There are millions of ways to be a parent. For thousands and thousands of years, people have been raising their children—some, admittedly, better than others. Survival parenting and intentional parenting aren’t new concepts; they’ve been around as long as parenting itself. We’ve just put labels on them in modern society.
To put it simply, the difference between survival parenting and intentional parenting has everything to do with intention.
If your intention is just to survive raising your kids, you’re a survivalist parent. If, however, your intention is to raise your kids to be whole, successful, and independent, you’re an intentional parent.
“If I can just make it through the diaper-changing days…”
“If I can just make it through the terrible twos…”
“If I can just make it through the teenage years…”
At the end of those requisite 18 years, survivalist parents sigh in relief. They’ve done it. They’ve survived. But, what about the kids? More than likely, they’ve spent years being babysat by TV sets. They’ve been disciplined with extrinsic motivation in the form of bribes and threats, and as a result, they feel no intrinsic motivation to succeed. Chances are, they’ll end up right back at home sooner rather than later. Or, if they’re not inclined to couch-surf at their parents’ place, they’ll rarely, if ever, return home to visit.
In either case, survival parenting not only does the kid a great disservice, it also hurts the parents in the long run, too.
“How can I help my child learn to do this for himself?”
“What’s best for my daughter in this situation?”
“What will I wish I had done five years from now?”
Intentional parents ask the tough questions of themselves in order to foster growth in their children. It’s not the easiest way to parent, but it’s the best for the kids in the long run. Intentional parents don’t worry about making it through the difficult stages in their children’s lives. They worry about equipping their kids to face challenges for themselves.
The Real Difference
The real difference between intentional parenting and survival parenting is in the results. Children who’ve had intentional parents grow up to be self-assured, confident, independent, successful, and well-adjusted. Children who have had survival parents may end up perfectly fine, but that will have been in spite of their upbringing, not because of it.
Of course, there’s no definitive right way to parent, but if you have the right intentions, you’re definitely on the right track.