How many children must die before Mike & Debi Pearl are held accountable?

Another child has been "chastised" to death after her parents followed the "Biblical" child-training methods of Michael & Debi Pearl. 

Mike Pearl is justifying his teachings and solely faulting the parents. Again. 

But do we, as Christians, really accept Lydia Schatz's horrific death as yet another irrelevant, isolated incident? Or are Michael & Debi Pearl partially to blame?

This is an extremely difficult post for me to write because my radical fundamentalist church ordered their books by the boxful. I saw first-hand how these "child-training" methods were implemented. 

I can tell you that while Mike Pearl might justify his methods as "limited" and "controlled," the reality is that babies and toddlers are subjected to systematic, repetitive, hard spankings. 

(If you're unfamiliar with the Pearls, you can read articles they've written on their NoGreaterJoy.org website and an excellent breakdown of his teachings here  on TulipGirl's website. Also, Lynn Harris of Salon.com wrote a comprehensive article here)

Practically speaking, a child is spanked into submission.

I had childhood friends who were given 25-100 swats per day. I sat through many meals where a child was removed from the table and spanked repeatedly for not eating his supper. Sometimes the child was taken away three or four times and swatted 3-5 times per incident.

I observed so much harsh spanking in my childhood and teen years (their first book was published in 1994 when I was a junior in high school) that I refused to implement the Pearl methodology on my own children.

Here's the thing: most of the parents I knew were not monsters. They were joyful, Bible-believing Christians who truly desired to raise godly servants of the Lord. But they had been led astray.

And according to  a woman who knew them personally, so were Kevin & Elizabeth Schatz . At least, that's the impression they gave to the outside world.

But now their child is dead. Can we blame the Pearls for Lydia's death? Not directly, no. The Schatz's obviously took the Pearls' methods to an extreme. They alone are responsible for that unspeakable act–and will probably spend the rest of their lives in prison for it (and rightfully so).

But the point remains: are the Pearls' methods abusive? 

Let's be clear: the kind of spanking the Pearl's advocate is a far cry from an infrequent pop to a child's backside. The Pearl's "child-training" method is characterized by systematic, repetitive swats/licks with a "rod of reproof"; ie. they recommend a length of "1/4" plumbing supply line.

The real issue here is that the Pearls teach systematic chastisement. Nearly every infraction is punishable by hard, multi-swat spanking. This means the number of swats/licks a child receives per day can reach abusive levels very quickly.

The Pearl Way is an entire methodology based on a belief that the child's "soul must be punished." The only way to accomplish this total, unequivocal breaking of a child's will is through systematic, repetitive corporeal punishment.

This system of behavioral conditioning begins at a very young age–often before the child turns one. (In his book "To Train Up a Child," Michael Pearl mentions swatting a less-than-one-year-old baby)

Mike Pearl claims he doesn't condone child abuse or teach corporeal punishment. But application of his methods definitively prove otherwise.

So, how did Kevin & Elizabeth Schatz become parents who eventually beat their child to death? 

I have no answers for that unspeakable act. But I do know the temptation of falling prey to the pretty promises of Mike & Debi Pearl. 

Perhaps the Schatz's fully believed that if they consistently and methodically applied the Pearl's "child-training" techniques, they too could have picture-perfect, God-honoring, cheerfully obedient children. 

After all, Mike Pearl practically claims that consistent application of his teaching will yield wonderful results–just like his own children! It's all a simple formula, really. 

Which is precisely why he claims that aberrant application–not his methods– are to blame for Lydia Schatz's tragic death.

Do we, as the Christian community, accept Michael Pearl's excuse?

To make a poor analogy, consider the current massive recall of Toyota cars. Do all Toyotas have the same fatal flaw? No. But the flaw is significant enough that drastic measures are being taken. Today, in fact, the CEO of Toyota is being critically questioned in a Congressional hearing.

This is how I view the Pearls child-training methods. Sure, maybe some parents are able to safely "drive" the Pearl model. But there is a significant flaw in the Pearl method and tragically, for at least two young children, it has proved fatal.

How many more children will die before the Christian community holds Mike & Debi Pearl to account? 

Here is how it can be done:

  • Educate yourself: TulipGirl does an excellent job breaking down the Pearl's teachings
  • Speak out: the Pearls' ministry relies on independent distributors. If you see these books at your church or homeschool group, please voice your concerns
  • Become an advocate: speak to your pastor, send emails to national Christian leaders, retweet this post, blog your concerns. The voice of dissent must come from within the Christian community. This is our sacred obligation to our children.

REQUIESCAT IN PACE, LYDIA SCHATZ

UPDATE: if you'd like to retweet this post on Twitter, try using the hashtag #NoMoreDeadKids & #stopMikeandDebiPearl. Attach this link: http://bit.ly/bsJctS 

More reading:

When Parenting Kills, What Can We Do?

When Extremists Are Taken To The Extreme

Godly Discipline Turned Deadly

  • http://profile.typepad.com/deardo Emily DeArdo

    That is so, so disturbing and incredibly sad. I can’t IMAGINE spanking a 10 month old (or younger!) that way.
    I was spanked as a child, but the “wooden spoon” method that really amounted to a pat on the bottom. The point was made after that. But this amount of spanking is just obscene.

  • http://thebookbeast.blogspot.com SaraJ

    I had to throw out my Pearl materials. They made me break into a cold sweat. My sister likes them, but she takes their advice in moderation. Still, I’d be happier if she didn’t read them at all.

    My theological objection is that Pearl makes parents do the job of the Holy Spirit. I haven’t yet met a parent who can do that. And, yes, as you pointed out — nearly EVERY infraction is a spanking offense. If you don’t spank, then you’ve failed and your children’s souls aren’t cleansed and they’ll turn away from you and God. So says Pearl.

    What really gets me in a froth is the question someone asked him once about spanking a seven-month-old for — guess what? –crying when put down for to sleep. And Pearl did not say, “You idiot. You don’t spank a baby.”

    I also disliked an account of his where he got his young son to stop showing off in front of guests (not being bad, just showing off) by touching his belt. And then he ordered his son to smile, and the child smiled.

    **physically restraining self from further rant**

    The Pearls are going to have to face up to the fact that their One Right Way attracts simple-minded, mean-minded, or simply weak-souled people who can’t control themselves. And they’re going to have to soften their approach, or they’ll find more abuse cases haunting them.

    – SJ

  • http://www.emergingmummy.com Sarah@EmergingMummy

    I can’t even get my head around this. Spanking is very frowned upon in Canada…no one spanks anymore. Or if they do, they keep their mouth shut about it since most of us view it as condoned child abuse. When I lived in the States, we had a pastor speak similar things from the pulpit about discipline. It gave me horrors. I can’t imagine striking a child, let alone actually advocating for it or teaching it as the “right” thing to do. Thank you for speaking out about it, EE. You are right on. I know this post must have taken a lot of guts to write but soon, this evil will be exposed.

    AND OH MY GOD- WHO SPANKS A BABY!?!?

