Parenting with Loving Correction by Sam Crabtree

Discussion in 'Book Reviews' started by Joseph Knowles, May 18, 2019.

  1. Joseph Knowles

    Joseph Knowles Puritan Board Freshman

    OVERVIEW
    Rating: 4 out of 5
    Length: 4 to 4.5 hrs. To read (128 pages)

    Short Summary:
    In his book, Parenting with Loving Correction, Sam Crabtree equips parents to understand why correction is essential, what the goal of correction should be, and how to put loving, God-honoring correction into practice.

    Note: I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher.

    Who Should Read This Book?

    Expectant parents and parents of younger children will especially benefit from this book. It’s not that the principles do not apply equally to older children and teenagers, but these are ideas that are best instilled early. Pastors and churches might also find the material in this book useful for small group study within their congregations.

    Analysis and Review

    The book is divided into three parts. The first part poses the question “What’s at stake?” The second outlines “Essentials of Corrective Discipline.” The final part, titled “Getting Practical,” gives parents some nuts and bolts to implement the kind of corrective discipline that the author describes in the first two parts.

    Crabtree lays out the purpose of his book with clarity right from the start. As Christians, he writes, “We want our children to honor God, and requiring children to honor parents honors the God who commands children to do exactly that.” (pg. 25). Parenting is not so much a list of things to do in specific situations as it is developing the proper, Biblical mindset.

    Parents know that we must discipline our children, but too often it seems that we neglect to think more than superficially about why we should discipline our children. Why does it often seem to be so difficult? What happens when we fail to correct our children? What are the benefits of properly correcting our children? Crabtree supplies an excellent answer to that last question: “The wise, corrective discipline of our children glorifies the truth-speaking God of the Bible, honors parents (all parents, as well as the specific child’s parents), protects our children, strengthens the church, serves society, and gives hope to the nations.” (pg. 36).

    Part of the struggle when it comes to disciplining children is the existence of wrong assumptions about parenting. Crabtree helps dispel some of those assumptions by laying out a definition of “corrective discipline.” By that term he means “Identifying actions or attitudes of your child that are unacceptable when weighed against clear and explicit standards and then acting promptly and decisively to move your child in the direction of compliance with those standards. (pg. 15). Crabtree expands on the different parts of that definition throughout the book.

    Overall, I think the book will prove beneficial to Christian parents who want to ensure that they approach parenting from a biblical perspective. I do, however, find at least a couple points of disagreement with Crabtree. First, he writes:

    [P]arents may hesitate to use rewards because it seems to belong in the realm of secular behaviorism, which obscures and even denies the gospel. I don't advocate secular behaviorism. However, behavioral methods--rewards and punishments--can be means toward good spiritual ends--in particular, they can draw the child's attention to the gospel.

    (page 80, emphasis in original)​

    I commend Crabtree for denouncing secular behaviorism, but that does not mean that the pitfalls of behavioral methods of parenting are thereby avoided altogether. On this point, I think psychologist and parenting expert John Rosemond (himself a Christian) has the more complete and better view. Writing in his December 28, 2008 column, Rosemond says, that "behavior modification does not work on human beings. . . . Consequences compel rats and dogs to do what their handlers want them to do. Consequences do not compel human beings." It would be a devastating mistake for any parent to assume that if he simply "manipulates reward and punishment properly, the correct behavior will ensue." I think, perhaps, that Crabtree and Rosemond may agree on this point, but it seems to me that Crabtree is less clear that he could have been.

    Second, I was disappointed with the cursory treatment that the Appendix devoted to the topic of ADHD. It's a subject that tends to evoke strong opinions and it deserves to be dealt with at greater length than Crabtree was able to devote to it here. For further reading, I highly recommend John Rosemond's book (co-written with Dr. Bose Ravenel, M.D.) The Diseasing of America's Children.

    Conclusion

    Sam Crabtree has certainly added a useful resource to the existing library of books for Christian parents. Although I found a few points of disagreement, I would still feel comfortable recommending this book to Christian parents. The author does an outstanding job in helping parents to develop a Christian mindset toward parenting and those who endeavor to shape their parenting according to the Scriptural principles laid out in this book will not be disappointed.
     

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