The Eighth and Final Square

with courage face the thing you fear so the pawn becomes the queen

I can’t stand by and watch this abuse be propagated without trying to do something about it. Children are dying, and countless others are being turned into mindless drones while under the influence of Michael and Debi Pearl.

This is a topic that is also close to my heart, having grown up with Pearl-type methods (my parents did have a copy of this book, but it came out eight years after I was born and probably confirmed what they already were doing). I believe I have a greater platform to stand on than any parent (the Pearls included) who point to their children as examples of how these methods work. I lived through it. I provide the insider’s view. Actually, let me rephrase that; I provide the honest, non-brainwashed insider’s view.

So far, at least three children have been tortured to death using and influenced by Pearl methods which I will explain in future posts.

Lydia Schatz is probably the most well-known. She was beaten to death with the plumbing line1 the Pearls advocate using.

Sean Paddock was beaten with the plumbing line before being wrapped in blankets so tightly he was suffocated. The Pearls say nothing about wrapping a child in blankets as a form of punishment, but I quote:

“Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring and are unmoved by his wailing. Defeat him totally. Accept no conditions for surrender. No compromise. You are to rule over him as a benevolent sovereign. Your word is final.”
“A general rule is to continue the disciplinary action until the child is surrendered.”

Hanna Grace-Rose Williams was beaten with the plumbing line, half-starved, and left outside where she died of hypothermia. While my preliminary skimming (and searching) of  “To Train Up a Child” turns up no evidence for locking them outside as the affidavit says (though the materials on their website may promote that), the principle the Pearls preach is still there: You must do anything to break your child’s will.

In relation to her being limited to bread and water, here is a quote from Michael Pearl’s article “Angry Child”2 about how to train a boy who refuses to eat what it set in front of him:

If he doesn’t like what is on the table and he is rude, send him away from the table and do not let him eat until the next meal. Do not feed him snacks between meals, and let him get good and hungry. He will then eat baby food spinach and love it.

Another problem with this method is that I know several people who were forced to eat what was in front of them, and ended up having Celiac’s, allergies, or other health problems with certain foods. As a child, they may have been unable to articulate to their parents that something was wrong (and were most likely afraid of being accused of “talking back” and punished), and consequently suffered for many years unnecessarily.

I found a copy of “To Train Up a Child” online, which I will be drawing from. I’ll start with their introduction, and in following posts, go chapter-by-chapter through the book.

“To Train Up a Child” — Promote this series
Chapter 1 Part 1
Chapter 1 part 2
Chapter 2
Chapter 3


The very introduction is misleading, starting out:

This book is not about discipline, nor problem children. The emphasis is on the training of a child before the need to discipline arises.

I didn’t read the introduction until I had read some of the scenarios in later chapters, and when I did, I was shocked. I mean, really, I shouldn’t have been…but the very introduction lies. The book most certainly is about discipline. The book can be condensed into one simple sentence: How to implement “proven” methods of discipline to get the desired result in your children: total obedience.

The introduction goes on to say:

It is apparent that most parents never attempt to train a child to obey. They wait until the child becomes unbearable and then explode. With proper training, discipline can be reduced to 5% of what many now practice.

One again, they prove their love for the extremes: parents either never discipline their children until the parents explode, OR they provide “proper training” by following the Pearls’ formula and are promised “no more raised voices, no contention, no bad attitudes, fewer spankings, a cheerful atmosphere in the home, and total obedience from your children”.

In reality, as I will probably say many times in the future posts, after having lived through Pearl-type methods (albeit with a plastic spoon, wooden switch, or leather belt as opposed to a plumbing line) from a very early age (I was crawling, so only a few months old), I can say with certainty that it does not produce the “desired results”. No matter how consistent you are. I remember my brothers and I trying to go through a day without getting spanked. I don’t remember what we did, but it didn’t work until we were much older. I seem to remember not knowing what would warrant a spanking as well.

What I can say you will get in results is “total obedience from your children”. I was not happy and not cheerful as a result of being consistently spanked for every little thing.

Any parent with an emotional maturity level higher than the average thirteen-year-old can, with a proper vision and knowledge of the technique, have happy obedient children. This is not a theory; it is a practical reality which has been successfully applied many times over.

If they are ever on trial for the deaths of these (and, God forbid, future) children, this will probably be used in their defense. However, it is completely negated by the phrases I quoted above in relation to Sean Paddock and Hanna Grace-Rose William’s deaths. Remove the “happy”, however, and you get the true result — obedient children.

In a future chapter they talk about how they trained their kids to “snap to it”…meaning, they can control their sons and daughters, including the adults, with a snap of their fingers. Sounds great, right? Until you think about how it is utterly humiliating and demeaning for children, especially adult sons and daughters, to be ordered around like a dog with a snap of the fingers. Until you think about how instead of raising your children to think for themselves, you are training them to be completely dependent upon you, the parents, well into adulthood.

The introduction continues:

A couple, stressed out with the conflict of three young children, after spending the weekend with us and hearing some of these principles, changed their strategy. One week later, they exclaimed, “I can’t believe it; we went to a friend’s house, and when I told my children to do something, they immediately, without question, obeyed.”

