Tuesday, October 21, 2008
"Why don't you come and see him? You could hear what he's really like! You'll see that he's a wonderful guy!"
Clearly, there was a confidence that Tripp's personal charm would override his written beliefs and fix all misunderstandings.
The problem is that the Christian community is rife with parenting experts who achieve a cult-of-personality status because worried and insecure new parents look to them for answers.
These teachers assure parents that by following their advice, no matter how repugnant to the average person, they can guarantee the result will be an obedient child and godly adult. They promise that families will be free from the scourge of teenage rebellion and the embarrassment of children who "turn out" badly. They will produce submissive housewife daughters and sons who go into the ministry.
Although these teachers dispense advice that is quite similar to previous generations of Christian parenting gurus, each new generation of parents seems to be convinced otherwise.
Faced with the difficult task of raising a child, they rush into the arms of various "experts", many of whom dispense harsh advice with a folksy arrogance.
Sadly, by the time parents realize that this advice can harm their children and does not guarantee their children's "success", it is too late.
Take the example of Reb Bradley, author of the notoriously harsh parenting book, Child Training Tips. The Bradleys' technique was one of extreme control over their children, including physical punishment to enforce their dominance. Their approach to children is endlessly adversarial, seeking and creating opportunities to "subdue" the will of a child at all times.
Yet, the Bradleys were extremely popular conference speakers, known for their funny and warm presentations and what appeared to be a happy family. They sold many books and recordings of their presentations.
However, recently, Bradley wrote an article exposing himself as a gullible victim of his own advice. Eventually, when he could no longer dominate the boy, he kicked his teenage son out of his house. He watched a few of his other children rebel and unravel once they were free from his complete dominance in the home.
"As each of my three oldest children reached adulthood I was shocked to discover that they did not conform exactly to the values I had sought to give them. They had retained much of what I had given, but not everything. Instead of being perfect reflections of my training, they each turned out to be individuals who had their own values and opinions. I had wrongly thought them to be exactly like wet clay, me being the potter with total control over what they would become. I was not prepared for their individuality, nor was I ready to see them as fleshly beings."
Interestingly, his disappointment is largely for his wife and himself and his comments sympathize with other similarly disappointed parents who spanked and spanked with rods and spanked babies and endlessly controlled and isolated and limited and dominated their children.
Strangely absent is an apology to his and other people's children who endured a painful childhood and were denied many opportunities for growth and independence because of his advice. Those children's relationship skills, educations and decision-making capabilities were all stunted in an effort to produce a person who would mirror their parents' conception of godliness, whatever the cost.
I give this example because it displays the danger of allowing a guru's charm to override the implications of what he or she is actually saying. That is why I quote Tripp's book and do not wax sentimental about his charm as an individual.
Mars Hill parents saw Ted Tripp once. The books they bought will be reread over and over as problems surface. They are young and convinced they have stumbled on a child-rearing formula that the rest of us fools cannot possibly understand. That's why I'm worried.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Believe it or not, peaceful protesters were spat upon and yelled at by parents attending this conference and demonstrators were hounded on public property by church security.
By and large, Seattle citizens have responded very negatively towards Tripp's harsh teachings and the endorsement by Mars Hill of baby spanking and the infliction of pain and fear on young children's minds and bodies.
And Mars Hill? They intend to go right on promoting Ted Tripp's book in a church full of young, impressionable parents:
Children’s Ministry Director:Matt Grante. firstname.lastname@example.org. 206.816.3742
The Shoreline campus seems to be affectionately known as the "Mars Hill Baby Factory", so there will be a lot of babies and toddlers there to receive Ted Tripp punishments.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
"Spank. When I picked up this book, my son was about to turn 18 months old and Justin and I were thinking through how to biblically discipline a toddler. Tedd Tripp reinforced our belief that we would be harming our child if we did not spank him. His book includes a detailed list of how to properly go about spanking, which we now have posted on the fridge in shortened form. It’s our cheat sheet (novice spankers need help!). The most important point Tripp makes here is that spanking must never be done out of anger. Rather, it is done because we represent God as the authority in our children’s lives, and we must bring them back in line with his will."
