As we move into Part 2 of the Shepherding a Child’s Heart Book Study, Tripp goes into detail about how the objectives and methods of Part 1 work within an actual family. Again, I had some disagreements with the author, but I still found some valuable reminders in the chapter.
First Tripp talks about the command to honor one’s parents. One point that Tripp made that stood to me in this section was that
The parent must be honorable in his conduct and demeanor….A parent who is respectful to his children and teaches them with dignity and respect will be respected by his children. You may not yell at your children. You do not make them your slaves. Suffering indignities from you cannot be a part of submission to authority. When you fail to be respectful or courteous, or sin against them, you must seek forgiveness.
This reminds me of the saying “more is caught than is taught.” We can tell our children to be respectful and submissive, but if we don’t model it, we will simply be teaching them to be hypocrites like us.
Secondly Tripp addresses the command to obey one’s parents. He says it means a child should do what he or she is told “without challenge, without excuse, [and] without delay.” The parent, in turn, must be consistent and give clear directives. The child, however, is not without recourse. The child can appeal (not challenge), but he or she must begin to obey immediately, be prepared to graciously obey either way, and appeal in a respectful way. When the child obeys, Tripp says “It should be our habit to say ‘Yes’ to a request unless there are good reasons to say ‘No.’ It is easy to say ‘No’ because we do not want to think through the implications of saying ‘Yes.’”
I must admit that I am guilty of tending to say “no” out of habit, without really thinking things through. I want to show my children grace, not just “the law,” so I need to work on implementing this idea of saying “yes” to appeals and requests unless there is a good reason to say no.
The final quote that stood out to me was this:
Even though the child will not be able to fully appreciate the importance of submission, training him to do what he ought, regardless of how he feels, prepares him to be a person who lives by principle rather than mood or impulse.
This is certainly something I want to train my children to do – not to be swayed by friends or emotions, but to do what’s right regardless of influences.
As I said, I didn’t agree with everything Tripp said. One problem I think Tripp should have addressed was that he mentions the verse in Ephesians 6 that tells children to obey and honor their parents that it may go well with them and they may enjoy long life on the earth. Tripp then says that if children stay inside the circle of honoring and obeying, “within that circle things will go well and they will enjoy long lives.” Except that’s not always true. Anyone who has ever lost a child knows this. The Bible doesn’t teach that there is a circle of safety and that you are guaranteed a long life and everything will go well if you just honor and obey your parents. Nor does the Bible necessarily teach that those who don’t honor and obey will necessarily have a poor life and die young, though this, of course, can happen. In the early years of a church, honoring and obeying your parents (in a time when Roman persecution of Christians was at its height) in many cases actually guaranteed an early death as a martyr. I think, and feel free to correct me if I am wrong, but it seems like this promise is a general one, not a specific one – i.e. in general principle, if you learn to obey and honor your parents, life usually goes better than if you rebel, and your rebellion could lead to an early death by poor choices (think of the rebellious teens and young adults who die every day from drug overdoses, drunk driving, gang violence, etc.). But this promise is not a specific cause and effect principle for every person. The command to honor and obey is for everyone, but the specific consequences for doing or not doing this are more general rather than specific to every single individual.