Parenting Via Kirk Cameron: Kids Don’t Need No Explanations

Parenting Via Kirk Cameron: Kids Don’t Need No Explanations January 22, 2014

Theologian actor Kirk Cameron had some lovely parenting advice posted for us on his blog yesterday. In a post he promoted by Jay Younts at Shepherd Press, he encourages parents to stop giving explanations to kids, and instead teach them to blindly obey. The piece says, in part:

“God has not called parents to explain but to train. Explanations often lead to frustration and anger for both parents and children. Children are not in need of lengthy, compelling explanations. What they are in need of is the understanding that God must be obeyed.”

The post goes on to warn parents who help their kids understand the why behind making good choices:

“Explanations tend to focus on getting someone to agree with you. The logic for explanations runs something like this: If I can just get my children to understand the reason for my direction, then they will be more likely to follow my instruction. While this may sound like solid reasoning, it is not. Explanations are more consistent with gaining approval and winning arguments. Neither of these are appropriate goals for biblical parenting and can lead to anger in your children as Ephesians warns against.”

Brilliant advice, if you want to raise frustrated children who leave town the day after they turn 18 and get stuck in abusive relationships because they don’t know how to problem solve or think critically. This is especially concerning for me, a Dad who is committed to adopting and raising girls specifically. The last thing I want for them is to end up in a relationship or a marriage and to think that they must blindly obey and follow their husband. However, that’s what this type of parenting will lead to: young adults who can’t think and who are susceptible to abusive relationships and abusive churches.

In fact, now that I think of it, I’m wondering if Jay Younts is actually just a pen name for Mark Driscoll? Got to keep the membership rolls growing, I guess.

PLEASE don’t follow Kirk’s parenting advice. Children need to know why and how to make good choices, instead of learning to blindly follow authority figures.

So, there you go. A theology of parenting according to Kirk Cameron says that biblical parenting is to teach your kids to shut up and do what they’re told.

I say, that’s dangerous.

You can read the entire, disgusting piece, here.

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  • erlenmeyer316

    Yeah, we were given a book from Shepherd press when we had our first child called “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” by Tedd Tripp and I couldn’t even make it through the first half. It really made me have a physical reaction. The goal was to break their will young so they could be molded into good Godly children. When I got to the part that was discussing discipline and it addressed the concern that ‘if I spank my children for every offence then I will never stop spanking them’ by basically stating that that that a lack of commitment from parents to spank for every offense (even if it means spanking constantly) will result in kids who have no respect for parents or God, I threw the book away. It was dangerous and sick stuff in my opinion and encouraged abuse.

  • Justin Carver

    Adam, I’m familiar with that book as well. When we were having our first child a pastor encourage us to read it and follow it’s teachings. He explained it and we even observed parents doing this. We never read the book. It’s quite disturbing indeed.

  • Leave the day they turn 18? I would think most would leave well before that.

  • We’re not at the kids point yet, but we got a few similar ones from well-intentioned friends as engagement and wedding gifts. Including, of course, the Driscolls’ Real Marriage (or whoever actually wrote it in their names). We haven’t brought ourselves to burn it because it was a wedding gift from friends, but we haven’t made it further than the table of contents yet either.

  • LC

    The cultic/shepherding church I started out in and where my first child was born was using Shepherding a Child’s Heart for parent training. I had a problem with the breaking of a child’s will so I secretly (and defiantly) vowed to keep my little girl’s spunk in tact and not speak openly about how I felt about it. Ben, I love your posts. Thanks!

  • Darcy Goth

    I am one of those children that was not given explanations and YES I was not able to think or reason because I was not allowed to. YES I ended up in several abusive relationships because of this and a fear that controlled my life for many years. I finally broke free though. Please do not parent in this way it is damaging in so many ways that it would take a long time for me to explain.

  • Marcabru

    Wow, Cameron sounds like such a tool. Such a well-trained tool. I hope his comments aren’t being taken out of context.

    With that hope in mind, let’s not throw out the needle of wisdom in the BS haystack. There are times to explain–and, depending on the kid, that may be most of the time–and there are times when we need to get on with our day, and the kids need to obey “because I said so.” Both forms of discipline are necessary (again, depending on the child). The first form teaches children to reason, teaches them that you value their minds and hearts, teaches them that you care. The second teaches them that you are the parent, when push comes to shove (and, as we all know, kids will sometimes push us as far as they can); you are not just a buddy or confidant or mentor; you are, when it comes down to it, the boss. If kids don’t learn to respect that dynamic (and please note that ‘respect’ need not mean ‘agree with’), why should those kids respect other authority figures that they don’t agree with?

    But, again, we’re talking about a balance here, not an either/or split. To imply otherwise –to stress reasoning and explaining to the exclusion of “that’s that” discipline–is to come across just as poorly as Cameron does, but in the opposite way.

  • Alan Christensen

    I fail to see how “training a child in the way he should walk” has to involve stunting his ability to think for themselves.

  • kjkjcsimps

    Anyone who has raised kids knows that all you have got to do is “lay down the Law” and they will become compliant little angels. (O, if life were so simple . . .)

  • Greg Colby

    Kirk should stick to acting – well, not even that

  • JenellYB

    Many years ago, I came to a firm resolve about ‘bad’ books. Now, I LOVE books, and at first it was hard for me to come to my position, because I’d think, just because I don’t like it maybe someone else will, and give it away, But by ‘bad’ books I don’t mean I just don’t like them, but that they teach or encourage something harmful in some way. So, if I come to have a ‘bad’ book, given to me, or bought by mistake, my resolve is to destroy them, make sure no one else ever reads and is influenced by them. I’ve come to call a lot of bad religious books and literature “religious porn.”

  • JenellYB

    yeah, I was one, too, and yes, it caused me to make terrible mistakes and suffer a lot of bad choices early in life and consequences that have lasted all of my life..

  • I explained things to my kids (even as a practicing Evangelical) because I wanted them to learn critical thinking skills. I knew I wasn’t always going to be around to do their thinking for them and it was my calling as a parent to help them be kind and responsible adults. There were times when I told them my decision was not up for debate, but I always, always explained. I’m more of a lapsed Evangelical now, but my kids are capable of thinking and empathy and they are people I’m very happy to know.

