Train Up Your Child

To Train Up a ChildTo Train Up a Child

Submitter: I actually remember my mother having this book at some point (I don’t think she ascribed to it). Two children have died as a result of the author’s child care advice and one other was in critical condition.  At some point some books aren’t even funny to joke about and just need to be removed because they endanger society. This is why I weed – to get stuff like this that might hurt others off the shelf.

Here is what Amazon Reviewer R. Craig “Mother” said and I couldn’t have built a case better myself. Currently World Cat has 56 libraries still holding this material.

Here are some details:

1) The Pearls recommend whipping infants only a few months old on their bare skin. They describe whipping their own 4 month old daughter (p.9). They recommend whipping the bare skin of “every child” (p.2) for “Christians and non-Christians” (p.5) and for “every transgression” (p.1). Parents who don’t whip their babies into complete submission are portrayed as indifferent, lazy, careless and neglectful (p.19) and are “creating a Nazi” (p.45).

2) On p.60 they recommend whipping babies who cannot sleep and are crying, and to never allow them “to get up.” On p.61 they recommend whipping a 12 month old girl for crying. On p.79 they recommend whipping a 7 month old for screaming.

3) On p.65 co-author Debi Pearl whips the bare leg of a 15 month old she is babysitting, 10 separate times, for not playing with something she tells him to play with. On p.56 Debi Pearl hits a 2 year old so hard “a karate chop like wheeze came from somewhere deep inside.”

4) On p.44 they say not to let the child’s crying while being hit to “cause you to lighten up on the intensity or duration of the spanking.” On p.59 they recommend whipping a 3 year old until he is “totally broken.”

5) On p.55 the Pearls say a mother should hit her child if he cries for her.

6) On p.46 the Pearls say that if a child does obey before being whipped, whip them anyway. And “if you have to sit on him to spank him, then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher.” “Defeat him totally.” On p.80 they recommend giving a child having a tantrum “a swift *forceful* spanking.” On the same page they say to whip small children on their bare skin until they stop screaming. “Don’t be bullied. Give him more of the same.” They say to continue whipping until their crying turns into a “wounded, submissive whimper.”

7) On p.47 they recommend their various whips, including “a belt or larger tree branch” to hit children.

8 ) The Pearls recommend pulling a nursing infant’s hair (p.7), and describe tripping their non-swimming toddler so she falls into deep water (p.67). They recommend ignoring an infant’s bumped head when he falls to the floor, and ignoring skinned knees (p.86). They also say “if your child is roughed-up by peers, rejoice.” (p.81) And on p.103 the Pearls say if children lose their shoes, “let them go without until they (the children) can make the money to buy more.”

9) The Pearls claim their “training” methods are Godly, yet they have *no religious training or credentials* They never mention Jesus’ injunctions to forgive “seventy times seven” and be merciful, and they decry the “extraordinary ingnorance of modern psychology.”

The Pearls’ methods have resulted in parents being investigated by Child Protective Services, children being taken away from parents, a restraining order against a father, and even a babysitter going to jail on felony charges!

Holly: Good grief!  Has anyone else heard anything about this book?  Just when you thought you’d seen it all…


    1. I have a suggestion for the authors… Why don’t you come to my house and I will smack you around until all you can do is whimper into submission. The Pearls need to pick on someone their own size…. Bring it.

  1. Wow, makes you wonder where they got that picture of a happy child for the cover.

  2. I’ve heard a lot about the Pearls, though I’d have to do some rooting around in my old bookmarks to find the pages I had info on. The things they try to put forward as “good Christian parenting” is sickening to me as a good person, a hopeful mother, and a former Christian.

    “Spare the rod and spoil the child” is, in my opinion, a horrible way to raise and love your children, and I can definitely say that if I’d been raised that way, I would’ve been the perfect respectful child, yes, but not out of love or actual respect, but out of fear. No parent should want their child to be perfect because they are petrified of what might happen if they are just the tinest bit IMperfect.


    1. Apple, not entirely true. Spare the rod and spoil the child is a good view to adopt, just not in the pathetic way that the Pearls have. I was raised with good spankings, and love to go with it. I have always respected my parents out of love, knowing that they looked out for the best.

