When I was playing around with the title of this post I couldn’t decide if it should be called ‘5 Ways To Capture Your Child’s Heart’ or ‘5 Ways To Win Your Child’s Heart’. After seeing it on paper, it became crystal clear. It’s definitely about winning your child’s heart.
There is a battle raging for the heart of your child.
These days there seems to be a battle for their very soul!
I have a unique vantage point with this younger generation. I’m involved with a wonderful abstinence based organization called AmplifyYouth Development. We speak in public and private (Christian/Catholic) high schools about healthy dating and the benefits of abstinence until marriage. When I was in training, I had massive fears the students would rebel against an ‘old lady’ coming in to talk to them about dating and sex. In reality, I found a very different vibe in the classrooms. These kids are YEARNING for someone to guide them. They are sooo overwhelmed. Maybe it’s because of the sexual pressures they face. Maybe it’s because technology overstimulates them. I’m not sure what it is, but I do know they are, generally, a lost generation riddled with depression, fear and anxiety. And they want help. Do you know on Day #5 they beg me to stay? I find that both encouraging and sad at the same time.
The first day I ask what it feels like to be heartbroken and what it feels like to be frustrated. Here is the typical responses I get. So sad.
5 Practical Ways To Win Your Child/Teen’s Heart:
1. Honor what God says in 1 Timothy 5:18:
“Anyone who does not provide for their relatives,
and especially for their own household,
has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.“
1 Timothy 5:18
Ouch. That hits home. Now in all fairness, this verse is specifically referring to caring for widows, however, this Biblical principle is universal. Take care of your family. Especially those in your household. It’s not that complicated. Wait…it is complicated.
For our family, this means balancing ministry work and family life. If we don’t put up firm boundaries, we could literally meet with people (either in person or by phone) 7 days a week, 365 days a year! Rod and I decided a long time ago we didn’t want our daughter to grow up and say, “You two saved the whole world and left me sitting home alone. Everyone else was more important.” We’ve always feared she’d end up resenting God and we’re just not willing to accept that risk.
God gave me a vision
that TOTALLY changed
how I approach Motherhood.
In the vision I was in heaven, walking in a forest when a young woman approached me and said, “Do you know who I am? Do you recognize me?”
When I looked deep in her eyes I realized it was my daughter Cora!
She said, “I want to thank you for the life you gave me on the earth. You were the one who was assigned to me. I’m grateful for that.”
Hmmm. Assigned to me. I have to keep remembering that my kids are literally assigned to me. I have to make them a priority. Period.
2. Be present.
This is a hard one! I always feel like I have so much to do. So many things to scratch off my ‘To Do” list. And, honestly, it feels SO good to scratch things off that list. Personally, my biggest offense is being on the phone when our youngest is in the car with me. I have to keep reminding myself what it’s like to listen to somebody else talk on the phone in a car. It forces everyone else to be really quiet and it’s kind of selfish. Thankfully, I’m getting better at breaking this habit. Yay.
(Disclaimer: Please obey your state law in regarding to talking on the phone while driving. In Illinois, it is permissible with a hands free headset or Bluetooth.)
3. Get into their world.
Do what they want to do and participate in the activities they enjoy in their free time. (You may have to start playing sports or even playing dreaded video games!) Sometimes Cora and I send photos to one another on our phones…it’s strange to me but she likes it. Who knew?
And I cannot BEGIN to tell you the amount of reality TV shows I’ve watched! Everything from Storage Wars to Dance Moms to Animal Hoarders to Rocky Mountain Bounty Hunters. I’ve learned that my daughter feels loved when I sit next to her and watch her shows. Once again, who knew? Now, I am NOT a big reality TV kind of a girl, it seems super boring and trivial at times. It’s especially difficult when I have a lot to do. But I try to remember…
It’s hard to carve out time
to enjoy my child’s ‘trivial pursuits.’
It’s hard to lose my child’s heart.
At the end of the day I need to “pick my hard.”
I consistently have to reign myself in and stop trying to fix their stuff. My kids don’t want things fixed…they want to be heard and validated and encouraged. I once read that every child has a specific time of day, a 15-minute window, when they love to talk. My daughter’s ‘window’ is right after school. Find the window!
5. Ask your child or teen how you could pray for them.
We need to be praying. When I ask my kids what’s going on and how I can pray for them, I demonstrate that what is important to them is also important to me. Sometimes they share and sometimes they don’t. And that’s okay. If they don’t, that’s my cue to back off and wait for a more opportune time 🙂
“Anyone who does not provide for their relatives,and especially for their own household,
has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
1 Timothy 5:18