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  Dobson, James
NameJames Dobson
Colorado Springs, Colorado , United States
Born April 21, 1936 (85 years)
Last ModifedDFWDem
Apr 21, 2007 11:31am
InfoDr. James Clayton Dobson, Ph.D. is a conservative Christian psychologist who presents a daily radio program called Focus on the Family on over 6,000 stations worldwide in more than a dozen languages. He is chairman of the board of a nonprofit organization based in Colorado Springs, Colorado of the same name, which he founded in 1977. His programs are heard by more than 200 million people every day, and Focus on the Family is also on 80 US television stations daily.

Dobson is an Evangelical Christian with significant political clout, because he can mobilize his listeners to contact politicians with civic concerns. Liberal critics label Dobson as a fundamentalist, but some fundamentalists are among his severest critics mainly because Dobson works cooperatively with Protestant and Roman Catholic Christians and Jews, and because the organization is politically active. Many fundamentalists also decry his mixture of psychology and faith.

He first became well-known with the publication of Dare to Discipline, a book which became hugely popular with parents of young children, especially other Christians. He attracted some controversy because in it he approved of the spanking of young children.

Dobson has two children, Danae and Ryan, with his wife Shirley.

Dr. Dobson has an earned doctorate in child development from the University of Southern California (1967). He was an Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Southern California School of Medicine for 14 years. He spent 17 years on the staff of the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles in the Division of Child Development and Medical Genetics.

He is a clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, a licensed psychologist in California, and is listed in Who's Who in Medicine and Healthcare. He also has a long list of honorary doctorates from various institutions.

Dobson has also served at the invitation of presidents and attorneys general on government advisory panels and testified at several government hearings. Among many other awards he has been given the "Layman of the Year" award by the National Association of Evangelicals in 1982, "The Children's Friend" honor by Childhelp USA, (an advocate agency against child abuse) in 1987, and the Humanitarian Award by the California Psychological Association (1988).

Dobson advocates the spanking of children from 15-18 months to eight years old. According to Dobson, "pain is a marvelous purifier." (Dare to Discipline, p.6) He argues that "it is not necessary to beat the child into submission; a little bit of pain goes a long way for a young child. However, the spanking should be of sufficient magnitude to cause the child to cry genuinely." (Ibid., p.7.)

In The Strong-Willed Child (p.73), Dobson writes: "Some strong-willed children absolutely demand to be spanked, and their wishes should be granted." As for the magnitude of the spanking, he argues that "two or three stinging strokes on the legs or buttocks with a switch are usually sufficient to emphasize the point, 'You must obey me.'" (The Strong-Willed Child, pp. 53-4.)

Dobson directly connects parental authority to social authority: "By learning to yield to the loving authority...of his parents, a child learns to submit to other forms of authority which will confront him later in his life -- his teachers, school principal, police, neighbors and employers." (The Strong-Willed Child, p. 235.)

He frequently portrays the child as the natural enemy of the parent and emphasizes that it is necessary to punish the child to uphold parental authority. "When you are defiantly challenged, win decisively." (Dare to Discipline, p. 36.)

In The Strong-Willed Child, Dobson draws a strong analogy between child rearing and dog rearing. He tells a story in which the family dog refuses to leave his resting place on the lid of the toilet seat. According to Dobson, a "vicious fight" between him and the dog resulted in which he "fought him up one wall and down the other, with both of us scratching and clawing and growling and swinging the belt [sic]." He concludes that "just as surely as a dog will occasionally challenge the authority of his leaders, so will a little child--only more so." (emphasis Dobson)

To deal with crying, Dobson recommends: "Real crying usually lasts two minutes or less but may continue for five. After that point, the child is merely complaining, and the change can be recognized in the tone and intensity of his voice. I would require him to stop the protest crying, usually by offering him a little more of whatever caused the original tears."

Anti-spanking groups have criticized Dobson's views as highly simplistic and dangerous to children.


Title Purchase Contributor

Start Date End Date Type Title Contributor

Date Category Headline Article Contributor
Feb 27, 2009 07:20pm Blog Entry Dobson Resigns  Article ArmyDem 
Jan 25, 2008 04:00pm Analysis Is Dobson's Political Clout Fading?  Article Thomas Walker 
May 18, 2007 12:00pm Statement Dobson says he won't vote for Giuliani  Article RP 
Mar 28, 2007 03:00pm General Dobson Offers Insight on 2008 Republican Hopefuls  Article DFWDem 
Jan 14, 2007 11:00am General Dobson says 'no way' to McCain candidacy  Article DFWDem 
Jun 28, 2006 06:00pm Commentary Media provides cover for assault on traditional marriage  Article Brandonius Maximus 

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