The real reason for this is fear. They advocate hanging the plumbing line around your neck1 because “the high profile of their accessibility keeps the kids in line”. This is a fear tactic. The child becomes afraid of the plumbing line, the rod, the belt. I remember being terrified of the tinkle of my dad’s belt buckle, even when it was something harmless — him fastening his pants in the morning.

These truths are not new, deep insights from the professional world of research, rather, the same principles the Amish use to train their stubborn mules, the same technique God uses to train his children. They are profoundly simple and extremely obvious. After examining them with us, you will say, “I knew that all along. Where have I been? It’s so obvious.”

If an adult were to beat another adult with a plumbing line, it would be assault. If an adult were to beat an animal with a plumbing line, it would be animal cruelty. If an adult were to beat a child a la Michael Pearl, however, it is “proper training”.

Children are in a totally different class from mules. It’s degrading to human life to even consider using the same techniques used on a mule on humans. In fact, even modern dog obedience training advocate more positive methods3 than pain to build a loving, trusting relationship between the dog and his owner!

I can also testify that I never hit my cat, and yet she knows when she is in trouble, when she has done something wrong, and she doesn’t fear a swat. Her body language expresses guilt, but not fear. And the instances she does do something wrong aren’t usually her fault. (She lets me know when she needs something: food, water, a clean box. If I ignore her and don’t clean her box, of course she’s going to find somewhere else to relieve herself!)

The point being: pain is not necessary for the bringing-up of healthy, well-adjusted children (or animals). It is a definitely “profoundly simple” (and in my opinion, completely lazy) method, but definitely not “extremely obvious”. You might model your dog-training techniques based on what works with your kids, but you should never model your child-raising methods based on what makes your dog obey when you snap your fingers!

I remember hearing my little siblings being spanked over and over for minor infractions. I remember how it hurt me, just listening to them, and I absolutely can’t imagine my child going through that at my own hands.


“To Train Up a Child” — Promote this series
Chapter 1 Part 1
Chapter 1 part 2
Chapter 2
Chapter 3



  1. Plumbing line:

    What instrument would I use?
    As a rule, do not use your hand. Hands are for loving and helping. If an adult swings his or her hand fast enough to cause pain to the surface of the skin, there is a danger of damaging bones and joints. The most painful nerves are just under the surface of the skin. A swift swat with a light, flexible instrument will sting without bruising or causing internal damage. Many people are using a section of ¼ inch plumber’s supply line as a spanking instrument. It will fit in your purse or hang around you neck. You can buy them for under $1.00 at Home Depot or any hardware store. They come cheaper by the dozen and can be widely distributed in every room and vehicle. Just the high profile of their accessibility keeps the kids in line.

  2. Child who won’t eat: two articles underscore the absurdity of withholding food for an extended period of time as a form of punishment and that it is not as risk-free as Michael Pearl claims:
  3. Dog obedience:
Phoenix On October - 2 - 2011

52 Responses so far.

  1. Samantha R says:

    I remember hearing about Lydia Shatz and how appalled and horrified I was (and still am)
    That being said, I think the Pearls’ method is extreme. (or beyond extreme!)
    I’m not against spanking entirely though. There is a time and place and proper way of doing it. I know some children who never need to be spanked or barely reprimanded. A raise of the eyebrow and a word of disapproval is all that is required. And then I know of several strong-willed tempered children who need more (steady) discipline and they are often “testing” the limits…

    I was spanked as a child. Not often and certainly not for everything. Mainly just for “major” things such as flat-out lying or causing harm to my siblings in some way. Usually there was a warning or lesser act of discipline first. And truthfully, I’m glad my parents spanked me on these occasions because it taught me to never do that thing again. I never saw it as a violent act from them. I believe there has to be a balance and you have to know your child. Each one is different 🙂

    “Spare the rod, spoil the child”.
    This phrase (to me) doesn’t necessarily mean there needs to be spanking but discipline needs to be a part of raising up a child so they aren’t spoiled.

    Believe me, I have seen what happens when a child isn’t disciplined or corrected… and I know for a fact that the parents have done themselves and that child a great disservice.

    Just my 2 cents 🙂

    • QuicksilverQueen says:

      I think there may be use for the occasional spanking, but that those instances are few and far between — not the everyday occurrence the Pearls seem to think it should be.

      The Pearls totally do not take into account the parents who teach their children through positive methods without spanking. I know many families who practice this, and their children are great! The Pearls only contrast the extremes though: the people who never take the time to properly teach their children, and the people who spank them into obedience.

      • Samantha R says:

        And you’re right…. there are SO many extremes but they don’t address the middle ground at all. I’m sure a parent can raise a child very well without spanking. Esp if the child is really easy-going! 🙂

        Spanking should certainly never be an every day occurrence. Esp if a parent has taken the time to teach a child right from wrong from day one. And also I think it’s very important that the parent doesn’t react in anger….

  2. Jenna says:

    Thanks for putting some of this information together. I am so sad that these deaths keep happening.

