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Old 03-18-2007, 01:30 PM   #3
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Default Re: Unprepared for Parenting Resources

Resources about Tedd Tripp, author of Shepherding a Child's Heart

Here is a link to MarynMunchkins' review of Shepherding a Child's Heart: SACH review

Tedd Tripp's Shepherding a Child's Heart on the "How" of Spanking

Knitted_in_the_womb wrote: "By request...I'm posting an attachment to the letter my husband and I sent to our pastor about our concerns with Tripp. The actual letter dealt with our specific situation, and explained why were were bringing our concern to him--I posted the letter below the attachment since I think the attachment will be most relevant to list members. Unfortunately, he was still invited to do a weekend seminar at the church, so we ended up leaving the church (other factors did come into play). Please note...we don't think that churches should be promoting corporal punishment at all...but we thought that was too big of a battle to fight, and were just hoping to chip away at the iceberg a bit."

If the church is going to promote corporal punishment of children, we strongly believe that it is irresponsible to not provide concrete guidelines on what is and is not appropriate corporal punishment, because “Christian” material promoting excessive behavior abounds. Along those lines, we have heard that Tedd Tripp is scheduled for a speaking engagement at Calvary in April 2005. It is his teaching in his book that we feel is very strongly responsible for the current climate at Calvary that results in what we believe is excessive corporal punishment of children. We strongly urge you to read his book and be certain that this is a man that you want in your pulpit. For the first 100 pages of his book we find most of what he writes to be very sensible. But then he gets into areas that we find troubling:

Page 106 “’Punish him [a child] with the rod and save his soul from death’ (Proverbs 23:14). Your children’s souls are in danger of death—spiritual death. Your task is to rescue your children from death. Faithful and timely use of the rod is the means of rescue.” Quite simply, we feel that saying that the act of spanking can save a child spiritually detracts from the work that Christ did on the cross. However, understanding that the “rod” was often a sign of authority (the “Blue Letter Bible” , a very handy tool for researching the meanings of the original Hebrew and Greek words in the scriptures, reports that one of the meanings of the Hebrew “shebet” which is translated into “rod” in this verse is “a mark of authority”), and in this situation it was not used to strike people in Old Testament cultures. Proper use of our parental authority to guide and teach our children can result in them being more likely to accept the message of gospel (as is explained in 2 Timothy 3:15 “From childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus”), and in that the rod of authority guides a child to spiritual life.

Page 109 “Failure to obey Mom or Dad is, therefore, failure to obey God.” While we would agree that scripture admonishes children several times to obey their parents, we see nowhere that it admonishes parents to force this obedience—just as husbands are never given freedom to force submission from their wives. We find it very dangerous to equate obedience to parents with obedience to God because God’s instructions are perfect and would never cause us to sin, but parental instructions can be flawed—sometimes they ask more than the child is capable and in some cases they can lead a child to sin.

Page 151 “Remove his drawers so that the spanking is not lost in the padding of his pants.” We find this troubling when it comes to modesty issues, particularly because Jenn has female friends who were spanked in this fashion by their fathers well into puberty.

Page 152 “We have always been guided by Hebrews 12:11 ‘No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.’ If discipline has not yielded a harvest of peace and righteousness, it is not finished. On some occasions we have had to say to our children, ‘Dear, Daddy has spanked you, but you are not sweet enough yet. We are going to have to go back upstairs for another spanking.” -- This assumes that the “pain” of discipline must be physical, not emotional. It also assumes that the harvest must come immediately after the discipline, and that a child’s emotional demeanor is a measure of whether or not the child has taken the discipline to heart—which it often is not. Actually, a good Christian mentor of mine once told me that she thought it was very bad for a child to accept a hug from a parent immediately after a spanking—she thought that it was very important that children retain the inborn sense that it is wrong for a person who loves them to strike them—because removing that sense is part of what causes many adults to stay in physically abusive relationships. But even more concerning, use of Hebrews 12:11 in application to disciplining a child who is in sin is “proof text-ing” of an inappropriate nature since the context of this verse is adults who are being persecuted, not children who are in need of correction.

Page 154 “Rebellion can be something as simple as an infant struggling against a diaper change or stiffening his body when you want him to sit on your lap. The discipline procedure is the same as laid out above. You have no way of knowing how much a child a year old or less can understand of what you say, but we do know that understanding comes long before the ability to articulate does….When our oldest child was approximately 8 months old….Obviously he was old enough to be disciplined.” We fail to see why an infant’s God given wiggly nature should be interpreted as rebellion, and the description of the 8 month old’s behavior we see as the child’s age appropriate exploratory nature coupled with the age appropriate “impulse driven” behavior that does not recall recent instruction not to engage in the activity—not the sign of devious rebellion that Tripp interpreted it as.