The article was written by a young mother who found Shepherding a Child's Heart to be "helpful and convincing". She cozily notes that she has already begun spanking her son, barely two years old, and jokes about her "cheat sheet" of spanking instructions from Tripp's book on the fridge.
Here is a quote for this mother who is choosing to inflict painful spankings on her son’s buttocks:
“Even without sexual motives on the part of the punisher, spanking can interfere with a child's normal sexual and psychological development. Because the buttocks are so close to the genitals and so multiply linked to sexual nerve centers, slapping them can trigger powerful and involuntary sensations of sexual pleasure. This can happen even in very young children, and even in spite of great, clearly upsetting pain.”
My question to this mother is whether her son, like all humans, has buttocks which are close to his genitals and which are linked to sexual nerve centers.
Is she aware that painfully slapping her toddler’s buttocks can stimulate sexual nerve centers?
Is she aware that spanking a naked erogenous zone on her son’s body could derail his normal sexual development and cast him into the enormous community of people who have lost normal sexual function in favor of a paraphilia inflicted on them by their own parents?
Does she own her son in such a way that she is entitled to take risks with his sexual and emotional health?
But what is the reality? Do people decide to have an abnormal fixation on spanking? Can they be cured? How does this affect their life from puberty onwards?
Monday, September 22, 2008
In only a few weeks, a small group of determined individuals organized several demonstrations, contacted multiple press sources, facilitated and inspired multiple articles, discussions and blogs.
To those people: Please accept my thanks and admiration. I don't think this could happen anywhere but Seattle.
I want to share some excerpts from the Slog article, which covered the Ted Tripp conference: Ted Tripp, the Paradox, and How to Wield the Power of Christ Against Your Children
"Tripp’s image was projected on four giant screens as he condemned modern society for being “obsessed with equality” and refusing to accept the authority of God. "
For those of you who don't know, Ted Tripp is a strong complementarian and is involved in the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. In a nutshell, he is part of the movement obsessed by hierarchy which teaches the dominance of men and the submission of women. This movement teaches that women are less inclined to rational and analytical thought than men. (Don't argue, Mar Hill members, or I will be forced to supply you with a direct quotation.)
Part and parcel of this teaching is that children are part of the hierarchy, just above the family dog, and must be made submissive to their parents at the earliest time possible. According to Tripp, this is about the time they go home from the hospital maternity ward.
And, naturally, that will require some pain to be inflicted!
"His directions, in contrast, were much more specific: “remove [the child’s] drawers,” because “we don’t want the spanking to be lost in the fabric of the pants.”
Of course, we already read that Ted wants people to inflict pain upon the child's bare skin in his book. Once again, we have the odd reference to "drawers" which must be Tripp's attempt to be funny about the infliction of said pain. Because hurting a child is funny, huh, Ted?
"Smack him, and make sure you use a paddle that
I didn't know Tripp recommended using an implement. This makes spanking a baby or toddler much more physically dangerous, because the parent cannot feel how hard the strikes are. I'm sorry, Mars Hill babies.
“spreads the shock over the wide area.”
This sounds somewhat like an interrogator discussing how to cause maximum pain without leaving any obvious or incriminating marks in the prison staff lounge. Calling the impact of the smack a "shock" is a very strange violent way of referring what we are supposed to believe is a loving spanking, isn't it?
Thursday, September 18, 2008
In his wake, he will leave a residue of poison.
He will teach parents to rely heavily on spanking to discipline children, toddlers and even infants unable to walk or talk.
He will teach parents to spank children and babies based on their perceived motivations. He will teach parents that the primary motivations of their children are dark and fallen.
He will teach a seedy, ritualized form of spanking that will include baring the child, holding the child close and slapping the buttocks until the child cries with pain.