    We only had occasional, fairly mild spankings, but it has still caused me some long-term anxiety. Luckily my parents never read the Pearls, but they were into the Ezzo stuff for awhile. I still cringe when I hear the phrase “first time obedience.” I swear I will never tell me son to obey. He has to listen, follow directions, share, be kind, etc.but not obey. That word just has too many connotations of control for me.

    • QuicksilverQueen says:

      Yeah, I’m with you there! (Though I was spanked a lot.) I hate the word “obey” and all its connotations. You may enjoy this article: First Time Obedience, Really?

    • Phil says:

      You’re right, God should never expect anyone to “obey” the first time. It’s so abusive. God just wants His people to listen, follow directions, share, and be kind, etc. “Obey” was never in the Bible. And God was abusive and cruel when He gave direct instructions and they didn’t listen, follow directions, share, be kind, etc…. and then he wiped them out when they didn’t. I’m so glad we shouldn’t have to obey. Sparing the rod is so unbiblical. Sarcasm implied throughout.

      • Eric says:

        “Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” (Matthew 20:25-28)

        Phil: You can believe you have the right to force people to obey you. Or, you can believe Jesus. You can’t do both. No sarcasm here.

        • Phil says:

          It is interesting that you believe that we are supposed to obey/follow God’s instructions (synonymous in my mind) and I’m assuming you believe we should obey civil law (i.e. don’t run red lights, steal, perjure, rape, maim, or kill) but it is harmful to children if we make them obey/follow our instructions. If they don’t learn to obey us as children under some sort of authority then how can we expect them to obey civil law when they get older and they find out there are consequences to their lack of “following instructions”.
          It would be a mistake if we decided to let our children do whatever they please and roam the streets hitting children with baseball bats and merely telling them they didn’t “follow our instructions” The state would take them and puts them in jail and they would find out that decisions have consequences. Would you rather let them find out through you or jail time?

          • Eric says:

            I always find it rather interesting when I quote the words of Jesus and Christians disagree.

            So your choice is, either force children to obey you, or they’ll become criminals? False dichotomy fallacy; there’s no way one follows from the other.

            If my children only obey me because I force them to, then they haven’t really learned to follow Jesus. Obedience, like worship, must come from the heart, not the outward appearance.

            If they don’t learn to obey as children willingly from the heart, then they are certain to rebel to rebel against you later. Law on its own fosters rebellion.

            So the choice is: Force them to obey us, or inspire them to obey Jesus.

  3. Joanna says:

    I just want to mention this part:

    “If he doesn’t like what is on the table and he is rude, send him away from the table and do not let him eat until the next meal. Do not feed him snacks between meals, and let him get good and hungry. He will then eat baby food spinach and love it.”

    Is so wrong, there are no words… my parents were pretty abusive with my 2 oldest siblings, but once they realized they were being abusive, they stopped and haven’t treated the rest of us the same. Anyhow, when my oldest brother was 5 (and they hadn’t read the Pearls book), he wouldn’t eat peas, so they did just that, didn’t feed him until he ate the peas.

    My brother was so stubborn that he refused to eat for 5 DAYS. After that, my parents were so ashamed, they never did that sort of a thing ever again, realizing they could have injured or even killed him.

    These methods are in no way “harmless”. Some children are so stubborn they WILL NOT YIELD, no matter what, as my brother and the kids who died prove. Trying to force them to yield is wrong.

    I was spanked as a kid, but I always knew it was for something I did wrong, and they were few and far between; nowhere near every day. The Pearls make me sick. Their “methods” are so crude and abusive.

    • Samantha R says:

      I agree with you… some children are really that stubborn!! And that’s why going to these extreme methods is not a good idea.
      We had to eat what was in front of us (try a little of everything!) but we were never starved or harmed in any way when it came to food.

      I was spanked as a kid too and I always knew it was for something that I done wrong (usually it was a major thing, too!)

    • Libby Anne says:

      Oh wow, so it wasn’t just my family! My two year old brother wouldn’t say please for his food, so they didn’t feed him, or give him anything to drink, for two days. Finally my mom had a dream in which my brother died, and the next morning she fed him right away. He had already grown tired and listless. They still kept following the Pearls, and it didn’t make any change, because they still did the same with kids in the future. I don’t get it. But you’re right – it doesn’t work.

  4. Sisterlisa says:

    Obviously the Pearls are wrong about the plumbing supply line not causing any internal damage. They are NOT doctors! And they are not clinical psychologists either. Their methods promote unhealthy trauma and mental anguish on a child.

    • Zooey says:

      Not only that. They are deceptive!! The truth is that you can beat someone to death with a plumbing line , just as you can with a rubber hose….but these implements leave little or no VISIBLE markings on the skin.
      This is why torturers have long favored such tools for their evil business: Maximum suffering, maximum damage, minimum evidence that the eye can see. And I am very certain that the Pearls KNOW that. They are of my generation, & we all grew up on the horror stories of World Wars, slave narratives, & abuse by degenerate men who sneaked into law enforcement for the power.

      Such wickedness!! And they dare to use the Holy Name of the Saviour!! Shame on them!! Shame!!!

      • QuicksilverQueen says:


        I’m not sure so far if they recommended the plumbing line in the book (at least not that I’ve found yet). I have come across a reference to switching a 4-month-old with an 1/8″ willow switch. (See Chapter 1 Part 2.) Maybe they later changed their instrument of choice to plumbing line because the switch left marks? I’ve been switched…it broke the skin!

