Shepherding vs. Control

Posted on August 7, 2008 · Posted in Lying, Parenting

When parents see their children lie, the immediate response is
something like, how can I stop this!
In these situations it is easy to lose sight of the biblical model of
shepherding your children and resort to the world’s methodology of
control. I have included the following excerpt
from Instructing a Child’s Heart which addresses this very issue. Take a look at what Tedd says. It will be
helpful to you as we continue this series on lying.

 

"The basis for ethical choices in behaviorism is pragmatic. Parents want
a certain outcome of behavior, and children learn to choose their behavior
based on punishment or reward. When God responds to his children’s behavior, he
too is concerned about their actions. But more than that, God is concerned with
the heart motives of his children.

 In a biblical vision, the basis for ethical decisions is the being, existence
and glory of God. Biblical ethics reasons, “There is a God who has made me and
all things. He tells me what to do for my good and his glory.” As we deal with the external behavior of our children, we
also need to teach them to make decisions based on things deeper than
anticipated punishment or reward. The fact that there is a God in heaven who has
revealed his will to mankind forms the basis for decision-making.

There is such a close connection between the heart and behavior that
whatever is used to constrain the behavior trains the hearts of our children.
When a child is manipulated through shame, he learns to respond to shame. When guilt is used as a motive, he may grow to be
a guilt-laden adult. If pride is the motivation, he may develop into a person
whose concern is the fear of man or the desire to have the approval of people. And frequently homes where anger was used to
beat family members into submission, produce angry adults.

The gospel will never be central in discipline, correction and
motivation when behavior is manipulated. The parent who resorts to shame,
guilt, threats or bribes is not placing their hope of change in the gospel.

There are many reasons parents use behaviorism to control their children.
Perhaps we are motivated by pride; our children are our calling card after all. Maybe it is
simply a matter of ease. Worse yet we are sometimes driven to control others. Maybe we are driven by the fear of man:
We worry about what others will think of us if we seem ineffective with our
children. Many idols of the heart will pollute our interventions with our children. These idols will not motivate us
to act for the well-being of our child, but for our own reputations. Thus, our child’s good is not the driving
force in our correction and discipline, but rather our personal sense of well-being. Our behavior in
discipline is motivated by our hearts. This does not show the depth of concern for our children’s spiritual
well-being.

Think about ungodly heart attitudes that we sometimes see in our
children. For example, we see times when they are motivated by the desire for revenge. Our children defend
themselves with words such as, “That child hit me first.” When a child makes
that defense, there is an attitude of heart that has motivated behavior—the
desire for revenge. We must teach them to entrust themselves to God. This is
what Jesus did when he was persecuted, mocked and even beaten. He entrusted himself
to the One who judges justly (1 Pet. 2:23). Instead of responding to his
tormentors with retaliation, he went to his Father with trust. Our children may
be motivated by the fear of man. Teens may ignore younger siblings to look cool
to school friends. They may say and do what pleases the crowd rather than what
would honor God. Fear of man may even result in a child showing greater loyalty
to friends than to siblings or parents. We are tempted to scold or even threaten
our children for unkindness. But we know that scolding won’t change attitudes
of heart. Pride is often at the heart of conflict children have in the home.
Your son lost the Monopoly game. He is upset. He knows it was only a game and
not even Boardwalk or Park Place has any real value. He may be upset due to
wounded pride (especially if the winner is younger or a girl). Help him understand the pride that motivates
his response. You have an opportunity to speak with him about humility.
Humility comes before honor."

Instructing
a Child’s Heart, pages 149-151

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