Page 155 We will not quote the entire section…in summary he states that you should spank your child for “failure to hear” a parental command if the parent reasonably believes the child should have heard this. He does not instruct the parent to make sure he has the child’s attention, but rather places the burden on the child to always be on alert for the parent’s voice. We have a problem with this because we feel it fails to respect children. Steve is often slow to respond to things that Jenn says—to the point that she is often annoyed by his lack of response. But the simple reason is that he does not mentally process requests for several minutes if he is involved in something else—even if Jenn is right next to him! We have found that communication works much more smoothly if Jenn approaches Steve, asks for his attention, and having garnered it, then speaks to him. We feel that to treat our children with less respect than we treat each other—that is, to expect them to snap out of whatever they are doing to hear us yelling a command from a room or two away, or even to just walk up to them and start talking and expect them to stop what they are doing with no warning or chance to come to a reasonable stopping point—is not honoring them as persons created by God. We further feel that it would be poor modeling for how we want them to communicate with us.

Page 156 “There may be days in which nothing much gets done because of the demands of consistent discipline.” While we certainly would agree that there are days when the entire time is spent in teaching (“disciplining”) our children, we make the assumption that what Tripp is alluding to here is that there will be days were spankings are so numerous that they can not be counted.

Page 157 “You must use careful judgment. Some parents who spank their children have been reported for child abuse by unsupportive relatives.” While we agree with the concept of disciplining in a private setting to maintain a child’s dignity, we think the idea that the mode of discipline being used needs to be hidden from view for fear of child abuse charges is one that should be carefully examined—the Bible does not speak very highly of those things that are done “in secret.” One Christian we know commented that “If I weren’t a Christian, the way some Christians treat their children would turn me off from ever becoming a Christian.” In the situation described in our letter, the disciplinary situation was a stumbling block to Jenn, a sister in Christ to the family involved.

Page 157 “What if I know my child is lying to me?….What do you do? … If your child will not come clean about what he has done, then he will get away with it this time. That is sad, but your losses and his losses are less if you walk away than if you call him a liar.” We are wondering on what basis Tripp places maintaining the parental relationship ABOVE the 10 Commandments? We certainly agree that caution should be exercised in punishing a child that the parent believes has lied because we do know of cases were the child wasn’t lying and the parent was mistaken about things. But there are times when the parent will witness the infraction and know beyond any doubt that the child is lying. If he is going to say that children need to be spanked to restore their relationship with God when they sin, we see no Biblical justification for only spanking for rebellion to parental authority and not spanking for violation of the 10 Commandments.
Dear Pastor ____,

We are enclosing a book we would like you to read, Heartfelt Discipline by Clay Clarkson. It came to us very highly recommended by parents we respect. We found the book to be a powerful statement of Biblical principles for disciplining children, and the first book on Biblical discipline that we felt took a studious approach to the scriptures. We ask you to read it prayerfully and give us feedback on what you think of it.

Let us explain to you why we are sending you this book. On Memorial Day our family hosted a picnic for family and friends. We enjoy doing this. We were, unfortunately, “rained out” for the second year running, so we had a large number of people in our not so large house. The children eventually found their way to our daughters’ bedroom, where they were coloring and bouncing on the bed, and doing the things that children do to amuse themselves. As would eventually be expected in an event like this, our 5-year-old daughter came to Jenn at one point crying, claiming that another child had pushed her and hurt her leg. We know our daughter, we know that she has a very tender heart, and while that often translates into her being very compassionate about the injustices others face, it also means that she reacts very strongly to any perceived injustice against her. We also know that being a firstborn; she can be bossy (and the child who allegedly shoved her is also a firstborn; so while we don’t know for certain, he may also have that trait). Jenn suspected that she may have been being bossy to the other child, and the other child, feeling annoyed, may have given her a slight shove—the kind of things that little boys commonly do amongst themselves to say “hey, you are getting too big for your , lay off.” Jenn intended to calm Jessica down and talk to her about what happened to determine if Jessica needed any instruction regarding her behavior, but she had no intention of telling the other child’s parents since it seemed a minor issue and she feared they would over react.

However, another child told the child’s parents. Jenn tried to assure the parents that it was really nothing, but the father was soon zipping upstairs to speak to his son. A moment or two later he was downstairs in our kitchen asking Jenn if he could borrow a wooden spoon. She told him “no.” We have several problems with what was going on there. The first being that since no parent witnessed the event, we don’t really know what happened—and a child was about to be seriously spanked anyway. Did that child really push our daughter on purpose? We don’t know! Jessica often feels that her siblings pushed her on purpose, but in many cases if one of us witnessed the event what we see is that playful cavorting accidentally went a bit too far. Knowing that the other child’s parents recommend Tedd Tripp’s Sheperding a Child’s Heart, we expect that the father elicited a “confession” from his son prior to approaching Jenn and requesting the spoon. But we know all to well how easily false confessions can be obtained even by a well meaning parent—even Jenn’s grandmother recounts how she was falsely punished many times as a child when she confessed to doing things that her sister had done.

