So yesterday I shared my reservations about GKGW. Thank you for your comments. I realize that many loving parents do use Babywise and don't sabotage their milk supply. I realize that doing GKGW doesn't mean your baby will scream in his crib for an hour until he vomits. Many caring parents use Babywise with common sense and do just fine. I thank those parents for extending grace to me when I say that it did not work for us.
And now I'm on to another Christian parenting book that is popular in my circle. No Greater Joy Ministries, a fundamentalist Christian ministry that puts out several popular parenting and marriage books. I have read To Train Up A Child, No Greater Joy (Vol. 1-3), Rebekah's Diary, and Created To Be His Helpmeet. They were all interesting reads, and did contain nuggets of helpful truth. But in the end, I cannot recommend them. My husband always encourages me to chew up the grain and spit out the straw, but at some point the grain-to-straw ratio becomes unpalatable. And the poisonous nature of some specific straw (is my metaphor breaking down here?) makes it dangerous to ingest. (Just ask the two children who died because of its teachings.)
Let me explain.
My husband has dined with Michael and Debbie Pearl and says that they are kind, meek, loving people. I have some issues with their doctrines (KJV only, water baptism only, sinless perfection, etc), but I don't doubt that they genuinely love Jesus and desire to strengthen families. What I do doubt is their method and their general feelings about child-parent relations.
The Pearls say that their methods will work 100% of the time. If you end a spanking before you have achieved 100% outward submission and repentance in your child, you have failed. Which will make it even harder to break your child the next time. If your child flees from you, you should stalk them, hold them down and beat them. When you are spanking them, you should act like it's a big joke and pretend you have lost count of how many licks you have given and jest that you must start over. You should wear your switch around your neck so your children are always reminded of your authority. BUT, if you are steadfast and continue to whip your child until they repent, every single time they disobey, with utter impunity (and a smile on your face!) you will have completely happy and obedient children.
Most rational, thinking, loving people can read that and realize it is a load of hogwash (not to mention disgusting!). There is NO guarantee of a perfect outcome. God has disobedient children, who am I to think that I am a better parent than He? What we must do is PRAY! Often and in earnest! Ask the Lord what we should do and teach our children the Word from an early age.
But there are folks out there who do not have this common sense check in their spirits. Well-meaning, Christian folks who read these books and fall under a load of condemnation for their children's faults. Who read these books and think, "If I just spank more/harder/more consistently......if I just break my child's will....then I will have an absolute guarantee of their success!" And so they throw rational thinking to the wind and end up with dead children.
I understand the draw of a guarantee, but as attractive as that thought is, there is no biblical precedent for this. Instead we must draw near to God in faith and work with Him to train our children and LOVE them into the kingdom.
In addition to the sickening descriptions of spankings in the book, the entire premise of the parent-child dynamic seemed off to me. It, and books like it, seem to promote a ruler-serf mentality with children and parents. I am no permissive parent, and firmly believe that this is the time to be my child's parent - friendship will come later. However, I see no reason to be my child's adversary. I want to be his coach, his teacher, his cheerleader. The Bible says we are co-heirs with Christ. We are growing in grace and wisdom together and I see no reason to assume antagonism between my children and myself. Yes, there are times when they must submit to my leadership as the mother of the home. But they are also my brothers and sisters in Christ, and we, as a family unit, are trying to follow hard after Him.
I didn't want to write this. I had read parts of the Pearl's books and liked them. But when you know better, you do better. And I know better now.