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.
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) ofÂ “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.
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.
- Plumbing line: http://www.nogreaterjoy.org/index.php?id=84&cHash=8440f96b4a&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=89&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=12
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 Â¼ 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.
- Child who won’t eat: http://www.nogreaterjoy.org/articles/general-view/archive/1998/august/01/angry-child/These 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:
- Dog obedience: