“The Strong-Willed Child” Chapter 2: pp. 29-30

So we begin Chapter 2 with a wordy story about a mother of a 3-year-old girl in Kansas City who meets Dobson and at first thanks him for his book Dare to Discipline. Apparently,

“…they (this girl’s parents) bought the book and learned therein that it is appropriate to spank a child under certain well-defined circumstances. My recommendation made sense to these harassed parents, who promptly spanked their sassy daughter the next time she gave them reason to do so.”

And here we have more instance of Dobson in general just letting us know how much he really seems to dislike children in general. The parents were harassed?? Really? The daughter was sassy? Look, I have no idea who these people are, or if they even exist, so I don’t know what their situation was that compelled them to seek out Dobson’s advice. Maybe the daughter was legitimately out of control. I don’t know, and I’m not automatically assuming that to be the case. All I do know is that accusing a 3-year-old of “harassing” anyone is just not appropriate, whatever the circumstances. I know children that age do irritating things and can be really frustrating, but this is just not cool.

Anyways, he continues,

“When her mother awoke the next morning, she found her copy of Dare to Discipline floating in the toilet! That darling girl had done her best to send my writings to the sewer, where they belonged. I suppose that is the strongest editorial comment I’ve received on any of my literature!”

Smart girl. And Dobson, you said it, not me. The toilet is absolutely where your crappy, child abuse manuals belong.

But there’s more!

“This incident with the toddler was not an isolated case. Another child selected my book from an entire shelf of possibilities and threw it in the fireplace. I could easily become paranoid about these hostilities. Dr. Benjamin Spock is loved by millions of children who have grown up under his influence, but I am apparently resented by an entire generation of kids who would like to catch me in a blind alley on some cloudy night.”

This is possibly one of the more triggering, angering and frustrating sentences in the entire book for me personally to read. I mean, the guy actually seems proud of himself that kids raised on his advice resent him. Seriously, was that his goal all along???

Furthermore, Dobson, instead of saying this in a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek way, why don’t you do some soul searching as to why that is. Yes, entire generations of kids who grew up with parents using your methods are filled with resentment. They are also plagued with substance abuse, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, difficult divorces (including your own son!), and have become abusers themselves. Families are fractured and parents are filled with remorse thanks to you. Why don’t you take some responsibility for it?

I know this post is much shorter than I usually do, but that’s about it for me for today. This section is utterly horrifying to me. He’s flat-out admitting that children raised on his methods grow up miserable and resentful and he’s actually proud of that. I just…. I just can’t….

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8 comments

  1. One thing I note is how readily he takes people’s word (or adds his own word) of the horribleness of children he has never met. The three year old is sassy, harassing, and specifically choosing his book to throw in the toilet (despite being three years old and likely not yet able to read).

    “Why, the child must have been horrible, for the parents spanked so!”

    Confirmation bias, anyone?

    1. I really think he is making this up. There is no way a non-reading 3-year-old is going to know the book from which her parents are getting their parenting advice, much less even knowing that her parents behavior is FROM a book, and then choosing that very book to throw in the toilet. It’s ridiculous.

  2. Oooh, maybe I should let him know that I would totally love to meet him in a dark alley on a cloudy night, and that I also intend to do as the other child did and burn his book, as it so deserves to be. Clever children to try to flush the book or burn it. And Charles, my then three year old had entire books memorized to the point of seeming to be able to read. She remembered the words that went with the pictures on the pages…

    1. Duly noted on toddler memories.

      As to the issue of meeting Dobson in a dark alley, it’s long been my thought to take one of these people who advocates the use of physical pain as a corrective and propose an experiment. Basically, cause enough physical pain to the advocate that said advocate never again even thinks of striking a child.

      My prediction is that the experiment will be a success, but for reasons that make it completely inappropriate for use on children. My other prediction is that, despite knowing the previous prediction, I’ll have no shortage of parents willing to assist in the experiment.

  3. “This incident with the toddler was not an isolated case. Another child selected my book from an entire shelf of possibilities and threw it in the fireplace. I could easily become paranoid about these hostilities. Dr. Benjamin Spock is loved by millions of children who have grown up under his influence, but I am apparently resented by an entire generation of kids who would like to catch me in a blind alley on some cloudy night.”

    I dunno. To me it seems like he’s bitter that he’s resented by kids raised on his “expert advice” but the actual experts that he mocks so much are not. Those are some smart kids that have tried to destroy his books, though. I mean, didn’t anyone else stop to wonder why out of all the books in the household, the kid chose his to burn? Obviously the kids thought that if they removed the books from the household, their parents would stop beating them with belts.

  4. Um. I am not the world’s best parent by any means, but even I know that when your three-year-old is “harassing” you, you first have to find out whether she is hungry, thirsty, tired, in pain, bored out of her tree, feeling lonely, or getting sick–I had one who would turn into an absolute ogre just before a fever started–and then, if she is just plain in a pissy mood, pick her up and move her out of your situation because she is, you know, three.

    Actually, “Go sit over there until you can be nice” works quite well, IME, if “there” is somewhere comfy.

  5. I’m eagerly awaiting your next installment. My parents raised me on this book also, and yikes, I can’t bring myself to actually read it yet.

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