Sunday, May 11, 2008

Chapter 7 - Discarding Unbiblical Methods

Saturday's Shepherding a Child's Heart (on Sunday)

Thank you for your patience with my delay in posting! My what a week this has been! But anyway - Happy Mother's Day to all of you mothers out there (particularly my mom and mother-in-law of course). :) And now, onto our chapter for the week.

This chapter opened up with an outlandish, yet true, story. After the perpetual whines of her daughter in the airport, a mother told her child, "I am sick of you. I hate you. Go away. Find someone else to yell at. I don't want you. I can't stand you. Get out of my sight." Wow! I absolutely cannot imagine such a situation. Though knowing my sinful heart, I cannot say it's something I would not do, apart from Christ.

Why did Tedd Tripp open his chapter this way? Because it is an extremely obvious unbiblical method of discipline. Yet some people would say that what this mother did was successful. After all - the little girl stopped whining and started pleading with her mom with "I'm sorry's." As Tripp words it, "the cure was worse than the disease."

There are many different types of unbiblical methods as well as unbiblical sources. For example, there is no shortage of books, magazines and programs regarding childrearing. The "experts" include various parents, talk show hosts, Dr. 'So and So,' etc. What do they all have in common? The human mind is the standard, not God's word. Tripp lists six different unbiblical methods, which I will list and comment briefly on.

#1: I didn't turn out so bad. Often, parents will do exactly what their parents did (rightly or wrongly), because "they didn't turn out so bad." And if they turned out okay, it should be fine for their children also. The problem is that this parent has not even evaluated the training method in light of God's standard. He has not assessed whether it even had a good impact on him. This doesn't mean that our parents did it wrong. It simply means that we need to evaluate all of our methods against God's word.

#2: Pop Psychology. On a personal note, this one drives me nuts. Whatever is the most "popular" method of the day and age is the right one - according to this line of thinking. There are many current pop methods but Tripp commented on bribery. Some "Dr.'s" suggest bribing your children for everything. This is how you get them to do what you want. This should be an obvious superficial method. The child is taught only to look out for himself and not others. The line of thinking, "I'll do what you want me to do if you give me what I want."

#3: Behavior Modification. We've spent a great deal of time discussing this in past posts. In short: good behavior=reward, bad behavior=punishment/ignored. As Tripp says, it's not wrong to praise our children for doing what is right, yet they should not be rewarded for fulfilling normal responsibilities. If we change a child's behavior and never reach his heart, we've accomplish nothing biblical.

#4: Emotionalism. This is what the lady in the opening illustration was using. She appealed to her child's fear of being alone in a strange place. Tripp even comments on the "kinder" use of this method. For example, when we as parents say, "It really makes me feel bad when you talk like that. You are hurting my feelings." Sometimes, we may even shame our child into behavior. Maybe we say, "You're letting down your father and hurting his reputation by acting such a way." When we use this method, we're training our children to respond to fear of emotional privation.

#5: Punitive Correction. This is when the threat of punishment is the regular and only way a parent controls his child. The child learns to be afraid or pay the consequences. Tripp reminds us that he is "not decrying a biblical use of the rod, but rather and impulsive response of angry frustration." It surprised me to find "grounding" listed here. Don't most parents ground? What could be wrong with that? The main thing is that issues of the heart are never addressed. Sure, the child may not call his sister a 'such-and-such' again but his heart hasn't changed any. He may still mumble it under his breath. Tripp believes that grounding is so consistently used universally because it's "quick, incisive, simple." For example: "You're grounded for a month. Go to your room." Wow. I never thought about it in these ways.

#6: Erratic Eclecticism. Erratic in that it constantly moves and always changes. Eclectic in that it draws from pieces of a variety of methods. Some ideas were taken from a t.v. show, some from a program, some from the church, some from their parents. This method leaves children confused and unsure of expectations. Now they are really lost.

In evaluating these methods, Tripp once again brings us back to "shepherding a child's heart." We need to reach the sins behind the behavior. If a young boy slaps his sister when she takes his toy, what should we deal with? The slap alone? Of course not. His selfish heart and anger should be addressed. But he's not the only culprit. The sister needs to be addressed for her selfishness as well. We need to get to the root of the behavior. Once the root is addressed (and corrected), the behavior will follow. We have to remember to point our children to Christ. These every day struggles are our most natural avenues to show them who God is, who they are, and why they need Christ.

Wow. I feel like I've written way too much. What are some unbiblical methods you've noticed in your own childrearing? As the mother of a toddler, I can lean towards behavior modification and punitive correction. But even at such a young age, my daughter needs to be hearing the truths of the gospel in preparation for the day she will finally understand them.

In Christ,

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