Unconditional Cruelty–Parents Gone Wild

Christine at Rising Up Whole posted a POWERFUL and moving piece where she writes about her “Chrisitian” upbringing.

Many of us queer folks know about Dr. James Dobson as the anti-gay head of Focus on the Faggot, um, Family, but he started out as a child psychologist and rose to fame through books like Dare To Discipline. (For a critique of each chapter click here)

Christine, raised under these teachings of Dobson, exposes what it felt like to be marked as

“strong-willed” (in the negative Dobson-esque sense of the word), stubborn, melancholy, lazy, manipulative, wayward, stiff-necked, negative, thick-headed, too smart for my own good, “always trying to get attention,” defiant, cold/calculating, and so on…

I was disciplined and guilted and shamed into submission for many years. It somehow seems appropriate to me that Focus on the Family is such a partner with Exodus. My parent’s treatment of me as a child (using Dobson as their guide) no doubt made me all the more vulnerable to the ex-gay message. I was ready and willing to believe myself a damaged and broken person that needed to be fixed, with my sin nature needing to be beaten down and submerged, subdued, and dominated. I was willing to believe that my homosexuality was a part of my own strong-willed defiance gone horribly wrong and satanically out of control…

This is a book my parents, and many other parents in Christian households, read (and still read to this day) in an attempt to learn how to discipline their defiant, strong-willed children.

Dr. Dobson goes on to say, “Perhaps this tendency toward self-will is the essence of ‘original sin’ which has infiltrated the human family. It certainly explains why I place such stress on the proper response to willful defiance during childhood, for that rebellion can plant the seeds of personal disaster.”

Read the whole post for yourself; she provides quotes, examples and shares her heart.

As a Quaker Christian, I cringe when I hear this talk of someone labled as tyrant and operating out of a “sin nature”. Most Quakers believe that every person has something of God within–goodness, light and trut–and that acknowledged and allowed to flourish, this seed of God will grow and grow.

We respond to what others think of us. We often rise and fall to the expectations of others. That is why Christine and many of us have to FIGHT to get to the place of wholeness and healing to undo the damage inflicted upon our characters by those people who preach about an unconditional love that comes with so many pre-existing conditions.

This post has 3 Comments

  1. Jeannette on April 15, 2006 at 5:49 pm Reply

    As a fellow Quaker, I know what you mean about cringing while reading this. I can’t imagine my parents raising me like this. It actually reminds me, sadly enough, of how my Evangelical aunt and uncle are raising their eight children.

  2. Christine on April 15, 2006 at 9:49 pm Reply

    Dobson himself, in Dare to Discipline, says, “I’m told Dr. Benjamin Spock is loved by millions of kids who are being raised according to his philosophy. I have an entire generation that would like to catch me in a blind alley.”

    With that kind of ringing endorsement… (::cough::)

    I can’t imagine what it would be like growing up with adults who thought I had something of God in me. It brings me to tears to even contemplate that as true. Even now.

  3. belledame222 on April 17, 2006 at 6:23 pm Reply

    James Dobson, who beat (literally) his tiny daschund in a power struggle, fair and square. And talks proudly about it. Yeah, there’s a man of God.

    words can’t express the contempt I have for that man, really.

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