      If your child is not disciplined properly, they can easily die. Think for a moment if your two year old, when they get that old, is disobedient and disrespectful (which they will be if you continue with your view); now consider for a moment that you don’t watch them just for a moment, and they run toward a road, where an oncoming truck is driving on. You tell them to stop, and because of their disobedience and disrespect for you, they could careless what you say, and oops, get hit by the truck.

      The bible is right in that a parent who does not discipline their child, hates them. They try to mask it with “love”, but it’s a “fake love”.

      Again, the pearls are horrendous.

  3. I have never heard of the Pearls, but they have a ministry and a website. I pulled this off the site about corporal punishment for children: “The anti-spanking campaign is a front for an anti-family agenda, a progressive socialist movement to reengineer society with government the only mentor of children.” They are totally scary people masquerading as “Christians”.

  4. As a librarian myself, I have one thing to say.

    I would feel no guilt whatsoever finding every copy of this book and having a bonfire.

    1. Actually I don’t think that was intentional. Whatever they use to update the site probably automatically converts “8 )” into that smiley.

  5. Yep, I’ve heard about it. I didn’t know very much about it, though, until the recent tragic death of Lydia Schatz, when I learned quite a lot. The two deaths spurred an acquaintance of mine to write an article about the Pearls in her excellent homeschooling magazine, Secular Homeschooling. Here it is free online. (Fellow librarians, I am not affiliated with this periodical in any way, but I do consider it a good choice for libraries.)

  6. Wow.

    And just the other day, I wrote you asking if there were any books you (or other libraries) destroyed rather than put up for surplus sale. I guess this was a direct answer to my query!

  7. The Pearls have a few other books out now. “Growing Kid’s God’s Way” ascribes to many of their methods and Babywise. All make me SICK.

    1. Actually, “Growing Kids God’s Way” is by Gary Ezzo. It’s not quite as off the wall as the Pearls, but plenty dangerous in itself.

      The other book that the Pearls have which should be removed and burned is “Created To Be His Helpmeet”, a book on marriage. The advice given in there about abused wives is really dangerous.

    2. “Babywise” is scientifically deficient, as well as mean spirited.
      This “Train up a child..” horror is –?
      The “Bible -God” says in the “old” and “new” testament that he wants to gather his children under his wings like a mother hen does her chicks. I’ll have to check a commentary, but I believe I missed the pulling the hair of an infant part.

  8. The Pearls should be subjected to all the abuse they tell others to dish out to defenseless children. The only thing that makes me madder than someone abusing a child is someone who does it and uses the Bible or their religion as an excuse to do it.

  9. My mother kept a horse back riding crop hanging on the kitchen wall and terrorized my sister and i with it. She hit us with brooms, lacrosse sticks and even rakes… not to mention her bare hands.

    Today she would have been arrested. How can any library in 2010 have this on their shelves?

    1. Because like it or not, a library is suppose to have all sorts of information.

      You just have to keep in mind that the Pearls are not REAL Christians. “Spare the rod and spoil the child” means you’re suppose to use the “rod” with GENTLE taps to GUIDE the child. Not beat them to death with it.

      1. Libraries are supposed to have all sorts of information, but one can also argue that it would be unethical to have something that presents dangerous practices as being completely acceptable. Instead, a library could have books that discuss this particular philsophy of child-rearing and also the problems with it.

        “Libraries should have all sorts of information” is one of those things where it’s not really black-and-white. This reminded me of a discussion we had in my collection devleopment class about having materials on Holocaust denial. Classroom opinion on that was all over the place.

  10. Oh my God! What idiot would follow any of those instructions? How could anyone be so cruel? It’s scary that there are “625,000 in print”.

    1. Take comfort in the thought that “625,000 in print” doesn’t necessarily mean “625,000 bought” or “625,000 read”. But, yes, scary.

      1. Yeah–I’ve seen this before, and apparently they recommend giving copies to every new family that moves in on your street or comes to your church. If even a few dozen people do that, it probably accounts for a lot of copies.

  11. So, can anyone forward this info to those 56 libraries? I’ve checked my local public library.

  12. Alas, a google search turned up scores of rave reviews for this book. Keep this book out of libraries, lest abusive parents use it to justify their habits!

  13. Yeah, I’ve heard of them. Check out No Longer Quivering for a bunch of survivor stories from these ultra-fundamentalist Quiverfull types —

    A truly loathsome book. Belongs in BR1600, not HQ700.

