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February 16, 2005

Parenthetical Parenting Thought

I got to thinking about what I have learned in the way of parenting over the years and why I parent the way I do. I thought I would share some things here. Now, please do not take this as a judgement from me that if you do not do things "my way" you are wrong. That is not what I am saying at all. My children are not your children and they are each individuals - therefore I treat them and raise them as such. I am not looking down my nose at anyone on this issue. We do what we know and what we feel is best for our own children. --Leann


Over the past few days I've been mulling over how I want to state some of the ideas that Leann has shared.

Obviously, I'm outspokenly critical of Gary Ezzo and his parenting ideas. I want it to be plain that's what I am--critical of a set of ideas, or "philosophy" as Ezzo calls it--not critical of parents.

One of the things that saddends me most about the Ezzo materials is how proponents of the program are quick to blame the mother when the promised results of the program are not seen. If it "works"--then it is to the praise of the Ezzo books! If it doesn't, either the parents were not being consistent with the principles or they were being "too flexible."

I believe that when parents make decisions based on faulty premises, those well-meaning and loving decisions can still be harmful to their children. Gary Ezzo's ideas are medically and--dare I say it--philosophically flawed.

That's how devoted, loving mothers like CR can end up with a child with a serious attachment disorder. Or a spiritually strong pastor's wife like M, can come to a point where she realizes she's putting the Ezzo books ahead of The Book. Or a gung-ho breastfeeding advocate can end up with major milk supply problems and an infant losing weight. Or the mom who used the Ezzo materials for 10 years deeply regrets the impact these ideas had on her children as they got older.

Were any of these mothers less loving or less committed to their children? No! But they were making decisions based on unsound medical information and a set of ideas that goes against true Biblical principles.

Are there families who use ideas from Gary Ezzo and have wonderful kids? You bet! But I am convinced that the success they see is not due to these "principles" but directly due to having loving, involved, active parents and God pouring out his grace.

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Comments

i totally agree with the outcome of your blog today. it is only God's grace working in the hearts of our children (and us) that will result in children who love God and want to glorify Him. as we look back on our parenting, we will see MANY failures, no matter how good our approach to child-rearing is. i think where people tend to run into really serious problems is when they choose an approach that intensifies their natural inclination ie. intense, perfectionistic parents who choose an ezzo approach are heading for huge disaster b/c there is nothing in their natural bent or in the ezzo approach that can keep them from going to extremes. if we are wise enough to realize we tend toward one extreme and may need an opposite approach to help give us some balance, we may actually end up with a more balanced approach with our kids.
often it is built in with the differences between the husband and wife, but it doesn't always happen that way. sometimes one is able to bully/charm the other to their way of thinking and thus the balance is off. let's face it. raising kids is not for wimps...nor is it for people who can't stop for a minute and enjoy the moment because your kid did/said something really funny.

Posted by: martha at February 17, 2005 01:25 AM

Very true. Sincerity is good but people can be sincerely wrong. Ezzo followers remind me a bit of the Bill Gothard followers I knew when I was growing up.

Posted by: Hannah Im at February 17, 2005 01:37 AM

The first time I heard about Growing Kids God's Way was a few months ago. I'm not a parent, so that's not surprising. But I can see why the whole concept really plays into our natural human tendencies toward control, legalism, black and white thinking, etc. It is a caution to me against my own tendency to punish my after school program kids so that they will do the right thing instead of nurturing them (including discipline) to be who God wants them to be. That's challenging.

Posted by: Sandra at February 17, 2005 05:42 AM

Hi TulipGirl,

Well stated. The materials are so easy to get sucked into. What Christian doesn't want to have kids that are "growing in God's way". Unfortunately, a careful study of the material and methods show they are not God’s way, but rather Gary’s way. When a verse can be so horribly twisted and misapplied, as he does here on this tape when he equates Jesus crying out to the Heavenly Father as He took on the sin of the world, so should mothers allow their babies to cry it out when they are hungry. What horrific misapplication of scripture. As I read materials of this sort, (Ezzo, Pearls, Tedd Tripp, and an up coming blog of mine about Lisa Whelchel, actress and author of Creative Correction: Extraordinary Ideas for Everyday Discipline). I just wonder how the state of evangelical Christianity has taken to disciplining children with such punitive measures so easily, just because an author makes a point and places a bible verse beside it.

{{{Candleman98}}}

Posted by: {{{Candleman98}}} at February 17, 2005 05:46 AM

When I started doing family counseling (22 years ago) most of the parents I saw were too rigid and strict. I almost never see that today. I think the Ezzo's appeal to parents who are so insecure they want answers spelled out for them in no uncertain terms. It's easier to follow someone who guarantees results than to puzzle it out for yourself.

Posted by: Bowden at February 17, 2005 06:04 AM

Yes, I totally agree with you there. It's the insecurity part, which is the real problem. Having been trained to do ANYthing but parent, and hearing voices from everywhich direction telling you to do things THEIR way or your child will suffer greatly (and most Attachment Parenting guru's are no different from Ezzo in that respect), it can be highly disconcerting.

Add to that the fact that you've primarily "educated" yourself via someone's class or textbook, and you have a real muddle on your hands. I'm sure the people who grew up close to nature--the farmer's of old and whatnot--and close to other family's, had a much easier time trusting their own instincts when it came to parenting their babies. I certainly didn't know I had any instincts to trust, and (as I posted in a comment in the blog entry below this one) followed Sears to the max, much to the detriment of my firstborn and myself.