  • http://thebookbeast.blogspot.com SaraJ

    Here’s a post I wrote a few years ago about the Pearls. I was gentler on them than I really wanted to be:

    http://thebookbeast.blogspot.com/2006/09/exorcism-of-pearl.html

  • http://ifmeadowsspeak.blogspot.com/ Tammy@If Meadows Speak….

    I was in a women’s Bible study a few years back and they were doing one from Debie Pearl. After reveiwing the pages and attending several sessions, I became disturbed with the material and content. I contacted the leader of the group to ‘bow’ out of this study and was told by her husband that I had to address it in person. These ladies (and I’m assuming this Hubby) were very smitten the content. Highly intimidated, I was physcially sick all week with the possiblities of outcomes or good (or much worse) would come of it. I prayed and researched, made lists of my concerns and hoped I could make a coherent sentence. Basically, I had written out my defense like a criminal facing trial. The bottom line, after running through my issues of Debi’s own words in the book, I ultimately said I refuse to live under condemnation again! It took me years to get out from under, I refused to go back in bondage to it. In the end, they hugged me and released me. The battle had already been paved out in the Spirit. But since then, I’ve heard SO many women say how much they love this book! I always give my warning and say review it in light of scripture. Plus do her words lift or condemn. I highly recommend Elizabeth George’s “A woman after God’s Own Heart” which convicts, but lifts you up to His standard. A blessing and a conviction that’ll want to make you a better woman. As for Debi Pearl, I think she brings much harm to women and children.

  • http://MeditativeMeanderings.blogspot.com Susanne Barrett

    A fellow BraveWriter (www.bravewriter.com) instructor wrote this article on the Pearls in 2003 — I found it linked from TulipGirl:

    http://www.equip.org/PDF/DF230.pdf

    I just don’t understand how Christians can support that kind of “discipline.”

  • http://profile.typepad.com/sortacrunchy Megan@SortaCrunchy

    Elizabeth! Thank you for speaking out on this topic!

    I agree with you – we, as a community of faith, must take a stand against these teachings.

    The theological problems with the teaching are so massive, it’s hard to even engage in conversation about it with followers of the Pearls. And yet, we must be willing to take a stand!

    I heard someone refer to their teachings as “oleander honey.” There is enough truth mixed in (emphasis on attachment and “tying heart strings” and parental authority, etc) that many, MANY Bible-believing Christians fall under the influence of their message.

    But the oleander – the poison – of it all comes down to a doctrine of being able to save a child’s soul through the application of the rod.

    Again, I just thank you so much for speaking out on it. Let’s keep this conversation going and keep taking ACTION on it.

  • http://ennorath.typepad.com Arwen

    As I read this, Elizabeth, I was thinking about how much this topic ties in with your recent post about your son asking if he is evil, and you telling him that he is not. I haven’t read the Pearls’ material (and don’t want to – the few excerpts I’ve seen have made my stomach turn) but I’m quite sure they would tell you that your son IS evil. Which is, of course, not at all the way God sees him. All this bad theology is tied together.

    Have you read Greg and Lisa Popcak’s book *Parenting with Grace*? I think their hyper-attachment parentingness (although it works for me) can be a bit much to take, but the book is worth reading for the way they talk about children. I think they see children the way God does, and the way God wants us to see them: with such love, and with a true desire to help them grow in virtue. It’s beautiful, and well worth reading. Oh, and also, they cite lots of Catholic teaching – catechism and documents galore.

    I think I’m going to go grab my copy off the shelf right now… I clicked some of your links and read about the Pearls, and I need a palate-cleanser.

    Thank you for writing this, Elizabeth. I love how you are brave and strong about saying the things that need to be said.

  • http://ifmeadowsspeak.blogspot.com/ Tammy@If Meadows Speak….

    Ps I echo how brave it is for you to voice your concerns, Elizabeth. This is very serious and has led many astray onto a path of destructive bondage. Condemnation is strongly used in their language and posturing of words, so as to guilt people into their way of thinking. Conviction is NOT condemnation. Though I’m sure they believe it’s one and the same.

  • Katie Knight

    Wow! I’ve never heard of this, but it sounds awful and completely unnecessary! Children can be taught and learn to be self-controlled and respectable people without being whipped into shape (literally!!). A swat on the butt now and then is quite different than premeditated lashes, with a pipe nonetheless!

    Thank you for making this known and bringing it to discussion!

  • http://www.JanetOber.com Janet Oberholtzer

    Thanks for speaking out on this … it is sad, very sad!

  • http://thebookbeast.blogspot.com SaraJ

    I should clarify that in Pearl’s answer to the “spanking the baby” question, he first said that babies aren’t really old enough to disobey, so they shouldn’t be spanked. But they’re already “learning the dark art of self-will” and must be made to obey. The problem here, remember, is that the seven-month-old CRIES BEFORE GOING TO SLEEP.

    He advocated letting the baby cry to sleep. However, if the parents have let the child have his way too often and the child won’t settle down, then a couple of “stinging swats” on the leg will let the child know that when Mama says lie down, she means it. Maybe he meant when the child was older, but he certainly didn’t SAY that. (The link to this question-and-answer is on my post that I linked to above.)

    Debi’s answer was markedly unhelpful. Her main point was that the wife needs to trust and honor her husband or else the children won’t trust and honor her husband. I grew up under teaching like that, and it took me a long time to understand that “trust and honor” did not preclude “disagreeing with his ideas.”

    Oh, I was going to stop ranting about this. Sorry to fill up your comment box, EE.

    – SJ

  • Makayla

    What has been done is very inexcusable, but we as Christians are still to follow the Bible. Spanking is still in there. God’s way is still the best and He still knows better than we do. I was spanked as a child and I am 100% ok with it. I have no qualms with my parents because of it and I think that I am a better person as well.

    Proverbs 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

    22:15: Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

    I haven’t read up on the Pearls, so I’m not saying that I agree with them. I do agree, although with the Bible’s teaching of spanking.

  • Naomi’s mom

    EE, you probably weren’t aware of the teaching of the Ezzo’s that preceded the Peal’s in popularity in our little fundamentalist group. They were well endorsed by some mainstream evangelical churches in our area. Their big thing was putting babies on schedules from birth. No demand feeding allowed. The baby had to wait until it was time to be fed, according to the schedule. Well my oldest nearly starved to death following their schedule, due to an insufficient milk supply and the need to “keep the schedule”. The Ezzos since were refuted and discredited for just that reason.

    Then came the Pearl’s sounding much more balanced and kid friendly. Hah! It works for the groups like ours who only sought to control the kids to the will of the parents. They still try to send their materials to me and it makes me ill. Children are non persons in their literature.

    My greatest pleasure since leaving our church has been to cultivate and enjoy the individual gifts and personalities of the children I have been given. How can they grow to greatness and originality if you suppress them from such a young age? It is a miracle that my oldest (now 15) is not more damaged from the teaching of the Ezzos and Pearls. Thank God Mamma learned how to nurture and cultivate her before it was too late!

  • Stephanie

    After I read on Twitter that you were writing this post, I did a little research of my own to learn more about these people. I went to the No Greater Joy website, and, to put it mildly, found it appalling.

