Do you know what it means to say the heart is the most important thing as a parent?  It is a phrase that can get tossed around – we like it but we don’t really know what it means, and if we can’t say what it means, how do we know it is a true or helpful phrase? Catch phrases can be like that – so today I’m sharing our journey as we discovered what being a heart-focused parent really means and how that played out in our family.  

When we started our family we heard the catchphrase – capture your child’s heart.  Something connected within us and we really liked that phrase.  But when we came to talking about it we couldn’t really define what that meant.  What does it mean to capture your child’s heart?  Are we talking emotions?  Faith?  Loyalty?  Connection?  What does mean?

So I dug into the word heart – starting with the Bible.  The heart is mentioned a lot in the Bible – I’m sure you are familiar with these verses:

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 23:7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.

Luke 6:45 (ISV) A good person produces good from the good treasure of his heart, and an evil person produces evil from an evil treasure, because the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.

 

What does “Heart” Mean?

As I delved into the Hebrew word for “heart” this is what I found: 

The heart is the inner man, the conscience, the soul.
The heart is the mind, the place where we understand, think, reflect and know things
The heart is where we have inclinations and make resolutions to determine our will.
The heart is where our character springs from.
The heart is the seat of our passions and our emotions.

 So in summary the heart is – our inner self, our conscience, our soul, and our mind.  

The Work of the Heart

As a culture – our western culture – we tend to think more like the Greek and how they thought about life – and we tend to separate all those things – body, soul, mind.  But the Hebrews didn’t make such a distinction.

In fact, I find it fascinating when I listen to people talk today about how our inner self works and I can’t help but see that the Hebrew mindset, which is reflected in Scripture,  understood this a long time ago.  

What we believe affects our thoughts,
which affects our feelings,
which affects our choices.
This is the process of the heart.

The heart is the place that holds our beliefs, values, thoughts and feelings.  These things direct our choices.  It all comes from the heart

So my job as a parent – and your job as a parent – is to teach our children beliefs and values, to help them think and process their feelings so that they can make wise choices.  

 

What Heart means to our Parenting

As I learnt to define the word heart it changed my understanding of the purpose of parenting as well as the how of parenting.  

It changed how I gave instructions, how I corrected my kids, even how I praised them – it all changed when I saw that the important thing was reaching or touching the heart of my child.

Knowing I was passing on beliefs and values gave me a framework for every interaction with my kids.  Parenting became about helping them process their beliefs, values and emotions as they learnt to make wise choices. It shaped our conversations – it gave us an ability to go deeper than just surface chit-chat.  It gave us direction for proactive parenting – gave us direction other than just doing what generations before had done.  It gave helped clarify our family vision and identity. 

 

Being a heart-focused parent is hard work.  

Being a heart-focused parent is hard work!  It is much much easier being driven by behaviour  – we see something we don’t like (and maybe we don’t like it for good reason) but we don’t like it so we tell our child to stop it and not do it again.  This works in the immediate – depending on our level of intensity – but it is only a short-term fix.  We turn around and there they are doing something again where they need to be told to stop and don’t do that.  

When we get caught up in this cycle of telling our kids to stop negative behaviour we are just controlling their behaviour in the moment – we aren’t giving them any life skills or understanding – we aren’t getting to the heart of the matter – we are dealing with symptoms, not the cause.

Parenting the heart changes our choices as a parent.  

To be honest, I don’t know that I would use the phrase çapturing a child’s heart these days.  But I do use the phrase – connect with your child’s heart, teach your child’s heart, guide your child’s heart, encourage your child’s heart.  

It is our job to teach, guide, and encourage our children as they grow in their ability to process beliefs, values, thoughts, feelings, and choices. 

And to do so is being a heart-focused parent.

Does this idea excite you?  I hope so.  I hope the idea of being heart-focused – clicks with something inside of you, much as it did when Peter and I first heard the word heart in connection with our parenting many years ago.  

The challenge to parents is the same now as it was back then.  We want our children to do well in life and for far too long we have equated that with good behaviour.  Instead, we need to teach our children to hold firm to beliefs and values, to make choices in all areas of their life consistent with what they believe and value.  This is what I teach and coach parents to be able to do.  

Heart Focused Action Step:

If this is what you want for your family then follow along.  Subscribe to the podcast on your favourite listening platform.

If you have enjoyed the podcast please consider taking the time to write a review. This helps the podcast be found by other parents. As a thank you, I have a bonus Heart Booster Parenting Quiz based on 12 Parenting Skills for the Heart Focused parent, and a bonus audio dealing with that inner conflict where we know we need to change and yet still be content within ourselves so we aren’t driven to guilt and selfcriticism.  To get this Bonus Heart Booster you need to write a Podcast review, take a screenshot of it, and send it to me and I’ll send you the download!  The details of how to contact me are below.  (This bonus is available till end July 2022)

Email me:  belindaletchford [at] outlook.com
Direct Message: instagram.com/belindaletchford
Message Me: facebook.com/heartfocusparenting

Instructions on how to leave a Review here: link

 

Further Reading:

Further Defining Heart Focus Parenting:  Heart Focus Parenting teaches our children to be responsible for their beliefs, character, choices, emotions and passions.

Be a Heart Focused Homeschool: To be a heart-focused homeschool we need to give time and effort to teaching and training the heart – the place of our beliefs, character and will.

How to not Provoke your Child’s Heart:  The Bible tells us to not provoke our children to anger. When we choose to encourage we build up the child’s heart and build our relationship.

Heart Conversations Take time out of your Day:  It takes time to have meaningful heart conversations with our children, so we must make time for it if it is a priority.

 

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