Having a HEART for Your Kids

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Are you ready for total transparency? I hope so, because you’re about to get it. So, the first breakout session at the 2:1 Conference Saturday morning was a sponsor session. The choices were Apologia and Classical Conversations.

If I could have found a ride to the Verizon store to get a replacement for my phone that had died Friday afternoon, I would have. I’m familiar with both Apologia and CC, so I didn’t expect to hear anything I hadn’t heard before.


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Apologia’s owner, Rachel Carmen, was supposed to talk about the books that Apologia offered. I thought I was just killing time. Somehow, though, in the middle of talking about books, Rachel started talking about something that is usually a part of her keynote address: having a HEART for your children. It went something like this:

H – Have a heart for God. If we don’t have a heart for God, we can’t have a heart for our children.

E – Enrich your marriage. Make sure that your kids know that you love their dad like crazy.

A – Accept your children.

R – Release your kids to God. They are not our kids; they are His.

T—Teach them truth. Homeschooling is not the answer; Jesus is. Truth matters more than academics.

Good stuff, huh? You may wonder why I don’t have much for letter A. That’s because that’s when I quit listening to Rachel and started listening to God.

See, she was telling this story – a story about breaking her son while trying to “fix” him. She said that one day they were driving down the road listening to Focus on the Family on the radio. Dr. James Dobson was on, talking about strong-willed children.

Rachel looked into the backseat and saw that tears were streaming down her son’s face. He said, “That’s me. I’m that kid.”

Rachel said to us, “I did that. I did that to him. All his life, I’d been working to convince him that he was that kid.”


It was that moment that God spoke to me. I’ve been doing that to Megan. I’ve been tearing her down instead of building her up.

“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” – Proverbs 14:1

I am fairly certain that she has ADD – not the hyperactivity or even inattention, but definitely the impulsivity. It drives me batty sometimes. I will say to her, “You’re driving me crazy.

“The tongue has the power of life and death…” Proverbs 18:21

It makes me a little sick to my stomach to even type those words. I’ve been saying that to my baby. Not daily, but often enough. Not always in so many words, but in my actions, my body language, and those long-suffering sighs.

She has two older siblings whose job it is to let her know that she’s annoying them. You know how you have a kid that you butt heads with? Well, that would be Megan and Brian. She seems to push his buttons quicker than Brianna and Josh.

And, then, there is her mother telling her that she’s driving me crazy. Who is standing up for this kid?


Megan is a words of affirmation kid. She’s always leaving little notes for all of us, telling us how much she loves us and pointing out special things about us. And here I’ve been tearing her down with my words when the truth is, she’s not driving me crazy at all. The behavior is frustrating sometimes, but she is not the sum total of her behavior.

If I took nothing else at all away from my weekend in Sterling, Virginia, this word from God would be worth it all. I came home and talked to Brian about it and we’ve made a concerted effort over the last few days to build Megan up and to direct any words of correction toward the behavior, rather than her character and personality.


I want this beautiful, incredible, sensitive, loving kid to know how special she is. I want her to recognize how God has gifted her and crafted her specially. I want her to understand that she fills a place in our family, in my heart, and in God’s creation that no one else can fill.

I want her to know that she does not drive me crazy, but that she rocks my world – that she is loved more than she can ever imagine and that she is worthy of words of praise and affirmation, rather than an onslaught of negativity.

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” Acts 3:19

I’m looking forward to a time of refreshing, rebuilding, and restoration.

These were hard words to write, but I hope that they speak to somebody that needs to hear them as much as I did. That kid that you may have been trying to fix is just exactly who God created her to be. Don’t try to fix her. Accept her.



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  1. Wow, I needed this! Thanks so much for opening up your heart and sharing with us.  I pray God can help me to build up my children and constructively correct the behaviors!

  2. Hi Kris, I heard what Rachel said, but somehow I needed to hear what you said and apply it to one (or all) of my kids too.  I'm glad you wrote about this because otherwise I may not have truly heard what I needed to hear.

