Recently I asked my kids what they wanted to be when they grow up. I got mommy and missionary, soccer player and sports writer. Sophie said she wanted to be a hair dryer, but I’m pretty sure she meant hairdresser.
As parents we spend a lot of time shaping and molding our children into what we want them to be. We talk a lot about what they should do with their life, and we share important lessons about what not to do.
But as Christian parents we are also to train our children to feel as God created them to feel.
We often overlook this important aspect of parenting. We don’t talk much about how our children should feel when they grow up, do we?
But feelings are an important part of who God created us to be. God is an emotional being and the Bible is a passionate book. Try reading more than a few lines of Scripture without bumping into a feeling. You can’t do it.
We are called to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all our soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30).
We are told to “be wretched and mourn and weep” over sin and judgment (James 4:9).
We are exhorted to “rejoice always” and “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).
As Christian parents, we have a grander goal than managing our child’s emotional outbursts: we want our children’s feelings to explode with affection for God.
We want our children to passionately love the Savior, tenderly love others, and serve the Lord with gladness (Ps. 100:2). We want our children’s hearts to be filled with God-glorifying emotions!
But just as we teach and train, educate and instruct our children to be what we want them to be, we must also train them to feel as God has called them to feel.
We must train up our children in the way they should go (Prov. 22:6) and this means we must direct and shape their emotions (not the other way around). If we ignore this critical aspect of our child’s training, I fear we will have failed to fulfill our whole duty as parents.
Only God can take our child’s heart of stone and give her a heart of flesh (Ezek. 36:26), but he has given us a job to do as parents. He has called us to diligently teach our children how to love Him with all their heart and with all their soul and with all their might (Deut. 6:5-7).
As our children transition from the toddler to the elementary school years, this is a critical time to focus on their feelings. How can we do this? Ideas for training a child’s emotions in a godward direction are coming up next here at girltalk.