The Pitfalls of Intentionality

Soaring not Striving

I don’t know about you, but I find it so hard to be gentle and patient with myself (let alone the children!) when it comes to parenting.

I know the verdict is grace, but to live in an atmosphere of grace in parenting is a constant effort. Which of course is a sentence that shouldn’t make sense!

Basically the gravitational pull at work in my heart is towards me and therefore away from grace. The more important something is to me, the stronger the pull. The more I have invested in something, deliberated and planned – the more it is about me. It is the pitfall of intentionality.

Sorry – couldn’t resist the Atari reference – but I’m sure the guy ran right to left when I played it!


I am blessed to have a very great friend – The Doctor – who is not only one of my best friends, but also my mental twin and mother to a very similar (albeit 9 years younger than mine) first child.

As we chatted together about parenting she put it perfectly when she said: ” Sometimes I just wish I didn’t think about it all so much.”

And it can seem that those who just muddle along and fly by the seat of their pants come out of the whole thing less scathed and with much the same results as the likes of the Doctor and myself.

Not that winging it would be our comfort zone at all – we like a plan. ‘If in doubt make a list’ is certainly a motto in my household! No, for better or worse we are intentional people and I wouldn’t really want to change that, but intentionality does bring with it its own peculiar temptations and difficulties to strew across the path of my parenting experience and I feel getting those out in the open may be helpful.


Pitfall 1: Being intentional and being self-forgetful / humble is a tricky combination.

Well, it is for me anyway.

I am an intentional person by wiring as well as conviction. Put that together with a tendency towards obsessive behaviour, high sensitivity and anxiety and the likelihood of taking yourself too seriously becomes pretty high.

A plan needs maintenance. All my lists and ideas and grand schemes need careful attention and so, while I myself am not necessarily the main subject, I do spend a lot of time looking in the mirror of my parenting. Once there, it isn’t too big a jump for a sinner to shift the focus of their gaze back on themselves: mirror, mirror on the wall who is the best intentional parent of them all?






Coming soon: 



Pitfall 2: The wisdom of being intentional can mask the foolishness of believing that intentionality guarantees ‘success’.




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