And now for my first bone to pick with Say Goodbye…
It’s amazing what things touch a child’s conscience. Sometimes it’s a word spoken in sadness instead of anger. Other times it’s a Scripture verse graciously revealed by a parent… When disciplining his daughter, one dad said, “It makes me sad when you choose to hit your sister instead of talking things out. It also makes God sad when we don’t choose to do the right thing.”
Appealing to the conscience is different from using guilt to manipulate. It is not a matter of telling a child, “You’re bad and you need to change.” Instead, we are trying to convey that the child is a good person who has done the wrong thing.
Ick. I really dislike this line of thinking. As Jeff VanVonderen says in Families Where Grace is in Place, when we use scripture or guilt to change someone, then that is manipulation. I have written about this before.
…you may get an answer like; “I’m really angry that I have to do this,” or the child may simply show his anger by stomping or complaining. In response, many Christian parents would say, “Don’t you ever let me hear you talk like that, [or act like that],” or “You are making Jesus sad by being angry,” or “Go to your room and don’t come out until you can be polite.” If so, you are provoking them to seethe.
It is better to acknowledge their anger. Tell them that you appreciate their telling you about their anger, or the fact that they are angry, even though they may still be required to do the chore they don’t like. – Jeff VanVonderen
Turansky and Miller must realize on some level that this is manipulative. They directly address the manipulation aspect.
Here’s my main issue though: If kids are somehow responsible for making sure Jesus has a good day, then they should be afraid. Afraid of their power and the fact that God’s mood can change at their whim. This is not accurate! How can a child ever feel safe in this kind of God? Perhaps Turansky and Miller are of the opinion that we are responsible for others feelings, but I do not believe that at all. I think they are really off base here.