Parenting Moment By Moment - The Heart

Every child/ teen desires an authentic relationship with each of their parents. To grow healthy relationships with our kids and teens, it is important that we know the condition of our kids’ hearts. Most of us are so busy, yet it is imperative to find out how our kids are really doing.

For our preschool & elementary children, we can periodically or even daily ask questions, such as:
Did anything make you sad today?
Is there a reason that you are so angry?

Did anything hurt your heart?


Did I hurt your heart?
What makes your heart happy?

When they are teens, timing is so important, for we have to be a little bit more “sneaky” with our questions, such as:
Did anyone say anything that hurt your feelings?
What did you enjoy today?

Did anything bother you today?
Did I do anything to upset you?
How do you feel about life, school, your future...?
Depending on what emotions we see, we can ask: What makes you sad or anxious or overwhelmed? Why?

Teenagers are much more complex than we give them credit for. When they make an unwise choice, it almost always comes from something going on in their heart. Maybe they don’t feel like they measure up. Maybe they are bullied. Maybe somebody made fun of them. Maybe there is unresolved pain or trauma. Maybe they are mad at us. Maybe they don’t like themself.

A teenager's heart is often leading them... So when we ask him/her what were you thinking? Maybe they weren’t thinking wisely, because their emotions led them. Often teens don’t even know what they are thinking, because they have not slowed down and thought about the condition of their heart.

Bitterness can grow in the heart, which leads to anger, resentment, rudeness, a bad attitude...
If our child or teen is acting up, we need to pray for discernment to see if they need more boundaries & guidelines or if there’s something else much deeper going on in their heart.
Paul Tripp’s book Getting to the Heart of Parenting explains that when our kids make an unwise choice, it is a heart issue. He explains that we do need to correct them, however, it’s important to get to the root first. What is causing the rebellion? So often rebellion stems from hurt. Angry outbursts can originate from pain or rejection or self rejection/protection.

When our kids disobey or get in trouble at school, it is so important to remain calm and ask questions to find out the condition of their heart. When our first three children were ages four, two, and 8 months, I had to read Henry Cloud’s book, Boundaries for Kids, three times and highlighted every page. I was so bad at boundaries and discipline! Yet I wanted to raise kids that would be fun to hang out with, speak kindly to each other and me, and live understanding healthy boundaries. What I learned from his book is that if I stay calm, even if my kids are yelling at me or losing their temper. I win! Now the rudeness would have to be corrected, but screaming back at them accomplishes nothing. His book explains this concept and how to deal with a child’s yelling without entering into their emotion. I come from a very competitive family




and this idea of a personal win was very appealing to me. Ha ha! On the flip side, if I raise my voice or act in my own emotion, I think in my mind, I just lost. Even though we can ask forgiveness, it is hard for our kids and teens to forget hurtful words that we (parents) speak in the heat of the argument.

As a parent and a student counselor, I have concluded that screaming matches accomplish nothing and only result in hurt feelings and grow resentment... a total miss! However, it’s never too late to ask forgiveness and make changes. Most kids are great forgivers and will follow our example to seek restoration in our relationship with them.

Here are a few ideas on how to understand our kids & teens hearts:

  1. Ask God to reveal the condition of our kids’ hearts.
  2. Pray daily, “Help my ______ (insert our child/teen’s name) to have a resolute heart for


  1. Find out:

What is our child/teen thinking?
Are they dealing with self hate?
Do they feel like they will never meet up to a standard? (maybe even our standard) What do they think when they look in the mirror?
Do they have friends that are being mean to them?
Do they have unresolved pain from the past?
Is there unresolved hurt in our (parent/child) relationship?

  1. Listening is crucial. As parents, we have so much to say & teach, yet we will learn about our kids’ thoughts, emotions, and their heart condition if we stop talking and listen.
    (As a yellow/sanguine, I have to remind myself of this often- ha ha!)
  2. Walking beside our kids while they are healing is a gift to them and us. Often this does not mean fixing the problem, but coaching them through life's obstacles. Life is hard, we need to teach our kids skills to be perseverant overcomers and warriors. The solution might mean working together to come up with a plan.
  3. If the problem feels too big, we can seek wise counsel together.

Transformation in every area happens at the heart. Relationships grow when the heart is softened. Easter is an amazing time for resurrection.

“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” (Romans 8:11 NIV)




If there’s a relationship in your home that feels dead or lost, you can speak the resurrection power of Jesus that is available to us as believers. You can ask God to heal hearts in Jesus name, and because of Jesus, we can seek and receive forgiveness.

As parents we can ask ourselves:
How is my heart today?
What am I thinking about most of the time? What am I feeling?

A great start to understanding our children/teens’ hearts is to give God all the things going on in our heart and ask Him to create a place of healing.

Jesus, I give You my heart, heal brokenness. I give You _________________________. I speak Your resurrection power over ________________ relationship. Please bring healing, restoration, and new life in Your name.

Ten years ago, I watched this prayer in action, God healed our family! I love to share this story every time I work with parents or facilitate a parenting workshop!

My Why:

Sharing Him, for His love captures, rescues, transforms, engulfs...

Becca Gunyon, MCC -director of The Way Counseling since 2000 (loving life as a wife, mom of 5, pastoral student counselor/ parent coach), author of The Treasure, Choose Life to the Fullest series, Journey to His Heart

Making Ordinary Moments EXTRAordinary - Parenting Workshop and Workbook available & videos see

@parentingmomentbymoment @chooselifetothefullest FB - beccaowingsgunyon- writer