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You Can't Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded) by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias ~ a review

Many years ago, when my firstborn was just a tyke, I read a book by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias. And I loved it! Her insight was just what I needed as a young mom trying to determine what made my son "tick". It helped me to accept that his learning style was not the same as mine, and was a great starting point for me when I began researching curriculum options prior to kindergarten. I expected the same result with the book You Can't Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded).

I was actually surprised when I found myself doubting some of what she shares in this book. It's not that any of her ideas about parenting strong-willed children wouldn't work; I honestly think most of them would work well! What seems to kind of nag at me about this book is the underlying idea that there isn't any real accountability for the behavior of the strong-willed child, and we as parents simply must find ways to adapt in order to affirm the child. My problem with this notion is that it isn't Biblical. Let me explain what I mean.

I'm not saying the author isn't a Christian, and she does reference God's Word at the beginning of each chapter. And I'm not attempting to slander her as an author or as a person. What I am saying is simply that it simply is not Biblical to raise our children to believe it's perfectly okay to buck authority and deny respect to those in authority over them just because they have a strong will. After all, can't we all say we have a strong will? Can't we all say we don't like to do what we're told without knowing why? Yes, we can all relate to feeling that way. But parents who want to prepare their strong-willed children to relate to Almighty God with a holy, reverent attitude will teach them that God expects our total obedience to Him, and He has no need to provide us with the big picture prior to our obeying. Teaching them that they can, and should, expect to be able to choose who they will and won't respect by means of conditioning them to pick and choose their attitude based on how those in authority make them feel is not Biblical parenting and sets them up for a life full of disappointment and confusion when God does not relate to them in said manner.

While I don't really agree with much of her reasoning in this particular book, I have to say that (in my opinion) Cynthia Tobias is most in her element when she is helping parents understand their child's learning style. She is gifted in that arena in ways that all parents, homeschooling or not, can benefit from. Recently she was on Focus on the Family's radio program and she was as informative and inspiring as ever. (Listen to that broadcast HERE.)  Don't throw the baby out with the bath water, and by all means don't simply take my word for it! Read some of her books for yourself, filter them through God's Word, and come to your own conclusion.

And check out her website HERE.

To read an excerpt from the book, click HERE.

To read other reviews, click HERE.

Thanks for taking the time to read this review. God bless you as you seek His will in parenting your strong-willed child!

Disclaimer ~ I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Day 273 done :)

Jan L. Burt


  1. There is really something special about the way you presented your challenge to the material and views presented in Tobias' book - you were kind and kept it from being personal - even gave her some credit by noting that chapters start with the Word and all that - but yet, you clearly presented a simple (yet potent) challenge: the content may not be aligned with the Bible.

    I have not read the book, even though I like the title - (and I think that the strong willed kids are so misunderstood - and many times it is basic respect that is missing. Also, many strong willed kids are future leaders that will trailblaze and spearhead great things in the future - and they will be more effective using their gifts when they have boundaries and needed accountability - with gentle, but consistent training -because they need to learn control and and all that - and without it - they will be disappointed - yes! but also miserable and will have more and more social issues to work through.

    I also liked this post because recently I have encountered SO many things (articles, books, etc.) that come from Christians, has Bible stuff included, but is actually not Biblical at all when you get down to what is being said.

    And so posts like this also model for us a healthy way to challenge what is packaged before us! I also like the gentleness in your tone because I think many times people are not trying to intentionally write error - (some are wolves though -for sure) but other authors really are just still learning truth and they write thinking that their great points are Godly (when they may not be). Yet many Christian authors and teachers are not really reading-studying- and grasping the Word of God - and it is reflected in what they write and teach - and we need to make sure we double check what is presented before us.


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