Does that describe you? Always positive about the things you intend to do with your kids? Always looking to tomorrow for the time when you will follow through on what you said you would do?
. . . testing one more time your child’s waning faith in your word?
He knows you love him . . . sort of . . . at least he wants to believe it . . .
Dad’s really busy right now
Mom has a lot to do
He said we’d play catch tomorrow
She can’t do it today but maybe next week
Dad wanted to take me to the park but something important came up
Mom wants to read her book right now
Yeah, Dad and Mom love me, I think . . .
But then the day comes when he wishes what he used to believe was true. Every child innately knows that his dad and mom always have the time to do the things that are important to them. Unless we make our kids our priority and keep our word to them, eventually, they will conclude they are of little importance or value to their parents.
Thoughts like that close hearts.
Maybe not today . . . maybe not tomorrow.
It won’t show up right away but there is something parents of young kids often forget: the teen years are coming.
‘Experience’ is a great teacher but are the lessons our kids are learning today as they live under the dictates of our priorities the lessons we hoped they would?
Like an eager green plant shooting up in early Spring, the hearts of our children often begin strong, hopeful, and vibrant – excited about their first superheroes: Dad & Mom.
Then degree by degree, after repeated disappointments, their hearts begin to close until they just don’t believe anymore. If your child has learned not to trust what you say, you trained your child not to trust you.
We’d like to think that what we say and who we are should be kept separate. Not happening. And just because you’re not yet there doesn’t mean that it can’t happen in your family. Becoming a disillusioned child is an incremental process. Children don’t slam the door to their hearts. They close it by degrees until they may smile on the outside but are cold and hard on the inside. Is that process underway in the heart of one or more of your children?
How can you win back your child’s trust?
1) Change starts with you. Are you ready to get rid of that flaw in your character (sorry, that’s what not keeping your word to your child is) and make a change in how you interact with your child? Intentions won’t get you where you want to be. It’s time for surgery. Take action and ask your spouse to help you be accountable.
2) Refrain from grand declarations to your child of how things will be different from now on. No doubt, you now had be best of intentions to follow through but, your son/daughter has heard it all before. You have to ‘do the walk’ before your child will ‘believe the talk’.
3) Humbly apologize and ask for forgiveness for not being the parent God wants you to be (and don’t react if he/she needs more time)
4) Keep your commitments to your child even if it costs you much. Better to lose a business deal or miss out on that next outing with the guys than lose the heart of your child.
5) Be patient and don’t push your child to re-engage. It’s easier for someone who has been enlightened and repented (you!) to change than for someone who has been hurt (your child) to trust again. Chances are, you’ll be ready to re-engage far sooner than your child. Time is a great healer. Let it do its work.
You have a reputation with your child and there’s only one way to change a reputation: Consistency over time. If you say you’ll do it, follow through and do it.
Short of a miracle (and they do happen) showing your child his great value to you by making him a priority over time and being a man/woman of your word is the only way to win back the heart of your child. Everyone is at a different place on their parenting pilgrimage and it will take longer for some than others.
Let’s keep in mind that the Holy Spirit is far more effective at changing hearts than we will ever be. Seek God’s wisdom and mercy in healing the hard places of your child’s heart.
God bless you, Dad & Mom, as you seek to be the parent God has called you to be.
Matt Jacobson is the founder of FaithfulMan.com a biblical marriage, parenting, and discipleship ministry providing written and audio teaching, as well as couples marriage coaching. He is the co-host (with his wife, Lisa) of Faithful Life Podcast and is author of the bestseller, 100 Ways to Love Your Wife. Matt is pastor of Tumalo Bible Fellowship and is married to Lisa, founder of Club31Women.com (they have 8 kids!).