First, let me remind you to enter our MARCH GIVEAWAY to win a JESUS STORYBOOK BIBLE! Deadline for entry is 6:00pm EST on March 11th!
Now for this week. A few weeks ago, I mentioned my excitement and anticipation of sharing a godly parenting resource with you. Today, I’m finally doing that!
The book is Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Dr. Tedd Tripp (I read the revised and updated edition from 2005). This book is a breath of fresh air to those parents who are trying to do what is right but feel that perhaps some of their understanding or methodology has become muddled. I understand. As I mentioned, I have been guilty of being the type of parent that takes a little advice from here and there, using a little of this method for a short period, then another method that I read about it a “good child development” book, hopefully braced on the back of my beliefs of what a godly parent should do. All in all, it lead to confusion for me, my husband, and my children.
A couple years ago, after sitting through some solid teachings about what the Bible says about discipline, I became eager to see how that works in today’s world. I read one book that was pretty good, but seemed to ONLY talk about spanking - how, where, how often, etc. Although it helped some, there was still something lacking in the discipline.
Then, I came across Tedd Tripp’s book on a great Christian resource website: visionforum.com. I had already purchased a few items from the site and had not been disappointed. So, I gave this book a try. The title alone, Shepherding a Child’s Heart appealed to me.
Let me tell you, it will be difficult for me to hold back all I want to share, but I will, because I really want you to buy this book! So, I will touch on the some summary points as laid out in Chapter 13:
This book relates to the “heart” of the matter, truly. How God is concerned with our heart, and that of our children. We as humans and parents get so caught up in the behaviors (“the what of behavior rather than the why”) and become focused on behavior modification that we end up missing the “heart” completely! Tripp points out that when we miss that, we also “miss the subtle idols of the heart.”
“Idols?” you may ask. Bear with me. Tedd Tripp points out that every child is a “worshiper” by nature. The “orientation” of their heart towards God determines the behavior that results (the behaviors overflow from the heart!). Every method of discipline trains the heart. Whatever is the motivation behind the method of discipline molds the heart. It may be “fear of man”, “greed”, “self-reliance”, “bribery”, “selfishness”, “manipulation”. Think about various methods and the resulting “idols” that they can point a child’s heart towards.
It is our role as parents to direct these young hearts towards Christ not only through their outward behavior but ultimately the “attitudes of their hearts,” even it was seems like the simplest of misbehaviors (like not sharing a toy...it’s more than just a matter of who had it first, but you’ll have to read the book to get the whole picture).
That is what makes this book so different from other parenting books...even “good, Christian parenting” books. Tripp speaks of outward shaping influences that can affect a child and our desire to provide good shaping influences. But he doesn’t stop there, because we aren’t just products of our environment (please don’t tell that to all the “victims” out there!). No, it all comes down to how each child “respond[s] to God in the context of those shaping influences.” We want to train our children to be able to examine their responses as well.
Today, many people are intimidated to really take on the role of authority...anywhere, much less in the parenting position (as in, “hello, where are all the real men?”). But, this parenting role isn’t something that should make us cringe or try to mask. Our authority isn’t our own. Children shouldn’t even necessarily obey “because I said so.” We are going on God’s authority, His mission. It is our goal is to help our children know God and ultimately themselves. Knowing this as parents not only encourages us to do this difficult task because it is not our own, but it also keeps us from overdoing it (as in that unholy rage that may come over you while you “discipline”...or rather punish) and taking personal offense when “we” aren’t obeyed. And with this understanding, it makes it much clearer to see where each behavior becomes an offense to God, therefore, enables us to point their hearts towards Him. This method shows that discipline and love go hand in hand and aren’t separate issues.
Speaking of “methods”, Shepherding a Child’s Heart makes it clear as to why there are only 2 methods that will accomplish the biblical goals afore mentioned. That’s probably the most difficult part of the book to take for many. Perhaps it’s because parents are already pleased with the “external behaviors” their children have learned or they are afraid to implement the rod of correction (or...*gulp*...spankings) in today’s world. As Tripp points out however, that is often due to the fact that the parent is not truly aware of what the Biblical use of the rod is, or they may be afraid of what “damage” this could do to a child, or...sadly enough, and difficult to say, they may not really, truly love their child in the way the Bible says. But, the rod is only one part of the discipline, and what may surprise you, is NOT the major focus of the book. The other method is communication so that “your child is known and understood” and can be lead to the heart of Christ and so that you not only walk in authority as God’s agent over your child but also alongside him needing the same mercy and grace of the Savior.
Other helpful chapters in this book include examining your parenting goals and understanding why things such as even “saved children”, “family worship”, and “well behaved children” are “unbiblical” in and of themselves. Rather than leaving the reader dejected, Dr. Tripp then explains how to rethink and rework these goals. He also goes through unbiblical methods and approaches to discipline and parenting, which is important to understand in order to willingly embrace what the Bible actually commands (communication, on which he elaborates for 3 chapters; the rod, which he further discusses in 1 chapter; and appealing to the conscience, also 2 chapter).
Of further help to the parent who has now learned what Biblical parenting is and isn’t, Dr. Tedd Tripp spells out the training objectives and procedures for infancy to childhood, childhood, and adolescence because each phase of development requires very different objectives and procedures.
ALL of this is done with Scripture (over 100 passages mentioned) as the guide and anchor, rather than even simply a Christian psychologist’s expert opinion.
Now, I know when reading such an article, the knee-jerk reaction is to comment on the blog and the blogger’s opinion. But, let me encourage and challenge you to read the book in light of the Scriptures mentioned in it’s entirety.