Christian Parenting 13: How to win your child's heart

The following is excerpted from the internet. Although the numbered statements speak of how a child's heart can be stolen, the article also shows us how to win our child's heart. If you have more than one child, make individual time for each one on a regular basis. You may wish to print out this article and underline what speaks to you and then put these loving precepts into practice.

4. The heart can be stolen by parental neglect and letting the children live largely in their own worlds.

One missionary who has visited many churches and has observed how that a great many of the young people turn out to be rebels observed,

"I think the most important thing would be to keep close relationships with the children. Lots of parents are too busy with other things instead of being spiritually close to the family. Children grow up in their own world with the videogames, movies, music, headphones, Internet, etc., which causes great rebellion. Once they are old enough to choose for themselves, they will go their own way and not listen to their parents.

5. The heart can be stolen by lack of patience and love, by carnal criticism.

Parents must be very patient and kind with their children. They are delicate. We must have rules and the rules must be enforced and there must be discipline, but we must never forget that they are children and that learning godly character habits and spiritual growth does not happen overnight. It is a long process. The parents must not forget the long and probably arduous process it took them to get where they are.

Many of the respondents mentioned the necessity of showing genuine love to the children. Following are a few examples:

"Give lots of hugs and tell your children frequently that you love them. Even if this gets a bit syrupy do it anyway. Children want this even if they pretend not to. And really mean it."

"It is important as a parent to show your love and acceptance of them consistently from the beginning. Saying 'I love you,' hugs, and actions that support these words are constantly needed to reassure them."

"Young people don't need good teachers as much as they need ministers with a pastor's heart. They need to know that they are cared for before anything else."

6. The heart can be stolen by a lack of close communication and involvement.

Consider the following testimonies from parents:

"Listen to your kids. Really listen and try to understand what they are going through. Take an interest in the things that concern them, even if they seem very trivial to you."

"When they come to you and want to talk, it is important that you listen and don't jump all over them or belittle their concerns. Then they feel safe to confide in you or bring their questions to you, and you have opportunities to teach and instruct their open hearts."

"I'd like to share a piece of advice that someone gave me when we adopted our twin daughters in 1990, and that is, 'You can't spend too much time with your kids.' That's it. Spend time with them every chance you get, even if you are just in the room, doing something else; be there. Be a presence in their lives. And talk at every opportunity. Always welcome their point of view in family decisions. If they know they are being listened to, they ride along. Be genuine about this. When big blow-ups arise, get everybody to sit around the table and work something out."

"Winning children's hearts is something that needs to be done when they are young, by spending time with them, teaching them, and developing interests together with them. Do not put them aside for work, or for your hobbies that do not allow them to be around. Do not think that you will be able to win their hearts after you have allowed someone else to win them."

"I believe that parents can reach the hearts of their children by having a relationship with them. That is, after all, how God reaches us and gets our hearts for Him. Parents in today's society have too little time for their children. Even when kids are homeschooled, my experience is that the majority of the homeschooled kids are teaching themselves. My nine-year-old son is always coming up to me and asking to do something with me. Now, I can't always, but if I never took the time to say, 'Ok, let's sit down and play a game,' then he would want nothing to do with me because he would see that I want nothing to do with him. We must make time to put down what we are doing and sit down with the kids. We parents have to take the time to raise our children. That means spending time with them in God's Word and out of God's Word."

"We believe that one thing that has worked for us has been just staying very, very involved in the child's life, showing an interest in her, talking to her, making sure she knows that she is the most important earthly thing we have, loving her. We have always wanted her to feel that we are open and can discuss anything with her. As a result, she feels completely comfortable talking to us about just about anything, or, for really embarrassing stuff, to her mother."

7. The heart can be stolen by lack of involvement by the father.

We have mentioned the necessity of involvement by the parents, but here we want to emphasize the importance of the father's role. One of the most important ways to keep the children's hearts is for the father to be involved in their lives and to be fulfilling his responsibility to be the spiritual head of the house. Malachi 4:6 says that Elijah will "turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." Thus, we see that when the father's heart is turned to the children, their hearts are turned to him. If a father has been unengaged with his children, he must repent of this sin and confess it to his family and set out to make things right.

