Intentional Parenting & Pierced Ears

  by Peter Greer

Several years ago, a friend encouraged me to be as intentional as possible with parenting. He continued with the dreaded phrase every parent has heard far too many times, “these kids grow up so quickly.” He obviously had forgotten the nights when the throw-up bug ravages the kids or the tantrums when you feel like this stage is NEVER going to end.

But deep down, I know he is right.

Last year, Lili, my eight-year-old daughter,  wanted to get her ears pierced and I tried to take his advice to heart. Getting ears pierced seemed like a moment Lili was going to remember. It’s one more sign my little girl is growing up.

So instead of just taking her to get her ears pierced, Lili and I created a list of 20 challenges and character attributes we wanted to see in her before she was able to get her ears pierced.

Throughout the year, we were on the lookout for times she exemplified these traits and then would check them off the list as we saw them.

And this week, Lili completed the last challenge.  Laurel and I headed to Claire’s, watched her choose the rainbow sparkle earrings, and then held the mirror as she looked at her pierced ears for the very first time.

Afterward, we celebrated over dinner and were able to again talk through the specific stories where we saw her exemplify the following traits:

  1. Love: Choose to show love to someone sad
  2. Joy: Choose a joyful attitude all weekend
  3. Peace: Choose to remain calm at a time when you feel frustrated
  4. Patience: Choose to be patient with your brothers
  5. Kindness: Surprise someone with a random act of kindness
  6. Gentleness: Show gentleness to someone at school
  7. Self-Control: Choose not to freak out when things don’t go the way you’d hoped
  8. Goodness: Choose to do the right thing
  9. Compassion: Respond to a hurting person
  10. True Beauty: Choose not to complain about clothes
  11. Scripture Memory: Memorize God’s Word
  12. Responsibility: Keep your room organized
  13. Helpfulness: On your own, help with chores
  14. Adventure: Go to Ukraine and France with Dad
  15. Love Grandparents: Spend the weekend with them and receive a glowing report
  16. Gifts: Give something special to Mom
  17. Big sister: Look after Myles [her little brother] as a special helper
  18. Peacemaker: Find a way to resolve a conflict
  19. Family: Make dinner for the entire family
  20. Bravery: Don’t scream when you gets your ears pierced.

I hope she remembers this experience. I know I will. Most of all, I’ll remember how proud I am as I watch my little girl grow into the woman God has created her to be.


In our very distracted modern world, intentionality in fatherhood first demands our full presence.
Shared with permission. Originally posted at peterkgreer.comPicture by Loren Kerns; Used via Creative Commons license.