Ch. 8 – Embracing Biblical Methods: Communication – Shepherding A Child’s Heart (A Synopsis)

Shepherding A Child's HeartIn this installment of our synopsis of Tedd Tripp’s book “Shepherding A Child’s Heart,” we will look at Chapter 8 – “Embracing Biblical Methods: Communication.”

In the last chapter, Tripp addressed a number of unbiblical methods.  In this chapter, he starts into what constitutes biblical methods, but first he reminds us that methods and goals must be complimentary and that our goal as parents is to help our children realize that “a life worth living is life lived under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.”  Tripp also reminds us that as parents we must submit to the same Lord.

Tripp offers that a biblical approach to raising kids involves both 1) Rich, full communication; and 2) The rod.

He offers the following list of verses to support this contention:

  • Proverbs 23:13-19
  • Proverbs 23:22
  • Proverbs 23:26

In summary, Tripp explains:

“Together they [communication and the rod] form a God-pleasing, spiritually satisfying, cohesive, and unified approach to discipline, correction, and training of children.  The use of the rod preserves biblically-rooted parental authority.  God has given parents authority by calling them to act as his agents in childrearing.  The emphasis on rich communication prohibits cold, tyrannical discipline.”

Tripp offers the following advice on communication:

Remember that communication is a dialogue, not monologue

Tripp says “the finest art of communication is not learning how to express your thoughts.  It is learning how to draw out the thoughts of another.”

Focus on Understanding

The first objective in talking with our kids can never be to tell them how we feel about what they have done or said.  Our role is to discern and understand the “why” of what is going on inside them.  In other words, our goal is to figure out the internal motivation for the behavior not just the facts of what happened.  Tripp offers the following questions in correction:

  • What is the specific content of the abundance of the heart in this circumstance?
  • What was the temptation?
  • What was his response to that temptation?
  • What was he trying to accomplish?

Tripp writes,

“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 importance than the specifics of behavior, since they drive behavior.”

We must learn to look at the world through our children’s eyes.  When it comes to their sin, we are in a good position to understand because we are sinners just like them.  As parents, we can use our own battles with temptation and sin to help our kids understand their battles.  Tripp cautions parents that they will need to develop the skill of probing their children’s hearts if they really want to understand them.

Tripp explains that many times as parents we ask the Why questions.  Why did you do that, etc.?  He explains that it rarely works with kids and offers some alternative questions for talking to kids about specific circumstances:

  1. What were you feeling when……?
  2. What did ____ do to make you feel ______?
  3. Help me to understand how ______ seemed to ______.
  4. What was the problem with what ______ was doing to you?
  5. In what other ways could you have responded?
  6. How do you think your response/actions/inaction reflected trust/lack of trust in God’s ability to _______?

Tripp summarizes the four areas we must address in a conversation with our child:

  1. Nature of the temptation
  2. Possible responses to the temptation
  3. Motives for those responses
  4. The sinful response he chose

In doing this, we stand both above our child (as an authority appointed by God) and beside our child (as a fellow sinner who struggles).  Parents often fail by tending to do one of these to the exclusion of the other.

Personal Observation

I think it is important to remember as parents that before we can train our kids to communicate and discern what is in their hearts, we have to learn to do the same for ourselves.

<<LAST TIME: Ch. 7 – Discarding Unbiblical Methods

Ch. 9 – Embracing Biblical Methods: Types of Communication: NEXT TIME>>

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