  • On occasion I would say “I’m explaining so you will understand, not because it is up for debate.” You can teach obedience and critical thinking. It just takes patience and commitment, which granted, sometimes really sucks. But it’s just as much part of the job as changing diapers and helping with homework.

  • I agree for the need for balance. I try to explain and discuss wherever possible, but there are definitely times when I have to say “because I asked you to” when explaining would be inappropriate. Often I’ll try to give a 12 year old version of an explanation, but certainly there are times when it’s an “adult conversation” type of issue. If he had argued for balance, I’d be fine– but I didn’t hear that in the article.

  • If you burn it and send me proof, I’ll send you a signed, pre-release copy of Undiluted when it comes out.

  • Yup, like that “to train a child” abusive nonsense.

  • Freddie P

    Hey guys, may the peace of God dwell strongly with you. Since we’re all members of the same Body in Christ, show love to Kirk Cameron even if you disagree with him. Don’t tear him down but build him up. Remember, our own faults are legion, so we have no room slander a fellow believer because his views on parenting differ from our own. And by the way, I got the “because I said so answer” growing up, and I’m very glad I did. I love both of my parents strongly to this day.

  • Michael Brian Woywood

    That was, quite possibly, the worst parenting advice I’ve ever read…. and I was raised in a house where Dobson was considered inerrant.

  • dangjin1

    So you are blaming Kirk Cameron for things he did not say..hmmm…I guess you are just using his name to get clicks on your site

    I do not necessarily agree with what YOUNT said because I think it ignores other important scripture verses and it is a little harsh.

  • What do the first two lines say? “In a post he promoted”.

  • Wait… disagreeing with something someone posts on their blog is slander? Yippeeeeeee! I’m goonnna beeee rich! Cause that happens to me every day.

    Ops. On second glance, it’s not slander. It actually means, you just disagree.

  • Yup. Works for me every time it’s tried.

  • One time I purged all of the books in the house that had bad theology in them. My wife insisted we give them away… to people in our small group. I had to ask her what the hells she was thinking– if we were getting rid of them because they had bad stuff in them, why in the world give them to friends?

    I guess destroying things just comes hard to some people.

  • dangjin1

    Right, in the TITLE you use Cameron NOT Yount so you are using Cameron’s name for clicks because it is more famous than Yount an more people do not like Cameron so they will be curious.

    Why didn’t you use Yount instead?? He was the actual writer.

  • woman4life

    I see no where that the context of the citation implies no explanations are ever needed or given, or it wouldn’t be called “training.” Having raised three children, I can pretty much guarantee you that reasoning with a toddler is a most ineffective way to keep them alive and pointless about 85% (or more) of the time.

  • Andy

    I considered stopping reading after I saw the words “Kirk Cameron”. I didn’t.

    I immediately regret this decision.


    This reminds me of something I read in Nurtureshock (which is an excellent evidence based book about kids and parenting). There was a chapter about teenagers and arguing, and essentially what was found is that the teens with the healthiest relationships with their parents had frequent arguments. This actually demonstrated their engagement with their parents, and also the recognition that they could persuade their parents at times. The kids who did not argue with their parents were actually more likely to be involved in activities parents disapproved of, there weren’t discussions about it, they simply hid what they were up too. I think that engagement and reasoning are crucial for relating to children of all ages. Eventually kids wise up to the fact that they have a parent who is unwilling to have a discussion with them. At that point, you lose your ability to influence them and they will disengage.

  • Rebecca Lynn

    My granddad had a much better idea for these kind of books, he kept a stack of them in the outhouse in the back yard. It was there when the original house was built and moved around a bit over the years, he just could not take it down since his dad built it. He loved to use old books for recycling purposes and specifically shopped at yard sales for all his hated authors. LOL He was a trip!!!

  • Heidi

    I honestly think it is about balance. I think kids should obey right away in a cheerful and happy way. I think they should be taught how to respectfully disagree too. Having 4 kids (even with 1 kid) I can see that sometimes kids need to just do it. It is fine to teach your kids the why’s of things. BUT some times kids (and adults with bosses) just need to get er done. If I say ‘put your shoes on’ or ‘clean your room’ or ‘brush your teeth’ Even ‘Do you chores’ or “No you can’t sleep over’ these things can be explained a few times – but not every time. Every request by a parent should not be an invitation for a debate or an endless why session. Some things really just need to be done NOW.

    But not everything. Some things need long talks and deep discussions over days and months and years. So things are so deep that just saying “Do it my way or else” will never work”

    There is a time for explanation and thinking through things. And there is a time for just obeying. It isn’t good to raise a mouthy disrespectful person. Nor is it good to raise a doormat that cannot stand on his/her own 2 feet against the crowd.

    It is not one way or the other. I loved Shepherding a Child’s Heart. I love other books too. There is just no one way to do many things. There is no need to polarize – he has good points and others do too.

  • Heidi

    not all spanking is child abuse.

  • Heidi

    My kids are all very spunky – but there is a difference between spunk and disrespect. I do think the things we value most in adults are the things we try to drive out of children. That is no good. I want my kids to know there gifts, passions and to love God and be who they were created to be. And I love watching what God has made unfold before me. Yet I do think that teaching kids cheerful obedience is only going to make their lives better. I did spank my kids. The oldest we stop at 8. The others probably at 5 maybe 4. There are other ways to correct children that worked better at older ages. Plus we only spanked if nothing else worked.

  • Heidi

    I don’t think that they are mutually exclusive either.

  • Heidi

    I want my kids to obey right away when I tell them to do simple things. And I want to discuss life issues in depth with them often. There is a difference between having to debate every single thing I ask them to do during the day and critical thinking skills. So clean the kitchen now because I said and later we can talk about how we live together in community and help each other. Of course that is an ongoing topic at my house:-0

  • ECA

    Oh the joys of Dobson. My husband got restationed to the Colorado Springs area, last year. We had the hardest time not choking every time someone congratulated us on our luck to be moving to the birthplace of Focus on the Family.

