Friday, January 29, 2010

The worst book i'll ever recommend

There are many reasons not like the book, To Train Up a Child, by Michael and Debi Pearl.

Their tone is proud, and they paint the world in too-broad strokes. The authors underline their own most important points. Egregious. And they proof-text like it’s goin’ out of style, which is bad practice (Matthew 4:1-11).

Also, they say some really stupid things. Like this: “Gender role distinction is demeaned in modern education. Don’t let a coven of Sodomites and socialists…reprogram your natural feelings on male and female distinctiveness.” (I wonder if in their co-authorship group think pushed them past the edge of reality).

But this book has made Beth and me better parents. His main points are that to train children we need to be consistent, calm and severe as you would be if you were training an animal. They say, "Parent, you can't blame your children if you have trained them to obey only after several warnings, threats, an ultimatum and finally a gesture of force. It's not their fault, it's yours." I’ve kept reading this book because I haven’t yelled at my kids in the month since I started it. My own kids are happy to have me not yelling at them, and seem to prefer occasional hard spanks to whole days of pleading with them to decide to do what is right.

I’ve never read any books on parenting in the past because of my own sinful pride. I always understood it to be a real organic thing, like child birth (or how I imagine child birth); something that God has sown within us that if we listen attentively enough we will find out how to do as well as the child-rearing experts. But I’m learning that child rearing is more like marriage. It is a learned art for which we need the help of those who know what they’re doing. I’m learning through the experience of listening to the Pearls about my training my kids that we won’t find the answers to our parenting problems by looking at our kids or at ourselves. It seems simple to write, but it really is an important lesson for me.

So I’m open to suggestions on other good books about training children.


Chaddo said...

If I had written a blog post about this book, I would have titled it exactly the same. The Pearls books/articles seem to be like that. 50% false or just weird extreme statements, and 50% material that is so good you want everyone to read it.

Another one that has impacted me: Hints on Child Training by H. Clay Trumbull. I think it was originally written in 1891 or something, but has been reprinted lately. Really good stuff, and it will resonate with a lot of the *good* parts of the Pearl book. I was particularly struck by his chapters "Scolding Is Never In Order" and "Never Punish In Anger"

I also recommend anything by Tedd Tripp. (Wrote Shepherding a Child's Heart and a lot of other stuff)

Brian Stipp said...

Thanks, man. i'll look for those. I'm finishing up another Port William novel, The Memory of Old Jack. Deeply moving stuff.

Holly said...

What really forced you to crack the book? I remember Beth saying you weren't really into those types of books. What was the catalyst?

Brian Stipp said...

One reason is that I am seeing that Beth and I need help.

Another is that I was intrigued by the idea that the methods used for rearing kids throughout the centuries, as opposed to the newest fangled methods, are the best. I think that's generally right.

joan.ekimball said...

My two favorite books on mothering are called "A Mother's Touch" and "A Mother's Time". May be hard to find but well worth it.