Book Review: Instructing a Child’s Heart

Tripp, Tedd & Margy. Instructing a Child’s Heart. Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherds Press, 2008. 179 pages.

You may have heard that time flies when you’re having fun.

I’ve also found that time flies when you have kids. Eighteen years–give or take–and they’re gone. Of course, the amount of time you have to really gain a foothold of influence with your kids is even shorter than that. When you subtract all the time it takes to work and sleep and send them to school, etc., you’re left with very little time indeed.

My purpose in pointing this out is that–given the fact that they don’t come with an instruction manual–few people have the time or the ability to think through everything it takes to raise godly kids.

That’s why I’m glad that God has been gracious enough to give us resources like Tedd & Margy Tripp’s Instructing a Child’s Heart.

This book is chocked full of Scriptural principles on what the Tripps call “formative instruction.” Often, we take a lopsided approach toward childrearing: whenever our children disobey, we’re right there with discipline. But we fail to think through how to disciple our children when they aren’t disobeying. We correct, but fail to form.

I won’t waste a lot of words evaluating the book except to say that if you are a parent,






This Sunday night, we’ll have copies for sale in the church lobby for your convenience.

In case you need some convincing, below are some choice quotes from the book:

“We are always teaching our children. Our every response, whether it is instruction or silence, teaches.” p. 18

“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.” pp. 20-21

“Beware! Do not use the Scriptures to beat up your children! . . . 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. . . . Bring God’s Word with care and compassion.” p. 21

“Our love for God is the foundation for anything we have to say. We cannot impress our children with the fame of God’s name if we are not impressed with him ourselves.” p. 40

“We give our children big truths they will grow into rather than light explanations they will grow out of.” p. 45

“The contemporary mind has only two ways to respond to authority–rebellion or servility. . . . We need to learn that submission is dignified and noble. It is not servile and foolish. . . . Submission is enjoying the strength and honor of serving one’s Lord by serving the authority he put in place.” p. 81

“Our spiritual health and well-being depends on God’s provision of a spiritual community just as our children’s overall well-being depends on the family we provide for them.” p. 134

“Family worship is daily practice for corporate worship. Thanksgiving and singing God’s praises on the Lord’s Day is not arduous if it is our joyful daily routine. But worship comes haltingly and awkwardly from unpracticed hearts and lips.” p. 137

“If attendance to church and its activities are a burdensome obligation that competes with other more desirable pastimes, children will live for the day they can opt out of attendance.” p. 143

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