  • Heidi

    Really? I don’t care if you like him or not – but I would hope none of us had to be judged on who we were 25-30 years ago. God help us all:-) O my it is hard to think about being judge now on how I acted then:-0

  • duskglow

    To his credit, he apologized for that. I wish he would stop saying more things he’s going to need to apologize for in ten or twenty years when he figures out how stupid the things he’s saying are.

  • Ben

    Slapping around the elderly isn’t always abuse.

    But seriously, outside of my one-liner quip, you’ll have to explain what criteria should be used to evaluate when it’s ok to strike another person.

  • Timmybear

    As long as children are allowed to spank their parents if the parents do the exact same thing for which they are being punished, it’s okay. Otherwise, no.

  • Timmybear

    Is one supposed to agree cheerfully with insanity? No.

  • I thought I was supposed to be getting a free review copy anyway? :)

  • Heidi

    I was allowed to think. And do much of what I wanted. My home was a tough place to live. Not a lot of guidance. I still left at 18 and still made terrible choices. I suffer still today because of bad choices I made daily even though I am now 41:-)

    I think that parenting is a combo of so many things and each person needs to figure out how to parent their child. I think all the parenting books are mostly wrong – but most have some good things to glean for your own situation.

    Shepherding a Childs Heart, 123 Magic and Growing Godly Tomatoes have really help – for my situation As well as Celebrate the Calm and Beyond Consequences.

  • Timmybear

    If an adult says ‘you must obey because you must obey’, then I would consider them irrational and would NOT obey. Even as a child. I was not a disobedient child, for the most part, but I did expect people to engage my functioning brain and not try the old ‘I am adult, and I know everything’ game. I certainly never thought my parents were ‘the boss’ or infallible. In fact, I usually looked at what they did and said: ‘Right. Things NOT to do.’ As a result, I’ve never drank alcohol or coffee, never did drugs and never engaged in those repulsive acts necessary to create more children.

  • Heidi

    I think it is a trained attitude. Really it come more from my days working in a restaurant, with the disabled, in stores and with young people. I was not raised this way. But at some point you realize “Catch more flies with honey” is a true statement. I keep jobs and got raises often based more on my attitude then sometimes my skills. But add a great attitude with great skills and learning to deal with people and you have a recipe for success. “How to Win Friends and Influence people is a great book on this topic.

    There is just something wonderful about people who are willing and able to just get something done. Along with that though, I teach my kids what they should NEVER do and how to bring up issues to talk about.

    Life has lots of things that just need to be done and done quickly. Life has lots of things that need to be thought through and handled as the situation requires.

  • Heidi

    Ben please explain. I don’t classify 1-3 hits on the bottom for persistent disobedience abuse. And I think that 1 kid got 2 swats 2 times. I stopped because I found other things more effective as they got older. Some times I would spank in anger and doing anything in anger is really a bad idea for me.

    Now with hitting others, it seems that sometimes there is a point in a boys/mans life that a fight in defending yourself may become necessary. I say this, not because I like it, but I have observed others walk through this path and at least being willing to fight was more about respect. But my oldest boy is 9. It hasn’t come up yet.

  • Heidi

    I think it depends. There are many things that I tell my kids each day that just need to be done. I used to joke that I needed some kind of devise that had 5-6 settings. I could just record the things I say all day – then push the button to save my voice:-) Right now they would be, “put on your coat”, go to bed”, ‘put your stuff away” “if it is not yours don’t touch it”, “Please be kind to one another” and “no you cannot have another snack”

  • Re: a necessary time to fight: not if you’re a Christian, since Jesus forbids the use of all violence including violence in self defense.

  • Heidi

    Yes my children can spank me for touching the stove, taking things down repeatedly (after the age of 4) and throwing them across the floor or for talking, and for running into the street. I can also be spanked for the other foolish things children do when they are long out of that stage of development or have been told 3 times not to so I got a time in, then 3 more times so I got a time out, then 3 times more. Totally fine with that. But schools and other places don’t give people that many chances.

  • Heidi

    I agree with you. In talking with some men they have told me the is a time in a boys live that he learns to stand up for himself. It doesn’t need to be violent most the time, but once in a while it does.

  • As the mother of a fifteen year old with whom I have a very close and often contentious relationship, I really appreciate this post.

  • Chels Riley

    Then, ma’am, with all due respect, your son, according to the Bible, will not be a good Christian son.

    You should discourage that immediately. Keep hitting your kid though. they’ll keep the cycle of viciousness going.

  • jayceegrey

    His sister promotes the Pearls’ “To Train Up A Child” . . . . it gets worse.

  • Heidi

    I do discourage it. As does my husband. It is still a reality. If you read my other post you would see that we did use spanking as 1 tool in the tool box, 1-3 swats after time in and time outs until our oldest was 8. And the others we 4-5. I have not spanked a kid in at least 3 years. No need. They generally obey AND I have other means of discipline that work more effectively. We did not swat until around age 3. So yes there is a short period in live that I believe a swat redirects behavior and attention. You can disagree and that is fine. My kids are great thoughtful and thinking kids that do not argue with me all day long.

  • Heidi

    I will also say that I more go with this style of parenting now, from the Peaceful Parent: Children find it impossible to act well when difficult feelings have built up and unless they can gain some relief from their frustrations, they will act them out. It’s important to be very attuned to your child’s stress levels and help them avoid becoming over-stretched, over-stimulated and generally wound up with frustrations.
    Easier said than done, but the more a parent thinks in terms of their child being in balance or out of balance, as opposed to good or naughtly, cooperative or defiant, the easier it is to work with their child and avoid the power struggles.

    Instead of being harsh with your child or ignoring them, what they need is empathy and connection. Perhaps you can create a space in your house that has associations of connection, nurturing and returning to a calm state, perhaps one of the arm chairs or the parent’s bed where you can go to *with* your child when they become overwhelmed.

    But stay with your child and avoid giving them messages that they need to sort themselves out, even adults often feel rejected at that suggestion. If you feel too angry to help your child feel connected and less stressed, you might need to take a few minutes to release your own stress and calm down. Many creative options open up when a parent can re-centre themselves, that’s the key!