    Their methods are so primitive and backwater, reading their advice feels like reading a parenting book written in the 1700s. We’ve evolved beyond believing our children are miniature adults and can be treated as such. We’ve moved beyond the idea that the only way to “control” a child is to utterly crush their spirit. What I saw on NGJ sickened me, particularly when I considered that there are hundreds of thousands of parents who are taking it as solid, Godly advice on how to raise their kids.

    I am studying Early Childhood Development and Education, and I can tell you that, even from the little I know (I just started classes in December), there is nothing valuable or redeeming in the training techniques the Pearls are suggesting. When I read a bit about spanking an infant, I wanted to vomit.

    Implementing their training techniques may help the children be well-behaved for the time being, but I believe it breeds rebellion, pain, and resentment in the child. Far from being tools to help the child desire to follow Jesus, I believe it would ultimately make the child run in the opposite direction.

    Children aren’t puppies and dont’ need to be “broken”. Children are precious, unique, wonderful, creative, intelligent, and meant to be celebrated. The methods the Pearls use seem to me to be severely damaging to a child’s sense of being, and it seems that their ultimate goal is to turn each child into a mute automaton who only speaks or acts when commanded to do so.

    God help the children whose parents use these methods. My heart breaks for them.

  • http://roscommonacres.com Dana

    So horribly disturbing. And yes, I believe the teaching is abusive.

    Because they preach perfection, where none is possible, they set you up for inevitable failure.

    Because they speak with hateful language about other Christians who dare question their teaching.

    Because it is done without emotion. And the seen where you stalk a child about the house, laughing at their vain attempts at escape? If that does not put you into the role of an abuser, I don’t know what will.

    Made me think about research I’ve seen where students are put into the role of prison guard and turn abusive.

  • Stephanie

    As for spanking, there are some different ideas about what is meant by “the rod of correction”. Not all theologians believe it is in referrence to spanking. If I understand it correctly, a rod of correction was more or less a measuring device used to measure the progress of the growth of crops or animals. If the plant or animal in question did not “measure up” to where they should be at the time they are measured, then corrections needed to be made to get them to where they needed to be.

    Of course, I could have that all wrong. The voices that advocate that passage of scripture as a means to endorse spanking are far louder than those who would suggest otherwise. :)

    At any rate, I was spanked as a child, and I can’t even remember why. All I remember, msot of the time, is my mom or dad being angry with me, and I was either hit w/a switch from the willow tree, or with my dad’s leather belt. The only thing it taught me was fear.

    From what I can gather from the the Pearls, they advocate spanking as the primary choice for correcting a child’s behavior. There are so many other, and better, ways of disciplining a child, ways that actually teach a child to make better choices, not to simply fear Mom, Dad, and God.

    I have given my son a swat on the behind once in awhile, but only as a last resort. It doesn’t faze him at all. He responds much better to a time out. He couldn’t care less if I swat him, but if I put him in time out, he understands that I mean business. It may take him awhile to make the better choice in his behavior, but he does learn. I never get that kind of response from poppin’ him on the behind or smacking his hand.

    I think we’re moving beyond the idea that spanking is the best way to handle “bad” behavior. I, for one, am glad to see it.

  • Stephanie

    Okay, last comment…

    Did anyone else see on the NGJ website that one of the contributors boasted that her infant daughter had never pooped in her diaper because she had been trained from day one to only poop in a pot? They had pictures posted of the baby actually using a chamber pot to go poop, though her mother says it’s still okay for her to go “tinkle tinkles” in her diaper.

    These people are twisted. Seriously, seriously twisted. The woman posted the story about the infant because someone had asked for advice on potty training. The woman basically said that if the child is not being potty trained from day one, it’s because the parents are lazy.

    What is with those people and all the blaming and shaming? Makes my skin crawl.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/linzluvsgj LinzluvsGJ

    The Pearls have made me physically ill since the first parents I discovered used their advice. My heart weeps for those little children that God has blessed those families with who have been led astray.

  • http://terrybreathinggrace.wordpress.com terry@breathing grace

    Ithink this case is particularly disturbing for reasons not yet commented upon here.

    While, yes, it is true that these people were following the reprehensive teachings of NGJ, it is relevant, that these children had been adopted from Africa.

    It’s relevant because the birth children reportedly said that they received this type of discipline, but not to the same degree that the adopted children did. In addition, the children were reportedly being chastised for mispronouncing words during a homeschool lesson? If these children were adopted after they had already learned to speak (and I don’t know if they were or not), wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect that they would have difficulty pronouncing words with an A
    American accent?

    Further, children who are adopted into a family need addtional heapings of grace as they adjust, particularly in a family where no one else looks like them. I shudder to think what these children internalized as a result of receiving harsher punishment than the other kids in the family.

    The other adopted child was hospitalized with severe injuries as well.Thankfully this case broke before she was killed by the reckless and cruel actions of these parents.

    The Bible is a good parenting manual. God is the perfect example of the ultimate Father: Longsuffering, gracious, kind, and yes, a stern disciplinarian when the need arises- usually not until after large heapings of grace and in response to outright defiance of His word.

  • Valerie

    Ok, that made me sick. Not just the death, but the whole philosphy. Having just had a baby, I cannot even think of someone hitting a baby. It is sick. I had to stop following your links because my stomach was turning. What is with these people?

  • Lori

    I guess I am the only one who will support the Pearls…I went to a conference of theirs 6 years ago and was amazed at how loving and joyful the whole family was. The daughters always have a smile on their face and I could tell that they loved life. Debbi is extremely funny and kind. We raised our children the way the taught and we have 4 grown adults that walk in truth. They never preach continual spanking…just a good swat on the backside when they are clearly disobeying you and they never teach perfection…We have listened to most of his Bible teachings and think he is a great Bible teacher. I’m sorry to see so many Christians bashing them. Debbi’s book has changed my marriage!

  • http://www.thatmom.com thatmom

    Thank you for speaking out on this. Every day more and more moms and dads are adding their voices in seeking an end to this horrible treatment of little ones.

  • http://www.thatmom.com thatmom

    Lori, I would encourage you to follow Tulip Girl’s links for reading quotes directly from the Pearls themselves. This is not a discussion on spanking but rather one on child abuse.

    Sadly, there are many other examples where severely spanking with an instrument until a child repents are taught. And then there is the emotional and spiritual abuse that is also coming from some of the same camps.

    The truth is that the driving force behind many of these teachings is a false theology of perfectionism that “requires” such treatment of children. Obedience is equated with control and godly family life with a near worship of the family.

    My heart grieves for those precious children who are receiving such a false view of God and for families who have no room for grace.

  • http://www.elizabethesther.com Elizabeth Esther

    First, I’d like to thank everyone for their overwhelming support. This post was physically difficult for me to write. It has been a post I’ve been needing to write for many years. The time was finally right.

    Let’s hope the right people see and read our words. I know that together we can prevent the death of another child.

    —-

    Lori: I understand how difficult it is to be the lone voice of dissent–I felt like that for many years when so many people where jumping on the Pearl bandwagon.

    It’s definitely possible that the Pearl family might indeed be happy and well-adjusted. It would be interesting to know if Mike Pearl has ever “chastised” his children the way he recommends other parents chastise theirs. As I mentioned, some folks might be able to “drive” the Pearl method in a non-abusive manner.

