In dealing with our babies, we need to use the same patience, respect and consideration that God uses with us. We must nurture their trusting faith in our care and love as a firm foundation for a later relationship with a loving, faithful and responsive God. The ``laws" we give them must be within their understanding and capability to obey.
Those that respond to their baby's crying with patience, comfort, and discernment are modeling Jesus's compassionate character to their baby and are being controlled by His Spirit. Those who harden their hearts and let their babies cry for long periods are being controlled by a secular theory of parenting which has led them to believe this is best for their child. Neither parent is being controlled by the baby itself. It is disastrous to the parent-child relationship for the parents to view themselves as being in a battle for control with the child, thus setting up an adversarial atmosphere. This ``adversarial stance" becomes even more detrimental as the child becomes a toddler and especially in the teen years when the child really needs the parent's empathy as they struggle with their own emerging role in society at large.
Children are born totally dependent emotionally and physically on their parents. As a parent, do not fight against this dependence, rather see it as your responsibility to foster this childish dependence, slowly transferring it from dependence on YOU to dependence on GOD. By the time they are in their late teens, the transference should be nearly complete.
Those who push their babies to ``self-comfort" not only transfer their dependency to objects (toys, pacifiers, blankets, etc.) but also encourage them to internalize their needs and emotions, becoming ``independent and self-sufficient." These American ideals later actually undermine a childlike dependency on God and make difficult the emotional intimacy He desires to have with us. They also can undermine the dependence on other humans that makes possible life-long marital commitments and emotional intimacy with ones spouse.
"People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the little children to him and said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of Cod like a little child will never enter it,' " Luke 18:15-17. God desires us to have a childlike dependency on and faith in Him.
God's goals for your children are the same as God's goals for you: that they would love Him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and love each other as He has loved us. It is neither a Biblical nor God-ordained goal that your child should ``sleep through the night" or eat on a preordained schedule. Allowing your baby to cry uncomforted merely to accomplish these worldly goals neglects the Biblical principles of compassion and mercy: ``Judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs overjudgment," James 2:13. This principle holds true with all men, but how much more so with those who are young and innocent and are not intentionally disrupting our lives. Knowing that these babies are created in God's image with a heart, soul and feelings as well as intelligence, we cannot treat them like animals, controlling their behavior as if that is all that counts. We must always consider what they may be truly learning about the world, love, and relationships through our actions.
Any teaching that comes to us, even from Christian sources, must be tested against the balanced counsel of all of Scripture which tells us to ``Test everything. Hold on to the good." ( I Thess. 5:21) Be careful also to listen to your conscience and the Holy Spirit's leading as you work with your baby and older children. . . we look at their behavior but only God knows what is in their heart. ``Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (I Sam. 16:7). If we are controlled by God's spirit, we won't need to worry about our chil- dren, or godless theories, or our own fleshly desires, (or even the Enemy) controlling us. God is delighted when we seek His face, and depend on Him as we learn to raise the children whom He has entrusted to our care.