    Consider what helps your child feel secure and settled again; cuddles, slow deep breaths with you, talks, squeezing your hands or you squeezing or massaging their hands or feet, maybe books, songs or sensory play. One of my kids has always been very musical, so singing would nearly always work for him, whether it was to reconnect, to settle him, to make jobs more fun, to bring a smile to otherwise boring times like going in a car seat, to express all sorts of feelings. Learn what brings your kid back to their happy place. ~ Genevieve

    I think spanking has a limited window and should be used for very limited things.

  • Ryan Arko

    Okie doke. Just combed through the comments to see if anyone mentioned it, but surprisingly, no one has mentioned that this advice goes contrary to 1 Peter 3:15. You can’t avoid teaching them why they must believe something because they are required to answer why they believe what they believe.

    “Just because” or “because I’m supposed to” do nothing to edify the name of God, which again is contrary to 1 Peter 3:15 which states:

    “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts; and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”

    This is why I could never swallow the Christianity b.s. growing up. On top of the vile monster these people worship, they cherry pick and outright ignore what they’re told in their book of fairy tales.

  • lanceburson

    Does he believe in Christianity or Scientology? Seriously, how many of us (*raising my hand) were raised in this environment and then struggled with drugs, alcohol and women? I may be one of those craaaaazzyyyyy liberal Christian parents but my 3 daughters get explanations, analysis, post game film breakdown, and Monday morning quarterbacking.
    Lance aka @lanceburson

  • Ryan Arko

    Hitting babies so that they learn not to crawl off a blanket is abuse.
    Hitting six month olds with small branches or plastic tubing is abuse.
    Putting a small child outside in the freezing cold for a period of time as a punishment is abuse.

  • Heidi

    I agree.

  • I think that the serious flaw in this type of thinking goes far beyond child-rearing. Note that the author says, “Explanations are more consistent with gaining approval and winning arguments.” No….explanations….especially with children are not for “winning arguments.” If that’s what you think an explanation is you are doing it wrong. Explanations explain things. And there are many times when explanations are about obedience and the why of it and many times when explanations simply help children navigate the world.

    For instance, I can remember my father explaining to me how to plant watermelon seeds, and how to drive in the snow. Of course, my parents also explained to me why they got upset if I didn’t call home before eleven or why they preferred I didn’t dress in certain ways and why I was expected to go to church with them on Sundays. Now, I did not then, and do not now agree with them in every way, but I typically did as they asked and I did it with a much better will than I would have otherwise. (And I sometimes got punished for not doing what they asked or for questioning the why when I should have been simply doing what I was told….like the time I let a billy goat escape and wreak havoc in my mother’s flowers — an interesting story and one which proves sometimes children should simply do what they are told and ask questions later.)

    I think though that this idea about explanations being about winning arguments with your children goes much further with people like Kirk Cameron and the author he is endorsing than just child rearing. I think they are afraid of explanation because explanations do require reasoning and facts and if you present reason and facts those things can be questioned. Maybe you have a better way to plant those watermelon seeds and you have the harvest to prove it.

    All of the sudden you are in a conversation… something that is open ended by nature. You might even find out someone has better facts and better reasoning than you do. Conversations can change your mind.

    And I think that the kind of religion that they are promoting is not a conversational type of religion. It is not a religion that wants practitioners to continue to absorb facts and ask if there might be a better or more reasonable way. The fact that children who are raised in that way are unable to make decisions or understand that authoritarian figures in the church (or even as marriage partners) might be wrong is NOT an accidental and undesirable result of this training. It is the purpose. It is not meant to be confined to childhood. These are the types of people that they hope to raise.

  • Sam McMichael

    My mother took the approach of convincing her children of her logic at all costs. When we disagreed with her, we were subjugated to hours-long discussions-turned-lectures, often well into the night on weekdays. As young children, we saw her perspective willingly and easily. As teenagers, we resented what we dubbed her manipulation of our thoughts and feelings and saw no point in ever actually expressing what we were going through – it would only lead to another lecture. Each one of us lost our former closeness with our mother upon puberty and strongly rebelled without any real guiding hand to help us see reason. Even today, my sisters and I still struggle with communication with my mother because of these tactics.

    Kirk is attempting to address this sort of problem, but is encouraging the absolute WORST strategy. Just the way I accepted my mother’s logic as a child, I would have also accepted her lack of logic and stark command instead. Both paths lead to the same conundrum for the teenagers: parents who won’t listen to or respect their children’s perspective. Both strategies lead to children closing their parents out of their lives and attempting to fend for themselves before they are truly ready to do so responsibly.

  • Yount put Cameron’s comments on his site. So maybe Yount was using Cameron to get clicks on his site.

    At issue is not who quoted who, but the what that was quoted. To stifle children’s incredible inquisitiveness, to hinder their quest for understanding the world around them, to discourage creativity and discovery, teaches children nothing positive…that’s right, nothing positive.

    Instead they get distrust, ignorance, fear,,,and for far too many dishonesty, as they discover along the way that their parents haven’t been exactly honest with them either.

  • Shepblogger

    Below is a summary of the Bible’s teaching regarding instruction. I had assumed this was obvious, but perhaps not.

    Biblical instruction is at once kind, gracious, sensitive, gentle, and authoritative. It encourages questions from the earliest days that a child can talk. Questions are good and must be welcomed and answered with care and concern. Biblical instruction avoids clichés, harsh quips, anger and frustration. It is patient and does not keep a running tally of wrongs. Biblical instruction requires humility on the part of parents. It refuses to pre-judge or jump to conclusions. Biblical instruction equips. Biblical instruction cannot be taught by rote or adherence to blind allegiance. It is fueled by hope, not fear. It does not shut down opposing points of view, but engages them. Biblical Instruction requires parents to be sensitive, compassionate listeners. Biblical instruction is given with patience and pleasant words. It is centered on truth, not stereotype. This instruction meets children where they are with the grace and wisdom of God’s word. The goal of biblical instruction is to prepare children to handle the challenges of a world committed to the glory of man instead of to the glory of God. It delights in the God-given blessing of children. It rejoices in the value and worth of each child. Biblical instruction quickly acknowledges the sins of parents and eagerly pursues children’s forgiveness when needed. Most of all, biblical instruction recognizes that a child’s most profound need is the wisdom of God rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ and illuminated by the Holy Spirit.

