Learn from One of My Biggest Parenting Mistakes

Apr 24, 2024

Parenting is certainly not for the faint of heart. As a father of six grown children, I've navigated numerous trials and triumphs, and have done many things I’d do differently if I could.

This past weekend I attended a 3-day “Iron Sharpens Iron” men’s mastermind event and had the opportunity to share one of the greatest mistakes I’ve made as a father,  in hopes of helping other parents (and grandparents) avoid this same mistake.

As I sat down to write this week’s email, I felt compelled to share this with you as well.

The pivotal mistake I’m referring to is the unbalanced emphasis I placed on our children’s "what" rather than their "why." Instead of delving into the depths of their heart and the “why” behind their actions, for many years I found myself fixated on their outward behavior, the “what” that their heart had led them to.

Here's what I've learned along the way. 

Initially, my intentions were well intentioned. I wanted my children to do what was right so they could navigate life with integrity and grace.

However, in my pursuit of molding obedient behavior, I overlooked the essence of their actions—their motivations, their "why" for doing what they did.

This mistake stemmed from three underlying factors:

1. Genuine concern for their well-being

2. Ignorance of what I was doing

3. An unhealthy preoccupation with how our family would appear to others.

I believed that by instilling proper behavior from an early age, I could ensure their success. Yet, I failed to recognize that true character development goes beyond mere compliance. It requires an understanding of one's values, beliefs, and motivations—the heart behind the actions.

Furthermore, if we as parents we only address the outward, even if we are successful in “controlling” their behavior while they’re in our homes, what happens when they are on their own and the rule of law is no longer looking over their shoulder? They will often default back to their core values, beliefs and motivations.

Parenting a child’s heart rather than only addressing their behavior is not easy. It takes more time and requires us to slow down and get to the root of their actions. It’s much more challenging, but time passes quickly and it’s certainly worth the investment of time both now and in the future.

Instead of solely focusing on outward behavior, take the time to explore the "why" behind your child’s actions. Engage in meaningful conversations that delve into their thoughts, feelings, and convictions.

By understanding their heart attitudes, we can nurture authenticity and integrity within our children and have meaningful conversations about what God and His word have to say about any topic.

Ultimately, our goal should not be to mold obedient clones, but to raise individuals who act according to their own convictions, which for Christians should be in alignment with God’s word.

By prioritizing the "why" over the "what," we empower our children to make choices rooted in truth and integrity. It's a journey that begins early and evolves over time, but the rewards of raising children with depth of character are immeasurable.

Please learn from my mistakes and embrace a parenting approach that nurtures the heart as much as the behavior.

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Was this helpful? Have a suggestion for future content? I’d love to hear from you. Will you please consider reaching out by way of email, or even better, one of my favorite messaging platforms… Facebook Messenger or Instagram Messenger, letting me know how this may have impacted you and sharing any suggestions you may have for future topics that you’d like me to share on?
With Much Appreciation, Allan