Saturday, November 3, 2012

Shepherding a Childs Heart: Chapter 7

I think this might be my favorite chapter (so far... trust me, theres some good ones to come!). I love some practical, applicable wisdom, and while this book is chocked full of it, this chapter just speaks to me! Calls me to action in a very straightforward "i can see that" kind of way! I love that!

Discarding Unbiblical Methods

The first section of the book, Tripp recalls an interaction he witnessed between a mother and daughter. This just broke my heart. The child was misbehaving and the mother was fed up. In order to gain compliance and submissiveness from her daughter, the mother resorted to saying "I a sick of you. I hate you. Go away. Find someone else to yell at. I can't stand you. I dont want you. Get out of my sight". *tear*

The daughter apologizes to her mother for her behavior.

When I read this, I immediately thought of how cruel this mother was. How immature and naive does this woman have to be to not realize that words hurt. And they linger in a childs life. Thinking of my own Mommie, I cant imagine ever hearing these words from her! It would have broken my heart to the core! And I would imagine that the first time this mother used this power play against her daughter, it broke her daughters heart, as well. But I'm sure that the daughter also quickly learned that her mothers words are rather empty threats and she moved on. I can only imagine, though, how these outbursts from her mother will affect this little girl :-(

Point? "Biblically, the method is as important as the objectives". As Tripp states, "(God) is concerned not only with what we do, but also how we do it" (pg 59).

This is applicable in all areas of life, friends. How we go about accomplishing our goals is important! In remembering that WE are the examples to our children, lets be mindful of this truth. How we go about getting a promotion at work is important. Are we acting with disciplined integrity or manipulative actions? How we go about everything shows what we honor and treasure the most. Again, it is not our actions (alone) that should concern us... the actions are a symptom of the heart! But if we are likely to justify our actions, knowing that God wants more from us and for us, than our heart needs a deeper examination.

We gather our unbiblical methods from a variety of places; books and magazines, tv programs, "experts" and our own human standard of how we were raised help form those methods.

My favorite line from the "I didn't turn out so bad" method: "He has simply drawn from his survival the implication that it wasn't that bad".. Friends, I had FABULOUS parents!  God-loving parents! However, there are things that could have been done differently that would have been beneficial for my raising. Any humble parent who believes in biblical child rearing and who is honest with themselves will be willing to admit that we ALL as parents have shortcomings. We should ALL encourage our children to take the good of what we have passed on, discard the worldly stuff we let creep in, and lovingly desire for them to be better parents than we were! I certainly hope that my kids do a better job with my grandchildren that we are doing with them.

The topics of  "Pop Psychology" and "Behavior Modification" totally hit me like a brick wall. I like to think that I do not bribe my children. At all. But I read this section and, I swear, I felt like I was reading the story of our life! It just goes to remind me that what I desire and what I do are not always the same. Sometimes, I think that all of us can sort of "re-write" history (or today even!) in our minds as we think through what we WANT to be happening in our homes. On occasion, its good to have someone (or a book) help us to realize that reality is not quite that idealistic picture we have in our heads. REALITY CHECK! *as a side note, this bribery almost always takes place in regards to food. "eat all of your dinner and you can have a treat". Is there anything "wrong" with that? No. Probably not. But ideally (and i KNOW it can happen b/c we've been working on this!) my children will eat and be full or will not eat and will be hungry. It is their choice. The issue i found with bribing is that my daughter would then hold out on eating and when I would say "you need to eat or you'll be hungry" she would respond with "okay. so if i eat good i can have a brownie?" Um, NO! haha! smart little boogers these kids are! We have since went through a detox of treats as rewards and are doing great). This is why it is SO important to be INTENTIONAL in our parenting, friends. When we parent in the moment, we do not think clearly and tend to deal with just the behavior, not the heart. This type of long term, intentional parenting takes time and is something we are all working towards at all times. And none of us will ever really "arrive" at a finish line :-)

The point that Tripp makes that "when mother (isn't) around to notice good behavior, there (is) no point in being good" makes clear that our concern must be our childrens motives. For those of us with little ones not yet in school, we must make the most of each day to address their heart; for one day all too soon our children will not be with us as they make decisions and whether or not we have addressed their hearts will be abundantly clear.