    Jay Younts

  • Yeah, I got the “because I said so” answer when I was growing up too. Of course I grew up in a crazy fundie cult, Being given scripted answers was deeply unsatisfactory. So when I had kids, I encouraged them to ask questions, to nurture their curiosity, to think critically, to reason things out for themselves asking for assistance along the way. My kids all love me, they are all smart, funny, independent and capable. What else could a mother hope for?

  • And what happens when the kid asks those questions that challenge a parent’s idea of what the bible teaches? Questions that are based on real sound reasoning? What happens when a kid asks why one passage of the bible contradicts another? What happens when a kid decides to seek God on their own terms, not the terms dictated by a parent’s view of how things should be done?

  • There is a false assumption, based on that proverb that tells people, “if you teach your kids this, then they will turn out in a particular way” It doesn’t happen. You can do everything right, follow those principles to the letter, and the kid can turn out to be a drug addict, or a rocket scientist or any number of things. Do everything wrong as a parent, and the kid can turn out to be a drug addict or a rocket scientist….

    They may turn out as we hope, but there is zero guarantee.

  • gimpi1

    Me too, Timmybear. My childhood was unusual due to extraordinary responsibilities, but I’ve simply never been even remotely “obedient.” You can reason with me, explain to me, negotiate with me, but command me, never! (It’s a damn good thing I never entertained thoughts of military service.)

  • “Biblical instruction is at once kind, gracious, sensitive, gentle, and authoritative.”

    Yeah, this from a book that says that disobedient and rebellious children can be stoned by their parents and their community. Nope…no, thank you. I’ll pass on this book.

  • Scott Thomas

    I think the serious flaw here is paying any level of attention at all to this asshat.

  • Levi

    At the risk of making Kirk Cameron sound like anything less than the annoying jackass that he is… I think we’re jumping the gun a little and misinterpreting Younts’s intended message (and possibly KC’s in re-posting).

    There are a two possibilities:

    1. Younts doesn’t think that children should be given the reasons behind parental instructions: obey without question, first time, every time.

    2. Younts would actually deny (1) and is trying to make some other point, but is a thoroughly shitty writer, so it looks like (1) is the case to the casual reader.

    I read the comments on the original post, and it appears that (2) is the case. Younts defines what he means by “explanation”:

    “As children grow older back and forth communication and dialogue is the goal. This is where the why and the questions and understanding comes to fruition. Parents should never be afraid of questions, the more the better. Too many times explanations become lengthy and detailed and turn into monologues.

    “The biblical goal of parental instruction is always to have an openness where children are free and able to discuss what is on their heart, whether this is difficult to hear or not.”

    In other words, he’s opposed to parents giving long-winded diatribes about why they’re right. And he does want the kids to know the reasons why we tell them to do things.

  • Jeremy Rawley

    Go back to Growing Pains, you washed-up hack!

  • Who’s sister? (do you have a link?)

  • #2 actually sounds like a reasonable conclusion, especially in light of Jay’s response below this thread. However, this ought be a lesson in why it’s bad to publish something you haven’t proof read 8 times for clarity, especially if you blog to a massive audience. However, I think the truth may be somewhere between 1 and 2, because the truth has a way of seeping out, and the wording in the original post was so black and white, that I have a hard time thinking that he doesn’t really believe it- at least on some level.

  • Levi

    Cameron is a public figure. By definition, it is impossible to slander him so long as accusations were not made with actual malice (knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth).

    By re-posting this poorly-written dreck, Cameron thrust himself into an ongoing debate and opened himself to any and all criticism, so long as such criticism is not made with malice.

    The fact is, this approach to parenting is dangerous and harmful to the child. As Christians, we are called to advocate against things that are harmful and dangerous to children. (Something about millstones…)

  • Levi

    In the comments section of his article, Younts does. Which means he realized he took a bad position and is trying to cover his tracks, or he’s an incompetent writer and did a piss-poor job getting his point across. Neither option is a good one, and Cameron is fair game for criticism for re-posting the article.

  • Levi

    Okay, scratch that. I just noticed this is from Shepherd Press, Ted Tripp’s self-publishing outfit. As in, the guy who wrote the book saying it’s a good idea to spank kids less than one year old.

    I’m wrong. Dude’s worthy of every bit of righteous indignation we can muster.

  • John Adams

    The disciples often asked Jesus for explanations, and he always answered them: often with a parable to make them think for themselves. I don’t recall Jesus telling them, “Because I say so” or, “Because I know best” or, “Don’t ask”, or even “Because it is written”. He sometimes contradicted what was written in the Old Testament, challenged his parents, and was very critical of many religious leaders. In some of his prayers he even questioned God.

    I suspect Kirk Cameron chooses to ignore Jesus’ example because he feels threatened or insecure in his opinions and beliefs.

  • jayceegrey

    Kirk’s sister, Candace Cameron (DJ from Full House).

    The link in this post isn’t available, but she is quoted from a radio show.

  • dangjin1

    The title is Parenting via Cameron… YET the words belong to YOUNT. on in the body of the work are the words ‘Cameron promoted…’ The title is deceiving and dishonest.

    The issue is, the owner of this site mis-used Cameron’s name for his own purposes.

  • jayceegrey

    Kirk’s sister, Candace Cameron Bure (DJ from Full House) has promoted the Pearl’s book. She mentions it in the 2006 radio interview here:, around 8:30, describes the Pearls as “incredible”.

  • jayceegrey

    That is the book we’re discussing, the Pearl’s “To Train Up a Child” that Candace Cameron Bure and Kirk Cameron both praise. They teach you to tempt your child to disobey, then spank them (with plumbing line) if they disobey.

  • Sigh. I stopped caring, four hours and 55 minutes ago.

  • Nope. He promoted it on his blog, which means he endorsed it as good parenting advice. There’s not even the slightest dishonesty with that.

    If I promoted a specific piece on my blog, and then when receiving push-back I simply said “don’t blame me, he said it”, that wouldn’t be a legitimate reply.

    If you endorse it, you take the heat if the idea sucks. He knows it, and I know it.

