I’m currently working my way thru Instructing a Child’s Heart by Tedd & Margy Tripp in my free time.
So far it has been a good book to read: clear & convicting. That’s why I wanted to read it- to become a more godly parent and learn to build what I never had as a child, a heart schooled in God’s ways.
They use Deuteronomy 6 as their foundational point, which is an important thing. We must experience it if we are to truly pass it on to our kids. But they bring other Scriptures into the discussion.
Essential to good, godly parenting is the recognition that the problem is not “out there”, but that our kids have sinful hearts that produce inordinate desires. They are hardwired to respond to the temptations of the world and the devil. They are hardwired for selfishness and lovelessness. I am to offer them the gospel, pray with and for them, instruct them in those opportune moments- addressing their hearts, not just their behavior.
“Scores of opportunities evaporate without notice as we hurry through our days thinking that devotional time with our children is enough. Our responses to the circumstances and crises of everyday life make our theology real.”
What we do have to realize is that devotional times are good, but insufficient. Our kids must also see us live our faith the rest of the day. I try to do that- and sometimes I don’t and therefore instruct them with lies instead of truth. They also remind me that during correction is not the time for formative instruction. It just won’t sink in- they are too mad or sad to hear what you are saying. Formative instruction occurs in the more regular moments, not the moments of heightened tension. Sadly, like many people, I can prefer to relax and miss some of those great opportunities.
“Don’t talk to your children about that which you have spoken little with God.”
My wife is a great example of this. Me? Not so much. It was convicting. I can forget to pray about their stubbornness, self-centeredness, temper etc. I really should be spending more time praying for the heart work to go along with the hard work of instruction. It is the same for ministry- we must pray for the people, not just instruct the people. So I find some crossover as I think about shepherding God’s people as well (just as I did with Shepherding a Child’s Heart).
So far it is great stuff to help you be a more godly parent in the hopes that God will use those means to change your kids’ hearts through the gospel.
I should say that I don’t agree with everything they write in either book. For instance, allowing a young child to choose clothes for the day does not necessarily teach them autonomy. There is a family context that allows children to grow in decision making in safe ways which can begin early. But these areas of disagreement do not undermine the main points they make.