        • Zooey says:

          It *might* be on their website, in response to a question from a reader.
          Or, as you say, it may be that they have changed their chosen weapon .

          • QuicksilverQueen says:

            I know that the plumbing line is on their website…but I haven’t come across it yet in the book.

  5. Sisterlisa says:

    btw, the whole “break their will” thing is ridiculous. God GAVE us a will and many parents want to take it away and make their children submit to their wills instead. Whatever method in which God draws the HEART of the child (at any point in life) it is done through the SPIRIT, not with a plumbing supply line. And if the child is CONDITIONED to obey the PARENT’S ‘will’, how will they ever discern what GOD is telling them? God doesn’t always agree with a parent’s will for a child’s life.

  6. Charity says:

    LOVE this post! I don’t believe in spanking for ANY reason. If it’s illegal to hit a coworker, spouse, pet, etc… why is out ok to hit a child? I believe fear based discipline is archaic & outdated. Yes I was hit but I didn’t turn out ok. I have anger issues, confidence & trust issues & my relationship with parents is really strained. This is a topic I am very passionate about & I quit attending a church that taught an Ezzo class.

    My biggest issue with this parenting/discipline topic is how parents are taught to view their child as a “sinner” & treat them as if they are possessed. It breaks my heart.

  7. Natka says:

    In Dr.Sears “Discipline” book he warns against spanking high-need/strong-willed children. Dr.Sears is generally against all spanking, but realizing that many parents believe in spanking he really warns against spanking the kids who are very strong-willed, since it often turns into abuse.
    We have a strong-willed child, my first son. When he was a toddler we did give him a few spankings, just because that what we thought was a right thing to do. It wasn’t a hard spanking, nor consistent, just a few swats on a diapered bum, but I really regret it now. Looking back I can clearly see that we could’ve handled the situation differently. And being first-time parents we didn’t know that most “misbehaviours” in children are actually somewhat parent’s fault. Like not recognizing early cues of a child being tired, hungry, overwhelmed, getting sick, etc.
    Anyways, spanking NEVER worked with our son. He’d just continue doing what he was doing or throw even a bigger tantrum that would last for hours. What did work is trying to understand him and giving him a big hug. It works like magic with strong-willed kids. Love conquers all! 🙂

    • QuicksilverQueen says:

      My dad always said I was exceptionally strong-willed. I don’t know if I was or not. I do know that I always felt so awful after he talked to me before the spanking that the spanking was completely redundant! Also that possibly it was a subconscious thing…if he had left off the spanking, I probably would have tried harder to not do whatever it was, but since I was spanked and the “sin” was “atoned for”, so to speak, I may have not been as careful.

  8. Jo Mama says:

    I’m going to disagree with those who say occasional spanking is okay. Spanking is hitting. I don’t care if you use your hand or a weapon such as a bread board as my parents did – you are still hitting someone who is smaller and weaker than you. It is bullying. Always. I don’t see how a couple of verses pulled out of context from the OT support the idea that it’s ok for big people to perpetrate violence on little people in order to get their way. It sets a bad example. If you’re making me mad and not doing what I want, I can’t just haul off and slap you across the face – I’d be arrested for simple assault. Yet somehow it’s supposed to be okay when the person being hit is young, small and weak? Absurd.

    Parents who use spanking/hitting/slapping are lazy parents who don’t care enough to find alternatives, and there ARE alternatives. I always swore I’d never spank, then I had a very difficult 2 year and reneged on that for a while…but I stopped quickly when I realized that each smack of my hand was a betrayal of her trust. I swore I’d never do that again, and I haven’t and by God’s grace I won’t. I have 3 very well behaved children, and a 4th on the way. We use Love and Logic, time outs, and redirection. Sure, I guess I could just backhand my kid instead – it would be easier for me, for sure. But what would it teach them? That hitting is the solution? That Mama can’t really be trusted, because she’ll turn on you at any moment? That you have less value as a human being than adults do, since it’s not allowed for THEM to be hit? Yep, all of those things.

    Kids are created in God’s image too, and deserve the same love and respect as everyone else. Fundamentalists tend to disagree with this (or else believe that “love” means violence), but that’s one of the many reasons I’m not a fundamentalist anymore. 😛

    • QuicksilverQueen says:

      I am really leaning towards that spanking is completely unnecessary (I’m 99.99% against it). It’s been a difficult issue for me to get past, because even though I hated it, I was conditioned to think it was the ONLY way to train your kids. The only reason I would say that perhaps occasionally (once in a lifetime) it would be fine is because nothing else will get the child’s attention. I can’t think of a scenario in which that would be necessary however, and most likely I will say in the future I am 100% against spanking. For me, right now, that’s as close as I can get to reconciling the warring sides of me.

      That being said, I don’t plan to spank at all.

