I was a little surprised at the controversy over this book and I’m almost afraid to mention it because I know it evokes strong emotions in parents.
I think I wasn’t shocked by anything in the book because I came from a family where physical chastisement was normal. Sometimes it was unproductive and sometimes went a little too far – but that’s where I felt this book was good as it talks about how to discipline children in a way that isn’t lashing out in anger with whatever happens to be within arm’s reach and to really think about the whole sphere of discipline before it gets to physical chastisement. I actually have found parts of this book useful for disciplining my kids.
I can see how it could encourage child abuse – it depends on your interpretation. I think it goes too far in parts and potentially the tone is irresponsible as many parents are stupid, abusers and/or looking for a way to parent that doesn’t involve love, time, attention and thought.
This book isn’t for everyone but disciplining your children is a very personal and private topic. I think the scrutiny and challenge this book has received has also been a good thing. Children are vulnerable and in our evolved societies we should be looking out for their best interests.