the actual text itself (one of the earlier editions) and the counter-argument (Parenting in the Name of God), which is also available free.
To introduce this book, To Train Up A Child is a parenting book that advocates "switching" (whipping/spanking) as a method of training children. At least two children have died and their deaths are suspected to be linked to to this parenting method.
And the author responded to criticisms by telling us how he and his family is "laughing" at the 'ridiculous' accusations. But really, that is a very insensitive thing to say, considering that children have died. (And personally, I wonder if the fact that his grandchildren laugh all the time is because they're going to have a nervous breakdown or if they're afraid that they'll get "switched" if they do not put on a happy face.)
So, let's start with the book I read first: Parenting in the Name of God by David J. Dyck and C.L Dyck. I know it's kind of strange to read the counter-argument first but well, I already had a bad first impression anyway.
But really, I thought this free ebook was very well-written. At the very beginning, the authors tell you their background (so you know where they're coming from), and each chapter has a definition list so you know exactly what you're talking about. The book is also very calm and reasoned, and actually gave me a new perspective to the whole issue. By showing how the theology behind this book is un-Godly, it becomes easier to explain to others why this is not a Christian style of parenting. I definitely recommend reading this book.
And of course, it's quite self-defeating to list your stands against a viewpoint only to have to admit you've never read the actual text. So thankfully, I found a legal and free copy of an early version of the book online.
Frankly, I was disturbed reading this book. While I agree with some parts, like sticking to the limits you set, the whole "train your child like a dog" thing was disturbing. And even if I didn't read Parenting in the Name of God first, I would still have major doubts about their theology, considering how they seem to encourage their parents to act like God. No, the job of a parent is to teach their child about God, not be a god to their children until they reach their 'age of accountability'. Plus, it's just cruel to set up situations (like letting your child play with a toy and then call him for no reason) just so you can whip your child into a certain mode.
As for me, I grew up in a fairly strict household. I've definitely been caned before, but it wasn't very often. So from personal experience, I can say that this method is not the only (if it even works) method to raise happy and stable children. My parents have never needed to train me through caning (they used it only for extreme cases, such as playing during prayer and such). And I'm pretty sure I'm not the self-indulgent child that the Pearl's claim will develop without their training method (I may be a brat, but I do know my limits). My parents have managed (and here's the shocker) to teach me right from wrong without constantly caning/switching me. So yeah, while there are occasions where you should use "the rod", it should not be part of a training plan.
But really, the biggest issue is the very unChristian theology they have rather than the methods they advocate. It promotes a very ego-stroking view for the parents and demeans the child. I wonder, if without this training, children would grow up to be self-indulgent, than shouldn't the parents who read this for the first time (and decide to use it), also be self-indulgent? In that case, why should they be allowed to "train" their child?