He will teach that the spanking process must be done over and over until a state of "submission" is reached. As the quotation below explains, the child will submit out of fear of pain:
"...the fear induced by corporal punishment belongs primarily to none of these categories. It is essentially and pre-eminently the fear of physical pain. It is the fear inevitably associated with suffering of a degrading, deliberate and debasing nature. Fear which is associated with and restricted to physical pain, as a punitive factor, possesses no true reformative power... "
If you are signed up for the conference, please consider not going. If you go to the conference, please consider not taking Tripp's advice.
Monday, September 15, 2008
What are the costs of hosting Ted Tripp here in Seattle at Mars Hill Church?
Let's check his website:
2. What costs am I responsible for?
The seminar host is responsible to cover the following costs:
■ $3,000.00 speaking fee
- We will procure the airline ticket.
■ One night's lodging
- We ask that you procure the lodging since you will know the most about accommodations in your
area. Due to his frequent traveling, Pastor Tripp prefers to stay in a motel if possible. Pastor Tripp
usually arrives Friday in the late afternoon or early evening, and departs immediately after the seminar
■ Checks must be made payable to Grace Fellowship Church.
- You will be invoiced the week after your seminar for the balance of $2,500.00 ($3,000 - $500 deposit)
plus travel costs.
It strikes me that he has not included all the costs on this list.
Here's some other costs:
1. Children will pay pain, fear, bewilderment and anxiety. Some will pay their sexual and/or emotional health. Some may pay their physical health.
2. Parents will pay the price of their compassion and parental instincts not to hurt their babies and children. Some will pay their healthy relationships with their children.
3. Extended families and friends will pay their unity and peace to Ted Tripp, as relationships are frayed by disagreements over his punitive practices. How many in the Christian community have seen grandparents alienated from their children and grandchildren (I have), or have seen long-time friends painfully divided over punitive discipline techniques (I have).
Please check the articles on the "Parenting in Jesus' Footsteps" website:
Here's the testimony of a woman who got Tripp-like spankings, and what they cost her:
"Mother firmly believed in spankings as discipline for her children because they "worked" so well. All she needed to do if my behavior displeased her was say, "Carol, do you want a spanking?" and that would frighten me into obeying her. And if she told me to do the dishes and I didn't do them very well and got spanked for it you can bet those dishes were unusually spotless for the next couple of days. But spankings also left me with lifelong emotional and sexual problems that I still don't know how to fix despite years of therapy. My mother got an obedient daughter and cleaner dishes and I got a lifelong mess inside me."
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Watching parents and their babies and children at Mars Hill today, I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Mark Driscoll encouraged parents to register for the Ted Tripp conference, lauding him as an excellent parenting speaker. I am afraid of what will happen to those babies and children if Mars Hill parents take Tripp’s advice.
I have blogged a lot about babies, but it is now time to find out what our excellent parenting expert teaches about spanking children, and I’m going to focus on little girls, one of the most vulnerable groups for sexual predation.
Let’s say that a father is spanking his little girl. Here is the process that Tripp recommends:
1. The father takes the little girl to a private place.
2. He strips the little girl of her pants or pulls up her dress. He pulls down her underpants exposing her bare buttocks (and most likely genitals)
3. He lays her across his lap. We will talk about why he recommends this in a moment.
4. He slaps her naked buttocks painfully with his hand.
5. He spanks her until the little girl is “sweet” and “submissive”. Perhaps he will ask her if she is going to be “sweet” now, or if she needs to be slapped on her naked buttocks again.
6. The two hug and proclaim their love for one another.
No one can deny that this is what Tripp teaches. It is stated in his book, Shepherding a Child’s Heart.
Tripp recommends baring the child in order to increase the pain of the spanking. But the
Stop the Rod website asserts that Tripp teaches: “God demands that parents spank bare bottoms, even infants, and that this brings ‘intimacy’.”
