strong willed

A Strong-willed Child

August 5, 2010, 0 Comments

James Dobson’s book, like many of his books, it is written in Q&A fashion. There are however several chapters which are dedicated to his ideas and what he believed and I thought those are commendable reads, mainly because I respected him for his professionalism, his heart for families and his conviction on the word of God.

In one of his chapters in his book, entitled, The New Strong-willed Child, he cited some literature which dispenses “misguided advice on child rearing…” One example was that of John Holt. I quote, ” John Caldwell Holt wrote a terrible text in 1974 entitled “Escape from Childhood” Jim Stingley reviewed the book for Los Angeles Times:

“In the latest one, [Holt] plainly advocates the overthrow of parental authority in just about every area. He sets forth that children, age whatever, should have the right to experience sex, drink and use drugs, drive, vote, work, own property, travel, have a guaranteed income, choose their guardians, control their learning, and have legal and financial responsbility. In short, Holt is proposing that parents discard the protectorate position they have held over their children in this and other countries over the past several hundred years, and thrust them, or rather let them thrust themselves – when they feel like they want to – into the real-life world.”

“A more current example of permissive approach to child rearing is referred to “positive discipline” or “positive parenting” movement. “the goal of discipline is not to control children and make them obey but give them skills for making decisions, gradually gaining self-control, and being responsible for their own behaviour.” Instead of telling a child “Don’t hit the kitty, or stop kicking the table, they say, “touch the kitty gently or keep your feet on the floor”. It says “Giving a child choices allows him some appropriate power over his life and encourages decision making.” Their suggestion for dealing with willful defiance is to ignore or to allow the child to engage in “something pleasant’ until he cools off.”
The core of this book is about protecting the spirit and shaping the will. I thought it was interesting that the author dissected the will and spirit. I was always going about the heart and the behaviour. He said ” How, then are we to shape the will while preserving the spirit? it is accomplished b establising reasonable boundaries in advance and then enforcing them with love, while avoiding any implications that a child is unwanted, unneccessary, foolish, ugly, dumb, burdensome, embarressing, or a terrible mistake. Any accusation or reckless comment that assaults the worth of a child such as “you are so stupid” can do lifelong damage. Other damaging remarks include “Why can’t you make decent grades in school like your sister?”…”

It was worthy of a mentioned that Dr. James included the living word.
James 3:3-6
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. it corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

I also specially fancy the chapter on “bitter brothers and surly sisters”. Dr James Dobson sets forth a some parameters where we can start.

“1) A child is never allowed to make fun of the other in a destructive way. Period! This must be an inflexible rule with no exceptions.
2) Each child’s room is his or her private territory. There must be locks on both doors, and permission to enter is a revocable privilege. (Families with more than one child in each bedroom can allocate available living space for each youngsters.)
3) As much as possible, the older child is not permittted to tease the younger child.
4) The younger child is forbidden from harrassing the older child.
5) The children are not required to play with each other when they prefer to be alone or with other friends.
6) Parents mediate any genuine conflict as quickly as possible, being careful to show impartiality and extreme fairness.”
I assume the guidelines no.2 can only come into play for children of certain level of maturity and wisdom. I certainly don’t evocate locks for preschool kids and probably not until they are past their teenage years. Doors can be closed but no locks – purely for safety reasons. Guideline no.5 also assumed that the child has the wisdom and to choose who they prefer to play with and that can only come with a maturity and trust that has been earned. Good book with sound advise. As with all Dobson’s book, there is few step-by-step implementation, but the overall idea is good enough to begin with.

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