By: Nicole Espino
Have you ever felt lost when it comes to parenting, that feeling of helplessness that consumes your mind and heart? I know I have, especially when I think about the enormous task of raising and shaping a child, not only behaviorally but spiritually, emotionally, and even their very character and morals. The responsibility of a parent bares a lot of weight, yet too few parents have the tools and knowledge they need to help them on their journey of parenting.
Many of us don’t understand our own selves let alone understanding these tiny human beings. Many parents parent the same way they were parented, we often use the phrase, “Well, when I was your age my parents…”. But did our parents have all the answers? Is there a right way to approach parenting that God has designed or are we left down here to figure each kid out on our own? We know each kid is different and learns differently, but is there one core approach and goal that applies to all of us?
I believe there is, and I strongly believe God hasn’t left us to fend for ourselves. I believe that everything a parent needs to know has been placed in God’s inspired word. And who better to go to than the One who designed us and created each of us in our Mother’s womb?
In Psalms 139: 13,14 it says:
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
So what is that key element that all parents must know and apply to their parenting? Well, I believe the key element is first understanding Proverbs 4:23, it says:
Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.
Everything that comes from our lives starts first in our hearts.
So what should our focus be as parents? Should it be punishing behavior, or building self esteem? No, I believe the core element of good parenting is guiding a child’s heart. Our hearts motivate what we think about, and what ultimately we choose to do in our life whether right or wrong. But what do we know about our hearts? What does the Bible say about our hearts?
In Jeremiah 17:9 it says:
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?
Yikes!! Im sure you’re thinking, “How is that helpful?” But thankfully we find the helpful bit in verse 10 which says,
10 But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives.
So first off, we see that our hearts are deceitful, which is just another way of saying that our hearts lie to us. If you had to depend on your heart to tell you the truth of a matter, it most likely would not. So we realize that we can’t always trust our hearts to tell us how to live our lives. When we base our decisions upon what our hearts tell us, well, that’s when we can get into trouble. So, Secondly, we see in verse 10 that God know our hearts, He can see things that we can’t, He can search and sort out what’s in our hearts.
So what does this all mean for me as a parent, you might ask? Well, to keep it simple, we cannot hope to know our own hearts, let alone our child’s heart without being intimately connected to the one who formed our hearts. We as parents MUST be seeking God to reveal to us details within each of our child’s hearts. This is done through observation, through a lot of prayer, and through knowing God’s word. Unless we bring God into the parenting process, we will never truly know or understand how to personally shape each child’s heart.
So if Proverbs 4:23 is correct and all the issues of life come from our hearts, then the only reasonable conclusion is to realize that a child’s very behavior starts in their heart. So when seeking God about a certain behavior that needs to be shaped, God will take us directly to the heart of the matter. We may be able to stop a behavior through other means but it’s only a temporary fix unless the issue within the heart is addressed. We must have God reveal to us what the specific issue is, wether it be selfishness, rebellion, or even fear. Then we must go to God’s word and learn what God teaches about those things and pray and ask God to show us how to teach our child about those specific issues. Gods word is powerful even in our children and we should never think it’s too above their heads.
So, let’s wrap this up. First we must seek God for understanding, and pray for wisdom to understand our children. Secondly, we must search the scriptures and know what God teaches about the specific issues our child is dealing with. Then we are to help communicate or guide our kids into these truths to help them be rooted and grounded in the truth of Gods word rather than the lies within their hearts.
I truly believe this is a core aspect to parenting, no matter your view on method, we must allow God into the process and let him lead and guide us as parents.
A great book to read on this subject is, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, by Tedd Tripp. I highly recommend it. It changed my whole outlook and game plan on parenting.
I hope this was as helpful for you as it was for me.