Some Michael Pearl Quotes on Child Training

I recently found the full text of Michael Pearl’s To Train Up a Child online, in case anyone is interested. I also found some compilations of quotes and basic teachings from both that book and another of the Pearls books, and the transcript for an interview between Anderson Cooper and Michael Pearl. I want to pull all of these things together for those who may be interested.

First, a selection of quotes and recommendations from To Train Up a Child.

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).

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.

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.”

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.”

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

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.”

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

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.”

Next, a list of quotes from the Pearls’ book, No Greater Joy, which is a compilation of articles from their bimonthly publication.

“My two-year-old will not stay in bed when I put him down. It seems like I am whipping him too much.  No matter how many times I whip him he still gets up.”  This is their recommendation: “If your spankings are too light to gain his respect, an increase in the intensity might be more persuasive.” p.6  “If he gets up, when his feet hit the floor, spring into the room with your little switch and pop him on the bare leg one or two times.”  “Never allow him to get his way.” p.7 If a child screams or cries “Just ignore him.  Don’t be moved by it.  Don’t pick him up.”  If the child says he is hurt give him “a terrible tasting herbal potion.” p.9

On p.19 Michael Pearl jokes about a “tot” getting “half a dozen little spankings a day.”

Michael Pearl praises parents who for a year kept their young son from medical treatment and who “was so sick that when he finally got to a doctor, the doctor expressed amazement that he was still alive.” p.20

To the question “Should a mature ten-year-old be allowed to switch a two-year-old if the mother is unavailable?” Michael Pearl says sure!: “Ten-year-olds ought to be mature enough to discipline a smaller child.  In our house, there was no difference between the parents and the older children in enforcing the rule of law over the younger children.” p.24-25

When a 3 year old screams the Pearls recommend: “without saying a word go straight to the switch.  Spank her where she stands.”  “Never threaten, and never show mercy.  One squeak of a scream gets a switching.” p.26  The Pearls apparently have never read the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus says “Blessed are the merciful!”

Here is some crazy teaching about violence from Michael Pearl:  If a child hits, bites, kicks or shoves he should get “a thorough spanking.  Children must be taught that violence is never an acceptable alternative in personal conflicts.” ??? p.27

When a 4 year old screams “Turn and walk away.  If she were to scream again, turn back and give her a spanking.”  p.30

On p. 33 “A mother describes her dilemma: `I get so frustrated with the children.  No matter how many times I tell them or spank them, they just do the same thing again.  We just go around and around.’”  Michael Pearl recommends “meeting every transgression with a swift penalty.”  “They will obey.”

On p. 34 Michael Pearl relates the story of a mother hitting her 11 month old who doesn’t want to eat any more “spinach-squash-mush” and pushes it away.  The mother “picked up her little enforcer (whip), which was lying on the table, and swatted the child’s hand.”  When the baby tries again to push the unwanted food away she “received another spat.” Michael Pearl says about this scenario: “I loved it.  It was beautiful.” (p. 35)  And then on p. 36 he says “I must encourage those of you with small children, train up your children now.  Don’t want until they are one year old to start training.  Rebellion and self-will should be broken in the six-month-old when it first appears.  Take this young mother’s example and think of ways you can train your child. (smiley face)”

On p. 46 a mother is described as ignoring her crying 3 month old, until the baby “became cheerful.” The story ends with Michael Pearl’s comment about a teenage girl visiting this mother and baby: “Maybe when this young girl becomes a mother she will have the wisdom to begin training her newborns and not wait until they are three months old.”

On p. 47 a 9 month old is left crying, sitting alone and ignored. Pearl recommends coming by to pat her on the head every 10 minutes. This is cruel and neglectful, and dangerous.

On p. 72 Michael Pearl says “switches and rods make many things mighty inconvenient (for the child). (smiley face)”

On p. 85 Michael Pearl recommends giving a little girl who won’t get into her car seat “five licks with a stinging switch.” If the girl still doesn’t get in the seat “repeat the switching.” If the little girl continues to refuse to get in the seat he says to take the seat into the house and strap the girl in it for “two or three hours.”

On p. 96: when one of the Pearls’ children tattled on another child Debi Pearl “spanked both of them regardless of who did the tattling.”

