The Washington Post exposes a common Christian parenting tool: hot sauce

The Washington Post exposes a common Christian parenting tool: hot sauce
Some parents use hot sauce "in a different recipe, one they think will yield better-behaved children: They put a drop of the fiery liquid on a child's tongue as punishment for lying, biting, hitting or other offenses," The Washington Post reported on the front page of its health section yesterday. Writer Alison Buckholtz says the technique "has roots in Southern culture," but it quickly becomes clear that the debate is more or less focused in conservative Christian circles.

"Pediatricians, psychologists and experts on child care and family life contacted for this story strongly recommend against the practice," Buckholtz writes, quoting Christian parenting expert Tim Kimmel as one on the "no" side.

On the advocacy side is Lisa Whelchel, parenting columnist for Christianity Today sister publication Today's Christian Woman, who quotes Proverbs 10:31: "The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but the perverse tongue will be cut off." The magazine itself has also gently supported the activity in an advice column by Susan Alexander Yates: "When our children were young and tried talking back, we simply washed out their mouths with yucky-tasting soap. One friend uses white vinegar, another a drop of Tabasco sauce." (A very similar 2000 article by Yates only included the references to "yucky tasting soap" and white vinegar.) Another one of our sister publications, Christian Parenting Today, apparently hasn't addressed the subject.

Of course, the voice you really want to hear on this subject is evangelical parenting heavyweight Focus on the Family. The organization published Whelchel's ...

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Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's editorial director. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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