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Tantamount to spiritual abuse
on 23 July 2011
Let me preface this review by saying that I am a committed conservative Christian, who has studied theology at Bible college and completely committed to the authority of the word of God. I am also not, per se, against smacking as a form of discipline.
What Ted Tripp advocates in his chapter on discipline is abusive. I'm trying to think of another word, but I can't possibly soften it. He suggests spanking every time a child disobeys, on any level. The method for spanking, as highlighted by other reviewers, aims to hurt and humiliate- spanking must be done on the bottom, with clothes taken down, and hit as many times as will bring real pain (he explains that some children appear to be less sensitive to the hitting, so have to be hit repeatedly). I wish I was exaggerating! He really says this! I am baffled as to why my conservative evangelical friends think this is good handling of scripture.
Not only this, but I have a problem with how he defines disobedience. According to Tripp, any questioning of the parent (eg 'why do I have to go to bed now?') is disobedient and must be punished. The reason for this is because parents are in the place of God, and so they have God's authority over them.
As another reviewer has pointed out, although Tripp (rightly) identifies children as sinners, he seems to forget parents are too. Parents are given responsibility to children, but they do not replace God. Questioning a sinful parent is not the same as questioning God. Given that David wrestled with and railed against God in the Psalms, I find it alarming that Tripp is suggesting that children cannot question even sinful parents. It is hugely important that children are able to distinguish between relating to parents and relating to God. This has the potential to be incredibly spiritually damaging.
I was left wondering where in Tripp's book, trumpeted by so many as the 'biblical' way of parenting, was the gospel of grace? Good exegesis must lead to good praxis, and I find both severely lacking in this book. I would love it for Christians to write a book on parenting that talks about God's grace and love as a foundation, and I am dismayed that so many Christians have been taken in by this book.