Finally, after Hana Williams died CNN did some coverage on the Pearls. I just now found a transcript of the coverage, which included some rather horrifying interviews with Michael—you can access it here.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Gail

    Well, that was definitely the most horrifying thing I’ve read so far today. I think these people are mistaking obedience and fear for respect. My parents spanked us with hands or a paddle (nothing on this scale)–it did make me obey because I was afraid of them, but it definitely did not make me respect them. I think my mother has learned from that and will be unlikely to use those kinds of techniques when she is watching my niece.

  • Rena

    OMG! I have a ten month old who smiles and fusses and claps and pushes food away and nuzzles and gives waves. If I caught someone switching them or “spatting” their hand I would rip this persons arms off.
    Doesn’t anyone realize babies know when they are full and when to refuse more?????

  • smrnda

    When they say if you don’t beat your kids you’ll raise a Nazi, don’t they realize that their pro-obedience brutality isn’t really that different from how the Hitler Youth were run?

    Why this huge need for obedience in kids? I mean, yeah, sometimes kids cry, don’t play with toys you give them, trip and fall. This is normal behavior. Michael Pearl must be a very insecure, cowardly, narcissistic man to need to assert his authority over *babies* in this way. I don’t usually condone violence, but I sometimes think I’d like a real adult man to put Michael Pearl in his place with a few well-placed hits.

    • Nea

      Michael Pearl must be a very insecure, cowardly, narcissistic man

      That’s been made pretty clear in Libby Anne’s deconstruction of Created To Be His Helpmeet. Even when Debi praises her husband, it’s abundantly clear that he’s a sociopathic control freak, quick to bully anyone he can control and insult anyone he can’t.

    • liu

      Are you kidding? By all acounts, this is way worse then the Hitler Youth program.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Yeah, when I read that Hitler quote, my first thought was “Right. Because the Nazis were known for disobedience.”

    • angel

      that would be too kind. How about someone farting in his face instead?

  • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

    I read part of that interview, and all I can think is….what the hell sort of definition of ‘corporal punishment’ is he working from? Because what he advocates certainly fits any definition I’m familiar with. (His avoidance of the word ‘hitting’ is frustrating as well, but I can at least see a distinction, even if it’s a sub-set of hitting behaviours.)

  • Alice

    4 MONTHS!?! %$#^@! This is why the belief in a place called hell is so popular. And when he says “I loved it. It was beautiful.” WTF?!? He is a freaking psycho. I have no words. I don’t know much about the legal system, but I wish they could be prosecuted for promoting extreme child abuse and contributing to the death of children. And that online retailers would yank the book off their shelves.

    • http://sylvia-rachel.livejournal.com sylvia_rachel

      There’s a whole article on their website about watching a little girl (about 3, IIRC) spanking her baby dolls for having a bad attitude, and it’s the same kind of thing — “look what a good mommy this little girl is already!” ::hurl::

  • Nea

    Of that whole horrific hymn to abuse and power-madness, this is the part that made my blood run coldest:

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

    What. The. Hell? I can almost, almost grasp how the Pearl’s psychosis makes them view mistakes, autonomy, confusion, and curiosity as rebellion but why, WHY is calling for a parent something the parent should viciously cut off?

    I can’t imagine what it does to the heart of a mother to shut down so far that there is no remaining spark of maternal tenderness, no possible permissable outlet for love instead of constant threats and violence. This horrific system doesn’t just abuse the child, it warps the parent.

    • Rena

      I agree Nea, that is one of the worst parts. It is basic nature to respond to the cries of your baby. To cut that part of your heart out is to cut off a piece of your humanity.

      • http://www.carpescriptura.com/ MrPopularSentiment

        And it’s no wonder that so many children have died at the hands of parents who follow the Pearls. If you are consciously squelching that part of yourself that responds to your child’s distress, how can you possible be an accurate judge of when you are going too far (“too far” defined here as “potentially fatal” – as far as my personal sensibilities go, ANY spanking is too far)?

  • http://truthspew.wordpress.com Truthspew

    It’s authoritarian bovine effluent. Pearl and his followers need to be charged with child abuse.

