2.jpgChapter thirteen closes the first part of the book, entitled “Foundations for Child-Rearing.” There are six areas of summarization of Shepherding a Child’s Heart.

1. Your children are the product of two things. The first – shaping influence – is their physical makeup and their life experience. The second – Godward orientation – determines how they interact with their experience. Parenting involves (1) providing the best shaping influences you can and (2) the careful shepherding of your children’s responses to those influences.

2. The heart determines behavior. Learn, therefore, to work back from behavior to the heart. Expose heart struggles. Help your children see that they were made for a relationship with God. The thirst of the heart can be satisfied in truly knowing God.

3. You have authority because God has made you his agent. This means you are on his errand, not yours. Your task is to help your children know God and the true nature of reality. This will enable them to know themselves.

4. Since the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, you must set such a worldview before your children. You must help them learn that only in him will they find themselves.

5. Biblical goals must be accomplished through biblical methods. Therefore, you must reject the substitute methods that our culture presents.

6. God has given two methods for childrearing. They are (1) communication and (2) the rod. These methods must be woven together in your practice. Your children need to be known and understood. Thus, rich communication is necessary. They also need authority and firmness. Thus, the rod is necessary. The rod functions to underscore the importance of the things you talk about them.

In Part Two, we will apply these principles to the specifics of the childrearing through the various stages of childhood.

erebus-cross.jpg“The rod, however, is not the only instrument of training.” (Tripp, 116). Tripp states, “there is another. It is appeal to the conscience. Earnest entreaty fills the chapter of Proverbs:

“Don’t let your heart envy sinners…” (23:17)

“…keep your heart on the right path…” (v.19)

“Listen to your father, who gave you life…” (v.22)

“Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding.” (v.23)

“My son, give me your heart…” (v.26)

Tripp states, “Is Solomon soft on the rod? No! But he realizes the limitation of the rod. He knows that the rod gets the attention, but the conscience must be plowed up and planted with the truth of God’s ways.” (Tripp, 116).

I love that Tripp places a ton of emphasis on communication to supplement the usage of the rod. Tripp then states, “the central focus of childrearing is to bring children to a sober assessment of themselves as sinners. They must understand the mercy of God, who offered Christ as a sacrifice for sinners. How is that accomplished? You must address the heart as the fountain of behavior, and the conscience as the God-given judge of right and wrong. The cross of Christ must be the central focus of your childrearing.”

This is where I absolutely love Tripp’s parenting philosophy. What is our goal as parents? I do not believe our goal as parents is obedience. I do not believe that our goal is behavior modification. I do not believe our goal is to have “clean cut” kids. I agree with Tripp that our ultimate goal in childrearing should be to bring children to a knowledge that they are sinners and that Christ has died for them. We must keep the focus on the cross of Christ.

ist2_1640957_wooden_spoon.jpgDo you spank your children? Tripp states, “We live in an era when concepts of human rights and dignity have been used to argue that spanking children is barbaric. We have become sensitive to the potential for child abuse. We don’t want parents to feel it is their right to beat their children whenever they wish. Today, communication based on integrity and mutual respect is a more popular idea. Therefore, it is easier to write about that.” (Tripp, 100-101).

However, being biblical is not always popular. In chapter 11 of Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Tedd Tripp teaches about the biblical rationale behind the rod. Contrary to popular belief, children are not born morally and ethically neutral. They are born sinners. Because of this, they need loving, corrective, discipline – and sometimes that includes spanking.

Proverbs 29:15 says that “The rod of correction imparts wisdom.” I can see that. If my son knows that if he touches a hot stove that he will get a spanking, then whenever he thinks of the consequence of disobedience (spanking) he uses his wisdom and does not touch the hot stove.

Just what is the rod? Tripp gives several distinctions:

1. A parental exercise – for parents and parents only!

2. A Act of Faith – God has mandated it, and we should trust Him as we do it that it is right for our children.

3. An Act of Faithfulness – In discipline, there is hope.

4. A Responsibility – It is not the parent determining to punish. It is the parent determining to obey God.

5. A Physical Punishment – Careful, timely, measured and controlled – never a venting of parental anger. However, I would rather use the term “discipline” here, but Tripp uses the word “punishment.”

