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Sweet Christmas Sparkle @sparkle_heretic
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Hello to all my #Exvangelical fam. Has it only been a week? It feels like longer than a week. How are you? Check in, tell me what's up. I have had a very up and down sort of week and I've been putting off writing a new Dobson thread for a few hours but here we are. It's time.
Let's get through the opening stuff, shall we? If you don't know, I have been writing threads about Dr. James Dobson every week for the past few months. We started with a biography written by one of his sycophants. You can find those threads here.…
Just last week I started Preparing for Adolescence, partly by popular demand. I have actually read this book before as an adult and went BACK just so I could write these threads, which is how you know I love you. Those threads will be collected here.…
These threads are long and fairly deep dives. If you don't feel like you have the emotional bandwidth to take that kind of jump, please don't. Take care of yourself. They'll still be here if you feel like you want to later. You are loved and needed.
If you DO feel like jumping in, and if dissecting this stuff is helpful for you, awesome! That's why I do it. :) Going through his books is a little different than the biographies and I suspect that may actually make the threads longer if anything so... be prepared for that.
And finally, before we dive in, these threads take a significant amount of time and emotional labor. If you feel like buying me lunch or contributing to my student loans, I would love that.

CashApp - $BethanySparkle
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All right, kids! Chapter 1: The Secret of Self-Esteem is where we are starting out!
So before we even get into the chapter, we are going to pause on the chapter TITLE (don't look at me like that - I told you the threads might be longer) because I've been thinking about this.
We talked some about the Christian concept of self-esteem in the last book but I know that Dobson has actually gotten a fair amount of grief for even using the word(s?) and I want to talk about that for a second because I think it is relevant and points to some important things.
When I was growing up, I was taught that self-esteem was just a worldly word for pride and self-obsession. It was a way that Satan had tricked us into focusing on ourselves instead of god. Anyone who was teaching you about self-esteem was someone you should be wary of.
Which does beg the question - why would Dobson choose to use it at all? It was no small thing to have a concept declared "worldly" in the circles I grew up in, circles he helped create. Why use this word? I have some theories, but let's read a ways, and circle back to this.
This book is directed AT youth. So it begins with "You are about to read a very personal book about an important time of your life known as adolescence..." Okay, first off, there is nothing personal about this book. Or there is, but not how he's implying. Second, why is he AWFUL?
He informs his readers that some of them may only be 9, 10, or 11 years old. (I think I was in this age group when I first read this book.) Others may be already in their teens. He assures us that, either way, this book is going to help us understand more about adolescence.
But why make such a big deal of adolescence? He explains that it is because growing up will not actually be the easiest thing you ever do. You don't remember it but "before you were born you were curled up nice and cozy inside your mother's warm body. You could hear her heart...
beating steady, soft and secure, and you were safe and warm and comfortable in that world that God had provided. All your needs were met and there wasn't a care in the world. You had nothing to worry about and not a single concern."
That is the most subtle anti-abortion message Dobson has ever given. I mean, it is not subtle. But in comparison to the usual hitting you over the head with a 2x4 it is a regular feather pillow.
Anyway. You were shoved out of this perfect place and a doctor whacked you and such.
You may have been pretty upset hanging upside down, but you couldn't grow and learn if you went back into your mom's womb. True enough, I guess.
He would like you to know that adolescence is like that. Your childhood has been amazing and warm and secure.
Your parents have loved and taken care of you always and you played most of the time and life was awesome. Shall we pause for a second and acknowledge that for an expert on children, Dobson just consistently shows what a small percentage of children he is ACTUALLY interested in?
White, middle to upper class children from good homes. I can assure you that I don't remember MY childhood like that. In fact, I don't remember most of my childhood at all. What I do remember isn't great. Which may explain why I don't remember more.
But whatever. Sure. Let's say every child grows up in the loving, supportive home they deserve to grow up in. One which, I feel it is important to add, is absolutely not supported or encouraged by Dobson's own teachings. Even if that happens, do you really not want to grow up?
I mean, I know there's Peter Pan and that whole story so it must have resonated somewhere to someone. But I certainly never recognized that narrative. Especially right before adolescence, wanting to grow up and wanting *more* freedom is the normal developmental path.
