To Train Up A Child, chapter 21, part 4
Today we continue Michael’s conclusion. We’re almost done!
It is likely one parent is going to read this book and revamp the training and discipline, while the other may be content to continue with the status quo. Mother, if you decide to stop giving the children “chances” while the husband continues to play the threatening game, you will likely develop critical feelings. That will be your pride manifesting itself. Your bitterness at your husband and the division that the children detect will make matters worse. Your husband’s pride will cause him to be even more resistant, lest he be the disciple of his critical wife and some unknown author.
You know what? I am starting to feel like Michael only knows dysfunctional relationships.
Now yes, if one parent changes who they do something major in a household while the other doesn’t, yes, it is likely that there will be tension. You should have seen the disagreement in my own household over whether we needed a dish drainer or whether putting the dishes on a towel to dry was enough! (I’m just saying, it did keep counters clearer when there weren’t any dishes drying—which yes, was rare, but still.
But this whole pride, bitterness, pride thing—that’s not how a healthy relationship functions when one parent decides they want to change how they do thing. For one thing, they communicate. For another thing, I don’t automatically assume that every annoyance is “bitterness” or “pride.” That seems like an overly negative framing. It’s true that there can sometimes be stubbornness—but in a functional relationship, people will recognize that for what it is.
So, what does Michael recommend? Communication? Hahaha NOPE.
Mother, all that you need to do is make your husband envious.
LOVELY. Just, lovely.
I mean seriously what a great solution!
Remember what I said about Michael only knowing dysfunctional relationships?!
So. What might this look like?
First, while your husband is away, be so consistent and thorough that you gain perfect instant obedience from your children. They will learn that no matter how careless Daddy is, Mama is the “law of God Himself.”
Interestingly, as Michael goes on to suggest, this alone is not enough to produce jealousy. Instead, he narrates how to create a situation—intentionally—to produce jealousy.
It’s a set-up.
When you see him failing to gain obedience, at an appropriate time, in his presence, quietly command the children, and they will run to obedience. After several days of this, he will ask, “How do you do it; they don’t obey me that way?” Just humbly smile as you hold up the switch and say, “The rod and reproof give wisdom (Prov. 29:15).” Then demurely turn and walk away. He will become jealous.
That’s it? No actual explanation? Just one coy phrase and walk away? Oh, but make sure to do so demurely. Remember, you goal is not to convince him of the validity of your position through discussion (which involves listening to your partner and hearing him out, as well as explaining your viewpoint), but simply to make him jealous. Real healthy right there.
If you are not critical–and only if you are not critical–will he want to know more of your secret.
There is no middle way for Michael. Women are either nags, or they’re silent. There appears to be no way for a couple to talk through the issue of child discipline without the husband perceiving of the wife as “critical” of him. And he’s so sensitive that that will awaken his “pride” and he will simply refuse to listen.
To be clear, this is not a prescription of what should happen if a couple thoroughly discuss the issue, communicate and share their views, and find that they still disagree. That part was never included.
Remember, this is how Michael began this section:
It is likely one parent is going to read this book and revamp the training and discipline, while the other may be content to continue with the status quo.
Now presumably, to find out that the other partner is content to continue the status quo, the first partner must raise the issue in some way. But talking it through or hearing each other out and truly listening to each other is never mentioned.
Instead, we launch directly into bitterness and pride. And bizarrely, Michael’s solution to bitterness and pride is to intentionally invoke jealousy.
Jealousy of what, exactly?
The change in your attitude toward the children (no more anger, no arguments, more loving) will get his attention.
This, by the way, is how Michael convinces parents who should know better to follow his methods. He insists that his methods will create a more loving household with no more anger or arguments.
We see Michael telling parents to “use whatever force is necessary” and to continue whipping a disobedient child until they utter a “true, wounded, submissive whimper,” some parents see his promises that if they do this, they will no longer feel anger or the need to yell at their children.
And you know what? Given the way Michael describes marriage, some of his readers may genuinely not know that there is another way.
Michael talks about marriage as through there are only two options—constant fighting over who gets to be on top—who “wins”—or wifely submission that leads to a calm, peaceful household as the husband is now free to love his wife without all of the fighting.
He is mapping this same dynamic on children.
Oh and we get this for good measure:
However, if the only change he sees is that you are spanking the children more and in equal proportions are angry with him, he will think that it is just a hormonal imbalance that will hopefully run its course.
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