6. A Rescue Mission – The rod brings the child back to the circle of blessing.

There are also several distortions of the rod that Tripp gives. It is:

1. Not the right to unbridled temper

2. Not the right to hit our children whenever we wish

3. Not venting of frustration

4. Not retribution

5. Not associated with vindictive anger

This chapter builds a biblical basis for using the rod. One caveat I would suggest: Spank wisely and with full warning. It is possible to spank your child for every little thing that he does. I do not think that is wise. Communicate, communicate, communicate. But if need be, use the rod.

scales.jpegThe main point of Tripp’s tenth chapter is that communication is a lifestyle. It is a lifestyle that, if done properly, will take time. It is a lifestyle that has costs but also has eternal benefits.

For effective communication to take place, parents must become good listeners. Tripp states,

“Some people think listening is what you do between opportunities to say something. During listening times they don’t listen at all. They are deciding what to say. Don’t be such a parent. The Proverbs remind you that the fool does not delight in understanding, but in airing his own opinions” (Proverbs 18:2) (Tripp, 90-91)

Proper communication requires mental stamina. You must keep your thoughts focused. You must also bring integrity to your interaction with your children. Tripp states,

“You should show them repentance. Acknowledge your joys and fears and how you find comfort in God. Live a shared life of repentance and thankfulness. Acknowledge your own sin and weakness. Admit when you are wrong. Be prepared to seek forgiveness for sinning against your children. The right to make searching and honest appraisal of your children lies in willingness to do the same for yourself.” (Tripp, 91)

One of the most important benefits of a lifestyle of communication with your children is that when your children leave home they will seek that comfort of the home experience with like-minded Christians. This is hard work for parents to instill this type of lifestyle to their children. There will be costs.

“Parenting will mean that you can’t do all the things that you could otherwise do. It will affect your golf handicap. It will modify the amount of time you have for bowling, hunting, television, or how many books you read. It will mean that you can’t develop every interest that comes along. The costs are high.” (Tripp, 97).

The costs are high but the rewards are eternal. Are you preparing yourself and your children for this eternal challenge?

22188961.jpgIn this chapter of Tedd Tripp’s book on parenting, he states:

“We often reduce parenting to these three elements: rules, correction, punishment. You give your children rules. The correction phase comes into play when they break the rules. In the punishment phase you announce the consequence they will receive for breaking the rules.

However, Tripp states, there is more to communication then these three phases. He lists the following attributes as part of essential communication needed while shepherding your children:

1. Encouragement – “Your children know the pain of failure. You can help them assess the reasons for disappointment. You need to help them understand the promises of God. You can encourage them to find courage, hope and inspiration from God, who draws near to the brokenhearted and contrite.” (Tripp, 82).

2. Correction – “Correction remedies something wrong. Correction gives your children insight into what is wrong and what may be done to correct the problem. Correction helps your children to understand God’s standard and teaches them to assess their behavior against that standard.” (Tripp, 82).

3. Rebuke – “A rebuke censures behavior. Sometimes children must experience your sens of alarm, shock, and dismay at what he has done or said.” (Tripp, 83).

4. Entreaty – “This is communication that is earnest and intense. It is the earnest pleading of a father or mother who, understanding his child, the ways of God, and the extremity of the moment, is willing to bare his soul in earnest pleading for his child to act in wisdom and faith.” (Tripp, 83).

5. Instruction – “The process of providing a lesson, a precept, or information that will help your children to understand their world. They need to understand the world of spiritual reality and the principles of the Kingdom of God.” (Tripp, 84).

6. Warning – “Your children’s lives are fraught with danger. Warnings put us on guard regarding a probable danger. A warning is merciful speech, for it is the equivalent of posting a sign informing motorists about a bridge that is out. Warning preserves.” (Tripp, 85).

7. Teaching – “Teaching is the process of imparting knowledge. Teaching is causing someone to know something. As a godly parent, you have much to impart.” (Tripp, 87).