Tripp recommends putting the little girl in a position of physical closeness on the father’s lap in order to “put the spanking in context of your physical relationship” (page 151, Shepherding a Child’s Heart). This disturbing statement would be at home on an adult sexual bondage website and we all know it.
Out of the hundreds of men who are being given this advice at Mars Hill Church, do you think there are some for which this combination of purposeful exposure, closeness, slapping and seeking submissiveness of little girls will be a problem?
Is it possible that practicing of Ted Tripp’s spanking techniques will trigger something in a certain percentage of fathers who have latent inclinations that they do not even know about?
Many people who are “not really opposed” to corporal punishment imagine spanking to be a perfunctory swat on the backside of a child who just ran in the street or lit the house on fire.
But Ted Tripp’s spanking method is a ritualized process, which emphasizes bare buttocks, physically positioning the little girl to be in contact with the father’s body and the goal of the little girl’s loving submission to the father at the end of the process.
Mars Hill will be exposing these teachings to hundreds of fathers of little girls next week. Are you as worried as I am?
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Let’s look at these three problems with Tripp’s teaching:
1. Spanking is applied based on the parent’s perception of the child’s attitude or motivation.
Fear, sadness, shock or pain may cause the child to give the appearance of rebellion. Additionally, Tripp seems to invest in a sort of magical thinking that the parent can always know the child’s attitude or motivations.
2. Spanking is good for pre-verbal infants and toddlers.
Pre-verbal children are very vulnerable to abuse, because they are unable to express themselves and do not understand how to placate or submit to a parent. We must also include disabled children, such as those with autism, retardation or Asperger’s Syndrome.
3. Repetitive, painful spankings seemingly have no upper limit.
Tripp advises to spank and spank and spank again until a child is “sweet” (what “sweetness” is will depend on what the parent wants: a happy smile, cessation of crying, a willing hug, or some sort of sense that the parent gets that the child has submitted). An implacable parent may not accept any response as valid “sweetness”, especially if he or she wants to keep spanking.
One father reflects on the spanking process taught in Tripp’s book:
My wife and I were not against spanking - so we figured we could look into implementing his disciplining steps. Basically his steps are:
1.) Describe to the child what they did wrong, or how they disobeyed
2.) Remind them of Eph. 6:1
3.) Give them one spanking
4.) Hug them and tell them that you love them.
5.) If the child's heart does not seem right repeat steps 3 & 4 until it does.
6.) Pray with the child.
We were not crazy about step 5 - seemed more along the lines of "The spankings will continue until you behavior changes".
This father was right in being worried. Luckily, he was wise enough to discern a problem.
Let’s look at a possible scenario with a combination of these three problems. A baby wants to look at the cat in the windowsill while he is sitting on his father’s lap. He leans over to see the cat. The father perceives this as rebellion (the baby is refusing to sit in his lap). He takes off the baby’s diaper and slaps bare skin several times. The baby screams in pain. The father lifts the baby up, but the baby is frightened and in pain and does not stop crying when comforted. The father perceives a “heart attitude” of rebellion, and that the child is not “sweet”. He takes off the baby’s diaper again and slaps bare skin again several times. Once again, the child is not placated by comforting. The father spanks again. And again. And again. He spanks the child until he is finally exhausted and stops crying and falls asleep.
The father has followed Tripp’s expectations. Repeated spankings have made the child quiet and “sweet”. When the father changes the baby’s diaper later, he notices that the marks he left are still swollen on the baby’s bare skin and are painful.
The father’s treatment of this baby was abusive and the baby had no cognitive or emotional ability to understand what had triggered this painful punishment, or how to make it stop.
Ted Tripp will be teaching up to 1,000 young parents at Mars Hill Church in six days.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Christian parenting is very much like a frequently-covered song. The same melody pops up over and over from generation to generation. While the ideas may be packaged in sweeter, more acceptable terminology, the basic message is the same. Infant spanking dates back to people such as Susannah Wesley, who taught her children to fear the rod before they were a year of age.
