At the top of the list of “things I wish I would have known” as a young and naïve father of four children, my five-decade education from the “school of hard knocks” study of the “heart cries” of every child would surely be number one!
Our You and Your Child blog a couple of months ago began our study of these “ten sacred compartments” of a child’s heart that long to be filled during the child’s tender years of growing up under his/her parents’ care.
If a parent has the savvy, the time, the patience and the relationship necessary for imparting these ten basic “heart cries,” the child is far more likely live a secure, well adjusted, well behaved and productive life. If these “heart cries” are neglected, the child is far more likely to seek counterfeit alternatives from the toxic 21st century youth culture that surrounds him/her.
The chart below outlines the first six of these “cries of the heart” and the tendency of the child’s heart when the needs are either met or unmet at home.
- Felt Need: I am wanted.
- If Met Fully: I can make others feel wanted. I’m content in my own skin.
- Potential Toxic Behavior if Unmet by Parents: Insecurity, the need for social media approval, craving acceptance from peers, poor friendship choices.
- Felt Need: I am loved.
- If Met Fully: I can love others well. I am more likely to use wisdom in building relationships.
- Toxic Behavior if Unmet by Parents: Unhealthy sexual relationships, pornography, “looking for love in all the wrong places.”
- Felt Need: I am under God’s hand of authority.
- If Met Fully: I see discipline as a means to grow.
- Toxic Behavior if Unmet by Parents: Entitlement, self-centeredness, “spoiled,” out of control, anger, unappreciative.
- Felt Need: My life matters.
- If Met Fully: Motivation, courage, work ethic.
- Toxic Behavior if Unmet by Parents: Procrastination, poor study habits, laziness, video games, Netflix and TV addiction, little interest in God.
- Felt Need: I am appreciated.
- If Met Fully: I appreciate God and others.
- Toxic Behavior if Unmet by Parents: Toxic relationship prey, defensiveness, difficulty in conflict resolution, overly competitive, false pride
- Felt Need: I am highly valued.
- If Met Fully: I highly value God and others, security, healthy self-esteem.
- Toxic Behavior if Unmet by Parents: Negative self-talk, sarcastic, gossip, slander, flaunts beauty/talents, anorexia/bulimia
- Felt Need: I am known
- If Met Fully: I want to know God and others.
- Toxic Behavior if Unmet by Parents: Poor listener, surface chatter, lack of depth in relationships, fear of being transparent, being fake
Filling these sacred spaces in your child’s heart can be accomplished by the parent who:
- Prioritizes your life to get quality and quantity time with your child.
- Saves some “best of you” time and energy for your child’s arrival at home from school.
- Sets daily, weekly, and monthly goals for “best time” parental investment.
- During conversations asks great open-ended questions and listens well. (Use the word “W.A.I.T.” – Why Am I Talking?)
- Teaches your child how to work hard and earn his/her spending money. (A great opportunity for success and discipline!)
- Gives five “atta boys” for every one correction or request. It’s like charging a car battery. Encouragement puts energy into the battery. Instruction and correction, though necessary at times, drain energy from the battery. Criticism and negative sarcasm are like parking the car in the garage and leaving the lights on all night.
- Makes discipline clear, understandable, and consistent.
- Makes boundaries clear, understandable, and consistent.
- Howard Hendricks used to aptly say, “No parent plans to fail, they just fail to plan.” Get creative each week. Plan times for your child to have success experiences and verbally encourage successful moments!
According to Deuteronomy 6, memorizing scripture with your child is a parent’s top priority. As solid biblical counseling will reinforce, filling your child’s heart with memorized scripture and keeping those words of wisdom front and center in your home will ensure long term heart health and fill in the gaps in places parents are unable or incapable of filling. This daily parent-child discipline places permanent love, wisdom, and value into a child’s heart that will launch that child into college and professional life with fulfillment and satisfaction.
A “Word filled heart” guides the ship through dark stormy seas, down long lonely rivers, and across unfriendly ocean waters safely to the shores of adult life.
- God’s Promises to Memorize & Meditate on Together: Romans 8:4-12
- Result: Contentment, ability to stand alone.
- God’s Promises to Memorize & Meditate on Together: Ephesians 2:4-7
- Result: Security in Christ
- God’s Promises to Memorize & Meditate on Together: Hebrews 12:6-11
- Result: Peace and understanding during trials, perseverance, courage
- God’s Promises to Memorize & Meditate on Together: Ephesians 2:10, Colossians 3:23
- Result: “Audience of One” (living for Jesus). I am God’s ambassador at all times. God uses me to show Himself to the world around me.
- God’s Promises to Memorize & Meditate on Together: Zephaniah 3:17
- Result: A love from God that builds a love for God.
- God’s Promises to Memorize & Meditate on Together: John 15:13, Romans 8:32
- Result: Fulfillment. A heart that does not need to look for toxic counterfeit temporary players.
- God’s Promises to Memorize & Meditate on Together: Psalm 139:1-4
- Result: Less need for “fake intimacy.” Delivered from toxic relationships.
K.U. basketball coach Bill Self dropped by twice this fall to recruit some of our Link Academy basketball players. I asked him why he prefers players who are true Christ followers. He insightfully pointed out three reasons. First, he said, true Christian players handle difficult times better. They have more endurance and mental toughness. Second, they are less distracted by all of the many temptations that college athletes face. Finally, players who are Christ followers have better control over their ego.
It is our duty and greatest joy, parents, to prepare our children for those three great results of spiritual maturity.
Together for the kids,