When I was a single Christian mom, it was tough to be an example—especially since my life was so worldly before I became a Christian. It was very difficult trying to raise a daughter with this new life I was given by God.
My heart was never dealt with as a child. A lot of yelling or speaking loudly was a way of communicating. Sin was not a word I heard. I believe if anyone told my father his daughters were sinners, they would have seen his wrath!
When I disciplined my own daughter, it was always inconsistent. You see, I dealt with only the outside and not the inside; so obviously, there was friction. Yet God was very gracious to me and started growing me in mind-blowing ways—but it happened after my daughter left home.
When both my daughter, Crystal, and her husband, Will, came to know the Lord, I started seeing a whole new method of discipline that has served as an ongoing lesson for me. One day while my husband and I were visiting, I heard her tell my grandson, Mason, that something he did was wrong, and that his heart was dark. Of course, as Grama, I almost lost it.
I remember saying to her, “That is very mean to say his heart is dark.”
She said, “No, mom! What is mean is when we reward children for bad behavior by saying, ‘It’s okay, now say sorry and then go outside and play.’ We as parents need to deal with our children’s hearts, for that is where everything starts.”
“But I never told you that your heart was dark,” I said.
She looked at me and replied, “Maybe that’s what you should have done.”
That really made me think, and now I was curious to see how she continued with her discipline. What I saw next was amazing. My daughter explained to Mason why his heart is dark, and read him God’s Word: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
As a mother, I love being around my daughter because I am learning how to be a parent all over again. Dealing with a child’s heart is so important. Only God can change the sin that lies in there.
My daughter has told me that she allows her kids to learn how to sort their issues out in a godly way on their own. I saw this happen with my two granddaughters one day.
My middle grandchild Sophia has an old soul—very mature for her age. When she was eight years old and her little sister Gabi was five, an incident happened that Sophia handled with maturity and grace. Gabi took the liberty of playing with Sophia’s tea set and broke a couple of the cups and saucers. She never told her sister, and put everything back into the basket. When Sophia went to play with it, she saw that it was broken.
“Gabi, did you break my tea set?”
“Yes,” Gabi answered.
Sophia looked at Gabi and said, “ I forgive you because I love you and even though I love my tea set, it can be replaced.”
Crystal and Will are not teaching their kids mere obedience—they’re teaching them about God’s Word. That’s how the children will understand how to obey! These children are following their parents, who are raising them with biblical standards.
Oh, yes—the kids are little sinners (aren't we all?), they will never be perfect children, they will fall, they will have arguments, they will not want to be with each other at times … but what brings them to love each other is what Crystal and Will are teaching them each day: God’s Word. By teaching the kids God’s Word, Crystal and Will are trusting God to change their hearts.
“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:6–7).
Ambica Converse is a mother of one and a grandmother of three. She works as an administrator at her church and also enjoys answering questions for GotQuestions.org.
"Kissing Grandma" photo by Jake Gamage. www.flickr.com. Creative Commons license.
Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. (www.zondervan.com). The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™ All rights reserved.