I love my son Javan. He is about to be 12. He is one of the most tender-hearted, creative thinker, and hilarious people I know. This year we decided to move to a new house and with that, we were moving to a new school. He was distraught. He didn’t want to move. didn’t want to change schools, change friends, etc. As we were talked during the months of this process each morning on the drive to school, there were tears, arguments, and sadness. I was tempted to bring the hammer down and say, “I’m the father, and you will do this and like it.” I was also tempted to rethink my decision since this was taking such a toll on him. However, I really tried to aim at his heart. Many times, I tried to remind him of my love for him. Remind him that I could see things in the future that he couldn’t. That there were factors in life that he couldn’t see or even fully understand that I knew about. I pleaded with him to “trust me.” I reminded him of other times that he thought he knew better than me and trusted me only later to find out that I actually knew what I was talking about. At Javan’s 6th grade graduation, he handed me a letter. Javan is a man of many words when he tells stories, but few words when he expresses his heart. His letter said, “Dad, I love you. Thanks for being there for me last year when I got into big trouble. You were with me when I needed you. I won’t write anymore or I’ll cry. I trust you. Signed: Javan.” As a dad, I was deeply touched because I had something precious… His heart. His trust.
Why is Destination Impartation so important? Why does God implement heart training? Why train the heart to be wise, generous, trusting, and a steward?
God wants to train your heart. He wants us to trust him, love him, and therefore trust that his way of living is the best, whatever that is. Heart training leads to moral training. But moral training doesn’t always lead to heart training. Why is heart training the destination?Matthew 12:34-35 … Jesus said that all behavior and words have their origin in the heart.Proverbs 4:23 … Warns us that in the heart of a young life impressions are molded and issues of life flow from it.Proverbs 22:15 … Tells us that foolishness is bound up in the HEART of a child.
You can’t begin parenting or understand God’s parenting of you, until you realize the destination. God’s destination is Heart Training. He is willing to create conflict, difficulty, and celebration in our lives to train us to deal with success, disappointment, or life itself.
How do we get there? How do we as parents get to Destination Impartation (where we’ve implanted a love for God and virtue into our children’s hearts)?
Have you ever been using your GPS and suddenly you lost the signal? Or worse, I once followed a GPS and ended up 20 miles from my destination because the GPS didn’t have the updated maps. The wrong maps in the GPS led me to the wrong destination. I got out of the car and turned to the house that was supposed to be my destination and said, “How did I get here?”
If we are parents who want to understand where God is taking us as individuals, and we want to help steer our children to this important DESTINATION IMPARTATION, we must have two things: MAPS AND SIGNAL STRENGTH.
What is the moral map we have downloaded and are using to train ourselves and our children? Often we pick up our moral maps by rebelling against the parenting style of our parents. We react to them. We said things like, “I’ll never do that when I get older…” or “When I have kids of my own…” It’s possible that either your parents are driving your parenting or the inner teenage rebel within you is driving out of rebellion to your parents. If you grew up with a good experience from parenting, you will probably repeat the framework your parents used. But if your childhood was stressful, you may swing the other way. If your parents were unfair, restrictive, or abusive, you may veer your parenting car toward permissive parenting allowing your children to learn a self-centered, child-centered approach. In contrast, parents who had a permissive parenting upbringing, often feel insecure, having never known where the guardrails were for behavior. They veer the parenting car into the ditch of overly strict, authoritative, and over-protective. In both cases, “rebellion” is driving your own parenting decisions. Rebelling against what you didn’t like, instead of working off of a true GPS to guide and shape your children’s hearts.
1. Same Map For Everyone
When the standards of right and wrong are consistent, fair, explained and understood, everyone knows the consequences in advance. Everyone knows where the roads are, what is acceptable, and what is not. When you have the same map for everyone, you are able to train every heart in your family to the same standard. Don’t say, “My child is different” or “This child has a peculiar personality” or “This kid has ADHD and is therefore not applicable to the standard.” We need to train children to the standard, not lower the standard to the child. God tells parents that His map, His commandments are to be in “their hearts” first (pause)…then teach them to the hearts of their kids (state this slowly).
6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.”
God is showing us that his law. his map. His commandments are for everyone. Parents and kids. They are too be taught and applied to everyone as true. They are to be taught diligently and consistently in the trenches of normal life. Bring everyone to the same map.Henry Cloud in his book BOUNDARIES FOR CHILDREN tells the story of Jeremy and his parents. Henry says that “Universal House Rules of Conduct” are a good example of why we need the “same map for everyone.” Privileges and responsibility make be different (such as bed times and TV watching, which apply to kids and parents differently), but moral maps are for everyone. Jerry’s home had a rule, “No one interrupts another person who is talking.” Jerry was sharing a story and mom cut him off. When Jerry says, “mom you interupted me.” Mom could’ve responded nondefensively and said, “I’m sorry Jerry you are right. I apologize.” Then, Jerry would learn that respect, ownership, apologizing, and responding to house rules are things for grown ups to. Instead, mom responded with “Jeremy, you don’t understand, what I needed to say was very important and had to be said.” Jeremy became defensive and learned to rationalize his behavior when confronted on his infractions.My son Javan has ADHD. My son Quinn has partial blindness. My daughter Sierra is 14 and is very artsy. All have incredibly unique characteristics, and each makes parenting very unique. Each personality modifies my approach. But the same map applies to all. We all need to love one another, respect one another, be kind to one another, encourage one another, not hit one another, etc. This is key, although it can be exhausting as a parent of a child with ADHD to constantly be the reminder due to the developmental delay of the frontal cortex. Kids with ADHD are usually 3 years behind in their development of the frontal cortext, the part of the brain that take short term information, “Don’t forget to brush your teeth” and turns it into long term, “I need to always brush my teeth…” So, my wife and I give many, many more reminders to my son than my daughter, but the same standard applies. It’s the same map for everyone. When I am unkind, my wife is unloving. We too need to ask our kids for forgiveness. We too need to apologize. We too need to respect other’s feelings. It’s the same map for everyone. Too often I am using the map of my emotions to parent, rather than fixed moral standards. When I do that, it creates insecurity in our children. When I call my kids to my emotions, “You made me mad,” or “I can’t believe you did that..” or “Can’t you see how much that hurts me?” etc., kids know when our parenting is tied to our emotions. They will fear insecurity when the “bar” of what’s right and wrong is inconsistent or worse is as floppy as human emotion. if we say, “you made me mad” we are training our kids to think “making mom and dad happy is the goal.” Instead, we should all be pointing to a consistent, moral standard in our parenting. For BOTH our kids and ourselves. God is the standard and outlines the expression of that in His word.For a free first session of Godonomics, check out http://www.godonomics.com/watch-session-1