Well, if you’re a parent who’s been given a copy of “To Train Up a Child” by a well-meaning friend/family-member/whatever and told “It’s Christian, so it’s ok,” then that would seem to be the case.
Let me clear the air really quickly on something: I’m not a Christian. Don’t confuse this to think I’m not spiritual; I am. But I’m not a Christian. Now, having said that, I need to continue with a couple of caveats. First of all, I was for a 10-year-period in my life a practicing Christian, a Deacon’s wife, a Sunday School Teacher. I’ve read the Bible. I know it pretty well. Secondly? I’ve known Christians who would absolutely shudder at the “advice” doled out in this book.
Next, I need to tell you, I’ve never considered writing anything in this blogspot that would address Child Abuse; there are more than enough people out there crying out for it to stop that I never felt my voice would add any discernible anything to the fight. However, after reading http://www.examiner.com/article/another-couple-found-guilty-of-murder-for-parenting-by-to-train-up-a-child, I started doing some research. First, I went to Amazon.com and looked up the book. Read the excerpts, then scrolled down through the reviews. Of the 2,662 reviews, 919 of them are 5-star. The rest? 1-star. Not hard to figure out some good press was done on that book when it first published. Then I started surfing the web, and what I found was that, for years now people have been crying out about this book (like this site: http://whynottrainachild.com/2010/04/20/quotes-from-ttuac/).
I’d like to examine two scriptures from the Bible. I read these when I was a practicing Christian, then I studied them. I study everything, really. The first is Proverbs 22:6, and is the basis of the title for this monstrous book: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (NKJV)
This scripture seems simple on the outset — we want to train up our children to be good, right? But it’s oh-so-much-more complex than that! For instance, do we want to train up our children to be critical thinkers? Do we wish to train them up to have the ability to discern, for themselves, the difference between right and wrong? Do we want to train them up to celebrate their compassionate, giving, and sharing natures? Or do we want to train them up to instantly obey anyone “stronger/tougher” than they are? Do we wish to remove from them any ability to make decisions for themselves? Do we wish to teach them meek servility, at the cost of themselves? See? It’s not so simple. Because if we wish to teach them compassion, we have to give them compassion. If we wish to teach them to make choices for themselves, we have to enable them to learn from the failures of incorrect choices, without censure. If we want to show them the difference between right and wrong, we have to let them be wrong, and learn to deal with the outcomes of being wrong. The two different methods of “training up a child” are polar opposites, diametrically opposed to each other.
The next scripture goes hand-in-hand with what the authors of this book purport — and I’d bet you it’s quoted in their book, too. I won’t spend money on this trash, I won’t pay people to continue teaching this drek, so I can only go on quotes I’ve seen, and logical assumptions. The scripture I’m thinking of is Proverbs 13:24: “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” (NKJV). It’s commonly paraphrased as “Spare the rod spoil the child.” You know, when I was a Sunday School teacher, I read something on this that — yep! Caused me to do yet more research. Do you realize the “rod” referred to in this passage is a shepherd’s rod? That’s right — the comparison was being made of a parent as a shepherd, and the rod mentioned is the tool shepherds use to gently guide their stray sheep back into the flock. I remember reading this explanation of this passage, and the author asked “What shepherd in his right mind would ever take the rod and beat his sheep?” We are admonished to discipline our children, in order to be loving parents. However, people have gone too far into equating “discipline” with “punishment.” Simple concept: you do something wrong, there’s a price to pay. My taking your television away from you for a night because you lied to me is discipline. My stripping you down and beating you until you submit to me because you lied to me is abuse. There is a difference, folk.
I can only think of the Christians I know, and have known, shuddering to have their name linked to this outrage. Kind of like thinking all Christians are like the parishioners of Westboro Baptist Church.
I promise, I won’t go on and on about this; I may never revisit this topic. But whoever you are, get the word out. If you’re a parent, and you’re a Christian, go to the Bible. There are so many examples of God’s, and of Christ’s, love. Of Their compassion. Of Their grace. Let grace be the guide for you as a parent, not this drivel that purports to churn out “healthy, well-adjusted children.”