As Josh and I had a heated debate about the Christian’s response to a particular social issue I suddenly realised he saw things differently than I did. For a moment there my whole parenting philosophy shook – had I not captured his heart? In an equal flash I realised this was the wrong understanding of what ‘capturing your child’s heart’ is all about.
The phrase ‘capture your child’s heart’ has been the theme of many parenting books and blogs over the last ten years – I myself have a book on the topic: Heart Focus Parenting. Heart Focus Parenting is a collection of thoughts as I process the question: What does it mean to capture the heart? I had heard the phrase bandied around and yet didn’t really know what it meant. So I dug into the Bible to understand what ‘heart’ meant.
The heart is:
- The place where we process moral truth – the conscience
- The place where we understand, think, process, and know – the mind
- The place where we determine what we will do – the will
- The place where we feel – the emotions and passions
The heart is what makes us tick – it drives our character – the choices we make as we respond to people and situations.
So as parents who want to ‘capture’ our kids’ heart, what does this mean? It means we need to parent – to teach and train:
- the way they process moral truth,
- the way they think
- the choices they make
- and the passions they pursue
Unfortunately this creates in parents a sense of creating little people who will be just like them. This is wrong! Capturing our child’s heart does not mean they will think like us, believe like us, act like us.
This is a really important thing to understand. We are not capturing our child’s hearts to mimic our heart – the right question to ask is “Has God captured your child’s heart?” Our role is to prepare the soil, so to speak, to be a witness, encourager, teacher of God’s ways to our kids.
[Tweet “The right question to ask is “Has God captured your child’s heart?” “]
My heart’s prayer for each of my kids is that God will see them as he saw David; that God would say of each of my kids: Here is a man or woman after my own heart.
We must introduce our children to God’s heart – not our heart.
Of course I want God to say that about me too – that I am a woman after his own heart – but don’t let that muddy up the parenting goal. Our goal is for God to capture their heart.
I want my children to think, act, speak in line with God – and this must be my parenting goal. They won’t be like me – they need to be like God – and this happens as they get to know Jesus for themselves.
This then leaves me with a challenge – how do I parent so that God can capture my child’s heart? But before we go there, we must understand – God is bigger and more than able to capture their heart regardless of what I do. My own father is testimony to this – he did not grow up in a Christian home, and yet God has captured his heart.
As a parent I can:
- Become like Jesus myself, become a woman after God’s own heart – this actually has nothing to do with being a parent. I must desire to know Jesus, I must walk daily with Jesus as my lord.
- Be honest with my kids about who God is – who Jesus is and how my relationship with Jesus has changed my life
- Teach God’s word
- Build a relationship with my kids – it is through having a relationship with our kids that they will listen to the things that are important to us
Our default position as a parent is to want our kids to be like us – to have our children follow in our footsteps. But if we are to be parents after God’s heart ourselves, our desire will be that they follow God’s heart, not ours.
Over to you:
As you reflect on this aspect of teaching our children’s hearts – what are your thoughts?
Do you want an Intentional, Relational, Heart Focused Family? When you have an intentional, relational, heart focused family life you give yourself an opportunity to shape your children’s character and guide their convictions.
When Letting Go doesn’t Have to Hurt Letting our children go doesn’t have to hurt – we have been training them towards this day.
Becoming an Interdependent Family An interdependent family balances autonomy and community; being responsible as an individual but living with family.