3 Reasons to Respond to Your Child’s Heart Before Their Actions
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“Mom, just let me explain.”
“I don’t want to hear your excuses right now.”
“But Mom, please, just listen for a second.”
You admit it — you made a mistake, you messed up, and you feel terrible. You simply want 2 minutes to let them know that your heart was in the right place, even if the outcome was less than desirable. Why won’t they listen? Don’t they know that you would never intentionally hurt them this way?
It feels horrible when we aren’t given the opportunity to explain our actions, doesn’t it? So why do we do it to others, especially our children?
Lately, I have been convicted on how I’ve been reacting solely based on my son’s actions without taking the time to consider the heart behind it. For instance. . .
I walked into the kitchen to find my entire (jumbo-size) creamer spilled all over the floor. My instinct was to freak out. Seriously, child? You just did this last week. Don’t you remember me crying on the floor because my precious creamer was all gone? *I really wish that wasn’t a true story.*
But, by the grace of God, I responded calmly, had him go to his room until I cleaned up the mess, and then went and talked to him.
What happened in there, Buddy?
His sweet little response: I was just trying to make you a cup of coffee, mama. But it too hard!
It hit me right then. . . how many times had I been too busy or too upset to listen to his heart?
Have you ever reacted to your child’s actions and then later regretted your response? Here are three important reasons for us (yes, us!) to break this cycle!
3 Important Reasons to Respond to Their Hearts First
Their heart is more important than their actions.
Nothing is more important than their hearts. We know this because the Bible tells us. . .
- God looks at our hearts while man looks at outward appearances.
- Everything in this world will fade, but faith, hope, and love — the greatest being love — will remain.
- God’s two commandments in the New Testament are both based on love: love Him and love others.
By taking the time to see our children through the lens of grace, we’re showing them a small portion of how God loves us. This is not to say there aren’t any consequences for negative behavior (see #3), only that our first reaction shouldn’t be condemnation.
We are teaching them grace.
There’s nothing we want more for our kid’s than for them to know God’s never ending love and His amazing grace. And yet, both of these concepts are nearly impossible to explain without some sort of context or demonstration. We know grace because we’ve seen it given or it was given to us.
When we respond to our children’s heart first, we are giving them glimpses of grace. We’re making entryways into their understanding of the amazing character of God and what He’s done for us. And as much as we wish it wasn’t so, somewhere along the line someone is going to hurt our precious babies. How do we want them to respond?
Consequences match the intention.
God forgives us for our sins, but He doesn’t necessarily rescue us from our earthly problems. If you kill someone and subsequently repent and turn to God, His grace covers even murder. But if convicted, you are still going to prison. And while this is an extreme example, it illustrates an important point:
Giving grace to our children doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences for their actions. It does change the method in which we give them — with love, grace, and understanding. Their actions don’t separate them from our love, just like ours don’t separate us from God’s.
So what’s next?
So much of this is easier said than done, right? When we are in the midst of high emotions and our children aren’t acting the most lovable, it’s so hard to respond with love and grace. And while I’m not perfect (or even close to perfect), my best advice is this:
- Pray. Pray beforehand, pray during, and pray after.
- Know God’s Word. Fill up with so much goodness that there’s little room for the ick.
- Ask for help. This may mean needing a break from the kids, talking to a trusted mentor, or simply having a friend’s ear to vent to.
The important part is not how good you are at this, but Whose strength are you relying on to parent in those difficult moments. And with His strength, you got this, mama.