I have three children. As I write this, they are 12 (Will), 8 (Ben), and 5 (Maddie). They completely rock. They bring me great joy. They add tremendous flavor to our family. I also blame them for most of my grey hair though I doubt that is true. And they could not be more different.
My sister is a Meyers-Briggs expert so we have learned some about personalities. Without going into a lot of detail, I am an INTJ. My wife is an ISFJ and so is my oldest son. He is literally the male version of my wife – personality-wise.
My middle son is an ESFP (I think) and is exploding with creativity and energy. The thought to pick something up has never once occurred to him – ever.
My baby girl is definitely an extrovert, but I’m not sure on the rest yet. However, she is girlie and tough as nails at the same time.
My family spends a lot of time together, which I love. However, I don’t spend much time one-on-one with my kids. So one of my goals for 2015 is to spend one-on-one time every month with each child. I want to know them. I want to champion the best in them. I want to build a rock solid relationship with them. I want to be a safe place for them. All of these ideals require time.
In January, my son Ben and I were trying to figure out what we’d do together. He came up with the idea that he wanted a blog like his daddy. The kid is so creative and funny that I thought this would be a great outlet for him. So we created www.ben-barron.com where he and I create funny videos. Feel free to take a couple of minutes and go check it out – and keep in mind that he is just 8.
So here are the 9 steps that any parent can follow to pursue the hearts of their children.
- Understand the importance of relationship – Relationship is the bedrock of the parent-child relationship. Everything you do either strengthens or erodes this relationship. And there is a window into their hearts that they have to open from the inside. It is your relationship with them that will show them you are trustworthy to be invited in.
- Be intentional – This has been my struggle and the reason I have this goal for 2015. If I am not intentional about protecting time with my kids, it won’t happen. You should also be intentional about taking advantage of teaching moments. Use events of the day to speak truth into their lives and demonstrate how big of theirs you are.
- Become a student of your kids – Study your kids. They are different. If I treat them all the same, I will connect with some and miss others. I want to know my kids. I want to understand and recognize their personalities. I want to know that my son processes information by pulling from his memories of the past. I process information by looking forward to future possibilities. Knowing that about him gives me all kinds of insight into how I can communicate and love on him in a way that he will most easily receive.
- Be a safe place – This gets back to that window in their hearts. They will only invite you in if you are a safe place. That means not getting angry. I want my son to come to me when he messes up so I can help him grow through the experience. He needs to know that he can be honest with me without me getting angry. I want to encourage him to come to me rather than prevent it by demonstrating that when he confesses he will get in a ton of trouble (that is not to say he might not get in trouble).
- Demonstrate vulnerability – My dad has started doing this over the last couple of years. He has been sending emails out to the family on a fairly regular basis sharing some of his failures. My dad is an achiever. As his kids, we rarely saw him fail. When he shares his vulnerabilities with us, it is like we are being freed up to swing for the fences – and maybe strike out in the process.
- Spend one-on-one time – Our kids equate time with love. When I say no to the rest of the world and dedicate time to just one of them, they feel loved. With my oldest, we play basketball or baseball. With my middle son, we created his blog. I think our next project will be building a model airplane. With my daughter, we go on dates. We even have our favorite restaurant. Earlier this week, we also shot this video below.
- Validate their gifts – The Lord has created our kids in a unique way. They are all clearly different. He has gifted them differently. I believe it is our duty as their parents to validate their gifts. And this can be hard if you are an athlete and your child is artistic, for example. We must validate their giftedness.
- Champion the best in them – Encourage what you want repeated. I think as parents we focus on the negative too much. I want to praise the behavior that I want to reinforce in their lives. This means we must look for the times they are doing things right and then make a big deal about it.
- Become their biggest fan – I want them to know I believe in them. I want them to know their daddy thinks they are rock stars. I want them to know that I will be at their games. I will be there when they test for their next belt (2 of my kids are Karate butt-kickers!) They have to know that no one is a bigger fan of theirs than me.
I'd love to hear what you think: How have you pursued the hearts of your kids? What has worked for you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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