  • dangjin1

    nice try at spinning it to look differently but it didn’t work. You could easily have said YOUNT instead of Cameron but you decided to be dishonest and seek a bad justification for trashing Cameron for something he did not say.

  • What part of it came “via Kirk Cameron” aren’t you understanding? I get that you were a growing pains fan and that you bought Unstoppable on Blue Ray when it came out, but that’s still no need to defend something horrible that he posted on HIS blog.

  • Heath Motley

    Kirk Cameron your a moron and I hope there’s more crackpots like you who speak up. It will help people to wake up to this fragile mythology of a god.

  • OhioAtheist

    I honestly can’t put into words how much this mindset angers me. You’re ruining your kids!

  • Claudia Ritter

    It sounds as if your children have been trained to avoid pain. What thoughtful and bright child wouldn’t comply in order to avoid pain? If training a child to comply was your goal, it would appear as though you’ve mastered it.

  • Sugarbush43

    Well, that’s weird, though I’ve heard this a lot. People saying you can’t reason with a child. That’s not true. My 5-year-old son is quite well-behaved, very respectful, thoughtful, and polite and I’ve always felt it my duty to explain to him the “whys” and “why nots”. If you don’t know those, then you’re just doing something to be doing something. It’s the difference between knowing social manners and being thoughtful (and by thoughtful, having manners). Gentle, thoughtful, and genuine explanations are the way to go – not lectures.

    If there’s anything I’ve learned about this it’s that it REDUCES frustration and anger when you understand why. When I was told “because I said so” I would get frustrated, because I didn’t understand. I was given no perspective. I didn’t want that for my son. I was really well behaved, polite, and considerate but a lot of that is due to my personality as well as the fear of what would happen if I wasn’t that way. I internalized that frustration and it didn’t do me well in the health department.

  • ARangerForLife87

    Why does anyone give a shit about what Kirk Cameron has to say about anything?

  • Levi

    Just listened to it.

    Oh my head… Terrible theology, complementarianism, and poorly made movies are one thing, but children have actually died because of the Pearls. This crosses the line from merely embarrassing to downright infuriating.

  • dangjin1

    You do realize that ‘via’ means from him don’t you? Come on, your headline is dishonest as you attribute YOUNT’s words to Cameron then instead of bashing Yount you spend the time bashing Cameron.


    Theologian actor Kirk Cameron had some lovely parenting advice posted for us on his blog yesterday

    Notice that Yount’s name is nowhere to be found and the advice is attributed to Cameron not Yount. I think you are going after him because he disagrees with you on origins.

  • Heather McCuen Dearmon

    My husband went through the same thing you did with his mother, and he and his siblings struggle in their relationship with her because she still gives long-winded lectures if you say the wrong thing, and they are all 35 years old and up! That approach to “parenting” is called “invalidation” and it is actually a form of abuse. I’m so sorry you went through it too. I hope God will eventually bring healing to your heart, and to my husband’s too. The wounds are deep, and it’s hard –even for me– not to be resentful because of the damage done.

  • Sam McMichael

    Thank you for that, Heather. I have never heard of that term before and will definitely google the heck out of it. The emotional damage would be considerably worse if it was not for my husband, who I met as a teenager still in her house, and my sister, who are the only ones that really understand. I’m sure you provide much support for your husband as well.

  • Samuel Martin

    Benjamin, this free ebook might be of interest to your readers who think the Biblical teaching of spanking is clear and plain – Best wishes from Jerusalem –

  • Thank you. FYI, I oppose spanking because I believe it to be a form of violence and harmful to children. Thanks for the link.

  • Ken Kuhlman

    Its simply brain washing as a non christian agnostic if you will I have thought about this most of my life and I am 64 years old. My parents never forced religion on me, my mom believed my Dad did not. I just never had faith not that I have not at times yearned for it. Sometimes I have wished I was brain washed and had it at times it would make life easier. Example my wife has stage four cancer and I can not pray for her. Because people say I should believe in god how do you think that makes me feel.

  • Christine Pamplin

    Total bull, teach your children well and they are more likely to turn out well, abuse and neglect your children they are more likely to turn out the other way. Children that are abused or see and parent get abused by a spouse are more likely to hit their own kids and spouse when they get older.

  • Lily

    This is exactly what I went through with my parents. I am now 35 and still can’t talk to my parents about anything but trivial stuff.I try my hardest not to repeat this with my children. I made a promise to myself that will have an open relationship with my kids. They are bearly entering puberty now and we still talk freely about anything, even crushes, sex, homosexuality… I hope this remains even on to when they become teenagers and adults.

  • Based on what? My kids grew up in an abusive home thanks to my drunken ex who I should have divorced years before I did. All three are gentle, nonviolent souls.

    Mmy ex grew up in a loving family where his parents were kind and gentle to all their children, yet he turned out to me a manipulative violent man.

    Growing up with violence does in no way guarantee that the violence will be learned as a proper way to behave.

    I know too many who grew up in horrible situations who wouldn’t dream of carrying in the legacy of violence they knew as children

  • Freddie P

    Hi Benjamin,

    I wasn’t referring to your post as much as to the comments, such as,
    “I considered stopping reading after I saw the words ‘Kirk Cameron'”
    I feel immensely discouraged when people who are apparently Christians put down other believers. It’s no longer merely the ideas that are at stake. Cameron is simply torn apart here. That’s fine for CNN or FOX news, but I always, perhaps naively, expect Christians to treat each other respectfully, even when we disagree.
    And you know, I think that it’s mostly an indirect, sarcastic, and very biting sort of tone that discourages me. Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel that we would not address each other as believers in such a sarcastic manner in person.
    Maybe I’m just too sensitive or something. God bless.

  • Mourning Warbler
    I hope you might enjoy the short series of interviews.

  • Mourning Warbler

    Hope things will still be going well when your five-year-old is twenty-five! Jay Younts has five grown children.

  • Mourning Warbler

    Kirk Cameron did not write the article; a father of five grown children did; have you met them? Here’s the second part;

  • Mourning Warbler

    Maybe that is what the law called for, but the rabbis say that probably no parents ever stoned a son in accordance with this law. We tend to assume things not intended when reading the Bible strictly from a Western 21st Century gentile mindset. Solomon’s verdict was to cut a baby in two as well, but that was never carried out either.