Ted Tripp’s book is a perfect example of this phenomenon. Let’s look at the “how” of Tripp’s discipline method for babies. Please remember that this advice applies to infants and toddlers.
Once a parent has established a rebellious motivation for an infant’s actions, Tripp emphasizes that it is now the parent’s duty to “save” the child from the evil of his own heart. The child must be restored to the proper relationship with her parents, one of submission.
Babies, emphasizes Tripp, must be trained to be submissive literally from birth.
p.134 “Acquaint your children with authority and submission when they are infants. This training starts the day you bring them home from the hospital.”
We will not discuss the frightening implications of this statement, namely that parents must somehow act on newborn babies to make them submissive to the parental will.
Tripp believes that the primary (perhaps only) tool to rescue children from rebellion is spanking. This applies to all children, regardless of age, but he particularly recommends it for small children, because it’s “tactile”. Yes, you heard that right. “Tactile”.
Let’s look at the “rod” process for babies and children as described in Tripp’s book:
The child or baby is taken to a private place. (We will discuss the key reason for this in a later post.)
The child or baby is stripped of clothing such as pants, underpants or diapers so that naked flesh is exposed.
The child or baby is slapped on the buttocks hard enough and long enough to cause pain and crying.
Tripp makes it clear that it is to inflict pain. He speaks disparagingly of parents who do not remove the baby’s diaper beforehand.
p.114 “I have witnessed spankings administered through a double layer of diapers to a child who never stopped moving long enough to know he had been spanked. The spanking was ineffective because the parents never made the rod felt.”
In Tripp’s parenting model, the parent who does not inflict sufficient pain is viewed as a weakling too unloving to properly drive wickedness from the heart of the baby or child.
The most righteous parent is the one most determined to inflict proper pain.
(Quotes are taken from Ted Tripp’s book, Shepherding a Child’s Heart.)
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Of course, the ideas of “evil” or “rebellion” could not be explained to such a small baby, nor is there any indication that an infant can understand the idea of accountability or consequences. If a baby that small is “punished”, there is no way of knowing what she thinks is going on, other than that pain has been inflicted. From sheer shock or fear, a baby might stop doing an action and appear to be “obeying”. The baby might continue what it was doing and appear to be “rebelling”. So the results of “punishing” a baby are strictly based on the incidental response of a baby to pain. It may, in fact, look like it’s working.
Shocked or scared into stopping an action, the baby will appear to have "submitted" to its parent. If the baby continues the action, not understanding why it has been "corrected", then the baby will warrant more punishment, inflicted on bare flesh. It all seems so arbitrary, doesn't it?
None of this matters in TedTrippLand. Tripp is convinced that parents can understand the motivations of even pre-verbal infants. It’s not that hard, because most children have mostly bad motivations for most things they do.
From Shepherding a Child’s Heart:
p.24 “Since it is the Godward orientation of your child’s heart that determines his response to life, you may never conclude that his problems are simply a lack of maturity. Selfishness is not outgrown. Rebellion against authority is not outgrown. These things are not outgrown because they are not reflective of immaturity but of the idolatry of your child’s heart.”
Having established the evil tendencies of the baby, it is now a matter of “disciplining” the baby. The child’s wicked motivation and/or action must be corrected and the baby must be made submissive to the parents. Ted Tripp normally recommends the “rod” and “reproof” for this, but since babies don’t talk, it’s all “rod” for them.
From Shepherding a Child’s Heart:
p.105 “The child is a sinner. There are things within the heart of the sweetest little baby that, allowed to blossom and grow to fruition, will bring about eventual destruction. The rod functions in this context. It is addressed to needs within the child. These needs cannot be met by mere talk. Proverbs 22:15 says, ‘Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.’ God says there is something wrong in the child’s heart. Folly or foolishness is bound up in his heart. This folly must be removed, for it places the child at risk.”
