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Shepherding a Child’s Heart

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This past summer my homeschooling mom’s group met once a week to discuss Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp.  What a great book!  I’ve heard it recommended for years but had sadly never read it.  I am being much more focused on my children’s hearts now.

Here is some of what I learned:
(Many of these are quotes by Tripp)

You must not be embarrassed to be authorities for your children.  You may not direct your children for your own agenda or convenience.  Children generally do not resist authority that is truly kind and selfless.

What is shepherding?  guiding, helping your child understand himself and the world in which he lives, helping the child understand the “why” of his actions, helping him learn discernment and wisdom.

Proverbs 13:20  “He who walks with the wise becomes wise.”

The goal of parenting can’t simply be well-behaved children.  If it is, we’re open to hundreds of temptations to expediency.

What is the goal, then?  The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever!  From their earliest days they should be taught that they are creatures made in the image of God and made for Him.

Proverbs 4:23  “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the well-spring of life.”  Evils in action and speech come from within–from the heart.
The basic issue is always what is going on in the heart.

Determination is the incorrect belief that if we parent correctly our children will turn out perfectly.  Actually, children are active responders and we can’t control their response.

How can I design winsome and attractive ways of challenging the idolatry I see within my child?

Never have any anger in disciplining the child.  They may behave better, but they are learning the idolatry of the “fear of man.”

Help the child to understand and believe Proverbs 15:32  “He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.”

Don’t use behavior modification or reward kids for fulfilling normal responsibilities.  We don’t want their hearts to be trained toward greed and selfish interests or toward working for rewards.

Seek to listen and understand your children.  Help them learn to articulate their thoughts and feelings.  Proverbs says “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but  a man of understanding draws them out.”  Skills I need to develop myself:  learn to help my child express himself, learn to facilitate discussion, know how to get under behavior and words, strive to discern matters of the heart.”  Don’t ask, “Why did you. . . ?”  Instead ask, “What were you feeling when you did that?”,  “What did he or she do to make you mad?”,  “Help me understand . . .” , “What are some other ways you could’ve responded?”  Ask “What . . , How. . ., etc.” instead of “Why. . . .”

There are many types of communication which are necessary for a parent.  In addition to rules, correction, and discipline, we should use encouragement, rebuke, entreaty, instruction, warning, teaching, admonition, showing the benefits, and obedience.

When the child is in the mood to talk, drop everything and listen!  If my child trusts me, he’ll want to stay in a relationship with me.  Honest, thorough, and truly biblical communication is expensive.  My children need to be known and understood.  But the benefits far exceed the cost.

Authority diminishes, but influence should increase as the child gets older.

The child needs to learn that he is an individual under authority.  If he obeys he is in the “circle of safety.”  Things will go well with him, according to Scripture.  Obedience is without challenge, without excuse, and without delay.  If I accept any response to my request/ command other than doing it without challenge, excuse, or delay, I have trained my children to disobey.

Children should be taught how to appeal the request/ command of the parent.
1.  They must begin to obey immediately.
2.  They must be prepared to obey either way.
3.  They must appeal in a respectful manner.
4.  They must accept the result of the appeal with a gracious spirit.

The parent can change his mind in the context of respectful appeal, but not in presence of blatant rebellion.

For ages 5-12, the focus should be on character development, such as dependability, honesty, kindness, consideration, helpfulness, diligence, loyalty, humility, self-control, moral purity, etc.

For teenagers, the focus should be on teaching them to fear the Lord, teaching them to listen to parental instruction, teaching them to disassociate from the wicked.  Make your home an attractive place to be and where there are solid relationships, and teenagers are far less likely to “run” from it!

I have now started reading “Don’t Make Me Count to Three” by Ginger Plowman.  It’s a great follow-up with very practical applications.

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