Sunday, November 10, 2013
The "Heart Work" in Parenting
There are more times than I'd like to admit where I've whispered something like this to my boys during liturgy, "if you keep quiet and sit still, I'll buy you some (fill in the blank with a candy/treat)". Of course, there's nothing entirely wrong with doing that considering they are young and the liturgy for them seems like an eternity. The problem comes when this kind of bargaining starts to become a way of life in our home, and oftentimes it does without us, as parents, even thinking of its implications. We make all kinds of sticker charts and reward systems for the boys adhering to certain rules and avoiding certain behaviors. Again, I don't think that's always a bad thing, especially when we are trying to instill habits like doing homework, chores, potty training, etc. However, it does become a problem when the outside behavior looks good (because our kids are motivated by some external reward) but the heart remains the same. Weren't the pharisees just like that? Their behavior was actually perfect but Christ rebukes them saying, "You brood of vipers! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart" (Matt. 12:34) Yikes! Without even realizing it, we can be turning our children into Pharisees. I'll admit, sometimes it is easier to just fix the behavior from the outside, especially when we are in front of people, in places where we need them to behave, or even when we are just so exhausted that we'll do whatever it takes to make them behave (There have definitely been some nights where I promised my kids they'll get a treat in the morning if they would just go to bed and not keep coming out of their rooms ;)). So how do we practically get to work on our children's hearts?