As parents we have to do more than just focus on controlling the environment our children grow up in. We need to focus on more.
Shepherding a Child’s Heart talks about six influences that shape a child’s life discussed in chapter two: Structure of Family Life, Family Values, Family Roles, Family Conflict Resolution, Family Response to Failure, and Family History. Each of these things impacts who a child is.
Tedd Tripp gives parents two warnings, however, when thinking about shaping influences: Determinist and denial.
First, is denial because that is short and simple. Denial is believing a child is unaffected by early childhood. Life experience impacts you. That needs to be accepted and worked with.
Next is the determinist. Seeing influences deterministically means you believe “…the child is a helpless victim of the circumstances in which he was raised” (page 15).
I really love Tripp’s advice on this topic. This determinism can impact in two ways: one, you make excuses for a person because of the child-rearing and expect less of that person. Two is that you mistakenly think that you can single-handedly control the influences in your child’s life so that all shaping influences will be positive.
“You make a grave mistake if you conclude that childrearing is nothing more than providing the best possible shaping influences for your children”.(page 15)
He then goes on to talk about how many Christian parents think they can do this by sending the child to the right Christian school or by homeschooling and providing the best possible childhood and the child will turn out okay.
He points out “Children are never passive receivers of shaping. Rather, they are active responders” (page 16) and “…the outcome is more complex than whether you have done the right things in the right way. Your children are responsible for the way they respond to your parenting” (page 16).
I know several older people with grandchildren that I greatly respect. Some have children who have turned out amazing. They will also have children who have strayed from what their parents have taught them.
No matter what the parent does, the child always has the ability to choose his or her own path. Hearing women with children who have strayed talk, I know it is a painful thing for them to watch. I know it wrenches their souls.
And I know that it can happen to any parent.
Of course, there are a lot of things you can do.
You can do your very best. And that is it. After that, it is your child’s decision.
Life experience does have a huge impact, and knowing the past experiences can help us know better how to handle current experiences.
A huge influence in how a child turns out is the child’s heart–the moral compass–the child’s values.
Shaping influences are important, but they are not it. You can’t just control the environment and call it good.
There needs to be heart training. And even after all you do, your child will still be a person who can choose for himself his course in life.