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Parenting by the Book (Part III)

This is the last of three posts on John Rosemond's book, Parenting by the Book. In this section he talks about proper discipline. By discipline, Rosemond does not mean talking, reasoning, and explaining but rather making disciples of your children to follow the right way, God's way.

Chapter Nine: The Bible Tells Me So

This chapter tells what the bible says about discipline. This is a list of section titles of this chapter.
  1. Discipline and love are two sides of the same coin. (Proverbs 3:12)
  2. Punishment is never pleasant but produces great benefit for the person punished. (Hebrews 12:11)
  3. Punishment is essential to proper discipline. (Hebrews 12:6)
  4. Proper discipline validates a child. (Hebrews 12:8)
  5. Obedient children are pleasing to their parents. (Proverbs 29:17)
  6. Children are to obey their parents. (Colossians 3:20)
  7. Obedience will bring blessings to children. (Proverbs 1:8-9)
  8. The most obedient children are also the happiest, most self-respecting children. (Proverbs 15:32)
  9. A lack of discipline contributes to death—in the everlasting sense. (Proverbs 19:18)
  10. Discipline is the way to life eternal. (Proverbs 6:23)
I appreciate how John Rosemond redeems the use of the word "punishment" in this chapter. I recall reading How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, and both authors frowned upon the word "punishment." They seemed to believe it meant a lashing out in anger rather than a consequence given for misbehavior. Faber and Mazlish seemed to think punishment meant an adult temper tantrum, which I don't think is accurate. The bible certainly doesn't use the word like that.

Chapter Ten: Leadership Discipline

In this rather long chapter, Rosemond reiterates the differences between postmodern parenting and the biblical way. Postmodern parents believe that manipulating rewards and consequences turns out good behavior in children. The biblical way is one of leadership, "the art of commanding" (Rosemond, 210). He states that leaders are distinguished by the following:
  • "They may disapprove of what you do, but they always approve of you (unconditional positive regard).
  • "They lead through example. They do not expect others to do what they have not themselves done or are unwilling to do.
  • "They are enthusiastic concerning their vision, and their enthusiasm is communicable.
  • "They motivate others to follow their lead through positive coaching and encouragement, by helping people reach down inside themselves and bring out the best in themselves. And because they help people become the very best they can be, those people look up to them.
  • "They are decisitve and willing to make unpopular decisions.
  • "They 'stay the course' when the going gets rough." (Rosemond, 207-8)
He spends a good portion of this chapter on spankings, which I don't intend to summarize here not because I disagree but because I wasn't particularly interested in it. 

Chapter Eleven: Command, Compel, Confirm

I appreciated this chapter the most. In fact, I think this chapter could stand on its own apart from the rest of the book as a great guide to parenting. Rosemond encourages parents:
  1. To communicate through commands
  2. To give compelling consequences
  3. To consistently confirm my best interest in my children
"Say what you mean, mean what you say, and do what you say you are going to do" (Rosemond, 226). Basically, don't argue with your child. I, Abigail, think it would help if I asked myself, "Is my child asking 'Why not?' because they're confused or do they just not want to do what I've asked?"
  1. "When your child asks for something, and you say he can't have it or do it, and your child demands an explanation, as in, "Why not?!" give one of the only six reasons there are: (1) You're not old enough, (2) you might get hurt, (3) we don't have the money (or will not use it that way), (4) we don't have the time (or won't take the time) for that, (5) we don't believe in that (our values don't allow that), (6) we don't like those kids.
  2. "When you have given your chosen reason in five words or less, and your child stomps his foot and yells out that he doesn't agree with your reason, thinks it's dumb, or wants to tell you why you should change your mind, simply look at him with great compassion and say, 'If I was your age, I wouldn't like that decision either.'
  3. "Then turn around and walk away, leaving your child to—I'm going to steal one of Grandma's favorite lines—'stew in his own juices.'" (Rosemond, 231-2)
I recall Heidi Dehart suggesting that I say, "I need you to . . ." to my children when I command them. This has served me quite well for several years now. It's much more effective than what Rosemond calls "Milquetoast speeches," which are a combination of entreatments, enticements, explanations, and bribes. 

If a child doesn't heed a command, a consequence comes next. The difference between a compelling and non-compelling consequence is whom it affects. A child should be the one suffering the consequences for his behavior, not the parent. And the consequence should be something the child remembers next time they're tempted to disobey again.

Lastly, being a consistent parent doesn't mean to have a consistent set of consequences, those can change, but rather to have a consistent set of values in the house. Parents who value what the Bibles values will always have consistent values. Their aim is the same if they are raising strong-willed or compliant children, boys or girls, handicapped or autistic kids.

Rosemond, John. Parenting by the Book. New York: Howard Books, 2007. Print.

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