Things are so much different now--I am SO comfortable with our own parenting styles and so much more able to "discern" the personality needs of my individual children.

I appreciate aspects of Sears, AND aspects from the Pearl's (and I just read Welchel's book, mentioned above, and thought it was great--I must be in a different world altogether from some of you, I guess. "Punitive?" Wanting to teach your children to obey is punitive? I thought it was a godly thing, lovingly teaching children to obey?).

We have SUCH a warm happy home, with children who obey but who are surrounded by love and TONS of giggles. :o) I can't point to any one human-written book and give it credit--it's a little gleaned here and a little gleaned there, and a whole lotta praying to Yahweh for wisdom and grace! *grin*

What's wrong with finding a balance--finding what works for your own particular family? Every home will be different, every home OUGHT to be different. God didn't have The Borg (trekkies only, there) in mind when He formed the family--He had the expression of Himself in mind, and He's a rather big guy to express! All of our myriad personality styles and ways are going to express Him in His fullness, meaning my home isn't going to look like my neighbors, and IT SHOULDN'T.

Extremes of either sort are not good for our children. Whether it's an overly regimented program or a completely undisciplined environment, both extremes are simply not conduscive to healthy growth.

Ok, enough of my 2 cents (make that 3--harhar) worth. I'm just going to have to blog on this, rather than take up all the comment box section over here--harhar!

Posted by: Molly at February 17, 2005 07:40 AM

As always, you are right on the mark with this! I'm so glad you are out there blogging about your experiences as a parent!!!

Posted by: Happy2bMama at February 17, 2005 01:23 PM

I always say it is the very best parents who make the very worst mistakes. Sometimes people just try too hard.

Also there is the same old sin of thinking if we have a definite set of rules nothing can go wrong. We really don't want to "need" grace ( from God or anybody else.)

Posted by: Cindy at February 17, 2005 04:35 PM

Hi Molly,

Yes, Lisa's book is is very punative:

"For lying or other offenses of the tongue, I 'spank' my kids' tongues. I put a tiny drop of hot sauce on the end of my finger and dab it onto my child's tongue. It stings for a while, but it abates."

"Creative Correction" provides long lists of scriptural passages that, in Whelchel's view, justify a variety of disciplinary practices.
For example, she quotes the Book of Proverbs -- "The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but a perverse tongue will be cut out" -- and follows with this suggestion: "A short pinch by a clothespin on the tongue can discourage foul language."

Putting a dab of hot sauce in a child’s mouth or pinching a child’s tongue with a clothespin, all while quoting half of the OLD testament to justify her every action is exactly what I am talking about. Inappropriate speech or foul language can be dealt with in other ways than this. First of all, ultimately the tongue does not do the lying the heart does, and by causing pain to the body part that is doing something inappropriate, does nothing for the heart. You may get instant success in your child not behaving that way again, but at what cost? Instead of such punitive measures, why not get out the Bible and show the child in scripture what God thinks about lying, and try to reach their heart? I agree with you, it is Godly and loving to teach your children to obey, but you do not have to physically abuse your children to accomplish that.

{{{Candleman98}}}

Posted by: {{{Candleman98}}} at February 17, 2005 06:55 PM

Oh this is wonderful!!! I think your key point here lies in this statement:

"But they were making decisions based on unsound medical information and a set of ideas that goes against true Biblical principles."

We must constantly be before the Lord on behalf of our children and our parenting. That is the key to becoming the parents that God desires us to be. What God says can only be found in God's Word not in a Growing Kids God's Way book or anything Sears writes or anyone else. Take the advice for what it is worth but then be as the Bereans and search out what God says as the final authority. I love your thoughts so much on all this.

Posted by: ~Leann at February 18, 2005 06:09 PM

Candleman,

I don't have a problem with discipline that inflicts pain. One certainly doesn't need to go overboard, that's for sure, but the whole idea of discipline IS that it is painful/disagreeable in some way or another.

Some children *may* respond to a little chat over a Bible verse when they've disobeyed (one of my daughter's comes to mind--a very sensitive soul) . One of my son's, however, might put your theory to the test and then some (HA! I'd love to see it!). :o) Your theory sounds great, on paper, but so do a lot of theories on paper...

Besides that, though, I think the Bible is pretty clear that discipline is NOT pleasurable. (Hello, Hebrews 12!) That's the point. It reinforces the idea that wrong behaviour has consequences. God invented the idea, not me (or, at least He had the *audacity* to talk about it "as a positive thing" a WHOLE LOT throughout His breathed book, especially in reference to children).

You can pick out parts of Welchel's book that "sound bad out of context" all you like, or claim she was misinterpreting Bible verses. You have that right (just as I have the right to disagree with your interpretation of the Bible, and your book text selection). :o)

I just have a feeling we may not have much ground left for a productive discussion. I think I'll go back to my blog now. *grin*

Posted by: Molly at February 19, 2005 04:25 AM

There is a quote in my blog from Emerson about parenting with the will. He could see the uselessness in it and so do I. I think maybe clothespins and hot sauce are methods used to get quick changes in outward appearances. It takes more effort to spend time modeling correct behaviour or to use the woodshed method of tomato staking.

Really like your blog, Tulip!

Posted by: Lyn at February 19, 2005 06:38 PM

I agree with you there, Lyn--a quick change in outward appearance is not the goal of parenting. It produces little more than religous puppets (or rebellious children).