You don't want to be treated like a child, that is the worst thing. Remember being like 12 or 13 and how no one ever took you seriously and it was the worst? Did you spend a lot of time wishing you could be a child again? I don't remember things WELL but I don't remember that.
But he assures kids that even though this will be a hard time, there will also be exciting things happening and a lot of good to look forward to. He's going to help kids get ready for EVERYTHING, nothing will be considered off limits as long as it's applicable for between 12-20.
Yeah, no. You read that correctly. As long as it is applicable for people between the ages of TWELVE AND TWENTY. And even that isn't correct, because at the beginning he said some of his readers might be as young as 9! BETWEEN NINE AND TWENTY!! I don't... what?
Can we go back to how this man bills himself as a child raising expert? A child raising expert who somehow thinks that the same advice is applicable in that INCREDIBLY insane decade. Also who on earth would be reading a book about adolescence when they were 20?
This may seem like a silly thing to focus on but I really don't think it is. I want us all to keep it in mind as we are going through this nonsense, thinking about how some of this might land for a 10yo vs a 20yo. Because they would be impossibly different, absurdly so.
So he would like us all to begin by playing a "mental game" which sounds extremely creepy and doesn't get less so. Everyone imagine with me that you are driving alone down the highway in a small car. Again, imagining this at 10 vs 20? VERY DIFFERENT.
In this imagining, you have just left the town of Puberty and you are on the highway. There's a sign that says "Adultsville eight years straight ahead." One, this is not how road signs are structured in literally any way, and two, what does he mean you've just left puberty?
I guess... depending on your age maybe? Gee, if only we had any idea what age this book was aimed at. ALSO if he had only defined puberty for his readers, especially like the 10yo, who is pretty unlikely to know the difference between adolescence and puberty. Who cares though.
So you are heading down the highway at 55 mph and when you round a curve you see a man waving a red flag with a warning sign. You have to slam on your brakes and come to stop right in front of him, which I guess means there were no flashing lights or signs warning you about him.
This seems EXTREMELY dangerous. If you barely managed to stop in time to not hit the flagman, how will the next car that is clipping down the road stop in time to not hit you? Is this a deserted highway? I have so many questions already. Anyway. The flagman comes to your window.
He tells you that he has some really important information for you, that the bridge is out about a mile up the road "leaving a huge drop off into a dark canyon" because I guess the flagman is very dramatic. I mean, this does sound concerning. He then continues and says...
"If you're not careful, you'll drive your car off the edge of the road and tumble down that canyon, and, of course, if you do that you'll never get to Adultsville."
Okay 1) there's a lot of commas in that sentence.
2) Is not getting to Adultsville your BIGGEST concern there?
What are you going to do?? Apparently we do not have backing up as an option because this car does not have reverse gear. I'm not sure who put you on the road in such a dangerous car but you should maybe have a talk with them. Also, you could maybe do a U-Turn? No, probably not.
Apparently going backwards on this highway is "like trying to back up on the freeway - it just can't be done." Which... I mean, it CAN be done. You just go to the shoulder... it's not super safe but it's not like physically impossible, nothing about the freeway STOPS you.
Reading this, I am beginning to believe that this book is aimed primarily at kids who have definitely never driven a car yet, because nothing about this story is making any real sense if you have.
So next you ask the flagman what on earth you are going to do. Don't worry!
He has a solution for you. Drive down the road, just go slowly and carefully enough that you see where the bridge is. When you get there, turn right for about a mile or two and you'll find somewhere to get around the canyon (a detour Dobson, it's called a detour).
You don't have to fall down the hole! "So good luck, and drive carefully."
So like... not to stick on this point but why aren't there signs up for this detour? That seems important. Like a possibly deadly bridge collapse, I feel like someone would have brought flares and signs.
Not just one dude waving people down dangerously. Which leads to my next point - does this not seem a little bit like a horror movie set up to you? Strange random man is like "no, take this DETOUR instead, it'll be better" and then before you know it CANNIBALISM. Just saying.
Don't worry though. He is "now going to explain the meaning of his story." And thank goodness because it was fucking obtuse and children are stupid (I assume he must think?). Because seriously, he goes through everything in *excruciating* detail.