  • Mourning Warbler

    The author has five grown children who continue in a good relationship with their parents.

  • Mourning Warbler

    They’re already grown;have you met them?

  • Mourning Warbler

    He didn’t write the article.

  • Mourning Warbler

    He didn’t write the article; a father of five grown children did.

  • Mourning Warbler
  • Mourning Warbler
  • Mourning Warbler

    Jay Younts’ message continues thusly:
    He, not Kirk Cameron, authored the article blasted here.

  • Why do you keep citing, in nearly every comment, that Jay has 5 kids? I’m sure he’s a nice guy in real life, but that’s not the question– the question is “what advice would the average reader take away and practice”? Regardless of what he did when he raised his kids, he just encouraged thousands and thousands of parents to treat their children in a way that will be damaging. The piece had thousands of shares, and was written so horribly that simple minded people are going to walk away and start treating their kids in a way that’s going to make them push away.

  • Mourning Warbler

    Because most of the people making critical remarks about Kirk Cameron’s article thought he wrote it, and they might not otherwise wander back here to see added notes; if they’re signed up for notifications, they might.

    Have you met Younts’ kids? Do you think parents are going to be so led astray by or misled by one misunderstood or maybe not well-written as a stand-alone article read apart from the context of Younts’ many other articles?

    There really is suffering of men, women, and children in this world, and we should be pulling together not attributing malicious motives to one another.

    Shin:. (North Korea)


    Bob Fu: (China)

    Ayaan Hirsi: (North Africa, etc)

    Saeed Abedini: (Iran)

    I hope you will be friends with Kirk Cameron & Jay Younts. Life is so short.

    (R. T. Kendall’s TOTAL FORGIVENESS is online in its entirety.

    Grace & peace.

  • Megan Thurkins

    I couldn’t make it through that book either. The Pearls are even worse. It only took 10 minutes of poking around on their website to make me feel physically dizzy and nauseous. I am very sensitive and fortunately grew up with parenting that was the opposite of their “teachings”. My mom was horrified years ago that a close family friend of ours had become enamored with the Pearls, and spent a few months energetically praying against their evil influence (my friend became disenchanted with them not too long after that). My oldest daughter is very sensitive and is prone to anxiety. If we followed such “parenting” it would, without exaggeration, destroy her. While my husband and I do expect obedience, we also recognize that growing up is a process filled with mistakes. Many people comment on how wonderful our kids are. They are kind, they are respectful, they are free to grow, to make mistakes, *to be themselves*. The wonderful book “Grace-Based Parenting” by Tim Kimmel pretty much summed up everything I believe about godly parenting.

  • It’s not spiteful to disagree with someone’s parenting advice. Kirk promoted it on his site, so it is a legitimate critique. The fact that he’s a Christian doesn’t give him a free pass on critiquing what he puts on his blog, just like I don’t get a free pass for what I put on mine.

    The issue isn’t Younts kids, it’s the kids of people who may have read the post. Since it was damaging parenting advice, the good and loving thing is to speak out and denounce it.

    And yes, I do believe some parents will be led astray by one, poorly written note. I think you underestimate the power that comes when people think a Christian celebrity is endorsing something.

    And, don’t need those books on forgiveness, thanks. I actually have an entire chapter of my own book that’s dedicated to the issue of forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you remain silent when issues come up, just as Kirk doesn’t remain silent on issues he’s passionate about (such as when he spoke at iVote Sunday, an event sponsored by a certified hate group.)

  • Mourning Warbler

    American Pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been wrongfully imprisoned in Iran for more than a year because of his Christian faith, has been moved from the murderer ward to the political prisoner ward in Rajai Shahr Prison.

    Read more here:

  • Mourning Warbler

    Legitimate critique?

  • How is it not? Should Christians get a free pass on what they say in public or post on a public blog? I certainly don’t.

  • This isn’t about Saeed, this is about parenting advice I think is harmful to children.

  • Yes, I’ve taught my daughter to think critically and not blindly ingest something simply because it’s labeled “Christian”.

  • Mourning Warbler

    Saeed has been taken from his children; this is breaking their hearts.

  • Carrie Phisher

    Shutting up and doing as I was told is why my biological father was able to first groom me and then rape me. Had I known it was okay to question, the abuse probably still would have happened (let’s face it, he was an adult and I was a kid), but it would have stopped a lot sooner because I wouldn’t have been so scared to tell my Mum.

    That’s an extreme example, but a valid one.

    For a less extreme example, I stole a bag of Cherry Ripes when I was three. Mum explained why it was wrong and took me back to the shop to give them back. At three, I had no concept of stealing, I just wanted something to give to my Mum. Because she explained why it was wrong, I understood that the things in the shop belonged to somebody else until I paid for them, and that it hurt them if I took them. I didn’t want to hurt anybody, so I never stole again.

    Had she just said “because I said so”, I imagine I would have stolen again and again because I was that kind of kid; if I didn’t see any harm in it, I’d just keep doing it.

    So yes, I believe you should explain to your kids why something is wrong. They might still do it, but if they don’t understand why it’s wrong you can be pretty certain they’ll still do it. Trying to force them to blindly obey leads either to rebellion or fearfulness/blind submission. Neither one is healthy.

  • Carrie Phisher

    Personally, I read these books to arm myself against those who read them and actually believe what they teach. They say “oh, you should read this book!” and I say “I have, and I disagree with it because…” and then present reasons why the material is harmful.

    It makes for an intelligent debate (sometimes) and is far more productive I reckon.

    Then again, I’m not easily swayed, and I can generally spot lies a mile away because they just don’t sit right, and so I do further research.

    I had to laugh at your heretic comment. I’ve been actively shunned by the church in the past, and I am frequently being told that people will “pray for” me so that I will “see the error” of my ways LOL

  • Carrie Phisher

    I’m not a parent myself, I only have my own experiences of being a child to go by, but I found that the more someone pushed, the more I pushed back. Given the freedom to explore and make my own mistakes, I learned quickly. And I’m prone to anxiety and stress, so… I reckon you’re approaching it the right way.

