Keeping our children’s hearts

I wanted to share something I heard at the homeschool conference I attended last week. It really has stuck with me. The speaker was Kathie Morrisey at The Courtship Connection. Now, I can’t quote what she said verbatim, but what she said impacted me and I believe it will make me a more intentional parent.

Here’s what her excerpt from the Wisconsin Christian Home Educators Association Conference booklet for her workshop entitled The Foundation of Discipline says, “The most delicate step in capturing or losing the heart  of our children is the area of discipline. Training our children is like coaching them in life. We’re pushing them to become better or prepare them. Balance is important because if we push too hard there is injury; if we are too harsh, it kills the desire to excel.”

That was just one of the many workshops she offered at this conference. I attended almost all of her sessions and I found something that I can take away from them. So, let me say, that what I’m going to say in this post is a culmination of what I have taken away from the conference last week. Not just from her, but from a couple other speakers as well.

So, let me preface my post by saying that none of these ideas came from me. I am just regurgitating what I learned this past weekend. The reason for that  is because somewhere out there in cyberspace, someone may come across this blog and read it and benefit from the wisdom that I gleaned. I have been changed. My parenting will change because of my experience. And if I can help just one parent, I feel I have a responsibility to do so. I must pay it forward. Seriously, I know that sounds so cliche, but I really must share what I have learned.

One thing that really struck me was about anger. Now, I’m not a child abuser. Please don’t get that idea. But, I have had times when I have lost my temper at my children and reacted to them in anger. Yep, that’s right. I’m not perfect. You know what, neither are you. Nobody is. The Bible tells us that we all fall short of the glory of God.

Something Kathie Morrissey said at the conference really struck a chord. She said that angry parents will have rebellious children because they close their hearts to us. WoW! I have to admit that we have seen that come to pass in our older children. They are really making some bad choices right now and it’s distressing to us. Now, they make their own choices and we (their parents) are not responsible for the choices they make. Not directly anyway. But, it makes me think about the times when we responded to them in anger. Did we cause them to close their hearts to us?

Kathie said that when we respond in anger to children, they close their hearts to us. It’s self-preservation. They don’t want to get hurt, so they harden their hearts. They may be obedient, but if we have lost their hearts we can no longer teach them or influence them. Someone this weekend asked, “Have you ever seen your children obey, but you don’t have their heart? Have you seen a child delight in obedience to you?”

I can’t remember which speaker said it, but they went on to say that this is why we lose our children when they turn 18. If we don’t capture their hearts when they are young, and then work to keep them, they will obey while they have to. And then when they are 18, they will rebel.

This is a painful truth. I have seen this in the lives of my older children. We thought we were doing the best for our kids. We raised them in a Christian home. We tried to teach them right from wrong. We admitted when we were wrong and apologized to them. We weren’t perfect. But we didn’t capture their hearts and keep them.

I hope that we will do better with our youngest (and last one at home) son. But if any of this rings true in your lives or the lives of your children, take heart. It’s never too late to ask them to give you their hearts. And when they do, don’t let go.

~There’s No Place Like Home

 

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