I received another reply from FOF, below. I’ve prayed and thought for several weeks now, and just have no inspiration to write them again at this time. I’ve accomplished what I set out to do, which was to be a voice for other families out there like ours, by giving them an honest, unbiased account of our experience with their teachings. To reply to them again would require me to argue points they’re well aware of already; one being that, yes, Dr. Dobson’s books DO most certainly imply that spanking should be our primary discipline tool because, he teaches, it is mandated by God in the Proverbs “rod” verses. They’re really in denial of this point, whether intentionally or not, but no one but the Holy Spirit can convince them otherwise. I pray I’ve at least given the staff members who read my letter reason to toss and turn on their beds at night. Perhaps this small influence can make a small change, which may lead to bigger changes. This is my prayer.
I assure you, if I am ever inspired to reply again, you will be among the first to know.
Dear [my real first name],
Thanks for responding to Debbie Lynnewood’s e-mail message of January 12. I trust you’ll understand why I’ve been asked to reply on Debbie’s behalf. In an organization the size of Focus on the Family, where mail is received at the rate of several thousand pieces every day, it is not always possible for a given staff member to follow up on every contact he or she has had the privilege of handling in the past. I’m happy to be able to serve you in this capacity.
You are entitled to your opinions, [my first name], and we’re genuinely grateful to you for taking the time to share them with us. But we also feel constrained to point out that you have seriously misinterpreted Focus on the Family’s perspective in several important details. Most importantly, you do us a grave disservice when you represent us as telling parents that they “must spank to obey God.” This is not and never has been our position. On the contrary, we view appropriate corporal punishment as one potentially helpful component within a broad, varied, and comprehensive discipline plan. We consistently tell moms and dads that spankings should be applied only in cases of willful disobedience or defiance of authority, that they are most effective with children under three years of age, and that they should eventually be replaced with other types of consequences, such as taking away privileges. If you go back and re-read Debbie’s e-mail, I believe you’ll find that she states all of this in clear and unmistakable language.
If you feel a need to discuss this subject at greater length with a member of our staff, we’d like to reiterate Debbie’s invitation to call and speak with one of our counselors over the phone. We have a feeling that this would be a much better way of providing you with a detailed overview of our perspective. You may call weekdays from 9:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. (MT) at 800/A-FAMILY (232-6459). Just ask for our counselors’ assistant, and don’t be discouraged if she requests that you allow a counselor to call you back. One of them will contact you just as soon as possible. Both this service and the return call come at no cost to you; please accept them as a demonstration of our concern for you.
Thanks again for caring enough to write back. We hope this reply has been helpful. Don’t hesitate to let us know if we can be of any further assistance. God bless you.
Focus on the Family
[Oh, and I have no intention of calling their counselor hotline. If I contact them again, it will continue to be by prayerful, graceful, truthful responses, by email.]
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