BYU Women’s Conference: Intentional parenting

Women gather in the Marriott Center to listen to the opening session of BYU Women’s Conference. Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, and Bonnie H. Cordon, second counselor in the Primary General Presidency, spoke on intentional parenting at the conference Thursday, May 4. (Ari Davis)

Members of the Primary General Presidency spoke about how women can be intentional parents and raise their children in a spiritual atmosphere Thursday at BYU Women’s Conference.

Primary General President Sister Joy D. Jones said parents can’t sit back and wait for their children to accidentally do the right or wrong things; they must actively help their children stretch and lean toward the goal of eternal life.

Sister Jones said parents must be also working toward that goal themselves.

“When we talk about intentional parenting, it is parenting with a goal in mind — it is deliberate, planned and purposeful,” Sister Jones said. 

Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, second counselor in the Primary General Presidency, said intentional parents strive to be proactive so children learn to act, not be acted upon.

Sister Cordon said children and parents need to give highest priority to family prayer, gospel study, family home evening and wholesome activities.

Sister Jones said family councils, where families can make intentional goals and encourage one another to follow the Savior, are important. 

“We don’t know what the future holds, but our role as parents is to prepare and fortify our families from the whirlwinds that will come,” Sister Cordon said.

Sister Cordon said it is always worth being intentional, deliberate and purposeful in one’s family, recognizing children have agency and may not accept these teachings right now. Children will draw on the things they learned in their homes at some point in their lives, Sister Cordon said. 

Sister Jones said intentional parenting takes time and effort, but the small things parents do each day add up.

“The truth is that our circumstances are different, our children and their needs are different, our strengths and interests are different,” Sister Cordon said. “The reality is that there is no singular recipe for perfect parents or a perfect family.”

She said there are perfect parenting examples, however: Heavenly Father is a perfect, mindful parent.

Sister Jones said mindful parenting is important because being mindful requires us to be alert and present. Social psychology books are full of tips on how to be mindful and intentional. Sisters Jones and Cordon shared some of these tips:

  • Don’t do anything for your child that they can do for themselves
  • Don’t overreact
  • Don’t rescue; let them learn from their mistakes
  • Give lots of encouragement; decrease criticism
  • Be consistent
  • Communicate with your spouse often about your child rearing techniques
  • Create a routine to help your child succeed
  • Create adventures

Sister Cordon said parents can act according to the way the Savior would act. She said listening to the voice of Heavenly Father as it comes through the Holy Ghost is a celestial way of parenting.

Sister Jones said life as a parent can be more enjoyable when seeking the Lord’s guidance first. She said parents need to put away the phones, turn off TVs and computers and listen to the spirit and their children. 

Sister Cordon said parents should strive to love, teach and lead their children back to Heavenly Father’s presence. The greatest tool in a parent’s intentional parenting toolbox is love, according to Sister Cordon.

“Heavenly Father notices every effort we make,” Sister Jones said. “Please, please feel his love and gratitude. Nothing that we do as parents to help our children goes unnoticed.”

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