    • angel

      agreed. Or at least farted at their face.

  • Sophie

    I read that and I just want to cry! He is a monster to have done those things and to even more of a monster to recommend that behaviour to other people.

  • Rachel

    This made me physically ill to read. I can’t understand how people can’t see this for what it is. It is advocating child abuse — and the abuse of babies for being babies. I really don’t get it.

  • Christine

    As I’ve said before – it’s not just the methods that these people use that are abhorrent. It’s their end goals. I am not horrified by this book because it recommends hitting children. (I am disturbed by it and think they’re profoundly wrong, but not horrified.) I am horrified because the end result is to install unhealthy habits in the children – children not old enough to actually understand that they haven’t been abandoned are left alone; children are told to eat when they don’t want to; children are taught to not think. I don’t care WHAT methods you use – these goals would horrify me. You are intentionally stunting their brains, you are teaching them to be unhealthy, you are preventing them from taking care of themselves. THIS sort of book is why I am so strongly against hitting children in our culture in this day and age, but fairly accepting of it in other cultures and other times. There is a strong correlation between the two right now, and so I am willing to take “willingness to hit a child” as a warning sign for abuse in general.

    • http://www.carpescriptura.com/ MrPopularSentiment

      Libby Anne posted about this a while ago – I believe her post was about how she couldn’t possibly convince her parents that she is a good parent because not only are her methods different, her goals are too.

      My goal with my son is to raise a child who, if ordered to hurt someone, will stand up and say “No!” My goal is to have a child who will let me know (calmly, without a tantrum, please!) if I am wrong, and who isn’t afraid to negotiate for a change in the rules or for more responsibility. I WANT a child who talks back because I believe that every single member of my household has something that they can contribute – regardless of age. But the Pearls believe that Michael (and, to a lesser extent, Debi) are the only real humans in the family. Their children are reflections of their own worth, missionaries for their own beliefs – not agents in and of themselves. So for them, a good child is not one who contributes or negotiates, but one who quietly and stupidly follows orders.

      You know, kinda like the wife of a Command Man…

      • http://sylvia-rachel.livejournal.com sylvia_rachel

        My goal is to have a child who will let me know (calmly, without a tantrum, please!) if I am wrong, and who isn’t afraid to negotiate for a change in the rules or for more responsibility.

        Yes, this! When my daughter was younger I read a thing that really made me think: it was about how a lot of the traits that tend to be considered problems in kids are actually valued in adults — a kid’s “stubbornness” is an adult’s “persistence” and “determination”, for instance — so why are we so negative about them in our children?

        My 10-year-old is an only child (not a philosophical choice, in our case, but a biological one), and one of the things I’ve discovered about only kids (I’m #3 of 4, and DH is #4 of 4, so this wasn’t something we had any experience with) is that they tend not to “get” that there are different rules for adults and kids just because they’re adults and kids; they think the same rules should apply to everyone, unless and until good reasons for the distinctions are explained to them. And the more I thought about this, the more it seemed like a much more rational way to approach the world. I mean, why would you want to tell a kid, “Your bedtime is 8:00 because I say so” when you could instead explain how you arrived at that particular time based on how much sleep they need, how lousy it feels to be underslept, etc. DD successfully negotiated for a later bedtime on Friday and Saturday nights based on the fact that she doesn’t have to get up as early on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and now she has a bedtime she’s less resentful about because she participated in establishing it — win-win!

        Nobody wants their kids to ask for what they want via tantrums, but this idea the Pearls seem to have that the only two ways of being are “all tantrums all the time” and “do exactly as I say the millisecond I say it, every time, while smiling” is … bizarre.

  • kj

    Can someone tell me when this book first came out? I’d be curious to know how old the children are who were first subjected to this as infants, and what they think about it.

    • http://www.carpescriptura.com/ MrPopularSentiment

      Ages ago. The kids are all adults with families of their own now. And they are all “successfully trained.” I mean, who knows what goes on inside their heads, obviously, but publicly they are all 100% on board Michael Pearl’s Crazy Train.

      • angel

        in other words they are pathetic. Anyone that is normal?

