Revive Our Hearts Radio

Guiding Your Child's Heart

Leslie Basham: Betsy Corning with insight for moms.

Betsy Corning: The heart is depraved, and just isolating it is not going to work with the depravity of heart. So we have to figure out how are we going to deal with these things knowing even by accident our children are going to get exposed to things we absolutely in our hearts would never want them to know or see. 

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, July 6.

Here’s Nancy to pick back up on this week’s conversation. It is part of a series called Entrusted with a Child’s Heart.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Well, this has been such a great series. We’ve been talking these last days with Betsy Corning and Gina Cho and Stef Caterer representing a ministry, Entrusted Ministries. The resource is called Entrusted with a Child’s Heart.

Betsy, Stef, and Gina, I am just so thankful for your willingness to take this time and to share with us out of your lives, out of your journey. So much more could be said, but thank you for what you’ve shared with our listeners that I think has really challenged many moms in particular. It has encouraged them with the calling that they have to take their children’s hearts and shape them and mold them and give them back to the Lord for His glory. So thank you for your ministry, thank you for your ministry to our Revive Our Hearts listeners.

Betsy: Well, thank you for your ministry which makes this all possible. We feel like we mesh so perfectly together. Through the True Woman Manifesto, I just see how our ministries blend together so wonderfully. And I just thank you for this opportunity.

Nancy: Well, I have such a burden—we do here at Revive Our Hearts—for the next generation to know the Lord and to love Him and walk with Him. Frankly, if you look around at the families in our churches, you’ve seen this, I’ve seen it. We’re not doing such a hot job on that. I mean, thankfully there are lots of exceptions, but more often than not, I’m seeing parents who are overwhelmed with parenting, who are frustrated by it, who are angry.

Their kids are angry. We’re seeing kids walking away from the Lord. It’s just incredibly common to see tension and strife in the homes.

I know every parent is a sinner. Every child is a sinner. We all have flesh. I have to deal with my own anger issues, and I don’t even have a husband or children to worry about in my own life. So we’re looking for perfection in families. But what a joy it would be to see in this dark world Christian homes where Christ really is honored; where parents and children really do love Christ and walk with Him and choose Him; where we are sending these children forth, as they grow up to become young men and women of God who serve the Lord—who go forth to serve Him.

I’m living for a time that I cannot see—that your children and your grandchildren and those children of the moms we are ministering to through Revive Our Hearts will be the leaders. They’ll be the moms. They’ll be the dads. They’ll be the leaders of the next generation.

Long after we’re gone, my hope is that we’ll be sitting, standing, watching over the balcony of Heaven and looking down on these young lives that have been discipled as a result of ministries like Entrusted with a Child’s Heart and Revive Our Hearts. The next generation will have spiritual, godly wise leadership.

But how does that happen? It doesn’t just happen. It takes moms and dads and grandmoms and single women like myself who are intentional about passing the baton of faith onto the next generation. The resources that you have developed at Entrusted Ministries are so helpful, so practical, so biblically rich.

I want to encourage our listeners to check into those for your own family or a family that you know, for your church. Maybe as an empty-nester woman in your own church, you have a burden for the younger women of your church. You could talk with your pastor or elders about possibly starting a study like this.

Betsy, you’ve done so much of the hard work in developing this material. You women have shared some real practical and helpful input for moms through the course of this series. I wish we could spend more time and go deeper into all of this. But I want to touch today on some of the other areas that you develop more fully in this study.

As we are thinking about how to help children come to the place where their faith is their own—where they’re not riding on the spiritual coattails of their parents but they’re developing their own faith.

Betsy, you are the oldest mom here. I don’t think you mind me saying that. Your children are the oldest children represented here, and now you have grandchildren. So you’ve seen God bring your children to the place where their faith is not yours, it’s their own. One of the important aspects of that, I know in my own upbringing, and you emphasize it in this study, is the importance of creating an environment that is conducive to spiritual growth.

Betsy: Exactly.

Nancy: I think of an analogy of a green house where you put young tender plants to help them develop roots until they’re mature enough to be put outside and to withstand the storms and the attacks of life. So many parents I see today are, I think, mindlessly exposing their children to all kinds of worldly and unbiblical things, philosophies, world views, and then wonder why their children turn twenty or twenty-one or twenty-five and say, “I’m not interested in Christian things anymore.” Well, the children are responding to the appetite that you’ve cultivated in them.