      • Libby Anne says:

        My La Leche League said that in a case like wanting to keep the kid away from the street, if the kid isn’t listening and goes to the street in spite of being told and explained not to, etc, etc, you can wait till he gets close and then scream at the top of your lungs. The little thing will be startled and stop, and will associate that scary noise with the road and stay away, no spanking necessary. I never had to get to that point, because after moving my daughter again and again, and explaining and explaining, it finally got through to her even though she was only one. I swear, she has since never gone on the road, even if she is close by it she never actually steps foot on it, and it’s been over a year now, and I have NEVER spanked her. You’d be surprised what you can do without spanking!

  9. Chris Wileman says:

    Thank you for having the bravery to share your experience. I know how hard that must be especially when people will cut you down for it. This book is a HUGE sacred cow for some people and I’m glad you’re willing to tip it!
    It’s hard not to get angry at the people who won’t even hear another opinion on these types of teachings. I think the truth is that they create their own punishment by having children who love you out of fear rather than LOVE.
    I would not ever want that. Respect is completely different than fear.
    Great blog!

    • QuicksilverQueen says:

      Thanks! It’s not easy for me to tip this one either (and try to match wits with the Pearls!)…so encouraging comments really mean a lot to me!

  10. […] Many parents rush to the defense of the authors of such teachings, but why are we allowing ourselves to be told that whipping a child with plumbing supply line won’t cause internal damage? Really? Has anyone read about the internal damage that took the life of Lydia Schatz? Have they seen the photos of her sister’s body…who managed to live through it? Have they read about the lost life of precious Hana Grace-Rose? Have they ever spoken to someone who was raised with this kind of teaching? […]

  11. ilovemeflora says:

    Thank you for mentioning food allergies. When I was a kid we weren’t allowed to tell people we didn’t like their food. Even if we hated it. And when I developed an eating disorder my mother used fear tactics to get me to eat. She told me that if I didn’t eat she’d take me to the hospital and they’d have to give me horrible, painful shots. Taking me to the doctor was never an option and she was stoutly proud of her “paddle board”.

  12. shadowspring says:

    I regret spanking at all, even though my children say it was no big deal. The biggest deal is the view pro-spanking books have you adopt about your children. You are the opposition instead of on the same side. That’s my biggest regret. Looking at life from my kids (now teens) point of view, as their ally, changes everything.

    Even the nagging I sometimes do has a totally different point. It’s not “because I told you so now do it!” it’s for a REAL reason, like “the food dries on the dishes and it takes more work later to clean them off” or “when you don’t clean your room, I can’t vacuum or dust, and though one week doesn’t hurt, it’s now been a month and that’s why you have spiders.” See, we are on the same team now.

    The month his room got worse and worse was not MY problem; I didn’t have to sleep there. My teen didn’t seem to mind, until the natural consequences finally annoyed him. NOW he keeps his room much cleaner. I never had to nag or yell, and he knows why keeping things picked up and clean matters. Score.

    My daughter won’t spank because she read the dog training book, “Don’t Shoot the Dog”. Negative reinforcement never works; not with dogs and not with people. Score again.

  13. Mrs. Taft says:

    Thank you for mentioning allergies. Another thing to consider is that some kids have true aversions to things. I was like that, and both of my daughters had/have aversions. The worst thing in the world you can do is to push food in those instances. It makes the aversion WORSE and can lead to eating disorders! That kind of ‘child training’ method is abusive, and very dangerous! I hope someone who is struggling with a “picky eater” will come across this post. Please don’t force it and make meal time a battle! We do a lot of instant breakfast because she’ll drink chocolate milk…it’s better than the battle, trust me. A wise man chooses their battles carefully, and pushing the point on food is not a careful and wise battle to fight! It’s often NOT defiance, it could be many things.

  14. […] QuicksilverQueen  has started a detailed Book Review of To Train Up A Child and how it relates to the deaths with “To Train Up a Child” — Introduction […]

  15. Hi,

    I absolutely rejoiced in your post. Thank you so much. Please keep speaking out from your place based on experience.

    Please keep in touch.

    Samuel Martin

  16. Dcm says:

    You go girl! ; ) I am so impressed with the way you are both working through your own experiences AND trying to find a way to use them to help others. You are going to be such a great mom! Praying that lots of people find their way here after searching the Pearls.

  17. LMackey41 says:

    First of all, to those who believe that obedience can only be achieved via the Pearl’s methodology — poppycock. Punishment is a very real aspect of life. We deal with natural consequences on a daily basis – if we mess up at work we can lose our jobs, if we speed we get a ticket, etc. For Christians we understand that God is merciful, full of grace AND just – which includes that unpopular destination called hell. However, Jesus may require our obedience, but he never demands it. He quietly stands at the door and knocks and allows us the choice to open the door. The Old Testament is filled with harsh examples of punishment under the Law. Paul clearly talks about the law bring death and not life. But Christ came to complete the Law and establish the New Covenant. So why do the Pearl’s advocate a method that is based up on the Old Covenant instead of Christ?

    As parents we most definitely must establish boundaries and respect with our children. It’s important to keep behavior appropriate when out and about and most especially when we recognize our child is on the edge of danger and needs to obey or command to “stop”. But that respect and obedience can be gained via methods other than the Pearl’s dominate-and-destroy tactics.

