How to get your kids to mind

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Farm (3 of 3): The Sleuth

For dad only:

The Heart of Potential

Do you talk to your children’s hearts or their heads? Dads ask, how do I get my kids to mind? Head-talk creates guilt or resentment. Heart-talk motivates children to behave without your commanding them.

Talk to the hand

When you find yourself talking to the hand, “Don’t touch that”—“Put that down”—“Get your hands off your sister,” it is because you are just talking to their heads. Head-talk informs. It gives information. Head-talking dads make rules and demand performance.

You can still hear the voice of head-talking people from your life: a teacher, grandma, or maybe your dad. When you speak harshly or forcefully toward your kids, the door of their hearts snap shut out of self-protection.

Talk to the heart

When your kids spontaneously say, “I love you,” or give you a hug out of no where, or make your breakfast without being asked (to the best of their ability)—you know you have reached their hearts.

Heart-talking is a delicate art. You can undo heart-talk by going back to head-talking, even for a short time. Heart-talk stirs the motivation of your children. Instead of twisting their behavior to match your expectations, you mold their desires to incline toward what is truthful and pure.

Talk from the heart

To reach your daughter or son’s heart, speak from yours. When you speak from your head, you are playing a defense game. You are worried about who is watching, you are trying to minimize annoyance or damage, or hoping the kids do not turn out like you.

If you love cleanliness and love your kids, they will want to clean up. If you love cleanliness but do not have room in your heart for your kids, they will comply for safety, but not share your desires. To reach their heart, speak from the depths of yours. Speak principles, not orders. If what you want from them is not to be found in your heart, then change that, before opening your mouth.

Getting your kids to mind you

Most dads wish their kids would mind them better. By “mind what I say” they usually mean they want them to listen and remember. The flaw with this approach is that you cannot speak to your kids about every circumstance or situation they will face. You may think ahead for some situations, but as they grow, they will have to learn to adapt the principles you taught them to the unique situations they face.

You want more than children who obey when you are watching. You do not want to raise kids who only know how to do what they are told. You do not want your children going through life learn from their mistakes when they get into trouble. You want productive descendants who know how to cope and thrive in life

Getting your children to heart you

Instead of getting your children to mind, get them to heart you. I want my kids to heart me. I do not just want drones that obey my rules and stay out of my hair. I want vivacious young people growing up in my home, learning to love the same values I am passionate about.

I tell my kids often, “My child, give me your heart and let your eyes observe my ways” (Proverbs 23:26). To get their hearts, I must give them mine. I cannot withhold love until I get my way or they will manipulate me the same. I cannot submit to their needs or desires just when I am in the mood or they will imprint such irritability into their souls.

More than how you talk and what you teach, how you walk makes the difference. You will not drastically impact your kids if you are hollow inside. Stuffed-shirt dads can take their families to church and even do devotions. But you have to be solid to the core if you are going to leave a legacy of more than going through the motions.

Solid stuff: prayer, witnessing, fasting, gaining new insights from the Word, sacrificing, giving generously, and being honest about your weaknesses. Want good kids? Start thinking more about others. Pray for others, not just to set a good example. Stop manipulating and start leading. Stop commanding and start creating. Be and they will become.


Read this to the kids:

Criminal Clues

Last time, Rusty saw a suspicious character at the county fair.


Grandpa, Rusty, and Dad watched the man in the black cowboy hat dart around, looking in the cow stalls.

“Do you know him?” Rusty asked.

“Yep,” Grandpa said, “that’s Darl.”

“Do you think he’s the thief?” Rusty prodded.

Grandpa shook his head. “Can’t judge a man just ‘cause he looks suspicious, boy. Now, let’s not be in a hurry to frame just anybody.”

“Have you talked to him?” Rusty asked.

Grandpa shook his head.

“If he’s not guilty, he may know someone who did take them.” Rusty shrugged, he was only guessing.

“Hmm-hmm,” Grandpa thought about it for a second. “I reckon,” he said. They walked beside the bleachers and down the sawdust path to the cow stalls. The man with the black cowboy hat was leaning over a fence, looking at the prize-winning bull when Grandpa walked up to him.

“Darl,” Grandpa said in a friendly voice, “enjoying the fair?”

The man jumped a little and turned to look at Grandpa. He acted upset and his eyes flitted from Grandpa, to dad, to the ground, and back again.

“Yup,” he said in a deep voice.

“How’s the horse farm these days?” Grandpa asked.

“Fine. Why?”

Grandpa smiled, “I just know horses aren’t bringing as much money as they used to. I think mine are costing me more money than they are worth. Are you sticking with just horses or you trading anything else these days?”

