The following brief excerpt is from Instructing a Child’s Heart, by Tedd & Margy Tripp. Parents I urge you to carefully consider the wisdom of these words!
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.”
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.
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.