The underlying theme of these recent posts is not treating your children as their sins deserve. With regard to the middle years, what does this look like in everyday life? Parent, if your focus is primarily about how your child behaves, you have little option but to treat him as you think his sins deserve. But, as Tedd Tripp has pointed out, the goal for these middle years is the development of godly character. During this time you are training your children to love and honor God when you are not around to supervise them. You are preparing them for the teenage years and beyond. If you are primarily correcting behavior you are wasting valuable time!
I have copied an excerpt from Shepherding a Child’s Heart to help you know what to look for during these middle years. The issue is not whether your child struggles with particular sins. This is true for parents and children alike! The issue is how does your child deal with his struggles in relationship to God. Helping your child to see his life in this context is the basis of developing godly character. As you lead your children in this direction, you are not treating them as they deserve to be treated, you are helping them to embrace life that is truly life.
The Child in a Relationship to God
“The first prong of analysis is your child in relationship to God. The question is not the personal evangelism question—does he have a relationship with God? The question is what you discern the nature of that relationship to be.
Is your child living in a conscious need for God, and what is the content of his relationship with God? Is he concerned to know and love God? Is God a source of strength, comfort and help? Does he make choices that reflect knowing God? Is he moved by God’s ways and truth? Is he alive to spiritual realities? Is there any evidence that he is carrying on an independent (from you as a parent) relationship with God?
Are there false gods before which your child bows? What are the things without which he cannot be happy? What things other than God seem to motivate him? How does he finish the sentence: “What I really want, long for, desire, and esteem is …is … ?
Does he ever talk about God? How does he talk about God? How does he think about God? Is his God small or grand? Does he think of God as a friend, a judge, a helper, or a taskmaster? Is he living out of the fullness of seeing himself in Christ or is he trying to worship and serve himself?
These are not questions about your child’s understanding of biblical truth. They are questions about his understanding of the nature of God’s grace and salvation through faith in Christ. To shepherd his heart, to lead him to God, you must have some perception of where he is spiritually.”