The car? Your life. It has your NAME on the door. Seems weird but okay. "In fact, it has all of your characteristics, and you're driving this sports car down the highway of life towards adulthood."
What does it mean for a car to have all my characteristics? And why a sports car?
We will actually see this a lot, Dobson says stuff about HIMSELF and just generalizes it. I think he sees himself as a sports car. Which you know. Lol. I don't know enough about cars to make him into a funnier one but someone must.
But in this story HE is the flagman because he wants to warn you about something that most teenagers fall into, almost everyone is affected. "After I've motioned you to stop, I lean in the window of your car (!!!!) and tell you that many other young people have wrecked their...
lives by plunging down this dark gorge, but I can show you how to avoid it - how to go around the danger."
Okay, we can safely say we are in a horror movie. I don't have another good read on the situation. There is no time when Dobson could LEAN INTO MY CAR and it isn't horror.
So WHAT IS THIS CANYON you may well ask? What is this thing that Dobson can help us avoid that almost everyone falls into? It is... The AGONY OF INFERIORITY. No, really. That's the title of the next section. Caps were added but I feel like they were there in spirit.
See, here's the funny thing. What he's talking about is low self esteem, at least kind of. He says it is the thing that "causes so much hurt and pain (little redundant) to young people between twelve and twenty years of age." Again, CRAZY age gap, and yet also not enough?
Described as "awful awareness that nobody likes you, that you're not as good as other people, that you're a failure, a loser, a personal disaster; that you're ugly, or unintelligent, or don't have as much ability as someone else. It's that depressing feeling of worthlessness."
So, weird thing in that description, other than the sheer MUCHNESS of it. Like reading it with Erik felt like a lot. Like sweet Celestia, okay, I get it NO ONE LIKES ME OMG. But that's just it. He doesn't present it as a misunderstanding, he presents it as AWARENESS.
And I suspect (or hope!) he meant that it feels like an awareness, but I'm not totally sure. Because Christians really do believe that you are nothing without Jesus, that's part of the whole thing. He may actually mean awareness. But either way, the language REALLY MATTERS HERE.
He does acknowledge that this point where "MOST teenagers decide they are without human worth" could happen earlier, but it is usually worse in jr. high. Again, mind the fucking word choice. They just decide. Wake up one day and think ah yes. Well, I am deciding to be angsty.
Decision means there is choice involved, which of course is what his terrible horror movie story implied as well. And sure enough. That is EXACTLY what he would like to tell you. You see, when he was being interviewed for Teen magazine a while ago (nbd)... okay but seriously why?
I hate the idea that he was mainstream enough to be interviewed by Teen Magazine as a legit expert. He says he was being interviewed by them for an article they were writing on the "subject of inferiority" but that seems... very unlikely. I don't think I've ever heard that used.
Probably they were writing about low self-esteem, right? Like that is the phrasing they would have probably ACTUALLY used. But in spite of the title of this chapter, he will essentially never use that language. Did he just use to to sound more applicable to mainstream audiences?
He initially published this in the 70's, maybe he still cared more then. I honestly don't know. But it is fucking weird.
Regardless, when he was being interviewed for this very nbd interview, which is clearly why he name dropped the magazine, he tried to explain all this.
He tried to tell all of their readers that "this is an unnecessary crisis." His main point seems to be that if you know to EXPECT these feelings of inferiority and whatever, you will not have to actually feel them. This is a weird take. Does he know how feelings work?
I mean... no, I suppose he doesn't. But this is still very weird! Look, I've had depression and anxiety my entire life, or at least as far as I can remember. And it does MATTER and make something of a difference to know what to expect and what those feelings look like, absolutely
But it does not stop me from having those feelings. I am aware that when I think negatively about myself it is at least probable that it's not totally based in fact and yes that helps some, but it doesn't stop it from happening. Because that's just not how our brains work.
Feelings do not respond inherently to logic, nor should they incidentally. But if they did, we would live in a really different world. And the idea that if kids just prepared themselves enough for what lay ahead they wouldn't have to deal with it feels a lot like victim blaming.
Now he will tell us an upsetting story about a young boy named Ronny. As usual, there is a very real sense that he does not fully understand the story he is telling. He reminds us that for a while he worked on a high school campus, with teenagers, which is a thing I try to forget
One day he's walking across campus after the bell and almost all the students are in classrooms except he sees Ronny coming towards him. Ronny was a Junior in high school and he had never come to see Dobson. Dobson only knew that he always was kind of in the back of the crowd.
