None of us wants to break our children’s hearts. Yet, sometimes we do without even realizing it.
This week, my friend, Lori Wildenberg, shares from her brand new book, Messy Parenting, a how-to in reverse that will help you protect your child’s precious heart from careless things we moms tend to do and say.
(Leave a comment at the end and you could win a free signed copy of Lori’s new book.)
Now, here’s Lori on how to protect your children’s hearts, no matter what their ages:
Working with parents and kids I have seen the little ones (and older kids) totally deflate when mom or dad parents or interacts a particular way. There are 15 arrows that always pierce the tender hearts of our kids. Let’s put these weapons down.
If you want to break your child’s heart and crush his spirit, do these 15 things:
- Discipline in anger. “You are grounded for life.”
- Criticize rather than correct. “That’s a stupid way to solve that problem.”
- Lecture rather than discuss. “Blah, blah, blah…”
- Express unreasonable expectations. “You are two and you need to sit perfectly still during church.”
- Compare one sibling to another. “Your sister was able to ______.”
- Bring up past failures. “Remember when you _______.”
- Use sarcasm. “Yah, right, you are so smart.”
- Kill joy. “You could have done even better if you had_______.”
- Shame. “You are so clumsy.”
- Broadcast failures. “You can’t believe what my son did.”
- Blame. “It’s your fault I ran the red light.”
- Present yourself as perfect. “When I was your age I never _______.”
- Steal success. “You got your talent from my side of the family.”
- Don’t admit wrong doing. “I’m the parent. I’m always right.”
- Never ask for forgiveness. (Ditto number 14.)
As parents we typically have two goals: a short-term goal (typically behavior) and two long term goals (character building and family connection). In my parenting courses I encourage moms (and dads) to use a positive, proactive, and purposeful approach with their kiddos. Work toward training kids regarding the preferred behavior and start providing opportunities to grow desirable character traits while stengthening your relationship in those moments.
The traits of humility, confidence, empathy, and kindness can be encouraged and grown in our kids when we demonstrate them ourselves, pray for those qualities in ourselves and in our kids, and give our kids the support they need to develop those traits.
We are holding our child’s heart and spirit in our hands. Let’s hold on firmly and tenderly so he or she can flourish to be the person God created him or her to be. Even when we mess up it isn’t too late— we can always adjust our approach by asking for forgiveness and beginning anew today.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
Which one of these 15 heart-breakers will you avoid? Let us know in the comment section below, along with the U.S. state where you live, and we’ll pick a winner to receive a signed copy of Lori’s new book.
Lori Wildenberg, mom of four, is passionate about helping families build connections that last a lifetime. She is co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting ministry, lead mentor mom with the Moms Together Facebook Community, national speaker, and parent coach. Messy Parenting is Lori’s fifth parenting book. For more information on her ministry, resources and books, see her website, www.loriwildenberg.com.