Have you ever had to break difficult news to your family? As a fathers this is not only hard but something we try to avoid. I remember how difficult it was to break the news to my kids that we were going to be moving. My youngest children were ok and quite excited.
My oldest, however, had only known one school and one church. The news for her was very difficult. However, because we had invested time and energy into building trust with her over the years, she was understanding and was willing to trust the leadership of her parents.
Your Child’s Heart
One aspect of parenting that separates ‘dads’ from ‘fathers’ is whether or not you have your child’s heart. You might think that this is a cliche statement… and you would be wrong! You will struggle through the process of parenting if you have never made the heart-to-heart connection with your children.
Why is this important? Because God has called you to be the most influential person in your child’s development! You can’t push that off on others and you will never be able to lead your child if they don’t trust your motives and desires.
How does this happen? I promise you it does not happen by accident. You have to purpose that as a parent you will make that connection with your child. Here are 7 keys to winning your child’s heart.
Winning your child’s heart…
1. It Takes Time It must be viewed as an investment! Nothing that is worthwhile comes quickly…if you want to build a relationship of trust and communication with your children it takes a huge investment of time. Fun time, serious time, idle time, and play time are all necessary to build the bridge to their heart. Sometimes that time is spent teaching your kids life lessons. (Click here to read an article about teaching life lessons)
2. It Takes Sacrifice To be the most influential person in your child’s life you will have to make sacrifices. Your job can never be more important than your family and cannot be given priority during your child’s early years of growth. Along the same line, your hobbies cannot take the place of time with your children…even though they are relaxing and fun!
*You might have to give up some things to have the most influence on your child.
3. It Takes Integrity
Your child has to see that you are real. This doesn’t mean you have to be perfect, but you have to be real with your children. Trust me, they know all of your weakness already. You shouldn’t try to pretend they aren’t there! -Be honest with mistakes -Ask forgiveness when you are wrong -Don’t be hypocritical with authorities -Be the same around them that you are around everyone else4. It takes transparency
This doesn’t mean that you have to tell your child every struggle you have or every ‘mistake’ you committed as a teenager. It does mean, though, that you need to be honest and open with your kids as you navigate through tough decisions in life. This is a great way for them to see that you care enough to weigh out all sides of an issue before making a decision!
5. It takes empathy
Little kids have little hurts…but those little hurts are real big to them. Don’t
minimize their pain. Be understanding when your child is hurt emotionally and be willing to listen to their heart. Don’t shrug them off because their problems seem small to you. Those problems are huge to them!
6. It takes affirmation
Too often we only notice the things that our kids do wrong. Take the time to praise them for their accomplishments. I’m not saying that you shower them with affirming words nonstop. But when your child does something well, take the time to recognize that they have been successful. Ignore those small victories in life and they will think that you don’t care (because you just might not).
7. It takes humility
Humility? Yes, because we all make mistakes. When you get it wrong, don’t react in pride by doubling down on your wrong decision. Gather the kids around and tell them that you got it wrong. Don’t hide behind circumstances or use other people as a shield. Let your kids see that part of life is accepting responsibility for wrong actions. This will catapult you down the path to winning your child’s heart!
It Is Your Job!
More than any other parenting truth, you need to get this one!!! If you gain the heart of your child you will have so much more influence on them in the future. I’m thankful for coaches, school teachers, children’s church leaders…they all are important, however…God chose YOU to be your child’s parents! So go out and win their heart!
DJHarry Isaiah 64:8 We are the clay!