Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tying Heart Strings

I first heard of the concept of tying heart strings from Michael and Debi Pearl back in the early 90's.  I probably 
read about it first in their no-nonsense book on child training, To Train Up a Child.   Basically, tying heart strings is a word picture for building lasting bonds of love, admiration and affection between a parent and child.  I see it as the flip side of the child training coin -- it takes both in balance to raise healthy, happy, well-adjusted children.

Many parents err on the side of being too harsh, demanding and legalistic with their children.  Other parents err on the side of  being too merciful, permissive, and indulgent with their offspring.  If the parenting coin is tilted too far in either direction, the heart strings will be s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d and may even snap in two.

Therefore, it is critical for parents to strive to be balanced in their approach to parenting, seeking to discipline and correct their children in love and grace.

In Ephesians 6:4, parents, and specifically fathers, are instructed to train their children in the Lord, through nurturing balanced with teaching and correction -- "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."

How to Tie Heart Strings with Your Children:


One of the most important things you can do to tie heart strings is to spend time with your children doing things together.  This includes working, playing, pursuing hobbies, and tackling projects of various types.  I think this is demonstrated by the way Jesus invested in his disciples, just living life with them and taking advantage of teachable moments to teach them truths about the Kingdom.  It is so natural!  The idea of scheduling "quality time" at a convenient time at the end of the day or week when it fits into a parent's schedule is really just a sham, a salve for the consciences of guilt-ridden, overly-committed parents.  No matter how hard you try, moments of connecting heart to heart are rarely scheduled and rarely convenient!


It is very easy for parents to learn to tune out the incessant chatter of their children, especially when they have a lot of them!  It may be "cheaper by the dozen," but it's definitely not quieter by the dozen!!!  ;)  We have to train ourselves to really listen to our children.  As mentioned in the previous point, this rarely happens at convenient, carefully planned out times!!  The crucial thing to remember is that whoever listens to our children and young adults will win their hearts!


Don't just talk to your children -- Praise them!  Encourage them!  Bless them!  Of course you have to instruct them and correct them.  If you don't, they won't know how to please you!  But, since criticism tends to break heart strings, make sure you praise them way more than you criticize and correct them.  Even if their character is lacking, get out your magnifying glass and look hard for the smallest demonstration of positive character, and then praise, praise, praise!!  


Many years ago I was exhorted by a wise mother to give my children "100 watt smiles" every day.  She encouraged me to make sure I smiled brightly at each child throughout the day, but especially the first time I saw that child when they woke up in the morning or after a nap.  When you have lots of littles and you are enjoying some uninterrupted quiet time early in the morning or during nap time, how do you greet that lucky child that first interrupts your solitude?  Do you Groan and Frown because your "me-time" has come to an end?  Or do you greet that child warmly and flash him or her your best "100 watt smile?"  Frowns break heart strings; smiles tie them!!


When you sympathize with your children's struggles, sorrows and disappointments you will tie heart strings.  Try to remember what it was like when you were a child.  Emotions and problems and disappointments that we have learned to weather are HUGE in the heart of a child!  Don't ever mock them or belittle them or make light of their problems and emotions, unless you want to destroy heart strings!!


Make sure you touch your children every day, as this is an important key to tying heart strings.  Some children will need and desire less physical touch than others, but if you are a person who doesn't value physical touch, don't assume that your children are the same.  It is easy to get in lots of physical touch when you have babies and toddlers who need carried, nursed, snuggled, and held.  But, when your children get older, you will be surprised how easy it is to neglect to connect with them in this important way.  Find appropriate ways to touch each of your children and do it every day -- hug them, snuggle with them, tousle their hair, hold hands, put your arm around their shoulders, give them high five's, create a special handshake, etc.

7.  GIVE  

Give your children little gifts and surprises occasionally.  Help them reach their goals if they are saving money for some special item.  Buy or make them little treats; make their favorite foods; write them special messages and love notes.  Make them feel special and loved!  Little gifts can earn big dividends when it comes to tying heart strings with our children!

