Wednesday, January 6, 2010
One insight that really encouraged me yesterday was the clarification of two aspects of child rearing that determine what kind of kid my child will turn out to be: 1- Shaping Influences, and 2- Godward Orientation.
Shaping Influences are, for the most part, determined by the parents. They include everything from the way the family handles conflict or failure to the family's values, roles, history and structure. So much of the parenting material that I've read or listened to focuses almost 100% on these shaping influences. Putting such a strong emphasis on these shaping influences has left me feeling like if I create just the right environment for my kids, then they'll turn out great. But if my kids don't turn out great, it must be because something was wrong with the environment I tried to create. This mindset has left me feeling overwhelmed, inadequate, and quite frustrated.
Tedd Tripp adds another equally important aspect to his teaching which he refers to as Godward Orientation. I won't take the time to explain all he means by that (b/c I want you to read the book!), but in essence it means that the child is responsible for how he responds to the shaping influences in his life. A parent could provide all the right shaping influences and still have a child who rebels against them.
Shaping influences are of huge importance and parents should put a great deal of thought and planning into this for their children. But children are born with a will and a sinful nature, and they must choose how they will respond to the parenting that they receive.
For me, this was a huge burden lifted off of my shoulders. It reminded me that I can't control Caedmon's responses. I can do lots of great things to shape him, but parenting is not a scientific formula with a consistent, predictable outcome. The most important thing I can do for Caedmon is pray that God would give him a heart to know Him, love Him, and respond to the circumstances in his life in a way that honors Him.