Getting to the Heart of Parenting: Ted Tripp

This weekend Kate and I went to a homeschool convention in Cincinnati, Ohio and heard from many good speakers.  The topics ranged from teaching creation to logic, to teaching latin, but probably my favorite lecture was from Ted Tripp on addressing obedience issues from a heart perspective.

In case you don’t know who Ted Tripp is, you can find his seminal book on child rearing here, and learn more about him and his ministry here.

A short outline from my notes of what he said, this isn’t the thing in its entirety, but sums up some of the key points he was making:

The heart sets the course of life – Prov. 4:23

“All hopes and desires are all coming out of the heart.  It is the seat of emotions and desires.  Many things we think of as cognitive activities are activities the bible says are from the ‘heart’. It’s possible to setup idols in our hearts and still inquire of God.  So even though people participate in the outward structure of religion they are still idol worshiping in their hearts.  God will not disclose himself to those who are idolatrous.  Ezekiel 14:3-4”

1 John 5:21 says ‘dear children keep yourself from idols’ and John is addressing the most important question for parents. Does something or someone else have control of my child’s heart other than Jesus Christ?   Anything that rules the heart is an idol.  What is driving them?  What is capturing their attention?”

Much time in parenting is wasted in trying to remove bad from and replace it with good fruit that is completely alien to the root system of the tree instead of dealing with the root system of the tree: Idolatry.”

(Therefore, we) should look at our lives and see if there are functional idols (Fear of man, pride, image, others approval).”

Look at what our heart desires.  Where is our treasure?  Matthew 6:19 says everyone has a treasure.  Every child has a treasure.  Whatever that treasurer is will own them. It will own their hearts.  Whatever they treasurer will shape their choices and control their behavior.

There are three kinds of desires.  The desires of the flesh.  (This is from Romans 13)

1. Pleasure seeking (seeks a rush etc)
2. Sensual passions
3. Relationship cravings

“So what rules me? What rules my child?  This is the Lordship question. The world Is always inviting us to desire what it has to offer and put ourselves under its lordship.”

Behavioral sins are always motivated by these internal things (the sin from within).  Jesus focuses on the heart and not the outward behavior (murder in our hearts, adultery in our hearts).  Mark 7:20-23 This is true when he talks about what comes out of a man is what defiles him. Translation: what comes out of a child is what defiles them.  This is a heart issue.  We see this in the greediness, envy, slander, malice, deceit, etc.  ‘From the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks'”

We hang fruit on the tree instead of concerning ourselves with the root system.  We do this by shaming them, heaping guilt on them, threatening them etc.  All of these ways are just ways of manipulating their behavior.  But once you remove those external motivations the fruit rots because it’s not motivated by the life giving roots of the tree.  We are offering our children a false basis of ethics.  We are training the heart in a wrong way.  The real problem isn’t being addressed.  We are manipulating them with the fear or man, pride of life etc. and this doesn’t incorporate he gospel or make it central.  Lastly, it shows the idols of our own hearts: control, pride, etc.

So what are our motivations as parents?  Is it idolatry or a God-centered desire to please and glorify Him?

We need to make the gospel the center in all of our teaching and parenting.  If we don’t then we make hypocrisy the center of our lives because we are sinners as well.
Identify them in their struggle (as Christ identified with us) and bring them to Christ and the cross.  


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