    The Pearls allude to advocating these same methods with pets and animals. I wonder if they’ve watched an episode of The Dog Whisperer. There is no hitting the dogs whatsoever. I would actually suggest that you’re far better off watching that program for parenting advice than ever going near TTUAC.

    The Pearl’s methods develop children who are not inconvenient to their parents. Sure, it makes for a seemingly happy and peaceful home when the kids know they will get smacked if they speak or act an inch out of turn. Some children may be naturally more compliant and thus do not endure many switchings. Their experience growing up may be quite different from a sibling who has a more willful personality and therefore struggled longer before being ‘broken’.

    The sad reality is there are so many young adults and adults who were raised using these methods who have struggled to put their lives together. Once freed from the abuse they could finally speak out and express their unhappiness. Unfortunately they would be viewed as ‘lost and sinful’ adults by their parents. It’s disheartening and should be alarming to those parents contemplating embracing TTUAC.

    And now, we have yet another adopted child from Africa dead at the hands of their parents and the extended hands of the Pearls. There is no understanding by the Pearls of attachment disorder or traumatic stress issues these adoptive children often face. To discipline them physically in any way is just about the worst thing an adoptive parent can do. The blind allegiance to the Pearls and willful ignorance regarding the flawed theology underpinning their atrocious methods is baffling.

    By the way, don’t bother posting anything contrary to their belief’s on their facebook page (No Greater Joy Ministries) as your posts will be deleted and you will be blocked. It’s scary that they apparently don’t even have enough confidence in their own beliefs to engage in a civil, spiritually honest discourse. Instead they must ‘whip’ any dissenters and keep the conversation decidedly one-sided. So much for their ability to stand up to the instruction for Christians to test all things against scripture.

  18. Deb says:

    My sister was a stubborn child. If my mother had pushed her to eat certain items, my sister would probably have starved. Why can’t kids dislike certain foods? I dislike liver so I don’t eat it. My kids dislike brussel sprouts. It isn’t a big deal to avoid cooking that vegetable.

    Pearl supporters often make it sound as if anyone who disagrees with their methods is going to allow their children to run wild or be future criminals.

    • QuicksilverQueen says:

      Yep…you got it. It’s more black-and-white thinking mixed with straw man arguments. You set up this extreme example, which of course people will fear, then tear it down and replace it with your own idol. No room to wiggle (literally!).

  19. Grace says:

    In response to Natka – I really like Dr Sears. I also read about an Indonesian man who became a missionary or pastor or something, who said that as a child he was cruel to his siblings and pretty impossible, got lots of spankings and was so stubborn that once he lay still on the floor for two days, until his mother could no longer bear it and picked him up. His parents thereafter changed their tactics – to ones of overwhelming love and affection – and it worked!! He said it melted his heart. Yes indeed we need to find what is right for each child.
    I also object STRONGLY to the words I hear from some people, that unless you ‘discipline strongly’ they will grow up to be anarchists. I know lots of kids whose parents are pretty relaxed, who are a long way from being anarchists, and they do obey signs etc. That sort of attitude just displays the fear inside the parent – a fear of not being in control, and a fear of what is inside themselves perhaps. I wonder if they have some kind of self-loathing, that they are evil and must be controlled.
    Children are human beings not animals – we relate to them as fellow humans. In fact even dogs these days are positively trained with reward and not punishment. Why would we treat our dogs better than our kids?

  20. Grace says:

    Jo Mama I agree completely.
    Spanking is often seen as necessary for when a kid runs onto the road. I remember once when my son was 18mths old, and we were in a fruit shop – he started to run away towards the street. I said his name followed by “stop!” and to my surprise he completely stopped dead in his tracks and turned to look at me. I think he recognised the urgency in my voice and because of his trust in me he knew there was danger. If I was always using an urgent tone he would not have noticed any difference. I’m not sure this would always work of course and every child (and parent) is different but all the same it shows that trust must be there to start with.

    • QuicksilverQueen says:

      Trust…that’s a really really good point. I hadn’t thought about it quite like that, I mean that type of scenario, but it makes so much sense! A child can and will obey also out of love and trust, rather than out of fear. Thanks for pointing that out!

    • Elise says:

      Yes! This I get! I have had similar experiences with my children. They knew my voice, and when something was urgent, they stopped. They knew something was wrong.

      Relationship. Trust. Love. Grace. Lavish affection. These are the foundations of my relationship with God. Why raise my children on any less a foundation?

      When I was learning to nurse my daughter in the hospital after her birth, we had a ‘moment’. It was our second try, and I was trying everything the lactation nurse suggested. Nothing was working. Verity was exhibiting anxiety and frustration and iwas feeling just hopeless. I pulled her away for a moment and looked straight into her little face. I then said, “Verity, I’ve never done this before. You’ve never done this before. But we’re going to figure this out and a week from now, we’ll be experts at this.”
      Verity “looked” so hard at me and the nurse whispered, “She understands you. I know she does.”
      My epiphany: my daughter had to do the learning. I couldn’t do the learning for her. I had to do my part and give her (us) every opportunity to succeed. We were in this together, and this was to be a part of our life.

      I knew at that moment that I wouldn’t need anyone’s book to help me parent. And, in that moment I was given the gift of a life with my child…not 18 years of ‘project’ ahead for us, but life! Together.

