Saturday, March 16, 2013

Selfish babies?

More on babies, original sin, punishment, and grace...

A very commonly held belief, especially in christian circles, is that babies are inherently selfish (having that rotten sin nature from birth). 

The problem with that is, selfishness is knowing how others feel and intentionally deciding you don't care, or you just care about yourself more. A baby CANNOT be selfish, they have no idea that anyone else exists. To a baby, mom is just an extension of himself, like a hand or a foot. Eventually he starts to understand she is separate, but it takes awhile before he can figure out that she has feelings that are separate from his. Then it will be awhile before he develops the skill to be able to see things from another person's perspective. Until a child gets to the point where they can understand that people are separate from themselves, that they have their own feelings, and the ability to put themselves in someone else's place to see things from their point of view, they are not capable of understanding empathy.

If a person does not have the ability to be empathetic, then they are not truly "selfish". They are responding to the world in the only way they can.

The ironic thing is that parents often try to teach a baby to be "unselfish" by behaving in a selfish way towards them by refusing to respond to their cries or meet their need for closeness. If an adult did that to another adult, they would be considered "selfish"... I don't feel like responding to you right now, I have decided your needs are not important enough to earn my attention. I will get to you when I feel like it. You need to learn how to wait. I don't care what you want, you can only have it if I feel like giving it to you.

Think about it, if we can't be generous, selfless, giving, and patient with someone who has no idea how to be these things... just how do we expect them to learn?

I think that the biggest problem is that people don't stop to think these things all the way through to their logical conclusion. They can only see the desired outcome and what they can do to achieve it, not how their methods may otherwise impact their child. You may very well teach a baby not to cry so much by ignoring their cries, and it may look like you have taught them "patience"... but you have also taught them to ignore the cries of others.

That is not selflessness, that is indifference.

No comments:

Post a Comment