However, using discipline to effect outward change *is* PART of the reason for discipline. The end-all goal is the heart...but you can't sit down and reason through Bible verses with a two year old.

In the first stages (toddlerhood and preschool), I find I am primarily dealing with outward behaviour. As they grow, we go deeper than that. But I think it's wrong to subject a very young child to an emotional appeal to the heart. It's much gentler to just share clearly what you expect, teach/train them to do it, and then warmly expect it.

If you are their "best buddy" (because you are on the floor playing with them often, reading stories, giggling, letting them help you cook, etc), then they respond very well to the simple things you expect them to obey. Nothing "punative" about it. :o)

...And it makes for a very easy transition into the "heart things" as they grow...no preaching sessions, just natural normal conversation that comes from a good loving relationship. I've found nothing difficult in transitioning from a simple "obey Momma" command (2 year old)) to long discussions about deep spiritual things (with a 6 year old) over making a batch of cookies...

Or so says the Molly (*grin*), who doesn't use hot sauce on her children's tongues, btw, but who did skim read Welchel's book and felt Welchel DID describe her goal of parenting as *to reach the heart* of her children, not just their outward behaviour. (Whether one disagrees with some of her methods is their business, but taking a few paragraph's out of context can make her disciplinary motivations seem otherwise, which isn't necessarily fair).

Posted by: Molly at February 19, 2005 08:09 PM

I must be in a different world altogether from some of you, I guess. "Punitive?" Wanting to teach your children to obey is punitive? I thought it was a godly thing, lovingly teaching children to obey

Actually, Molly, I do think you are coming from a completely different perspective. I believe we have a lot in common (as would the vast majority of mothers I know or parents who are reading here.) We desire to raise our children to the glory of God, be actively involved in loving, discipling, teaching, chastising, disciplining, and instructing our children.

Were we seem to disagree comes down to an understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how it impacts our children.

Jesus Christ has completely paid the penalty for my sins. I am a sinner and my good works, good intentions, and outward conformity to a standard still falls short of what God requires. I cannot meet that standard. My children can not meet that standard.

But Christ HAS met that standard. And not only that, but He has also taken the punishment for all of my sins on the Cross.

As Charles Hodge, my favorite parenting guru has said,

The sacrifice of Christ was the condemnation of sin. That is, he bore our sins. He was made a curse, in the sense that he endured the curse due to our sin. His sufferings were penal, as they were judicially inflicted to satisfy justice. The immediate purpose and effect of a sacrifice is expiation, and not reformation or inner purification. . . . The argument of the apostle is that no condemnation comes on us, because God condemned sin in Christ.

And Molly, considering that you are a Believer, you are likely nodding your head in agreement with what I've just posted.


Just like Christ suffered and died for me, and has paid the price for all of my sins--past, present and future--so Christ has suffered and died for each of my children.

God does not punish me, His child, with purposely inflicted pain, for my sins. Christ has already been punished for my sins. There are certainly times when I experience natural consequences, but also many times even then that He protects me from my foolish choices.

God does not command me to punish my children for their sins--the sins that have already sent Jesus Christ to the cross. There is therefore now no condemnation for my children, who are in Christ Jesus, whose sin has already been condemned in Christ.

God does call me to teach them diligently, restore them gently, bear with their burdens (Gal 6), to forgive them, to help them obey, to nurture them, to help them see their sins, to teach them to repent and lean upon God's grace and salvation.

You may talk about "training" and "pain" and "consequences"--but the heart of where we differ is how we believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ applies to the smallest disciples in our families.

Posted by: TulipGirl at February 20, 2005 02:19 PM

Thank you, Tulip Girl, for that last comment. You are the first, maybe second (I think Crystal Lutton mentioned this too) person to say this, that Jesus' death on Calvary, where he took on everybody's sins actually does ALSO apply to the sins of children.

I'm Roman Catholic, and my tradition is always getting accused of using things like works and penance to atone for sins when Jesus' sacrifice did it all. But isn't this exactly what physical punishment is? Imposing penance on your children to make them suffer for their sins?

I think the Evangelical way of looking at the Gospel and all Jesus did is beautiful in its simplicity. It's always puzzled me why the rules were different for children, though.

BTW, I wrote an essay on The Powers That Blog about our decision not to spank our daughter, and it's probably not going to be the last on the subject.

Thank you very much for linking to us :-)

Posted by: Beautiful Belgian Babe at February 20, 2005 05:33 PM

Quote:

"God does not command me to punish my children for their sins--the sins that have already sent Jesus Christ to the cross. There is therefore now no condemnation for my children, who are in Christ Jesus, whose sin has already been condemned in Christ.
God does call me to teach them diligently, restore them gently, bear with their burdens (Gal 6), to forgive them, to help them obey, to nurture them, to help them see their sins, to teach them to repent and lean upon God's grace and salvation."


My Reply:

I don't believe we are to "punish children for their sins" as a "Jesus" representative. I'm not sure I know of any parent who feels that way. But I do believe we are to train our children, teach them gently, help them learn what is and is not acceptable, (basically, "what you said"--*grin*) etc...

But part of that nurturing is to train them in the right paths to walk. To let flesh go unrestrained is to do a detrimental service to my child. Teaching them to choose to obey instead of go with their own wants is part of "chanaking"/training.