  • MM

    IME, kids who are raised in this type of environment by and large turn out in one of two ways. Either they grow up to be the same simple-minded, non-thinking, fundamentalists as their parents and perpetuate the cycle with their own children; or they go completely off the deep end and become drug addicts or something. There seems to be few “normals” that emerge from this.

    • The_L

      I’m surprised any of them survive to grow up.

      • Niemand

        Certainly not all of them do. There have been several documented fatalities from parents following the Pearls’ advice.

    • angel

      yep and these normals are about 1 in 50.

  • Jolie

    Okay so let’s see… demand absolute obedience… brutally punish any attempt to question authority… teach by example that violence is an appropriate response to curiosity or disagreeing with arguments… while absolutely obedient to those above you, use brutality against those weakest than you… teach children that only people who believe exactly what you do are godly, and everyone else is wicked and sinful, especially those of a different faith, lifestyle or sexual orientation…. Now what was it that they were saying about “creating a Nazi” again? :P

  • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com Ubi Dubium

    “If a child hits, bites, kicks or shoves he should get “a thorough spanking. Children must be taught that violence is never an acceptable alternative in personal conflicts.”

    What kind of upbringing did these people have? And how can anybody not see the complete hypocrisy in this?

    I’m horrified and disgusted by the whole thing. I’ve managed to raise two children without hitting them once, and neither of them turned out to be a “Nazi”. (Although they are both now atheists who think for themselves, which the Pearls would probably say is worse.)

    • http://sylvia-rachel.livejournal.com sylvia_rachel

      This is perhaps the number one thing I don’t understand: How do these parents look their children in the eye and say “I’m going to hit you 15 times with a belt to teach you not to hit your sister”? Seriously, in what universe could that possibly make sense?

      • Alice

        And the message gets even more nonsensical if they let the older children beat the younger children for doing wrong! That was completely insane.

      • angel

        in the universe of hypocrites maybe

    • http://www.carpescriptura.com/ MrPopularSentiment

      That’s so mainstream, though. “It’s different – this is discipline, not hitting!”

      • http://sylvia-rachel.livejournal.com sylvia_rachel

        It’s not mainstream where I live, thank G-d. But, yeah, I’ve had that exact argument with a lot of spanking parents online.

        Not to mention the one that goes “Well, it’s better for me to spank him than for him to run out in the street and get hit by a car!” which leaves me spluttering and flapping my hands and going “WTF are you seriously suggesting those are the only two options that exist?!?”

    • angel

      I don’t give a shit about what the pearls think. And neither should you my friend.

  • Renee

    Okay while created to be his help meet freaks me out what I just read is sick and the Pearls should be put down like the rabid dogs they are. This is obvious child abuse. I am pro spanking, but come ON! I think Michael must be a sadist.

  • Niemand

    Why are these people not in jail? They have publicly admitted to torturing children and encouraged others to do the same. Why have they not been put in prison for child abuse and endangerment (tripping a non-swimming toddler into the deep end!)? Why is this book being sold as “child rearing” advice? What it really is is torture porn. On infants and children.

    • saraquill

      I feel bad for the children who are crying due to fear, hunger and pain, and get more pain for their trouble. Also those who disobey, for example, in order to not eat something that gives them hives, and then get beaten.

      • Randomosity

        So true! How despicable! I’d have been one of those fatalities and pretty near every day I give thanks I was born into the family I got. My parents were less than perfect and made some spectacular mistakes, but they never ever got anywhere near this and they’d rip the limbs off anyone who would even think of treating their children this way. My parents allowed for our personalities to develop. They never left any doubt they loved us. and when they needed us, we were there. Each one of us is very different from the others because we were allowed to be who we are.

        Training children like this robs those children of their personalities. These so-called “parents” want automatons, not people for offspring.

        Poor Jessica. Poor, poor Jessica. She deserves so much better. The greatest gift she has for the world will be buried under volcanic rock and no one will ever know what it is because her very soul is being ground into dust like too many others before her.

  • http://lanahobbs.wordpress.com L

    I can’t read any more of this. My parents got the pearls books and magazines… It’s terrible :( I am really, really glad my hippie homeschooling friend started posting against his stuff when my baby was newborn. I didn’t want to spank but after the stuff i read/heard and the way i was raised, I believed I had to…

    • Christine

      I am very glad that your friend helped you discover a way out of the cycle of abuse.

    • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com Ubi Dubium

      My heart just breaks for parents with beloved little children, whose instincts are to hold them and love them and cherish them, but who have been indoctrinated by the Pearls to think that they have to beat them for their own good. When my children were tiny I’d have thrown myself in front of a truck if necessary to protect them. I can’t imagine the awfulness of feeling like I had to torture someone I love so much. This poison is not only promoting physical abuse of children, it’s also psychological abuse of loving parents.

      Why aren’t these people in prison?

    • Rosa

      L, what a beautiful testimonial. I know the gentle parenting folks get a lot of negative responses from certain circles, and I know I have when I’ve forwarded or reposted gentle or positive parenting articles, so it’s wonderful to hear you got the support you needed to make that change.

  • Olidamarra

    This is so over the line that my sense of scale breaks down. I literally can’t read this without it becoming an abstraction, like thousands of dead in a faraway earthquake; it’s awful. Just awful.

    • Obazerverzi

      You’re lucky. My entire perception of reality is breaking down. Anything where this happens must be fiction, right? This is all just to set things up so that we cheer when they get eaten by some monster, right?

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  • Whitney K

    Thank you for sharing these excerpts because, while I’ve tried, I can’t stomach the entire text. I don’t even have the words to describe the emotions I feel while reading the Pearls’ book–a mixture of horror, disgust, anger and at the same time, morbid curiosity. It’s a glimpse into a lifestyle and methods of child-rearing that is entirely alien to me. And to advocate hitting infants, of all things, little tiny infants not even a year old! I know there’s a lot of debate on spanking in general and I don’t want to get into that, but I think anyone with a shred of basic human compassion and empathy can agree that beating INFANTS is wrong, wrong, WRONG.

  • saraquill

    So the two of them have confessed to multiple accounts of child abuse and torture. Why haven’t they been arrested?

  • Jennifer

    Clearly, none of you have actually read any of the books the Pearls have written. The above excerpts are taken out of context. I agree that some of their parenting techniques seem extreme, but the ideology and much of Mike and Debbie’s advice is sound in a culture where children are generally undisciplined.

    • ako

      What context do you think makes it ideologically sound to whip a baby for screaming?

    • Conuly

      There is NO context where their comments, attitudes, and ideology are acceptable. If you feel children are undisciplined, you find an appropriate method of discipline. You don’t pile on abusive shit.

    • Nea

      No, it’s abusive, which you would see if you didn’t view children as the enemy and curiosity, exploration, confusion, and mistakes as sin. There’s nothing sound or sane in what they promote, and children are not the better for it.

      • angel

        agreed

    • Chervil

      You’re flat out wrong, Jennifer. What is described in these passages doesn’t resemble anything remotely like discipline. It sounds like torture brought to you by The Home Depot. Child beating supplies on sale, aisle 7. Beatings and mind games are administered to POWs, not children. Ever. Shame on you for looking for excuses for your own lack of character. Their blood is on your hands.

    • Randomosity

      Does “undisciplined” mean being an individual and developing a personality?

      • angel

        to some this is exactly what it means. Being anything other than a robot is being a brat. These folks are f’d up in the head.

    • AnyBeth

      Years ago, I also found “To Train Up a Child” online. I read all of it. I fail to see how those quotes were taken out of context. By that I mean that these actually are things the Pearls promoted rather than, say, ideas they mentioned but disagreed with. And make no mistake: practically every “parenting technique” they mention is extreme, most would say abusive.
      But do have your say, Jennifer: I’d be fascinated to see what context you can give some of the quotes that would justify them or even make them the least bit more acceptable.

    • KarenH

      There is no legitimate context for whipping infants. None. Anyone who says otherwise, and I concede this may include you, are monsters.

    • http://sylvia-rachel.livejournal.com sylvia_rachel

      There’s no context that would make hitting a baby “sound advice”. That context just does not exist. I’m sure the Pearls sometimes give good (or, at least not actively toxic) advice, but I’m sorry, once you’ve gone on record as advocating hitting a four-month-old to stop her crawling up the stairs, I’m neither willing nor able to give credence to anything else you say about childrearing.

