Chapter 4 of the Shepherding a Child’s Heart Book Study covers two main ideas. The first is the idea that our authority as parents is a calling and duty given by God. Our parenting is not simply providing care but “shepherd[ing] your child in God’s behalf.” “The parent,” Tripp says, “must be aware of the fact that he is God’s representative to the child.”
The second idea in this chapter, and the one that stood out to me the most, is the difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline is seen as “positive instruction”; it is “corrective,” while not ruing “out consequences or outcomes of behavior.” “The primary thrust of discipline is not to take revenge, but to correct.” This correction “orbits around God as the one offended” where the “focus is restoration. The function is remedial. It is designed to move a child who has disobeyed God back to the path of obedience.”
Punishment, on the other hand, focuses on correcting our children only when their behavior irritates us. “Our correction is not us rescuing our children from the path of danger; it is rather us airing our frustration.” This type of correction “orbits around the parent who has been offended” where the “focus will be venting anger or, perhaps, taking vengeance. The function is punitive.” Tripp uses strong language saying “What I have just described is not discipline. It is punishment. It is ungodly child abuse.”
As God’s agents, we need to be sure we have clear goals in mind for correction, discipline and training. Chapters 5 and 6, which we will cover on Wednesday, discuss some of those goals.