Our children are in a stage of shaping and growing while under our care. They have so much potential and we have so much influence in this season. Often we have goals and ideals for our children that we want to implement but aren't sure how to do that in a practical way.
And sometimes I think we can overcomplicate something that can really be quite simple. Sometimes it's not always easy making the hard decisions for our children, but the Bible gives us some great direction as parents.
So here are 4 things you can do to reach the heart of your child.
Spend Time With Them
This is one of the most tangible things you can do with your children, and honestly, it doesn't need to be anything fancy. Play a game, read a book, kick a ball back and forth outside. Most of the time, children don't care what you do with them, just that you do something with them.
Spending time with your children is the most tangible way to show them you love them. That's how they perceive it best. And there is no way around this very real need. It's a large part of nurture that cannot be ignored. You can reach the heart of your child by being their biggest fan, by investing yourself in their lives in more ways than just meeting their physical needs.
Protect Their Heart from Negative Influence
There is much debate which abounds when it comes to what is considered negative influence. This is a place where discernment is necessary for you to make those decisions.
It begins with the media allowed in your own home. This may be the most powerful influence aside from their peers. What children take in is what helps shape their beliefs and can either shape their hearts with goodness or with evil. I think because there is so much garbage and very little wholesome media, we tend to compromise.
We cannot lie to ourselves and believe that negative media won't have a negative effect on our children. That's not to say that a child will become a criminal for watching negative television, but it can still awaken and feed behaviors and desires that are not of God. It is our duty as parents to keep their hearts protected, especially as they mature. What may be OK for us as adults to watch could be damaging to a child. Be mindful of what their hearts are taking in.
Plant Seeds of Truth
Children are born with a sinful nature and their hearts need to be taught and shaped with the Truth of God's word. A child left to himself is likely to draw upon his own conclusions when not offered direction and instruction.
This may not seem like a practical step, but learning and knowing God's word, planting in the hearts of your children, is a very practical step. The more they know the Truth, the more they can draw from it when faced with conflict and situations that require wisdom.
"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 11So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:10-11
There are so many wonderful resources and tools out there to help with this. Doorposts is my personal favorite. I understand teaching our children the Bible can get overwhelming! Start small.
Our children cannot live God's truth and know what is good and right and true if they aren't taught or don't see it. Which leads to my next way.
Be an Example
Jesus was our ultimate example and we often draw upon His leading to live our own lives. We need to do the same for our children and lead by example. We need to be constantly in the Word, on our knees, and living out what God has called us to do. We need to apologize when we make mistakes and show our children we are not perfect and that we need Christ.
Christianity isn't about getting all the rules right, because we won't. It's about embracing the grace we have been given and utilizing it to empower us to live a life worthy of the calling of Christ. (Ephesians 4:1) When we seek Him, we will find Him. Our children need to know we seek Him and live for Him. It shouldn't be hidden.
The biggest follow up I can offer you in light of these tasks is to be consistent. Consistency is a key to growth and stability.