Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Quelling the evil that lurks in the 8-month old heart

Now that the 8-month old baby can crawl, babble a few syllables and is beginning to grasp object permanence, it is time for him to be held accountable for the evil rebellion that lurks in his heart.

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.

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