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If you have ever played basketball, you probably can relate to the sheer terror/embarrassment of the thought of shooting at the wrong basket.  There’s no shame in it – it happens to really good players, but you really don’t want it to happen to you.

The way it happens is that

  1. You switch ends at halftime.
  2. In the heat of competition, sometimes you forget where you are.

In parenting, have you ever wondered if you were shooting at the wrong goal?  Most of us spend a lot of time and energy getting our kids to behave.  To act nice.  To do what we say.  To stop being mean to their siblings.  This is of course part of our job, especially in the early part of the game.  But is it still the correct goal?  Do we need to switch ends of the court?  Do I know where I am right now?

Behavior Modification

As I walked down the hallway the other night, I realized that I was expending a lot of time and energy and words (sometimes loud words) to get my boys to behave.  And I realized that I was shooting at the wrong goal.  I need to spend my time and energy and words getting them to know God and love God.  To be able to hear His voice and to become passionate about living a life for Him.  It starts with their heart, not with their muddy hands.

Sweeping For the Love of a Cat

I’ll spare you the details, but to understand this story you need to know that we have 2 cats and one of them had thrown up a bunch of times the night before.  Our eight year old’s job this week was to sweep the floor, which is not his favorite job.  Usually he does the bare minimum, not necessarily with the best attitude, after we have reminded him a couple times.  But this time, he swept that floor like it was his own personal masterpiece.  The reason?  He thought that his cat was sick because it had been eating food that had fallen on the floor in the kitchen.  So he was going to make sure that Oreo was safe, and he swept every inch of the kitchen floor with excellence!  That wasn’t a behavior change.  That was a heart change!

I took a moment to talk with him and praise him for his excellent work, and to put into words what I saw.  “Hey buddy, you worked hard and did an awesome job on the floor!  You were doing that because you really care about Oreo, and that Reason Why helped you have the energy to do it with excellence.  I actually have to do that at work sometimes too.  When I have a project or assignment that I don’t like.  I stop and think about Why it is important, like, ‘This helps patients be safe’, and that helps me to do work that is excellent even if it isn’t fun.”

Obedience For the Love of God

This small thing made me think about the bigger picture of his relationship with God.  How am I helping my kids encounter God today?  How am I helping them build a Why that makes sense?  Am I just trying to get their behavior under control, or am I helping them build their character so that they enjoy behaving rightly?  If I am simply trying to referee their behavior, then I am shooting at the wrong goal!  Remember, there’s no shame in it.  It happens to great players.  But now that we know it, let’s get to the right end of the court!


Start With the Heart by Kathy Koch

Train Them to Reign

Have you checked out our Resources tab?  We have Family Conversation guides for Salvation, Baptism, Communion, the Bible, and the Trinity.  Keep these conversations going to build a pattern with your kids that is life-changing!

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