Title: The Strong-Willed Child: Birth Through Adolescence
Author: James Dobson
Publication Year: 1978
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Review: I don’t think I’ve ever disliked a book as much as I disliked this one. I wanted to read the whole thing. I really did. After the first couple pages when the author paints motherhood using extremely negative imagery followed by a lively description in which the author describes an instance when he beat his dog, I knew I wasn’t going to agree with very much of the content.
However, I still wanted to get through it, to better understand how other parents who choose to spank their kids rationalize their actions. However, I just couldn’t do it. I read every word up to page 46 when the author says, “Mild spankings can begin between fifteen and eighteen months of age…When spankings occur, they should be administered with a neutral object; that is, with a small switch or belt…”.
After that, I’d had enough. I have a 23 month old and while I may be tempted to smack her cute little bottom on occasion, I can’t imagine actually doing it, and know for a fact that with my child, it’s completely unnecessary and would be more harmful than beneficial. I skimmed through the rest of the book and found other disturbing charts and descriptions, such as “My Attitude Chart (pg. 58)” in which the child earns points based on their daily attitude which determines a consequence ranging from “the family will do something fun together” all the way to “I get two swats with the belt.”
Seriously? I try to be open-minded about different parenting practices and I strongly believe it’s important to set clear limits and be firm with children, however, I don’t even want this book in my house. (Note that there is a much newer version of this book, called The New Strong Willed Child, which is surprisingly highly reviewed on Amazon. However, from what I can tell, the philosophy seems to be basically the same.) (Personal Rating: 2/10)
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