He notes that he is one of those students that it is "easy to forget they're alive because they never allow anyone to get acquainted with them."
Victim blaming is Dobson's WHOLE THING, I'm honestly not sure he knows he's doing it sometimes. We're going to keep pointing it out.
So he's walking toward Dobson and Dobson can tell he's upset. Although he can't just say that, he says "his face revealed his inner turmoil." Man missed his calling as a writer of godawful romance novels, I think. He really does have a love of purple prose.
Anyway, poor Ronnie starts sobbing when he gets to Dobson in the hallway, which I can only assume speaks to how very desperate he is (can you imagine seeing Dobson as a refuge?). He is shepherded into Dobson's office and given a little bit of time to get control before he speaks.
He begins to tell Dobson what is honestly a really sad story. He tells him that he's been going to the school for 8 years and in all that time he has never made even one friend. No one cares about him, he has no one to sit with, never goes to events because he's ashamed.
He is convinced that no one cares if he lives or dies, or notices his existence at all (something that Dobson sort of confirmed a paragraph ago). Also he's not getting along with his family and he feels like there's not a single person in the world who understands him.
I mean, that is genuinely tragic. It also leads me to wondering like... is Ronny a real person? There is always the possibility that he is absolutely not - Dobson has straight up lied about many things and I certainly believe he is capable of making up a case study whole cloth.
But on the other hand, if he didn't, if this kid IS a real person, what do you suppose are his ethics around that? Did he change his first name? Because he doesn't mention that or imply it. My memory is that he didn't work at a lot of high schools. COULD someone recognize Ronny?
It doesn't seem beyond the realm of possibility and I do not have enough faith in Dobson to assume that he would care deeply about the ethics of the situation. The only reason I'd consider it more likely he'd just make him up completely is so he wouldn't be contradicted publicly.
It's just a thing I've been thinking about. He always claims all of these real life stories and some of them I am certain are completely made up but I am not certain about all of them and I am always really concerned about the ones I am not sure about because... ethics.
He moves straight on from Ronny (no word on what he said to this very sad kiddo) and talks about how lots of kids have said these same things to him. One time an 8th grader named Charlotte took all the pills in the medicine cabinet, but told him so they were able to save her.
He wants to make sure that if you feel these feelings, you know this book is for you. He wishes that Ronnie and Charlotte could have read these very wise and amazing words because instead they just drove off that cliff and "were groping in the darkness below." Stupid children.
But WHY do kids feel inferior? He has thoughts.
Apparently there are three things kids feel they have to have to feel good about themselves. The first is that they are attractive. He then drops the astonishing information that 80% of teens don't like how they look.
80% honestly seems insanely low to me. I don't know if I've ever met a teen who was totally cool with how they looked. Also he doesn't cite where he got that information from, so for all I know he just made it up off the top of his head. He talks about all the things kids hate.
Like maybe their nose or hair or height or feet or all kinds of things. "Can you imagine being depressed and miserable over something as silly as having a nose that is a fraction of an inch longer than you think it should be?"
Can you imagine being such a condescending prick?
One reason why kids might become so sensitive about their appearance is their "friends." He knows kids can be extremely unkind to each other and this can cause a great deal of damage. He gives an example of a 3rd grade girl, Janet, who received a note from another girl.
I'm not going to repeat the whole note but it is pretty awful and includes specific wishes for Janet to kill herself in various ways because this little girl wished so much that Janet would be dead. Also includes praying to god for her to die. It's quite vicious.
Dobson asks his audience if any of them have ever received a note like that? Or WRITTEN a note like that? He wants all of them to know that those words can really hurt and they MAY have even stayed with Janet into her adulthood. They MAY have? Seriously?
I assure you that if anyone had ever written me a note specifically laying out a wish for my suicide, that would have definitely "stuck with me." I keep thinking about this letter because it is such a weird thing to include. It is such OTT bullying to put as "how kids can be."
But more specifically it is very intense bullying to put in and not seem to even realize the seriousness of it. Like who knows, maybe she'll just forget that people were ever this mean to her. WHO CAN SAY.