  14. Just the title of this book gave me pause–I’d never heard of “training up” your child, it just sounded strange. But the description sent chills up my spine and made me want to wake my 16 month old just to give her some extra cuddles! The poor children whose misguided (and frankly stupid) parents who followed this book! The title should be, How to Be An Abusive Parent. Get this book out of the library!!

  15. This crap is just plain sick. Why anyone thinks this is “Christian” is beyond me. People who write garbage like this should be taken to a prison camp and subjected to the treatment they advocate for at least 6 months, including all the idiotic demands and bossing about that most such abusers of parental position and authority dump on the heads of those too little to defend themselves.

    1. Good post Moriah, Yeah, I said something similar to my wife today, after I read this. They really need to be beaten until there is nothing but a submissive whimper. I’m willing and able, alas, that’s illegal.

  16. Parents who follow this depraved book’s advice are just not meant to be parents, IMHO. Agreed, parents are pretty coddling in this day and age, but the pendulum need not swing so far back to such lunacy as these beastly people advocate.

  17. So…do THEY have any kids still? Have THEY been arrested for child endangerment or had their kids taken away?

    Like the previous posting about “how to pick up women,” I wonder how anyone could even publish this.

    1. Freedom of speech,is why it got published,and then there’s the gullible people who buy it thinking it works….plus if your book doesn’t sell ,it becomes remainder stock,and no one buys it,you have to give it away…to libraries and they toss it!
      It could be used for fertilizer though if you shred it. So it might be useful.

  18. I never commented before yesterday and now I am moved to comment two days in a row, each for a very different reason.

    This is the kind of book that tests one’s commitment to free speech. Really both yesterday’s and today’s books advocate the victimization of traditionally dominated segments of society, but I would like to think that the majority of women would be able to avoid the terrible come-ons noted in Don Diebel’s book. Children living with people foolish enough to follow the Pearls’ advice cannot escape.

    Is this a self-published book? If not, perhaps the publisher needs to hear what people think of this garbage.

  19. … I don’t even know were to begin.
    it just goes to show that fundamentalism in any faith is a scarey thing.
    Anyone that recomends you hit an infant should be jailed alongside those who follow those instructions.
    There are so many ways to keep your child from becoming a psychopath, hitting them when they are crying for you at night … not one of them

  20. I’m speechless. I’m deeply sorry for the children who were subjected to this.

  21. The Pearls make me want to vomit. It hurts my heart to think of all the poor babies who have been subjected to abuse as the result of this book.

    If there is a god, I hope he has a special place in hell for people who hurt children.

    1. There is. God does not like His most innocent hurt.

      Shocking how “Christians” forget things like Jesus calling the children to him when others would turn them away.

  22. Just for a point of clarification… the Growing Kids God’s Way and Babywise books are not in any way affiliated with the Pearls. They are the work of Gary Ezzo and are responsible, on their own, for many cases of breastfeeding failure and failure to thrive up to and including infant malnutrition and hospitalization. Please file any copies of Ezzo’s books in the circular file where they belong.

  23. Oh my god – why arent the authors in prison? Isnt it illegal to incite someone to perform a violent act on another person? They should be charged with the abuse of every child whos had to suffer at the hands of parents who read this shocking book!! Animals!

  24. Is there a section of the library for horrible books like this? There should be — at least in certain types of libraries. I’m sure you can still get Hitler’s book, so this would generally fall into the same category.

    Getting rid of it all together would be wrong, but it should probably be removed from the parenting section.

    1. This is one of those books that I can’t picture being acceptable in a public library (although a book that discusses the book’s philosophy and the controversy behind it is another matter). I could see it at an academic library – after all, if you’re going to write about certain child-rearing practices while taking a course on childcare and child development, being able to talk about the original texts is a must. But, in that case, the book wouldn’t be blindly taken as fact. I’d be afraid that, in a public library, it might be.

  25. That cover is proof that “Christians” don’t do irony.

    Or is that a rictus of terror on the child’s face?

  26. I have been made aware of this a few months ago on a blog entry that left me emotionally raw. I can’t understand how a parent can do this to their children! Nor can I understand a person doing this to any child.

    The said thing is they have a Facebook Page and it’s been reported by many and they are still up.!/pages/No-Greater-Joy-Ministries/98287219406?v=info&ref=ts

    Our group tried to report it to amazon but they will not take it down off their site, because of freedom of speech…..

