You would think, living with your kids, that it would be easy to know their stories. But consider: How much of your story did your parents really know? Living under the same roof isn’t the same as knowing what’s going on in your children’s world.

  • Do you know where each child is in their masculine or feminine journey?
  • Are you aware of what the enemy is up to in his or her life? and what God is up to?
  • Can you discern what your son’s or daughter’s heart needs in training, validation, and initiation?
  • Why is your child doubting?
  • What are they afraid of?
  • Who is hurting them?
  • Why did they say or do what they said or did?

This is what you want to see, where you want to explore, before addressing their heart. How? Lovingly engage them with good questions. “How was your day?” isn’t a bad question. But if you know what the day held for them—an algebra test, tryouts, choir practice, a doctor’s appointment—then you can be specific.

You earn the right to ask your children intimate questions by starting with simpler ones and by listening, not lecturing. For too long, I used to ask my kids questions so I could talk. I was more concerned about giving advice and “being right” than listening for their hearts. That’s a bad way to train up your son or daughter in the way they should go. Asking questions for the sake of listening and understanding is far better. That’s how you find out where your child is in their story and how God wants to partner with you to love them in the moment. If you take that approach, then just because a moment doesn’t go well—your kid raises their voice or storms off—that doesn’t mean you didn’t handle it well. You’re not in charge of their response; you’re in charge of yours.

Listening is one of the most loving things you can do. Listen not only with your ears but also with your eyes, your body language, your time, and very, very few words on your part. Give your child your undivided attention; it is impossible to listen well and be busy with other things at the same time.

Our most powerful weapon as dads in the battle for our children’s hearts, no matter how old they are, is our presence. A close second is our words. Good questions, listening, and kind words are what we ourselves needed from our dads growing up. And they’re what we still need from our heavenly Father to recover and grow as men.

As you ponder all this with God today, consider asking Him:
Father, what do you want me to see and understand about my child’s heart and story?

Jesus, open my eyes and heart today to how I interact with my children. How can I grow in listening to their voice, see their hearts and draw them into more time with me?

Holy Spirit, what questions can I gently ask so I can practice listening to my child today? I invite you to give me eyes to see their heart.


Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. - 1 Peter 3:8 NLT

Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief]. - Romans 12:15 AMP

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. - James 1:19-20 NIV

Fathering Hearts

Fathering Hearts YouVersion Bible App Devotional

Whether your child is five or fifty-five, don’t stop listening. Continue giving them your time and attention. Continue engaging their heart. Continue being Dad. In this seven-day plan, based on Michael Thompson’s newest book King Me, you will explore how the legacy we leave behind as fathers isn’t determined by how we started—though that may very well need to be tended to —but, rather, by how we move forward from here.