    • Staceyjw

      In our culture children are NOT generally undisciplined, unless you think kids should be seen and not heard, and cower in fear from all adults. Normal kids are just fine, and I bet they are even more physically and emotionally healthy than kids from 100years ago.

      I dont know where you live, but I live in a lower income, section 8 accepting, diverse, apartment complex in a very liberal town (180,000 people). It should be a “nightmare”, with wild kids everywhere, according to these types of conservatives. But its not.

      I rarely see a truly misbehaving child, and never see any persist in misbehavior for longer than a few minutes- even when they have to do lots of boring chores, go in and stop playing to do homework, have to share their one toy with others, and need to listen to their parents. I am always pleasently surprised how kids of different races, backgrounds, even speaking different languages, manage to get along, have fun, and even help each other. My son is 2.5, and he has a 6yr old spanish speaking friend that helps put his shoes on, and pushes him on his fire engine toy, other kids make sure the little ones are safe, and they all share, with few disagreements.

      And its not just little kids. One neighbor has a few teenagers, who always have friends over, and large groups of roving teens are always around, because of the apartments proximity to both the high school and the bike trail. I have never, ever, had one teen be rude or crude in front of my little ones. They always say hello, at minimum, even talk to the kids or comment on their cuteness. I am sure they aren’t perfect, but they are respectful and polite in public, even with peers, which is something undisciplined kids aren’t.

      I am not talking about a few kids either, there are 20+ on my “block” alone, over a hundred in is complex, and another hundred milling about (besides the ones I see elsewhere) Nearly every apartment has multiple kids, and they all play outside together, and I regularly have huge groups of kids mixed ages in my home and at the park/on walks. I see them in their homes, and doing errands with their parents, doing their parents laundry at the laundromat and shopping at the grocery store (since we all walk everywhere, we all use the same shops).

      It is possible this well adjusted, positive kids turn into rude little nightmares once they are alone with their parents, but not only do I doubt it, I think it’s irrelevant because Pearls are very concerned with public behavior, and say that if you don’t do what they say your kids will be horrible and a menace to society.

      Look, I read the book, and see where you are coming from. I inow there is enough material that isn’t abusive, that I can see how some parents get lulled into thinking their methods are sound. They promise a whine less child that adores you- who doesn’t want this? However, if you rely on hitting to produce a certain behavior, you are being abusive. period. Violence is never OK, and violence against kids is not OK just because you are a parent. There are other ways! and we know of them, so there is no excuse for this type of advice.

  • RachelS

    I just skimmed through the whole book and the context is disgusting. And nothing in here is out of it. How heartless you must be!

  • Stacey B.

    ” ”  When the baby tries again to push the unwanted food away she “received another spat.” Michael Pearl says about this scenario: “I loved it.  It was beautiful.”

    What the #%*@ is wrong with this man?!!!

    • Steve

      He is a psychopath and enjoys watching other people suffer

      • Brightie

        Or, he has really, thoroughly convinced himself that crushing kids thoroughly right now will somehow contribute to their having a better future and/or not going to hell, and blindly clings to thoughts of his way being the only way to promote such a future successfully, and discounts children’s suffering because they are not old enough for him to perceive them as full humans and equals. Also an option.

      • Staceyjw

        I agree with you Brightie. I do think he truly believes his teachings are saving children from hell. He is probably also sadistic, but I don’t think that’s the motivating factor. I do think that many of his followers are abusers that see in him a method that makes their desires acceptable and godly, which is very dangerous.

      • angel

        Someone has to fart in his face.

    • angel

      how about everything?

  • saramaimon

    idont understand why these people arent arrested or at least investigated. its no different tjan if they had written a book about commiitting robberies a

    • angel

      What I don’t understand is why some sensible human being doesn’t do to them what they do to little kids.

  • saramaimon

    gail, you wrote thatyou “hope” your mother doees not hit your children. well gail you are no longer a,little girl you are their mother with a respinsibility to protect them . “hoping” is not enough; you have to make sure!