Example: child would rather play than do a chore--OF COURSE! :o) Who doesn't? Flesh loves pleasure, and unloading the dishwasher isn't nearly as pleasurable as building a Lego tower. *grin* But it's GOOD for the child to learn to put their play time aside for 10 minutes to serve the family by doing their chore. (The Lego tower will still be there when it's over, too). This is "discipline," and it is GOOD!

This is not "condemnation," as you infered, but LOVE. Condemnation is a different thing altogether from correction/discipline. Jesus corrects us, but does not condemn us (make sense?).

Training up a child in the way they should go, as I'm sure you know, Hebraically refers to taking a body of unboundaried water and "narrowing" it, channeling it--so it goes from being a floodish thing to a channeled river (life-bringing!).

To allow a child to habitually respond in fleshly ways (fits, rebellion, etc), is to fail to chanak/narrow them fully. And the element of disciplining wrong behaviour is most certainly woven through ALL of Scripture. The Parent-of-All most certainly disciplines His children, and we, His representatives to our children in a sense, can make it a part of our loving parenting.

It's not the "goal of parenting," that's for sure, and it's not even the "bulk" of a parenting day, but I think it's unScriptural to take out correction/discipline entirely.

You know, I was just reading in 1 Thess 2, as I've been enjoying anything "parenting" lately in the Scriptures of late, and started looking into the Greek more carefully. It's such a beautiful passage--the nurturing picture of the nursing mother, etc...and I was poking around in my lexicon, enjoying it, when I came across a most surprising development!

1 Thess. 2:11 has some very interesting literal word meanings, I thought! Right smack in the middle of a passage speaking of nurturing, relating, laboring night and day, comes a word that (translated "charges" in the KJV) means "to flog." I'm not suggesting a 100% literal take on the word, but it is apparent (and this is true in other passages as well) that God views disciplining ("punitively," as many of you might call it) as PART of nurturing and loving.

Please don't read a bunch of stuff into this, thinking that I'm talking about the same thing as whoever-it-is-leader-that-you-hate, etc... That's the problem with the typed element...hard to know where every one is coming from.

No, I don't go spanking my children every moment, no, I don't follow Bill Gothard, etc, etc, etc... If I have to fit into anyone, it's probably more of the "Above Rubies" version of things--Nancy Campbell and I agree on discipline issues entirely (www.AboveRubies.org) from all I've read, and Delwyn McAllistar (of Keepers at Home) pretty much describes our home to the T (only a few years ahead of us).

Ok, I could go on and on...I'll blog on this later, of course (as planned). :o) For the bulk of it, I think we may just have to agree to disagree in this area. You think I'm missing it, I'm thinking you are missing it... Well, oh well! At least we can have a polite exchange about it. *grin* Now, it's time to get these just-waking-up children looking cute and see if we can make it to church on time...

Warm Regards,
Molly

Posted by: Molly at February 20, 2005 06:00 PM

1 Thess. 2:11 has some very interesting literal word meanings, I thought! Right smack in the middle of a passage speaking of nurturing, relating, laboring night and day, comes a word that (translated "charges" in the KJV) means "to flog."

As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father [doth] his children, I Thes 2:11
I'm trying to understand you correctly, Molly, but I need more details of what you mean in this section.

When I looked up the passage you are talking about, the KJV word "charges" in the Greek is martureo (Strong's 3140).

It's Biblical use is:
1) to be a witness, to bear witness, i.e. to affirm that one has seen or heard or experienced something, or that he knows it because taught by divine revelation or inspiration
a) to give (not to keep back) testimony
b) to utter honourable testimony, give a good report
c) conjure, implore

It's sometimes translated bear witness, testify, bear record, witness, be a witness, give testimony, have a report. . .

In the passages in which it is used, "flogging" doesn't seem to be a possible substitute. And the etymology doesn't seem to link it to "flogging." Which Bible study resource do you suggest I use to follow what you are saying?

Or maybe you're looking at a different word in that passage? In that verse, is exhorted (parakaleo: 1) to call to one's side, call for, summon 2) to address, speak to, (call to, call upon), which may be done in the way of exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction, etc., a) to admonish, exhort b) to beg, entreat, beseech, 1) to strive to appease by entreaty, c) to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation, to comfort; 1) to receive consolation, be comforted, d) to encourage, strengthen; e) exhorting and comforting and encouraging; f) to instruct, teach) and comforted (paramutheomai 1) to speak to, address one, whether by way of admonition and incentive, or to calm and console a) to enourage, console).

This may be a misunderstanding--but I just don't see what you're referring to. . .

Posted by: TulipGirl at February 20, 2005 07:25 PM

Hmmm. That's not what I found.

If you want to use Strong's then it's # 3146 in there (from # 3148), and in my Lexicon means " to flog, to whip." Pretty straightforward...

I dunno...I just thought it was really cool how God wove it all together...

I mean, the entire passage TOTALLY speaks against the totalitarian view of parenting (including the Ezzo-ish view that life is all about the parents vs. the children), or that parenting is all about the parents getting their way and the child being a quiet little robot. Some sick sick people think that is "Christian parenting," and it's just plain repudiated all through the Scriptures.

But the idea of discipline being associated ONLY with the *totalitarian abusive Hitler-parent* is pretty much nipped in the bud with 1 Thess. 2:11.

Here we have a father/parent defined as one who is TOTALLY in RELATION with his children, on the floor with them, hanging out with them, building them, encouraging, protecting and nurturing them, all about their spiritual growth (vs. 12 shows his ultimate goal)...AND it includes disciplining them.

