Connecting to your child’s heart

Written by Kendra Parks
Published on February 15, 2022

We were having a few friends over in the afternoon, and I had prepared a tray full of matching teacups, a crystal dish of sugar, and an array of teas. 

I placed the tray in the sunroom off our kitchen and began assembling a plate of snacks to go with it. As I arranged cookies on a plate, I heard a little excited voice exclaim, “Oh Mama, this looks so beautiful!”  

I realized where the voice was coming from and began to warn, “Yes honey, but please don’t—” and that’s all I managed to say before there was a crash that shattered through my sentence like a china cabinet falling off the back of a moving truck. 

Showing grace I sucked in my breath and walked around the corner to see the tray toppled, and dismembered tea cups and handles strewn about the floor. My first instinct was to exclaim, “What happened? Why did you move the tray?” 

But as I breathed out and caught sight of my precious little girl huddled behind a chair, sobbing, it was like God slowed down time, and I knew that this was a teaching moment that could forever impact my sweet daughter. 

You see, I still remember a moment when I was about my daughter’s age, and I was helping my own mother in the kitchen. I remember dropping an egg on the floor, and feeling so badly about my mistake even though she reassured me it was OK. 

I wanted to cement in my daughter’s mind that I care more about her heart than a tea cup or two. I wanted her to know that her heart mattered more than a mistake she made. 

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10 NIV). 

Hearts over teacups 

I sat down next to my daughter and pulled her into my lap. She felt so badly about the cups and through hiccuped tears she said she was “bad.” My heart broke, and I prayed for the right words—and God supplied them. “Honey, it’s OK. Do you know why?” 

She shook her curly blond head back and forth, her lip still trembling as her eyes connected with mine. “Because hearts over teacups. I care more about your heart than some silly teacups, sweet girl.” 

“But Mama, those were your favorite ones,” my daughter wailed, wiping tears from her face. “Yes, but they’re just things, sweetie. I care more about your heart than the most beautiful teacup you can imagine.” 

My daughter thought about this and then scrunched up her face. “You mean more than the flower one Ezra gave you for Christmas?” “Yes,” I said, not breaking her gaze. My son had found a cup that was so bejeweled it looked to my children as if it had risen straight off the page of a fairytale book, and it had become my daughter’s favorite cup to use.  

She took a deep breath. “Okay, Mama. I’m really sorry.” I gave her another squeeze. “I know you are, but I’m not upset. I can clean this up and pick out some other cups to use. Want to help?” 

And so the phrase, “Hearts over teacups” has become a repeated phrase in our home. When one of my daughter’s three big brothers dropped a cereal bowl recently, she quickly exclaimed, “Hearts over teacups. Hearts over teacups. Right Mama?” My son looked at her and then at me in surprise and I shrugged. “We’ll get it cleaned up. It’s just a bowl. I care more about your heart than a bowl, kiddo.”  

Treasures in heaven 

God’s word tells us where we are to be storing up treasure—and it’s not in the teacups and treasures here on this earth! It has to do with spiritual treasures of the heart. 

As parents, our home is the perfect place to model this. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:1921). 

Is there something that is getting in the way of your heart connection with your kids? Perhaps busyness or perfection or work or a perfectly ordered home? Fill in the following sentence to make your own family motto to keep your spiritual perspective in check: “Hearts over _______.”  

Keep loving those precious ones under your roof, moms and dads! Look into their eyes and listen to their hearts. Your focus matters, and the words you use and the life you speak into their hearts travels with them every time they walk out the door.

Consider a few extra resources:

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Kendra Parks

Kendra Parks is the author of the devotional journal  Seen: 40 Days of Biblical Encouragement for Moms to Feel Seen and the uplifting children’s book series Grace Notes, about a group of kid musicians who go undercover as “The Good Deed Crew” to spread love in their Colorado hometown. She has a Journalism degree, and grew up reading books in trees and playing her own violin in a traveling string quartet. She currently lives, loves, creates and writes on the edge of a whimsical forest with her best friend/husband Jason (also a writer), where they homeschool their four brilliant dreamers. She is often found steeping in tea and books – usually with a child in her arms or on her back. Find her on Instagram: @kendraparksauthor

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