Updated: Jan 7, 2019
A different way to parent
When I was led to this concept of shepherding my children's hearts, I had no idea where to begin. As a result, I knew I would have a steep learning curve. This meant I'd better start educating myself quickly. I didn't feel like it was something the Lord wanted me to get to later. It was almost as if I needed to stop and regroup NOW!
As my husband and I tried to figure this thing out together, our children's behaviors continued to remind us of the urgency to parent God's way. As their parents, we could tell we weren't addressing the heart of the issues. After a lot of thought, prayer, studying, and tough conversations, my husband and I finally felt as though we were on the same page. You can read more in about this in Shepherding the Heart Part I and Part II. We didn't and still don't know everything. But, we finally found a good starting point. With the knowledge we have gained from this process, it is my desire to help guide you to your own starting place. I want to help shorten your learning curve in any way possible.
Shepherding the heart
Maybe some of you are already familiar with this idea of shepherding the heart. If not, don't worry, here's my greatest attempt at conceptualizing it for you:
We are often taught different strategies to address behaviors. Behavior modification is the most popular, evidenced-based technique suggested for parenting. While this technique and others can be helpful, they often miss a huge, and imperative part of training our children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22.6). This is where the heart and character training comes in. As parents, we are called to lead our children in the ways of the Lord. Parent God's way, and train their hearts and character for God's kingdom.
As a result, I believe that shepherding the heart infused with behavior modification techniques will allow you to get to the heart of your child's behavior. It's a combined strategy that will allow you and your children to further grow for the glory of God. Are you ready? Let's do this!
Once this makes sense, here's where I'd begin:
Prayer: Talk to the Lord and ask Him to lead and guide you in parenting. These are His children and He wants to parent alongside you. Surrender to His perfect will. Proverbs 16:1 says, "We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer." Plan to do things differently, while asking for guidance and trusting God's way.
Talk with your spouse: Get on one accord. One of the ways I am often able to confirm things that involve our family is by my husband and I being in agreement. You and your spouse should communicate and present to your children as a united front.
Conduct a Family Meeting: Once you and your spouse are on one accord, now its time to prepare the hearts and minds of your children. Sit down as a family and discuss the changes that will be made. Set clear expectations and discuss consequences. Explain to your children that you guys have been praying and researching ways to improve your parenting, and grow your family for Christ. Let them know that this is the direction you feel the Lord leading you guys in. Do this often.
Pray together as a family: Include prayer in your family time/meeting. Let your children know that just as they must learn to submit to your God-given authority, as their parents, you guys must submit to Christ's authority.
Be prepared for things to get uncomfortable: Parenting God's way is not only about the growth of your children, but will also stretch and grow you. Consequently, as you go against social norms, you will be met with opposition, but be consistent. Patiently endure for the Glory of God.
Know that you aren't alone: God is for you, who can be against you (Romans 8:31). He has given you a community of parents here at The Teaching Wife, who desire to parent God's way, and have similar parenting goals. Join our Parenting with Purpose community by subscribing to our bi-monthly newsletter below.
She is Yours is a great read that offers practical advice and encouragement while on this journey of parenting God's way. Read more about She is Yours HERE.