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Parenting the Heart

Parenting the heart: Teen being told what to do

A wise man once said, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

While this is true, I have found in my life that it is much easier to focus on my actions and try to change them. There is a whole culture of changing our actions. Everywhere I turn, there is a new app or service that will fix my life because it changes my actions.

When I look around, there’s not much that focuses on healing and training my heart. My guess is that it’s because it would be very difficult to market something for the heart, and it probably wouldn’t make much money.

Yet, the only thing that can change my life is my heart. My heart determines my thoughts and actions and, therefore, where my life ends up.

And the same is true for my son.

The health of his heart will determine the course of his life. A sick and diseased heart will lead to the path of destruction and death. While a healthy heart will lead to the path of life and joy.

And yet, it’s so easy as a parent to focus on and parent his actions. And it’s so difficult to focus on the health of his heart.

My wife and I have done our best to focus on our son’s heart—not letting him technically obey the instructions but rather training him to have the intent to obey our instructions. When he was younger, this was a lot of work. And lots of conversations. It would have been much easier and quicker to have parented the actions and moved on.

But I am so glad we nurtured his heart when he was young. It’s been such a blessing to see the fruit of that as he has become a teenager. He is such a good-hearted young man who seeks to do what is right and whose heart has been trained to do what is good. This doesn’t mean that he is perfect and that he won’t mess up. But it is such a joy to be able to trust his intentions.

So, where to start? My recommendation is to start with a conversation the next time your child doesn’t follow instructions or technically follows your instructions but doesn’t do what you instructed them to do. Ask them about their intentions and whether or not they were trying to obey your instructions or were just trying not to get in trouble.

This will take a lot of work, and results won’t happen overnight. But, like most good things, it will be worth it.

Because a wise man once said “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

Mike Van Drie

Pastor of Jesus Gathering


Healthy conversations with your teen: 


Blog Goal:The Talk With Your Teen blog encourages and equips Christian parents to have consistent, open, and meaningful conversations with their teenagers about relational and sexual health.


About us: This blog is hosted by The Joshua Center from Positive Options. The Joshua Center exists to mobilize the body of Christ to embody the Gospel as we build a culture of life in West Michigan.


Parenting teens can be challenging. We offer Biblically based social and sexual health workshops that help ground teens in God's truth and authority as they navigate a hypersexual and rapidly evolving culture focused on individualism and self-gratification. Talk with your Teen articles expand and build on these trainings by encouraging and equipping Christian parents to have ongoing conversations with their teens regarding sensitive cultural issues. For more information about our workshops, for both teens and their parents, please email

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