Saturday, May 31, 2008

Chapter 9 - Embracing Biblical Methods: Types of Communication

Saturday's Shepherding a Child's Heart

Thank you for your patience with me and my "mini-vacation." It was not really a vacation in the sense that I was taking time for myself. However, we've had lots of family and friends here over the last two weeks and I just needed a little extra time. Thank you! And now on to chapter 9!

Rules. Correction. Discipline. The big three. That's how many of us view parenting, and in that order, says Tedd Tripp. The children are given rules. When they break them, they are disciplined. That's all there is to it, right? Tripp says there must be more beneath the surface. Our communication needs to be much richer than those surface level three. We need to discern what type of communication would be most appropriate for each situation. Beneath the big three, should be the following 8:

1. Encouragement. A child may have done something wrong, but already acknowledges what he did was wrong. This would not be a good time for rebuke. Instead, it would be a good time for encouragement towards Christ. This type of communication is designed to inspire and fill our children with hope and courage.

2. Correction. This one is pretty obvious. When a child needs to be brought into conformity with a given standard, he needs to be lovingly corrected.

3. Rebuke. If the parent wants to communicate something more sternly because of the seriousness of the behavior, rebuke is in order. For example, if the child is cursing a sibling, she needs to be told clearly and with evident alarm that "It is wrong for her to speak in such a way and she should never do so again." Rebuke is usually followed by other forms of communication.

4. Entreaty. Communicating in a way that is earnest and intense is usually necessary only periodically. We should urge or solicit our children to follow God's teaching in areas such as sexual sins. This is done in a pleading sort of way. It is not wrong to plead with our children over such topics. However, you want to be careful not to use entreaty for the everyday issues (eg. Pleeeeeeaaase stop hitting your sister).

5. Instruction. This is the process of providing a lesson, precept or information to help your child understand the world around him. Our children are not born fully equipped with information about our world. They are learning it every day and it is our job to give them the framework to do so.

6. Warning. We should faithfully alert our children to real dangers in their lives, both physical and spiritual. Warning perseveres. We should teach our children the warnings of the Bible. We should show them that A-leads-to-B. These warnings will prepare our children to listen to warnings of their own as they mature.

7. Teaching. We must actively impart knowledge about all sorts of things to our children. We should draw upon Scripture and help our children understand themselves, others, life, God, etc.

8. Prayer. Though not a direct form of communication with our children, prayer helps us have insight into their lives. It also allows our children to learn how to pray and to communicate with God themselves.

All of these different forms of communication can be interwoven with one another. Tripp agrees the list is not exhaustive. Yet it still provides a great framework and reminds us there is much more to communicating with our children than rules, correction and discipline.

In Christ,

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