  3. kris. this speaks to me. it absolutely breaks my heart when i catch myself speaking ugly to my kids. and i hear other parents doing it all the time, and it makes me physically ill. once a week for 4 months when my daughter was enrolled in a certain activity, i sat on the sidelines with the parents, and there was a Dad who was always there with his 1yo son. for the hour that we sat there watching the class, i would overhear that Dad insulting his baby:  "you stink." "you're a troublemaker." "don't be an idiot." "stop crying, baby." "you're fat." — he said these things (and worse!) to his 1 year old!!! 
    oh, my heart ached!
    i would leave the place praying for that little boy, and for a change in that man's heart. 

    our words are incredibly powerful and as our children's parents, we are specifically called to speak LIFE and LOVE over them. this gift from God deserves nothing less. 

    thank you for being transparent and for sharing publicly the importance of our words.

  4. Repenting of this right now.  I, too, am looking forward "to a time of refreshing, rebuilding, and restoration."  I am so grateful to you for your transparency!  Thank you for sharing.

  5. I love you for writing this (I mean, I know you said you were going to – but for really doing it).  Thanks Kris for sharing truth that we really really do this  — for and inspiring other parents, especially ME – to stop trying to change our kids! (or make them "grow up").  HUGS!

  6. If your post was hard for you to write, Kris, it was hard for me to read. I have one of "those" kids as well. I've known since she was a toddler that she has a stronger will than I. She never backs down. I'm also fairly certain she has ADD: no hyperactivity, but she is highly distractible, zones out sometimes, and can forget the simplest instruction walking from the kitchen to the family room. Her knee-jerk response to any request or direction is "No." I've said, "You're driving me crazy!" and worse to her for years. When she was younger, I made the distinction between her as a person and her behavior — or at least I did some of the time — but when I think of things I've also said or done… Frankly, it brings me to tears.

  7. Thank you…this spoke to me! Sounds like we have the same children! ; )
    Our son is the same way—always has been. God made him this way for a reason. He is so energetic, strong-willed. I'm convinced God wants him to be strong-willed and energetic for Him. Thank you for sharing this…

  8. Tears streaming down my face as the realization hits me too. Thank you so much for this post. You put it in such a truthful, honest, loving way. I am coming away blessed by this and I pray my daughter will be blessed by this too. 

  9. I'm glad you were transparent.  I am there too with my son.  I've already been convicted, but the last few days I've slipped.  Once again I'll apologize and remind him of who he is in Christ and that I don't have the right to expect him to be who *I* want him to be.  You are right, the behavior is frustrating, but it is not the sum of the child.

    Thank you for writing this!

  10. I needed this too. I am blessed to have three of those very hyperactive and distractable boys. I want to see the good in them every day. I am ashamed to say I struggle with that. Thank you for these words.

  11. Thanks for sharing this.  This was just what I needed to hear this morning.  I just held and cuddled my son to make sure that he knows he is loved and that I love him just the way that God made him!

  12. Holy Moly.

    I'm literally feeling these words.  My fingers are mushy writing this comment.  Wanna know how many times in the last week I've told my 5 year old that she was driving me crazy?  To just "go away for a few minutes"?  I've never really thought about how I would feel if someone I loved said those things to me until right now.

    The other night, after a pretty trying day, she was crying about going to bed and in the middle of all her stall tactics she whispered, "You're always so good and I am so, so naughty."  And I did that to her.  I spoke death over her and made her think she's naughty.

    It  broke my heart.

    I'm taking your challenge.  Starting today I'm going to build my baby up.  If I'm frustrated or annoyed, I'll take that as a clue that I need to go to time out, not her.

    thank you for this.

  13. Such a great post and I am guilty of this, too.  Yes, I have some praying and building to begin in my family.  

    Thank you for being so open and sharing something so personal.  God is going to use this to help so may see our own faults and how we can change.

