The explanation of the book's title offered by authors Tedd and Margy Tripp is that "Instructing a child's heart is not simply transfering data from parent to child. It is impressing the heart with truth." "We should impress truth on the hearts of our children, not to control or manage them, but to point them to the greatest joy and happiness they can experience--delighting in God and the goodness of His ways."
The book challenges parents to give children "big truths they will grow into rather than light explanations they'll grow out of." As an example, they explain that when addressing a child who hits other people, you don't just say "That's not nice;" rather, you explain that we are made in God's image, and as such, we need to be constantly striving towards righteousness.
This book convicted me many times of my tendency to be short-sighted in dealing with problems with my children. The authors urge us, "Don't think survival--think kingdom!" They also argue against the popular theories of behaviorism, which is something I often subscribe to. "The temptation," the Tripps write, "is to substitute the behavioristic methods of the culture for the power of the Word of God and the work of His Spirit in the hearts of our children." "Manipulation of behavior through rewards or punishments will never touch the stony heart. Only grace can change the heart."
In continuing their defense against behaviorism (which includes bribing, threatening, guilting, negotiating, rewarding), the Tripps assert that even though it is popular, and sometimes effective, it obscures the gospel. "When we can use incentives or punishments to get the behavior we want without God and His redemption, we are teaching our children that they can live in God's world without Christ and do just fine."
Other noteworthy quotes from the book:
"When a child is arguing about whether or not it is legitimate for a parent to make a request, that child is not submitting. If that child has to be 'sold' on what must be done, there is no true submission. When a child delays obedience or responds when convenient, there is no submission . . . When a child is challenging a parent's authority, or asking why in a demanding ton, that child is not submitting. Submission means responding to God's authority by cheerfully doing whatever is required."
I appreciated the book's concise definition of foolishness: It's asking "What will please ME?"
"How does a child learn the fear of the Lord? To answer that question, let me ask another. What would my children do if they knew there was hidden treasure in the backyard? They would dig up every square inch of the yard to find the treasure. Learning to fear the Lord comes through searching as one would search for hidden treasure. God will not hide Himself from those who earnestly seek Him." See Proverbs 2:1-5.
"Discipline is primarily an opportunity to remind our children of their need to repent and believe in Christ, and of the forgiveness and provision available from God through Christ."
The final quote I want to share is the powerful conclusion of the book: "The power of grace in the gospel will cleanse us, forgive us, change us internally and empower us to be all that we need to be to instruct the hearts of our children . . . Come to Christ each day knowing that you can do all things through Him who gives you strength."
Overall, I found this book to be challenging and convicting, and I would recommend it if you are interested in learning more about biblical parenting. Has anyone else read this book?
Note: This is the first book I've finished in 2011. I don't recall ever keeping a list of the books I'm reading, so I decided it would be a neat thing to record, even though it will be a much shorter list than back in the day! My intention is to post the list of books I've read on here at the end of the year, offering a giveaway where the winner can select a book from among the list of titles. You only have to wait 10 1/2 more months for it. =)