I had a choice tonight between reviewing something I'm really enjoying or reviewing something I've been struggling with for months. Can you guess which one I picked?
Shepherding a Child's Heart is a classic in Christian parenting circles. It is considered by many to be THE way to raise your child. I have started in to read it a couple of times now, and I just can't seem to make it fit my world. A dear friend recommended it to me the moment I shared with her the good news that we were expecting our first child. I find myself in agreement with the foundations of many of the ideas Dr. Tripp lays out in the first part of the book, that a child is shaped by internal and external influences, and that external behavior changes are not sufficient to raise a child up in the way they should go. Rather a change of heart is required.
I'm struggling with two areas:
First - Dr. Tripp's methods seem very "talk" oriented. Meaning there is some expectation that you will lay out the child's choices, the consequences of those choices, and explain that you are performing your duty as a parent before God to shape your child into the person He wants them to become...etc. Please don't misunderstand, we do use choices, and consequences, and we do remind our daughter often that we are here to help her, but we do so in as few words as possible, and almost never during an actual behavior incident. Talking to my daughter when she is misbehaving is like pouring gasoline on a fire. It rarely defuses the situation. I have a hard time translating Dr. Tripp's approach to our situation.
Second - Dr. Tripp is pro-spanking. I wish I could say I've never spanked my children. (Sorry, Mom...) There was a period of time where that was our default consequence. My husband and I were both raised in households where that was a norm (and we turned out okay...) In our household, however, it was pretty scary for all concerned, to be honest. At the time we were under the impression that our daughter was "strong-willed" (which she is...) but we did not understand that she is also autistic. In the end I think that combo will serve her well, but between the ages of 3-5 it wasn't pretty. It was a vicious cycle...we were telling her repeatedly not to (hit, kick, bite, pull hair, etc.) but the punishment was a spanking (in her mind a hit...) so what kind of example is that to her? I found myself begging God to show me a better way, and I believe He answered that prayer in the form of a series of positive behavioral support workshops that my husband and I were blessed to take. Not that we haven't had our moments of frustration, but overall our home is much more peaceful, functional, and healthy. My kids are not little angels, but I am occasionally complimented by strangers and friends alike on how well-behaved they are. They know I have firm boundaries, and that fun times will end if those boundaries are crossed, but spanking is now a last resort, end of the rope...used in response to clear defiance, particularly on a safety rule. [Please God, don't let there be a test on this tomorrow!]
It's kind of sad, in a way, because Shepherding a Child's Heart was the book that got me started on this whole blog idea. Wouldn't it be cool, I thought, to translate those Christian parenting ideas to the special needs world? Yet here I am giving the most negative review I've written yet...still working on it I guess.
What books have you used to shape your parenting journey?