Parenting can be a tough job sometimes. There are many decisions a parent must make along the way. One decision is to define the goal of discipline. Many Christian parents would say the goal of parental discipline is to correct bad behavior and nurture good behavior. While this is part of the duty of a parent, I don’t think that this the primary focus.
When the primary focus is correcting bad behavior, and ignoring the issues of the heart, it leads quickly to moralism, or what some call legalism. This involves simply performing the right behavior without establishing a hear change.
For me, the core focus of the parent is not on behavior, but the heart. I base this on Proverbs 4:23 which declares “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” What Solomon had in mind was that a person’s character or lack thereof begins not by their actions, but the motivation of their heart. Jesus also taught that the root of sinful behavior begins in the heart.
Concerning my daughter, I decided that the way to instill values, administer discipline, train, and correct behavior, begins by addressing her heart. It is my job then to teach her to confess her own sin by helping her unmask the issues of her heart in a loving, graceful, and biblical way so she can experience real heart change.