What might trigger a session with the “rod” for an 8-month old baby. Let’s see what Tripp says:
From Shepherding a Child’s Heart:
The Hat Offense:
p. 106 “Watch a baby struggle against wearing a hat in the winter. Even this baby who cannot articulate or even conceptualize what he is doing shows a determination not to be ruled from without. This foolishness is bound up within his heart. Allowed to take root and grow for 14 or 15 years, it will produce a rebellious teenager who will not allow anyone to rule him. The spanking process drives foolishness from the heart of a child. Confrontation with the immediate and undeniably tactile sensation of a spanking renders an implacable child sweet.”
The Wiggle Offense:
p.154 “When your child is old enough to resist your directives, he is old enough to be disciplined. Rebellion can be something as simple as an infant struggling against a diaper change or stiffening out his body when you want him to sit on your lap.
The Exploring a Bookcase Offense:
p. 154 “When our oldest child was approximately 8 months old, we were confronted with parenting our first mobile child. We had a bookshelf constructed of boards and bricks. Fearing the shelf would fall on him, Margy told him not to pull himself up by the shelf. After moving him away from the shelf, she left the room. As she peeked in on him, she observed him surveying the room. Not seeing her, he headed back toward the forbidden bookshelf. Here was a young child, not yet able to walk or to talk, looking to see if the coast was clear so he could disobey. Obviously, he was old enough to be disciplined.”
My next post will describe the process of inclicting physical pain that Ted Tripp recommends for babies to correct their rebellion.
Ted Tripp will be teaching these principles in our city to a church full of young parents within two weeks time.
Monday, September 8, 2008
If there’s anything that should warn you off of a child-rearing book, it is that the author admits that your fear of being arrested for using his methods is entirely valid!
Another thing that should warn you off of a child-rearing book is the fact that it has garnered so much concern, by both Christian and non-Christian people, that there is a campaign to get Amazon to stop selling it.
One Amazon customer writes of Shepherding a Child's Heart [emphasis mine]:
"Lest someone accuse me of being a rapid anti-spanker, I'm not. I recognize and accept that there is Biblical support for spanking your children. My problem is with the concept that you MUST spank to be a Biblical parent. What utter nonsense to think that there is only one method in which we can raise Godly children. And, Tripp makes no bones about his beliefs that there is only ONE way to parent your children Biblically, and that is with heavy-handed
"Essentially, this book is a spanking manual. And, when Tripp is not describing the precise method and action for spanking, it is his other message that is so much deeply disturbing than the insistance that you MUST spank. Tripp believes that as Biblical parents, what we must truly control is not the actions but the heart of our children. And to this end, he advocates spanking children not for their actions, but for what we interpret their heart to be. He espouses that if we tie those heart-strings, then we will *know* the heart of our children. And thus, we MUST discipline for what we know of their heart, and discipline until we turn their heart. "
Did you hear that everyone? This book advocates more than physically punishing children for their actions. It advocates corporal punishment for what parents assume to be their motivations and attitudes.
This explains his advice regarding physically punishing babies under the age of two, who are incapable of expressing themselves. The parents simply "know" that the child is acting out of evil motivation.
More on Tripp's teaching about infant spanking comes next.
Tripp will undoubtedly be selling his book, Shepherding a Child's Heart at these events.
Ted Tripp and his book express disturbing and harmful ideas about disciplining small children, and even babies. He will teach these ideas to parents in Seattle, a city where harsh, religious, rod-based punishment techniques are not the norm, to an audience of young parents. These parents are eager to receive advice and aspire to be the best parents possible.
This blog will focus on what advice Ted Tripp will be giving them, and how this could impact many vulnerable babies, toddlers and small children.
I hope that my blog will do two things:
1. Encourage public response to the decision of Mars Hill to bring Ted Tripp to Seattle.
2. Educate the public in general, and parents in particular, regarding the harm Ted Tripp's teaching will inflict on children, families and our larger community.