Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Book review: Shepherding A Child's Heart

I'm currently reading this book with a group.  There is a lot to be gained from it and it's well worth reading and discussing.

In the first chapter it talks about looking at behaviors and the root cause, which is awesome.  Because I have experience in dog training and I relate everything to that, finding the real issue is always what we do when we want to correct a problem behavior.  In our discussion one of the moms even said how her daughter at times just needed a hug and her feeling alone was simply causing her to act out.

So far I have three main issues though:

1.  The author claims God commands us to spank our children.  Prior to reading this my husband decided that we would spank our son for disobeying us in dangerous situations.  Spanking originated as a Greek pagan rite of fertility and the Bible doesn't use the term even once.  He ironically says "You do not have the right to substitute what God has commanded with the popular ideas of the culture."  The practice of spanking had always been tied closer to erotica than discipline until the Catholic church endorsed it in the 17th century.  This is also when they modified circumcision to the dangerous procedure of today that removes the foreskin, rather than just a ceremonial clip that produced a few drops of blood, in an effort to reduce masturbation.  Here are the hard verses in the Bible that refer to beating children that many people refer to about spanking:
Prov 13:24: "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (diligently)."
Prov 19:18: "Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying."
Prov 22:15: "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him."
Prov 23:13: "Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die."
Prov 23:14: "Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell (Shoel)."
Prov 29:15: "The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame."
Notice that all of these are prior to Jesus and the new covenant between God and His people.  Also realize that symbols are used in the Bible, especially in Proverbs.  A more accurate translation of the first verse could be: “The father who fails to exercise authority hates his son, but the father who loves his son is diligent to instruct and correct him.”  If I saw someone beating their child with a club to keep their child from dying, or to prevent them from being childish, as a literal translation that supports spanking would suggest, I would call the police.  We all know that violence is wrong - especially in a world that has been saved through grace - the sacrifice of one.  We do not the atone for sins through pain, as Tedd Tripp instructs us to model to our children.  What sold me on not spanking was this: He mentions that spanking is best with young children because they fear it.  Didn't Jesus say "Do not fear" more than anything else?  Why would I want to teach my child this?

2. Tedd Tripp tells parents to start spanking as soon as children are able to disobey.  He gives this example:
 "When our oldest child was approximately 8 months old, we were confronted with parenting our first mobile child.  He crawled everywhere.  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."
Is there no possible way the baby could have just been looking around because he was set somewhere new?  Could he have wanted to touch the novel texture of the bookcase again as a way to learn about his environment?  Spanking is the answer according to Tedd Tripp, not baby proofing the areas your baby has unsupervised access to. It seems he believes babies are inherently bad and are capable of understanding that when they reach their arm up and touch a certain texture with a specific part of their hand that pain will be inflicted upon them by the person they trust most in the world.  Not only will they understand that, they will understand that they deserve it.  These parents automatically assume that their child is being bad. How does he even come up with the idea that a baby will know that if you pick him up and move him that he shouldn't go back to where he was before?  We pick babies up when they pull on our pants and put them down in other locations such as the crib, does this mean they should never be by our legs?  They are assuming the baby knows that he will get in trouble if he does a set of behaviors and that someone has to see him do it for him to get in to trouble. Why be a parent always looking for the worst possible thing in your kids?  Jesus tells us that we need to be like little children to enter heaven.

3.  He tries to use guilt and fear to motivate you to spank your children.  "Where will your grandchildren be 50 years from now if the foolishness in your child's heart is never driven away?  How will your child ever see his need of Christ's forgiveness and grace if he never faces the native rebellion of his nature and his inability to obey God from the heart. "

4. The idea that our babies are born bad.  Many Christian books are this way and I can't think of a worse concept to convey to new parents...  Check out this post about discipline and how bad behavior is more of a sign of unmet needs than a desire to be bad, or the 'sinful heart' coming out etc.

Have you read this book?  What are your views on spanking?

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