    1. Don’t remove it from Amazon: I use Amazon all the time as a book reference (I’m not a librarian). If someone handed me a copy of this book, or if I saw a friend reading it, I’d rather see this book listed along with a slew of negative reviews, than have my search be met with silence.

  27. Oh my days i cant believe what i’ve just read….is this really for real? how did these ‘pearl people’ get published. I just dont understand, They should be locked up giving instruction such as this on bringing up a child. I’m disgusted and appalled, i may not be the perfect mother but i know how to love my girls.

  28. Apart from it being a horrible book in general, the “advice” it gives isn’t even good. If the child is going to be whipped whether they had obeyed or not, what is the point of obeying? They might as well have gone ahead and done whatever it was since the outcome would be the same.
    Whips should only be used by archaeologists searching for lost arks, in case of snakes or other such hazards.

    1. If the Pearls suggest the “wisdom” that my mother used on me the whipping isn’t so much for obeying as it is for obeying *slowly*. If father asks you to do something you run to it immediately. If he has to ask a second time or threaten to get out his belt it means you should prepare for a hiding even if you’re mid-way through the task.

  29. I can’t believe that a publishing company would even take this! I would like to know which one did to give them an earful! There a four-year-old boy that was murdered by his adoptive parents a year ago near me. Guess whose parenting philosophy they ascribed to… You got it! The Pearls… My heart breaks for the children raised like this!

  30. Never did the word “awfull” fit more…. Let’s hope if they ever get imprisoned for that crap, the guards gat a copy and take their advice on training them, too.

  31. Sadly, it was self published, well sort of, they own their own publishing company to get these books published. It should say thing when you have to create your own company to publish a book… Sad

  32. I am a child abuse survivor, and I think this book is evil. This is clearly abuse, and it can completely f*ck a person up for life.

  33. Dr. Monkey // June 6, 2010 at 8:33 pm | Reply

    The Pearls should be subjected to all the abuse they tell others to dish out to defenseless children. The only thing that makes me madder than someone abusing a child is someone who does it and uses the Bible or their religion as an excuse to do it.

    I couldn’t agree more with you.

  34. If you must keep it in the library, at least move it to the reference section or the special requests section. I wouldn’t want any young people to see this book without parental supervision.

  35. I can’t even believe books that promote child abuse are allowed to be on the shelves..

  36. I agree with Nathan that such books should be preserved for STUDY by sociologists and other observers of humankind’s stumbling path. In most cases, this probably means putting it not just in another section but another library — an academic or research library. Not as censorship, just in order to reach the audience to which they’re best suited.

  37. This post made me check, with bated breat, and I’m happy to say that my library doesn’t have this or any other books by these fruitcakes. I’m with the “burn all the copies” team…

  38. I haven’t posted in a while because of a move, but will again.

    Thanks for all efforts regarding these people. The libraries that carry this sort of material should be be required to post a warning on the label.

  39. Check out your selection policy. This book shouldn’t get past a decent selection policy.

  40. The whole summary sickens and saddens me. But #6 in particular made me want to get a very strong drink and lie down for a while, wishing I could un-read it. That is, as others have already noted, the way to completely f**k a life up forever. How completely insane would anyone have to be to think like this?

    God willing, you hopefully won’t find any books worse than this. This is beyond “awful” and goes right straight to evil.

    / Also, most unfortunate instant-conversion to a smiley by the WordPress programming ever.

  41. I agree with moving the book to another section. Those who want to use the book for research, in order to argue against it, should be able to access the book without having to purchase it. It is available online, but without the page numbers one needs to cite. I’m pretty sure that the quotes in the post are from an old edition, not the one with the cover shown.

    I have a website dedicated to collecting arguments against and information about these teachings at Naturally, I will be linking to this.

  42. I just looked at their website and have to say there is nothing “loving” or “compassionate” about “measured spankings”. Of course, if I commented with that on their website, they wouldn’t post it as “We will NOT approve “flames”, sarcastic or hateful comments, or messages with profanity.” I think they’d likely see me saying that as hateful and sarcastic. They’re sick bastards. They wouldn’t post that up either!

  43. I am absolutely heartbroken to read this. I almost wish I had just remained ignorant of the existence of this book. I have five children, and their darling sweet little faces, chubby fingers and dimpled knees were more beautiful than words can say. To whip their poor little bodies? To inflict pain and fear? What malicious, ugly intent. That is NOT of God at all.

