Dare to Discipline: Teaching Respect and Responsibility to Children

As promised, this installment of Dr. Dobson’s handy guidebook for parents will focus on Chapter One: Teaching Respect and Responsibility to Children. This chapter begins with a sentence that pretty much sets the tone for the whole book—“Nature has generously equipped most animals with a fear of things that could be harmful to them.”—and gets even more interesting from there. Now you tell me: How could you not be fond for a book on child-rearing that starts out like this?

Nature has generously equipped most animals with a fear of things that could be harmful to them. Their survival depends on recognition of a particular danger in time to avoid it. But good old mother nature did not protect the frog quite so well; she overlooked a serious flaw in his early warning system that sometimes proves fatal. If a frog is placed in a pan of warm water under which the heat is being increased very gradually, he will typically show no inclination to escape… He will just sit there, contentedly peering over the edge of the pan while the steam curls ominously around his nostrils…

Now obviously, this is a book about parents and children, not frogs. But human beings have some of the same perceptual inadequacies as their little green friends. We quickly become excited about sudden dangers that confront us. War, disease epidemics, earthquakes, and hurricanes bring instant mobilization.
Or, they used to, anyway, back when this book was written. Now, not so much.

Upon reading this passage, I was thinking that Dr. Dobson is right! There are lots of kids who find themselves in the boiling waters of parental oppression and intolerance, as the steam of bigotry and willful ignorance curls around their nostrils, oblivious to the fact that they could—and should—escape, the poor little froggies, sitting in the sad pan of their fate. I was surprised to see that Dr. Dobson was encouraging kids to pay attention to their surroundings and hop on out of the deathtrap of dogma before it was too late.

But that’s not really what he was saying.

However, if a threatening problem arises very slowly, perhaps over a decade or two, we often allow ourselves to “boil” in happy ignorance. This blindness to gradual disasters is best illustrated by the way we have ignored the turmoil that is spreading systematically through the younger generation of Americans. We have passively accepted a slowly deteriorating “youth scene” without uttering a croak of protest… Without being unnecessarily pessimistic, it is accurate to say that the traditional concept of morality is dead among the majority of high school students today.
Wow. That’s a pretty strong charge. Dr. Dobson says he draws this conclusion from having spoken to high school teachers. Let’s say he spent a year or two researching and writing the book, which was published in 1970. Who were these heinous high schoolers, bereft of any shreds of morality, plaguing America in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s?

Well, who am I to argue with a doctor, anyway? Ribbit.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus