How can I win their hearts?
What is it that causes them to trust me with their hearts?
Is there really hope for winning the hearts of all my children?
Then I began to think about those people in my life who have won my heart. What is it that makes me willingly trust them with my heart? It will be the same for my children regardless of personality. As I turned to scripture to develop a plan to win their hearts here is what I found.
"He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers," Malachi 4:6
It is not in my own strength that I can win the hearts of my children, but through the power of Christ working in their lives. Through Christ alone, I can win the hearts of my children.
So, here are five ways to win the hearts of your children.
1. Listen to your children. This sounds simple enough, right? But, what I am talking about is more than just that. Listen to their lengthy, detailed, lengthy, dramatic, (did I mention lengthy?) explanation of the picture that they just drew, the dream that they had last night, or the conversation that they had with a friend. Listening to the "little things" now not only wins their hearts, but it creates a bond that will cause them to trust you with the "big things" later. Don't the people who listen to you win your heart? The same is true for your kids. Listen to them. Listen with your eyes. Listen to as much as is possible and you will win their hearts. "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." James 1:19
2. Serve your children with joy. Early in my parenting, I found that I was serving my children all day, every day, but, I wasn't doing it with joy. I would complain about the amount of work (or a sigh...that is a true measure for me) and that was causing my children to pull away from me. Who wants to be around someone who resents the work you create for them? It became a barrier to winning their hearts. The Lord began to challenge me in this area. I had no idea what my lack of joyful service was doing to my kids. Now, I try to give the "Chick-fil-a" answer. Have you been to Chick-fil-a? Their employees always say "my pleasure". It really is my pleasure to serve my children...even when they are grown. I am training myself to say "I would be happy to...". And, you know what? This amazing attitude of joy is contagious. Now instead of guilt, my children are giving me their hearts and serving alongside with...well, with more joy than before...haha. Joyfully serving your children is serving the Lord. Serve your children with JOY and you will win their hearts.
3. Trust your children. Doesn't it just do something to you when you know that someone truly trusts you? So, trust your kids. Sometimes it's painful and you may have to just turn your head and let them learn from their mistakes. But, more often than not, they emerge triumphant, beaming with the joy of their new accomplishment. And, you had complete confidence that they would triumph...well, in their eyes anyway:) Trust your boys with appropriate risks. God made them to be risk takers and they will take some risks. Each time that I trust my children, I win a little more of their hearts. Trust your children in developmentally appropriate areas and you will win their hearts.
4. Respect your children's opinions. Sometimes I disagree with my kids...big shock, I know. But, respecting their (many times immature) opinions on issues and giving them a chance to stretch those wings builds their trust. It may be as simple as what vegetable is gross or as complicated as which candidate gets the vote in the upcoming election. But, in respecting their opinions, I am laying a foundation for future communication. You don't have to agree with them or encourage them in immature opinions but respect them enough to let them have their own opinions. Respect their opinions and you will win their hearts.
5. Smile at your children. Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the daily grind and forget to smile at your children. A smile communicates love and adoration. They will return that love with another piece of their hearts...and a smile too:) This is another area that has taken training for me. But, I am learning to give them a big smile each time I make eye contact with them. It may make the older kids a little uncomfortable at first (it did one of mine...haha) but now that same child returns my smile (even though a little shy still) and it is a fantastic thing. "They waited for me as for showers and drank in my words as the spring rain. When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it; the light of my face was precious to them. I chose the way for them and sat as their chief; ." Job 29:24 Smile at your children and you will win their hearts.
I am still in the midst of this heart-winning mission but, honestly, I expect it to be a life-long mission. Never give up. Keep winning their hearts!