Parents’ primary role is to build a loving, supportive, and safe environment for their kids. There is nothing else more important than that. It’s not the overflowing closet with designer clothes and certainly not the room full of toys. Even when kids can’t verbalize it yet, they know what they want—time with you and the community they belong to. You will notice that in the way they act around you and your extended family/community. They feel safer. They are happier. That’s the goal that parents must try to achieve.
But building an intentional community is more work than anyone thought. Who has to be in your community? And how can you exclude that nosy aunt that seems to comment on your children’s milestones whenever she sees them? Who can contribute to healthy childcare that will nurture and cultivate the values you set for your children?
Questions to Ask Yourself
Although catering to your child’s emotional needs is important, you have to eliminate people and communities who do not give you the support you need. So, if your mother-in-law berates you for the way you are raising your child, then it only means she cannot be in your intentional community. As much as she loves and cares for your children, her words’ impact on you will be detrimental to your mental health.
Your needs are important, too. You need people in that intentional community to support and encourage you, especially when parenting becomes too hard. On top of that, you also need people who connect with and care for your child. Who are these people? Who goes out of their way to be a part of your children’s lives?
You can easily identify people who are present in your children’s lives. They go out of their way to visit them. They make time for them even if it’s inconvenient for them. These people don’t need to be blood relations. They could be your friend or your distant relatives. Parents know these people. You know in your heart who have the best intentions for your children.
Lastly, who are the people your kids are more comfortable with? They can be teachers, neighbors, or their friends’ parents? These people are the ones who will complete your intentional community. They will nurture their connections with your children.
Start Building Your Intentional Community
To begin, you have to be open and honest to the members of your intended community. They must know your children look up to them. This is the first step toward creating that intentional community. The members should know that they are playing a critical role in your children’s lives.
Next, open up your life to your neighbors, church members, friends, and extended family. Let your children spend as much time with them as possible. Set play dates with the kids in the neighborhood. Provide a way for your community to get to know your children. You have to make an effort to be present at these events. Your kids will look at your presence as a positive sign that you approve of these relationships they are building.
But It All Starts in the Family
No matter how well thought of, an intentional community is bound to fail if you do not practice the same in your household. The community starts at home. Your children must receive the care, support, and encouragement they need from the household members. They will define themselves and identify with the values you espouse in that household before going out to the world and building relationships.
Always be present and engaged. It is such a fast-paced world that it’s easy to forget your kids are just, well, kids. They crave your attention. They want to spend as much time with you as possible. It is exhausting to have to deal with many things in your life but giving time to your kids is one of the most rewarding things you can do. It is also the beginning of their intentional community. You are the first member of that community.
Time is of the essence here. An intentional community cannot survive without you or the people in your kids’ lives spending time with them. Through time, you will nurture and cultivate the values that your kids will carry throughout their lives. That and an environment that cares, loves, and makes them feel secured are the most important things in an intentional community.