Reasoned Obedience
According to Michael Pearl, the first step in child raising is to enjoy your children. Your "right" to discipline your children extends naturally from your love for them. He is almost right in that, and if these were secualr materials, I would not bring this up. In truth, as in all relationships, the parent-child relationship begins with our relationship with Christ. Only when the parent walks in the light, can he effectively lead the child on the path of righteousness. Second comes the relationship between mother and father. This provides a secure environment in which to raise happy, healthy children. The relationship between Christ-fearing parents should be the first model children see of Christ's loving sacrifice. (Ephesians 5:22-24) When the parents walk with Christ and have a godly relationship with one another, the ideal conditions are met for the child, regardless of material concerns.

Second is training. I almost agree with this notion, as well. I have some difficulty with the use of the word "training." It is used in Proverbs 22:6, but in the oringinal Hebrew it has the proper sense of "narrowing." We are to narrow the way for our children. In that, I see the need to create clear boundaries. It is not far from the sense that it is used in the No Greater Joy materials In our home, we call this step modelling righteosness or, if you go back to my training materials, preventive teaching. From the website:
Training is done before the need to discipline arises. Training is what you do in the moments when all is well and you take time out to condition them to obedience. Your well-spoken words of praise and instruction will prevent many possible acts of disobedience or foolishness. Impart an understanding of why obedience is important. When you cause children to understand that you will hold to your authority firmly, you are pre-conditioning their hearts and minds to obedience.
The main principles laid out are good. As with a lot of these materials, I object to the word choice. Discipline means nothing more than "to learn." It is not (or should not be) equated with punishment. We are disciples of Christ leading our children on the path of righteousness. That is discipline. So with a little rewording, I can wholeheartedly agree that raising disciplined children begins with training and that this is separate and apart from punishment. This form of teaching occurs when things are calm and children are compliant. This instruction serves as a guard, or a narrowing of the way, preventing future disobedience. This could almost have been taken from the steps of preventive teaching, from Common Sense Parenting, (page 63):
1) Describe what you would like.
2) Give a reason.
3) Practice.
There are two main differences, however. First, No Greater Joy puts the emphasis on the negative. A stumblingblock is laid out to entice the child to sin and then swift punishment ensues in order to teach the child that this behavior is not acceptable. A toddler may be given a book and then swatted every time he tries to tear the pages in order to train him not to tear books. The emphasis in Common Sense Parenting, however, is on the postive. Here, the parent will give the child a book, tell him what it is for and show him how to turn pages. As he practices this skill, he will be praised.

Second, is the notion of conditioning. It is a socialist concept stemming from Pavlov's work with dog's. Pavlov learned that he could condition his dogs to salivate at the ringing of a bell. This philosophy is central to brainwashing techniques and even to the way our public school system is set up. It is a philosophy that takes the soul and sense of free will from the individual and instead defines human action as a set of programmed behaviors in response to environmental stimuli. The child may learn not to tear a book, but he doesn't know why. He doesn't even know what to do with the book. He will simply stay away from it. The conditioned response yields a very basic operating model in his = pain.

I desire for my children to be obedient. Scripture teaches us to honor our parents and even to submit to those in authority over us. However, what I advocate is reasoned obedience. Some time ago, I did a lesson with my daughter regarding this very concept. Our scripture lessons tend to be short...about ten minutes. Our focus is on the authority of God's Word and on learning to reason from scripture. This may seem odd to some, but if you look at the general course of the day, you will notice that I teach a lot from the bible. It is our main "textbook" in all subject areas. This is the result of one such study:

Eph 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.

From this, my daughter reasoned that:
1) Children ought to obey their parents.
2) The Lord put parents in authority over their children.
3) The phrase "in the Lord" means that you do not have to obey if your parents ask you to sin.
We talked about other people in authority over us and why they hold those positions. We talked about reasoned obedience. Since all authority is ultimately derived from God, we answer to God for our actions. If someone in authority tells us to do something we do not want to do, we should do it because they have authority. If they tell us to do something God's Word tells us not to do, we should not do it, no matter the earthly consequences.

My daughter may not question my authority. It is God-given. With that, I bear a great responsibility. She may, however, question my instruction. And she does. And when she does so appropriately (a skill we have practiced), we reason through the situation. Usually it has more to do with the fairness of a request. In such cases, I ask her to think whether I have asked her to sin. Fairness is not a primarly issue, so she reasons through that, yes, biblically she should comply even if it isn't fair. Other times, it has to do with something I said and did not follow through on. In those cases, she may hold me biblically accountable for the promises I have made and broken.

This is exaclty how I want my children to function in the world when they leave. Our leaders are in a postion of authority given by God. We cannot disobey every ordinance we disagree with. We must comply with an unfair tax code, traffic laws that may not always make sense and (at least in my mind) register our homeschools with the state. These are laws that do not hinder our ability to worship God and walk in the path He has laid out for us. However, we should hold our leaders accountable. And if a law is passed that requires my children to sin, I do not want them to compy because they have been conditioned to obey. I want them to know how and when to stand their ground, accepting the consequences but not yielding to sin.

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Incidentally, I have no idea how these two dots got here and have tried about everything to get them off.