Tripp begins this chapter with the following observation, “Communication not only disciplines, it also disciples.” Tripp reminds us of the call Deuteronomy 6 to talk to our kids at all time – lying down, walking, rising, sitting. Making communication with our children a habit during normal times makes it easier to talk to them under the strain of difficult situations.
Tripp observes that having biblical conversations with our kids is not a short process. It is a time-consuming, all-consuming pursuit. It requires patience, insight and flexibility. Any parent will understand that there are times when kids want to talk and times when they don’t. In those times when their hearts are open to talking to us, we must be prepared to drop everything to seize the moment. We must train our kids to communicate. This also involves training them how to listen. The most effective way to do this is to be an active listener ourselves. Tripp points to Proverbs 18:2 which says, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” We must listen as parents before we can be in a position to talk.
In addition to time, Tripp observes that biblical conversation requires physical stamina, spiritual energy, mental stamina and focus. On the issue of focus, it is important as parents that we keep the conversation on track. We must resist the temptation to take the conversation down various rabbit trails. We must learn to pose questions in new and unique ways to draw our kids out. We also must be able to model repentance for our children. We should show them our joys, fears, sin and weakness, and we must never be afraid to admit when we are wrong. As Tripp explains, “The right to make searching and honest appraisal of your children lives in willingness to do the same for yourself.”
Tripp addresses the importance of communication in terms of the progression of our children’s lives. He points out that as they grow older our ability to control our kids because we are physically superior to them diminishes, and our role as parents become more about influence than authority. Accordingly, as our children age, our task as parents is to have them willingly place themselves under our influence and authority. As Tripp explains, “When a child knows that all his life you have sought to see the world through his eyes, he will trust you…The result is obvious: Your words will have weight.”
The benefits of communicating with our kids and teaching them how to communicate are numerous:
- It prepares our kids for future relationships where communication skills where be essential.
- It enables them to understand the complexities of life. The more we help our kids understand themselves and their hearts, the better equipped they will be to deal with and understand life.
- We must teach our kids to understand life through the redemptive grid of God. What better way is their to communicate such a grid to our children than in our normal conversation?
Next, Tripp addresses the question, “Is it worth the cost?” He explains:
“There is a simple way to look at the cost of deep, full-orbed communication. You must regard parenting as one of your most important tasks while you have children at home. This is your calling. You must raise your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. You cannot do so without investing yourself in a life of sensitive communication in which you help them to understand life and God’s world. There is nothing more important. You have only one brief season of life to invest yourself in this task. You have only one opportunity to do it. You cannot go back and do it over.”
There are however, costs:
- If parenting is our primary calling, it means we won’t be able to do everything we want to do.
- It means we can’t develop every interest that comes along.
- It means we may need to give up interests we already have.
The point, though, is that in the end, it is well worth it! Out kids’ future is at sake!
Many Christian parents these days claim that their family is their mission field. For Chrisitians, it as become a very “trendy” thing to say. While I do agree that our families should be viewed with a missional vision, I have to wonder why more Christians don’t actually live that way. If our families are our mission, they spiritual journey to and with Jesus should be of utmost importance to us. It should be more important than work, more important than hobbies and more important than the next sporting event. If our families are our mission field, thier spirtual health and growth should be foremost in our minds and formost in our hearts. We must engage our kids in conversation to discern their spiritual needs and teach them about our Lord.
Chapter 11 – Embracing Biblical Methods: The Rod: NEXT TIME>>