    That’s how kids learn. They try, it doesn’t work, they try another way, it doesn’t work, they try a third way and voila!

    And positive reinforcement will generally get through to a child. Even the most rebellious kid likes a bit of recognition and will repeat acts that bring that recognition. No child was ever traumatised by being told “well done” when they put in effort and achieved.

  • Carrie Phisher

    Lack of boundaries can be as damaging as not being free to explore. It’s a matter of balance; freedom to explore, explanations of why, and consequences if you do wrong. Very similar to how the adult world works, really.

  • Carrie Phisher

    The actual verse is “train your child in the way he should go”, or in more contemporary terms, “find out where your child’s giftings and direction are, and encourage him in them.”

    We’re not all called to the same thing, and our calling is often visible early on if the adults around us are observant. If you see where the child’s giftings and interests lie and train him up in them, when he’s older he won’t depart from them.

    That’s possibly one of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible. Too many people think it means “teach your kids to be what you want them to be.”

  • Ken Kuhlman

    just what I needed someone preaching to me. I am just not enough of a hypocrite to pray to a being i dont believe in and I would have felt better if you had minded your own business

  • Mourning Warbler

    I see.

  • John Adams

    Thanks for that. I have no issues with this sensible advice on listening and having a dialogue. Monologues (and some sermons!) can become very tedious and do turn people away.

  • Heidi

    I guess so, yet Claudia I think you are ridiculous. We are all trained to avoid pain, sweetie. Speeding tickets, detentions, fines of all sorts, prison, public media attention are all things that people may do the right thing because they do not want the pain to their checkbook or reputation.

    But I really have a higher goal in mind.

    There are things in every home that are standards of how that home runs and works and kids need to get with the program. There are rules and norms that must be followed in every organization in every culture in the world. At every place of education, work, sports team, art group, coffee club whatever. In order to belongs one must understand and comply to the norms. We all know that not all norms are right. But, in order to make real change, one needs to learn and understand the norms in order to challenge what is wrong and make it better.

    So teaching a child that every thing goes or that everyone has an equal weighted opinion from the beginning is setting them up for failure. It is not reality.

    As a child grows s/he gets more say in the norms of a family. And as s/he matured in choices that directly effect them.

    I home school. I choose to do that because I worked evenings and if my kids were in school all day and I was at work all evening, I would never see them. That was not how I visioned having a family,

    My oldest is in 6th grade this year and we choose to send her to public school. I no longer work outside of the home. There are thinks she loves about it – being with kids all day:-) And things she hates – homework (she hated homework at home too:-). She is unsure about what to do next year – public or home school. Also playing into this is she has major dyslexia. I really feel like she wants her Dad and I to say we are home schooling her again so she will get to so what she wants to do, but put it on us to do it for her.

    We are not allowing that option. It is January now. As we get in to March we are going to have her figure it out with guidance. At this point I don’t truly care either way. I see plus’ and minus’ with both.

    If I was raising a mindless child, their would be no choice no discuss, no nothing. So yes, in my tool box for children 3is to 6ish I will use 1 to three swats to get attention on correct. Not my only tool, not my only method and really a small parent of how I parent.

    I would say that if I were taught about compliance and learning an organization and understanding how places work before I try to make changes I would have had a lot less hardship in my life.

    I did eventually stop speeding. I haven’t gotten a ticket in maybe 13 years. But in the 10 years before that I got 2-4 tickets a year. Until the pain of losing my licence and the cost of all the tickets got to me.

    My I come from less teachable stock then you do:-)


  • Ken Kuhlman

    I was not trying to be pitiful and I do not loath myself I was just making a point that everyone does not have faith. Now I got you trying to judge me isn’t that one of the ten commandments judge not unless you wish to be judged.

  • OhioAtheist

    Since I made a general statement, and made no references to specific people, I don’t know who you’re talking about.

  • Mourning Warbler

    Do they really have to say, “I hate you”? Ouch!!

  • Guest

    What your dad did to you stinks; he stole your innocence. It’s not supposed to be that way, It happens way too often.

  • Heidi
  • Claudia Ritter

    “So teaching a child that every thing goes or that everyone has an equal weighted opinion from the beginning is setting them up for failure. It is not reality.”

    You’re absolutely right. It is not reality to teach a child that everything goes. So I don’t, nor do I advise anyone to do so.

    As far as the unpleasant consequences of breaking the law or doing something that society frowns upon, I don’t need to be “spanked” in order to avoid the unpleasant results of say, going over the speed limit and getting caught. I know what would happen if I did, and I don’t want to pay that price. Similarly, I have limits set in my house, of which there are possible outcomes depending on what’s chosen.

  • Store_Demo_8612

    I always tough my kids that god was a myth. It’s all no better than Voodoo.
    Kirk’s jingo is child abuse.

  • Guy Norred

    Very, very dangerous. I think many of the problems in the world might not exist if we loved the Lord our God with our mind a little more.

  • Guy Norred

    If this is the case, why would it not also be true for a girl?

  • gabi532

    I was spanked as a child. I def. go the picture and turned out fine. Kirk needs to stay in movies etc. He’s gone way to extreme for me.

  • Thin-ice

    That was my dad. I said “I hate you” more than once under my breath (once he heard me and walloped me badly). I’m 65, my dad is dead, and I really don’t miss him all that much.

  • Marie Alexander

    When my dad ever asked me to do something, I could ask why and he would answer. I always did what he asked fairly well, we didn’t get frustrated with each other.

    When my mom asked me to do something, she would shout “BECAUSE I SAID SO” the moment I opened my mouth. I would get frustrated, I wouldn’t do it right because I didn’t know why I was doing it, she would get furious the moment I did so much as ask *how* to do it, and if I did it wrong she would go “If you didn’t know what you were doing, YOU SHOULD HAVE ASKED.” “I am the mother and you will do what I ask!”

    Yeah, guess which parent A) got better results and B) has a better relationship with me?

  • Colin Robinson

    He’s missing the major point here. If you’re right, then explanations are extremely powerful. If you’re wrong, you just show yourself to be an idiot.
    Believing in invisible friends and magical lands of the dead is idiotic, to put it mildly. This is why blind faith is required, thought and reasoning results in atheism.