  44. Wow. The authors should be publicly executed, and high fines for any library still housing this monstrosity.

  45. Oh my goodness. This is just ….. I don’t have words for this. My parents do believe in spanking toddlers who are having tantrums until they stop screaming and start sobbing, which is why they are not permitted to spend any time with my children unsupervised, but I have never heard of any childrearing “advice” as brutal as this book. Wow.

  46. Material that contains dangerous information such as this atrocious book has no place in a library, particularly a public library. There is a reason why medical and legal information is supposed to be so heavily weeded. If a patron follows the directions in a book and disaster results, they can justifiably sue the library for providing them with inaccurate information. If a researcher is bent on proving how awful the Pearls’ advice is they can utilize their website for the information. These books should never have been purchased, but if they were they should be immediately weeded and disposed of.

  47. I know this is a bumper-sticker saying, but it sums up my feelings:

    Please, Lord, save me from your followers.

  48. I have heard of these two morons before (there was a huge anti-Pearl article in Salon a year or so ago) and I am thankful that no one in our library system has these horrifying books.

    How these two haven’t been arrested for inciting child abuse is beyond me. Most Christians I know practically spit when mention of the Pearls come up.

  49. Wow. I immediately checked and thank goodness this book is NOT part of our collection.

    How could anyone think this approach is appropriate?

  50. What really bothers me is, that though the contents of this book are clearly illegal by German law – it’s forbidden to beat up or hurt a child in any way, so this book is inciting illegal behaviour, still it’s for sale at the German site of Amazon. Being both a librarian and a German, I have little liking for banning books, but this one should be banned.

  51. As someone pointed out on another blog, Michael Pearl’s career spreading human misery might have been cut short if somebody had taken him aside years ago and explained that, while the deep excitement he apparently feels at the thought of whipping is normal, he shouldn’t expect many people to share it and it’s only for consenting adults.

    Librarians who want to stock Christian child-rearing books might want to look at Crystal Lutton or the Searses.

    1. Me like comment, too! That is just the sentiment I felt reading this whole discussion – that these Pearls are a bit confused in the whole “whom-to-spank” department.

  52. I think this material is perilously close to pornography.
    It’s only value is as material for sociologists to study; maybe criminologists too.

  53. jamisings said: “You just have to keep in mind that the Pearls are not REAL Christians. ”

    The “No True Scotsman” argument is fallacious. Grievously, tragically, unfortunately, they are, indeed, Christians. And there are many more like them in the world, Christian and non.

    As a matter of fact, they use their Christianity to escape punishment. If an atheist published a book about how to beat up the elderly until their screams turned to whimpers, and advocated the best weapons for such, the entire religious community would come after them with such force it’d make your head spin. And rightly so. But since these folks use their religious affiliation to imply that their methods of torturing children into submission is protected speech under religious freedom, they can get away with it and continue the cycle of abuse.

    Things like this infuriate me. Personally, I don’t believe in hell. Since they’re Christians, though, I hope they get thrown in whatever hell they believe in. And I hope their god shows them the same mercy and kindness as they’ve created in this world.

    1. Well said, Carolyn.

      And I did have to think about this for a while. I have a 16 month old myself and have the “save the children!” ethos. But, I also firmly believe in the library being completely open.
      In the end, this is suggesting harm, and it would be like “how to beat up your sister in 5 easy steps” – it is a call to injury. And I commend you for weeding the hell out of it.
      I checked and our library system doesn’t seem to have it, so that’s one less letter to write. I did share on FB though.

    2. It’s more accurate to say, “They are not representative of all or probably even most Christians.” They may call themselves whatever they like.

  54. Interesting that they suggest that the unbeaten child will grow up “a Nazi” when clearly they are the sadistic, infantile Nazis themselves.

    Our problem is, of course, that a free society has to allow this sort of sh1t to be published. Sadly, it could be used to ‘justify’ cruelty, simply because that cruelty has been advocated in print. The power of the written (or pixellated!) word to the moron.

    Too many ‘Christians’ don’t seem to realise that it’s the New Testament and what Christ said that matters, not the vengeful, wrath-spitting, jealous Jehovah of the Old one!

