It is no secret that each child is different and special. Parenting that reaches the heart will have a laser-like focus on this reality. It is true that God’s commands are absolute and unquestionably accurate. It is also true that the application of these commands must be suited to the needs of each person, each child.
For example, fear may show itself in many different ways. One child who is tormented by fear may attempt to control his fear by being a bully. That way he may attempt to control situations so that he will not have to face his fears. Another child may attempt to deal with her fears by withdrawing socially and clamming up. A young child may be tormented by an image from a movie, a book, or a shadow on his wall. Still another child may talk non-stop. Yet another may blame everyone and everything but themselves because he fears the consequences of taking responsibility for his actions.
You get the point – fear has many faces. I trust these different scenarios demonstrate that stock answers don’t work and may cause even more difficulties. The Scripture says that perfect love casts out fear. So in each of the above scenarios consider how showing love or trusting God’s love can be at least one of the responses you make.
Identifying the particular struggles and temptations your children have is the first step to helping them learn to guard their own hearts. This is no easy task. You have to know your children and how they interpret the things that happen to them – not just collectively, but individually.
This is what building a heart guard inventory looks like. I know it takes time, energy and planning. I know it may seem as if there is not enough time to do this. But the alternative is to leave children to rely on their own understanding to figure out their fears, their anger, their hurt. This leads to a troubled, unguarded heart.
Invest the time to make a loving inventory of what is needed to guard your children’s hearts. While you are at it, make one for yourself.