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.
I’m actually reading another book on the Heart-n-Home Bookreading club — saw your website link and thought I’d check it out.
Loved the “bone” you brought up in the “Say Goodbye…” book…. That is an awful lot of power to give a child — thinking “they” can determine God’s Day!! What kind of God is that is a 2 year old can ruin his day?
A wise pastor of ours once said “If someone says something that hurts your feelings, then that’s your prblem — not theirs!!”
Another thing to keep in mind….”most” young children are not “saved” and therefore have not been ‘transformed’ or ‘renewed’ or ‘born again’ — whatever you may want to call it. If adults who “are” saved can’t behave like Jesus, how can we expect a young child to behave like Jesus?? Like Elizabeth Elliott put it so plainly years ago when talking about marriage — you are a sinner who married a sinner!!
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad theology in Christian circles today!
Thanks for coming by, Karleen! I’m really enjoying the Heart-n-Home group 🙂 I’ve been wanting to read Say Goodbye… for a long time now, so I was very excited to hear that a group was reading it!
I am a firm believer in owning your own feelings and that you can’t MAKE anyone feel a certain way. I’m sure that is why this quote was extra annoying to me!
ITA with what you said about how adults can’t measure up, so it is ridiculous to expect children to do the same. You’re so right about the bad theology. Its scary!
Hi Amanda, I also found your site on Heart-n-Home site. I wanted to read this for a long time and actually had it already from the library. I am not able to keep up with the group, (husband was just diagnosed with a cronic disease that has turned our lives upside down, but we both wanted to read it together)but like reading the comments. Anyways, I was bummed to read your quote (I have only finished the first 2 chapters and really liked them) from them. I do agree that that is manipulation, God definitely does not NEED our obedience. But I also did once read about using scripture (not sure where right now…too many books;)) not to manipulate but to show that there is a more serious law out there than just their parent’s law, that we all do grieve God when we sin. What do you think about that? I will try to find where I read that, and think about that some more.
Another thing, children (or humans for that matter)are NOT good people that just make bad decisions. None are righteous, no not one. That is such a BAD mistake that most people make when thinking about our sin. Jesus didn’t come to *help* us make good decisions, he came to save us from God’s wrath. I could go on and on;) Just a BAD premise to start with our kids when we ignore original sin.
I just started my blog and trying to figure it out, but I will go on and on there someday when our lives adjust a little;) not on your comments~hee.
Its just good stuff to mull over. Thanks for sharing! I am going to read more of what you have here.
Welcome to my site, Renee! I’m so glad that you came to check it out! I’m so sorry to hear about your husband’s recent diagnosis. (((hugs)))
May I ask what I wrote that gave you the idea that I believed that, because I definitely think its a great issue to discuss! I do not believe that anyone is righteous apart from God, but we know that there is a righteousness that comes through God, apart from the law (in the same chapter as you quoted – where Paul is quoting – Romans 3).
I completely agree with what you wrote. Were you referring to my post on Clarkson’s book? I think that debating whether or not children are to an age to be accountable for their sin (very widely accepted in Rabbinical law) is a different discussion that whether or not they are righteous.
Thanks again for stopping by! I look forward to reading your blog! 🙂
Oh geez Amanda, sorry…no I was referring to the last line of the quote you left from the Saying Goodbye book. I hadn’t gotten as far as your quote and it was the first time that I has seen it (and I had to take it back to the library…darn). It disheartened me to see it…here it is : “Instead, we are trying to convey that the child is a good person who has done the wrong thing.” I guess I was in the midst of processing that when I posted. I was so impressed with the first 2 chapters of the book, that I was just bummed to see that fundamentally their view of the heart is not correct, or it doesn’t appear to be IMveryHO;) I also lost two posts to my blog last night…ugh, so I was a little discombobulated, sorry for not being clearer. Your spare the rod post gave me something to think about also. So much to process;) Thanks! Blessings on this Lord’s Day!
Oh that makes perfect sense!!! I was scratching my head trying to figure out how I could’ve given you that idea, LOL!!!
So sorry to hear about your posts that were lost 🙁 That is SO frustrating! 🙁
I have added you to my friends if you don’t mind. I am a very out of site out of mind type of person…its a huge liability for me;) (Which is one of the benefits of the blog for me~really more my reference page;)) I really enjoy your blog. And now you are reading Shelley…such good stuff. I would love to have coffee with you some day! Blessings to you!
Scott Turansky says
I’m hesitant to comment on a blog because it may be viewed as intrusive and short circuit the free flow of ideas when people realize that the author may be reading what’s written. Please accept my comments with grace and if they are out of place, please delete them.
It’s a challenge when you write a book because the words become permanent for the most part. In hind sight I regret having written that “A child is basically good but made a bad choice.” I definitely don’t believe that now, nor did I back then. Kids are basically sinful and the heart is despartately wicked. That’s what I regularly teach and have for years. I guess I was trying to focus on the reality that we’re valuable people even when we do bad things, valuable in the sense that God loves us because of who we are and not because of what we do. I wish I would have communicated this more clearly.
I also believe that the guilt manipulation parents use with their kids is wrong. So if a parent were to talk about scripture in a way that does that I believe a serious injustice is taking place. At the time I was focusing on Eph 4:30. I do believe that we can use scripture in a grace based approach to parenting that reveals things God doesn’t like. Manipulation however is wrong.
I wish you the best on your blog. Hope this isn’t viewed as offensive and that you continue to do your good work.
co-author of Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes in You and Your Kids.