I get a lot of questions about child training (here’s how we handle sibling squabbles) and while a lot of them have some simple “do this” solutions, a lot of the time the answer is a lot more complicated. The answer to nearly all child training questions is, you must have your child’s heart. What exactly does this mean and how do we gain our child’s heart?
Proverbs 23:26 says it most like I’ve worded it,
My son, give me thy heart; And let thine eyes delight in my ways.
but Proverbs has a lot to say about parents and their children’s hearts.
My son, if you will receive my sayings, and treasure my commandments within you, Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding….Then you will discern the fear of the Lord And discover the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:1-2,5
My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments; Proverbs 3:1
Proverbs 4 is speaking about the instruction of a father to a son and says in verse 4
Then he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; Keep my commandments and live;”
My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart.
If you notice in all the passages, the purpose of gaining your children’s hearts, of teaching them to listen to their father’s instruction is to teach them the fear of the Lord. You teach them to have a relationship with you so that you can teach them to have a relationship God.
This concept of having your children’s heart is vast and complex and I don’t pretend to have or know all the answers. It is something that Mark and I have been aware of and have focused on in our home since we were married. I believe the rewards of faithfulness in this area are most evident as your children get older and become more independent, but there are signs of success or failure early on. A parent who is paying attention will know if they have their child’s heart.
Gaining our children’s hearts is one of the main goals in our homeschool and one of the main reasons that our homeschool looks so very, very different from most other homeschools. Our focus is not primarily on education, it’s on relationship (with God and others) and character building. (We have typically called gaining our children’s hearts, relationship building, so we’ll use both terms for the time being.)
This is a huge issue to tackle and I’m praying that as we look at this we will all learn to be better at loving our children. In the near future I hope to talk about what having your child’s heart means or what it looks like.
In the meantime, I’d love to learn from you, to hear what you think it is to have your child’s heart. I’d also love to hear from those of you with older children. What have you learned? What did you do right and what would you change?
Other posts in “Your Child’s Heart” series:
- How Can You Tell if You Have Your Child’s Heart?
- What’s Your Responsibility (Discipline)
- What’s Your Responsibility (Instruction)
- It Requires Time
- Our Insufficiency
- The Pearl’s and Your Child’s Heart
- How do You Find the Time? Part 1
- How do You Find the Time? Part 2
- How do You Find the Time? Part 3