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14. Book Review -- Parenting is Heart Work

Book Title: Parenting is Heart Work

Author: Dr. Scott Turansky, Joanne Miller

Year of Publication2005

PublisherDavid C. Cook


Author’s Web-site

Full Book Available in: English

You should read this book if you…

Want to help your children change on the inside, not just outwardly. Those changes are permanent and a conscience develops, which guides them in decisions that involve right and wrong throughout their lives.

“In a nut shell”…

Most parenting strategies are behavior-based. This may change behavior on the surface, but the only way to truly change them is if parents, together with God, work on their hearts.

Key Ideas…

Changing your child’s behavior often works for the short term, but it does not transform a child’s heart for the future. When parents focus discipline on the heart, children make lasting changes.

God changes our hearts through salvation, and our behavior changes based on what He does in our hearts.

Children need to know: God is creator; God has a plan; God knows all things; God gave His Son to die for us; God is judge of the world.

Children learn from parents what faith looks like each day as little pressures, irritations, and responsibilities challenge their peace and joy.

Most children need help processing what they did wrong after parents give consequences. Talk with them every time you have to discipline—even small offenses. This trains children to talk about problems. At some point you should ask them, “What did you do wrong?”

Action Steps…

Parents need to maintain a strong connection to God, which will enable them to be more effective with their children.

Start watching your child’s heart. Become more aware of the deeper problems. Ask God to show you the real issues that your son or daughter is facing. Spend time talking to the Lord about your child’s heart issues.

When your child misbehaves, recognize that something in the heart is going on. We can learn what is going on in our child’s heart by listening to our child and looking at what he treasures.

Set a goal of having 10 minutes a day or an hour or two a week of one-on-one time with each child.

“As you learn to listen to your child’s heart, identify target areas that you sense are a problem. Behavior indicates what’s happening inside, so when you see a particular weakness, jot it down on a piece of paper. You might list things like procrastination, pride, fear, gloom and doom, or lack of confidence.” Pg 132

Memorize Bible verses each week. Choose verses based on needs you see in your family and discuss them with your children.


“Kids need parents who are willing to take a stand for what’s right, demonstrate leadership, and set firm limits. They need moms and dads who will show them the path and encourage them to stay on it.” Pg 52

“Punishment focuses on justice; discipline concentrates on teaching. Instead of a sentence to be served, discipline is an opportunity for growth.” Pg 184

“Pray for your children often. God not only works through prayer to change your kids, but he also uses your prayers to make you more sensitive to his work in their hearts. In your payer time, be sure to listen as well as talk.” Pg 18-19

“Teenage rebellion doesn’t start at age thirteen; it starts much earlier, in a young child’s heart.” Pg 43


“When you fail, admit it. Model humility as you grow. Require the same from your kids.” Pg 107-108

It’s important to be firm with your children, but if you are harsh or angry, it will hinder closeness.

How this has changed my parenting…

The book tells us that when your child is angry, you should refuse to become emotional and instead be willing to listen. I thought this was important because it is so easy to get angry or frustrated when children disobey. The book says that doing this is counter-productive. Listening will bring you closer to your children and also enable you to handle the situation in a more rational way.

Problem-solving too early instead of showing empathy hinders deeper relationships. Often we just want to fix a problem and move on to the next thing, but by doing this we can miss valuable opportunities to talk with our children about what is going on. If your child is misbehaving, it is important to discuss rather than just discipline and move on.

It’s amazing how transparent children can be when you take time to actively hear what they have to say. Most of us lead very busy lives, so this was a good reminder to slow down and practice active listening skills with our children. We can learn a lot about what is going on in their lives and hearts by doing this.

© 2011 The Family Project

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