    When I first started in libraries I was disgusted that we had ‘Mein Kampf’, obvious evil racist filth, on the shelves. I said ‘we shouldn’t stock THAT’, and the wise Chief Librarian told me, ‘That’s exactly what the Nazis said about books they didn’t like..’

    Life’s all about wisdom, judgment and being kind to others at every possible opportunity. Takes a while to learn though, doesn’t it?

  55. Below is the link to both the District Attorney’s comments and the official statement from No Greater Joy Ministries, Inc regarding the Schatz case which was issued within a couple of days of learning of Lydia Schatz’s death.
    It is obvious to anyone who cares to examine the facts that it is the rejection of the parenting philosophy espoused by the Pearls and No Greater Joy Ministries, Inc that contributed to this tragedy.
    Subsequent statements by the District Attorney and media reports continue to point out the fact that what the Schatz’s did was in complete contradiction to what the Pearls and NGJ teach. Those that ignore this reality do so only to perpetuate the lies to sensationalize this tragedy.

    1. It is not obvious to me at all.

      First of all, all the DA did was quote Pearl that one should not cross the line. That line is not defined anywhere in Pearl’s writings.

      Secondly, that is not all of the DA’s comments. Here is a longer quote:

      Thirdly, how does Pearl know that they were not following his advice? He was not there.

      My question is, could the Schatzes have thought they were obeying the Pearls’ teachings? Could they have been calmly chastising her without knowing that they were actually breaking down her tissue?

      Michael pearl teaches that his methods work on all children as long as you are 100% consistent. He also teaches that you must spank the child until her defiance turns into a submissive whimper. What if the submissive whimper never comes? Could this kill her? That is the real question.

  56. Chuck: Fine, then. That particular case may or may not actually be connected with this book. However, that does not mean that the contents of this book are not dangerous.

    The rationale presented in this book for the actions it is suggesting is much the same as the rationale a great many child abusers use for their actions. “He didn’t do what I told him to.” It doesn’t matter. That amount of force is not necessary no matter what a child, or anyone, does. Whether or not any actual case of hospitalization or death is connected to it is irrelevant.

  57. I actually have a copy of this book, but the copy I have is in a black and white softcover with a drawing of a happy(?) family in a horse-drawn buggy on the front. Definitely a self-publish.

    It was given to me by a well-meaning and devout sister-in-law. I read it, and wept for humanity.

    Apparently I should have beaten the autism out of my (very small, at the time) oldest daughter.

  58. I am pleased that a county wide search in my area revealed no copies.

    Thank goodness! I do, however live in an area of the country with high education and income levels.


  59. i’m a librarian, although no longer practicing, and while i agree that it’s probably not a good idea to have this book out on the shelves for any impressionable child hater to pick up, this book has been the only way for concerned laymen (and women) to research what this freaks actually teach. by banning it completely, it allows them to hide in secrecy. there is a campaign to ban the book on amazon too, but again, how would the rest of us who don’t show up at their crazy “revivals” find out the horrible things this man is teaching? they used to hand this book out for free a few years ago to homeschooling families. so they are getting these books anyway. it’s the rest of us who want to shut these freaks down who need the information. so don’t ban books!!!

    as a side note there is a wonderful campaign started by The Lizard Lass on youtube to “Help Bring Michael Pearl to The Home Depot’s Attention!” it seems pearl recommends in his book to buy the whips from home depot.

    if you must boycott something, boycott home depot for not suing, but don’t boycott amazon or burn this horrible book.

  60. Unfortunately I know about this book. It has been a topic of discussion on a regular basis on the various parenting message boards I have posted on over the years. I am happy to say that I have never met anyone on those sites who did not roundly condemn the book. Definitely one for the “special” closed-off section of the library!

  61. This sounds like something I would have expected in the 1800s perhaps…but 1994?!! WTF?? I checked our library and thankfully we do not have this title.

  62. Perhaps the person who put this in the “awful books” category should have read the positive as well as negative reviews on Amazon…the list of things from the book were from the top negative review there. Here is one that might give you all a little clearer perspective on the other side of the spanking debate, if you’ll actually bother to read it. :^)

    Read the Actual Book and Be Honest with Yourself, May 22, 2010
    By BLB (Oregon, USA) – See all my reviews

    This review is from: To Train Up A Child (Paperback)
    The actual book does not promote child abuse. The problem is, it requires parents using it to have enough self-discipline and character to use corporal punishment consistently, calmly, in a measured way, and without reflection of their moods. It doesn’t allow for using corporal punishment exclusively, either.

