The New Dare to Discipline Parenting Book Review 2023

by - October 15, 2019



Author: Dr. James Dobson
Personal Rating: 2/5 

World-renowned psychologist and marriage, family, and child counselor James Dobson talks about different aspects of discipline in areas of parenting, education, and morality. The book serves as both a guide and a "challenge" for parents to apply age-old parenting "advice" gleaned from centuries of parenting practice and the Bible itself.


A Difficult Read for the Modern Parent

I have to be honest that it took me two tries to read this book. 

The first time, I stopped reading it because I found it quite too dry and too boring. 

The second time, I was so ready to throw the book because of its very rigid view on discipline and it places too much emphasis on spanking.

Don't get me wrong. 

I grew up in this kind of rigid discipline system, and while it has its merits, it can be quite difficult to apply in these modern times when young parents like me are exploring "newer" styles of parenting such as responsive parenting and gentle parenting—basically, variants of positive discipline.

Dr. Dobson argues that:

"The best source of guidance for parents can be found in the wisdom or the Judeo-Christian ethic, which originated with the Creator and was handed down generation by generation from the time of Christ."

To him, age-old discipline methods from centuries ago and traditional parenting wisdom passed from our elders, still ring true today.

He claims that "modern" permissive parenting is the root of everything wrong in our current society.

While there are parts that I agree, such as balancing loving kindness and intolerance to any act of deliberate wrongdoing, I beg to defer to his inflexible view on discipline.

There is a reason why "modern" parenting styles surfaced, and that's because traditional discipline methods focus more on corporal punishment rather than respecting the individuality and mental well-being of a child.

On Spanking, Corporal Punishment, and Rewards System

Spanking and Corporal Punishment

As was mentioned, Dr. Dobson underscores the significance of spanking children when disciplining.

While I agree that children should face consequences if an infarction is deliberately made by the child even after several warnings, I do not agree that spanking should be a central part to bending a child to submission.

Several studies have, in fact, supported that corporal punishment has long-term negative effects on individuals. 

Dr. Dobson does emphasize that spanking should be used sparingly and only as a last resort.

He also delineated controlled spanking and child abuse, even emphasizing how a parent who is prone to intense anger should never even spank their child at all costs.

He also added that spanking is not effective when disciplining teenagers and that a different approach should be taken.

Rewards and the Issue of Bribery 

One strong point of this book is that Dr. Dobson has discussed in great length creative ways to reward children and teenagers.

His rewards system methods can be applied both in the home and in school, and can be quite a good resource for teachers.

On the issue of bribery, however, Dr. Dobson emphasizes that rewards are not limited to monetary or other physical things; it can also be as simple as a word of praise, a hug, or a special trip to somewhere a child would enjoy.

He also discussed the best way to apply the rewards system without risking to spoil the child or make it lean towards bribery.

Discipline in Learning and Morality

The Value of Discipline in Learning

Another strong point of Dr. Dobson's view on discipline is how it relates to learning and morality.

He strongly advocates the need to individually assess the IQ of a child in order to better gauge his/her learning.

He also advises against putting a toddler to school way too early and even emphasizes how homeschooling during the early childhood days (before grade school) can be beneficial in molding a child's mental capacity to learn.

He is also against abolishing the grading system, as some schools have implemented, as he believes grading a child can be a good reward system in addition to being a measurement tool.

He does, however, advise that teachers should always grade children according to their individual learning journey (and their IQ level) instead of measuring his/her capabilities according to a generalized grading system. 

A New Dare to Discipline to Uphold Morality

As was mentioned, Dr. Dobson claims that most of society's problems today stem from the lack of discipline.

One issue he discussed in length is the issue of early sex education and media's uncensored promotion of promiscuity and "safe" sex.

He believes that children should be shielded from these, especially when they are still young, and that the introduction of sex education should appropriately be a parent's responsibility—not the school or mass media.

The Verdict

Dr. Dobson's The New Dare to Discipline is a tough read, especially when you're a parent leaning towards a more mindful and positive style of parenting. 

He does express some valid points when it comes to using rewards and the ramifications of lax discipline strategies on learning systems and one's morality.

If you're a parent who likes to do things the traditional way, you will likely enjoy this book.

However, for a parent who would rather explore a more contemporary and gentler way of disciplining your child, this book ''The New Dare to Discipline'' is not the best choice.

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