  21. Red says:

    I have always had a GREAT relationship with my parents. Always. I was a pleasant, happy, VERY obedient child who loved to please, yet I also developed a strong will, high self esteem and a curious mind. Want to know how I was raised?

    The opposite of Pearl’s method.

    My parents did not want fear or obedience; they wanted me to respect them, for sure, but there was ALWAYS a two-way discussions when I disagreed with them. They vocalized to me why rules were there. They listened to why I disagreed with them. This made me trust their rules MORE. Because I realized they weren’t just arbitrary or tyrannical.

    Of course, there were times when they had to lay down the law, but they never did it in a “Ha ha I’m the parent so you have to do what I say, you little piece of property!” kind of way. That’s stupid, childish, and completely against how Christ tells us to act. Pearl’s method would have sickened them.

    Also, when I was a child, I had a weak stomach. When my parents forced me to eat certain things, it made me sick to my stomach. I couldn’t help it. They realized that, and stopped forcing those things on me. Instead, they offered me a variety of healthy things they knew I DID like. To this day, I have a very healthy relationship with food, and I am at a healthy weight for my age and build.

    Notice how often I’m using the word healthy? I think it’s safe to say that Pearl’s method is UNhealthy.


  22. A Friend says:

    Hi there.

    Very interesting article, and I can tell where you are coming from. However, if I may, with all due respect, contradict you, there are some things that are not adding up here.

    1) You seem to consistently confuse a spanking with a beating. A spanking and a beating are two totally different things. A beating is “to strike violently or forcefully and repeatedly.” A beating is abusive and dangerous, but a spanking is not.
    The difference is that a spanking is never supposed to be violent. It is never to be given in anger, or with enough force to physically injure the child. Michael Pearl NEVER advocated beating, and is therefore blameless for the three deaths that you attributed to his name. Each of those cases was a case of abuse, but it was not sanctioned by Michael Pearl or his book.

    Anything can be used incorrectly to inflict pain that it was not intended to inflict. Is it possible to give a child a spanking, as above defined, with a pipeline of that size? Yes. Is it possible to give a child a severe beating with that same pipeline? Yes. Does that make them both the same thing? No.

    Razor blades are used to shave hair. But they have also been used to sliced wrist veins to commit suicide. Does that make it the same thing? does that make it wrong to use the razor blade to shave hair? No.

    I do know the difference because I was raised with Michael Pearl’s standards, which brings me to my second point.

    2) With all due respect, I have read your story and a lot of your blog, and no offense meant here, but you were not raised by Michael Pearl’s standards. Your parents might have had the book, and they might have read it and possibly even believed that they were following it, but they certainly were not. From what you have described, you were raised with the “fear tactic” that so many people confuse as training.

    Again, I was raised by Michael Pearl’s standards, and being an adult now, I am so grateful that I was. I was never beaten as a child. I was, however, spanked. Not for small trifling things, as you were, but for fundamental things that I needed. Every spanking I remember receiving was preceded by an explanation for why I was getting it. I always knew that I was doing wrong when I received a spanking for it. I was never punished for something that I didn’t know was wrong, or that my parents had told me not to do. No, I didn’t like the spankings, but I didn’t have a shadow of a doubt in my young mind that Mom and Dad loved me and were trying to teach me right from wrong.

    I have, however, met several families who have been raised/raise their kids the way you described yourself as being raised, and it is not right at all. The fear factor is not what is meant to be used, but all too often is. This is NOT sponsored by Michael Pearl.

    3) What does Proverbs 22:15 mean when it says that “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”?

    4) When evaluating a book/author, it is very important to read something fully in it’s context. You appeared to be taking a lot of his statements out of context, which is usually enough to completely change the meaning.

    Basic training methods are the same across the board for every creature, whether you spank your child or not. Every creature, children included, is born self centered. That’s not bad, that’s just all they know. They know when they are cold, when they are hungry, when they are lonely, and they want it fixed so that they can be comfortable again. However, every creature, children included, learns very quickly that certain choices have certain consequences, and that lays down their foundation for the rest of their life. If you do not spank your child, he/she will still learn things this way. “If I cry, mama will come in and feed me.”, “If I touch this, it will hurt me.” The thing that makes Michael Pearl’s/ the Biblical method different, is that it teaches children what choices are good and bad, and after a little bit of time, why those choices are good or bad. What happens next for somebody following these guidelines, is that after they have trained their child all about choices, that all choices have consequences, how to make choices, how to think through their choices and accept the consequences whether good or bad, then the parents can stop making important choices for the child and pass them all down to him/her. That is when they are supposed to release their child, as you have repeatedly said that you were not, to make their own choices. If it’s done right though, the child/adult will have a love and respect for their parents even after they leave the home.

    I think I have made this comment long enough, although there is so much more I could say. Again, I would like to stress that the purpose of this comment is not to be offensive, abrasive, or otherwise discourteous, but I am trying to bring the truth to light.

    Blessings in your search for truth.