In other words, discipline can and should be a part of a loving thrivingly-happy familial environment.

That's my 3 cents on it, anyhow. :o)

Ok, back to my own blog now...harharhar...

PS--TulipGirl, you are in the Ukraine, right? My father was just over in Belarus. (Are you with International Messangers, by any chance)?

Blessings,
Mol

Posted by: Molly at February 20, 2005 10:48 PM

Ahah! I just discovered our problem. (You probably already did too). One version for "charged" is in the Textus Receptus whereas the other is in the Wescott-Hort. Two different words are used and therein lies the confusion...
:o)

(PS. I'm not a KJV only person, btw, but Wescott-Hort certainly has a dubious background, let's just put it like that)...

Anyhow, that probably helps clear it up!

Blessings,
Molly

Posted by: molly at February 21, 2005 01:05 AM

If you want to use Strong's then it's # 3146 in there (from # 3148), and in my Lexicon means " to flog, to whip." Pretty straightforward...

What makes me "want" to use #3146? According to the reference I use (www.BlueLetterBible.org), the correct Strong's number for this word is 3140--as Tulip Girl said.

Jenn

Posted by: Jenn at February 21, 2005 02:51 AM

But the idea of discipline being associated ONLY with the *totalitarian abusive Hitler-parent*. . .

I want to clarify that I have NOT called anyone totalitarian, abusive, or "Hitler"-like. If that is what you are reading here, then you are reading into the text.

It also sounds like you are reading here that I am against parents disciplining their children. Again, I am not. I have stated again and again that it is Christian parents' responsibility to raise and discipline their children to the glory of God. God has put your family together, and you are responsible for your family--I recognize and respect that.

The Ezzo series I'm in the midst of is to warn parents about the deceptive, unBiblical, and harmful nature of one Christian leader's teachings. From that we've had a spin-off conversation about parenting and disciplining in general.

Molly, a lot of what you posted I could wholeheartedly agree with. But. From our past conversations I believe you are conflating the ideas of discipline and punishment. You say "discipline" but in some cases what you mean and advocate is "punishment." If what you are writing about is about discipline, then I agree. But I believe in many cases you are saying discipline, but the ideas behind that are punishment.

It is possible that I am misunderstanding you. However, you have defended smacking an infant's hand when they touch something they shouldn't, under the guise of "training them to obey." That isn't discipline--that is punishment. And it is unnecessary purposefully inflicted pain. (Drawing from past interactions, not here at TulipGirl. . .)

In the comments here you've stated, the whole idea of discipline IS that it is painful/disagreeable in some way or another.

No, the whole idea of discipline is NOT that it is painful/disagreeable in some way. Sometimes it is. From what you've said in the past here and elsewhere, your portrayal of "discipline" is actually Behaviour Modification. Ie, child's unwanted behaviour --> negative stimulus / punishment --> child avoids that behaviour.

From what you have said, I don't think that is how you spend the bulk of your time. But it concerns me that you confuse "discipline" with "punishment."

One of the advantages that I have in this conversation, is that I used to think like you do. I used to believe very similar things. However, time, mistakes, deepening theological study, God's discipline in my life, and understanding on a more personal level God's grace towards me has brought me to a different place.

There is no way to write the above paragraph without it coming across in some way condescending--but honestly, that is not my tone or feeling towards you. I'm simply trying to communicate that I understand what you are saying. And I don't think yet that you grasp some of the concepts that I'm trying to explain.

Grace and peace,

Posted by: TulipGirl at February 21, 2005 11:00 AM

"One of the advantages that I have in this conversation, is that I used to think like you do. I used to believe very similar things. However, time, mistakes, deepening theological study, God's discipline in my life, and understanding on a more personal level God's grace towards me has brought me to a different place."


My Reply:

Hmmmm... I think any hope for productive conversation just died. *grin* I don't even know where to start (or have the time to, and I'm sure you don't either).

I think we will have to agree to disagree, for now, but I thank you for the conversation.

Blessings,
Molly

Posted by: molly at February 21, 2005 07:19 PM

Hi Molly,

I, like TulipGirl, am struggling with getting my arms around what you truly believe. I have read the dialog you both have been having, and I believe I am coming to understand your point of view more each time you write. However, when you make statements like the one below, I have trouble understanding:

I appreciate aspects of Sears, AND aspects from the Pearl's (and I just read Welchel's book, mentioned above, and thought it was great--I must be in a different world altogether from some of you, I guess. "Punitive?" Wanting to teach your children to obey is punitive?

You accuse me of taking things out of context and borderline misrepresenting Lisa’s book. Well, I am sorry, but it is in her book, and the first time I read about that I almost got sick to my stomach, that a Christian parenting author would recommend putting hot sauce in a child’s mouth for a punishment. A co-worker of mine responded with shock, because she is allergic to red pepper, and had her mother done this before knowing that she could have killed her. I don’t really care if Lisa’s long-term goal is simular to mine “to reach the child’s heart”. Some of methods she employs are sick and ought to be repudiated. Personally I am shocked that Dobson would allow the book to be published under his publishing house. So when I read something so extreme like these examples I cited, I would toss Lisa’s book aside as something I would never use for parenting advice.

