Weeding and Feeding Your Kid’s Heart
by Guest Author BJ Meurer, one of our trained coaches and seminar presenters
What can you learn about parenting from dandelions?
It’s spring. Which means one thing: Dandelions.
Kids love to pick them, but most of us prefer a dandelion-free lawn.
Many of us just pop the little yellow tops off and move on, and there is some positive effect from that (a better looking lawn, fewer seeds in the future, etc.). But by leaving the roots in place, we have to do the same job again, and if we ever want to get the full plant out by the roots in the future, it will take a lot more work because roots only grow stronger over time.
So what does this have to do with parenting?
Spending versus Investing Our Parenting Time
So often we spend our time popping the little yellow tops off the misbehaviors of our kids rather than digging deeper into their hearts to get at the roots. Then we come up with some reason why this is OK like, “You have no idea how busy I am. If I spend the time fixing this problem now, sooo many other things won’t get done.” or some version of that.
But the reality is that when we are parenting we are either spending or investing our time.
When we spend our time, we deal with problems and challenges facing our kids quickly so they don’t throw off the rest of our day. We view these challenges as getting in the way of what we’re supposed to do. As a result, we just pop the yellow tops off the problems and keep going. The end result though is that our kids face the same problems and challenges over and over again and again, and that time we thought we were saving is spent many more times over.
When we invest our time, we view these same problems and challenges our kids face not as getting in the way of the day but instead, as an important part of the day.
God knew that your child’s temper tantrum was going to stop you from getting out the door on time today. He knew your child’s back talk was going to interrupt your ability to finish getting dinner ready. He knows all of this and more.
But He also knows that when we invest our time, we get to the root of a problem deeper in the heart. In doing so, we save time in the future when we don’t see the same problems coming back again because we see heart changes that last.
When we invest our parenting time like this, we model how Jesus works with us. Jesus doesn’t view our sins as an interruption to His work. Instead, Jesus recognizes that if He’s going to work with humans to build His kingdom, He’s going to need a plan for dealing with sin that works on our hearts.
It’s not just about Weeding … It’s also about Feeding
But here’s another thing: Dandelions and other weeds are signs that our lawns lack something else.
It might be nutrients, minerals, ph balance, etc., but the weeds we see in the grass are a surface level sign of a deeper issue. So while part of our job is to get those weeds out by the roots, if we want to have a long lasting impact on our lawns, we need to add something positive to them (like fertilizer, water, etc.) to improve the overall health of the lawn.
The same is true in our parenting. Firmness alone will not solve the problems in our child’s heart. We can’t “consequence” our child’s heart into transformation for Jesus. We need to prayerfully consider what other heart tools we need to use to help our kids develop on the positive side of the equation.
If we are going to move from weeding to feeding, then we need to shift our own focus in our parenting. We need to stop focusing on what’s wrong and start focusing on what our children need. That involves developing some new practical routines in family life that get us moving in the right direction.
Having a Plan for Parenting
We need to have a plan for our parenting. We need to recognize that giving instructions to our children and working on their hearts when they don’t follow those instructions needs to be an integral part of that plan.
A great place to begin this is by getting better at giving instructions since this works on building cooperation, responsibility, thoroughness, flexibility, accountability, and so much more in your child’s heart.
If you’d like to get started working on this using the same tools that countless other parents have found great success using with their kids, here’s a free video resource you can use entitled 5 Simple Steps to Get Your Kids to Follow Instructions. Over the course of 5 days, you’ll get 5 brief, focused videos giving you practical steps to strengthening your relationship with your child as you work on getting things done in family life. Every day, you’ll be able to put a new piece into practice and see the dynamics and momentum in family life change at the heart.