Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"Shepherding" Chapter 8: Embracing Biblical Methods - Communication

Let's summarize the last few chapters before we move on. We are called to reject unbiblical (chapter 5), and turn to God's Word to direct our parenting goals (chapter 6). Also, we are called to reject unbiblical methods (chapter 7). The next few chapters will give counsel in how to apply God's Word to our parenting methods. More specifically, there are two key elements in training children -- communication and the rod -- and both of these must be tightly woven together, as seen in Proverbs 23:13-26.

Good communication is dialogue, not monologue. It's one thing to learn to express your own feelings, but there is a higher level of communication -- learning to help draw out someone else's thoughts. As parents, we must strive to understand our children, not just have them understand us. When they sin, our aim should be to understand the nature of their individual struggles, since their outward behaviors are merely a reflection of what is going on in their hearts. "What you must do is peel away the behavior and discern the inner world of your child in this situation. While you can never understand the issues of the heart flawlessly, it is a pursuit worthy of effort."

As an illustration, you can think of good communication as playing tennis (back-and-forth volley), not like playing keep-away ("I'm in control, and I decide when I'll let you in."). With a young child, "Why did you . . . ?" is usually an ineffective way to understand his heart. Better questions tend to begin with "what" or "how," and Tripp gives some examples. The goal is not to merely fix his behavior, but to "help him understand himself and speak with clarity and honesty about his internal struggles with sin."

Above all, remember that not only do we stand above our children with regards to their sin, but we also stand beside them. They must see and hear that you are in a trusting relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ, and that you needed Him to die for your own sins, too.

What has helped you draw out the thoughts and feelings of your child? Where are you in this process of communication?

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