Betsy: Yes. Children are being so influenced by the world these days. It used to be that you could guard your house so much easier than you could today, because now the enemy can come through your walls invisibly through the wireless. It can come through your children’s cell phones and just influences in general. What I see today in the media is shocking to me compared to what I would have seen twenty years ago and just what is allowed and expected everywhere.

Nancy: And yet we’re living in this world.

Betsy: We’re living in this.

Nancy: And you don’t want to stick your children in a closet and raise them apart from any consciousness of what’s going on. So how do you think about this?

Betsy: We can’t just isolate and just say, “You can’t have any exposure to the world.” They have to be insulated but not isolated. You know we’ve heard that term before. But the reason is because the heart is depraved. And just isolating it is not going to work with the depravity of heart. So obviously, we want to create an environment that our children don’t have this constant access and exposure. But you know what? It’s going to happen.

I was talking to a mom recently and she said her young child saw some pictures he shouldn’t have seen. I’ve talked to other mothers whose children are abused. Horrible things happen. So we have to figure out how are we are going to deal with these things knowing even by accident our children are going to get exposed to things we absolutely in our hearts would never want them to know or see.

Nancy: So Gina, you’re a single mom at the moment with six children, three teens and then a younger set of three.

Gina Cho: Right.

Nancy: How are you thinking through the process of guarding your children’s hearts, protecting them, but also not isolating them?

Gina: We had a really interesting season of every method of schooling, which directly bears upon how much they get exposed to different things at different ages. And the Lord is so gracious to show me the pros and cons of each: public education, private education, and home schooling.

It was a really big fear or a concern because no one really had the right balance or answers. And it is different for each family. But having this dichotomy of two sets of children, I realized the TV really cannot even be on with even innocent shows that are on basic TV without me being aware of what’s on. Even cartoons and things that you would think are harmless, they promote messages that are so subtle that are really anti-Christian and anti-Bible.

So we’ve had to put some guardrails in our home that we’ve actually just recently done this year. It was a challenge to save on money as well as heartache and headache. We decided to get rid of cable. I thought it was going to be the hardest thing. We don’t really watch a lot of TV, but it’s been a blessing in disguise.

Sometimes parents give too many choices to their children. “Do you want A, B, C, D, or E?” Well, one of the best things that I learned from Betsy years ago was you don’t need to overwhelm them with so many choices and put them in the driver’s seat all the time. It’s nice to maybe give them maybe two choices if it is age appropriate and that just really helped me to refine what our goals are for our family.

One thing, too, with the iPod and music, I see a lot of moms complaining about the difficulties of their kids and what they’re exposed to, but then they’re funding it all. So one rule in our house was that we don’t pay for any iTunes cards or anything that’s not Christian music. You can only do that for so long, but now having high schoolers, it makes it a little less accessible for them. Not that they’re not going to get it, but they pay a higher cost for it, and even that we try to monitor—you know, no songs with obscenities and things like that. But it is a daily challenge. It is overwhelming at times.

Betsy: I think a big part in here is that when your child does encounter evil, and we have taught them what evil is—what the world is and how it is counter to the things of God—that they flee. They need to learn to flee temptation. But then they also need to internally decide how they manage those things. Sometimes they need to just learn how to repent of those things and turn away. But a key is to build self-control in their life but not just an outward behavioral self-control, it has to be an inward rendering, surrendering to the Lord.

It says, “I will set no abominable thing before my eyes.” It’s just when children grow up with these lessons, when they encounter those things, they know that they have a way back to the Lord through repentance. And other times they need to recognize evil and just say, “I flee from that.” Then to be able to come and tell their parents because they’ll have this connection with their parents, hopefully, that they can talk to them about.

I think the big thing is really to have a connection between parent and child. You have to have family standards set up when your children are really young so they don’t think that you are just being so mean and blocking them off from everything their friends are doing. So it’s just really important.

Nancy: How important is it to let your children, as they become teenagers say, express what they’re thinking and what they’re feelings are about the rules, the boundaries, the policies of your family? How much do you let them engage with you on that?

Betsy: Well, sometimes we would have a family meeting, we’d call it. But as far as biblical convictions that we talked about earlier in the week, those are the God-given principles that we do not sway.

Nancy: But the things that are not absolutes, that are not clear—it’s not that music is sinful and iPod’s are sinful. How much do you let them talk and express what they’re thinking—the peer pressure they’re feeling, the desires that they have?

Betsy: Well, initially, mom and dad have to decide those standards and stick by those standards. This would be age-appropriate because maybe your response to that to a ten-year-old is going to be completely different than to an eighteen-year-old, where you’re going to say, “You know, we understand this. We want to see what kind of wise choices you make.”

