In my house, Jenifer and I are constantly trying to give attention to the myriad of child-rearing issues that are ever before us. With five kids stretched out over fifteen years, there is a lot to give attention to: discipline, schoolwork, behavior, attitude, spiritual growth, etc.
But what we struggle with the most is staying connected to our kids' hearts. For we know that if we do all the right things and make all the right rules, yet don't maintain a heart-to-heart relationship with our kids, then our efforts are meaningless. Josh McDowell once said that "Rules without relationship lead to rebellion." I think he's on to something.
Proverbs 4:23 speaks to the heart being the center of everything in our lives. It says to "Guard your heart with all diligence, for it is the wellspring of life." If that's true, then parents will do well to make sure that, above all else, they develop and maintain a heart connection with their kids.
Turansky and Miller spoke to this on their blog at the National Center for Biblical Parenting. I encourage you to read it and evaluate some of the ways that you might press in to your child's heart, no matter what their age. Here's what they had to say:
Connecting with a child is easier for some parents than others, and easier with some kids than others. Parents and kids have different personalities, likes, and dislikes. With some kids, connecting takes real creativity and persistence. Here are eleven suggestions to help you find ways to connect with your child’s heart.
1. Talking. Children often like to hear stories from your own childhood. Don’t feel like you have to tie a lesson into the story. Just tell it to them as if you were relating the details to a friend.
2. Listen to your kids. Take an interest in their activities and their day. Once they start talking, draw them out with more questions.
3. Touching. A hug or a gentle hand on a shoulder communicates warmth and love.
4. High-energy activities. Kids love excitement. Look for exciting activities to enjoy together.
5. Look for ways to share your child’s interests.
6. Give occasional special treats.
7. Find a task and work at it together as teammates.
8. Offer genuine praise for a job well done.
9. Have fun with your kids. Be silly, tell jokes, or wrestle.
10. New times in a child’s life set the stage to connect emotionally. Be there and available to share the moment.
11. Traumatic events provide opportunities to develop closeness. Remember that the most important thing isn’t fixing the problem, it’s restoring the heart.
In short, enjoy your kids and have fun with them. Take an interest in their lives. If you don’t feel like it, do it anyway. Your kids need your playfulness, love, affection, and joy. When you give to your kids, you contribute to their well-being and your family’s strength. Yes, it’s sacrifice, but the time you put in now will go a long way toward reducing friction when it’s time to confront or discipline.
This parenting tip is from the book, Parenting is Heart Work by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.
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