Quick-Fix Parenting vs. Intentional Parenting

By Doug and Cathy Fields

If you’re a parent, most likely you joined the parenting ranks with good intentions and excitement. But then somewhere along the way, you lost your confidence. If this describes you — don’t worry — you’re not alone. Every parent struggles at some point because the truth is, parenting is difficult! After all, our children didn’t arrive wrapped in a how-to instruction manual.

So it makes sense that most of us wind up relying on something we refer to as Quick-Fix Parenting, which is exactly like what it sounds — a quick fix to a problem. It’s not necessarily a good fix or a healthy fix or an empowering fix, and it’s definitely not an effective long-term strategy.

At its foundation, Quick-Fix Parenting becomes about stopping your children’s behavior or the agony connected to it — which is often your pain. It focuses on fixing your kid’s problem behavior, usually through verbal reprimands (often out of anger or frustration), negative instruction, and discipline for the sake of compliance.

But using these quick fixes to solve problems does not help kids grow up to become healthy and independent young adults.

So why do we resort to Quick-Fix Parenting?

Most parents embrace Quick-Fix Parenting for the following reasons:

• Their parents modeled it, and that’s all they know.
• It’s easier, more convenient, and relies on impulse rather than intellect.
• It can be effective in stopping and correcting a child’s behavior in the moment to quench potential conflict.

So, how about you — do you frequently find yourself using Quick-Fix Parenting? If you do, that’s okay for now. Most parents start here… but we don’t want you to stay here. Instead, we’d like to suggest that there’s a better way to navigate through the parenting landmines we all face with an intentional approach.

In contrast to Quick-Fix Parenting, which is reactive and spontaneous, Intentional Parenting is about having a long-term plan for how you want to parent your kids.

All of us have dreams for our kids. And caring parents passionately want their kids to become a certain type of person — one that’s prepared and well equipped to succeed in life. But they won’t actually become that person unless we as parents first define what we want them to be like.

To be an intentional parent, we would encourage you to make a plan for your children by beginning with the end in mind. Think about what types of qualities and values that you want your children to have by the time they get out of the house. Then, write them down.

These qualities should be based on inner values and not outer performance (i.e. grades, athletics, popularity, etc.). For instance, we decided that we wanted our kids to possess “5 C’s”: Confidence, Character, Convictions, Compassion, and Competence. Yours could be similar or completely different. What’s important is that you articulate the qualities you would like for your child to embody.

Deciding which qualities you want to instill in your kids for life will inform everything that you do as a parent, whether it’s being a role model, creating a peaceful home, using encouraging words, or providing discipline. We can’t promise that being an intentional parent will always be easy, but if you keep the end in mind and ask God to guide you along the way, you are on your way to having a huge, positive impact on the life of your child.

Doug and Cathy have created two resources to help parents dig deeper into the important topic of becoming intentional parents. Find their Intentional Parenting DVD and Workbook by clicking here.

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Doug Fields

Doug Fields

Doug is the senior director of HomeWord Center for Youth and Family. Doug speaks to thousands of leaders, teens and parents each year. He teaches youth ministry at APU, and provides leadership and resources as a part of the Youth Specialties Team. He has authored 50 books and blogs at Download Youth Ministry. Doug, Cathy and their three children live in Southern California.

  • About HomeWord

    HomeWord helps families succeed by creating Biblical resources that build strong marriages, confident parents, empowered kids and healthy leaders. Founded by Jim Burns and supported by Doug Fields, HomeWord and Azusa Pacific University have partnered to form The HomeWord Center for Youth and Family. Learn More »

  • About Azusa Pacific University

    APU is a leading Christian college ranked as one of the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Located near Los Angeles in Southern California, APU is a Christian university offering associate’s, bachelor’s, master's, doctoral, and degree completion programs, both on campus and online. Learn More »

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