As a parent who always expected the very best behavior out of my children, I appreciated having my eyes opened to the truth while doing this study. Training and disciplining children isn't all about gaining good behavior, although that can be an outcome. The goal is gaining our children's hearts for Christ. This may seem common sense for some people, but some of us grew up being expected to behave because our parents said so! To us good behavior was the ultimate goal. Of course we want our children to love God and learn to obey Him and see Him as their authority, but that was a different matter.
Good behavior and the heart of each child were thoughts that rarely occurred together for me. Don't get me wrong. I talked to my children about God every day, just not always in the midst of bad behavior. This is more than just pointing out to your "little fibber" that God counts a "little lie" the same as a "big lie!" Wow, what an eye opener this study was! It really changed how I react to almost every situation in our daily life. My first response is to no longer merely solve the latest dilemma but to see into the heart of the children in each situation. This actually takes practice, but as I prayed and did each lesson it became second nature. Now, my first response is finding the underlying heart problem.
Dr. Tedd Tripp really puts forth a clear and insightful biblical teaching in this revised edition of Shepherding
a Child's Heart. It is quite obvious that he uses not only his own experience as a father but also the experience he has gleaned from counseling and teaching his material in seminars. There are so many parenting books out there, and each one has a different perspective. However, this is not the same old child-rearing book you've read before. Dr. Tripp's clear and practical biblical teaching will help parents get to their children's hearts. The illustrations reinforce the concepts being taught and help to further understanding. At one point, I even drew one of his illustrations on the dry erase board in my kitchen! That really helped to remind me that I am God's agent where my children are concerned, and I need to help them stay in the circle of safety (honor and obey) so that things will go well with them!
Shepherding a Child's Heart Parent's Handbook is not merely a redundant fill-in-the-blank study guide. Rather, it is a tool to help parents extract the meaning and application of specific Scripture texts that relate to shepherding children. My favorite section is "Digging into the Word," which is a list of Scripture passages that pertain to the parenting task of each chapter of the book, with blank lines for the parent to fill in the Scriptures. A useful recurring section is "The Big Idea," which of course is simply a summary of the portion of the book being studied, with notation on where to find information in the book--a great reminder of what to pray about for that session!
The "Application" section focuses on biblical principles and concepts that you will need to hone for your job as a parent. This section not only reiterates what the book is driving home, but gives us a little "you can do it" pep talk along with things to contemplate and room to write out your thoughts. One example is to plan some formal and informal conversations with your children. Suggestions are given, such as starting a conversation when you are in your vehicle together.
"Strategic Questions" is a face-the-reality section. The included questions are designed to help parents make the changes needed to move them toward Christ-centered parenting. These questions really get parents to examine themselves and find areas of weakness.
Shepherding a Child's Heart Leader's Guide was designed to help the leader bring a focus on what the author is trying to say and to get more out of the book for class discussion. For each chapter of the book there are questions and suggested answers. Even though I did not use this book in a classroom setting, I gained insights from it that I might have missed otherwise. The questions really drive home the focus of each chapter.
I was very impressed with these three books. I think it would be great if churches across our nation offered a class using these three books with newly married couples. I wish I'd had the benefit of this biblical teaching before my first child was born. Implementing the perspective that this book offers could change the entire life of a child. In our house things have changed. Yes, it does take more emotional energy, time, and thought to get to the heart of a child. Yes, talking about the issue is more time consuming and draining on the parent than a simple time-out or loss of privilege, but it is time well spent to gain your child's heart for Christ.