    • Gail

      I was talking about my niece, not my daughter–I don’t have kids. I am 100% sure that my mother will follow whatever discipline my brother and his wife want, and I doubt that will include any hitting. While they both come from families that administered spankings, I know that my sister-in-law is particularly sensitive to harsh forms of discipline. I think this is a case where my mother has learned her lesson. I don’t think she was aware that there were any other forms of discipline when we were kids, considering the family she grew up in. If she had young kids now, I don’t think that she would have done it. But yes, if I did have children, I would make sure that she never hit them.

    • Gail

      I also feel the need to clarify–If I thought my niece were being abused in any way, I would intervene.

  • Alee

    The context seems pretty clear to me. You don’t have to be a genius to understand the message, with or without context: your children belong to you, and it’s your job to make sure they submit to your will in all circumstances without question. Their thoughts, emotions, and ideas are inconsequential. Obedience is all that matters. Use whatever means necessary, including neglect and force… whatever it takes to break their wills.

    Essentially, Child Abuse 101.

  • http://dream-wind.livejournal.com/ Christine in Australia

    I am thinking here of a poster that hangs prominently at my doctor’s surgery – of a little girl clearly screaming in pain, and crying, because of otitis media (middle ear infection which can lead to deafness if untreated). A toddler doesn’t have the ability to say “Mummy my ear hurts,” all she can do is cry. My doctor has no problem with parents bringing their kids into surgery if they are constantly crying for no clear reason. I really don’t like to think of what he’d do to the Pearls for giving this advice.

    • Nea

      Let me guess. From the Pearl point of view, the holy course of action is:
      1) Beat the hurting child until the fear of more abuse makes her stop crying about the pain from her ear
      2) Beat the child for rebellion when she cannot hear orders
      3) Throw up your hands and say it’s “God’s will” that the kid is half deaf.

      • http://sylvia-rachel.livejournal.com sylvia_rachel

        Actually, I suspect what they would say is that well, of course, if a chid is really hurt or ill, you should help them, naturally, what kind of monster wouldn’t?

        Except, if you’ve been systematically suppressing your nurturing instincts and training your kids not to cry when they’re in pain or tell you when they’ve hurt themselves, HOW WILL YOU KNOW when they’re really hurt or ill? Magic?

      • Nea

        Sylvia – exactly! When the parent’s first response to anything is to pick up a weapon, when the child has been taught from birth that showing discomfort is going to lead to brutality, how is a kid supposed to get a message through? The only way a Pearl parent knows a child is truly hurt is to find one listless and fever-hot, or gushing blood, apparently.

        The terrible story next on this blog shows how a Pearl parent is trained not to think of a child’s health over a child’s “rebellion” – even when actively starving an infant, Libby Anne’s entire family held to the Pearl worldview that the 18-month-old was actually, intelligently controlling the action.

      • http://dream-wind.livejournal.com Christine in Australia

        And the trouble is, health problems don’t always present with obvious symptoms, like fever. The otitis media issue is one I have direct experience with – my nephew had ongoing ear problems for the first three years of his life; it wasn’t until he was about 3 that a doctor finally realised his middle ear was full of gunk and had to be drained. Prior to this, my newphew had delayed speech and would often “act up” – because of his ear problems, he couldn’t hear properly, so couldn’t mimic speech, and couldn’t make himself understood, nor did he appear to be an “obedient child.” Leading to annoyance and frustration. Fast forward 3 years, he’s now a wonderfully behaved child, who’s not only caught up the speech but is being put into an accelerated learning program (yes, i’m a shamelessly bragging aunt). Aside from the speech difficulties and bad behaviour though, there were no obvious signs there was an ear infection.

        Had this been a Pearl situation, my poor nephew would have been constantly beaten for bad behaviour and not obeying commands. I can just picture the sullen, withdrawn child he’d be now.

  • http://allweathercyclist.blogspot.ca/ JethroElfman

    I suspect that herein lies the reason Debi expresses such unabashed loathing for the Command Man style of husband. When you equate love with “I’m going to smack you with a stick”, you aren’t going to reserve your love only for your children. Of course, theirs is a God of love who demands worship and service or you will burn in hellfire for ever and ever.

    • Nea

      Plus, you’ll end up living this life out in a crappy duplex while God flaunts his younger, prettier worshippers.

