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Parenting with the good and noble heart

You can grow up under 'Christian' parents, in a household devoted to Scripture and faithful church attendance, and still develop a debilitating sense of shame.  As a child, your motives and actions will be nitpicked with the sharp stick of displeasure.  Your motives and behavior will be picked apart with forensic and relentless scrutiny by your parents.  You'll conclude that you are not nor ever will be fully-pleasing to somebody -- your family or to God. 

And the parent does this because they believe it is an act of love.

I don't doubt these Christian parents deeply love their children.  I've had to take a close look at my own approach to my children.  We simply have been given a wrong set of assumptions about our kids [and our own] hearts. 

So here's a better set of assumptions you can have about your children who know Christ:

1.  They do not have a rebellious nature any longer.

2.  They are not setting out to make your life difficult:  There's always something going on underneath the "bad behavior."  Is it fear?  Hurt?  Exhaustion?  Do they feel harassed by constant nitpicking?

3.  They need to know Jesus has made their hearts genuinely good.

4.  They need to know that their heart matters more than their behavior.

5.  They need to know that your primary focus is not on their sin or misbehavior:  This is not a fault-finding expedition. Even if their actions need to be exposed because they are dangerous or violate relationship, our highest intent is to draw out the power and resources of their new hearts.  Not every mistake or fault needs to be pointed out.

You can move towards your children with these assumptions because you have a good and noble heart.  You already want to love them in this new way. 


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Reader Comments (4)

For the past 2-3 years, my wife and I have been taking this approach to raising our young children. It was hard for us at first, but things are changing. It's getting easier to love them. heck it's getting easier to LIKE them! Shepherding their hearts does not always yield instant behavioral results, but it is so worth it. I look forward with hope. Thanks for the post. -Kevin

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKevin Miles

Hey Kevin,
You're right: it is hard to unlearn the models we were given. My wife and I are learning, too. Glad you're on the journey.

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJim Robbins

I am trying to understand the good heart belief. Are you saying children who are not born-again have a good and noble heart? Also, I just purchased your book for Kindle, and I haven't seen much scriptural support yet regarding the new heart. I know we have a perfect Spirit when we trust Christ but is the spirit the same as the heart? So what is the difference in the heart of an unbeliever and a believer? Could you clear up my confusion and direct me to the scripture references that the sin we desire or commit is from the flesh and not the heart?

July 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCory

Hi Cory:

As you get past the first few pages of the book, you'll see much more Scriptural support for the good and noble heart.

You asked if children who are not trusting Christ have good and noble hearts? No - because we are born into this world under the tragic effects of the fall. That means all are born into the world with "wandering hearts" that are unable to love as Jesus loves: with the 100% consistency, long-suffering, and selflessness He does. And isn't that what we want...to be able to do that? Upon entering relationship with God, through Christ, he removes our "heart of stone" and replaces it with a heart filled by his own nature and goodness.

As I understand Scripture, "heart" means spirit/will/nature. It's the core you, the real and true you -- the navigational center of human personhood.

Keep going in the book. I think it will clear up your questions. If not, feel free to get back to me.

July 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJim Robbins

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