Posted by: jmark | January 7, 2008

Book Review – Don’t Make Me Count to Three


Contrary reviews on Amazon this in not a book about spanking. Nor is it a book about being a dictator. Plowman has written a useful and helpful book that deals as much with the parent’s attitude as it does with the child’s.

It is a balanced book. She frequently highlights and underlines failures of parents to be loving and God-centred in their raising of their children. And she is humble enough to illustrate these failures from her own experience. It is balanced also in that it recognises the need to react differently with different children and with different ages of children – for her there is no ‘one rule fits all’ thinking.

It is a practical book. It is an ideal companion to Ted Tripp’s “Shepherding a Child’s Heart”. I felt Tripp’s book was light on practical examples, but Plowman redresses that with many illustrations of what to do and what not to do.

It is a heart-oriented book. Her approach is not simply to correct the behaviour, but to get to the roots of the behaviour which lie in the heart. It’s relatively easy to create a little automaton who will obey out of fear or reward, and then rebel when your back is turned. Plowman is not interested in such an approach. She seeks to get to the heart – and often that means dealing with your own heart first.

It is a biblical book. As a pastor I dislike intensely seeing verses quoted out of context. Contrary to other reviews Mrs Plowman does not do this. Instead she shows every evidence that she understands the context. But more importantly she calls parents to act not as they find easiest, nor in a way that is comfortable to them, but in the way God requires.

It is also a direct book. Plowman is not afraid to call a spade a spade when it comes to some of the methods advocated by parents, for example ‘counting to three’, ‘making excuses for children’. She shows how these only teach children to disobey until you get to ‘3’ as opposed to obeying immediately and to make excuses when they are disobedient. They are counterproductive and naive.

It must also be pointed out that the majority of this book is about verbal correction. And when it comes to deal with physical correction, it spends as much time correcting wrong ideas, wrong motives and wrong approaches. Here there is also much wisdom and balance. Plowman shows the vast difference between biblical chastisement and unbiblical chastisement.

As a pastor and a parent I welcome this book. Those who read it and consider how it applies in their situation will find much help.

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