Manipulate or Instruct?

manipulateorinstructmain"All's well that ends well" is one of those proverbial threads that form the tapestry of conventional wisdom. In this case, the tapestry is threadbare in spots. This thought leads to the idea that it doesn't matter how we get our children to obey as long as they obey. This thinking may well achieve its purpose today, but create serious problems in the years ahead.

Specifically I am talking about the distinction between instruction and manipulation when raising children to live for God.

In it's truest sense "instruction" means to teach children about God and his ways so that they are challenged to long for a deepening relationship with God (see Deuteronomy 6:5-7 & Ephesians 6:4).

"Manipulation" cares not the for establishing of a relationship with God. Manipulation is for rescuing oneself from a crisis of the moment. The American Heritage Dictionary, my favorite dictionary by the way, defines "manipulation" this way:

To influence or manage shrewdly or deviously.

To illustrate:

This particular afternoon the pressure is on. It seems as though there are 17 appointments, 6 music lessons, and 4 sports practices all scheduled for the same afternoon. Then, as mom heads out for the first appointment, she remembers that the new family at church is coming for dinner. Dad just called to say he is hung up at work and can't make the pick up at the sports practice. The kids are wired. Mom says to them something like this:

“I have a lot to do before dinner. I really need your help. If you guys are really good and don't slow us down, then I will buy your favorite ice cream for desert. So will you all promise me you will be really good today, please!" The kids roar their approval as they begin to debate what is their favorite ice cream.

This is an example of manipulation. In the short term this strategy appears to work.

[Read the rest of the article at Shepherd Press.]