Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What Dr. Benjamin Spock Didn't Tell Your Parents

On the first day of an elementary psychology course at
Johns Hopkins University (in the 1950s), a professor sat
on his desk silently reading the morning newspaper.
The bell rang, but he didn't seem to notice it. Then
audibly he began to read the headlines of the front
page articles. They captioned difficult world problems,
spoke of inhumane acts of man to his fellow man, and,
in general, painted the typical sensational front page
picture one may read every day. Presently, he looked
up and said, "The world is in a mess." He spent the
rest of the hour explaining how psychology is the
world's one hope for straightening out that mess.
Hand in hand, psychology and its medical equal,
psychiatry, have succeeded in replacing time-honored
traditions in training up our children. Instead, they
have been replaced with, more often than not,
ridiculous and outlandish advice and philosophies.
While we are not opposed to good, solid Christian
principles taught by some spiritually mature, as well as
academically sound, Christian psycologists, they are in
the minority in their field.
Despite the fact that liberal based psychology and psychiatry have
succeeded in entering our schools, our courts, our
legislatures, our workplaces, and bit by bit, our homes,
the newspaper headlines have not improved. They
continue to report about lawlessness and greed, and
increases in youth violence, robberies, theft and
deceit, overcrowded prisons, a decay of morality, child
abuse, alcoholism, a growing drug industry and usage,
the disintegration of the family, and increase in
teenage pregnancies and teen suicide, a lack of
motivation in students, an ever-declining literacy rate,
dwindling test scores, and of graduates who can't even
find their home city on a map. In short, the world is in
a far greater mess than what it was imaginable to be
in during the 1950s.

Behaviorist J.B. Watson was one of the first of the "new breed of experts" that appeared on the scene. He offered what he called a "foolproof" method of child rearing, and mothers bought it hook, line, and sinker. If only they would follow his advice, he said, they could produce any kind of child they wanted ... a doctor, lawyer, artist merchantchief, and yes, even a beggarman and a thief.

In his book, Psychological Care of Infant and Child (1928), Watson advised parents, it they wanted the best results, to show no affection for their offspring. He wrote:

Treat them as though they were young adults. Dress them, bathe them with care and circumspection. Let your behavior always be objective and firm. Never hug and kiss them, never let them sit on your lap. If you must, kiss them once on the forehead when they say goodnight. Shake hands with them in the morning...

Remember when you are tempted to pet your child, that mother love is a dangerous instrument. An instrument which may inflict a never-healing wound, a wound which may make infancy unhappy, adolescence a nightmare, an instrument which may wreck your adult son or daughter's vocational future and their chance for marital happiness.

While most would consider this advice absolutely ridiculous, in his day, Dr. Watson was enormously popular, and literally millions of copies of his book were sold. Parents actually work to put into practice his teaching and philosophy on raising children.

Later the controversial Dr. Sigmund Freud would appear on the scene, followed by the pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock, who is known best for his book,Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care. After first being published in 1946, to date, almost fifty million copies of this book have been sold worldwide, in over thirty languages. It is very common even today for mothers who themselves were "raised by the book" to give every new expectant mom they encounter a copy of Dr. Spock's book.

Although it was Freud who formed the whole basis of Dr. Spock's book (and Spock would admit this later), Dr. Spock was hesitant to acknowledge this because of Freud's controversial reputation. Instead, Spock distilled psychosexual stages of a child's development as the acquired wisdom of a Yankee country doctor. Unknowingly, millions of parents, who found Freud's theories totally unacceptable thus raised their children according to his theories.

The essential message, articulated over and over again in the 1946 edition of Baby and Child Care, was twofold: parents should not be alarmed at the expression of sexual and aggressive behavior was natural. And, rather than interfering with their children's instinctual behavior, parents should become sensitive to the child's instinctual needs. In essence, Spock's message to parents was one of permissiveness, promoting instant gratification and deviance. In the 1960s, when the first generation "brought up on Spock" turned into draft dodging, free loving hippies, questions began to surface about the celebrated baby doctor.

Shortly before his death, Benjamin Spock apologized and said he had been wrong; his theories about raising children had been hypotheses that did not bear out. In practice, healthy, responsible adults were not the outcome. And of course, he wrote the "new version" of his book... after messing up millions of children. The phrase "too little, too late" comes to mind regarding the highly acclaimed doctor.

By the 1950s, Spock had a serious number of followers who added fuel to the well-established fire of permissiveness. Fastforward to present day: Are we any better off trying it the world's way? You see, the BIGGEST problem with those who base their philosophy on secular humanism or the newest psychological hoola hoop, is this...


The Christian community is nowhere close to being exempt from swallowing hook, line, and sinker anything and everything that comes out on parenting. And it is even sadder to think that much of what we have swallowed has come from a "Christian expert," many of whom base their principles and theories strongly on psychology while loosely on the Word of God.

It is time we return to the tried, proven, balanced, and Biblical method of raising our children.

It is time we return to the truth of what is actually normal.


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