In the previous chapter, Tripp explained that children are shaped by influences and circumstances. However, a parent must also consider what their child’s Godward orientation is. In every circumstance, we have a choice: we can either respond to God in faith, or we can suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18-19). “Even as a young child, he is either worshiping and serving God or idols. . . . Your children are never morally neutral.”
Proverbs 22:15 states that something is innately wrong with the heart of a child, and needs to be corrected, such as with spanking. Selfishness, rebellion against authority, etc, are never simply outgrown. That's because they are reflections of idolatry in one’s heart.
So, what is our role as parents? First, we must recognize that our children’s behaviors stem primarily from their sinful, rebellious hearts. Second, we must be concerned with the shaping influences (see chapter 2) that we can actually control. Third, we must be intentional to shepherd the Godward orientation of our children. We must know and communicate that they are created in God’s image, but are also fallen sinners in need of redemption (not just in need of better influences).
For examples of having a Godward orientation, take time to study the lives of Joseph (in the book of Genesis) and the servant girl of Naaman’s wife (II Kings). Despite terrible influences and circumstances, they lived out their faith in the LORD.