Nancy: But you certainly don’t just start that at age eighteen.

Betsy: No, you start it when they are very young. “These are the kinds of things we listen to. This is why we listen to them. This is why we don’t listen to that.”

Nancy: But what about letting out some of the rope? You don’t start that when they are eighteen.

Betsy: No, you start that really between the ages of five and twelve when we are giving them some leeway to see how they respond.

Nancy: So you let them start making some decisions?

Betsy: Yes, but when it’s your family personal convictions and standards, that’s a completely different story. You and your husband decide, “This is what our family is about.” And you stick to them. In fact, I say, I put my fingers together like this and I say, “Dad and I are like this. This is what we’ve decided.” And you really have to hold tight to those because kids will challenge those every step of the way, and you can’t be wavering on those. I would say that is really a different story than guiding children by influences of choices that they are making for their lives and you are teaching them wisdom.

This is the matter of personal convictions you have for your family—sort of some standards that you have. This is the wonderful thing about kids. You’re going to watch your children and find out, “Are they internalizing these things for themselves?” And that’s what we call owning their faith.

Nancy: In order to know that, it seems like you have to really keep lines of communication open. Have any of you ever had a child who just went to their room and closed the door and withdrew during their teenage years?

Betsy: Yes. This is the most wonderful thing that we ever did in our family, and it was completely by accident. My husband knew that I’m always this doing, doing, doing person. My husband was more laid back and like, “Come and visit with me.” He always uses the word visit, and I think it is so cute. But he says, “Come in the living room and visit with me after dinner.” And I would be, “I don’t have time to do that. I have to do this, this, this, and this.” And he’d say, “No, just come and sit and visit.” And I would come in there for fifteen minutes and he would make me sit still. I could barely; I was always popping up.

Over time, I learned to just sit there. We would sit there and what started as fifteen minutes became a half an hour, became an hour, sometimes two hours. No television in that room whatsoever because it would be so tempting to turn on that television, and we wouldn’t have that twenty-thirty years of communication that we had from silence.

But what happened is that we talked about everything. And you know what? Our children didn’t go up to their rooms even as teenagers. They would come after dinner, after sports, they would go upstairs, shower fast and they would come down and sit in the living room with us.

Nancy: Visit with dad?

Betsy: Visit with us all. We would talk about those family life things where you would just have a discussion and there was nothing intruding in on it—no media intruding. I can remember my son, Lee, laying on the floor listening to all of that when he was just three years old. And then when he was twenty years old, still laying on the floor. And I said, “Lee, you really can sit on the sofa now.”

It became a family habit—a tradition—because my husband said, “Come and visit.” And doing that, our children wanted to be a part of that. And they weren’t TV watchers. They weren’t kids to sit in their room. They would come down to be a part of that because it started young.

Nancy: What about dealing with attitudes? I know it’s just kind of expected that teens are going to roll their eyes, they are going to get incommunicado, not all of them, but many. I just think a lot of parents just assume that is the way it is. Do you let that stuff go? Do you address it?

Stef Caterer: I think that is starting really young. I was looking for it. I see these boys who are ten, eleven, twelve, and they are walking around our church. They got the little attitude and they’ve got the little flip hair going. They are kind of shuffling along, and I’m like, “My son is not going to be like that.”

Nancy: It’s not just boys, though, right?

Stef: It’s true. But I’m looking at the boys because my son is ten and my Phoebe is five. So I’ll look at the girls later. I’ll talk to the moms who I say, “Okay, your son is not like this. What did you do that your son . . .” And she said, “I just grabbed him. I have to—I’m just going to call it out.”

Sometimes we as moms are lazy. “Oh, it’s just an attitude. I’ll let it go.” There’s a difference between letting it slide and grace. We can’t let it slide when it’s a heart issue. I’m seeing it in these kids where it is a heart issue and we need to—and I’m not going to judge their kids. I sound like I am, but you can pick it out a little bit.

I’ll talk to the moms and say, “Your kids seem more joyful” or  “They’re still with you and they’re open and they’re talking to me—some random other mom.” She says, “I have got their heart. I make it a point to make sure that we are together, those open lines of communication. You’ve got to be like that with your kids.”

