How to bring up boys who can't think clearly
A review of James Dobson's Bringing Up Boys: Practical Advice and Encouragement for Those Shaping the Next Generation of Men
Reviewer: Joseph L. McCauley, January 12, 2006

Like his earlier book, The New Dare to Discipline, this book [Bringing Up Boys: Practical Advice and Encouragement for Those Shaping the Next Generation of Men] forcefully outlines the Fundamentalist Christian program for a strict patriarchal family where boys are taught to obey via corporal punishment. The advice of the book is aimed at producing obedient rather than critically questioning people. One can say that we have here Dobson as conservative antidote to Dr. Spock. Now for the downside of Dobson's ideology.

I've lived and lectured extensively in Europe, have visited and lectured in Asia, Central and South America, and have realized that too many Americans suffer from an abysmal ignorance of the rest of the world. In contrast with the Christian fundamentalist patriarchal program (shared, by the way, by Islamic Fundamentalists as well), consider Scandinavia. Scandinavia has the lowest crime rate in the world. There, a parent can go to jail for hitting a child. Words and behavioral example, not beating, produce good people and a good society. Most of the women are feminists and are fantastic mothers, fantastic women. The entire culture is democratic, freedom-loving, basically nonreligious, not very Christian (there is high awareness of the older ways). Unwed mothers and their kids are normal members of the community (unwed fathers automatically pay heavily financially to support their children). The region is socialistic in the sense that no one lives in poverty, everyone has healthcare. People own guns (hunting is popular) but murder is rare. My main point is that teaching kids to be peaceful and nonviolent produces a society like Scandinavia where the crime rate is low, whereas hitting kids has produced the present American society with one of the highest crime rates in the world. As an aside, Dobson can't tolerate independent people like feminists. For Dobson, women have only one role: to serve the male head of the family.

Dobson's advice aims to produce obedient boys who tow the line and will die for a warring leader whether the leader and the war are right or wrong. Fundamentalist ideology, Islamic, Jewish, and Christian, is producing war in the world, and Dobson's book encourages the obedience required for making war. Dobson hopes to produce rightwing ideologues like himself who hate taxes and social programs. His writings implicitly propagate the Calvinist doctrine (predestination) that the rich are favored by God, otherwise they wouldn't be successful, and the poor are not, otherwise they wouldn't be poor. In other words, Dobson systematically teaches rightwing ideology. For a description of the prevailing American conservative ideology and its origin in the assumption of a strict patriarchy, an extremist interpretation of family values, see George Lakoff's Moral Politics.

Professor Joseph L. McCauley teaches in the Physics Department of University of Houston, Houston, TX 77204, USA


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