    The authors are farm people who train their own horses. They’re used to a situation where they’re dealing with a creature that can’t be effectively trained with either verbal reasoning or fear, a creature that could endanger itself or others if it is not disciplined properly. They raised their children on a traditional farm, a place full of serious physical dangers, where learning the hard way isn’t an option that a loving parent can consider.

    The truth is, the Perls sound like affectionate, non-blaming people as well as unusually patient and self-controlled people. They are people who have learned to look at things from the perspective of the one they are training. For instance, they stress that there is no way to discipline a child without having a positive relationship with her. A child raised by the Perls would be eager to please them, because the relationship would not be primarily based on getting a spanking when you mess up. I would predict that there would actually be very little spanking in their home, and no yelling, verbal abuse, or emotionally damaging drama. It would be miles better than a lot of “no-spanking” houses. I wonder how many of the people decrying this book provided their children with a home that was as predictable and free from emotional abuse as I expect that the Perl household is, or if their children had the self-control that the Perl children did. Unfortunately, there are many people who don’t know that raising a child fit for polite company without a lot of emotional drama is even possible.

    If you’re going to spank your child, this is a good book to read, almost a must. As you read it, though, be very honest with yourself about whether you exercise the kind of self-control and humble attitude that the Perls assume you have. If you don’t have that kind of self-control, you can read it and try to substitute other feedback for the spankings, but you’ll still need to learn the respectful, kind, patient consistency that is actually the foundation of the Perls’ method. You have to take in the entirety of the message. Look at what kind of parents the Perls are suggesting you be. Don’t even consider using corporal punishment if you can’t be that.

    This book has some “pearls” in it, but readers should not fool themselves. It is not primarily about spanking. If you make it into that, you will fail.

    Also consider that there are strong-willed children for whom corporal punishment is never going to work, because they will refuse to be motivated by anything short of abuse, and will resent that even if they eventually capitulate. You may as well try to break a zebra to harness. A parent has to realize that, and absolutely never try corporal punishment with a child like that. That would lead to spectacular failure and ruination of the relationship with the child.

    1. They’re used to a situation where they’re dealing with a creature that can’t be effectively trained with either verbal reasoning or fear, a creature that could endanger itself or others if it is not disciplined properly.

      And yet, astoundingly, many of us find ways to discipline these large, unthinking, potentially very dangerous animals without any hitting. What wondrous trainers we must be.

      And let me tell you–if you punish a horse for obeying, even if he was obeying slowly, you’re going to end up with a dangerous animal.

      There’s an enormous difference between discipline and what’s described here.

    2. So even this positive comment you mention suggests that the method only works if the parents have perfect self-control. I know very few people who never get angry with their children, so that makes this method, at best, completely impractical, even if you believe that it would work (which I do not). More common than those parents with complete self-control are those parents who THINK they will have self-control, but will instead go to far in anger. That is the danger.

      As for being Christian, we’re all aware of the Biblical stories where Jesus smacked his disciples upside the head because they were being dense. Oh wait…. (Perhaps that was an alternate-history version of Jesus, who pulled out the nails, jumped off the cross and kicked some ass: the kind of Messiah the Pharisees were expecting.)

    3. It is true that Michael Pearl says in the book not to abuse your children. The problem is that he never explains how to follow his advice without abusing. Would not the very act of training an infant by “switching” him be abusive? Nor does he explain where chastisement ends and abuse starts. He never says how many licks is ok and how many would be abuse. Nor does he define abuse by how long to keep spanking. He does say that if you are not 100% consistent that you will fail. He also says that you should keep on spanking until their yelling stops and turns into a submissive whimper. He does not explain what to do if you keep spanking for hours at a time and there is still no submissive whimper.

      I don’t know of any horse trainers who hit their horses. On top of that, children are not animals they are people, made in the image of God. Why would we compare them to animals?

      There is very little spanking in the Pearl household because they have already trained the child. I object to the very act of training children in this way. This is behavior conditioning. Pearl even brags about how his grown children would drop an iced tea if he were to say, “hot.” I consider what Pearl teaches to be the crown jewel of emotional abuse. The children are switched for any emotion except for happiness until they no longer even feel any other emotion. I feel sick even thinking about it.

