Ron’s #34: Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp

For me, reviewing a book on parenting is like reviewing a book on snowboarding. I know what a snowboard is, I understand the theory of how to snowboard, I have seen snowboarders (good and bad ones), and some of my best friends have snowboarded sometime in their lives. I, however, have no experience with a snowboard.

As Kristie and I move toward adoption, I thought that I should read a few books to begin thinking about parenting. Lots of friends like Shepherding a Child’s Heart, so it’s a good place to begin.  In a statement, the essence of this book is, “Help your child learn to honor and obey you as you honor and obey God.” Tedd Tripp shows that in this “circle of blessing” is where the child is richly blessed.

I liked that the main focus of this book is to place God at the center of your family. A child is not at the center of it. Unfortunately, we have several friends where the child is the center, and the parents cater to every whine and whim of the kid. It’s sad, as they don’t see it, almost blinded by their “love” for the child. The child has replaced God as the center. As a teacher, I see the end results of this when they grow to be teenagers. They are self-centered and selfish after growing up a steady diet of the junk food of parent-servants and self-esteem-for-nothing for 13-15 years. If you disagree with this, you have not spent much time around this type of spoiled teenager. Shepherding offers a different approach to this. Rather than placing the child at the center, guide the child to recognize that there is something more important than himself and even than his parents at the center: Jesus Christ. Teaching to obey and defer to another leads to a people who can see beyond the myopic scope of their own navels and banal desires. These children grow to be respectful and healthy adults, not grown-up babies who still whine and whimper until they get their own way.

Included in this reasoning is spanking. I’m still not sure if I agree or not, but I was interested to hear his reasoning. My biggest concern is not spanking in principle, but rather on his shaky mandate based upon a verse in Proverbs. It is hermeneutically unstable to base theology on a proverb, so I would need a little more direction on why this is important to Tripp’s message.

I appreciate the overview of parenting philosophy contained in this book, and I think that it started me off in the correct direction. Parenting ought to contain the Gospel as much as a sermon or a book. All spheres of our life should seek to proclaim the all-encompassing majesty of our God.

But, as I started off saying, what do I know about snowboarding?

About Ron 173 Articles
I teach English and government in Okinawa, Japan. I love reading theology and fiction, and helps keep me accountable. Reading with three kids under 5 is a bit of a challenge, but I keep trying to find ways to read more. My favorites writers are C. S. Lewis, Flannery O’ Connor, and Raymond Carver.

6 Comments on Ron’s #34: Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp

  1. Hey Ron, I read this book as well. I liked it more for its overall idea of dealing with the heart than just focusing on doing right things. But I do agree it’s hard to say much about the book especially when I am not a parent. 🙂

  2. If you’ll allow me to comment as a former child, a current parent, a former teacher, and a participant, at some time or another, in the entire political spectrum who also happens to think that spoiled, ill-mannered children are a menace to society: spanking is about control, not instruction. Spanking works in the short term, but that’s about the only positive thing I can say about it. There are many books/programs/ways & means of disciplining and teaching children in a God-centered way that do not have to rely on spanking. That’s my two cents. I’ll send you my bill.

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