Where you don’t do that, you still seem to be able to find the good. I am very heartened that you did state that you do not use hot sauce on your children for punishment. I was very happy to read that, but when you state you read her book, “and thought it was great”, that leaves a very different picture to me, that you are in agreement with her punitive punishment methods.

You mention that you also like the Pearls. Now you will accuse me of pulling things out of context again, but here goes:

Here Pearl describes how he reacts to an 11 month old they are baby sitting that is screaming and interrupting Mr. Pearls work

"As I was writing this I was interrupted by a child screaming. Deb is baby-sitting an eleven-month-old little boy. I let him scream for about five minutes, as I wrote the last lines of the above paragraph, and then I left my office and went to investigate. Deb was doing business on the phone—talking to a missionary, long distance. The child was clawing at the back door, trying to get it open so he could go outside. I picked up a switch and walked over to where he was conducting his scream-in. In a calm but firm voice I said, "No, stop crying." I didn’t expect him to respond, but I wanted to establish the rules. When he failed to respond, I switched him twice on the only exposed skin—about three inches between his sock and pants leg. Again he did what I expected, what he does when his mother swats him—scream in defiance. But I have seen her swat him, and it never even gets his attention, other than a signal to scream louder. But when I switched his bare skin, he looked shocked and started to rub it. He continued to cry in protest, so I gave him two more licks on the bare leg. This time, he was convinced that I meant business. I know that he understood the issue, because he crawled past me, away from the door. Again I commanded him to stop crying, brandishing the switch. He stopped crying immediately, continuing to rub his leg while staring at me……"

On page 5 of the free PDF that is available online, Pearl suggests setting up training sessions, as soon as they can crawl. My kids started to crawl around 7 months. So you are to set up something in the room that you know the child will like to get their hands on (“an appealing object”). Then leave the infant in the room, and as the infant crawls towards the object the you purposefully placed out, say, “No, don’t touch that”. Of course a infant wants the object and as they reach for it switch their hand, and say “No. They will again pull back their hand and consider the relationship between the object, their desire, the command and the reinforcing pain. It may take several times…

Now I am trying to get a grasp of what nugget of parenting truth you can gleam from this? In the first example, why would you let an 11 month old you are baby-sitting, scream for five minutes before you found out what the problem was? What if the child was hurt or injured? Also Mr. Pearl fully acknowledges that the reason why the infant was screaming was because he wanted to go outside and play. He acknowledges that he does try to talk to the infant, but also realizes that since the infant can’t speak, he can't respond , but never the less, he punishes him for failing to respond--where is the logic there? So he says, “No, stop crying . ” What 11 month old stops crying after having been crying for five minutes from a mere voice command, without comforting and holding? Since the child obviously would not stop crying, Pearl then goes on to switch the child 4 times on his bare skin.

Now Molly, really, can you glean anything worthwhile from this that you would value as good parenting advice? Again, I think this is sick, and ought to be repudiated by the greater Christian community at large. And as far as the second example, in my opinion that flies right in the face of Eph 6:4 "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord". To exasperate means – “a : to excite the anger of : ENRAGE b : to cause irritation or annoyance to”. Therefore Pearls example he cites in my view is not only borderline child abuse, it goes against scripture.


So when I cite the Ezzos, Tedd Tripp, the Pearls and Lisa Welchel, as examples of punitive parenting methods, you seem to be able to find things in their books that you find helpful. However, in between the switchings, hot sauce, clothes pins as pinching devices, hair pullings and spankings you may find on or two nuggets of truth that I could agree with, there are other parenting advice books out there that have these same nuggets of truth with out having to wade through all the garbage in between.

You, on the other hand, continue to take what Tulip Girl and others with similar beliefs out of context. You say that because we do not endorse punitive parenting techniques we do not want to teach our children to obey. That is simply not true. We DO want to teach our children to obey, we just don't do it punitively. I'll give you an example of how that works. This morning our 3 year old son started eating his breakfast--a special treat of a donut--at the dining room table. But when his older sister got done before he did, he followed her out to the family room, half eaten donut in hand. When my wife found him she calmly said "donuts belong in the dining room Jason," and removed the donut from his hand and carried it out to his place at the table. The "punitive" response a la Pearl would have been to issue the command, but then switch his legs until he carried it out to the table. In our situation, Jason went out to the table crying in protest, and retrieved his donut. My wife again took the donut from him and calmly told him "no donuts in the family room. Donuts need to stay in the dining room." This time when she put it on the table she was a bit more careful to make sure it was positioned so that he had to climb onto his chair to be able to reach it rather than being able to get it while standing next to his chair. He again got the donut and started to run for the stairs to the second floor, she took it from him again. The next time he actually sat down at his chair and started to eat. She then went to the laundry room--which adjoins the dining room--to put some clothes in the dryer. He followed her. "No Jason, donuts belong in the dining room." He laughed, and turned back to the dining room and back to his chair.


Now in this case my wife was VERY patient with our son. Sometimes she will not give the same instruction so many times, she will instead state a consequence--"Jason, if you take your donut out of the dining room again I will take it away." This is a logical consequence of the misbehavior. It is not punitive, but it is teaching the child that he needs to obey for things to "go well with him in life."

{{{Candleman}}}

Posted by: Candleman at February 21, 2005 08:58 PM

I think any hope for productive conversation just died.

I'm sorry you feel that way. You're welcome here anytime, Molly.