Gina: It’s interesting because when my husband is not around to correct that right away, you have the burden of being both the disciplinarian and a loving mother which is a hard balance. But to directly answer your question, I do agree that you have to address it right away because having three little ones that are learning from the older siblings, the more that you allow which is sinful behavior and you think it’s just this one time, that builds and they become immune to it. They think that it’s okay to talk to mom that way, even when they are five, sometimes. So it is a challenge because sometimes you don’t have the energy or the conviction. You don’t feel like doing it. And you just know it is a command from the Lord.

My oldest son is six feet tall now and fifteen and was really upset at me for correcting him. “I feel like you are always on me. What’s the big deal? My friends do worse things.” I told him, “You know what? It’s almost like I feel like I see you running out in front of a moving car, and I would do anything to save your life. It’s a dramatic example, but when I see you going down that wrong path, it’s a mother’s heart to want to save you from the wreck. If I don’t do something now, I don’t want to regret it a year later when it’s beyond my reach.”

So I just feel like asking the Lord for understanding and grace but for my son to have that understanding that, “My mom loves me, and that’s why she is correcting me.”

Betsy: Another way that that grace comes through is if you’ve raised your children this way, they have an understanding. They have an understanding that “I spoke disrespectfully to my mom.” They’re grateful when you come to them. But sometimes you have to just let that sit with them and let them indict themselves and just say, “You know, I’m not going to answer to that. It’s a test.” And to see that they come back and say, “Mom, I’m so sorry.”

Nancy: How important is it for your children to see you say you’re sorry and seek forgiveness when you’ve had an attitude? Does that happen in your house?

Betsy: Not admitting wrong is one of those exasperating things.

Stef: When we are disciplining one child more often than usual, and we’ll go through that hard time between you and your child. Those are the times when I feel like you need to spend even more time with them that it is outside of the discipline arena where there is no possible way for them to even get in trouble. You take them out for coffee, or you go for a walk with them. You get them out of the house for just one-on-one time with you and that child. Regardless of whatever else is around, you are building up more time that has nothing to do with discipline time or “you’re doing something wrong.” You really have to build up that extra time with them.

Gina: That’s one of the most practical teaching in this study. It is what Betsy calls “The hourlies”—trying to do something with each child alone, one-on-one, at least once a week or every two weeks. It’s a challenge with six kids, but that has been the most break-through and fruitful time of the positive and not always correcting them and being on their case.

Nancy: There’s so much more that we could share out of this study and out of your life experience as moms that would be helpful, but our time has run out. I just want to encourage our listeners, those who are in a parenting season of life, maybe newlyweds who are thinking about going into parenting because you start laying the foundation by your own marriage and your own walk with the Lord.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back. She’s been talking with two moms who have a heart for their children, Gina Cho and Stef Caterer. She’s also been talking with Betsy Corning, author of the book Entrusted with a Child’s Heart. If you’ve been intrigued by today’s program, I hope you’ll dig deeper in this subject by reading the book for yourself. Nancy, what should we expect out of this resource?

Nancy: It’s a hard cover 500 page book. It’s not one that you’re going to sit down and master overnight. But it will be a really rich resource for years to come in your family. And then there are other resources that are available for a group study—a workbook, a DVD, twenty-two-week curriculum. If  you’ll go to our website, ReviveOurHearts.com, just click on the link there. It will take you to Entrusted Ministries, and you’ll find out more about these resources and how you can perhaps get this ministry started in your church.

Leslie: When you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts, we’ll send you the book, Entrusted by Betsy Corning. You can indicate that you’d like the book when you donate at ReviveOurHearts.com, or ask for it when you call 1-800-569-5959.

Well, if you could ask any question to our guest, Betsy Corning, what would you ask? Well you can ask her that question. Betsy will participate on the Revive Our Hearts listener blog today. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com, find today’s program “Guiding Your Child’s Heart” and then click on comments. That will take you to the end of today’s transcript where you can add your question or comment.

On Monday, Carolyn McCulley answers practical questions on living life for God’s glory as a single woman. Now, let’s get back to Nancy and our guests.

Nancy: I want to thank you, Betsy and Gina and Stef, for pouring out yourselves, your lives into other women and for your heart to live out these principles but to see them reproduced in others. So thank you so much for joining us here on Revive Our Hearts.

And as we bring this conversation to a close, the verse that comes to mind is from Psalm 102 verse 18: “Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.”

Oh Lord, our heart and our desire is not just to have exemplary families, not just  to have kids make it easy on moms, not just to have kids who can be showcased, but that a generation yet to come might praise You for You are worthy of praise. Lord, we want our lives and those of the next generation and generations yet to be born to love You and know You and walk with You and honor You and serve You for You are worthy of all our praise. I pray it in Jesus name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.

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