Chapter 16: The Appeal Process
This chapter outlines how a child is suppose to appeal a parent’s directions or instructions. While this may sound like it evens out the uneven power dynamics displayed in previous chapter “the appeal process” is far from a fair process.
The author describes this process as a child approaching one of their parents and directly stating “May I appeal.” The child is to ask once if the parents instruction can be changed, and giving a reason why. A child is never to beg or ask after the parents give their ultimatum. And if the parent feels that the child is “abusing” this process the parent can remove the child’s ability to appeal.
“To appeal to authority is to acknowledge another’s rule in your life.”p 243 GKGW
For instance the author mentions that a child will learn to give their parents additional context and information when the appeal process is used. This seems quite unfair. And even later in the chapter the author describes a child having to correct their parents conflicting orders. A child should not be the one responsible for this. Nor should they be forced to “appeal” in order to not face punishment.
I’m not going to focus too heavily on chapter sixteen as I would like to close my Growing Kids God’s Way series soon. And I don’t wish to push that off any further.
Chapter 17: Building a Healthy Family
In this chapter the author advises the parents on how to structure their family. If you have grow up in fundamentalism none of this is a huge surprise, but it’s also rather interesting to see it laid out on paper.
Families are openly instructed to keep their children out of the care of anyone they disagree with. Also I’m not sure if it’s overt or not, but this section also has undertones that suggest a stay at home mother. I know this type of logic is what encouraged that route for my parents. (And part of why they homeschool.) They fully believe that allowing any type of outside influence into your children’s lives will lead you child astray. And I’ve directly heard from my parent’s mouths that allowing my children to go to public school has fully relinquished any opportunity we (me and my wife) had to “have an influence” our their lives. These types of beliefs can certainly be taken to an extreme.
The same logic from the first section is repeated in a separate section entitled “Connecting with a Moral Community.” In which the author argues “Since members of your community are going to teach your children (directly or indirectly), it is vital that you surround yourself with people who share your morals and you values.” p260 GKGW And Gary Ezzo even escalates the rhetoric as he continues his explanation “The moral community in which you and your child belong will either be a friend or foe to your family values.” p260 GKGW
Gary then lays out the different stages of parenting that will lead the parent to a true friendship with their child. The first phase is discipline (0-5 y/o). Remember previous sections that mentioned that this is the age in which Gary Ezzo believes that the most amount of physical discipline should take place. Rules are set forth and they must be followed, with the threat of discipline enforcing the rules. The second phase is training (6-12 y/o). The child is learning more but still has limited independence. The third phase is coaching (13-17 y/o). Children have a great deal more independence but their parent is still there to direct them. The last phase is friendship (18+).
I find it telling that Gary Ezzo doesn’t describe friendship until the child is 18 years old or older. And ironically Gary still mentions that the 18 y/o still is not the parents equal, but at this point the relationship a parent has with their child can be considered “friendship.” How is an authoritative relationship suppose to automatically become a friendship if the parent made no effort to develop a friendship with their child before this point? Ezzo tries to explain this in the following quote, “The process begins with tight boundaries, which give way to responsible behavior, leading to freedom” p264 The idea as a whole seems so conditional. A child must obey fully in order to earn trust. Then a well behaved child can eventually have freedom to make their own choices. And if they continue that good behavior then they are free from the parent’s authority as they have learned to self regulate and internalize the teachings and behaviors that were demanded of them. At that point they deserve a parent’s friendship.
Gary Ezzo’s Epilogue is a rambling mess filled with multiple references to Christian nationalism. He claims that Christian parents with proper biblical training can help stop the slow decay of the nation of America. The nationalism expressed here is a topic for another time. But I think you can see the foundations or start of what Christian Nationalism looks like today in this man’s words.
Can you hear the call to action? This is an urgent cause! Your country and your god demand this of you. Go forth and shape your children into the “Joshua generation” (as HSLDA phrases it) and let them rise up and reshape the declining spiritual and political climate of the world.
Gary Ezzo has laid out the urgency and reasons why you much act – to shape the country back into his vision of “moral.” If you notice there is very little focus of how these teachings will benefit the child’s life. But more on how it will benefit society and culture. As Gary puts it “Obedience to God is what brings blessings or cursings on the Land.” p269 This seems to echo a similar belief of nationalism that god has blessed the US for its “foundation in Christian religion” and continued moral purity. This belief states that the USA will be blessed by god as long as the nation stays moral and “a Christian nation.”
The supplements of this book are also filled with worrying cries of the decline of the Christian and moral culture in American. Secularism has come to destroy America. And we must FIGHT back (through our children). “The 1990s, we fear, will be the last battleground for the minds and hearts of the next generation – winner takes all.” p278 (For context this book was written and edited in the 1990s)
This is the environment that shaped my parents faith. Their choices to isolate me from “worldly” media (books, TV, Movies) and to also homeschool their children. This fear of secularism, sin, cultural changes, and “the world” shaped them and their actions. They felt that they needed to do everything they could to protect their children and prepare them for this “culture war” that everyone had predicted. Never stopping to think how their actions might affect their kids. They had their faith and their zeal guiding them, and that was enough. After all the fate of the nation was in their hands.