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Hello, my darling #Exvangelical bbs. How is life, how are you doing? Tell me what's up, I haven't talked to you in SO LONG.
I have been on spring break but the new quarter is upon me which usually means I spend more time on Twitter. And now means you get a thread! Hooray!
I am not doing an Elisabeth Elliot thread tonight, although I plan to do one this weekend. If you want to catch up on those threads in preparation, they are compiled here -

But for now I'm going to do hopefully a shorter thread on a thing that @ErikMKort sent me earlier today that filled me with lots of rage. And you know. When you have a lot of rage you have to put it somewhere. I find Twitter is one place. So you can thank or blame Erik.
The item in question is titled "An Open Letter to the Parent of a Strong-Willed Child." It is actually part of the "Open Letter Series." I've looked over the other ones and there are definitely other awful things, but we'll stick to this.
This letter is authored by a man named Sam Crabtree. Some light googling leads to finding he writes for Desiring God (always a great sign) and is a pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church. He also has a book called Practicing Affirmation: God-Centered Praise of Those Who Are Not God.
I think if nothing else that title is awkward as fuck. A quick glance over his other articles seems to indicate that he talks a lot about affirming people and a lot about how to punish children, which is a hell of a combination of things, but we all know Christians enjoy that.
So! Let's start this letter!
He opens with -

"Dear weary parent,

Few things are as burdensome to a parent than a pattern of a small child’s growing reluctance to cooperate with you."
Dear Mr. Crabtree,
A hearty fuck you, good sir.

Look, I am DEEPLY sympathetic to parents. I literally could not do your job. I do not have the capacity which is why I will never try. A couple days with kids is the edge of my abilities. Raising a whole person is a big job.
And certainly children can be exhausting and hard. All of that is true. But do you know what is not okay? Demonizing a kid's lack of cooperation with you. Christians do this all the time and he's about to get a lot worse. But calling normal development "burdensome" is typical.
He talks about hearing parents say that they feel like they've exhausted all their options, that they've tried praying with their child, appealing to their conscience, reasoning with them, nothing is working. They've tried "time outs and various consequences."
So brief sidenote: I would like to say that I find it fascinating in a fucked up way how much more careful a lot of Christians have gotten in their writing around talking about spanking. You KNOW this guy believes in hitting your child, but he doesn't SAY it outright.
When I was a kid he definitely would have but now he's a bit more quiet about it and I find that in a small way encouraging because it means that society has shifted enough that they're worried about it. But I also find it frustrating because they are fucking cowards.
And because if you don't know what they're saying you don't automatically know what they're saying. But let's just go out on a limb and assume he's not just talking about time outs, hm? I think we can all agree on that.
So the parent is exhausted and discouraged and needs help.
Again, all of this is VALID. Parenting is exhausting and parents need all the help and encouragement and support we can give them. So let's see what important advice he has for them!
Like most Christian writers he essentially breaks it off into sermon points. We have 6 of them.
These points are kind of vague. But the first covers a few things. First is that God ALSO deals with strong willed children in his family. So basically remember that God has trouble with you being a dick to him all the time and he is patient (kind of) so you have to be too.
Also "Let us be careful about singling out the strong-willed child as though his will is more corrupt than ours."
Don't forget that we are ALL equally horrible people and your strong-willed child is just horrible like you! Isn't that good news that makes things easier?
"Our children are cut from the same fabric as we. We are all born sinners, including your young child."
I know. I know, I know. This is the whole thing. It's what we were all taught, I learned and recited it all my life. But it only gets more fucked up the farther away I get.
He's talking about babies. BABIES born corrupt and sinful. Toddlers feeling out the world being Evil. No matter how often I hear it, it never gets easier. In fact, I think the more I understand, the worst it gets.
"And let us be careful to discern. On one hand, dogged determination can be good and very useful in overcoming obstacles later in life. Strong-willed children may have leadership potential. On the other hand, stubborn defiance is bad. Distinguish!"
So... why does he think you can do that? We're all sinners and stuff and honestly you're counting on a lot here that people can define between determination and defiance. Especially since in my experience the difference for them is often just in who it is aimed at.
"There is a difference between precocious and obnoxious. Is the child amazingly focused, or is he overbearing, defiant, rude, pushy, and belligerently demanding?"
I just want to note that some of this could DEFINITELY be gendered. It's not as bad as it could be but there's a hint
"Second, before addressing the child’s persistence, it is helpful if we awaken to our own stubbornness. Our own will can refuse to take decisive action for the sake of our child. We can persistently and foolishly make excuses (e.g., “he’s just tired,” “he’s just hungry right now"
“he’s going through a phase.” All those things may be true about him, but it’s not helpful to conceal the fact that he is also being naughty)."
But that's where it gets complicated right? Kids are trying TO COMMUNICATE. And they don't have a lot of tools to do it.
It isn't foolish to know your child well enough to understand that. What the fuck does naughty even mean? The kiddo is upset about something and acting out. But they are acting out of SOMETHING. And it's not a sin nature, it's something they don't have words or tools for yet.
"It is the loving parent’s role to deliver those swift and certain consequences with consistency... Wise and loving parents fasten their resolve on out-willing their young children. Tenderly but firmly outlast him when he is belligerent."
Sigh. Don't you hate how people talk and never say anything? Or they use such coded language you're not sure what? I assume that the "swift and certain consequences" refer to spanking. But I'm not really sure what "outlast" means here. Like... maybe? But probably I don't agree?
"Third, ask if perhaps our love is a bit misdirected. It can be easy to care more about a child’s physical and emotional comfort in the moment, than his character development in the long run."
Oh, go straight to hell. Again we've got this goddamn coded language here.
I assume that the "physical comfort" line is referring to spanking them. I don't know if the emotional comfort is referring to giving them what they want or what. But like... these things are not inherently opposed. A child who learns that their caregiver hits them when they lie
does not gain more character - they learn to lie better. Or, best case scenario, they stop. But not because they've learned it's bad. They stop lying because they are afraid. NONE of this helps their character development or emotional health. BECAUSE HITTING CHILDREN IS BAD.
It's baffling to me that we have to keep making this argument but I'll keep doing it. DO NOT HIT YOUR KIDS. Don't do it. Just don't.
"4 ...the child who gets away with refusing the parental commands at age 6 (hang up your jacket, get your pajamas on) will disregard much more serious parental commands at age 16 (don’t have sex with your girlfriend). The way to enjoy cooperation later is to gain it now."
Here's the thing - this isn't about cooperation. That word implies some sort of partnership. Some sort of cooperating. This is about COMPLIANCE. This is about teaching a child to fear consequences when they are young so they don't think they CAN act out when they're older.
A lot of you have probably heard about circus elephants but if you haven't I will tell you a sad story, CW for animal cruelty. It's a story I was told when I was fairly young. That circus elephants get a heavy chain put on their foot as babies and they pull frantically.
Elephants are herd animals, they're probably trying to get to their mother in very Dumbo-like fashion. But no matter how much they pull, the chain is too deep in the ground, they can't break it. So they give up. And they grow up. By the time they are adult elephants...
they could easily break the chain. But they don't know that. And they've stopped trying. That's how you break an elephant. No matter what evangelicals say (and that will vary) that is essentially the goal here. Convince a child to be scared enough, to feel helpless enough.
Convince them that there is nothing they can do to get away from god, to escape consequences, to make fighting back worth it. Then, hopefully, by the time they are teenagers, they will have stopped fighting, they will have gotten with the program. The goal is to break them.
It is, of course, meaningful that the "much more important" order that he mentions is "don't have sex with your girlfriend." Of all the things a teenager could do, that isn't even top 10 of most dangerous or worst... unless of course you're an evangelical Christian.
"Fifth, follow through on the directions you give him. I know it can be exhausting, but God has a tailor-made enabling grace for you. Ask him for it. And persist. Yes, these situations can certainly feel overwhelmingly complex, and we so earnestly desire change in our children."
There's a lot of weird things in these generic words. What kind of change does he mean, exactly? Like it is one thing to be really exhausted by your children. Kids are hard, they go through challenging stages and it seems totally normal to be wanting them to outgrow those.
But he's not talking about that, not really. He's talking about wanting CHANGE. Because Christians don't believe in loving someone for who they are. We love them for who god can make them or whatever nonsensical way we put that.
Also 'tailor-made grace' is... I mean, sure.
"True, squashing rebellious behavior and eliminating a rebellious heart are not the same thing. But the heart of the child is not served if the parent loses heart. Persevere."
A CHILD. I just feel like we need to stop, take a deep breath and remember he's talking about a CHILD.
ELIMINATING A REBELLIOUS HEART. Don't ever let them tell you they aren't trying to break their kids. They will say that but it is a lie. Just listen to what they SAY. Listen to the words they USE. Squashing. Eliminating. These aren't accidents.
"Sixth, pray. Thank God for your child, for providing you the opportunity that his strong will is for your own sanctification. Thank Him that he has given you this season during which you are physically larger than the child."

