When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a writer. I dreamed of being a published author and writing books that would change society as we know it today! Fortunately, I was blessed with my 7th grade English teacher, Mrs. Tittle, who sacrificed many a lunch period to read my stories and give me feedback. Becoming an author was definitely in my heart.
As I grew older and people would ask me what I wanted to be, however, I began to change my answer. You see, when I told people I wanted to be a writer, they looked shocked, or disappointed, or would even chuckle at the thought because becoming an author isn’t something that everyone can support themselves by doing. So over time, I began to stuff down my desire to be a writer and started telling people I wanted to be a lawyer instead. I even convinced myself that I wanted to become a lawyer.
So, writer was out and lawyer was in. I thought I wanted to become a lawyer for years and years until I went off to college. Then, when my dad asked me what I wanted to major in I told him I really wanted to be a writer. He said it was fine to study writing, but I needed to at least get a minor in something solid that I could fall back on for getting a job.
So I majored in writing and minored in computer science. My first real job after college was as a technical writer but after that job fizzled out, I went on to make a good living in the computer industry as a network administrator.
There were times in my twenties when I thought about going back to school to get my law degree, but every time I thought about it, I thought about how much money and time I would have to spend going to law school. And I knew that someday if I was blessed enough to get married and have kids I’d want to quit my job and stay home with them, so I never pursued that goal.
Was the advice my dad gave me the best advice? It did help me to get a job. But, did it keep me from pursuing what was actually in my heart?
What’s in Your Son’s Heart?
Fast forward several years to when I was married with two sons who were in their early teens. I had gone upstairs to tuck one of my sons into bed, which quite often becomes a time when we’re able to have some nice, heart-to-heart talks. My son told me that he wanted to become an actor.
This was coming from the son who used to be so shy that he had to whisper his Awana verses into his teacher’s ear because of his fear to say them in front of the whole class. An actor? Not only that, he said that he felt like God wanted him to become a Hollywood actor in blockbuster movies. He said that he was going to make a lot of money and he was supposed to use that money to help lots and lots of people.
He was extremely emotional as he was talking to me. It was clear that this meant a great deal to him. So I tried to swallow my surprise. I told him I didn’t know anything about acting, but we would figure out what he should do and take the first step. The fact that I was open to what he was saying allowed him to feel comfortable talking to me and telling me more of what was in his heart. It was an amazing experience.
I haven’t always been the best at hearing what’s on my sons’ hearts. Unfortunately, there were several times when my older son told me that he’d like to become a professional baseball player or possibly a sports commentator and I wasn’t as supportive. I didn’t completely shoot down his ideas but I remember telling him that there aren’t very many people who are good enough to become professional ball players and that sports commentators are usually ex-players.
My words weren’t supportive. I was unintentionally discouraging his dreams. And I didn’t make any effort to try to help him take steps toward those dreams, either.
My younger son is definitely benefiting from some of the prior mistakes I made with his older brother.
Here are 5 Ways to Find Out What’s in Your Son’s Heart:
1 – Be in Prayer
This is the most important thing you can do for your children. Ask God to tell you what He would have for them. Ask Him what He wants you to teach them. Ask Him to show you how He wants them to fit into His big plan. Ask God to help you hear His voice as you’re discipling your children.
2 – Be Willing to Listen
You need to listen to them even if what you’re hearing doesn’t make sense to you, seems unrealistic, or is downright scary. Believe me, I’ve learned this one the hard way. It doesn’t do our children any good to be their dream wreckers. As they mature, their dreams will naturally be sifted by reality. Much more positive results will happen when our kids feel that we believe in them and are eager to support them.
3 – Be Willing to Help
Our kids need our help determining a plan of action. What do they need to learn in order to pursue their dreams? What resources exist in your area which could help them? Are there any mentors you could find for them in their area of interest?
4 – Be Willing to Accommodate Them
Are there things you could be teaching them as part of their homeschooling? Are there ways you could make pursuing their dreams more attainable by being flexible with homeschool hours or subjects? Are you willing to do the driving or the volunteering to help them make their dreams a reality?
5 – Be Encouraging
If your child has a huge dream, don’t feel like you need to poke holes in it so that they will see reality. Help them to go for it. If God has given our children dreams, who are we to say that they aren’t possible? With God, everything is possible!
We recently had a situation with our oldest son where he respectfully came to me and said he didn’t want to be involved in an activity which we had signed up AND PAID FOR several months earlier. He told me his reasons why and we had an excellent discussion about it. What he was telling me wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I felt that this activity would be good for him. And truth be told, I was also looking forward to getting to know the moms at this activity better as well.
However, my husband and I discussed it and we felt that we needed to listen to our son this time. Even though we didn’t agree with him, we wanted to show him that we cared about what was in his heart. It was hard for us to give up the money we had already spent, the possibility of relationships with like-minded moms, and the useful skills we thought he would learn, but our relationship with our son is more important than any of those things.
It’s definitely possible to find out what’s going on in your son’s heart and to develop a closer relationship with him. You should be aware that there is often a personal price to pay. We need to let go of our own expectations but it’s definitely worth it.
I can’t tell you how much more willing our son has been to open up to us since we were willing to respect his feelings and listen to what he valued most.
By the way, a few weeks ago my husband and I were talking about what we had always wanted to be when we were kids and I talked about wanting to be a writer. My husband said, “You do realize that you are a writer now, don’t you?!?” It took a minute for that to sink in. I am a writer. I have realized my childhood dream – no matter how farfetched had seemed at the time. I guess that just goes to show that childhood dreams can come true – for us as well as for our sons!
QUESTION: Has your son been willing to tell you what’s in his heart? Do you have any other tips you could share that have helped you develop a trusting relationship with your son? Do you have expectations you need to let go? Please leave a comment below.