Friday, February 01, 2013

Review: The Strong-Willed Child: Birth Through Adolescence

The Strong-Willed Child: Birth Through Adolescence
The Strong-Willed Child: Birth Through Adolescence by James C. Dobson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I pulled our old copy of this book off the shelves because I was looking for some guidance for dealing with our youngest, who is about a year and a half old. Although I think the general approach to discipline he advocates is quite sound, I was hoping to find more specifics for dealing with children at that young age. Sadly, kids that young are really not the focus of the book.

It is interesting to see the range of reviews in this book. Many of the very negative ones seem to come from two sources:

- People who are vehemently opposed to any form for corporal punishment; These will, of course, not approve of Dobson's belief that it is appropriate in some circumstances. Dobson repeatedly emphasizes the need for fairness, clear expectations, moderation, appropriateness, and parental self-control when giving such punishment. He also continually drives home the fact that all such punishment must be within the framework of total love where a child always feels worthwhile, cared for, and safe. But there are many who equate physical punishment and child abuse, and all rational thought stops once they hear about spanking.

- People who disagree with Dr. Dobson because he is a Christian, or a conservative, or because he doesn't think homosexual behavior is healthy and must be promoted and affirmed; These people want to disagree with whatever else he says.

It is interesting, really, because he spends some time discussing Dr. Spock in this book. Dr. Spock wrote a very influential book on child-rearing back in the '50's. At the time of Dobson's book (the '70's), Spock was criticized by many for being too permissive, and encouraging parents to not be stern enough with their children. Dobson notes that many of Spock's critics were really made at him (Dr. Spock) because he opposed the U.S.'s involvement in the Vietnam war and therefore they misrepresented what Dr. Spock wrote. Things have come full circle. Now Dr. Dobson is being accused of being too harsh, but you can often see their complaints are really not because of what he wrote in this book. It is obvious that some of his detractors are actually angry with him for opposing abortion, or divorce, or homosexual behavior, or some other pet cause they may have.

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