Parent the heart


As we raise our children, especially little ones, it’s easy to be consumed by their behavior. We decide that they get a timeout for poor table manners, or if they throw a toy, we take that toy away. But do we ever stop to think about how these behaviors might be a reflection of their hearts?

And while it’s one thing to be short-sighted and overly concerned with behavior, it’s another thing entirely to ignore the heart completely. Sadly, I see this all around me. In my area in particular, parents are overly concerned with achievement—whether it’s academic, sports, music or art. These parents shuttle their kids from one activity to the next, do flashcards for “fun” and don’t stop to think about their little ones’ hearts. Without a focus on values, these kids turn into teens and adults who feel entitled and who simply don’t know how to be kind.

The Ezzos describe it nicely:

“There is truth in the old proverb that says, ‘For a man thinks in his heart, so is he.’ Our life is the product of what is in our heart. What is in the heart of a child is the product of parents putting their moral convictions into their child’s moral warehouse,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 79).

As you think about your child’s heart, I suggest you take a methodical approach. Make a list of the qualities you want to see in your child. The Ezzos focus on several:

  • Submission to authority
  • Respect for age
  • Kindness for others
  • Respect for property (their own and others’)
  • Value for hard work
  • Respect for nature

If these values are on your list, think about how they manifest themselves in daily life.

  • Submission = Obedience to parents and teachers
  • Respect for age = Clear a path, give up a seat, pick up a dropped item
  • Kindness for others = Sharing, giving, kind words, thinking of others
  • Respect for property = Cleaning up, being organized
  • Value for hard work = Completing chores without complaint, going beyond what’s required
  • Respect for nature = Don’t litter, pick up garbage

This is a short list. There are many, many other ways our values play out in daily life.

Think about how you might teach these values. I can say that we come across every one of these values any given week. For example, I work with William to ensure he’s doing his best work when doing homework. If his handwriting is sloppy, I’ll have him practice just that.

With Lucas, we’re working on obedience and kindness for others at school.

If you have a toddler or preschooler, consider working on submission/obedience first. If you don’t have that, you won’t get very far when requiring your child to do chores to learn the value of hard work, for example. Check out my eBook to learn the daily steps to achieve first-time obedience.


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