Besides "Shepherding a Child's Heart," I am also reading another book for parents, called "Parenting by the Book" by John Rosemond. The author gives some strong principles in "Parenting," many of which are parallel to those in "Shepherding." Rosemond is especially keen on stressing that a child should be given responsibility in the family, and that children should learn to esteem others more than they esteem themselves. Furthermore, he gives a number of specific applications which can be implemented and helpful for many families, and we have incorporated some in our family already.
However, reading chapter 5 in "Shepherding" helped me to compare these two books from a new perspective. In "Parenting," Rosemond's apparent goal is to help make the job easier and less stressful for parents, while producing responsible children who will grow up to be productive members of society. While those may be reasonable or noble goals, I do not believe that they should be at the forefront of our minds.
Instead, I would suggest that the main goal for parents should be Gospel-oriented life change. I believe that it is only the Gospel -- and not tips from any person (including Tripp, Rosemond, or any other source of counsel) -- that has the power to change the hearts and lives of our children. While we are called to love and lead our children, we can actually do nothing to cause them to have a heart that is repentant and humbled before our Lord. No other accomplishments or characteristics (even being responsible and morally-ethical) will ever be as glorifying to God, or fulfilling to man, as having a redeemed life that can only come by a dynamic faith in Jesus.
Here is the tension: even though there is nothing we can do to make our child receive the Gospel, Gospel-oriented life change still must always be our main goal as parents. The best we can do is to model what it looks like to be a disciple of Christ, to create an fertile environment where their faith can grow, and to cry out to our Father to have mercy on the souls of our children.
These are just my thoughts. I'd love to hear your thoughts or comments, especially if you think I am off-base or unclear.
-- Joey Espinosa