Intentional Parenting: Creating Meaningful Moments With Your Kids


“I kept asking for hugs because I wanted you to stay longer,” Sammy said to me one morning, referencing our bedtime routine from the night before. 

Every night, once the boys are in bed, I plop on top of the covers, and we read whatever book were currently reading- it’s usually “Dog Man” or “Investigators”. 

I read a couple of chapters then almost beg to be released from their grip so I can get some sleep. Mama gets up early and doesn’t sleep well to begin with. 

“One more hug?” One or both of them will ask. So it’s back and forth, from one bed to another, being squeezed by these little guys. I thought they just wanted hugs- some love from their Mama. 

They wanted me. They wanted my time. They wanted my attention. They don’t just love me. They love being in my presence so much, they don’t want me to go. 

A little while later, after I thought I had left them fast asleep, I walked out of my bathroom to find them both in our bed. Ronan had a nightmare (though I’m convinced neither of them actually fell asleep.)

“I wanted to come here because you make me comfortable,” my six year old said to me. 

I make him comfortable. 

I thought about that for a while- that specific word. Of all the choice words my baby with the extensive vocabulary has, he chose ‘comfortable’. 

He finds comfort in the presence of his mother. My very existence in the room puts him at ease. 

This is Ronan identifying his emotional need and asking for that need to be met. 

As parents, we naturally understand the basic needs of safety and love. A little more complicated than that are our children’s emotional needs. Your child can feel physically safe and know he’s loved, but he may not be getting his emotional needs met. Meeting these needs is what creates healthy attachments in our children that will set them up for healthy relationships in the future. 

The correlation is so profound. You can read about it in “The Body Keeps the Score”. You will learn that sometimes, trauma isn’t trauma with a capital T. Sometimes, as children, our trauma comes from things that don’t happen; my dad never cares about the things I say so I’ll stop sharing; my mom always gets mad at me when I cry so I won’t show emotion anymore; I can’t ask for hugs because it seems to annoy my mom so I won’t show affection. 

Over time, their nervous system tells them what is emotionally safe and what isn’t. Their little bodies have been scanning their entire lives, asking, “am I safe? Is this safe?” And over time, they will adjust accordingly to survive within the family dynamic. 

So what is the point of the nervous system when it comes to creating meaningful moments with our littles? 

It’s not the trips or the surprises that create real and lasting meaning; it is, moment after small moment, of allowing our children’s emotional needs to be met, which lends to those little hearts feeling safe and more connected to you, which leads to those small moments have lifelong impacts.