Wednesday, July 27, 2011

grabby hearts

In my list of recommended books in the right sidebar, you will find several books on parenting, some written especially for moms. Clearly, I need lots of help. This is one of my more recent helps.

In Rachel Jankovic's book, Loving the Little Years, she writes a chapter called Grabby Hearts & Grabby Hands which so clearly lays out the goal for helping our children with selfishness, especially over things. She begins:
When our children are fussing with each other(say they both want a flashlight-very possible), we will interrupt them and ask them a few questions. First of all we ask them to tell us what they did that was wrong, leaving the other person out of the narrative. We will probably spend a minute sorting through the blow by blow, and then ask, "What is more important--this flashlight, or your sister?" After they answer(and believe it or not they do know the answer), we will ask them what they were pretending was more important. They know that too. So we tell them to get it right.
They need to apologize to each other for breaking fellowship over a flashlight. I like for them to say that because it makes it perfectly clear to them what exchange they were making. Flashlight for sister. This is not a complex "who had it for how long" situation. It is not our job to run in and settle the dispute as though it were an honest and legitimate dispute. Flashlights are not to come between us in fellowship. Ever.

Earlier in the book, she quotes from 1 John 1:7 where the idea of maintaining fellowship is taught.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

So instead of this being a virtuous lesson on "sharing your toys", it instead directs our children's eyes(ours too) to the gift of fellowship with Jesus and with each other and His sacrifice(which will always be greater than the one we are being asked to make)that purifies us from the sin of selfishness(anger and whatever else we need to confess). This is how we bring the gospel to our children everyday. It's showing them our sin and our need for a Savior.
Rachel then goes on to explain some good practical ideas for helping avoid these grabby hearts/hands issues.
She ends the brief chapter by saying this:
It is a lot harder to work through the grabby heart problems than the grabby hands, even though they usually travel together. If this part of parenting were only about toy distribution, then we would just be setting timers and keeping tally sheets. But teaching them about dealing with each other, looking to their own hearts, and staying in fellowship is hugely important if they are ever going to get on without you. If you take the time to train them in this, you will find yourself needing to negotiate less and less. When conflict arises, as it will, you will have less to talk about because they will recognize the real problem and be able to get the fellowship restored as quickly as they broke it.

Christian living transcends the "let's be nice and share" virtues. It reaches back to the cross of Christ and teaches us what it means to walk in the Light and have fellowship with one another. And we all need that lesson even if we don't need the flashlight right then.

(my girls enjoying fellowship, or something)


  1. I am also reading this book!!!! It is not especially well written (what with 5 kids 5 and under, and all) but it is PACKED with gems! I haven't gotten as far in the book as you have (what with my own two 3 and under, and all) but I'm looking forward to that -- grabby hearts are a HUGE issue in our home.

    I already had some insight into this grabby heart issue earlier when the author says something along the lines of "you can't expect your children to share, when you are selfish with your own time" -- definitely a lot to ponder.


  2. Vanessa,
    You're reading the book too! Great. Now I have even more things to talk with you about! The list is beginning to be endless. :)

  3. Heather~

    I saw your comment at my blog yesterday, and hopped over here to see who it was that had left such a nice comment! :)

    I spent some time poking around your blog, and I just want you to know that I came away so blessed. I love your space here, your love for Jesus and your family, your thoughtful writing, and all your good links and recommendations for schooling! I've added you to my Google reader and I will be back to visit when I have more time...

    Blessings to you and yours,


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