It is not for us to conform our children into our own image, but to cultivate them into the unique people Father God created them to be.
At different stages of their growth and development, this takes various approaches. You, as their parent, want to continually be connecting to the Father about His heartfelt love for your child. I want you to understand the implications and what it looks like, with your children, to live life – from the heart. With your newborns….all the way to your adult children.
Something occurred to me yesterday, almost like an epiphany, while talking on the phone to my cousin about her new baby. She has read all the important and current thoughts on how crucial it is to get your baby on a schedule. Let me tell you…my first 3 had no schedules whatsoever. My last 7 were raised with a schedule. And I have done almost everything one can do, when it comes to scheduling.
I believe in using schedules to assist you in helping to raise and develop your children. I would recommend a general guideline and skeletal structure for your day. To this day, I always have a loose schedule of what the day will look like and consist of for myself and my children. But schedules should be general guidelines, not cast in stone. If one of your children needs to be loved, nurtured, or assisted in any way, they are your priority. People are not interruptions, they are our purpose, especially our own children.
When a baby cries because they simply want to be held and loved by their parent, is that a crime for us to punish or discourage, by withholding our love and affection?
If we leave a baby to “cry it out” as most would recommend today in our culture, the baby will learn to accommodate your priorities and your convenience. But if that is at the expense of putting part of their heart on a shelf, or closing it down, so to speak, is it worth it? Say your baby is crying and you know it is because she only wants to be held and loved by you. You have been told that to cater to that will spoil her. NO, It will teach her that to love and be loved is most important and valuable. To not “cater” to that universal and valid need, most intense in babies, will teach her to shut that down…that it doesn’t matter.
Granted, I know…there are times you must simply let them cry. But not as the norm. And I will hereby acknowledge, some are far needier than others. But if you will make it your goal to fill your child’s emotional cup and honor her desires for your love and attachment, while she is needing that of you…you will have a far happier and more adjusted child to raise.
Most parents make it their goal to impose all the “norms”, as they see them, of their society, culture, class, and religious systems on their children. However well the kids live up to all of these countless expectations and rules of behavior, determines how “good” and “accepted” a child is to their parents. And even more importantly to many parents, is how well the parents themselves will then look to their world of friends, peers, fellow church members, and co-workers.
But to “parent hearts” is a much different approach than parenting actions. It is about genuinely caring about whatever your child thinks and feels. From very early on, we teach our children that they may always tell us what they are thinking, or present to us any new information they want us to consider, but it must be spoken respectfully and with honor. (That is our rule.)
Here is a simple fact, whether your child is a baby or 10 years old, in a very short number of years, they will be 21 years old. If you have not connected with their hearts before they leave for college, or when they move out of your home into their own place, you have lost valuable time and influence in their most formative years. You might still get the chance to connect at the heart level post the move out, but it usually is after they have stumbled along in their journey, or you have had a change of heart and interact with them from a new heart stance.
Don’t be afraid to take the time and energy to listen to what is going on in their thought processes, without being a negative wet blanket. Here is a great quote of Aristotle that our family loves, “The mark of an educated mind is to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
Know that your children will weigh and consider many thoughts, without adopting them. You don’t want them to feel that you judge their every thought. You really don’t have to. Often they will come to much reason themselves, when they hear their own words from their own mouths, as they share their thought with you.
It is about creating an environment where they are comfortable expressing anything and everything, without condemnation or judgement from their parents. Even controversial things!
If they are thinking or feeling anything, it matters to us, their parents!
We have never belittled them, shamed them, or made them feel that their thoughts or feelings are insignificant or invalid.
Because they are convinced their hearts matter so much to us, they feel very safe talking to us about anything. Nothing is “off limits” in our conversations with our kids. We all love to bring things to the table to discuss and explore together. And because we LOVE AND LISTEN, they are much more inclined to listen back – to any input we have on any matter and allow us to influence their thinking and thought processes. And that my friends – is a mighty privilege of parenting – never to be taken lightly or abused.
Even as Father God Himself did not dictate to us how we must think, feel, and act, but He gave us guidelines and then the freedom to walk out our walks. And journey our journeys. And struggle through our struggles. Might we learn from His parenting skills?
He comforts. He listens. He loves. He affirms. He approves. He is always “there”, loving us unconditionally.
He never condemns. He doesn’t give up. He does allow us to suffer our own consequences. He always believes the best of us.
But He is not into boxed behavior norms. Look around you….consider every person you know. Every one of those personalities, with all their tendencies, idiosyncrasies and uniquenesses – HE FASHIONED EACH ONE OF US IN OUR UNIQUENESS FOR HIS ULTIMATE PLEASURE!
With only 10 kids myself…I marvel at how different each one is. And honestly, I am crazy about each one, just as He fashioned and formed them. I am not looking at any one, wishing they could just be more like the other, or like me. I am looking at them individually and recognizing each is so different in all they will offer the world and each of the relationships they develop with others in their own lives, and their unique relationships with Father God. These heart values are what we want to see, so that they reach their greatest fulfillment in this life.
Some of you know that I have homeschooled all my children their entire lives. My third and fourth, Samuel and Daniel, are now thriving, in every sense of the word, at Oral Roberts University. They are both making 4.0′s and Sam was just rewarded “This year’s recipient of the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award in Management for the School of Business”. Lest anyone think this is due to my wonderful homeschooling, let me encourage you with something.
If you think about it, you can recall very quickly a number of adults you know or have known, who have struggled their entire lives to learn who they are and if they really matter or have any real value. They are forever trying to “prove” themselves – not only to themselves, but to the rest of their world.
But when kids grow up – COMPLETELY CONVINCED THEY ARE LOVED AND ADORED AND WHAT THEY THINK AND FEEL MATTERS – it puts them way ahead in their lives. They are not living needing to convince themselves of this most important Truth – they already believe that Father God and their parents love them. They don’t have to waste their lives establishing that basic foundation for success. They are free to go on and live their lives and be the people they are supposed to be.
This is truly the greatest gift we can give them!
We have invested in our children’s lives with a very specific agenda. To build these foundations in them – so they may LAUNCH forth, not questioning if they are loved. We want them to know they are completely loved and accepted, no matter what! And that every person they ever meet is to be honored and respected as an adored son or daughter of Father God. We teach them to work hard, really hard. They all carry great responsibilities and know what it takes to be their best. We use good educational materials and we live in a real life lab, our home. Our home is a melting pot of people – coming through it year after year, from all walks of life, cultures, and countries of the world. And on top of all that – we cultivate a real relationship with Father God. (I think that will be my next blog post.)
They are REAL people. They are not afraid of their own hearts, thoughts, or inclinations. And they are not threatened by anyone else’s either. They are open to listen, hear, and consider from others completely. They love freely and easily. But they also KNOW who they are, and what their life is about.
I am not an amazing homeschooler. (My sister is though. :) We don’t seek to produce academic geniuses, or great athletes (though that happens as a byproduct of loving them unconditionally). We work with however their hearts are inclined. After seeking to develop whole and healthy HEARTS, SOULS AND SPIRITS, (That is OUR job), we rest in knowing they will be the people they were created to be. And we never feel as if we have to force any thought or any action upon them.
The more you honor your children’s hearts, from birth on, rather than trying to control them, the more they will honor yours, and everyone else’s. And this my friend, is a critical key to helping them live the richest life possible.