    But the point remains: are their methods abusive for general practice? I think the evidence suggests it is.

    I will have to disagree with you that the Pearls teach just “a good swat on the backside.” Mike’s own articles teach quite the opposite.

    Please also read Tuliip girl’s excellent breakdown of Mike Pearl’s actual quotes juxtaposed with his defensive statements.

    Terry: important point! Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

  • Tammy

    Thanks for posting this. I don’t know much about the ‘Pearl’ teachings…but hearing the little you’ve touched on has brought tears to my eyes as I think of God’s precious children being hit/spanked/disciplined in such a harsh manner. How fooled we Chritians have been to think this is the way to raise a God fearing child. When God speaks about love! And his Spirit which leads us. What sort of warped view will we have of God if we are raised un such a manner?

  • audrey

    I’m going to play the devil’s advocate here and say that I was raised by parents who read the Pearl books and used a lot of it. Not all, but a lot.

    I don’t feel like I was ever abused; my siblings and I were never left with broken skin or damaged bones or muscles. In fact, in the first video that Pearl demonstrates spanking, I’m pretty certain he makes it clear that, according to his methods, the back is off-limits. And my parents never understood his teachings to ever, ever mean beating a child for hours. Maybe five more whacks, but not hours.

    The blog that was linked to on here actually says the family involved in this left a church because of a doctrinal disagreement. The husband apparently believed “that Christians could achieve total sanctification (a state of sinless living) in this lifetime.”

    That’s not something the Pearls teach, I’m pretty certain. In fact, in his article on porn, he says that he and his son-in-law still check each other’s computers to keep each other accountable because he himself isn’t beyond sin.

    I’m not saying that I agree with everything the Pearls say. But I am saying that, when balanced with the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit, their materials have helped people. And as heartbreaking as this loss is, as much as it would be nice to put the blame somewhere else, you have to know as parents at some point that what you’re doing is just wrong.

    I’d also venture to say that his doctrinal beliefs had a bit more to do with this than people are allowing.

  • Alison Livanos

    This is pathetic. You call yourself Christian, no wonder the world is turning on Christianity and God. I am God loving and God fearing and I was never spanked with an object as a child. There is nothing wrong with discipline but God gave us all strong spirits and as a parent, one is suppose to nurture a childs spirit, not break it down!!

  • http://www.minthegap.com MInTheGap

    Part of the problem is that every child is different and every parent is different. One child may respond well to physical correction while another may respond only to time outs.

    There are many different people out there that have had children turn out well– in their estimation– and they extrapolate it to try to help. The problem is that it may or may not help depending on the child or parent.

    But how is one supposed to write a book or a pamphlet and make money saying “this way to raise your child will sometimes work?”

    Here’s where I put most of the blame on the parents. Parents are all too often gullible enough (and I’ve been there, so put me in the group as well) to believe that there is one way to raise kids, and if they just follow the one way then everything will be all right.

    The parents referenced here fell into this trap, and it cost them dearly. At some point, something should have triggered in their head that it wasn’t right or wasn’t working. It’s the parent’s responsibility to raise the kids, not the Pearls.

    Some kids respond well to a schedule. All kids respond well to love and consistent correction.

    For the most part, a lot of the problem is the Parents– they are inconsistent in application, they are poor role models, they want to make their child better than they want to live. Our sinful human nature gets the better of us.

    So, I’m not sure I can get behind trying to crucify the Pearls for sharing their “wisdom” since there are 100s of parenting books and speakers that have had all sorts of impacts on people.

    The parents bear the responsibility, and they should not be trying to pass the buck.

  • Elana E

    What a horrible story!

    I have five-year old twins that often drive me to distraction. Every Wednesday we go to the library for storytime. The parent/teacher books are located right behind the tables we occupy. I grabbed one the other day and love it, Teaching Children Self-discipline, by Thomas Gordon, Ph.D. I highly recommend it. It has helped me talk better WITH my children, instead of at them. It has also taught me to find win-win solutions to problems, instead of exerting power over my children to get them to do what I want.

    Our job as parents is to raise the next generation of people. Thinking, independent, fabulous people. Beating them to control them does not serve that end. I do not, CAN not believe that God would condone the breaking of a child’s spirit to satisfy a parent’s need to control them. If a child is God’s gift, who are we to break that gift?

  • http://www.thisclassicallife.com/weblog kristen

    The Pearls may say that they don’t but their writings DO teach sinless perfection. In fact, in my research I came across something that said Michael has declared that he has achieved it. But here’s an excerpt from TTUAC.

    “The parent holds in his hand (in the form of a little switch) the power to absolve the child of guilt, cleanse his soul, instruct his spirit, strengthen his resolve, and give him a fresh start through a confidence that all indebtedness is paid.”

    The switch doesn’t cleanse a soul, CHRIST does. He paid for our sins, we aren’t forced to pay for each one with a beating. We only need to repent and believe. The same goes for our children.

  • http://www.thisclassicallife.com/weblog kristen

    More quotes from TTUAC that are disturbing regarding sin/guilt:

    “The guilt burdened soul cries out for the lashes and nails of justice. Your child cannot yet understand that the Creator has been lashed and nailed in his place. Only the rod of correction can preserve his soul until the day of moral dawning.”

    Where does the bible teach that? From the lips of infants God has ordained praise. They understand far more than we comprehend that they do. We spoke about Christ’s sacrifice for them to our girls from birth and they have always talked about it, understood it (from young 2s.)

    “Let the guilt come, and then, while they are yet too young to understand, absolve it by means of the rod. When their time comes, the principles of the cross will be easy to grasp.”

    Again, the rod does not absolve guilt. My goal when my children disobey is not to punish them, but to bring them to true repentance. Spanking can actually be more a hindrance than a help in that end, because if you are doing it the way Pearl suggests, you continue to spank until they are repentant. When I was a child, I learned quickly to fake it to make the beating stop.

  • Stephanie

    The more commentary I read here, the more my heart breaks. The little of the Pearls teachings that I read made me feel sick, and it is painful for me to imagine children being subjected to this.

    What good is it to raise a child who fears God if that fear of God does not somehow translate into a love of God and a desire to be the best reflection of Him they can possibly be? I was raised in a strict home where spankings, lectures on sanctification, guilt trips, etc…were the norm, and it has taken me years to understand that God doesn’t see me as grotesque or dirty or anything but worthy of being loved and celebrated.

    God help the children who are subjected to the very real hell that the Pearls seem to want children to live in, in the name of directing them toward heaven. THAT is sinful.