    God bless!

  14. My firstborn is 10. ADHD, the hypersensitive kind. Brilliant, but somehow locked in a frustrating maze, unable to access her brain at critical moments. Angry at the whim of the wind. She is wild, strong, and the biggest project of my life. And I hear you and wonder how much I have created the very nervous habits that drive me crazy. I think it's time to repost a sign she brought home from her public school days, an artistic rendering of the phrase, " My words have power." We try to teach her this, but it is for me too. Thanks for transparency.

  15. Well said,Kris!  I have been doing that too!  Thanks for speaking words of truth to me this morning!

  16. Thank you so much for being open and honest! I needed to read these words this morning. I have been struggling with my 9 year old daughter and this really put things in perspective. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  17. Wow. I can only hope that the dad thought that with the boy being so young, he wouldn't really understand what his dad was saying to him, but those words become habits. And hearing them, they become truth to the kid. How very sad.

  18. Thanks, Stef. It was the first post I wanted to write when I got home. Not because it was easy, but because God spoke to me so clearly and I was sure that I wasn't the only one who needed to hear those words. Thank you for the hugs. I need them.

  19. Thanks for sharing it brought tears to my eyes and opened my heart to accepting my kids just for who they are! 

  20. I imagine this was very difficult to write, but I am thankful that you did.  I found myself nodding along more than I am comfortable admitting.

    Don't fix, accept.

    Wise words.

    Thank you.

  21. Thank you.  I have a son with RAD and sometimes I forget to be positive.  Thank you.

  22. What honesty! I think we're all guilty of this in some way, shape or form. (Right?) Thanks for opening my eyes.

  23. What honesty! I think we're all guilty of this in some way, shape or form. (Right?) Thanks for opening my eyes.

  24. Thank you , thank you thank thank you you thank you thank you! I needed that………it has changed my heart toward my wonderful 3 littles who God blessed me with via adoption 6 years ago……..as we prepare to adopt 3 more this year, I see them getting antsy as if they will be replaced, especially when mom looses  her patience with them. THANK YOU FOR TURNING MY HEART IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION! And for helping me ACCEPT them just the way they are!

  25. This post made me cry. I am SO in this exact place with my son. And your words and acrostic were exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you for the challenge, and thank you for your willingness to be so open! I am that "somebody" who needed to hear this.

  26. I am crying too.What a wonderful post that I can relate to…God convicted me of this very thing about a year ago. Thank you for being so willing to share..there are so many that needed this encouragement.

  27. I understand. Like I said, it honestly made me a little sick to my stomach to write what I've said for Megan. I am so thankful, though, that God promises us forgiveness and a time of restoration.

  28. You're right — so often *we* are the ones who need a timeout. It makes me feel so good to read all these comments from other moms who want to commit to building their kids up. Just knowing I'm not alone gives me such a sense of accountability.

  29. Wow. Thanks for sharing this- I'm sure it wasn't easy, but it's made so many people have a look at ourselves, and think about what we're really doing.
     It's sad to see how many of us are guilty of this, myself included. We all know better in our hearts, but when the stress of life gets us sidetracked, we unconsciously act in ways that have the total opposite effect of what we would want. 
    Thanks for the reminder. We all love our kids and really want to build them up, not tear them down. 

  30. Thanks for this!  I too have a child that I am struggling to see in a positive light, and who I know I am tearing down with my words.  I am struggling to get back on track, parenting how I know I want to, building him up with words and actions.  Thanks for the encouragement to get back on track!!

  31. Very moving, Kris. So glad that this is the first post from the conference. It really reminds us of what is most important. Good for you writing something hard to admit, but the rest of us need to read.

  32. I think you hit the nail on the head, Pamela, when you said, "We all know better in our hearts, but when the stress of life gets us sidetracked, we unconsciously act in ways that have the total opposite effect of what we would want."

