Natural vs. Intentional Parenting

I recently went over to a friend’s house for a girls night of cupcakes, wine and mani pedis. It’s a rare occasion we get a long enough period of time to do our nails, much less allow them to dry. The conversation began with the latest nail colors and flipping through Glamour Magazine…within ten minutes we were talking about poop.

You see we are all moms of toddlers and try as we might it’s inevitable that conversations tend to include poop, naps, and what our kids are eating then how those poops look on the way out (see how this comes full circle?). The conversation took a very honest turn with a rare confession, one which we all identified with. We don’t always feel like mothering comes naturally to us.

It’s impossible not to compare myself to other moms. I know I shouldn’t. I know it only makes me feel worse. Yet there I am watching a mom recite some rhyme to make her kid giggle and wondering how she knew that! Was there some class I missed out on? I think we all know those moms, maybe you are one, that can come up with a game at the drop of a hat or can turn any situation into a teachable moment. They are the moms I watch and envy wondering how they think up that stuff when I’m just trying to get through my day of laundry, cooking and cleaning.

My mother in law is one of those people. She has taught my son to do most of the cute things he does. I remember coming home from BlogHer and she had taught him to say “UP.” It has been one of the most helpful things she could have done! Just this week she taught him to knock on the bathroom door and say “Na Nock.” It’s so flippin cute I can’t stand it! So how come I can’t think of cute or useful things to teach him? I spend all day with him and the best I can do is get him to come to me to put his shoes on.

I remember a time when my Dad would take me to the basketball court and teach me how to dribble, shoot and best of all do a layup (Is that what’s it’s called?). Now if you know me I am NOT a sports fan, never have been. My Dad would force my brother and I into sports camps and soccer teams kicking and screaming (by the way none of that kicking ended up in a goal…unless you count for the other team). None the less he tried his best to make us well rounded individuals and I’m thankful for that. I can confidently hit a tennis ball, baseball, volleyball, golf ball and shoot a basketball. Granted Im not that great at any of them but at least I can do it with the right form and usually make contact with the ball. All this to say my Dad was intentional. Parenting may not have come naturally to him either but by golly he tried. And when the chips were down you could always count on my Dad to be there in the way he knew how.

Mothering may not always feel natural to me but one thing is for sure I can always be intentional about my parenting. My love for him is unconditional and I have an enormous responsibility to show him where that love comes from. I may not know all the cute nursery rhymes or fun games but I do know how to show my son the love of Christ. And hopefully one day he’ll learn how to wipe up his own poop (from my Mother in Law of course ; ).


This post sponsored by Pro Dunk Hoops. A family-owned company specializing in designing, manufacturing and installing outdoor basketball goals since 1984.  Maybe if my Dad had heard about this company when we were younger we may have ended up with one of these in our driveway. (My Dad is going to get WAY excited about the fact that I even mentioned sports in a post!)


  1. You’re a great mommy Kate and teaching your son the love of Christ is the best thing you could ever do for him.

  2. And you can teach your son the skills your dad taught you.

  3. I think that as primary caregivers we get caught up in the “business” end of parenting most days. Scheduling, monitoring, managing the day. Sometimes we do miss out on the chances for fun or playful teaching. The meals, bath, sleep and then later–homework, playdates, activities–can take over. It happens to me regularly. But then there are the glorious moments of closeness. Those little moments when my daughters turn to me with something they need to talk through or a funny story they share. With little ones, there are times you peek in them sleeping angelically or cuddling right before bed.

    You use the word intentional which is a nice way of looking at things because it means you’re paying attention. Just keep being mindful and those sweet, playful moments will open up. And don’t discount the business end of things. You’re a rock, a touchstone and dependable. This is what kids need. It’s the long term version of showing love.

    Thanks for writing this. Gave me pause this morning and I’ll carry that through the day.

    • Deborah, thank you so much for your thoughts. I love your reminder to not discount the business end. We are called to be rocks, touchstones to our children, someone they can count on. Im so encouraged by your words. Thanks again.

  4. Every parent I know — I mean, every GOOD parent I know — parents differently, and in a style that best suits them. It’s important to know that there’s not one right way to raise healthy, happy and curious children. We all find our own way, just like you are! 🙂

    • Thanks Jen! We are all so different and what works for one kid doesn’t for another. Just another reminder that we need to be flexible and give ourselves grace.

  5. As working moms, we feel guilty every day, if we work because we work, if we don’t because what are we missing. I think as long as you MOM feel happy, you’re being the best MOM!

  6. Parenting is one of the most challenging process a human being go through, I found myself wondering if I’m teaching my kids enough, feeding them right, etc, so I like to think that loving them unconditionally and spending time with them is what they need most from me 🙂

  7. I count on my older kids to teach the little ones to do cute things. I’m on the hook for remember to feed, clothe and buckle the carseat. I think when you are not the one who has to do everything, it’s easier to remember to do the FUN things. That’s something I try and pay attention to. I intentionally make breakfast for dinner and break my own rules something, because all work and no play makes for a very un fun parent!

  8. Kate….you are an amazing mother. You know I was thinking about this today. I was out with both kids by myself and all I wanted to do was get through dinner without a mess or a meltdown since we were at a restaurant. So I started trying to play a game that my son plays with his grandmother. Do you know what he said to me? He told me that we couldn’t play it b/c it’s only a game for him and grandma. That made me feel horrible. It was in that moment that I made up a game that him and I could play together… are doing such a great job…’s so hard not to compare ourselves to other women but know that you are making an incredible impact on your son….

    • Thanks Caryn! I have a feeling I will once hear the same thing out of my sons mouth as well. That Little Man is a Grandmas boy thru and thru. ; )

Speak Your Mind