5 Important Heart-Guidelines To Teach Our Children

By April 11, 2012General

(Note from Kat: This is a post from monthly contributor Lara Williams. Enjoy!)

My blood pressure rises when I walk into my daughter’s room. Literally. In fact, I have a slight twinge of fear that she may end up on the show Hoarders.

She’s the sweetest, most thoughtful little thing. But she cannot keep her room picked-up to save her life. Which I assume is one of God’s creative ways of keeping this recovering perfectionistic control-freak (me!) in line.

Lord, help me.

It’s easy to see what their hands do (or don’t do). That’s the easy thing. I can see my daughter’s mess. I can see (and hear) my boys clobber one another. I can see them disregard the feelings of the other. I see those things with my physical eyes.

But as their mama, I want to see more. I want to see their heart behind their hands. And only He gives that kind of vision.

Charming, crazy eyes have you, are they gray or blue?
flickr photo credit

As I’ve prayed over the years that He would allow me to see my children — really see them — He’s graciously answered.

The most important guidelines I can teach my children

I don’t have a bunch of rules for them to follow. Partly because I can barely remember which day it is, much less a long list of “shalt nots.” Instead He’s led me to steer them with a handful of heart-guidelines that I pray they take with them as they get older.

  • Love: up and out.  (1 John 4:8) — This is our core “rule.” And really everything else falls under this one thing. Just like He said. (Mark 12:29-31) I ask them (a lot!), “How can you show love to God (or love to your brother) right now in this very moment?” Everything ultimately comes down to love. And I pray they remember.
  • Be a blessing. (Proverbs 18:21; Romans 12:14) — If they do the love thing, then they will be a blessing. But I want them to remember that their behaviors and words can either bless or tear down those around them. Bless or tear down.
  • Take good care of what we’ve been given. (1 Peter 4:10; 1 Corinthians 4:1-2) — Everything is God’s. He calls us to be good stewards of both spiritual and physical things. (My daughter and I talk about this one often.)
  • Pray for your brothers and sisters. (Matthew 5:44; 1 John 5:16) — When one of them falls under mama’s discipline, I want the others to learn to pray for them. Because we’re called to lift those around us. We’re called to intercede for those who fall into sin — not sit in the corner and point and laugh at their downward spiral. Prayer shows love.
  • Obedience brings blessing. Disobedience brings consequences. (Deuteronomy 28:1, 15) — God works this way. As a faithful Father, He blesses obedience. But as a faithful Father He also disciplines our disobedience — for our good and His glory. I pray they remember.

God alone can change my children

I cannot transform their hearts. It’s not in my power or in my job description as their mama. That’s His work to accomplish.

But by His strength I can train and lead them in His ways. I can point their hearts in His direction. I can (imperfectly) exemplify a woman who loves my Maker and depends upon His grace when I fail.

What general heart-guidelines do you lay out for your own kids? Let us know in the comments!


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  • […] I’m also hanging out today at Inspired To Action talking about the five heart guidelines I try to teach my kids. It’s a short list because I […]

  • Kat says:

    So, so good, Lara!! This is going through my printer!

  • Caroline T says:

    I’m inspired! I like that your rules teach the heart and are from scripture. Thank-you for sharing!

  • MainlineMom says:

    So good! We emphasize heart issues in our house rather than behaviors too. Our big thing is honor, which I believe is just another word for love or being a blessing. We say over and over “How can you honor your brother (or mom or God) right now?” or “Do you think your attitude is showing honor to those around you?” and we define honor as showing someone that they are extra special, going beyond what is expected of you.

  • Kristen S says:

    I love your list! It really is very complete!

  • Lauren Nicole says:

    Thank you! This is perfect for where my spirituality has been leading me lately. Divine timing. 🙂

  • Andrea says:

    LOVE this! And I am also going to print this out!

  • Naomi says:

    Thanks for posting the list! Great reminders and great Scriptures to tie it all together for my kiddos.

  • davina says:

    Lara, what a wonderfully succinct list of what I hope my kids are getting from what I’m saying and doing. Such an excellent reminder, not only of what I want them to be getting from me, but how I want to be living. Thank you. 🙂

  • Lara, thank you for these guidelines. I will be using them. 🙂

  • Beautifully said. My message to my children in LOVE. Plain and simple. Not the warm fussy feelings of love ,but to be LOVE in action. So when they are confused and they don’t know what they should do or think or say, then they should always fall back on the action, thought or word that is most loving. Thanks for sharing this Laura!

  • Kristy says:

    Thank you, I so needed to read this this evening. I am feeling so weary with my kids right now. Feeling like I do all I know to do, and model good behavior and want them to be sweet and love God and be loving… And when their attitudes are anything but, I feel so down at times. This evening is one of those times.
    I need to remember I can teach and lead and model, but only God can change their hearts. Thank you…

    • lara says:

      Oh girl, I know that feeling. Really. In fact just yesterday I started “lecturing” God, wondering if any of this is ever going to sink in. But I think that’s exactly when we have to choose to believe that His word absolutely does not return void. He is grace. He will draw them in His perfect time. Believing right along with you, sister.

  • Joyce says:

    I love this. I think guidelines will help our children navigate through life better than any rules will. Thanks!

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  • […] over their (inevitable) mistakes. But God has (mostly) freed me from that. I’m learning to release them into His control, trusting that the truths I imperfectly teach them will eventually stick and affect their […]