  • Amy

    I just found your blog and I had to comment on this post. I am APPALLED that ANYONE would advocate, much less actually carry through with, hitting/spanking a child. EVER. FOR. ANY. REASON. What do they hope to teach the child? That hitting is okay? That people who supposedly love you like to hurt you? And as far as “punishing the child’s soul”? Wow. A child’s soul is a pure as its going to get – why on earth would it need to be punished? I’m Christian and I’m sure you are too and I’m not saying you are the one advocating this at all. This may be “sold” as the “Christian” thing to do, but this is so far removed from what Jesus taught its mind boggling. So, yes, Mike & Debi Pearl should be held accountable as well as the parents that ABUSE their children this way. Thanks for bringing this to my attention…
    Amy

  • http://www.morningstarr.typepad.com Dina

    bold. brave. totally necessary.

    thank you.

    please parents, love your children. learn from Jesus’ example. the good shepherd doesn’t beat his foolish sheep. He leads them, provides for them, sacrifices for them. His example should be our model, not someone’s twisted, convoluted interpretation of a few verses. what is so wrong with their message is that they portray it as the only way, a biblical mandate that you must do and follow. really? where do they come up with sitting on a child to break them, beating them until submissive? not from the example of my Savior, that’s for sure.

    may parents everywhere be set free to love their children, “administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.” (Zech 7:9)

  • http://www.seekingfaithfulnessblog.blogspot.com Holly

    EE,

    It’s the Pearls, but it is more than the Pearls.

    It is Ezzo, and it is also books like “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” by Tripp – which reads so pretty for the first half, but then demands spanking Every.Single.Time for Every. Single. Infraction. Now, SACH does not recommend repeat spanking per se, but it does say to spank for every thing.

    It is also just an old mentality, which I was raised with, which said that basically in order to be a good parent you had to spank. You had to spank the bad out of a child. The old mentality taught that to do otherwise was weak, and that you were in danger of letting Satan have your child if you did not dare to be strong and to spank him. It is parenting by fear, driven by a hard-nosed religion. Fear of losing your child to Satan’s influence can cause a parent to do very harsh things.

    Within this mindset, there is so much power given to the parent, so much responsibility for the child’s soul. Parents long to do good, are trying to do their best and do their duty by their children – and yet – it is harsh and harmful. It is a skewed mentality.

    I know mothers (yes, in real life,) who have almost starved their babies to death because they were following the Ezzo book on schedules. I know mothers who “blanket train” their six month old babies. Briefly, this is where they put a small blanket down close to where they are – and they place the baby on it with some toys. If the baby rolls off, or crawls off, they swat the baby. Yes, usually it is a light swat, but it is a swat nonetheless, and on a BABY, not for carnality but for being curious and for rolling. But you know, dang it, that baby learns to sit passively on the blanket and mama can get more done. Perfect, obedient children, from six months of age. What a concept! It’s cruel, and I despise it.

    I have a relative who told me that she spanked her THREE DAY OLD baby. The baby was crying, and my relative confidently declared: “She wasn’t hungry, her diaper wasn’t wet. She was just being carnal and crying because she didn’t get what she wanted, so we very gently swatted her leg.” This was told to me many years after the event. I am not sure what I would have done or said if it had been current. Well, I am pretty sure….but even now it makes me want to vomit when I think about spanking an infant.

    But it IS this underlying philosophy or theology or view of God which says that mankind is sinful, and the only way – in fact, our RESPONSIBILITY as parents – is to beat the sinfulness out of them. So, I don’t think it is only the Pearls, I think it is an entire system that needs to be called out in love. We need an entirely differing view of God – one in which we discard the harshness of the ancient times and look instead to see how dramatically and patiently and mercifully God loves us. I love the story of the Prodigal Son for this purpose. What an amazing portrayal of a long-suffering and forgiving Father God it gives to us.

  • http://brotherjuniperonline.com Brother Juniper

    St. John Baptist de La Salle, the Catholic patron of schoolteachers, wrote in one of his books that corporal punishment should only be used sparingly and as a last resort. It should also be administered quietly and with the express understanding that the punishment is meant to show love.

    What you are writing about, however, is not De La Salle’s vision of what corporal punishment should be (limited, explained, etc.). What we are talking about here is full on child abuse.

    “Spare the rod, spoil the child” does not mean beating a child until it is black and blue and conditioning them to be submissive. It is an admonishment to parents not to allow their children to run rampant. The Pearls have taken it to far with their methods and I do wonder when people will actually realize how much harms this method creates for young children.

  • http://alittlered.wordpress.com Heather Watts

    Thank you for joining the voices against the Pearl’s abusive and heretical child-training tactics.

    Grace and Peace to you in Christ.

  • http://hopewellmomschoolreborn.blogspot.com/ Lisa

    As an adoptive parent of a child with Reactive Attachment issues and other problems my desperate search for help led me to the Pearls. I was horrified. Spanking a child with issues like these just fuels all the internal hatred they have developed over their lives I’m positive the reason Lydia and the other girl were beaten is that they had similar issues to my son and the beatings merely made them seemingly more defiant. Some intelligent counseling would have helped. I walked out on one therapist who recommended “Biblically-based spanking.” I wonder if, in addition, they also found Nancy Thomas’ “help” on RAD…..poor kids.

  • Kristi

    Just curious if any Hebrew scholars out there have information on the true translation of “the rod”. I have heard that it is more like a comparison to a shepherd’s crook, and given the gentle, loving, and careful connotations associated with shepherds in biblical times, wouldn’t that make more sense (from a biblical perspective) than beating your kid with construction supplies?

    My heart is torn apart for this poor girl and her siblings who were adopted out of horrifying conditions only to be subjected to even more violence and cruelty. Kids from backgrounds like these are so fragile, they need much more grace, love and attention than many people are able to provide. The growing trend of adoption among Christian circles is exciting, but so often done without emotional and spiritual preparation, making it devastating for everyone.

  • Diana

    We need to look to Jesus, the Author. Scripture tells us the Word will not return void. As parents, pray, read, pray, read, then trust. Evil does not come from the Lord.

  • Ami

    I was taught that the “rod” spoken of in the Bible referred to the rods that the word of God was scrolled upon. Ancient Jewish men would “unroll” their scriptures and read from them. Thus if you “spare” reading the word of God to your children you will “spoil” them. (Which means to damage, not to indulge or coddle in this verse.)
    Great post, hopefully it will save some lives and heartache.

  • http://www.sustainablemommy.wordpress.com Naomi

    Excellent post, EE! So many important things have already been said, but I want to add one more perspective…

    To the Pearl defenders, even if Michael and Debi don’t condone abuse, what mechanism exists in their materials to prevent those “few” parents from being abusive? In the statement, Michael Pearl is quoted as acknowledging that parents must be careful not to cross the line, implying that his methods DO come very close to abuse.

    Where in any of the Pearl’s teaching do they encourage people to take into account the physical, emotional, and mental needs of their children without presenting spanking/corporeal punishment as the solution?

    So many of these high-demand religious teachings (Pearl/Ezzo/Gothard/etc.) imply/state that they have all the answers. They offer no recourse for someone who is living under authorities who are relying on their material. (I’ve written to Gothard asking, and I got a personal letter back. Nada.) Their only explanation for failure is to blame the individual. I have yet to see any of these kinds of people take any responsibility for their role in less-than-perfect outcomes.

    What kind of hubris does it take to pretend to be the voice of God for EVERYONE on EVERY issue?

