Consider the teaching in Proverbs 13:1 “A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.” I want to preface my next statement by clearly indicating that, as a leader of teenagers, I am not trying to detract from any teenager’s relationship with their parents. Now, having said that, if I can build a parent-child type of connection with a follower, even if they aren’t my children, most of the time I’ll only need to instruct my follower and rarely rebuke them.
I believe the most powerful key to successful parenting is to win the hearts of my children. If I have their heart, they will follow me in the pursuit of God’s will for their life. With that established, may I offer my advice on how to win the hearts of your kids.
First, let me review the first eight steps:
1. I win their hearts by common sense (being fair).
2. I win their hearts by courtesy.
3. I win their hearts by communication.
4. I win their hearts by comedy (having a blast).
5. I win their hearts by contact.
6. I win their hearts by consistency.
7. I win their hearts by confession.
8. I win their hearts by my company.
* Now for steps 9 – 10:
9. I win their hearts by counsel.
One of my favorite times as a parent is when my children will ask my thoughts on certain issues. Our relationship is such that many times I will give them instruction and they gladly receive it, even when they have specifically asked for it. One of my favorite methods of counseling them is to help them mentally walk through a decision. We list the pros and cons of a decision; how it will help or hinder their walk with God, with family and with friends. Rather than make the decisions for them, I am trying to train them to make decisions on their own. I will bring up aspects to the decision that perhaps they have not considered. I don’t even mind letting them make mistakes, to a certain degree, without correcting them ahead of time. My job is to prepare them to make decisions without me. When I do this, I am preparing them for life and adding value to them. This unites our hearts in a unique way.
10. I win their hearts by my commitments.
- Being committed to my promises to them. When I give them my word and then keep my word, I not only train them to keep their word, I also build a bond between our hearts.
- Being committed to my partner. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that my kids will hear me say, at least once a week, how much I love my wife or how wonderful I think their mother is. In fact, even my two year old son will hear me say, “J.R., mommy’s the best” about every other day. He just smiles. Even if they didn’t regularly hear it from me, when my daughters see me turn my head from a lustful bill-board or provocatively dressed woman, I am reinforcing my commitment to their mother to them. This makes them very secure and strengthens the bond I have to their hearts.
- Being committed to my priorities (walk with God, church, work). To summarize this sub-point, be the spiritual leader of your home. When you lead your family they will follow. This also builds trust. When they trust you, they will be much more willing to give you her heart.
Question: Do you have any other “C’s” that you would add to win the hearts of your kids?