Grace and peace,

Posted by: TulipGirl at February 21, 2005 09:07 PM

Now, how am I supposed to get out of here if you guys keep talking to me! *grin*

Candleman,

There are elements of the Pearl's teaching that I personally do not agree with. His views on training young babies are among them, actually. However, this can also be said of just about any other human teacher (teaching things I disagree with)...

There are things that Michael Pearl says that I absolutely LOVE (and sometimes laugh a lot over). Here's a link that might give you an idea of what I like about them:

http://www.nogreaterjoy.org/index.php?id=25&backPID=24&begin_at=30&tt_news=37

The most important thing that the Pearl's teach, but that many people seem to totally miss, is to wildly thrillingly BE with your children. I've heard them say that a parent should be spending 99% of their time with their children in happy relating, and 1% or less in discipline...and if you're not seeing that ratio, then something is dreadfully wrong. I couldn't agree more, personally.

Actively BEING with your children, working and playing alongside them, involving them in all of your day, is a message not heard very often, sad to say. I love it, am glad the Pearl's share it so regularly, and it's taught/encouraged me much.


On tbe Doughnut Disaster:

I have a three year old son, too, so I just have to comment on your doughnut example. Here's what would have happened in our house:

Son leaves table with doughnut.

Mom leads him back to table and warmly reminds him that food is eaten at the table (long-standing rule, anyhow--nothing new for him to learn there).

Now, here's where we differ... If my son had gone back to the table, as yours did, to simply retrieve the doughnut and run angrily back to the "no-food" zone, I'd have gone up to him (no angry look on my face, mind you, just matter of fact), taken the dough nut, and said something along the lines of,

"Honey, dough nuts are a special treat for boys big enough to obey their Mommies. Since you can't obey, your doughnut has to go into the trash. Maybe next time you can obey? I sure hope so."

...And that would have been the end of that. Well, other than fixing him some toast or oatmeal, of course. *grin*

If he wanted to pitch a fit about the doughnut's loss, he would be MORE than welcome to do so up in his bed, which is where everyone in our family is allowed to throw fits (they can come down whenever they are feeling happy). Nothing wrong with pitching a fit--but there is something not right about subjecting everyone else in the house to your misery. :o)

Now, if my son had absentmindedly wandered back into the living room, doughnut in hand, and I could discern that he simply forgot, I would have merely ushered him back into the dining room with another reminder about following the rules and letting him know of whatever consequence I thought appropriate (dough nut in trash or whatever) if he forgot again...

Nothing anti-Biblical there, I think. Just the different ways different folks run their homes...


I do have to say though, in point of fact, that unless my guy was dreadfully sick and feverishly out-of-character, he'd have NEVER done what your son did (with the angry repeated testing of the boundaries).

My guy, (who is a serious BOY full of energy and zip, might I add) already knows that his mom's a sweetie...but DON'T try and test the boundaries, because she really does mean what she says. :o) Daddy's the same way.

We don't ask for unreasonable or complicated things--but what we do require, we actually mean it. We always warmly tell our children, "You may choose to obey or disobey--that's up to you." It's not like they don't have a choice. But they know that the dough-nut's in the trash with one choice, whereas with the other choice they'll get to happily munch a nice treat (which IS a serious treat in our house--no junk food normally allowed here). They're a pretty smart bunch, too. Not many doughnuts end up in the trash. :o)

--
I'm not sure what your definitions are, which would help clarify the conversation further (though let's not--or take it up later--I don't really have the time for this right now, to be perfectly honest). Punitive, punishment, discipline, etc... I'd like to know what you think those words all mean, sometime. It would probably help me get a better grasp for where you are coming from. Because sometimes I just don't get it at ALL. Though I think some of that probably has more to do with our differing comprehension of God than anything else. Some time later we'll have to take it up.


TGirl,

It's hard to have a productive conversation when you basically said, "I'm right, I know God better, I've studied the Bible more and can discern it's meaning better."

You DO have to admit, that makes discussion a little difficult.

It's kind of like when someone says, "I heard from God to do such and such..." Well, even if you heartily disagree with such and such and are fairly sure they are decieved, there's not much point in conversing any further about it, is there? That person has "heard from God," and so that ends any productive thought right there.

Anyways, same thoughts here. I think some of your views, at least from what I can tell your views are so far, are ignoring aspects of God's nature in favor of others. I don't think we can "pick and choose" what parts of God we like and what parts we don't. I think our duty is to know Him in His fullness, to cry out for that (and more of that and more of that and more of that)...and express Him to our children.

You seem to view "grace" as being without cost. I view grace as very costly. Somebody paid--it just wasn't me.

You seem to view your idea of "grace" as THE attribute for parenting. I view grace as ONE of the attributes necessary for godly parenting. God is huge. There are times He gently pulls His children close. There are other times when He fearfully says, "judgement begins in the house of God." It's important that we grasp ALL of Him, not avoiding parts of Him that we don't care for.

---
OK, that's IT! I can't do this anymore, and am wondering why in the world I'm even TRYING for goodness sake! :o) I need to go do some dishes... I appreciate your desire for God, either which way, and I have a feeling we'll take up this discussion again some other time.

Blessings in Him (whether we ever agree or not),
Molly

Posted by: molly at February 21, 2005 10:35 PM

It's hard to have a productive conversation when you basically said, "I'm right, I know God better, I've studied the Bible more and can discern it's meaning better."

No, that's not what I said nor what I meant.

I was trying to illustrate that I *get* where you are coming from. But I still believe we are having communication/understanding problems and you aren't "getting it." But that's okay.