So why are we writing you with this? Because many times you have promoted the practice of spanking from the pulpit. Occasionally you add the disclaimer “but the mandate to discipline your child should never be used as an excuse for abuse!” And then you move on. You seem to think that all of the members of the congregation will agree with you about what “abuse” looks like. Let us assure you that they DON’T. Jenn came from an abusive home. Punishments she endured ranged from being forced to eat her own vomit (because her parents falsely assumed that she was throwing up on purpose because she did not like the meal—she didn’t like the meal—but she was also truly sick, and they never bothered to take her temperature or look for other signs that she was telling the truth about being sick), to being made to stand in a corner for 2-3 hours, to being denied food for an entire day (her brother once had food with held for 3 days), to having a 1” thick wooden paddle broken over her head (because she had told a friend her parents were thinking of changing churches, and she immediately went to Jenn’s father and told him that he “couldn’t” take Jenn away from her—despite Jenn begging her not to do this. Her father planned to strike her on the head with the paddle—this was the first and only time he asked Jenn to remove her glasses before “disciplining”). Jenn’s parents were upstanding members of their church; her father was even a statewide director for the Boy’s Brigade program. He was a “peer family counselor” at work. Despite having a “founded” child abuse report filed against them with Child Protective Services, they still to this day do not believe that they were abusive, but simply that they were fulfilling their God-ordained role to discipline Jenn and her siblings. Jenn had to go through weekly therapy for over a year to learn to have healthy relationships and to be able to hear someone address her as “Jennifer” without beginning to tremble in fear.

In Jenn’s case, the physical abuse began with wooden spoons. Soon after her father moved Jenn and her siblings in with their future stepmother, she began spanking the children—aged 5 to 9—with wooden spoons. Jenn remembers being forced to go get the wooden spoon herself for the “spanking.” We hardly can think of it as a “spanking” when many times it resulted in bruises and/or a broken spoon. Jenn remembers the fear. And apparently this was not an effective enough method of disciplining, because within less than a year the beatings had escalated to Jenn’s parents using her father’s belts—doubled over and swung with as much force and wind-up as they could generate, and within about a year after that the first wooden paddle—constructed out of a 1 X 6 board—was introduced. We say first because there were 3 over the years—Jenn’s sister also had one broken on her.
Jenn can not begin to tell you of the knots that formed in her stomach when that father asked if he could borrow a spoon, and she stood there not 3 feet from a crock filled with spoons and other utensils and simply uttered the word “no.” She wanted to scream, to burst out in tears, to beg him to understand what he was doing…but she just said “no.” A friend recently asked her if she could see where God has used her childhood in a positive way. Her answer is “yes, in so many ways.” We are hoping that one of those ways will be in helping other children who are in situations similar to hers.

So while she only uttered one word to that father, we are going to beg you to understand what you are doing when you endorse a general “spanking” from the pulpit, or when a clause to the constitution is quietly passed “affirming the correctness of Biblical corporal punishment of children.” You are encouraging parents like Jenn’s who do not believe they are abusive when they really are. You are encouraging the parents who read in Tedd Tripp’s book on page 152 to “spank until the child is sweet” that it is not only permissible, but godly to administer 20, 30, we’ve heard that Tripp has approved of up to 100 swats in a single spanking if that is what is needed to get the child to not be angry about the spanking (this book is spreading like wild fire among the parents at Calvary, we’ve addressed some specific concerns with this in a “sidebar” to this letter). You are encouraging the parents who laugh about having to carry a wooden spoon in their back pocket after the children spend a day at Grandma’s house because they are just “so” rebellious after that (this was from a mother who was very active in the leadership at Calvary, and another whose husband was very active). You are encouraging the mother who spanks her 12 month old daughter’s hand until it is “bright red” to continue on, rather than distracting the child from the statuette that she does not want the child to touch. You are encouraging the young mother who spanked her 3 year old child 4-5 times a night for getting out of bed, only to find out 2 weeks into this that her child was getting out of bed because he was having nightmares.

Based our experiences, particularly Jenn’s, you may see why we are concerned for these other children. We are concerned that spanking can often lead to a slippery slope in disciplinary techniques as the child gets older and does not respond to a simple swat. We find that parents who rely primarily on corporal punishment (as opposed to those who use it more as Dobson would recommend—infrequently) find it difficult to transition away from corporal punishment as the child gets older; they simply transition to more and more severe forms of corporal punishment. As a result, we were pleasantly surprised and encouraged by Clarkson's book, because it is firmly rooted in Biblical principles, yet offers a different perspective from many of the popular "Christian" parenting books. It is with this in mind that we hope you can read it. We look forward to discussing it with you in the future.

Thank you for your time!


Steve and Jennifer [last name removed]

Last edited by flowermama; 02-02-2011 at 08:28 PM.
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