This chapter introduces an interesting tension: children are shaped by circumstances, but these influences are not completely deterministic. The Bible is clear that all people (children included) are responsible for how they respond to the circumstances brought about by God, parents, and others. In fact, the condition of the heart is revealed by how one responds. Tripp comments, “Children are never passive receivers of shaping. Rather they are active responders” [emphasis added].
Nonetheless, the Bible also teaches that family influences do affect children; look at the example of how Isaac and Rebekah favored Esau and Jacob, respectively. As parents, we must consider what influences shape our children. Some common influences are family structure, values, roles, conflict resolution, responses to failure, and history.
Have you ever considered how some of these common family influences have affected your parenting and your children? What have been some of the most prominent shaping influences in the lives of your children? Remember, we don’t need to fear how these circumstances have affected our lives (listen to the teaching from the Feb. 15 adult worship service at Grace Church, on I Peter 3); rather, we are called to prayerfully consider how the Lord can redeem His story as it is worked out in our (and our children’s) lives.