    ~A friend

    • QuicksilverQueen says:

      Spanking = hitting a child with a hand or object. The very act of hitting someone is violent. I dare you to try to “spank” another adult the way Michael Pearl advocates spanking a child — you would probably end up in a lawsuit. How is it then OK to do that to a child?

      Every spanking I remember receiving was preceded by an explanation for why I was getting it. I always knew that I was doing wrong when I received a spanking for it.

      Likewise. Every spanking was followed by a hug and an “I love you”.

      If your spouse did something “wrong”, would you spank him/her? If not, why? And why would you do that to a child?

      The fear factor is very much promoted by Michael Pearl. Supposedly, it’s fear of the spanking/pain/rod (or whatever instrument). Any way you dice it, it’s fear. Him putting the switch at the bottom of the stairs to stop his daughter from climbing them? Why did that make her stop? Because she knew it was going to bring her pain. Ah, but it’s just consequences. I beg to differ. As a child, I wanted to do what I wanted to do, but was afraid of the spankings. Instead of teaching me consequences and right vs. wrong, it taught me to be sneaky to get around the rules and the dreaded spankings. You’re right, I wasn’t ever “let go” to make my own decisions, but I don’t even need to refer to the later years to talk about this.

      Ah, the “rod” verses.

      Is that what the Bible REALLY says? In order to be certain, we must look at the original text. In three of the rod verses in Proverbs, the English word we see is “child”, but the original Hebrew word is na’ar. It means the “one shook lose” and refers to the young adult or teenage years. None of the words translated as “child/children” in the book of Proverbs actually refer to those under the age of ten or twelve. This is significant! The rod
      verses are NOT directed toward little children. Is Spanking Biblical?

      I have to admit to laughing when you accused me of taking things out of context. That is one of the go-to accusations. If you have read the book, you should notice that I’m practically quoting the entire thing, to make sure it’s not out of context.

      It’s not selfish to want one’s needs met. That’s why they’re called needs.

      Controlling a child’s consequences is a temporary solution. I have never seen it turn all the qualities you listed. Spanking a child doesn’t teach them right from wrong, it teaches what causes pain and what doesn’t, and that all you have to do is avoid that which causes pain. It’s not teaching “I don’t do this because it’s wrong”, it’s teaching “I don’t do this because I get a painful spanking”. The height of irony is when a child is spanked for hitting another child.

      • A Friend says:

        Thank you for your response. It has shown me where your heart is.

        I will simply say that I am sorry about the way you were brought up; I have seen many families similar to yours, but again, that was not Michael Pearl’s way. But I didn’t come on here to defend Michael Pearl. If I had, I would stay here debating this with you till kingdom come.
        But I commented because I was concerned for you. I have plenty of information to refute your last comment, but you have shown me that you are not going to be open, therefore it would just be a waste of time.

        I sincerely hope that you do well as a mother, and I wish your family all the best. You have my email address, so if you ever had some genuine questions about the way my family has been raised, and why we are all so happy, I would be more than happy to discuss it with you.

        ~A Friend

  23. Michelle says:

    “On the bare legs or bottom, switch him eight or ten licks; then, while waiting for the pain to subside, speak calm words of rebuke. If the crying turns to a true, wounded, submissive whimper, you have conquered; he has submitted his will. If the crying is still defiant, protesting and other than a response to pain, spank him again.” TTUAC, Page 80

    A Friend: ” A beating is “to strike violently or forcefully and repeatedly.”

    By the definition of beating that you listed above, you can see the forceful, violent and repeated action.

    By your own definition, Michael Pearl advocates the beating of children. And yes, I would agree with you that “A beating is abusive and dangerous.”

    The crazy…it speaks for itself.

    • A Friend says:

      It says “switch”, not “hit as hard as you can.” Yes, there is repetition, but there is no violence for forcefulness. To “switch” is to flick the switch, spoon, or whatever you are using, just enough to sting some, not even enough to cause any bruising. And you note that he says to “speak calm words of rebuke”, no anger here. The difference between a beating and a spanking/switching is the force and violence by which they are applied more than the repetition. A switching/spanking has no violence or force, just enough sting to hurt for a few minutes and that’s it.

      So no, Michael Pearl still does not advocate beating.

  24. Michelle says:

    “By the definition of beating that you listed above, you can see the forceful, violent and repeated action called for in the Pearls own words.”

    Hit enter too soon.

  25. Emimar says:

    It’s Emily 131 from QBee.

    Awful. People who use this method are nothing more than child abusers and I can’t believe that parents are allowed to get away with doing this in this day and age. Anyone who thinks that hitting a child with an implement wouldn’t cause them physical harm lack basic common sense.

    I know it might be interfering on my part, but I can’t read this without thinking of the younger brothers and sisters that you had to leave behind when you left. Are they still children? If they are, I think you should consider trying to get them out.

    You are incredibly brave and right in leaving your parents no matter what your father told you when you left, and I wish you the best.

    • QuicksilverQueen says:


      Yeah, the youngest is almost 6. Someone called CPS on them after I moved out, but nothing came of it. I wonder if there would be any more weight if I called.

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Welcome! This is my space on the internet to explore myself and my life and find my courage to turn into a queen. My Quilt No content on this blog may be used or reproduced elsewhere without a link back.

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