What does it really mean to be intentional about our relationships? I sit with the marinating question.
To me Intentionality means that words and actions are “on purpose”. If I live intentionally, I hope that my words and actions can benefit children.
Yet, in the trenches of daily life, I can I feel challenged by business and routine, and by patterns of communication that are perfunctory or rough around the edges. At these times, positive intentionality seems to go out the window. As a parent, it was often all I could do to make it through the day, let alone, remember to be intentional about it.
Gene Roehlkepartain, Ph.D., of the Search Institute, known for research in factors that promote resiliency, undermines the importance of intentionality in relationship to children in our lives (http://www.search-institute.org/blog/relationships-the-oxygen-of-human-d…). Although Dr Roehikepartain writes about intentional mentorship, his words also apply to all relationships with children: “…we can find ways to be more intentional in the lives of more young people, we can go a long way in truly tapping the deep reservoir of relationships that can enrich—or even transform—young people’s lives, helping them get or stay on a path toward a thriving and hopeful future.”
Dr. Roeeehlkepartain lists five elements—CARE, SUPPORT, CHALLENGE, SHARING POWER, AND EXPANDING HORIZONS. Specifically, strong, helpful relationships, that develop resilience, include the intentions to show caring, to be supportive, to allow for challenges (rather than taking care of everything), to share power, and to encourage expanding creativity, ideas, and perspectives.
The elements help me clarify and focus my own intentionality in relationships. The elements gift me key words to remember during busy times. As one dives into a project with a child, says good night, or even drives the car, the key words lead to simple open ended questions, such as “How can I show caring?” “What would ‘providing challenge’ look like now?” “What questions and statements would show that I share power in an age appropriate way?” “How can I support her in expanding the boundaries of creativity or in seeing a bigger picture?”
Some days it comes easily….the opportunities to enact care, support, challenge, shared power, or expanded horizons are obvious and seem to present themselves. I immediately see the “right” moment to reflect to a child my caring, or provide support. The impulses come from deep inside or from the child hereself.
Other days are less obvious. Answers may bubble up out of nowhere at a later time, or be harvested in learning from past situations and even mistakes.
If clouded by emotions, one may need to use tools to change to a higher or bigger perspective that encourages ideas and answers. I use breaks, dance, walks, forgiveness, meditation, and clearing activities to clean the way for opportunities to express intentions.
What does living intentionally with our children mean to you? What helps deepen your intentional relationships with children?