I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the past, talking about ‘heart focused parenting’ or teaching kids to listen and obey instructions ‘with a happy heart.” The idea behind all this being, that the attitude with which an act is carried out is just as important, if not more so, than the action itself.
This has been something that Boatman and I have done for a long time, with all our kids, and depending on the child, it has always looked a little different. 🙂 Two of my kids are laid back and easy-going and generally very happy to please. In many ways they would be considered a parents dream, and let’s face it, they are, but they have come with challenges.
My other two are less laid back and more strong-willed, and there have been some awesome tantrums thrown over the years. (Read my book for more 🙂 ) And whilst most of us would choose the easy-going over the strong-willed, I’ve loved the fact that they wear all their emotions out there for the world to see at all times. They are, technically, easier to parent.
The major difference I’ve found is this: those strong-willed two will fight me on an issue until they can see the value in it. It doesn’t matter what it is; something as simple as cleaning up after yourself. If they don’t want to, they will carry on about it for ages. But once they understand the reason behind; the why we clean up after ourselves, they take that value upon themselves, and just do it.
The laid back kids, are more inclined to do what they are told, which is great. Except for one thing; they never question why, they don’t care so much, and I’m never 100% sure whether or not the value has reached their little hearts. So yes, they will clean up the room, but it’s often because they were told to. Not because they understand that we need to always consider those that come behind, that it’s respectful to mum and dad to clean up after yourself and not expect us to do it for you, or that it shows good stewardship of our belongings, and thus consideration for the person who gave them to us.
It’s always about a lot more than just cleaning up.
With my eldest 10 and 1/2 and definitely in that difficult tween stage approaching the teen years, I’m suddenly getting a real glimpse into why training the heart is soooo important. It makes the younger years easier, by far, and who doesn’t want that? 🙂 But the real goal is that when the final bell reals, we want our kids to grow up being our friends.
I’ve always said, friendship with our children is the goal, not the starting place. I am not my kids BFF’s right now; I can’t be, because I need to be their mentor. Besides that, a friendship is based on like-mindedness. Similar values and principles and morals. A common, shared way of looking at the world. We all have friends of course, where we don’t share similarities in all those areas, but if there is too many differences, there will never be a real connectedness.
I’m seeing now, as we have an occasionally moody, hormonal pre-teen, that all our major conflicts are occurring in areas where we have neglected to train her heart with good solid principles, that we ourselves hold. Because we haven’t filled her heart with the why, she herself has drawn her own conclusion as to a reason, and sometimes that’s in stark contrast to our ideals. This then creates conflict, which we all have to negotiate.
It’s frustrating for her, because she has spent years thinking things are a certain way because she hasn’t been told any different, and it’s frustrating for us, because we think we’ve told her, but obviously neglected to, because of her easy going nature not being very contrary. I find now, I’m having discussions that probably should have happened a few years ago, when she less set in her mind on how things work.
It’s a little bit exhausting.
For all of us.
The reason I’m sharing this though, is not to dishearten you and say that you too have probably forgotten for teach your kids something of extreme importance (or perhaps obvious practicality 🙂 ), but to encourage you, it’s not too late. The discussions can be had, and if they are done with love, hopefully that change of thinking can be brought around so that you’re both on the same page.
And if you have got younger kids, can I encourage you, to think about the future. What do you want from your little people? Most of us want a great friendship in the end, and to get that, we need to be training them in the values and ideals that are important to us as a family. It’s never too young to start. To answer all their why questions, but even better yet, give instructions with the reason attached to it.
“Put your shoes away, so they don’t get lost.”
“Hold my hand on the road so you can be safe.”
“Wash your hands after using the toilet to get rid of all the yucky germs, because we don’t want to make people sick do we?”
Simple, easy principles that you can build on as they get older. Simple words that will see their heart drawer a little closer to yours, and your dreams of great kids that you love spending time with, come a little bit closer. 🙂
What’s your thoughts on giving your kids the reason’s why?
If you’re interested more in the idea of training hearts, and even seeing how that translates to an adult, you can read more in my book, Diary of a SAHM (Stay at Home Mum)