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Divergent Models of Childrearing in Popular Manuals: Conservative Protestants vs. the Mainstream Experts

John P. Bartkowski and Christopher G. Ellison
Sociology of Religion
Vol. 56, No. 1 (Spring, 1995), pp. 21-34
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3712036
Page Count: 14
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Divergent Models of Childrearing in Popular Manuals: Conservative Protestants vs. the Mainstream Experts
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Abstract

While most recent discussions of "the battle over the family" have focused on conflicts over gender roles, this study focuses on contemporary debates over childrearing practices. This work centers on the challenge to mainstream "expert" childrearing ideas posed by James Dobson and other conservative Protestant family advocates. Our study compares the recommendations of mainstream childrearing experts with those advanced by their conservative Protestant counterparts, with particular attention to four key areas: (1) long-term parenting goals; (2) the structure of parent-child relations; (3) the definition of parental roles; and (4) strategies of child discipline and punishment. Particular attention is devoted to the role of two key theological tenets - biblical "literalism" and belief that human nature is sinful - in legitimating the distinctive "traditional" childrearing practices endorsed by conservative Protestants. We conclude by discussing the implications of this research for subsequent work on conservative Protestantism and conflicts over family values and practices.

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