Getting to the Heart of Parenting


Before having kids I watched/read excerpts from Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Ted Tripp.   The premise that you need to do more than just manage behavior, but get to the heart of what is causing our child’s behavior, made a lot of sense to both Scott and I.  And through the years I think we have tried to apply this approach to our parenting. 

But, there is something very different about reading a book before having kids and reading one with both feet in the trenches.  And I think having a 7, 5, 3 and 10 mth old qualifies us as fully entrenched

This quarter I have been attending a Sunday School class on parenting. Every single week I walk out of there inspired and encouraged and remarking, “What an excellent class!” We are watching the videos from Paul Tripp’s conference “Getting to the Heart of Parenting.”  I guess the Tripp family has the market on parenting from the heart, as these two brothers have written some great stuff!

I have been so encouraged and inspired by this class.  A few things that Tripp has said which really spoke to my heart are this.

*I am God’s instrument of love and grace to my child.  I need to see sin revealed as a a moment of ministry, not a hassle.  Ok.  I will be honest here, all too often when I am in the midst of a battle with one of my children over  obedience or respect, I am thinking to myself, “Why are we going through this again?  or Why now?   The notion of thanking God for this opportunity to minister to my child was quite convicting.

*Along that same line Tripp said,If we personalize our child’s behavior we make it all about us.  We become adversarial in our response (me against you) and we settle for quick, situational solutions that don’t get to the heart of the matter:  we bark judgments, and announce a punishment. We turn moments of ministry into moments of anger.” 

I think quite often when I neglect to take advantage of the ministry moment it is because I am either too tired or too rushed (or perhaps both).  I have been encouraged to stop… take a breath… speak quietly and calmly and walk through the issue with my child.  This takes time…. and these “ministry moments” always seem to pop up when I am in the middle of a homeschool lesson or trying to get dinner prepared or working to get us out the door for practice or…. they don’t seem to pop up when I am sitting on the couch wondering what I will do next.  These ministry moments force me to prioritize my time…. to realize that my child’s heart is more important that my to do list…

Last week in the video Tripp spoke on authority and how specifically at the ages of 0-5, our job is to teach our children that we have God given authority over them and we need to teach them to submit to this authority.   He said that it is much better to have these battles of authority now than when our child is 17.  I have to say this gave me a great deal of hope.  I feel like we are battling this day in and day out. (if not with one kid than with another)  but maybe, maybe, if I am faithful in teaching this to them now, maybe they will get it and we won’t be battling this later in the teen years.  (I think this was the first time I didn’t think of the teen years with fear and trembling.)

Some days at the circus I find myself rejoicing as it looks  we’re finally making progress.  Other days I totally blow it or feel like even when I am “doing the right thing” it isn’t turning out like I expected or wanted.  Each of these instances remind me of how very grateful I am for God’s grace…


  1. That seminar has helped me greatly as well... After "trying" so hard for so long, I am relying more on grace rather than my own efforts for how the children "turn out". And even though I am working harder now, my mindset, motivation, and level if expectations have changed- and I am actually more joyful rather than worried so much. We have great responsibility, but thankfully God is sovereign over them!

  2. Thank you for this, Crystal. Jim and I are just now starting out. We're starting to think long and hard about this stuff. I suspect we'll be picking up one of the these books soon. :)

    PS - I think you guys are GREAT examples of doing-it-right.


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