Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"Shepherding" Chapter 9: Types of Communication

If you're like me, most communication between us parents and our children involves giving rules, correcting when rules are broken, and disciplining for breaking rules. However, Tripp exhorts us to develop deeper and richer communication with our children. He gives a suggestive (not exhaustive) list of different types of communication, and gives several examples from the book of Proverbs. We need discernment in our communication (I Thessalonians 5:14). For example, several years ago, I realized that I was parenting and communicating with Hannah (then age 5) and Elijah (almost 3) the same. God showed me that I was being lazy; it was easy to have a "one-size-fits-all" approach to leading my children, versus understanding them individually.

Here are some types of communication:
  • Encouragement. My children need to hear that Christ came because we are needy people. When they know the pain of failure, I must give them hope in God.
  • When my child breaks God's standards, he needs correction. I must help him understand what is wrong and what must be done to make amends for that situation.
  • Rebuke. Sometimes a serious and sharp censure of behavior or speech is needed. Of course, this should be followed with other forms of communication.
  • Entreaty. Especially when you can foresee a possible danger, you may need to use intense urging and even begging. You must remember that the goal is not to beg for something for yourself, but to plead for the "child to act in wisdom and faith" for her own benefit.
  • Instruction is when you provide a lesson or information to help your child understand his own world. "As a parent, you are dealing with young people who have large gaps in their understanding of life. . . . Your children need a framework in which they can understand life." The goal is for them to understand God, the world, and themselves so that they will make Christ-centered choices (Psalm 119:104).
  • Warning. I must help my children be on guard for probable danger. Think of the illustration of a sign saying "Bridge Out." In the book of Proverbs, warnings typically take the form of "if you do X, then Y will occur."
  • When you impart knowledge, you are teaching your child. Note that this form of communication may be done either before or after that knowledge is needed.
  • Praying with your child is a great way for each of you to connect with God, and to do it together. Also, you can gain a lot of insight into your child's heart condition by hearing him pray.

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