In a moment of parental frustration have you ever asked your child (just before you pulled your hair out), “What’s wrong with you?” or “How can you do such a thing?” or “What in the world were you thinking?” After 50 years of counseling and coaching kids (while pulling my own hair out at home on more than one occasion) I have learned that every child’s heart has ten sacred compartments that seek to be filled through a father’s and mother’s thoughtful care.
While some very well-parented children “veer off of the tracks” and frustrate well-meaning parents with erratic attitudes and poor choices, most child and adolescent deviant behavior is deeply rooted in the absence of one or both parent’s time, willingness, or ability to nurture one or more of these tender chambers of that child’s heart. The Greeks call the “heart” of a person the “cardia; the volitional center where life makes up its mind.” We call that control center “the will” the child.
Like a quarterback in a football huddle, the “heart” calls the plays, or you might say, determines the attitudes and behavior of the child. The natural tendency of a parent is to scold, spank or lecture the displeasing behavior without really understanding the deeper root of the deportment where the child’s attitudes and conduct originate.
Like any great achievement, raising well adjusted, secure, and well-behaved children is hard work and requires almost limitless time, attention and “know how.” If a parent is limited in any of those three key ingredients (of which I fell short of all three as a dad) and refuses to apply that which is necessary to be effective in your parental assignment, it is unrealistic to expect good choices and positive demeanor from a child especially when the collision of the intoxicating social media culture arrives during the pre-teen and teenage years. But, for the parent who is willing to grow in “savvy” and willing to invest the necessary time, the balance of love and discipline, and listen to the cries of a child’s heart, the rewards exceed almost anything your life will ever know! Is there anything more satisfying and fulfilling than raising a child who lives a life that is honoring to his/her parents and to The Lord?
In our conversation today we will look at the first four of those ten “heart cries” and conclude with the all-important “passing the baton” whereby the long-term fulfillment of the child is built. In next month’s You and Your Child we will continue and look at the next six “heart cries” and how to recover lost ground in your child’s growing up experience.
- Felt Need: I am wanted.
- If Met Fully: I can make others feel wanted. I’m content in my own skin.
- 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.
- 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, 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.
The “passing of the baton,” whereby a faith-filled parent builds God and His Word into these ten sacred compartments of your child’s heart is the most essential component of your child’s life of emotional balance, life-long success, purpose, and fulfillment. It is also by far the most overlooked God given parental duty in 21st century America. As you study Deuteronomy 6:4-8 it encourages biblical parents to “write God’s Word” on our children’s hearts. In doing so those ten “heart cries” are fully met by the only One who can fill them perfectly and permanently. If your relationship with your child is pursued daily, the consistent imparting of God’s word can build such a strong faith relationship between your child and Jesus that our parental shortfalls can be overcome forever! This is the beautiful redeeming psychological truth to cling to during the difficult seasons of growing up.
- God’s Promises: Romans 8:4-12
- Result: Contentment, ability to stand alone
- God’s Promises: Ephesians 2:4-7
- Result: Security in Christ
- God’s Promises: Hebrews 12:6-11
- Result: Peace and understanding during trials, perseverance, courage
- God’s Promises: Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 3:23
- Result: “Audience of one.” I am God’s ambassador at all times. God uses me to show himself to the world around me.
Memorize the verses together at night before bed. Create devotionals for these concepts around the breakfast table and dinner table. Sink God’s love, His purpose, and His plan deeply into your child’s heart and watch the garden grow!
The renowned 17th century French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal could not have been more accurate when he said, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man that cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by the Creator through a relationship with The Son, Jesus Christ.
“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16
Together for the kids,
Resources – Free to Thrive by Josh McDowell, The Gift in You by Dr. Caroline Leaf, The Blessing by Dr. Gary Smalley, Friend to Friend by J. David Stone, Dr. Howard Hendricks, Dr. Bill Bright, Kay Arthur, Dr. Bill Gillham, my sons Cooper and Brady, my daughters Jamie and Courtney, my wife Debbie-Jo and my mom and dad