      I don’t agree that this book is a good book to read. It is true that there is some truth in it and even some good advice. But I consider the bad advice so dangerous as to be like rat poison. Rat poison is mixed with sugar to make it easy to eat, but it is no less dangerous.

      I do agree with what you say about the strong willed child. And an adopted child is likely to fall into that category and should never be spanked.

  63. the actual book does promote child abuse. the problem is that the people who wrote it use specious logic, and the people who follow them use even more specious logic. as is noted in this latest defense of this particular brand of child abuse — highly eroticized beatings of children’s bare bottoms, in a calm, cool, and collected manner — the abuse is always perpetrated “without anger.” their very specious argument is: it isn’t abuse if you aren’t angry about it. even though, in a court of law, a crime of passion, i.e. a crime committed in a fit of anger, has since the beginning of time been considered a lesser offense than a crime committed in a premeditated and very coolly psychotic manner, which is exactly what michael and debi pearl advocate. they are obviously sexually aroused by this. i can’t believe that isn’t obvious to everybody — especially the parents who are following their advice. oh, and, it’s really great, the way debi and michael pearl tell mothers to stay with their husbands even if they are sexually abusing the children. husbands must always be forgiven. and god just hates divorce. this is a child abuse sex cult in the guise of christianity and the REAL christians should really do something about these people before the law has to come after everybody for being materially culpable in the abuse of millions of children. this is right up there with the vatican abuse scandal. the size and scope of the problem is nothing to sneeze at. the no greater joy cult makes the westboro baptist people look sane.

    1. Dear Lottie J,

      WORD! Exactly what I was thinking – this “philosophy” is not just cruel, it is plain creepy as well.

  64. I was spanked growing up and even I have to say I would not do nearly any of the things talked about by this book. Spanking when you do something truly bad is one thing, using it to ‘fix’ everytime a baby cries is quite another 🙁

  65. I was raised in a Christian family and am Christian myself, but spankings were saved for major transgressions. I can count on one hand the number of times I was spanked in my entire childhood. People like the Pearls give Christians a bad name. Sometimes you have to think satan put people like this on earth to turn more people away from religion.
    I hope you won’t be offended if I check out this particular book from my library just to burn it. I’ll pay the late fines.

  66. We must not pay attention to these insane religious freaks. And their association with homeschooling gives it a bad name, because it makes people think that these people are typical homeschoolers! No, they’re not, most homeschoolers aren’t religious weirdos who terrify children and blatantly break the law in the process of disciplining them! This is just a manual for how to abuse children, which is against the law and incredibly negative behavior, this is one of the only books in the world that should be banned, and I’m staunchly anti-censorship. But banning this nonsense would be out of sanity and compassion more than censorship!

  67. There are no ways to spin this into something positive. I received this as a `gift` from an online friend when I was pregnant 12 years ago and was horrified, deeply. It gives Christians a very bad name to say the least. This is clear cut abusive, whipping the children into submission.

    Spare the rod does not mean beat them with it-it means, like you would guide a sheep through a field with your rod, you must guide your children. Meaning you do not just let them do whatever they want, you must teach them and help them learn their way. No where does it say beat them. No where. You do not beat a sheep to make them listen, nor should you do the same with a child. It breaks my heart to even think that people find this good parenting advice.

  68. I do not understand how any parent can look at their child, even when said child is not behaving well at the time, and strike him/her. How do you do that? The Pearls are horrible people who should never be allowed around any children. Ever.

  69. A similarly horrible (though paled in comparison) book is James Dobson’s The Strong-Willed Child. My mother owned both of these books, and spoke proudly of them to her friends. She spoke fondly of my father’s father’s policy of sending his children to the edge of the woods to pick their own branch to be hit with, and making it hurt even worse if they returned with a small branch. Strangely, she quietly accepts my wife and my strict policy of never hurting our two children. Hopefully it’s because she regrets what she did, even if she’s too proud to admit it.

  70. I was horrified and appalled to read about this book, but dismissed it as another horrible thing from those American radical christian groups, how lucky we don’t have that kind here in Eastern Europe.
    Then I learned that a Hungarian church have translated and published this book and they value its advice so much that you can actually download it for free from their homepage.

    Needless to say, it’s a serious crime to handle a child like this in this country as well as others…

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