by Tedd & Margy Tripp
Here is the difference between formative instruction and corrective discipline. Formative instruction should be happening all the time. Discipline should be applied only when behavior needs to be corrected. If the only time we instruct is when our children need discipline, our children will not listen to our instruction for fear of the discipline. They will also interpret discipline through the culture’s view of discipline—as abusive, dictatorial, a violation of personal rights, archaic and fanatic.
Our formative instruction must teach that discipline is part of God’s essential way for parents to provide protection, direction, safety and blessing to children. Discipline alone is not adequate instruction. Corrective discipline is understood when it is founded on effective biblical formative instruction. Corrective discipline without adequate formative instruction sows seeds of confusion and rebellion in children.
A Treasure—Not a Baseball Bat
Beware! Do not use the Scriptures to beat up your children! “Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath” (Eph. 6:4). If you beat up your children with God’s Word, they will shrink from it when they are young and flee from it when they live independently. We must pay attention to our children and be sensitive to them in order to know when we are beating up our children verbally.
How do you think of the Bible? Is it law, condemnation, warning, guilt, threats and judgment? Or is it God’s merciful and gracious revelation for fallen, broken humanity? The Bible provides in God-inspired, rich literary textures, the story of creation, the Fall, the incarnation, redemption and hope through the life and death of Jesus Christ, and a glorious second coming of Jesus to establish the new heavens and the new earth.
We must teach our children to love the Scriptures. We must teach the promises along with the warnings. We must teach the perfect sacrifice of Christ for sin along with the description of our sinfulness. We must let our children hear how God’s law is sweeter than honey from the honeycomb. By it we are warned, and by keeping it there is great reward (Ps. 19:10–11). The most effective way to teach our children to love the Scripture is to love it ourselves. They will see us longing to read it, hear it and understand it, and learn that it is valuable.
From Instructing a Child’s Heart, Chapter 1
The material in this book provides the foundation for bringing Christ to your children in the hostile environment of today’s world. The Tripps offer valuable insight on what it means to be a Christian parent.