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Shepherd your child’s heart

This "mom song" is humorous because we all can relate to having said a few of these things, or at least reflected this spirit, in relating to our children throughout the day. It is so easy to let the hustle and bustle of life, the exasperation of child-rearing, and the responsibility of parenting chase away the joy and pleasure of Christian living as a family.

But we should not be satisfied with this kind of frantic parenting. In today's America, as much as at any other time in history, parents are guilty of correcting actions, or addressing behaviors, or ignoring real problems while attempting to raise their children. It is so much easier to throw out a trite "because I said so" or "you're grounded" or "go to your room" than to actually address what is going on in our children's minds and emotions and affections.

This is why the key concept of Tedd Tripp's classic work on child-rearing is that of shepherding our children's hearts. He writes:

"If authority best describes the parent's relationship to the child, the best description of the activity of the parent to the child is shepherding. The parent is the child's guide. This shepherding process helps a child to understand himself and the world in which he lives. The parent shepherds a child to assess himself and his responses. He shepherds the child to understand not just the "what" of the child's actions, but also the "why." As the shepherd, you want to help your child understand himself as a creature made by and for God. You cannot show him these things merely by instruction; you must lead him on a path of discovery. You must shepherd his thoughts, helping him to learn discernment and wisdom.

This shepherding process is a richer interaction than telling your child what to do and think.

It involves investing your life in your child in open and honest communication that unfolds the meaning and purpose of life. It is not simply direction, but direction in which there is self-disclosure and sharing. Values and spiritual vitality are not simply taught, but caught.

Proverbs 13:20 says, 'He who walks with the wise becomes wise.' As a wise parent your objective is not simply to discuss, but to demonstrate the freshness and vitality of life lived in integrity toward God and your family. Parenting is shepherding the hearts of your children in the ways of God's wisdom."

Sounds a lot more appealing than the chaotic, hair-pulling, threat-dispensing, maxim-quoting parenting to which we have become accustomed, doesn't it?

For more information on godly parenting, take a look at Shepherding a Child's Heart, Everyday Talk, Christian Living in the Home. Also, we have an excellent, thorough study on The Christian Home by Lasserre Bradley, Jr., along with a helpful Study Guide.