  • Valerie

    I’d keep smiling if my dad had his hand on his belt ready to whip me if I didn’t. Ugh.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/mathewsjoseph Joseph Mathews

    As I read through the blog entries, I cannot help bot notice time and again the glaring absence (from my mind and worldview) between this mindset and how it affects children who later become adults. This kind of violence (I was swatted sometimes, but there were other, far better punishment messages my mother used) teaches violence. It teaches that when someone doesn’t do what you want them to do, the answer is to hit them. In this dynamic it’s parent to child, but that kind of message translates to the playground, to future relationships, and to work experience.

    The idea of complete and total dominance is unhealthy and I think utterly unbiblical. Yes, parents have a responsibility for training children, and it’s quite right for them to draw the line in the sand and say “I’m the adult.” This is, however, different than sitting on the child until it submits. This kind of mindset, when followed to its logical conclusion, is not unlike the types of violence I mentioned above. It leaves no room for compromise or collaboration as adults thus producing adults void of humility and unable to imitate Christ the suffering servant.

  • http://www.thejoyofhome.blogspot.com Dianna

    My husband and I believe in discipline and we do spank our 2.5 yr old when needed, but it is controlled and with love. We use Tedd Tripp’s book Shepherding A Child’s Heart as a guide. Discipline isn’t for punishment, it is for correction. We are trying to get to our child’s heart and point him to the gospel. The bible definitely speaks of discipline, and while God disciplines His children it is always with love. I don’t know anything about the Pearl’s, but I certainly don’t like or agree with what I have read.

    Another comment spoke about the Ezzos and Babywise and I just need to defend them quickly. They NEVER advocate only feeding your baby at certain times. To see what they clearly say in their book, here is a recent blog post that lays it out: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2010/02/feed-baby-when-hungry.html

  • http://thehomespunlife.com Sisterlisa

    Elizabeth, Thank you for speaking out about this. Legalism is a scary thing. Most who are involved in it, aren’t even aware of how legalistic they really are. The comment sections of the local online newspapers are eye opening.
    http://www.chicoer.com/ci_14388171?source=most_viewed

    http://www.paradisepost.com/ci_14395727?source=rss_viewed

    http://www.paradisepost.com/ci_14427370?source=rss_viewed

    http://www.orovillemr.com/ci_14371693?source=most_viewed

  • http://thehomespunlife.com Sisterlisa

    Elizabeth, I feel Mr. Pearl’s public reply is lacking compassion and love for the family. So dry and disconnected. Like he’s justifying their teaching and not sympathizing with all those who are grieving at this time. That should be an indicator of something.

  • Holly P

    Dianna, the Ezzos did at one time teach scheduled feedings— it used to be four hours. They also advocated crying it out. There were really no exceptions. I have had to forgive them and myself (repeatedly) for how I parented in the beginning when I was still purging my mind from the unhealthy beliefs that we can and should completely control our children and that children should merely complement everything instead of the world stopping and accomodating the baby.

    The Ezzos have caused a lot of damage. I don’t care how much they’ve changed. I’ll never listen to them again.

  • http://www.JandyJain.com Jandy Jain

    Isn’t this just another example of the perils of schism? I mean, isn’t this just a Protestant thing? The idea that any yahoo can pick up the Bible and start twisting quotes and leading people to beat their children to death is just so crazy. The Pearls precious little ideas about Biblical teaching seem obviously false and extreme. But, I ask you, Protestants, how are you to know what is and isn’t correct Christian doctrine? Do you really think that we as individuals each get to make our own calls on all these doctrinal issues and interpret every verse of every book of the Bible? Wouldn’t it make a whole lot more sense for Jesus to found one authoritative Church and entrust to that Church the teaching of His doctrines? Isn’t that what Jesus said when he gave Peter the keys? What about Acts 1 when the Apostles elect a successor to Judas? Do you think they stopped electing successors? I am not trying to be a troll. I am honestly asking. If you think the Pearls are full of incorrect teachings about the Bible, how do you know your own, local pastor isn’t also? Who said that people like the Pearls, or your local “pastor,” should have any authority to interpret the Bible? Come back to the one true Church. There are still sinful, crazy people there (as there are everywhere), but at least these crazy doctrines like beating the crud out of your kids get shot down in short order. At least the doctrine is pure.

  • http://www.homeschoolnetc.blogspot.com Mrs. C

    I thought the issue at hand was whether the Pearls shared any of the blame for the deaths of these children. I’m glad for you though, Jandy, that you’ve found the perfect doctrine. Your post totally awakened the Holy Spirit in me and convicted me about joining the “true church” right away!

    I don’t remember quite how that’s done. I know they used to sell indulgences, and that would sure save me a lot of time trying to be righteous and God-fearing and all if they’d remarket those puppies. And I know there were a lot of priests and stuff who had sex with kids, but I guess that’s ok as long as their doctrine is pure.

    Who am I to decide what pure doctrine might be? I’m just an ignorant Protestant.

  • http://www.elizabethesther.com Elizabeth Esther

    JANDY & MRS. C: this is not the place to discuss issues of authority and/or the differences between Protestants and Catholics. You both have good points, but your tone is not conducive to respectful discussion and anyway, it’s off topic. I’m not going to let the comments devolve into snarky infighting between Christians. Thanks for understanding.

    EE

  • http://www.thejoyofhome.blogspot.com Dianna

    Holly: I’m sorry you had such a bad experience with the Ezzo material. I have never read anything that said not to feed my baby, in fact quite the opposite. That is the wonderful thing about being a parent: we get to decide what is best for our children, not someone else. We just need to be quick to do what is best for them and best for our family.

  • Kamilla

    Have you taken a look around at the world we live in? Our children are born a selfish beings by nature, and rightfully so, they have needs. At some point they need boundaries for safety both physically and mentally. Would you rather your child burn their hand on the stove or stop before their hand reaches it? At some point they will be looking to God and His word as their sufficiency and guidance in life. Do you want them to obey the first time? Life would be easier for them if they are used to obeying w/out question or hesitation.

    We in essence are preparing them for a life of obedience to God, not because He wants to control them but because He loves them and knows what’s best for them! The same for us. We want what’s best for our children, we don’t wish to control them. it’s called training, not controlling.

  • Michelle

    For those that follow the Old Testament advice to
    “Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die” in Proverbs
    obviously that is not true, countless children have died from being beaten.
    Jesus spoke out against many Old Testament teachings. He convinced people not to throw stones at the woman,he went completely against the e\”eye for an eye” doctrine, he sanctioned the laborer to work on the Sabbath, and what did he say about hitting children:
    “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”MAtthew:18

  • mary ann

    With all due respect,Jandy Jain,are you saying that abuse hasn’t taken place in the pure Catholic Church.Your arguement is illogical.

  • http://www.VirginiaKnowles.blogspot.com Virginia Knowles

    Elizabeth, thanks for speaking out. I wrote about this, too. My contribution to the cause is at http://comewearymoms.blogspot.com/2010/02/child-discipline-or-child-abuse.html.

    I love your blog!

