Do you ever have those moments where you wonder if you’re crazy, and then you receive confirmation that you most definitely are not?
I had one of those today while reading an article by Michael Pearl’s daughter Shalom, called Training a Child to Come.
The article starts out with this:
Everyone calls me the “soft-hearted Pearl”, and knowing this to be truth, I knew that I would have to train my children so well that I would not have to rely on spanking.
The Pearls have been trying especially hard lately to de-emphasize hitting and instead emphasize things like “tying heart strings.” Sometimes I wonder if the emphasis on absolute obedience without question that I grew up with was an aberration. Sometimes I wonder if the Pearls are, as they claim, misinterpreted. This article made me wonder that – at least until I got to the end, and then the bile rose in my throat.
You need to be creative in breaking this “well-trained” habit. You must create a new mindset. Get your husband or one of your other children to help. Have your helper play with your toddler to get him distracted, then call for him to come. Have your helper immediately take the child’s hand and lead him to you while telling the child, “Mama said, come.” Do this simple training exercise several times over the next few days until your baby begins to respond on cue. Most toddlers will respond correctly, but if he balks when your helper takes the little one’s hand, then have the helper spat the child’s legs to reinforce the command.
The “soft-hearted Pearl” suggests that you enlist the help of your older children in hitting your toddler if he or she won’t come at your command. Yes yes, the first part sounds fine – making a game out of learning to come, with your older children showing your younger ones how to respond when being called – but the enlisting of your older children in hitting the younger ones – and she describes doing this with her four or five year old as a helper with her one year old nephew – is absolutely, completely, totally, without question, WRONG.
It’s how I grew up
, though. I was the older child hitting the younger ones, sometimes in my parents’ presence and sometimes when I was left in charge in another room or while they were away. I grew up in a family where children as young as five were enlisted in hitting the youngest ones. And let me tell you, this leads to nothing but heartache. It leads to pitting child against child and setting up an older sibling as authority figure and disciplinarian rather than simply as an admired or idolized big brother or sister. Here’s an excerpt from my earlier post:
Why was I made to be an authority figure to my siblings instead of a sister? My heart breaks because I inflicted pain on them. It hurts worse that I never questioned these things, never asked why, never said no. But what did I, at ten, twelve, or fourteen, know? What did I understand? I had never seen anything different from what my parents taught and modeled at home. My parents handed me the rod and told me to spank. And I regret it with all my heart. And now, all I can say is I am so so sorry.
I used to wonder if my parents’ practice of having the older children hit the younger ones, and requiring the younger children to return the same absolute obedience to the older ones as to the parent, was perhaps simply my parents’ interpretation rather than an actual Pearl teaching. I used to wonder if maybe my parents turned to this not because of the Pearls so much as because they had so many children that they found it necessary to outsource some of the discipline. I now have my answer.
That the self-described “soft-hearted” Pearl can speak of having older children hit the younger ones as if it’s just a matter of course, well, that only shows just how off the Pearls are when it comes to discipline. I am so glad that I threw the Pearls out before I turned one. I am so glad my relationship with my daughter can be based on love and understanding, not authority and hitting.
Note: For why I say “hit” instead of “spank,” see the end of this post.