8. Prayer – “Prayer…is the essential element of communication between the parent and the child. Our most penetrating insights into our children will often come as they pray.” (Tripp, 87).

Questions to ponder:

– Of the types of communication mentioned, at which ones are you most proficient?

– At which types are you least proficient?

256715_lil_dreamer.jpgThe last few chapters of Tedd Tripp’s book, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, have dealt with un-biblical forms of parenting. Now, he turns his attention to one of two biblical forms: Communication.

Tripp states, “Methods and goals should be complementary. You want your child to live for the glory of God. You want your child to realize that life worth living is life lived under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Your methods must show submission to that same Lord. Methods designed to produce well-adjusted and successful children won’t work because your goal is not simply success and good adjustment.” (Tripp, 71).

Tripp then reveals the two elements of a biblical approach to parenting that must be weaved together, “One element is rich, full communication. The other is the rod. In the book of proverbs we find these two methods side by side.

Do not withhold discipline from a child;
if you punish him with the rod,
he will not die.
Punish him with the rod
and save his soul from death.

My son, if you heart is wise,
then my heart will be glad;
my inmost being will rejoice
when your lips speak what is right.

Do not let your heart envy sinners,
but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD.

There is surely a future hope for you,
and your hope will not be cut off.

Listen, my son, and be wise,
and keep your heart on the right path.”

(Proverbs 23:13-19)

The key point that Tripp makes in regards to communication is that communication is dialogue, not monologue. We should talk with our children not to our children.

The first objective in correction, “must not be to tell your children how you feel about what they have done or said. You must try to understand what is going on inside them. Since the Scripture says that it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks, you must engage your children to understand what is going on inside.” (Tripp, 73-74)

Tripp states, “your communication objective can be stated in several simple propositions.

1. The behavior you see is a reflection of the abundance of your child’s heart.

2. You want to understand the specific content of the abundance of his heart.

3. The internal issues of the heart are of greater import than the specifics of behavior, since they drive behavior.

The next chapter turns to the type of communication to use in disciplining your children.

23207714.jpgTripp turns his attention in chapter seven to that of discarding unbiblical methods of discipline. He lists several unbiblical methods and discusses the problems inherent in each:

1. “I didn’t turn out so bad” – Some say, “My dad yelled at me. He knocked me around once in a while. I didn’t like it, but I turned out okay.” Many parents unuestioningly employ whatever method their parents employed, whether its biblical or not.

2. Pop Psychology – Some parents resort to bribery or even draw up contracts for their children. Tripp states, “The point of appeal in bribery is crass self-interest. Bribery latches on to evil in the child’s heart and uses it as motivation. The child is not taught to look out for the interests of others. The child learns nothing about being under authority because God is God and the parent is his agent…they are only concerned with the instances of behavior…the heart is not being trained in biblical motives or goals.” (Tripp, 61).

3. Behavior Modification – “Since the heart and behavior are so closely linked, whatever modifies behavior inevitably trains the heart. The heart is trained to greedy self-interest and obtaining rewards. The point of appeal is to Junior’s greed.” (Tripp, 61).

4. Emotionalism – “A young girl in my acquaintance is routinely shamed with threats about her actions spoiling her father’s reputation as a community leader. The appeal is not to obey for the glory of God. Rather, it is an emotion-laden shaming for putting her father’s credibility at risk by her unaccpetable behavior.” (Tripp, 63).

5. Punitive Correction – “Grounding is perhaps the most popular form of privation. Children are grounded from their bikes, the phone, from going outside, the TV, from other children…the problem here is that none of the issues that caused the poor behavior for which he is grounded are being addressed…grounding is not corrective. He is learning to cope with grounding, but his character flaws are not addressed…Grounding is easy…it does not require ongoing discussion. it does not assess what is going on inside the child. It does not require patient instruction and entreaty.” (Tripp, 64-65)

6. Eratic Eclecticism – This is trying a varity of approaches. All this does is confuse the parents and the child.

What direction does the Bile give us for dealing with these issues? The next chapter addresses those questions.