Emotionalism is a nasty, dirty method I deplore. I've had it used on me by loved ones in the past and for YEARS, guilt was an effective way to shape and mold my behavior. And now? Well, I get angry when people try to manipulate me with emotionalism. Make no doubt about it, as our children grow and mature, this method will NOT work. And the issue bigger than the effectiveness is the fact that nothing about manipulation leads our children to the Gospel nor does it exemplify Christ.

Punitive Correction is, in my opinion, probably the most widely used form of unbiblical correction employed in church's today. Not necessarily in regards to the "impulsive response of angry frustration" type of spanking (although I'm sure this takes place in homes all over the place), but it is the grounding I'm speaking of. I've never been a fan of grounding, so I was glad to hear from someone else that it may not be the best choice, either. "Grounding is not designed to do something for the child; it is designed to do something against him. Grounding is not corrective. It is simply punitive" .

                     "I have often wondered why grounding is so universally popular.
                      I believe it is because it is easy. It doesn't require ongoing interaction.
                     It does not require ongoing discussion. It does not assess what is going 
                    on inside the child. IT does not require patient instruction and entreaty."

Yes, I was grounded as a teenager. Once. And I hate to say it, but it was not effective in the situation. What WAS effective, however, was the discussion my Daddy had with me. The over an hour long talk that took place that explored what I had done wrong, why it was wrong biblically, how it hurt him and my Mommie and what would have to be done to regain trust eventually. That conversation broke my heart. The grounding was nothing compared to the heartbreak I had caused my parents and God.

Lastly, there are the parents who will try ANYTHING for a short period of time. And I'll just admit, I can see where parents are so desperate to see change in their families that they would jump from one method to the next. But this only leaves kids feeling confused and sure of only one thing; the rules for today will change tomorrow..

"Addressing the child's heart unbiblically plays to the corruption of his heart as an idolater and provides him with functional idols around which to organize his life".

If when our kids are struggling with obeying at home or in school, doing school work, cleaning their rooms, etc... if when a behavior problem shows through and all we do is take away a privlidge, we have missed a huge opportunity. Do NOT misunderstand me, please. I am not suggesting that there should not be consequences for actions. If a child is having a hard time in school, taking away the things that distract her is kind of a "duh" thing ;-) But we cant leave it at that. We have the opportunity to probe our childrens hearts. To ask "Are you doing your very best, for the glory of God? Are you offering all of your skills and ability to learn so as to utilize what God gifted you with?" (no, not in those words perhaps! haha).

Which brings me to something that has been heavy on my own heart this week.

As (the few of you still following) you may know, the last few weeks around here have been HECTIC. Ear infections and sicknesses have been rampant in our home! And its just been crazy, honestly. And in that craziness, we have lost a good bit of routine. Spiritual disciplines of bible time and prayer time with the kids has been on a decline and tv time on the rise.

And, not surprisingly, I've found myself doing more correcting. Yes, the kids have been sick and I make more allowances when they are not well. But as they've been better, I'm continuing to correct.

And this is probably a "duh" thing to most people, but it was a refreshing thought that the Lord brought to me one day. I cannot teach my children of Gods love and goodness  when the ONLY time they are taught of Him is when I am correcting. Spiritual disciplines teach my children who the God of the bible is. And then it is their choice to love Him and choose to follow Him. But the chances of them choosing to follow Him is much GREATER when they are taught on neutral, positive ground. And on the flip side, there is much less of a chance that they will choose to follow if their only exposure to Him is during discipline..

Weekly Application:

-Spend time each day teaching your children about God. Try to do bible time (reading) each day. But even when you don't have time, make sure to incorporate Gods word into your daily activities. As you clean your home, tell your children the story of Martha and Mary and how, while its good to keep things clean, we must always recognize and prioritize people! As you see a chance to take some goodies to a neighbor suffering with cancer, tell your children that you are doing this because he, too, is Gods child. Someone that God loves and who is hurting right now. And that we love God so much that we love those who he loves. When your child doesnt want to share a toy, ask him if he is "preferring one another above himself" and share about how God wants us to think of others first. (Deuteronomy 11:18-19
 18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.)

-Take off the blinders as to what methods you are employing in your home. And pray for discernment!

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