I was missing something on my parenting journey.
A piece of essential parenting advice that every mom needed to hear.
But I couldn’t find it anywhere.
I saw parents who had dark circles of worry under their eyes and seemed to carry a heavy burden everywhere they went.
It was no secret that their kids had strayed from the principles and convictions their parents believed in.
Some kids had grown up to bury themselves in immorality.
They had grown up to be adults who were on their third and fourth marriage, and some of them even needed to take DNA tests to find out if they were the father of a newborn baby.
I didn’t want to walk that road.
My heart, my gut, my innermost desires were all screaming “My kids CAN’T end up like that!”
I’d look at my two-year-old, who always puckered up for a kiss anytime I walked by, and the worry of her future would almost drain the joy of those moments from my soul.
I couldn’t go on like this…
I had to find hope.
I needed answers.
My kids needed me to find those answers before it was too late.
Asking myself one question was absolutely imperative.
“What kind of future did I want for my kids?”
Did I want them to be intellectually gifted?
Did I want them to soar in the arts?
Did I want them to be financially comfortable and even wealthy?
Did I want them to be in control of their health?
No, those weren’t my main desires for their future, though those may bring sprinkles of happiness to their lives.
The answer was simple.
Most of all, I wanted my kids to grow up to be amazing Christians that stood firm on their faith and didn’t budge.
Christians that didn’t just show up to church intermittently, but Christians who loved God so much that they couldn’t help but tell others about Him!
To some, these type of people would be considered “radical Christians.”
But, if there’s one thing worth being radical about, it’s certainly being radical about the One True God — the Creator of the Universe.
But there was no “heart switch” that I could flip to turn them towards God.
Surely someone had an answer to the seemingly epidemic of wayward children!
Little did I know that I would soon find the answer and wisdom I was searching for.
Why Winning Your Child’s Heart is Crucial
Our family was attending a church in New York state and I happened to notice the pastor’s family.
The pastor’s kids were now adults — all five of them — and they were faithfully serving God.
Their expressions were full of joy and they were enjoying the blessings of the committed Christian life.
Honestly, I hadn’t seen a family that cohesive or that ignited to serve God in quite sometime.
Seeing their kids all grown up caused me to finally ask the pastor’s wife my burning question.
Instead of just bull-dozing the very busy wife and mom with a hundred questions, I simply asked for a minute or two of her time.
With a toddler on my hip and a baby in the infant carrier, I relayed to her my concerns as a young mom.
“I’m a young mom, and I need your wisdom. I want my kids to grow up to serve the Lord and have great marriages and family relationships. What do you think you did as a parent that helped make this happen in your kids’ lives?”
She was so kind.
My questions seemed to touch a precious part in her soul.
Perhaps it was a part that wished other families could enjoy the gift of kids who grow up and serve God.
She smiled and paused.
After several quiet moments of deep thought she replied, “Alison, don’t worry. You are doing a great job with your kids. Keep it up, and don’t give up.”
After a few more moments, she continued to offer some mom-to-mom wisdom.
“We made God and church a priority.” she remarked. “We never went on vacations on Sundays and our kids knew we would never skip church. We also prayed a lot for our kids.”
I was thankful she took those few minutes and answered my question, but I still felt like there was a huge piece missing.
It seemed all too practical to truly be the missing bit of information I was searching for.
But the story doesn’t end there…
The next evening she brought her adult daughter to me and relayed the she went home and pondered on my question even more.
“Alison,” she began, “After thinking some more about your question, I thought it would be best to ask one my kids. So here she is!”
Her daughter, who was already married with kids, told me this:
“My parents won my heart.”
Wow, those words struck a chord with me.
Could the answer be that simple?
She went on to say that her parents always spent time with them.
They took camping trips together and made loads of memories.
The kids always felt like they were a priority in their parent’s lives.
The timing of this advice was perfect.
Just about two weeks before I met this family, my husband had pointed out a verse of scripture to me.
Solomon, a man of great wisdom, wrote these words to his son:
“My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.” Proverbs 23:26
Proverbs 23:36 is such a small verse of scripture and could be easily overlooked.
But remembering that verse and adding it to what the pastor’s daughter told me about her parents winning her heart, it seemed God had finally given me the parenting truth I desperately desired.
I needed to win my kid’s hearts!
Realizing that mysids needed to focus on this aspect of parenting was just the beginning.
Now, I had to figure out just HOW to win it.
Over the past 16 years I have earnestly sought to win the hearts of my children.
