Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How to train up a child: A commentary for the masses


So again this book How to Train up a Child, by Michael and Debi Pearl (c.2010), has caused a ruckus. The book as been read by hundreds, if not thousands of individuals, from parents, teachers, devout Christians, and scholars in social science fields alike. Some of the information in the book if taken verbatim seems rather harsh, like starving your child, whipping your infant, and the other items, articles either take out of context or blow out of proportion throwing responsibility from the source to the latent. Screaming to ban this book, and sue the authors occurs regularly. But I feel it is without true justification. Don't get me wrong, there were things in there that made me uncomfortable and question the reasons or justifications behind it; but I did the same seeing the musical Book of Mormon, and no parents have killed their child because of the literal natures of Matt Stone and Trey Parker, yet....


Now before you bandwagon and bludgeon me saying I am a child abuser advocate and flaming raw, bible thumping, christian, there are probably a few things you need to know about me. I was a teen mother. I was married in my teens to a Marine who later walked out on us. I have been divorced and now remarried. I have three Bachelor's degrees and a Master's. I have two children, three step children, and a foreign exchange student. My husband is in doctoral school for Child Psychology. Believe me, parenting tactics and techniques, for nuclear and blended families are topics of regular addressing in our home, everyday, all of the time.

I am very no bull, my husband gets walked all over- and the degrees of respect from our children and the daily successes (and failures) of our children are readily apparent and in direct correlation with our parenting skills or lack thereof. And both of us read, we read everything and anything regarding parenting, but we understand that as humans each of us is different, and what may have worked in one case scenario in one book may not work for others. Taking things verbatim when there is a growing and dynamically changing human element involved [a child] is, to me, dumber than jumping over a dollar to get to a quarter. You have to know the child, you have to listen, you will make mistakes, but consistency is key. And that is really all this book is saying......

Again there were many things in the book where I thought “Seriously?!?!” but once I got through it I understood that much of the case studies involved were worst case children, extreme cases. Children that were a product of broken and survival only, not of love and nurture, and therefore needed to be “boot camped” back in to the world. Think about it. Our military does the same thing. They break down the human element, the individual, to the rawest most desperate level, then they build back up upon what is left of the core foundation. They build honor, strength, perseverance, honesty, personal responsibility, etc. All of this to prevent a person from losing it in the heat of battle. Prevention instead of reaction.

I will be honest here; I have sent my children to bed without supper. Did I starve them, no. They missed a meal because they could not behave appropriately. Many Americans would do so well to do the same. I am a firm believer in prevention of behaviors not suited for success. I daily try to reinforce gratitude, strength, perseverance, personal responsibility, and seeing past your own nose to help others. My children write thank you notes. When is the last time you received one of those?

As for banning the book? Really? Even though there are many a book I personally would not touch, that is my right---to read or not to read---as it is yours or your neighbors, your coworkers, or your partners. That is the beauty of being free. You have the choice to read, the choice to buy, the choice to shop at a store or not to. YOU may not like it, but keep YOU off of ME, and vice versa.

In the book there is a section about swatting an infant for crying. This is where I took a small issue. While there are people out there that believe and program their children for potty training in early infancy, and others who will let their child cry until they have programmed the child to the hours the parents want, swatting a 6 month old to render these modes of programming I feel is unnecessary--but it could be like Pavlov's Theory of conditioning or training, rather than discipline itself. Conditioning/Training comes before and is consistent, discipline is responsorial, comes after, and is opportunistic in occurrence. People, in regard to this book, need to realize that it is not a cook book. You do not follow the steps to a tee, but rather read between the lines and incorporate those steps that work for you and the child. Consistency is key always.

If we take the time to look at this book on the basis of facts and theories in relationships, parenting, and learned behavior, versus reactive emotions we find a very different thing here. This book really was just extreme case telling us proactive training of children is better than reactive discipline. And it only takes a few extreme cases of parents who take things too far or who are not smart enough to utilize it for the implications rather than the verbatim, that build the bandwagon for which the herd jumps upon.

In conclusion, would I read the book again, no. Did I get anything out of the read, yes. When I hear parents ended up killing their child due to this book, I have to admit I laugh. The same way that rock music is responsible for killing people, and songs are responsible for helping children commit suicide. When you remove the blame from the direct source and replace it with a general things, you remove blame, you remove responsibility, and you displace the guilt that is necessary for the party(ies) to learn from and grow and prevent future issues.


Until next time,

C




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