He moves into how damaging cruel nicknames can be, pointing out that everyone has SOMETHING you could make fun of if you were looking. He makes up a boy named Charlie (and here he is very specific that he is making him up so you know... again curious) who is very healthy but...
the kids at school begin to tease him about his feet. They call him Snowshoes and Duckfeet. "It's all done in fun, I suppose, but Charlie begins to take it very seriously."
I'm sorry, Dobson. IS it all done in fun? That's not quite how bullying works. Power dynamics are a thing.
He gets increasingly unhappy and eventually he may become "depressed and disinterested in living" and while the reader may find this hard to believe he has met many kids like Charlie. If you are not a teen yet, he wants you to know you WILL feel unhappy with your body someday.
So that's a cheerful promise. Probably true but still. He then takes a minute to quote the entire lyrics to Janis Ian's Grammy winning song "At Seventeen." She won the Grammy for this in 1976. Which makes it fairly relevant when he published this in 1978, less so in 1997.
There was a lot in the biography of Dobson about how he was such a hard worker but when it comes to the reprints of his books he is lazy af. He will sometimes update things, but it is never ever the things he clearly SHOULD update. You think I cared in 1997 about Janis Ian?
Whatever. Google the lyrics if you want, they're... fine? I haven't actually listened to the song. Dobson follows this by saying "I am not personally acquainted with Janis Ian, but I'm sure of one very important fact about her: she too has been in the canyon of inferiority."
He says she speaks for millions of "us" when she says these lines about feeling left out and not picked for sports and having pimples and such. And he hopes that YOU, dear reader, will not learn these hard lessons at 17. Which... what? I don't even understand that hope.
The 2nd reason (oh yeah, remember we were on a list of 3 approximately one million years ago?) kids feel inferior is they feel unintelligent. This could start early on in school and build on itself and maybe they are called mean names also. This could lead them to feel worthless.
Also parents might make their kids feel dumb because of how they are "human just like everyone else" and they have bad days and maybe when they are tired or upset they say mean things to their child and that impacts them for a lifetime.
No, Dobson. That's called verbal abuse. FFS
The 3rd thing kiddos use is money. Or things, really. These silly kids think a wealthy family is more important than a poor one. I cannot IMAGINE where they get such an idea. Dobson assures us "this financial problem is not as common now as it used to be, simply because today...
more people still have the necessities of life. However some people still live in poverty..." Sigh. Dobson. I know you don't care and don't hear me and have literally blocked me. But capitalism is a scam. And this isn't about poverty, although your take on poverty is very wrong.
It is immensely complex with things like this. We compare ourselves to those near us and this is not specific to kids, although there are many reasons it may be particularly intense for them. Markers of status are tremendously important in our society and they are SUPPOSED to be.
The system works BECAUSE we need to acquire things to stay relevant and seen. I say this as someone who just went and spent $100 on clothes yesterday, I am in no way outside of or immune from the system, but there's a lot that rubs me the wrong way about painting this as shallow.
Frankly, there's a lot that rubs me the wrong way about the appearances thing being painted as shallow too, but this is a specific thing. There are shallow ways to exist in any system, but specifically when you are talking about kiddos, the primary currency they have is social.
I would actually argue that is true for most of us, but ESPECIALLY for kids. Social currency interacts with capitalism because that is the system that we live in. The point isn't that you have the name brand sweater, but having the name brand sweater gives you currency.
And the thing is that in many ways this is NOT shallow. You can argue all you want that the system shouldn't work this way (I agree) but people with more social currency get more opportunities. Being able to convince people you are on equal footing could have long term gains.
I am always, always going to be beating the drum that kids are incredibly intelligent and adaptive. The ways they adapt are not a reflection of them, it is a reflection of the society we made for them to adapt to. Watching them learn how to brilliantly navigate that is amazing.
And it is never about the sweater they need or the cell phone that they are looking for. Those things are REPRESENTATIVE of larger things, and kids intuitively navigate and create the new systems as they move in really amazing ways. I am never not in awe of them.
The thing is that Dobson is literally never in awe of them. He is condescending and sometimes cruel and often weirdly disinterested. And he constantly makes me feel the need to stand up for the very population that he is supposed to be working with, which is very frustrating.