But it took prayer and seeking God for wisedom to finally see how I could do that on a daily basis.
To get started on the mission of winning my children’s hearts, I began giving each of them one-on-one time on a daily basis.
It wasn’t easy.
I was a busy parent!
But God had made it beautifully clear that my focus should be wrapping my parenting in love and concern for my kids.
And I’d constantly remind myself that, on average, I only had 18 years with each kid.
That’s really not that much time in the big scheme of things.
Next, I tried to remember not to only interact with each child, but to connect with each child by learning to love what they loved.
Not to mention, I’d need to communicate the way they enjoyed communicating.
And right now? That’s texting.
Even though we’re in the same house, we often text each other.
How I’m Trying to Win My Child’s Heart
I use to think that was crazy-dumb to text other people when you’re in the same house.
However, it’s been a huge tool for easy,late-night conversations when everyone is tucked inter beds.
During these quiet moments,severalofmy kids send me personal thoughts and even words of affection.
Just recently one of my teens apologized via text and then wrote “Mom, I love you.”
So, no matter how dumb it feels, I’m keeping that line of communication priority!
We even make our own hashtags and share emojis. :)
My 16-year-old son loves sports and reading mysteries, so I let him fill my ears with all the latest sports stats.
I even make sure I read the same books he’s reading so we can connect in that area too!
I’ve also been known to let him cheat and stay up later or start school late if there was a big game on.
Don’t worry — he still gets his school days done!
Then there’s my 14-year-old daughter.
She’s a smart, witty girl who can pick up almost any musical instrument and start playing.
We practice music together and listen to some pretty amazing orchestra pieces on Youtube.
We also paint our nails, shop and read blogs together!
And I can’t forget my 12 year old.
She’s the writer and baker.
I read all her stories and listen to her tell me even more stories. I also make sure she has ingredients and supplies for those times when she gets the baking itch!
And there are three more kids I could tell you about, but I’m sure you get the idea.
How to Win Your Child’s Heart
I had to observe what my kids love and be involved.
Letting them indulge in those activities they loved and even joining in became a powerful parenting tool!
When considering how I could win my child’s heart, I also became dedicated to creating our own family traditions.
Our family traditions help give us close-knit relationships…kind of like a “family only” club..;0)
But we keep them simple.
We decorate for the fall season together on Labor Day.
We have a “Lazy Day” holiday on Black Friday every year.
We have a dedicated Family Night every single Friday.
Plus, all the other traditional American holidays.
But there was still more to winning their hearts…
After making winning my child’s heart a huge parenting focus, I soon realized that loads of sacrifice would be involved.
Being a huge part of my child’s life meant spending less money and time on myself.
When I started doing that, there was more wiggle room in my budget to buy my son the basketball shoes he really wanted or take our family to a kid-friendly vacation.
It also meant driving an older car, not having expensive jewelry and limited restaurant take-out nights..:)
But the sacrifice wasn’t just financial, it was also time and work sacrifice.
I had to say no to long chats with friends on the phone and additional work projects if my daughter wanted to go swimming.
Shopping trips for some new clothes for me would be rescheduled so my kids could attend a birthday party.
It has become a daily, weekly, and monthly sacrifice to raise kids the “winning their heart” way, but it’s truly been worth it!
And one more thing that absolutely had to happen to win their hearts was giving frequent praise.
It’s all too easy to empty criticisms of our kids into listening ears, right?
“Grief! My son doesn’t ever clean his room!”
“Grrr…I’m so frustrated with my daughter. She’s so shallow!”
When other moms are spilling the beans about their kids’ misbehavior, I reaaallly try to avoid chiming in.
If I do chime in, it’s normally sharing a funny story from child’s toddler years.
And boy, do I have some funny ones…ha!
Why is this an important part of winning your child’s heart?
Because your child needs to know they please you.
Your child needs to know they make you proud.
As parents, we may never hear those needs and desires voiced, but they’re there.
We can teach, lecture and proclaim to our kids what we believe, but those lessons are absolutely futile if we don’t pack them with love, concern, dedication and sacrifice.
There’s oodles of little details to winning a child’s heart.
There’s no “one size fits all” formula.
But if you begin and end your parenting journey with a desire to win your child’s heart, I think you’ll find the best formula for your family.
I also a wrote an article on having a creating close relationships with your child.
That article continues to elaborate on “winning your child’s heart,” so take a few minutes and read it too!
I’d love to know how you’re trying to win your child’s heart!
Come and join my All Things Mommy group on Facebook and we can chat about it!
See you on the inside!