There are times when I'm still breathless honestly.
Thank him that he has given you a time to be physically larger than your child. Presumably so you can beat them. So you can force them into submission. Because when he's the same size as you, it'll never work. Praise the blessed Jesus.
"And ask for behavioral and attitudinal breakthroughs. God can bring breakthroughs that no amount of parental engineering can achieve. The heart of the child can be turned by God in ways that we can only marvel."
Again, just the language. "Parental engineering." I hate this.
Like don't worry, y'all. God is WAY better at manipulation and coercion than you are. He can figure it out! Just do the right spells and he will be all over helping you out.
Finally - "While we can apply “best practices,” good parenting is fundamentally and primarily a matter God-given enabling grace."
So here's the thing. I'm a social worker. This is true for multiple disciplines but "best practices" actually MEANS something gdi.
If we say we are doing best practice then it should (ideally at least) mean that we are following procedures and policies that have been shown, preferably by research, to be the BEST PRACTICES. You know what evangelical child raising absolutely is not? BEST FUCKING PRACTICE.
And the reason I think this matters is because this is another example of them grabbing words and phrases to try and sound more official, more legitimate. It is important that they get called out on it every single time. Honestly they've taken way too many words without a fight.
Sigh. After that he goes into way too long of a prayer and the only line I will quote from that because it is despicable is "Rescue that child from himself and from stubbornness, and capture his will."
You worship a monster, sir. And you want to sacrifice your children to him.
I've missed you bbs. I hope you're doing well. As always if you like my threads and want to buy me coffee, or lunch or whatever, feel free.
CashApp - $BethanySparkle
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