    That's it exactly. Here I am getting irritated with my daughter for impulsivity and losing focus, when I'm the very one losing my focus on what is truly important.

  33. I needed that. Thank you. I think I'm gonna go build up my strong-willed child that I tore down just this morning!

  34. My "Megan" is named Maddy.  And I don't show her I appreciate her nearly enough.  Thanks for this beautiful, convicting post.

  35. My "Megan" is named Maddy.  And I don't show her how wonderful she is nearly enough.  Thanks for this convicting, beautiful post.  

  36. Thank you for your honesty. Mothering on Purpose is what I call it. It's not always easy, but I love how God redirects our hearts aligning them to His word. 

  37. I have tears in my eyes just reading this.  My son is so sensitive and loving, and I've been tearing him down trying to make him be more independent.  I just need to love him and let him be who God made him.

  38. Kris, this is beautiful. It's never too late! I am guilty of this with my firstborn and we've only seen repair in our relationship in the last year and a half (he's 19). My words. My attitude. My opinions. All selfish. God's grace poured out over both of us and I'm so humbled to say that He redeemed what even the locusts had eaten. 

    Though never outwardly rebellious, my firstborn was hurt and broken inside because I was expecting him to be something God never intended for him to be. Now, it's absolutely breathtaking to watch the man God is making him to be.


  39. Tears. Thank your ap much for your bravery in writing these words I desperately needed to read.

  40. That is beautiful, Kendra. It gave me chills — and hope, because I'm sure I've messed up more than Megan with my opinions, my attitude, my words and my selfishness. I can't wait to watch what God will do when I let Him.

  41. I needed to hear this today… Thank you. My daughter is 5 and we are so much alike. I know it is her behavior that is what drives me crazy, but my reactions need to be different. Thank you for this reminder.

  42. I don't currently have a blog, but have been reading yours for several months now.  This post has spoken the loudest to my heart.  Thanks for the reminder and the encouragement.

  43. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! Yes, three times!
    This really struck me –>"Who is standing up for this kid?"

  44. That part really hurt, Jimmie, because that's supposed to be my job. I'm going to be very intentional about making sure that I'm doing my job from here on out.

  45. Shot through the heart….it's exactly what I needed because I was just telling my husband how my kids are driving me crazy….Thank you for being brave enough to post this, more often than not we're not willing to admit how we fall short.

  46. Wow, thank you for sharing that.  I was there for her talk as well and I think you could have heard a pin drop during that part!  I think that struck so many of us.  What a beautiful reminder though how our words can make or break someone.  Good for you for choosing to bless her with your words!

  47. Kris…. you have no idea how this post hits home with me.   Like your Megan, my Anna "drives me crazy" sometimes.  She is that kid that I butt heads with and I'm certain she knows it.   I have Rachel's book and I need to go back and read it and then internalize it — because I haven't been doing such a good job lately.   

    Your daughter looks so sweet and precious – I love the pictures.   But I know behind all of our children's cute faces is that spirit created by God that needs to be carefully nurtured and tended by us.  When you said "Who's standing up for this kid?" that really struck me.   Thank God for you and your wisdom.

    I'll pray for your journey with Megan.  Thanks for this post, Kris.

  48. I read the book she wrote with that title and it was absolutely amazing.  I certainly would have loved to hear her speak on it!  There is much convicting in it, but it's good when we listen and make changes to let the Lord truly be seen in our lives and his love shared with our children.  Thanks for sharing such a personal admission publicly.  It will help us all be more free to say, you know, I'm not perfect either and maybe it's time I admit that and let the Lord work in and through me to make the changes necessary. 

  49. Oh wow! This really hit home with me! Thank you for being so vulnerable and showing us your  heart.

  50. I know I was in this session too, because it reminded me of my youngest son, especially.  I just can't seem to find the notes.  Thanks for sharing them!

  51. Thank you for your prayers. It gave me chills to know that someone else will be praying with and for me in this. Thank you.