The man shrugged, “If it’ll make money, I’ll try it.” He adjusted his cowboy hat.

“Hey, I was wondering,” Grandpa said slowly, “have you heard anyone come up with a few extra cows. I had some stole off’n the back of my property. I’m offerin’ a reward and the county sheriff is looking, too.”

The man crossed his arms, “I haven’t got your cattle if that’s what you’re meanin’.” He kicked at the dusty floor with his boot.

“Naw!” Grandpa exclaimed. “I’ve just been asking around, t’see if I could find out any news on them. Whoever did it knew what they were doing, all right.”

“Well, I was just leaving, so I’ve got to go.” He turned and walked out of the cow barn, into the brilliant sunlight. They watched him leave without saying a word. He pulled out a cigarette and lit it.

Dad sighed. “He sure seemed nervous.”

“Sure did,” Grandpa said. “Think we ought to go see his place? He probably has those cows out there. As I recall, he has won in the rodeos before. He could round up a herd with his horse for sure.”

“I wouldn’t head right out there,” Dad said. “Might find he’s as good with a gun as he is with a horse.”

“I’ll talk to the detective to see if he can go take a look.” They began walking back to join Mom, Grandma, and Misty. Grandpa continued, “The county detective said he has already posted a notice to the auctions all around here. I still think we should go to the one tonight.”

“Let’s do it,” Dad said.

“All right!” Rusty exclaimed.

•       •       •

That evening on the road to the auction, Grandpa explained more about the legalities of cattle theft as Rusty road between him and Dad. “The Cattlemen’s Association will take our case and prosecute any suspect to the full extent of the law.”

“So you won’t have to pay for a lawyer?” Rusty asked.

“Naw. In fact, the state takes up criminal cases like this and my lawyer would be the prosecuting attorney. But the Cattlemen’s Association is dedicated to punishing cattle rustlers, and they will be a big help.”

“So, if that man took our cattle, what will happen to him?” Rusty wanted to know.

“Prison,” Dad said. “He could get five to twenty-five years locked up in prison.”

“That’s bad,” Rusty said. “Is there some way we could get our cows back without anyone going to jail?”

“We are not sending anyone to prison, Rusty,” Dad said. “Whoever did this crime is sending himself there. We did not make the rules, they existed before someone broke them. If the thief is not punished, he will still be free to rob someone else. That is why the government locks people up—so they do not continue to steal.”

“I thought we were supposed to forgive,” Rusty said.

“We do, son,” Grandpa said. “I am not mad at whoever took my property; I just intend to get it back. I will forgive him, but at the same time it is my responsibility to take care of the things the Lord has given me.”

They had arrived at the livestock auction yard and pulled into the parking lot.

“Hey, look!” Rusty said.

Grandpa stopped in the lane and looked.

“I just saw that man with the black hat,” Rusty said.

Grandpa looked at a truck a few vehicles away from them. “That’s Darl’s truck,” he said. “And he’s here with a trailer.”

“What are you going to do?” Dad asked.

“Well, if he is selling something here, it has not gone through yet.”

“How can you tell?” Rusty asked.

“Because he is parked kind of far out here—obviously he came later than many of them.” Grandpa stroked his chin as he drove on to find a parking place. “Let’s take a walk through the stalls and see if we can spot any familiar cows.”

The three guys climbed out and entered the livestock seller’s area.

•       •       •

The long day of walking at the fair had made Rusty weary. They walked around the auction stalls a lot now, too. Still, no sign of Grandpa’s herd.

“Well, maybe they are not here,” Rusty said.

“You are sure they all had yellow ear tags?” Dad asked.

“Yes,” Grandpa said.

“Well, I didn’t see anything with yellow tags that looked like yours, Grandpa,” Rusty said.

They were at the end of the walkway and Dad and Grandpa had already turned around to leave. Rusty stood looking at a crowded pen with several cows in it. One of them stood and walked up close to the rail to look at Rusty. It snorted like it was mad. Rusty suddenly felt like running. He was afraid the bull would charge at him just like—just like—“Grandpa!” he shouted.

Grandpa and Dad turned around to look at Rusty who was just standing there staring. “C’mere,” he said, beckoning with his hand. They hurried back over.

“Look,” he said pointing at the bull, “he has a scar on his nose. That’s your bull. Remember when he charged me?”

“You’re right, my boy, how did I miss him?”

Dad spoke up, “He does not have a yellow tag, though.”

Grandpa looked again. “You are right. That’s what they have done—they changed the ear tags.”

