Shepherding Ch.2: Your Child’s Development: Shaping Influences

October 11, 2007

potter.jpgChildren are being shaped and molded by life’s circumstances. “All the aspects of family living have a profound impact on the persons your chidren become.” (p.10).

Chapter two is about how various influences factor into the overall development of your children. Tripp defines “shaping influences” as “those events and circumstances in a child’s developmental years that prove to be a catalyst for making him the person he is. But shaping is not automatic; the ways he reponds to these events and circumstances determine the effect they have upon him.” (p.10)

Tripp states that all people, including children, respond to their shaping influences by his or her Godward (or lack thereof) orientation of his heart. Tripp outlines six influences that lie both within and outside parental control:

1. Structure of Family Life – Every family has a structure or a culture. This structure shapes a child’s life. My question to you regarding this influence is what kind of family culture are you creating for your children? What do they hear you say, react, and do?

2. Family Values – What is important to your family? Tripp states that you must ask, “Are the values of your home based on human tradition and the basic principles of this world or on Christ?” (p.12) How open is your family? Are their secrets kept from each other? Should there be?

3. Family Roles – How involved are the parents in a family structure? Is the father involved or is he distant? Who pays the bills? How do you speak and address your children?

4. Family Conflict Resoultion“Sammy would get mad and run from the kindergarten clas whenever he did not like what was going on. The teacher called his parents in for a conference. Sammy’s dad got frustrated with the conference and abruptly left the room. The teacher gained a better understanding of why Sammy behaved this way.” (p.13) Ouch…your children are watching, learning, and imitating.

5. Family Respone to Failure – Your children will fail. They will not always come out on top. How your family responds to your child’s failure molds him. Do you encourage your children or do you mock them when failure happens?

6. Family History – Every family has a history that shapes as well.

A word of caution: “two mistakes are made in interacting with the shaping influences of life. The first is seeing shaping influences deterministically…the second mistake is denial.” (p.15)

This is one of the best chapters in parenting that I’ve read. We are all influenced but we can change how we react to those influences. It is with this action that Tripp turns to in chapter three.


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