Ten ways to guard the hearts of your Children

“Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us …” Jeremiah 35:8

     The above verse is so amazing. When a family of committed men went into the temple of the Lord, even though they were commanded to do something for the Lord, they could not obey because of the charge given them from their grandfather. What has caused us, as a society, to reject the parental charge of authority?
      Years ago when my oldest daughter was almost eighteen, people-whether Christian or not, would ask what college she was going to? When I said she wasn’t going to college, they would respond with, “Where is she going to work?” I then responded with, “Why does she have to do either?” What does the Bible say concerning our children’s futures?
      While working with young people in the school system, I often hear them comment, “I can’t wait until I am eighteen so I can leave home!” Even though they may have a good relationship with their parents, they have been programmed that once they turn 18 it is time to leave home. On the other side of the coin, parents are planning on them leaving so they can get on with their lives.

How sad our society has become. The only way we can regain the plan of what God has for our young people is to get and maintain the hearts of our children.

“My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.” Proverbs 23:26

Solomon writes about getting the heart of his son and keeping it. His life is consistent with what he wants to teach his son.

     One night during our family time, I told my children that I wanted to write a tract on 10 ways to guard the heart of children. When I asked them to tell me what ways they thought were important, they did. Thankfully, they told me that I was fulfilling most of these, but there were a couple I needed to improve on. My hope and prayer is that this will be a reminder to all who read it, including me, to make sure that we have the hearts of our children.

1. Love and honor your spouse

“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord… Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” Eph. 5:21 - 25
     A good relationship between their parents is the most important example children have of marriage. Their parent’s example will impact their quest for a life partner. With statistics reporting that three out of four marriages end in divorce, it’s no wonder why marriages are under attack. When parents purpose to see marriage for what God designed it, divorce will not be an issue for the next generation.

2. Showing love to children

“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Eph 6:4
     Tell your children that you love them. Especially girls need this. Parents must tell them of their love and demonstrate it. When fathers have a healthy relationship with their daughter, daughters are less likely to become entangled in wrong relationships. A negative example of this is seen through the relationship with Dinah and Jacob (Genesis 34).

3. Listen to your family

“Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:” James 1:19
One of the things we do as a family is we allow our children at special times to respectfully share blind spots in our lives. Our children realize that we do listen and when we are at fault we make things right and make restitution if necessary. They also tend to trust us with important decisions they have in their lives.

4. Taking them on dates
     Ever since my oldest daughter was four, I or her mother would take her on dates. These are special moments when we talk and have a time of bonding as father/mother and daughter. When it comes to dating, she identifies dating as something you do with your parents. Part of getting the heart of our daughter has made it easier for her to dedicate herself to courtship through and with her parents. A decision she made on her own. Even if a parent is late in this area, it just means the work is harder, but not impossible.

5. Devotions

“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psalms 11:3

      One of the things my children shared that was of much importance, is giving them a foundation in life. That foundation is the Bible. We base all areas of our life under principals found in it. We purpose as a family to have daily devotions. Like the old saying, “The family that prays together, stays together.”

6. Convictions
     Once a family uses the Bible as its foundation, it’s only natural to develop convictions, especially when a nation like America has rejected its moral foundation. When parents are not communicating biblical convictions to their children, as the children get older they tend to see the parent’s convictions as their opinion and not the Lord’s.

7. Praise more/criticize less
     When I first heard this my thoughts went to the comments the Lord made to the seven churches of Revelation. He would praise them on what they were doing right, then he would tell them of the things they were doing wrong. One thing that every parent needs to be aware of is not to criticize every time they praise or their child will connect praise to be followed with criticism.

8. Keeping promises
     This was one of the 10 that I have broken. I would tell one of my children that I would do something with them and then forget and do something different. Not only did I break my promise, I communicated to my child that I didn’t look forward to the event as much as they did and thus created a wounded spirit. We also need to make good on our promises when our children complete tasks that were agreed on prior to their completion.

9. Having family nights
      This is one thing we as a family look forward to. My wife and children love going to the beach and watching the sunset. Even though going to the beach is peaceful, I tend to like staying home because of being on the road all week. There are definitely times that I would like to stay home, but I go because they need to get out of the house. On the other side of the coin, my family is sensitive about my feelings as well. This is what being a family is all about. Sacrificing for each other and yielding our rights to one another. This is something that has become foreign in most families. Jesus tells us that a “house divided against itself cannot stand.”

10. Notice little things done to please you
     One of our family mottos is, “We work hard, we play hard”. Every Friday in our home is field day. When I was in the Navy every Friday while we were in port was field day and inspection. Everybody would work together to get the ship clean. By noon, the ship would be inspected and we would get to leave early for the weekend. Sometimes I would come home and tend to look at only the things that were not done instead of looking at the special things that were done out of love. This would wound the spirit of one of my children. Some fathers wonder why their children never do special things for them. In most cases, they do and you never took notice and you wounded their spirits as well.
These are just a few of the many ways we can win the hearts of our children. Do not provoke them to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. This is to encourage moms and dads to get the hearts of their children and maintain them. Many children that are rebelling against their parents today have been wounded by either their parents or by someone that they have trusted. This wounded spirit, if not dealt with, can lead to hardness and bitterness and eventually to rebellion which the scriptures say is as the sin of witchcraft.

“And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”Malachi 4:6