  • Canningmama

    I may be perhaps the first to speak in defense of the Pearls on this feed. I own 12 books of the Pearls, 9 audio tapes, 5 c.d.s and 2 dvds. I do not use a piece of 1/4″ plumbing line to spank my children, but I don’t understand the horrors at which people speak of this tool! Surely this flexible line hurts far less than a wooden spoon, ruler, belt or whatever people may use to spank their children. If one were to have to use any type of implement to spank their children upwards of 25, 50, or 100 times certainly has a horribly behaved child. Any child with proper training comes very far from ever needing that much corporal punishment in one day. I think the most I’ve ever spanked a child in one day may be 5 times and I remember that being one of the most trying days of my life! Also, a “swat” from a tool used to spank can be administered such that it doesn’t even hurt but merely “reminds” the child to stop behaving the way he/she is behaving. That is what the Pearls are recommending in most situations, not spanking the child multiple times a day until it hurts. Yes, they suggest spanking so that you are making the child cry at times, but that does not mean 25+ times a day. Sometimes a child misbehaves so they need a swift swat, but not every time you use a spanking tool. Further more, I fully agree that if you start your discipline after the child is one year old, it’s far too late for that child to know who is the authority figure in the house. A child learns that he has a strong will early on and it can be curbed without “painful spanking” long before they are one. My father tells the story (and he knows nothing of the Pearls) of how my older twin sisters were laid to bed one night when they were about 4 months old. They had been nursed, held, loved, changed. They needed nothing more. But one of the sisters screamed a mad scream for several minutes after my parents had left. It was not a mournful cry-yourself-to-sleep kind of cry. It was a I’m-mad-because-they-put-me-to-bed kind of cry. My dad went in to the room and gave the cloth diapered hiney one sound whop. It could not have possibly caused the child pain, but clearly an indication to her that she was acting inappropriately. Within seconds, she had stopped crying and went to sleep. That is the kind of training the Pearls are recommending. In infant younger than one is too young to disobey, but it is not too young to learn that it can have a strong will. In reference to the paragraph about eating that you referred to Elizabeth, if you tell your child to eat his supper, he fails to eat his supper, and then gets down from the table in the end with a plate full of food, that child won and knows that his will is stronger than his parents’. Multiple painful spankings may or may not be the answer. You can quickly tell whether or not a child is going to respond to a spanking in a way that they will obey and the Pearls refer to this. They even say that if it’s clear that spanking is not doing the trick, then fine, but don’t let the child know that he has won the struggle of whether or not he has to eat his supper. Try another method. IF you believe that the Bible clearly condones “applying the rod” and IF you read the Pearl’s books IN ENTIRETY, you will see the whole flavor of their books rather than picking certain excerpt from the books that are specifically speaking of discipline. TTUAC is more or less addressing discipline only. So the majority of that book alone is talking about disciplining children. Read all their books. Read their websites. Subscribe to their magazine and see who they are as a whole and you will see that they are a wonderful ministry that is bettering the lives of marriages across the U.S and the world. To take a few excerpts of a book and draw a conclusion on the Pearls as a whole is unfair. Please read this article and all the POSITIVE excerpts from their books to see that they are far from abusive: http://www.squidoo.com/Pearls_2Train_Up_A_Child

  • Margaret

    As someone who doesn’t have a problem with spanking (no, not hitting, not beating, not whipping) as a *part* of the parenting toolbox, I did have a huge problem with the Pearl’s response to this issue and their attitude towards criticism they’ve recieved.

    Complete lack of compassion, love, and graciousness. And this is something that has irked me since I first ran across them a decade ago. They have written a lot about joyful parenting, and specified several times that leaving a mark or a bruise means you’re out of control, and an abusive and overbearing parent is in serious sin. But they also left way too much open to interpretation when they talked about discipline. I have read others who explained spanking leaving no room ever for marking or injuring a child. I think the Pearl’s failed in that regard. I wish they could admit it instead of proclaiming to the world their perfection and the doomed-ness of all the rest of us.

    The theology that they’ve been developing is strange and disturbing as well. And the obsessive end-times stuff, and obsessive all-natural stuff too, combined with an ungracious tone is really getting awful. They are extremely legalistic and combative in tone.

  • http://www.duckducksoup.com Danielle Kyle

    I am an avid reader of your blog and a fellow blogger http://www.duckducksoup.net. I have mixed feelings concerning this issue because I was raised in a loving homeschooling christian home. We were not disciplined by the “Pearl” method, but we were spanked. I found that my parents lack of consistency in their discipline created chaos on the parenting front. After my twins were born (my first pregnancy)I read “Train up a Child in the Way He Should Go”. I found it difficult to take literally. I chose not to spank my 12 month old infant twins. Later I was introduced to “Effective Parenting in a Defective World: How to raise kids who stand out from the crowd. By: Chip Ingram ” I was convinced to spank our children gently, lovingly, and consistently. After five years I do not regret choosing to spank them. Spanking is something that should be taught how to do properly. Christ chastises us in love with a gentle hand and that is how we should discipline as well.

  • http://www.xanga.com/happymom4 Happymom4

    I agree with the poster who raises the concerns about RAD. We have a daughter (adopted at an older age) and know first hand that had we tried the Pearl’s methods with her it would have very easily beocme a horrible battle. Teaching and training a child with RAD requires lots and lots of humor, grace, support for the parents, and the unexpected (forget “consistency” of consequences! A child with RAD just decides that since they KNOW what the consequence for behavior “A” will be, that it’s worth it! But when they know there will be a consequence, but NOT what it might be . . . well, the temptation seems to be a lot less–at least, for our Dd.) A child with RAD is NOT going to be won over with force and severe punishment . . . Among other things, reading Dan Hughes books has helped us with our daughter. Most of all, crying out to God for wisdom . . . she’s becoming a wonderful young girl, with a heart that is more and more longing to please God and us! I only wish that little Lydia could have had that chance.

  • Colleen

    Did anyone else notice that on the Who Is NGJ section of their website, it says (at the bottom) “We want the email to be available for church business, requests for free newsletters, and for those with pressing critical problems such as violence, losing children to state welfare agencies, etc., and for unusual problems not addressed in the books and tapes.”

    LOSING CHILDREN TO STATE WELFARE AGENGIES.

    This case with the Schatz family (though extreme) can’t possibly be an isolated or rare occurence if enough people are coming back to the Pearl’s, after following their methods, saying “Help. My kid was taken away from me by CPS. I wasn’t abusive, I was just doing what you said.”,
    that the Pearl’s needed to set aside enough time to address that issue specifically.

  • Agnes

    Canningmama, I am shocked, sickened, horrified, and chilled to the bone after reading your post.

  • http://www.saracarmichael.blogspot.com Sara Carmichael

    Well, I was spanked as a child, and yeah, it produced fear, but I would call it a healthy fear of my parents, not abuse. There were times my mom could be abusive, but more with her anger (which I think needs to be in check). But I’m very close to both of my parents as an adult, and I’ve grown up to love the Lord with all of my heart. I think if I hadn’t been spanked, I might NOT be this way today. I know my heart can be rebellious. Any heart can.

    Apparently, from all the comments, I’m a hideous child abuser because I spank my kids. Whatever. I love my kids. I think not spanking your kids when the crime calls for it can also be abusive. I think yelling at your kids (which I mistakenly have done) is more abusive than spanking.

