There was a time in my life (not so long ago) that I realized that I wasn’t really doing much as a mother to cultivate the hearts of my children. As a work-from-home mom who not only is trying to get my daily work completed, I am also homeschooling my girls and maintaining a home which means laundry, cooking supper, bath time, cleaning house, and attempting to have something left over at the end of the day to show my husband some attention after he has had a long day at work. The truth of the matter is that I was placing all of this above the needs of my girls, and their hearts were beginning to show it.
I have always said that cultivating their hearts was a priority for me, but I wasn’t actively doing anything to actually do that. I took that phrase for granted and just assumed that it would naturally happen as long as I had them in church and kept them busy with church activities. But guess what? It wasn’t happening! I began to notice behaviors coming from my ten and eleven year old daughters that I did not like. The biggest behavior that I saw that was unattractive was the way that they began to speak to each other and how dismissive they were when I said something to them about it. I knew that I had to take a step back and think about this, and here is what I found that worked!
Once I began to do a little bit of self-reflection and wondered where I went wrong, I realized that I wasn’t really investing in the time to have a conversation with them. I mean REAL CONVERSATION… the sit down with the television off and laptop put away type of conversation. I was being dismissive of them and only halfway listening to anything they said to me because usually they were trying to speak to me while I was busy with something else. So I decided to change that.
I began striking up conversations with them at the dinner table or at bedtime. Bedtime conversations are my favorite because I knew that they would close their eyes to sleep with their hearts full. I noticed that they began to wake up every morning in a better mood, they cooperated through their school work without complaining, and they began to treat each other with respect. GUYS! THIS IS HUGE! Jesus tells us that we are to love others as we love ourselves, and I began to witness this transformation in them right before my very eyes.
Take the time to invest in REAL conversations with your children. Communication with them is super important. If we don’t become their safe place now, then we certainly will not be their safe place later when they become teenagers and young adults. Cultivating hearts will not “just happen” on their own. That will ONLY happen when we engage in positive conversation. It will not happen through discipline when they “mess up.” It will ONLY happen when we create a positive experience for them through conversation. Having conversations about things that ask them to share their heart with you will cultivate a heart in them for others.
Ten Topic Ideas to Cultivate Your Child’s Heart
- Ask them what their favorite part of the day was today.
- Ask them to name one person that made them laugh today and why.
- Ask them what they did today to help make someone else’s day better.
- Ask them if there was anything that happened in their day that made them angry, and how they handled it.
- Ask them what they are most looking forward to tomorrow.
- Ask them if there is anything that THEY would like to talk about.
- Ask them to name three things that they love about their family the most.
- Ask them to come up with five ideas of something we could do as a family to “pay it forward.”
- Ask them what they think they could do to be a blessing to their siblings tomorrow.
- Ask them to name everything they can think of that happened in their day that they can be thankful to God for. (This is my favorite)