As a young, first-time and unexpected parent who was not yet a follower of Jesus Christ five years ago, my biggest worries were not only about provision but more importantly how to raise my child and what to teach her.
Given that I myself was a difficult and careless adolescent, what right things did I possibly to teach her?
Certainly, you cannot teach what you do not know. And at that time, the only thing I was sure of was that I needed help, as well as absolute guidance on child-rearing.
I received the answers and directives directly from the Lord through my very first visit at CCF (Christ’s Commission Fellowship) where Senior Pastor Peter Tan-chi started his family series on Heart Parenting that very day. (Talk about an answered prayer!)
That day I learned that Parenting is a heart issue. Basically stating that a child’s words and behavior reflect what is in their hearts, which is the core of every person. As the Bible says, “The heart is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Therefore, implying that the best way to teach a child, influence their ways and impact their lives is by capturing their hearts through building an intimate relationship with them and securing them of our love.
If our children know that everything we want them to do is for their best because they are assured of our love for them, then we do not have to demand their obedience. Obedience will be their natural response, not out of fear but out of respect for our authority as a loving parent.
Simply put, the more we spend time with our children, the more we get to know them. The more we know them, the easier it will be to influence their ways and impact their behavior. Parents who experience rebelliousness are actually those who fail to build this close, heart-to-heart kind of relationship with their kids.
In the same manner, it is also the heart that needs to be checked to correct and discipline a child who is acting disruptively or speaking rudely. Because “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).
This explains why some children have “selective behavior”— only well-behaved when their parents are present but back to being their troublesome, ill-mannered selves when authorities aren’t watching. Why, you ask? Some parents mistake behavior as just behavior. They do not recognize that there is an underlying issue, an internal struggle.
Some parents define discipline as merely eliminating bad conduct, because they are inconvenienced or are simply offended. They easily reprimand. They don’t bother looking below, or rather, inside. They fail to investigate where the behavior is coming from; and look beyond the surface. They do not deal with what is going on in the heart. So the secret to successfully eliminating bad behavior is to get down to the “heart” of the matter.
Truly it is by checking and being close to your child’s heart that you can effectively raise them to be God-fearing, disciplined, joyful and self-controlled adults.
My “Heart Parenting” approach to raising Gummy is grounded on my faith as a Christian as I have expressed since Day 1. As such, our ultimate guide in our ways is the Bible. We consult it and trust that it is the best book there is to teach us about life—how to live it as well as how to raise one.
The challenge in being an effective parent is to be the example of what we want our children to become. And we can only do that if we do first what we ask them to. Why do I say so? Because believe it or not, children do what we do, rarely what we say. We have to model what we want to see in them. We must first practice before we preach. We have to show and not just tell.
And the Bible is our ultimate manual and guide to becoming authentic influencers, to effectively impact the lives of our children. Filling our hearts with God’s Word aligns our thoughts and consequently our ways to live this life the way it was designed to be lived out.
If like me you also believe that the Bible is God’s Word and that it was written with the guidance of the Creator of Life as a means for people to be guided and taught how to truly live, then you will read and study the Bible, adhere to it and pass it on to your children. Now you can teach because now you know.
To start off, parents kindly read Deuteronomy 6:6-9.
Next week I will share with you three specific parenting books that are also great reference materials.