"We reach and keep the hearts of the children because of our relationship with them. It is their love for us, just as it is our love for our Lord and Savior, which will cause them to continue to respect us and listen to us. I think back to my own experiences growing up. My earliest memories are of my dad reading me the Bible when I was very young. He cared about our neighbors. I'll never forget him sending my brothers and me out to rake our 90-year-old neighbor's yard. Alongside my dad, we would also shovel his walkway in the winter. Dad made sure we never accepted money for helping out the neighbors. He always had us looking for ways to help those around us. Dad always took the time to sit and talk to me about everything and anything. He was my best friend when I was a teenager. I always felt I could go to him and talk to him about anything. He was very clear about what was sin, and as a result of his teaching me, I also knew very clearly what was displeasing or pleasing to God. Because of my love and respect for my dad as well as for God, I didn't stray into sinful practices which were prevalent in the seventies. I didn't want to disappoint either my dad or my Heavenly Father. Even while at a secular college (Brown University), I devoted myself to my studies, not participating in the darker side of campus life."

One pastor told me that no matter what he is doing with his son, even watching a movie, they discuss what is going on. The father points out things that he sees that are spiritually dangerous, and he encourages his son to state his opinions freely. He is teaching his son how to exercise moral and spiritual discernment. The Bible says that spiritual growth comes when the senses are "exercised to discern both good and evil" (Heb. 5:14). This pastor and his wife are working to maintain the type of relationship with their children that will encourage them to discuss their struggles and temptations freely. This father encourages his children to share their hearts during family devotions. The kids have grown up from a young age conversing with their parents about their inmost concerns. It has become a natural thing, and this has carried over as they have gotten older.

If this communication is jealously guarded and maintained, when the children reach adolescence they will still share their hearts with the parents and the worldly "generation gap" will be bridged. The parents will be able to guide their teenage youth through the great pitfalls that characterize this particular
time of life.

Some fathers take their children on regular "dates." One man told me that few things thrill his young daughters more than their "dates" with Dad. He observes that this has helped him keep their hearts. The same man has a close relationship with his son and plans activities that they can do together that will allow them to talk one on one. He testifies that his son's heart is always tender toward his authority when he makes the effort to stay close to him and to communicate
with him.

Following are testimonies about fathers "dating" their children:

"When [my oldest daughter] was sixteen, the Lord laid on my heart to spend more time with her. For the next two years, every Sunday after church we would go get a Coke and take a drive. Sometimes we would drive for hours and just talk about the Lord. She would ask spiritual questions and we would talk about them. No subject was out of bounds. We talked about developing our relationship with the Lord. We talked about how to really pray and what she was learning from her Bible. What was God speaking to her about? We would talk about what she was looking for in a young man for a godly husband. I made sure she understood that she needed a young man who would not be led by his emotions, but one who would be led by the Word of God. I explained that a young man who is led by his emotions would eventually lead her into sin. We prayed together and became closer as a father and a daughter. I made sure she understood what her mother and I expected from her when she left our home. The key here was it took time. I had to make the time. To this day she still talks about her drives with Dad. This time spent with our daughter on the Lord's day helped her at a time when she was preparing to leave our home to understand the importance we and the Lord placed on our spiritual lives. Parents, spiritual communication is the first key to rearing godly children" (Terry Coomer, Rearing Spiritual Children, p. 45).

"Communication has been one of our big things. When you have a lot of children they get lost in the group, so we have made a point of individual days and times. I might take one of the children out to breakfast before school or for a coffee and chat, and that is that child's time. I think we have kept communication going that way. We feel that communication between the parent and child is tantamount to being able to mould their lives for the Lord. Many times when children reach teenage years they don't want to have anything to do with their parents, but I think a lot of time the problem is that communication links weren't set up early in life. So even when they were four and five years old, we were taking them on dates, one on one, so that we could be connected and involved. That's been one of my venues for discipleship. We've sat at McDonalds and done Bible studies" (Missionary Tony Evans).


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