Threat or Bribery

March 22, 2011, 0 Comments

Recently we have fallen into the trap of “Threat” parenting. It looks like this, “If you don’t sleep now, I’m going to send you out!”

This method is behaviouristic in nature. It is however contrary to the sowing and reaping principle in the Bible. Ps Tedd Tripp quoted in his book, Instructing a child’s heart under the topic ‘Rewards/Punishments of Behaviourism’ of which goals are often driven by consequences as an external attempt to change behaviour – what will appeal to the child enough to be a motivator or sting enough to be a deterrent. Popular behaviourist tactics such as time out, grounding and loss of stuff do not bear out Biblical truths all by themselves. They simply serve as power play to prove our powers of persuasion through deprivation of their stuff and privileges. This plants seeds of rebellion in a child’s already defiant heart.

I’m not talking about the training of a 1or 2-yr old to do something, or effect a behaviour which sets the tone for later training of the heart when they are cognitively ready. This method is important at that stage. We’re talking about a 4 yr-old who is capable of negotiating, persuading, delaying, choosing to ignore and really right out not obeying first time.

Parents want to be gracious and are gracious to our children. We sometimes get drawn into a ‘discussion’ which really is a ‘negotiation’. We wanted to kind of keep the peace, and kind of not ruffle any young feathers or we are genuinely too tired to send them out, through a barrage of tears and what-have-yous to get to the heart of the matter. We fall prey to the “carrot and stick” method which basically is threat out right. It goes something like, “If you don’t sleep now.. I’m going to send you out.” or “If you are not listening to me, I think you can forget about going out with me.”

Father, we have been too quick and too furious with our words! We need your cleansing and forgiveness for that!

What we want to do when a child draws us into a negotiation, we would want to continue to expect first time obedience. Scripture tells us that obedience is what our God wants from us. Doing things half-way is not obedience. That is being half-hearted. That means, an instruction not obeyed first time will be given a consequence.

To put it in perspective, here is what Pastor Paul Tripp mentioned in one of his interview. “That a child needs firm, loving, discipline, authority and grace. We live in the world of authority and we need to image that authority and we need to be a person of grace.

Grace is an important word, because there is a tendency in parents in our appropriate concern for our children to ask the law to do all that only grace can accomplish! If a parent by the tone of our voice, by the enforcement of the law could change the heart of our child, Jesus would never need to die on the cross.

My job is to act appropriately towards my child, so that they can transact with God, but we can’t do that transaction. We are only a tool for that change. We are not the ones that create the change. God is the one. It is really liberating, because that’s not our job! However, we believe in godliness and love and we keep doing that everyday.”

Hebrews 12:11,
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

I learnt that there will be wisdom needed where a child taste the consequence of his foolishness and there would be time a child be given mercy where he least expects it. Discipline is designed to restore and not punitive.

So back to giving ‘threats’, perhaps there would be situations which calls for good clear explanations when asked, and there would times where consequences be met out. But we’re going to NOT dish out threats or bribery, for all its worth!

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