Here’s How to Raise ‘Purfect’ Kids, the 1987 Evangelical Parenting Guide That Reminds You Not to Stone Your Children


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Author: John & Karen Bohlen
Date: 1987
Publisher: Destiny Image Publishers, Shippensburg, PA
Discovered at: Salvation Army, Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn

The Cover Promises: The authors believe you are a cat.

Representative Quotes:

“What two things are are you training the child to do when you discipline to the point of repentance? How many ‘thwaks’ with the switch are recommended before ‘thwacking’ again?” (page 126)

“Did you know that they had no juvenile deliquency in the Old Testament? God’s command to the parents was that if their children insisted on staying rebellions, that the people should stone the children to death!!! Now please understand that we are definitely NOT! advocating this, but we mention to this for you to see what God thought (and thinks) of rebellion.” (page 152 – 153)

The strangest thing about How to Raise ‘Purfect’ Kids isn’t its authors’ belief that they actually have to tell they’re not advocating that you chuck rocks at your children until they die.

It’s not their occasional capslock abuse, or that they never explain why they spell “perfect” the way Cat Fancy would, or that readers will spend most of the book lost in the impossible gulf between whatever it is the authors think they are saying and what words they’ve actually set down:

“How many parents, husbands, wives and friends have the kind of love that says, directly or indirectly, ‘I’ll love you IF….’? That’s what a prostitute is, male or female. They give ‘love’ IF … IF they are paid, or IF they receive some kind of favor or benefit. Are you that kind of person? Is this the kind of love you have?”

(With that spiel in mind, I encourage you to reconsider your relationship with your pets: Do they love you for love, or are they food-craving prostitutes? Also, are prostitutes selling love?)

The strangest thing isn’t even that the credited authors on the cover — John and Karen Bohlen, a husband and wife team — are not the same as the authors credited on the title page:

What husband has not on occasion mistaken his wife for a bible verse?

No, the strangest thing about this deeply strange book is that at the end of each of its incomprehensible chapters the authors (John Bohlen and whoever) throw in an equally incomprehensible quiz. This one opens with every proofreaders’ nightmare:

Maybe the typo in question one is part of the test itself. If you point out that “whose” should be “who is,” you’re pretty much showing you think you’re smarter than God, right?

Other quizzes are just as daft:

As you might have sussed out, the opening chapters don’t offer much advice for parents. In fact, the book doesn’t bother much with kids at all for the first hundred pages. That’s because Bohlen and his co-author believe belief is the first step toward purfection in child-rearing: Unless you’re born again, you can’t begin to parent.

The (very) hands-on practical advice starts with the suggestion that you should teach your child that you only ever say “No” once, a lesson that Bohlen picked up when he served as a probation officer in East Los Angeles juvenile detention centers, a job that often put him “alone with 30 hostile 17 and 18 year old murderers, thugs, thieves and liars. etc.” Here’s what he learned:

“When I say, ‘Let’s line it up at the door,’ and they look at me like I’m some kind of jive turkey, honkey, gringo dude what don’ have his act together. Brother, I had BETTER get my act together quick or I got a riot on my hands and some body’s likely to get hurt, mybe even me!”

Like any parent, you’re probably eager to apply the techniques of juvenile detention employees to your own children. Here’s the choices advice offered up by Bohlen, a man who we all know is not a jive turkey:

“What we are advocating here is the sanctified, loving Spirit led use of a flexible green switch, of less thickness than a pencil.”

“A hairbrush, or wooden spoon, or a board, or yard stick, or ping pong paddle can all bruise hip bones, tail bones, knee bones, finger, hand, arm, or wrist bones on the back. And if not used properly they can also bruise muscles, nerves or tendons.”

“ALWAYS DISCIPLINE TO THE POINT OF REPENTANCE. We suggest that after three or four thwaks, (switches with the switch) that you stop and check the child’s heart attitude or spirit to see if it is positive. Chances are, however, that you will notice rebellion, anger, bitterness, withdrawal, or self-pity, etc. … If he doesn’t immediately get his spirit right, then give him three or four more licks with the switch. We strongly recommend that you continue this process until the child’s spirit and attitude and reaction reflect tenderness and repentance.”

“A mother asked us once, ‘How old should my child be before I start to discipline him?’ I asked, ‘How old is your child?’ ‘Three and a half years,’ she replied. I said, ‘You’ve already waited three years too long!’

NOTICE! We are NOT advocating that you beat on your baby with anything.”

That’s just about the extent of their practical advice: When and how to tenderize your child’s spirit hit by hitting that child with a stick. After that, the book is a grab-bag of complaints and suggestions so vague that they’re hopeless. Here’s a doozy:

“We hereby commission you to raise all of your children to be prophets. Some body may be saying that prophets don’t exist today. But that’s exactly why we are encouraging you to grow some. What, do you think there’s not a need for prophets in the earth today? Don’t kid me, ‘cauz it’s not even funny.”

That’s all they write on that topic. Perhaps they expect your children to find brochures on prophet-dom in the office of their guidance counselor.

Next: Why You Shouldn’t Let Your Baby Extort You

Later chapters denouncing abortion and drug use are too sloppy, confusing, and familiar to be rewarding. But this attack on premarital sex is for the ages:

“A young virgin who is beautiful could be compared with a beautiful crystal chalice with pure water. But she commits fornication, that is, she has intercourse sexually with someone she is not married to. Let’s say that the fellow involved is a playboy whoremonger. At the time of this particular intercourse, a terrifying and hideous thing takes place that causes a total and inextricable intermingling of their bodies, souls, personalities, spirits. It would be like inextricably intermingling a glass of water with a cess pool of urine, coffee, slime, vomit, venereal pus, milk, or blood.

Wait, in this example, the virgin and the whoremonger are doing it with coffee? Also, now’s the time I should mention that the Bohlens also once wrote a book titled — ick! — The Sexual Ministry.

Here’s a surprise. The Bohlens consider George Lucas something of a documentarian:

“The bar scene from Star Wars pictured a room full of monsters and awful looking creatures and was a pretty good description of the way many bars actually look, if one could ‘see’ into the spirit realm.”

To prevent your chalice-virgin daughters from having their water pus-corrupted by Greedo and space aliens, Bohlen and his co-author have one final bit of advice: Do not let your babies extort you, because that makes you — their spiritual counselor — a prostitute:

Finally, let’s take a look at these purfect Bohlens themselves, from the author photo on the back cover. I see no jive turkeys or prostitutes here!

(Note that co-author John 5:30 is not pictured.)