  52. I like the way you put that, Lori. It is hard to admit our shortcomings, but you're right — when we do, we give God a chance to work in and through us. Wise words. Thanks for commenting.

  53. Wow, I felt like I was reading my own story with my daughter and our struggles! Thank you so much for sharing and being real and transparent! Sharing your heart is a challenge for me to do better with my own daughter. A friend posted this on facebook and it caught my attention so I decided to give it a read. I am a homeschool mom who said I would NEVER do it. We are still learning as this is only our second year. Hope you don't mind if we follow your posts in the days to come! 🙂

  54. I would love for you to follow along, Becky. I hope that something I say can be an encouragement to you as you go along this journey.

  55. The only time I nearly lost all control and just cried during the conference sessions was that one. When she told that story about her son in the backseat and then said "God NEEDS that kid! God needs THAT kid!" My heart just broke right open with repentance. Thank you for sharing–this is a lesson I don't ever want to forget again.

  56. That was beautiful! I cried all the way through, prayed for you, your family and our family! In our weakness He is made strong! With a humble, repentant heart I layed down my own weakness in this area and I rise up strong! Thank you…..

  57. Wow Kris, you brought me to tears.  This is a topic very close to my heart and something I do an awful lot of praying about.  One of my twins has ADD, and although I never had her tested, so does Haley.  I have read just about everything I can on the subject to try to get a handle on it and help them.  My son deals with it better, but at 11, Haley has a rough time.  She feels like something is wrong with her.  Family members are always saying she's too immature, lacks self control, etc., etc.  If she had a dollar for every time somebody has asked when she was going to grow up or what was wrong with her, she's be rich!  I worry about her.  Raising a child with ADD is so very hard.  I read something in a book recently that I tell my kids.  ADD is a gift…its just one that takes a long time to open.  People with ADD have super powered brains and can accomplish so much.  They just need time to figure out and open their personal "gift".  My son likes what one doctor says in his book…"Having ADD is like having a super charged sportscar brain…with bicycle brakes".  Thank you for posting this and sharing.  You are not alone in this.  Haley and Megan have so much in common…we really need to get them together again sometime!  They hit it off that summer when we did the walking tour in town. 

  58. I like that quote, "ADD is a gift…its just one that takes a long time to open." The sports-car brain with bicycle-brakes is a great anaology, too. I want to remember those. Thank you. And, yes, we need to get our girls together.

  59. AMEN.
    I have one of those, too.
    And you made me suddenly realize just how much my 9yo writes and leaves little notes for us..and that maybe, JUST MAYBE.. I should do the same for her.

  60. I am humbled and convicted. Thank you, Kris. Thank you for your transparency. I used to love a song that said "Don't hide the scars; don't be afraid to let them show, 'cause someone who hurts will see themself in you…" How true! I've been praying for the Lord to draw me closer and He woke me up the other morning around 4:30. Going through my brain were all the times I've lied over the years – to get out of work because I was too lazy to get up on time, to make a story I told sound better, to avoid hurt feelings, to get out of trouble… He's reminding me, through that experience and now through you, that I am in deep need of His refining fire before He can move me forward.

  61. Yes, I've been trying to be more intentional about leaving Megan notes since that is, very obviously, her love language. I'm doing that and speaking words of affirmation.

  62. Yu know when you have been struggling with somethIng and God keeps bringing things to you that deal directly with that struggle? Well this is one of those things. Thank you for your transparency and honesty. This speak so directly into my heart. Thank you

  63. thank you, I needed to hear this today. I appreciate all that you said, and have the verse about the "wise woman builds her house and the foolish one tears hers down with her two hands." May God give us all grace in this journey of motherhood and may He give us the strength to build up and NOT tear down. Thanks for your vulnerability and sharing with us! 

