It is so easy when dealing with a 'discipline issue' in the lives of kids to come across with the attitude of "You need to clean up your act!" I think that is my default position.
And yet, is that grace-based, gospel parenting? I was reminded again last night that children (or their grown-up parents) often don't need a lecture/sermon on how they need to start acting better. At least, that isn't the first thing we need. What we need most desperately is a view of our heart from God's perspective. Having that view, we need that heart which is corrupt and selfish to be clean. And that is where the gospel has the megaphone. The gospel is what "cleans our hearts." The promises of the New Covenant in Ezekiel and Jeremiah promise just that.
Too often, when I am talking to our children it is easy to fall into the 'clean up your act' mode. It may show more about my heart than I might realize. Perhaps, I think I can clean up my own act, and rather than coming to God's throne for mercy and heart transformation, I may opt for my own plan and my own effort.
God help me to have a clean heart, and not just make another failed attempt to clean up my act.