Raise your hand if you want to raise broken and dysfunctional kids. No one? I'm guessing no mom has held their newborn child and dreamed of rearing up their little one with low self-esteem and a plethora of insecurities. Then, why do so many kids struggle as adults with these very issues? I have a theory.
Many parents aren't parenting backwards. That's right - Parenting Backwards. What I mean is parenting with a picture in mind of what you want your child to be like when they're grown. When our kids are young, it's easy to stay focused on the here and now. Each day has enough packed into it that it's hard to see past the next hour much less years down the road. Let's face it, from the moment their little red bottoms are slapped at birth, life gets CRAZY! Families are rushed and pressured to the breaking point. This often results in a half-hazard approach to parenting.
Life has a way of carrying us along day to day with no real thought as to where we are going. I'd like to take a moment to challenge parents to 'parent with the end in mind'. When your kids graduate from high school, what characteristics do you want to see? Integrity? Responsibility? Trust? Confidence? These are not natural human qualities. If you want them to possess these traits as adults, you've got to teach to the heart when they are children.
Proverbs 4:23 is an all-time favorite, "Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." How are you guarding and shaping your child's heart? We spend fortunes on braces to shape their smile; education to shape their intellect; and private lessons or team sports to shape their talents. But what about character?
God instructs parents to be the ones to teach character and shape their child's heart. "And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." (Deuteronomy 6:6-7) These commands God gives are the heart shapers! Sow this into your little ones hearts now and reap the benefits when they are adults.
Some day your present will be your past. When you're in the future, what do you want your past to look like? (Read that again slowly if you need to.) Let it be more than orthodontist appointments, good report cards, and soccer trophies. Let love, truth, mercy and grace also be part of those memories and a part of your future. Parent backwards to get the past you want in the future and enjoy the beautiful benefits of "heart healthy" children!