In the last chapter, Tedd Tripp addressed the need for rich, full communication with our kids. In this chapter he looks at different types of communication. He notes that as parents we often reduce our role to three things: rules, correction, and punishment and notes that most parents would admit that 80-90% of their communication falls into one of those three areas. While he admits that rules, correction and punishment are necessary in every family, there are other types of communication, and we do our kids great harm when we can’t discern the appropriate type of communication for the moment.
He offers descriptions of the following eight types of communication (he does note that these are selected types of communication and there are more):
Our kids need communication designed to build them up and inspire them. Part of that is giving kids the encouragement that Christ came because we are all sinners who cannot change ourselves. We should encourage our kids to find courage and hope in God.
Tripp describes this as bringing a child back into conformity with a standard. Our job as parents is to help our kids understand God’s standard and judge their behavior based on that standard.
This type of communication censures behavior. Tripp explains, “Sometimes a child must experience your sense of alarm, shock, and dismay at what he has said or done.” He does point out that a rebuke would generally be followed with other types of communication such as instruction, encouragement and prayer.
Tripp explains that this is a type of earnest and intense communication by which we plead, solicit, urge and even beg. The parent bears his soul to plead for his child to act in wisdom and faith. It should be reserved for use only in extremely important circumstances.
This is a type of communication that provides a lesson, principle, or information to help our kids better understand the world or God’s standards.
To warn our kids is to put them on notice regarding potential dangers in their lives. Tripp advises that “One of the most powerful ways we can warn our children is to fill their heads with the cautions of the Bible.” He explains that a warning is simply a statement that “A leads to B.” This is the sowing and reaping principle we find throughout the Bible.
Tripp defines teaching as “the process of imparting knowledge.” We teach our kids based upon our ability to draw upon our own knowledge of scripture.
Prayer is communication with God, not our children. However, Tripp explains that it is an “essential element of communication between the parent and the child.” He explains that listening to our children pray often provides some of the keenest insights into our kids. He describes their prayers as a “window to their souls.”
Many times parents default to either rules, communication or punishment in talking to their kids. Most of the time, it is because that is easier than discerning the appropriate type of communication for the moment at hand. Discernment takes practice. One useful tip might be to make a list of different types of communication and what they are (including the eight above) so you will have a handy list when you need it. Prayer is also key in the process of discernment.
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