Communication as a Lifestyle
6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
“Shepherding a Child's Heart” is the process by which we guide our children to a place of understanding – understanding of themselves, and their place in the larger scheme of things. Showing them that God has a purpose and a plan specifically for them and their role in facilitating that plan by walking in obedience to Him. In order to begin to have a grasp on these truths, to begin to apply it in their life, they need to learn to understand and control their feelings, wants, and desires – to match those things up with what God wants for them. Sound like a tall order? It is. But our God is big enough to handle it!
Listening is certainly an important part of finding out what is going on with our children – but we must also be prepared to jump on the right opportunity to teach and train. As we speak to our children, we need to pray our way through and thoughtfully, prayerfully then communicate the things of the Lord to them. It isn't quite as simple as it may sound. Tripp outlines a plan of action in chapter 10 about how to bring about real open and honest communication with your children. It takes work, and commitment to make that happen and a lifestyle of listening and sharing your heart with your child to bring it about. It takes admitting when you are wrong and being willing to humble yourself and seek forgiveness – not just from God – but also from your children when needed.
“Communication will provide the context for growing unity with your children.” They know when they are receiving godly wisdom out of love – as well as they know when there are inconsistencies and hypocrisy in your life. Humility and prayerful consideration are critically important when it comes to guiding our children towards the things of God.
We don't have long. Time passes quickly by in the life of your young children and before you know it the days where your complete authority in their lives reigns supreme – is over. They fly the coup. Before that happens – we must get through to their hearts.
“When a child knows that you have not tried to make him like you or anybody else, only sought to help him reach his full potential as a creature God made to know him and live in the relationship of fellowship with him, he will trust you.”
That kind of trust gives you great influence and builds an incredible bond of love and unity – with all of it pointing them towards the One who made them – who loves them.
The chapter goes into great detail – inspiring parents to desire this kind of a bond with their children – encouraging then that it is indeed not only possible – but necessary.
Chapter 11 – addresses corporal punishment. It's a tricky subject – this one of “sparing the rod and spoiling the child” – and it's one that's been abused among Christians for far too long. Tripp begins this chapter of explaining the why's and what's behind spanking your children. He talks about the difference between discipline and abuse and how the lines get crossed between the two when parents act on their vocation rather than leaning on the Lord and acting solely out of love and desire to teach and train their children.
When we strike out at our children because they have made us angry – it's abusing the system God designed to train in a healthy, loving manner – it's abusing the child. There are many adults who have been the victim of this type of erroneous behavior – all in the name of discipline – who have become overly sensitive to the whole idea of spanking. Tripp goes on to explain that either approach is seriously flawed with disastrous results for the child. He walks you through the process of discipline as God designed it to be.
He furthermore implies that the “rod” in fact is the parent. The rod is a responsibility. The rod is a rescue mission. Tripp also defines what he calls “distortions” of the rod and clearly outlines what it is not and what it was not ever meant to be. Those things include – not the right to vent anger, to vent frustration, or to bully a child. The rest of the chapter is devoted to going over common objections to the rod.
No matter which side of the spanking issue you are standing on – you'll be able to appreciate his open and honest take on the matter. He provides a biblical approach to disciplining and guiding our children in a manner that leaves them with a happy heart full of love and security.