My mum used to talk about the little man sitting on my shoulder making me uncomfortable if I did something wrong, or was about to.

This was my conscience.

I define the conscience as the work of the heart telling me when my choices are about to go against what I believe is right.

We need to teach our children about their conscience.

We need to teach them to listen to it.

This is what I’m talking about this week – as I ask the question – Do your Kids listen to that inner voice of their Heart?” 

Do your Kids Listen to that Inner Voice of their Heart?

I think teaching our kids to drive is one of the most testing experiences parents of teenagers go through. As we teach them, we break down how to drive the best we can, and then we talk them through each manourvre as they gain confidence week by week.  I used to tell my kids as I talked them through each step that I wanted to be the voice in their head when they were on the road by themselves.  

Of course I don’t want to be a nagging voice – I want to be a calm voice that encourages them to be aware of the environment around them, I want them to think about what they need to do and how they’re going to do it, I want them to be confident that they can be safe, I want them to know they can do this.

Driving is just one example of how we want our kids to hear our voice in their head as they go through life. It is a part of us wanting to prepare them to do life well. Its kind of funny that as an adult I still hear my mums voice as I do things – and now I want that for my kids!

But I really don’t want to be the only voice in my kid’s head. I want them to hear the Holy Spirit and their conscience. Another way to say this is to listen to the voice in their heart. The idea of mum’s voice in your head makes a good object lesson to teach our kids about listening to that inner voice.

My kids will hear my voice in their heads in situations beyond driving because we’ve done life together: we’ve talked, I’ve instructed, they’ve asked questions and we’ve discussed. They know me. They know what I think. They know what I’d say. This is what makes me that voice that pops up in their head at times.

As a Christian, because we have a relationship with Jesus we also hear His voice. (John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.) This relationship comes as we do life with Jesus: when we’ve read his word, when we’ve prayed, when we’ve listened – we know what He thinks. We can hear Jesus’ voice in our head – or in our heart! I never want to quieten that voice in my own life, and I wanted my kids to be able to hear his quiet voice too.

Another voice that we can hear is our conscience. When we learn what is right and what is wrong we develop our conscience. {as i said,} My mum used to call him a little man sitting on your shoulder – he is the voice we hear prompting us to do what is right, warning us against doing what is wrong.

And here is the parenting lesson:  If our kids are to be influenced by our instruction, their relationship with Jesus, or their conscience we need to teach them to listen to their inner voice and to act on it.

Teach them to listen

Often parents just jump in and either tell their kids what to do or tell them they made the wrong choice and they should have done something else.

If our kids have already learnt what is right then we need to use the situation to help them reflect and listen to their heart – listen to that quiet voice that is trying to be heard. When we get them to reflect, even after a choice has already been made, we are teaching them to listen.

Initially, most of their listening will be after the event, and that is unfortunate in a sense, but when they reflect and hear what would have been the right choice, they are one step closer to listening in the midst of the action. We need to teach and guide our kids that whenever they are in a decision making situation that they are to pause and listen to that voice. What is the right way to go?

I’m not talking about big life changing decisions here. We all make choices throughout the day (and this is true for adults and children alike). We make choices in how we speak to someone, how we act or react – every action we make throughout the day is a choice, a decision we make. We need to listen to the Holy Spirit and our conscience and be guided to make wise choices – as do our children.

 

Teach them to act

It takes courage to act on what we know is the right thing to do.

This is the second thing we need to teach our kids. First we need to teach them to pause and listen and then they need to act. This takes courage because often the right thing to do is not what we want to do, or it is not what our friends are doing.

The pull in our heart to do the wrong thing is strong. I think it is helpful to acknowledge that tension between right and wrong, between following Jesus and following self. It is a real tension and it is the core issue when it comes to learning to listen to that inner voice.

The courage to do the right thing grows in our kids as they start to value their relationship with Jesus and with others who guide them.

Though I want my kids to hear my voice reminding them how to be a safe driver, when it comes to making daily choices, the moral issues of life, it is important that I stop being the voice in my kids head. Instead they need to start listening to their own conscience and be responsible for following their Savior and Lord themselves. As much as instant obedience makes life easier for the parent we must step away from this expectation. When parents are instructing and expecting obedience, into the years when our kids actually know what is right, then we are only teaching our kids to listen to our voice – and yet they need to learn to listen to their conscience and the voice of the Holy Spirit.

When we give our kids directions we must give them time to pause and listen to that inner voice. After we have given an instruction they need to choose will I or wont I? It is as they ask that question themselves, as they pause and listen and then choose to act that they build the habit of listening to that inner voice.

It is this habit of listening to that inner voice that will give them the ability to do the right thing – regardless of where they are and who they are with and what they are doing.

Heart-focused Action Step

So where are your kids at with listening to their conscience, or listening to the Holy Spirit to help them make wise choices?  

  • Have you taught them about their conscience, and the Holy Spirit speaking to them?
  • Do you give them the opportunity to think about their choices?

Admittedly it is much quicker to just demand instant obedience – things get done – but at what cost?  At the cost of our children being able to listen to the voice in their heart.

It takes time to teach our kids to pause, listen, act from a voice not our own.  Just like it took time to teach our children to obey our instructions, we have to also help them listen and obey that other voice as well.  

When you see tension in their eyes – telling you they know what is right but they don’t want to do it – it is at this point you have to slow down, and point them to understanding what is going on.

You can say, “I can see that there is a struggle going on in your heart at the moment.  You know what is the right thing to do – and your conscience is telling you that.  And yet you want to do something else.  This is where you have to pause, and decide what voice you are going to listen to.”

Introduce your children to the idea that they have a inner voice helping them make choices.

If they choose wisely, you can point them to understanding that sense of relief and peace that is in their heart, as their conscience commends them for doing the right thing.  

If they choose poorly, you will have to have a conversation about every choice having a consequence and let them walk through the relevant consequences.  Wise choices we receive peace.  Poor choices we receive pain.  

Talking about these heart things to our kids is something that we will have to talk about over and over and over again.  After all how many times has the Holy Spirit said – I was prompting you and you didn’t listen!  We are still learning these things even now as adults – it will take our kids time to learn as well.  

The greatest blessing you can give your children though is an understanding that they have the responsibility to listen to the promptings of their heart and make wise choices.  

 

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Find the words to talk about the Conscience

My mum used to talk about the little man sitting on my shoulder making me uncomfortable if I did something wrong, or was about to.

This was my conscience.

I define the conscience as the work of the heart telling me when my choices are about to go against what I believe is right.

We need to teach our children about their conscience.

We need to teach them to listen to it.

Self-reflection is a key Heart-based Skill

Encouraging a child to listen to their conscience involves asking open-ended and thought-provoking questions that prompt self-reflection and moral awareness. 

By asking these questions, parents can guide their children in recognizing and listening to their conscience, nurturing their ability to make moral, ethical decisions independently. These conversations can also foster a deeper understanding of their values and the importance of doing what they believe is right.

Once our child has a relationship with Jesus then we need to teach them to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit as well – as God calls all Christians to obey His voice.

 

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