra chided, “Henry, you need to hold the bat so you can read the label. You're gonna break
that bat. You've got to be able to read the label."
Aaron remained silent, but he
knocked the ball out of the park on his next hit. After running the bases and
touching home plate, he responded to Berra, “"I
didn't come up here to read."
In a word, Aaron exuded intentionality. Merriam-Webster
defines intentionality as “done by design.”
It speaks of the quality of being purposeful and deliberate.
We can approach parenting purposefully and deliberately. First,
we can be intentional with time. When my daughter was four, we began going out
on dates. Our first one included dressing in our “Sunday best” one afternoon and
eating lunch at Dempsey’s Pizza. Now that she is a teenager, I still look for
times and ways to spend time one-one-one.
Building the relationship with our children requires time.
Don’t swallow the old lie that only quality time matters. In reality, quality
time cannot be manufactured. It occurs in the middle of quantity time.
As our children grew into pre-teens, we began taking them on
summer overnight father-son and mother-daughter excursions. Last fall my
youngest son and I enjoyed an overnight excursion kayaking on the French Broad
I know life is busy. I know the months and years clip at a
fast pace. So let’s take out our calendars now to plan quantity time.
Second, be intentional with reading. The importance of
reading in raising wise, productive children cannot be overstated. Mark Hamby
of Lamplighter Books shares that only
two natural factors determine how different you are five years from now: the
people you meet and the books you read.
We can expose our children to great books from history,
great stories from literature, and great attributes from people’s lives. Be
careful to not let your children’s repertoire consist only of the latest
superhero or potty-humored popular series.
Child-appropriate series abound retelling classic stories
like Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island, and Little Women. As your children mature,
guide them toward good, positive literature that is well-written,
thought-provoking, and teaches life lessons. One man said, "The only natural things that will make you different five years from now than who you are today are the books you read and the people you meet."
We can be intentional with boundaries. Remember, we are not
primarily our children’s friends. We are their parents. One seminary professor
said leadership means you get far enough ahead of people so they can spot you
are the leader – but not so far ahead that they mistake you for the enemy and
shoot you in the bottom!
Intentional parenting requires making hard and sometimes
unpopular decisions. We set boundaries for our children for their best
Last summer, my wife birthed a marvelous plan. She created a
chore chart for electronic time. In order for our children to use their phones,
video games, and devices, they had to earn time-based on household chores. I’ve
never seen them so motivated to clean the house!
And be intentional with family devotions. Raising
Christ-followers in our homes necessitates time spent at the family altar.
Various methods and catechisms abound. However, I found the most effective
approach is to simply open the Bible and authentically share what is on my
heart from God’s Word. The genuineness of Dad and Mom sharing from God’s Word
out of the overflow of our personal relationship with Jesus Christ leaves an
indelible – and intentional - print on the souls of our children.
This article first appeared in HomeLife magazine in January 2019.
Pictures used by permission from Pixabay.