  64.  Wow – that is SO sad.  Maybe you could copy Kris's post and mail it to him? I know I've done it to my kids, not having any idea the negative impact they had. But God has been teaching me this Himself over the past couple of years, and it's made a big difference.  How I wish I'd had eyes to see and ears to hear years ago.  I would encourage you to ask God if He wants you to do something tangible for that child and his father (such as giving him that post, or a book on the subject).  But only the Holy Spirit can open his eyes and change his heart.

  65. I am a 61 year old mom of eight. I have ADD and at least three of my kids do too. When I was growing up, no one knew anything about ADD; that it even exhisted. My Mom would say "Don't be such an idiot." and "We know you're smart; why are you getting these grades?" (Afirmation was not something practiced much by her generation.) I know that my mother loved me, but I remember those words above any others she ever said to me. (She believed that it was "understood" that she loved me, and unnecessary for her to say so for many years of my life.)
    Although I promised myself never to tell my children that they were idiots, I said other equally as harmful words, including "You are driving me crazy!" (I was often in need of a "timeout!") Just the other day, I told my husband that our oldest daughter was driving me crazy. She is not. Thank you for stating that so clearly. To say so diminishes the beauty and creativity of who she is… Whether I say it to her, or about her.
    I want to remember what you have written here, and practice it always. With my eight adult children, and my twelve grandchildren…
    Thank you.

  66. Thank you for sharing this.  I have been guilty of this too.  I need to talk less and listen more.  I also need to sit back more so as to allow who God created them to be to emerge.

  67. It's Friday, and I can't even begin to tell you the number of  times the Lord has brought this post to my mind this week… what a difference it has made in my interaction with my son. He is still just as stubborn, still as driven, but I am beginning to respond differently. The Lord really used you. Thank you!!

  68. <3  Amen and amen!  I have a hard time accepting my oldest who is so different in personality and temperament from me.  But God has called me to see how much of a beauty she is, exactly where she is, to Him.  {hugs}

  69. Thank-you.  Much needed, tears to my eyes.  Telling my dd that she's made special by God=easy; treating her like it= priceless.  Simply thanks.

  70. We are brand new homeschoolers and I just found your blog this evening. I can't even begin to tell you how this article touches my heart. I go through this daily with my own little girl (she'll be 9 in June). One of the reasons I decided to homeschool is to be closer with her. We've spent so many years with so much frustration from her behavior (she has Aspergers) and it wasn't until recently that I realized the frustration was on MY part—there is absolutely nothing wrong with HER. She is just what God intended her to be. I know that it is going to be challenging at times, but I can already see a difference in her since we started homeschooling. She is happier and calmer. We are healing as a family. I pray every day that I can do the right thing for her. Thanks you for the inspiring post. I will be looking at it often.

  71. I just stumbled upon your blog and I really feel like God led me here for a reason. I have been struggling with my very active four year old lately and this is just what I need to read and to be reminded of.

  72. Oh my….thank you for your honesty. Even though you didn’t have to repent publicly I’m so thankful you did because you put into words exactly what I’ve been doing to my girl. Your daughter and mine could be the same child. She’s always leaving notes and rubbing shoulders and coming up with ways to help others. It’s her behavior-the impulsivity and randomness that drivea me insane- NOT HER! Thank you so much for publishing such hard words. Not what I want to read or admit but only because it hits so close to home. Lord bring healing and refreshment! Blessings….

    1. Thank you, Crystal. I’m so glad you found the post helpful and encouraging. It was hard to put something like this out there publicly, but I don’t often clearly know when God is speaking to me. When I do, though, I’m going to listen and share as He leads. This was definitely one of those times.

  73. I feel like this spoke to me. I fail my daughter every day, and I know it. I expect more of her than her brothers and don’t do enough to build her. Message receive…..

    1. I woke up with this on my heart today. When I woke Megan up this morning, I did so with hugs and kisses and “I love yous” instead of just, “Hey, it’s time to get up. Don’t forget to feed the cats.” It was much nicer for both of us.

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