After a lot of thought and discussion, I’ve thought of a few things. First, as far as infants go, I think it’s far more important that we ourselves are walking with the Lord and reading His word, than whether we schedule or not, whether we let the baby cry or not, and so on. If I’m walking in the Spirit, I’m going to have the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, and so on (Galatians 5:22) I need the fruit of the Spirit because this will affect more than anything else how I interact with my baby. For example, anytime I am selfish, whether I’m letting my baby cry or picking her up, I’m sinning. And if we have the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, we’re going to, by and large, make better choices for our children (not to say we don’t make mistakes or change our perspective as we get older). So I think that why we do something is more important that what we are doing. The what will tend to follow the why.
Second, I suspect that the process of figuring out why we do something is of value, even if we come to different conclusions about what biblical principles might apply in a specific problem. I bet mothers who have thought through why they do what they do (even secular ones) are going to be more effective as mothers. And the practice of applying scripture to everyday choices results in strong discernment muscles that I suspect become more important as my children get older. (But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5:14) Maybe God made babies with a margin of error so we could learn on them while they’re malleable. 🙂
But that doesn’t mean what I do is irrelevant. I think it’s pretty well established that how we interact with our infants do affect them. Neglected children (who are not fed and clothed) have predictable behavior patterns. So do infants of women who are clinically depressed. Sometimes what we value makes a difference in what we allow. When a single cry means the difference between life and death (think Moses, or Nazi Germany), a mother may act differently than today in the United States where thirty seconds (or a few minutes) of crying isn’t that big of a deal. Mothers are encouraged to nurture an independent thinker and learner by allowing their babies to explore with few restrictions. If a mother values submission and dependence, she will likely quell expressions of independence (horrifying some other mothers, no doubt). Maybe what we’re reacting to when we disagree is not the method but the value.
It seems to go back to having right knowledge (and values) which is a foundation for applying Scripture (what the Bible calls wisdom). And maybe the “spiritual instruction” of a baby lies most significantly with my relationship with God.Â Still thinking it through…