Again, he has a weird language thing here, where he says that appearances, money, and intelligence are the most valued traits and *when a junior high student realizes they are lacking in one or all three of these* they start sliding towards that canyon. WHEN.
Anyway. If you are already there and already feeling all of those things, he has a list of suggestions for you, because the man loves lists. This mostly upsets me because *I* love lists and I don't really like having anything in common with Dobson.
His first suggestion is to Recognize You Are Not Alone. Basically he says to notice when people are being shy or too excited or angry or literally anything and you'll see that they ALSO feel that way and then you *should never feel that way again.* He literally says that.
Again there is this odd assumption that if you just put logic on this emotional situation, that's all you need, you will obviously be fixed with that simple solution. Which brings us back to how he does not seem to understand emotions very well, which is kind of baffling to me.
He says something about how you should be able to have more confidence knowing that everyone is in the same leaky boat just trying to plug the holes or whatever. And would you BELIEVE that he himself nearly drowned in that boat at 14?
If you think that is leading to a story, I have bad news for you. It's not. Or good news, depending on your take.
The second recommendation he has is Face Your Problem. Ah yes. This is a man who loves bootstraps. But what he recommends seems truly and deeply... concerning to me.
He recommends that a kiddo go make a list of everything they dislike about themselves. Be completely honest, because no one has to see this except them. Even admit characteristics they don't like "including a tendency to get mad and blow up, if that applies to you."
Okay like... that applies to Dobson. Stop being weird, Dobson.
He would like you to identify every single thing you don't like about yourself and notes you'll probably need a big stack of paper because most people can find too many things.
When you're done he wants you to put checks next to the things that worry you the most and then go find an adult "who understands the problems of young people." This might be a teacher or counselor or your parents. He assures you that you will know the right person.
When you show them your list, you may find that many other people have dealt with the same struggles you are dealing with! Maybe there is an easy solution and you don't have to struggle. Plus you will feel a lot better for just having talked about things and discussed solutions.
As for the remaining items on your list that can't be changed, it's important to remember that there are things we can't change and that's okay. Dobson recommends burning the rest of your paper (safely, of course) with a prayer to Jesus that he includes.
So... okay, like some of this is fine, I guess. Bringing your concerns to a trusted adult if you can is good. Sometimes it is good to accept what you can't change, I guess that's true. But there's kind of a major piece he left out here, something he didn't even consider.
What if what you don't like about yourself isn't REAL? What if you are convinced you are stupid or unloved or ugly or one of any number of lies that depression tells your brain that are LIES? Or what if what you don't like about yourself isn't a problem at all?
What if you are frustrated that you get shy in groups of people, but you're really good one on one? Reframing is important, sometimes you're so focused on something you're not skilled at, that it's easy to overlook how it's the flipside of something you're amazing at.
There are so many possibilities here and I would look at every single one of them before I would look at a realistic possibility that a jr. high kiddo had a PILE OF PAPER full of problems that needed to be solved about themselves. They are literally just figuring out who they are
There is nothing WRONG with them. They are just starting to try some things on, work out what things look like. But of course when you are telling them that they are full of sin and every mistake they make is proof of that, it is entirely possible they will feel broken.
I just... kiddos, you're not broken. There's nothing wrong with you. Like if a kid came to me with a list of everything they didn't like about themselves, of course I would listen to them - I would be honored they had trusted me with such a vulnerable thing. That's so brave.
And I would go through every single thing on that list if they wanted to, no matter how long. But I truly do not believe that there is anything we could find on a list like that that would be more than lies from outside or in. Because kids aren't broken, they're just in process.
But Dobson doesn't want that. He tells kids that they need to pray to Jesus to make their brokenness into something beautiful, that that's what makes their life beautiful. Fuck that noise. But don't worry, he assures you that god SEES you when you hurt. Loves you so much, etc.
He would have died for any of us if we were the only people in the world, that's how much he loves us. And if God loves us that much, why can't we accept ourselves? "That may be the best question of the year!" he says extremely humbly.
I'm sure a lot of you remember that line. Jesus would have died for you if you were the only one. It was supposed to make us feel loved and safe. Except that I don't really want anyone to die a brutal, violent death for me. It doesn't make me feel safe to be told that is needed.
