Dr. Tripp begins by explaining what he means by "childhood." He uses this word to describe the middle period of a child's life, roughly ages 5 to 12. While up to this age, we may have taught our children to obey our authority, there are now going to be more times when the child will be physically away from us and will begin to develop a growing independence. How do we build on the foundation we've begun? According to Tripp, the big issue is character. He says this is the time when our children need to learn "dependability, honesty, kindness, consideration, helpfulness, diligence, loyalty" and so forth. It is during these years that the child's conscience must develop.
I found it interesting that Tripp pointed out a difference between defiant behavior and simply wrong behavior. If a child is being selfish, he is not necessarily being disobedient or disrespectful toward the parent, but it is wrong none-the-less. This is why we have to address the child's character. Tripp says, "If you never address character, you will never get beyond bare obedience." Making more rules is not the answer. If your child actually follows all of them, he's likely to become smug and self-righteous like the Pharisees anyway. So where does this leave a parent?
Tripp reminds us we'll be looking at the "how-to's" in the next chapter. In this one, he explained his "three-pronged tool of diagnosis." It is as follows:
- The Child in a Relationship to God. This is not a question of "is your child a Christian." Instead, we asks questions that help us know about his "understanding of the nature of God's grace and salvation through faith in Christ."
- The Child in Relationship to Himself. How does he child view and understand himself? We need to understand our children so we can shepherd them appropriately.
- The Child in Relationship to Others. How does the child interact with those around him?
Tripp suggests we perform this diagnosis every six months or so which children this age. Let's acknowledge their strengths and see how we can help them grow in their weaknesses.
A fairly short chapter, but one in which there were many new concepts for me to grasp. I look forward to next week's "how to's."