Chapters two and three of Dare to Discipline contain what Dobson refers to as the "five underpinnings to commonsense child rearing." Chapter two entirely focuses on number one: Developing respect for parents is the critical factor in child management. Rather than discuss his views extensively, I'm going to quote several of the passages I find most alarming. I think the material speaks for itself.
When nose-to-nose confrontation occurs between you and your child, it is not the time to discuss the virtues of obedience. It is not the occasion to send him to his room to pout. Nor is it appropriate to postpone disciplinary measures until our tired spouse plods home from work. (20).
Right, because hitting a child in the heat of the moment is the best way to discipline. My mother and I struggled for a long time when I was younger, and we finally figured out that the best way to end a conflict--and resolve conflict--was for both of us to take a "time out." For my brother, he needs to be reminded of "the virtues of obedience"...he's so sensitive that a good talking to is all it take for him to shape up. If you tried to spank him, the kid would flip out. He would get so focused on the physical act that any lesson would be lost. Not to mention that any sort of physical violence bestowed on your child directly after a confrontation, when you're angry and frustrated, is probably going to be over-the-top and harsher than what you intended.
It is the ultimate paradox of childhood that youngsters want to be led, but insist that their parents earn the right to lead them. (21)
Well, of course. When I go to work, I'm glad that my boss is there, as I don't know the first thing about managing a store. But if my boss was terrible, I wouldn't feel compelled to respect him. I wouldn't have the same trust or appreciation of her. Same way with children--instinctively, kids know they need authority figures, they need to be cared for, but if the parents abdicate their responsibilities or misuse that trust, the children will no longer respect their parents, and rightfully so.
Dobson then goes on to tell a story about a girl named "Becky." Becky is your stereotypical difficult adolescent, disrespecting her parents, etc. The story climaxes with this: They thought a party might maker her happy, and Mrs. Halloway worked very hard to decorate the house and prepare refreshments. On the appointed evening, a mob of dirty, profane teens swarmed into the house, breaking and destroying the furnishings. During the course of the evening, Mrs. Halloway said something that angered Becky. The girl struck her mother and left her lying in a pool of blood in the bathroom. (22) Dobson goes on to say that had the Halloways disciplined Becky as a young girl, this horrible confrontation would never have happened.
Please excuse the following vulgarity. What the fuckity fuck? A girl attacks her mother, and it's because she wasn't spanked enough as toddler. No no no. The violent temper tantrums and culminating physical attack is a symptom of a serious psychological issue, and certainly not an example of the importance of early childhood discipline. The logic is so flawed. There are many, many children who don't get spanked during their toddler years, but as far as I know, there hasn't been an epidemic of kids attacking their parents and leaving them a bloody mess on the floor.
Tune in next time to hear Dobson justify his wife hitting their 15 month old daughter's legs with a switch! ::shudder::