Nevermind the whole idea that if god loves us so very much, why can't we just love ourselves? This is some nonsense? Let's just take out the god part (there's plenty of problems there). Other PEOPLE loving us doesn't mean we inherently love ourselves or see our own worth.
Whatever. Dobson quotes a bunch of Bible verses, talks about how God is who can make your life beautiful. How Moses thought he wasn't enough but God insisted. When you go back to school remember that God will make your life beautiful if you just let him take over it.
The third suggestion is to Compensate for Your Weaknesses. Are you seeing a pattern here? I honestly don't know why Dobson hates kids so much. I have no explanation for this. I mean, I think he hates people in general but he does seem to particularly despise kids sometimes.
He defines compensation as "to make up for your weaknesses by concentrating on your strengths." Which is absolutely not the definition of compensation at all. I mean, you can USE it in that sense but it is not the definition of the word.
But he has many ideas for how you could compensate for perhaps not being the "best looking person in school." You could do all kinds of things like play an instrument or get good grades or make friends or "raise rabbits for fun and profit(???)" or do various art things.
"Or maybe you could become highly skilled at entertaining small children and become well-trained as a child-care worker." Think he was talking to the men there? No? Me neither. Also is he saying the ugly girls should comfort themselves taking care of other people's kids?
But the point is that if you just do some of these things you will like yourself better and you won't be so sad about being rejected by other people because you'll know what you're good at. And SOME of that is true. But it is also simplistic at best and privileged at the core.
His fourth suggestion is to Have Genuine Friends. This seems particularly bizarre considering that forever ago he started this talking about Ronny who had never had a friend in his entire school career. But look, if you just go out and MAKE FRIENDS, everything will be fine.
Basically his advice for making friends sounds like a tv movie. Treat people how you want to be treated, don't be unkind, don't gossip, etc. Be sincere. If you are shitty to people, they may not hit you then and there but they will remember and pay you back later.
However the opposite is ALSO true! Good news! If you are kind to people they will look for ways to repay you. Also god wants you to love other people who feel inferior and if you do that, he'll give you friends. Have you noticed how transactional Dobson is about EVERYTHING?
It's honestly crazy. Like he lays out so many things from this perspective, it is impossible not to notice that his relationship with god is similar. If you do this, god does this. If you do this, people do this. If the wrong thing is happening, you are hitting the wrong button.
Finally he wants us all to know that god's values are different than man's values. HE doesn't care about beauty and wealth and intelligence. In fact he specifically says in Luke 16:15 that "that which is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God."
So like... thing about that. No one wins in this scenario, hm? Because if you don't have those things that the world loves, you are an outcast and have to have piles of paper with all the things about yourself that you hate and have to find friends and compensate for yourself.
But if you DO have those things than god hates you so I guess that's what you get for having those things? Right, Dobson? I would just like to note that Dobson most definitely has money, is certainly intelligent, and when he was young was not bad looking (in a serial killer way).
Which does make this weird to me to read. I'm not saying Dobson had no problems, I think he definitely did. I think his mom was abusive and I think he had some real issues growing up. But I also think he was a bully. I think he WAS the popular kid, with the money.
And it's weird to hear these messages delivered by someone from that platform. It's like when Gwyneth Paltrow writes Goop stuff and you're like wow, that lady is so weird and white and out of touch and she has never had any idea what it is like to not be those things.
Okay, it's not EXACTLY like that but that was the first thing I thought of and the amusement factor to me of comparing Dobson to Gwyneth was too strong (I may have been writing this thread too long). I DO think it's weird that he doesn't ever acknowledge where he was.
He goes on about how embracing these false values will get between you and living a good Christian life, which I guess explains a lot about him and his life? And then ends with one final note for the youngsters who may not have reached this frightening time yet.
Don't forget that this is coming but they don't HAVE to do this dumb thing and fall into the canyon! Just go around it. God will totally help you do this.
And I guess if you feel bad about yourself anyway after this, that will mean that you REALLY failed.
So that's the end of Chapter 1, and my god, these are somehow going to be worse to write about than the biography. I'm going to go pass out now, y'all. I love you very much. Please take care of yourselves. DM me if you need to talk or process, or whatever. I'm here.
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