. . .from what I can tell your views are so far, are ignoring aspects of God's nature in favor of others. I don't think we can "pick and choose" what parts of God we like and what parts we don't.

No, I am not ignoring any aspects of God's nature. God's holiness and justice (and whatever other aspects you think I'm leaving out in my "picking and choosing") figure into my view of raising children as much as the "softer" attributes you think I favor. Just, as I pointed out, within applying the Gospel to my children.


You seem to view "grace" as being without cost. I view grace as very costly. Somebody paid--it just wasn't me.

Exactly. Christ has already taken upon Himself the punishment for my sins, and my children's sins. God views me (and my children) as righteous, because of what Christ has already done. How is it unChristian to apply the Gospel to my children?

God shows us, sinners, amazing grace--grace we do not deserve and do not earn. Grace that we do not merit. We are not punished for our sins in order to deserve grace--why punish our children before we point them to God's grace?


You seem to view your idea of "grace" as THE attribute for parenting. I view grace as ONE of the attributes necessary for godly parenting.

No, it's not that I view grace as "the attribute for parenting"--but that I view God's grace towards us, sinners in dire need of grace, as the heart of the Gospel.

And the Gospel applies to my children just as much as anyone else.

Posted by: TulipGirl at February 22, 2005 05:58 AM

Tulip Girl, et. al.,

Sorry I’m late to this post! Hopefully my comments still “count.” :-) I don’t have much to say on the above commentary but wanted to respond to your post directly.

I think people get into trouble when they rely solely on the counsel of ONE “expert.” (T.G., I notice you read X-ATI Guy so you will understand when I say that people who followed only Bill Gothard’s “insights” – like my parents – got into trouble! Same thing with Ezzo.) The bible says that “in the multitude of counselors there is wisdom.” That’s why I’m reading your site, and other sites that criticize Ezzo.

I’ve read Ezzo’s book Babywise (I’m finally finished!) and there are definitely some things in there I’d like to try with my baby (due in July). If it doesn’t work . . . that’s FINE. I’ll try other things. I’m not the type of person (like others, who have gotten in trouble with Ezzo’s strictness) who can’t be flexible and adapt.

Here is a question for you, just because I’m very curious if you have any opinion: What is wrong with the feeding, waketime, naptime approach? In theory, at least, it makes sense to me. If anything, I’d like to try it for a while.

Also, I plan to take naps with my children (from time to time) and cuddle with them (lots) because it will be good for bonding purposes . . . and also fun! (So, see, I don’t take Ezzo hook, line, and sinker.) But I can definitely see the problems of having a “family bed” and I think Ezzo does a good job of warning people about things like that. (How can you even begin to have a healthy marital relationship if you share your bed constantly with your kids?)

From the testimonials on ezzo.info, it seems like the people who had problems with Ezzo are emotionally insecure and were looking for “easy solutions.” If you have commonsense, can balance truths, and distill information to glean a few insights that might be worth trying, I don’t think you’ll get into trouble by reading Ezzo’s books. It’s when you’re lazy and try to follow a formula for “success” without putting your own brain in gear (e.g., reading other parenting books, talking to mothers who have “been there,” and using the scriptures as your only absolute authority) that you have problems.

Anyway, these are just a few random thoughts. I’d love to hear back from you. My e-mail is amyjkoons@comcast.net, if you’d rather e-mail me. Thanks!

-Amy

Posted by: Amy Koons at February 22, 2005 11:49 PM

This conversation has gone off in many different directions. *grin* I'm glad to see so many people chime in.

Amy,
Check your e-mail. I finally replied to what you wrote me last week. And I'll answer you here, too. . .


Martha,
I'm always glad to see you join in. I really appreciate having a mother who has "been there, done that" and has a bit more perspective, helping me to refocus on the big picture. You and Kathy do a great job of that!


Hannah,
Sincerely wrong. . . Like the B.G. followers you've known, the BG and Ezzo families I've known have truly been devoted to their families and wanted only the best. That's why I think a lot of their ideas may seem to "work"--the love in the family and the time spent together counteract against the bad ideas. At least to a degree.


Bowden,
I've been looking through your webpages a lot lately. *grin*


Cindy,
I always say it is the very best parents who make the very worst mistakes. . .
. . . We really don't want to "need" grace ( from God or anybody else.)

Isn't this so very true?


Candleman / Molly:
I'm not sure what your definitions are, which would help clarify the conversation further . . . Punitive, punishment, discipline, etc... I'd like to know what you think those words all mean, sometime. It would probably help me get a better grasp for where you are coming from. Because sometimes I just don't get it at ALL.

Candleman, I'd love to see you address this on your blog.


Lyn,
If you come across that Emerson quote, I'd love to see it.

Posted by: TulipGirl at February 23, 2005 01:37 PM

T.G.,

Sorry to be a "problem child," but could you please resend your e-mail to me? Hopefully it won't be too much trouble. I checked my comcast account and AOL account but haven't received anything from you (even though you said you had replied). And I was looking forward to reading your e-mail! My e-mail address is: amyjkoons@comcast.net. Thanks! :)

-Amy

Posted by: Amy at March 2, 2005 01:14 AM

Amy! *ack* I sent it to a different address. It's resent.

And you are not a problem child. Sometimes both mamas and kids need to be reminded. . . *L*

Posted by: TulipGirl at March 2, 2005 06:32 AM

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