Have you ever had a wake up call that changed you forever? Maybe it was in your business, your marriage, or your parenting. Psychologist and leadership expert Dr. Henry Cloud says,
“There are certain awakenings that people have in life that once they have them they never go back to the old way of doing things. And when that happens they are never the same.”
One of my wake up calls came this fall as my wife (Araya) and I switched roles after moving across the country. She had always been the primary caregiver to our four children, and now it was my turn. Click here for part 1 of this series
My second wake up call is encapsulated in this quote by my former pastor John Stumbo. One Sunday John simply said this,
“I used to think the goal of parenting was to have well-behaved kids. Now I know the goal of parenting is that kids would know they are loved.”
John quickly followed those words by saying, “I only wish I would have learned that sooner.” Well, thanks to your honesty John, the rest of us can learn it sooner.
I don’t know if that quote is profound for you, or not. What I do know is that if I want my kids to behave a certain way; I can make them do it.
I can power up, get loud, send them to their room, and take away privileges. I can make them learn to be patient, learn to ask nicely, learn to speak kind words to their siblings, learn to clean up their rooms, and learn to respect their elders. You get the idea and I am sure you have a list too.
Is this list bad? No.
Do I desire my kids to learn all these things? Yes.
If my kids win the “manners of the year award” and have every other parent in town compliment them yet not know they are deeply loved, have I succeeded? I don’t think so.
My second wake up call of these past five months has been this: If my kids are to know they are deeply loved, I must know the way to their heart.
Prior to Araya and I switching roles, I was typically not home at nap time, or when the kids got home from school. I missed a lot of what led to those messy pre-dinnertime breakdowns.
I would often walk in the door to one of our girls consistently throwing tantrums fifteen minutes before dinner because she was hungry. My typical response to her was to tell her she needed to wait with the rest of the family. I mean, we are only talking fifteen minutes, and anyone can wait fifteen minutes.
This NEVER worked. I mean NEVER. I got stern, I sent her to her room, and it didn’t help. If anything it only got worse.
Did the other girls have a problem waiting? Nope. The important thing is that this girl is not the other two girls. I needed to know the way to her heart.
The gift of being at home with her ever day after school has allowed me to see that she is not trying to be rebellious or difficult.
One day I simply said, “Honey, what can I do to help you?” through a few tears she said, “How ‘bout a cheese stick.” I said, “sure.”
Seriously? All the girl needed was a cheese stick?
The way to her heart was a cheese stick!
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.”
I could have demanded that she wait just like the rest of the family, but I needed to speak to her heart. Her whole life flows from her heart.
If she knows she is deeply loved now she’ll trust me later when we are talking about much bigger things than cheese sticks.
And isn’t that what we want and desire as parents? Isn’t that what we yearn to see with and for them?
I know it is for me, and I have a hunch it might be the same for you?
1-What is the goal of your parenting? Is it that your kids know they are deeply loved?
2-If you have children, take some time this week and write each of their names at the top of a paper. Underneath their names write down all the ways to their heart you can think of.
3-If you don’t have children write down your partners’ name, or your roomates’ name. Underneath their name write down all the ways to their heart you can think of.