A new book just landed on store shelves. The Love Dare for Parents by the Kendrick brothers (Facing the Giants, Courageous, Fireproof, …) offers some compelling ideas on loving our kids. I briefly met Alex on the set of a new and crazy great movie called Moms Night Out that will hit the theaters in 2014 (sooooo can’t wait for a hilarious, very well done, family-friendly film to hit the big screen). Which is where I got a chance to see the Kendricks’ new book that offers proactive & practical ideas. Sometimes, as a parent, it’s hard to see through information overload to get to the practical. And I thought we might all be interested in the topic. So, I asked Alex, through our mutual friends/wonderful publicist, to share.
Thanks for talking with us, Alex – and for all the things you guys are doing.
… and thanks for walking the road with me.
Q: Of all the the “love dares” [sidebar: the book covers a 40 day challenge to embrace different aspects of love and apply them to your relationship with your kids], which one impacted you the most.
A: Wow. That’s a tough question. They all impacted me. But… if I had to choose one… I think I would say “winning the heart of your child.” Because, if their heart is open to you, they will listen to you. Kids give and receive love so differently, not just personality, but at different ages. We’ve got six kids (ages 14-4) and they are all different. It’s important for us to learn their personalities and to win their hearts. As we do, they will listen not only in areas they feel comfortable, but in other areas regardless of their age.
Whoever has your children’s hearts has their ears and significantly influences the direction of their lives. You an be the most spiritual, intelligent parent on the planet, but if you lose your children’s hearts, they will likely turn away from you in the long run. Your ultimate effectiveness as a parent greatly depends upon this one key issue.
God puts a longing within all children when they are young to gain the attention and approval of their parents (Provers 4:1-4; 17:6). He also instructs fathers, saying, “Do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart” (Colossians 3:21). We can win many battles in life but still lose the war at home if our children withdraw, rebel, and ignore us.
You can tell when children have turned their hearts away from their parents. The ongoing tones of disrespect. The lack of tenderness. Emotional distance. They have little desire to be near you or to listen to you. Their words and attitudes reveal the hurt and anger brewing below the surface.
Culture doesn’t help. It fights for their attention and their time. It’s important for me to be authentic with the kids. To let them know what I’ve struggled with. How I’ve overcome. How I can identify with each of them. Then the venue is open. And I can take genuine interest and join with them in life. The key is for them to know that Dad cares. I talk with them regularly. Any time I can. I talk with them collectively – as a family, we talk together – openly, honestly. About both fun and serious stuff. When I’ve won their heart, they’re open to hear from me when the serious comes into play.
They know I’m there for them. I’m their biggest cheerleader. I do my best to be there for them, as often as I can.
With the foundation laid, then I work on finding the balance between friend and parent.
Q: Some of this stuff can be challenging, especially during the teen years. What do you think impacts those hearts the greatest?
A: A close second to the “winning their heart” love dare is adopting a prayer strategy for our kids. It amazes me that we have goals and strategies for so many other areas of our lives (finances, education, work…) but when it comes to prayer, we don’t always approach it strategically/purposefully with steps and goals in mind. At the end of the day, God knows more about you and your kids than you ever will. So why not go to Him. He touches the heart … areas we can never see and only hope to know.
That’s why we included at the end of The Love Dare for Parents an Appendix with a few articles on specific strategies to spur thinking in this and other areas. Praying specifically, purposefully and strategically for our children is one of the most powerful ways we can love our kids.
The Love Dare for Parents … some good stuff.
Alex Kendrick is associate pastor of movie outreach for Sherwood Baptist Church. He is also an actor, writer, and director whose film credits include Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous. He and his wife, Christina, have six children..