8.  SERVE  

Of course we serve our families every day, but an unexpected act of service can really tie some heart strings!  On occasion, turn down your children's bed covers and put mints on their pillows, make their bed for them, unload the dishwasher or clean the kitchen or take out the trash when it is their turn.  Do these things as surprise love gifts!  This is especially meaningful when your older kids are extremely busy, tired or stressed with school and jobs, and you do something unexpectedly to lighten their load.


Be willing to learn about the things your children are interested in.  When your children are intrigued by a certain academic subject or hobby, take the time to learn more about that topic, so that you can enter in to conversations and/or enjoy watching or participating in the activity with them.  Some of the subjects I have willingly learned more about over the years due to a child's interests are:  piano, flute, violin, chalk drawing, basketball, baseball, football, competitive chess, camping, kayaking, the history of The War Between the States, and even Facebook!  ;)  When we take time to learn about something that our children are passionate about, it shows that we love them enough to value their interests, and builds some pretty strong heart strings!   I even know of families that have taken on new hobbies as an entire family that reflect a child's interest or passion -- such as attending war re-enactments or living history demonstrations.


One last thing -- be willing to admit when you are wrong and ask forgiveness.  Pride builds walls; humility tears them down!  Also be willing to forgive your children when they have made mistakes and come to you seeking forgiveness.

"He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or harps on a matter separates even close friends." -- Proverbs 17:9 Amplified version

These are great ways to tie heart strings, but this is not an exhaustive list.  In what ways have you tied heart strings with your children?  What about with your husband?  These same strategies work for strengthening your marriage relationship as well!

Challenge:  Look for ways you can tie heart strings today.  Then come back and leave me a comment telling me about it!

{I hope you enjoyed this repost from my archives.}

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Beholding Glory


mommyx12 said...

I love all these points you have made. They are all so very true.

I thought I'd write a blog post on how I work my exercise into my schedule but maybe another time. It's pretty simple. First, I am home like 99% of the time. Second, my children do well at their chores and I get help with meals from them. Third, we only have outside activities on Monday and it is all day pretty much. Piano from 12 to 1:30, then straight to voice from 2 to 4 so I don't always do my subject teaching on that day unless my husband works at night, then I'll do it then. Otherwise I do it on Saturday. The kids bring along their lessons to do while waiting for their turn at music. I normally wake up before the kids and I do it then. And I've cut back on my workouts like a month ago. I was doing anywhere from 50 minutes to 90 minutes. Now I try keeping it under an hour. Four, it is my thing. It's me time! Everybody I think has a me time and that is what I do with my me time. It's ALL I do right now for me but it's enough!

I used to take the time to sit and nurse a child, so I don't do that anymore, something has to fill the time! Plus I love it. I've truly gotten myself to the point that I truly, really, love working out. I love how I feel and that helps keep me going. Very seldom there is anything that gets in my way. We make our annual Colorado trip but I take along my dvds and keep it up. I just get up earlier to get it in while there! I manage quite well because it is something I really WANT to do so it gets done. I think that's key, you have to WANT it. I very rarely take a day off except for Sundays. I bet I can count on one hand how many times I worked out only 5 times the whole past year. I think I might be on the obsessive side of it and I am working on that! I'm not being snarky either. I really think I am. I used to be when I was younger before the children came. Obsessive. And I don't want to be that way. But I am getting better. My first step was to take my workouts from well over an hour to under! Slow and steady wins the race!

Hope this helps explain. Number one is I am home all the time and that is really helpful. I find I don't have as much time to read right now except to the kids but it will come in time!

Anonymous said...

This brought tears to my eyes. My children are 18 and 20 now. I look back on things I wish I would have done differently with them. I was always busy--too busy--to listen. I love them and I know they love me, but I sometimes feel like I could have a re-do. Life is so short and I feel like there is a lot more we could have done together. So this is for you parents who have young ones still at home. Never take anything concerning your kids for granted. There are no re-dos. I thank God everyday for my kids and hope that they are thankful for what I did for them. I know I could have done more. Hug them while you can and let them know you will love them even when they make mistakes. Mistakes to an 18 year old are harder to take than what a 5 year old might do. But they are still your children and you need to forgive and they need to know that nothing they do will ever make you stop loving them. Thank you for sharing this!

Katie said...

Thanks for this!!

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