I’m in the middle of three books which, if you know me, is highly unusual for this linear thinker. The thing for me is that none of them are remotely connected–or so I thought.
Today, I had the A-ha that God has me focused here for a reason. Each of these books is focused on the mind. One goal I have for myself is to have the mind of Christ as I parent. I want to see the world as He sees it. I want to be focused on His will, His priorities, and His values. Isn’t that what we want for our children as well?
As I think about the christian parenting books that I’ve read through the years, most of them talk about capturing the child’s heart. Know that love and a desire to obey have to come from the heart.
The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.
When our hearts are in the right place, a place of humility in reverence to God, we can parent with grace.
Ron Deal author of The Smart Step-Family shares a scripture that I have never really thought about from a parenting perspective.
1 Peter 5:5
…dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Think about that as a parent. When we relate to our kids as if we have all the answers, they tend to push back in opposition. However, when we give grace and approach them with humility, they are much more likely to give us grace in return. Humility helps forge the relationship.
Working on the heart of the child means that we are developing relationship such that they want to do what is right and pleasing because they can feel our love and acceptance of them being a distinct person separate from us. It means having more positive interactions than negative. Focusing on the good in our child rather than always pointing out what they are doing wrong allows our kids to develop in a way that is positive and healthy.
But scripture also tells us in Matthew 22:37, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
I find it interesting that there don’t seem to be as many christian books out there that focus on developing our children’s mind. I’m guessing that the reason might be that most of us already do so much to educate and teach our children the things that we value. I remember when my kids were little they heard my husband say over and over, “We’re Hitchcock’s, we’re good at math, reading and tennis.” In addition, we did an Awana program that focused on scripture memory hoping they would understand what it means to focus our minds on Christ. As Christian parents most of us spend lots of time trying to help our kids develop their minds.
I find the latest research on brain development fascinating as it relates to how we relate to our teens. Most know that our brains don’t fully mature until somewhere in the mid-twenties. For parents of tweens and teens, it means we can still help our kids develop their minds while they are still under our roof and beyond. Our focus needs to make sure that we help our teens integrate both the cognitive and emotional sides of the brain.
Learning empathy, compassion, and other relationship skills (the right side of the brain) is very different from learning rote memorization of facts and the logical way to solve problems that occurs in the left. When used in harmony both sides of the brain will help our kids develop what the Bible refers to as wisdom.
Dr. David Jeremiah in his study What Do You Think? reminds us that in the ancient Hebrew language, wisdom meant “skill”. As we consider the use of the word in our parenting, it means our job is to help give our kids the “skills” to connect emotionally and logically in a way that will help create new pathways in the brain to forge better relationships.
Unfortunately in today’s culture, relationship skills are taking a back seat to technology communicated through text and pictures rather than face-to-face communication. Assumptions are made without the opportunity to see a person’s body language, tone of voice, or facial expressions. It means that our kid’s brains are being wired with shorter attention span and the inability to use both the logical and emotional sides of the brain at the same time because part of the “data” is missing from the interaction.
Bonding with our child’s heart becomes the ‘glue’ that helps connect our child to us so that we can help them develop the mind of Christ. This means we teach them both skills that develop the emotional side of the brain as well as help them fill the cognitive side with God’s Word. Then as we live life under the same roof we can model the empathy, compassion, and grace necessary to integrate a whole person helping them to connect words with action.
I love how Dr. Jeremiah puts it in his What Do You Think? study, “We have to be very careful that we don’t lose sight of those things that create wisdom in our life — time, reflection, experience, correction, and meditation upon God’s Word. We need information, but after that, we don’t need more information. We need to allow God the opportunity to create wisdom in our life. And it takes discipline in our digital age to turn off the electronics long enough to process the knowledge we already have.”
Dare you to become aware of whether your parenting actions line up with God’s Word. Do you approach your tweens, teens, and 20-somethings with humility that will draw you closer together? If you do, the relationships in your home will be more fulfilling and there will be less opposition during the teen stage of life.
“Let go…and Let God”,
Do you feel inadequate in fostering the relationship skills that you so desire with your kids? Maybe you are just tired of parenting and the constant struggle is wearing you down. We have two opportunities for you.
- Why not grab a group of moms and go through our book With All Due Respect: 40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship With Your Teens & Tweens. This book will give you the opportunity to (like Dr. Jeremiah says) create wisdom in your parenting. It is an opportunity to spend time and reflect as you meditate upon God’s Word. It’s a great Bible Study tool or can be used as a 40 Day Devotional.
- If you want to learn “skills” that help create wisdom in your kids, know that we run a once a year three day workshop that will help you deflate defensiveness in your home with the people you love. It’s called the Titus 2 Leadership Experience. Here’s what one participant had to say:
“I am a preacher’s daughter who was born and raised in the church. I’ve been to countless women’s retreats. This is different! I’ve never experienced Christian women and leaders be so REAL with each other. God is doing something special with this ministry. My marriage and my family are being transformed. Most importantly, God is growing me. I highly recommend that you come see and experience this amazing Boot Camp for yourself!”