    I haven’t read the Pearl’s parenting philosophies, and I don’t agree with goihg overboard with spanking. I think moderation and wisdom is the key to all things in life. But to call someone who spanks their kids abusers is way off.

  • http://www.4andcounting.blogspot.com nicole

    Thanks for the links to the other articles. I actually own one of the marriage books, it was suggested as a study in a moms group. I remember reading it and feeling very put-off by it. Their view of submission did not line up with what I had been learning about at all. I hate that people take advantage of parents trying to do their best to raise good kids in a world full of spiritual danger. I hope more people talk about this.

  • Louise

    For all those who find positive things in the Pearls teachings–it is not deception if the evil is clear to you. Have you been deceived? Many people have been. Are you judging your parenting by how quickly your children obey OR whether or not you love your children unconditionally? I am not speaking of permissiveness, but Christlike love. The Pearls were not part of my walk in raising my children. Hoever fear of disobedient children and my own inadequacy to discipline my older children was. I gave in to pressure from my christian companions without abusing my children ,but my husband and I and our children have emotional scars from the journey. I found myself with our younger 2 children. They are benefitting every day from my strength to stand up to such nonsense as taought by the Pearls.

  • http://www.amberpeace.com amber lee

    We were taught in our christian child dev class to only spank between the ages of 2 and 8, with just three fingers (never an object), and as a last resort when the child endangered theirself or another.

  • http://untraditionalhome.com Heather

    Just finished proofing an ebook on this very thing last week for friends, which they started writing with Lydia’s death last year. Dave and Cat systematically go through the Pearl’s teachings and hold them up to the Bible– very eye opening. The articles that led to the free ebook are still available on Cat’s site: http://scitascienda.com/bored-yet-top-30-articles/parenting-in-the-name-of-god-index/.

  • Jennifer

    If you read the book you would see that Michael Pearl tells you that you should NEVER spank a child when you are angry. Sure, if you spank the child while you are angry you will hurt them more than the child deserves, but if you are calm then you will do it in moderation. I was raised by Michael Pearl’s guidance and I don’t regreat it at all. I was never abused, never spanked more than 3 swats, never had a bruse, and only got spanked with a “paddle”. There is nothing abusive about the way I was raised and my mother loves the Pearls books. I may be the only one standing up for the Pearls, but I do it proudly because this generation’s children are very disobedient, very rebelious, and very willful and it’s not getting any better. The Pearls are trying to guide parents so that they can enjoy their children because they are obedient and in turn they will know how to be obedient to God as well because of how their parents raised them. If someone told me to spank my child 100 times I would never think of doing that! I don’t care who says it. Obviously someone had an alterior motive or they were listening to the wrong spirit. Michael Pearl never says to spank a child in that manner. Instead of trying to prove the Pearls wrong, spend that effort on raising your children up for the Lord.

  • Sandra

    I read all the Train up a Child books 13 years ago and we trained our children to obey, but we did NOT spank them for every thing they did and we never beat them. They are happy, well adjusted children who love us. I was abused as a child and me and all my siblings moved out when we were 16. My oldest kids are 20 and 23 with good paying jobs and they still live here. We have a great relationship. If Michael Pearl told us to abuse our children, I never would have done it. Our children have NEVER gotten more than 3 licks for anything! I thank God for their ministry.

  • Klara

    I am from Sweden and I am shocked by the American view on this issue. Your acceptance of this act for your children is disgraceful. Spanking is a degrading bodily violation that is in the same ballpark as sexual molestation, period. Both are forms of TOUCH that are equally unwelcome and distressing to a child. Spanking is very much a touch-touch-touchy-touch punishment of one’s BODY. Rape and groping would ‘work’ as a punishment to curb behavior too. Does that make it appropriate to do? No? Of course not? WELL, KIDS HATE THE DELIBERATE PAIN OF YOUR SPANKINGS JUST AS MUCH, AND FEEL JUST AS VIOLATED BY THEM.

    Because spanking has been stubbornly ingrained in human culture since the cavemen first did it, modern people in less-enlightened nations don’t even think and can’t even see the reality of what they are actually doing to someone else’s body when they are striking that flesh, and don’t even realize what they’re saying when they’re casually discussing hurtful blows upon another’s skin, like it’s nothing and all in routine day’s parenting.

    ‘Pain’ is a warning condition your child’s body is equipped with for the purpose of warning their consciousness that something has gone wrong with their tissues and some danger to their well-being is afoot. His or her pain system is not there for the purpose of YOUR CONVENIENCE and YOUR EXPLOITATION in order to get the child to behave as you selfishly wish it would. Your taking advantage of their bodily pain for your own ends is just wrong and immoral.

    Have the patience and dedication to discipline without the child’s body being involved. If you can’t handle this, then kids are not for you and you have no business being a parent. Spanking is banned in most of Europe. In Sweden we establish mutual respect between parent and child from a very early age. We understand that two-year-olds are meant to be two, and it is cruel to try and force them to behave like they are 10. It is your responsibility to keep your child away from the road at that age, it is not the child’s responsibility to learn to avoid roads because you’ve hurt them. When children are raised in an environment of respect, where all they witness is respect between persons and towards them, they absorb respectful habits just like they learn your language.

    In Sweden we’ve been raising without bodily pain for decades and our kids aren’t running amok through the streets, our society is far from flushing in the toilet, so stop using the excuse that a lack of spanking is what’s causing your juvenile problems. If anything, it is your society’s fascination with hitting–your total kissy love affair with child spanking–that is making your kids violent, rebellious and criminal-minded. It is a myth that your people don’t spank. It is very, very rare to find someone in America who is entirely against spanking. You all LIKE IT. You all DO IT. Your government considers bodily pain and violence for the small and helpless to be the ‘right’ of their parental keepers. You are permitted to use religion and Bible verse as a reason to be able to hit other living persons in 21st century communities. SICK!!! In America, I’ve found that pro-spankers outnumber non-spankers about 300 to 1, so a lack of it clearly is not what’s making your children ‘monsters’. Spanking is your problem, not your solution.

    In Sweden, the Perls’ books not only would not be published or distributed, these people would be in prison if they were caught passing such books around, just like someone in the U.S. would not get away with distributing how-to books on raping youngsters. Their cult followers would be in trouble too. Those children who died would still be alive. These deaths are only those heard about. Who knows how many kids throughout America have been seriously injured or put in states almost near death because of these sadistic individuals and their ‘teachings’?

    You people are a DISGRACE. Do something about the abuse of children in your country or many more of them will be dead and buried. You have one of the highest rates of child mortality from abuse in the world because your society clings to spanking like spanking is some kind of handsome movie star everyone’s attracted to.

  • http://quietanthem.blogspot.com/ Renee Ronika Klug

    Jesus weeps over this kind of stuff: children–or anyone–should never have their souls punished. That is work from the Devil himself. 

  • frogla

    Some of our good friends are & have used the “pearls” methods in raising their children. Back, when the book was first published, these friends shared with us the training up a child book. this book always struck me even then as very very weird, out there and wrong but for years I couldn’t put my finger on it. i am so thankful that we didn’t use any of these methods or advocate these methods with raising children. i totally get why it struck me as odd. thnx for speaking out EE!!! xoxoxo