“What are you going to do?” Rusty said.

“Call the sheriff. While we are waiting for him to come, I will notify the auctioneer that we need to find out who placed this bull here so they can issue a warrant for his arrest.”

About thirty minutes later, the sheriff deputy had arrived with a warrant. The auctioneer helped them out very gladly, because he did not want anyone to steal animals.

The deputy and the detective walked into the auction arena and spoke to the man in the black cowboy hat. They walked him outside and handcuffed him before putting him in the backseat of the deputy’s cruiser.

“Yahoo,” Rusty said, “case solved!”

Grandpa nodded. “I am sorry it was him. He could be such a good man if he used his skills wisely. And… it is not all over yet, we need to find out where all my cows are. All we have found so far is my bull.”

“What are you going to do with him?” Rusty asked. “I think he is too mean.”

“Well, considering the good scare he gave you,” Grandpa said with a smile, “and since he’s already here at the auction, I would like to sell him. But, they want me to keep him for evidence right now. Afterward, though, I will find a nicer one that will let you chase all the lizards you want across his pasture!”


Now discuss it!

Is it right for us to want wicked people to be punished?


Where did the idea of punishing a thief come from? How should a thief be punished?

God gave us the idea originally. A thief should at least give back what he took and pay for any damages.


What causes a person to grow up and become a thief?

Stealing things as a child, learning to lie and cheat.


Why do people deceive others? Do they think of those people’s needs or only their own desires?


Do you care about other people’s feelings or do you just think of what you want in life? How can you improve?



Read God’s Word together:

Stolen Religion

Then one of the twelve disciples—the one named Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What will you give me if I betray Jesus to you?”

They counted out thirty silver coins and gave them to him. From then on Judas was looking for a good chance to hand Jesus over to them.…

When it was evening, Jesus and the twelve disciples sat down to eat. During the meal Jesus said, “I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

The disciples were very upset and began to ask him, one after the other, “Surely, Lord, you don’t mean me?”

Jesus answered, “One who dips his bread in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man will die as the Scriptures say he will, but how terrible for that man who will betray the Son of Man! It would have been better for that man if he had never been born!”

Judas, the traitor, spoke up. “Surely, Teacher, you don’t mean me?” he asked.

Jesus answered, “So you say.”

…Then he returned to the disciples and said, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look! The hour has come for the Son of Man to be handed over to the power of sinners. Get up, let us go. Look, here is the man who is betraying me!”

Jesus was still speaking when Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs and sent by the chief priests and the elders. The traitor had given the crowd a signal: “The man I kiss is the one you want. Arrest him!”

Judas went straight to Jesus and said, “Peace be with you, Teacher,” and kissed him.

Jesus answered, “Be quick about it, friend!”

Then they came up, arrested Jesus, and held him tight….

Early in the morning all the chief priests and the elders made their plans against Jesus to put him to death. They put him in chains, led him off, and handed him over to Pilate, the Roman governor. When Judas, the traitor, learned that Jesus had been condemned, he repented and took back the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders.

“I have sinned by betraying an innocent man to death!” he said.

“What do we care about that?” they answered. “That is your business!”

Judas threw the coins down in the Temple and left; then he went off and hanged himself. The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “This is blood money, and it is against our Law to put it in the Temple treasury.” After reaching an agreement about it, they used the money to buy Potter’s Field, as a cemetery for foreigners. That is why that field is called “Field of Blood” to this very day.


(Matthew 26:14-16, 20-25, 45-50; 27:1-9, GNB)


Let’s talk about it!

What motivated Judas to betray Jesus?


When you have you been hurt by someone you loved?


Did they mean to deceive you or betray you? What do you think their motive was in what they did?


How have you ever deceived or betrayed someone who loved you? Why?


Why is it easier to notice the wrongs others do to us and not see how we have treated others wrongly?


After Judas came to his senses and realized what was really going to happen to Jesus, he wanted to undo the whole thing by giving the money back. What have you done that you could not undo? What kind of sins cannot be fixed with a simple, “I’m sorry”?


Role play: You are with your friends, who are laughing about people who misspell words. You know someone (a brother or sister, perhaps) who has made some awful spelling mistakes. You know they would have a good laugh if you told the story. Then, you think of how the person would feel if they knew you were laughing about him or her. You could say, “Don’t tell anyone I told you this.” What will you do?


If someone had taken something from you and you met up with him or her, how would you talk? Would you show love or want to get even?




Proverbs 13:4

The soul of the sluggard desireth,

and hath nothing:

but the soul of the diligent

shall be made fat.

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