  • Lorelei

    Jennifer,
    Being a historian I do see your point. Historically, there has been a ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ attitude. Children were also much better behaved in the past. So yes, I do see your point. Saying this, I must point out that the methods described above do not work any more than the ‘letting a child find his/her own way” method. I have three young children. And yes, sometimes I do want to smack them. But I don’t. Mostly I take toys, use time out, and remove tv and computer time. (Young kids don’t need them anyway.) When Mother Teresa spoke of rebuking some of her nuns she felt bad when she was “harsh with them” because God is always loving and she always got a better result when she guided them lovingly. Our ideology should be love. Our measuring stick should be how effectively we can make our children joyful (full of God), not happy or submissive. There is a middle ground to the two extremes. Just a thought.

    • Staceyjw

      I don’t believe for one minute that kids were truly better behaved in the past, this is just a myth. They may have been more compliant and deferential to adults, but they were also horribly mean and nasty to other kids, and often aggressive and destructive. Sure, they probably did more chores, but this isn’t because modern kids won’t do them, its because they are no longer a life or death necessity, or hardship for a mom with many kids/constant pregnancy, so parents don’t demand as much. They also had so much more time away from their parents, running around with other kids or working, that it’s hard to compare them to modern kids who are expected to be well behaved just about every waking hour of their day. Its easy to be behaved when you spend an hour with parents a day, exhausted from work.

      Old methods of child rearing may have “worked” well enough to get kids to be quiet, and say Yes M’am and No Sir, but this is not good behavior IMO. We live in a world where violence has always been barely contained, and is frequently unleashed, and who is doing the violence? Yes, those perfectly behaved kids, turned adults. I do think their is a direct correlation between using violence as “discipline” and adults that grow up to use violence to settle disputes or get what they want. Perfect obedience creates societies with serious disfunction, not the type of thing we want in the modern world. It has taken a long time to even start to get out of this mindset, and the further we get from thinking that kids should be treated as property and whipped into submission the better. Personally, I prefer a kid that can say NO when something bad is happening, and isn’t afraid to challenge the rules in a constructive manner. This is the type of kid that will be a useful member of society.

      • Lorelei

        I get my information from people like school teachers whose students habitually tell them to f off because they’re expected to do things like homework, come to class, and take off their headphones. I know many in the US and Canada who have the same problem. In no point did I endorse beating a child. Just mentioning that there is a large ‘in between’ where children who are NOT beaten do not necessarily run will.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Irma-Geniuos/100003748842749 Irma Geniuos

        Unless you have collected a lot of historical information those anecdotes don’t mean much. The youth is always troublesome according to some elders. If one looks at the youth of say a hundred years ago it would be found that by the teenage years they’d most likely be working, almost certainly drinking and smoking. What it comes down to is that it is in the nature of youth to push the boundaries and separate themselves from their elders. That we might have frightened them into pretending respect is neither here nor there.

      • Christine

        “The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers”

  • Jurgan

    “describe tripping their non-swimming toddler so she falls into deep water (p.67). ”

    Wait, what? What possible justification is there for that one? What was the toddler doing? Running around the pool, I guess, but that doesn’t even seem like a punishment, just straight sadism.

    • Nea

      The Pearl books aren’t just about beating up kids, they’re about manufacturing situations where the child cannot escape having something horrible happen to them, whether it be an adult decision that there are no right answers (and thus beatings no matter what the kid does) or hurting them to teach them not to be hurt – like teaching a kid to fear water by deliberately making sure she’s about to drown.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      It’s this:

      When our children were coming along, we lived in a house with a pond in the immediate yard. As they grew to be toddlers wandering around outside, we always watched them closely. Yet, knowing the possibility of one getting out of sight, we cranked up the training. On a warm spring day I followed the first set of wobbly legs to the inviting water. She played around the edge until she found a way to get down the bank to the water. I stood close by as she bent over reaching into the mirror of shining color. Splash! In she went.

      Girl, it was cold. I restrained my anxiety long enough for her to right herself in the water and show some recognition of her inability to breathe. When panic set in (mine as well as hers–not to mention her mother’s), I pulled her out and scolded her for getting close to the pond. She didn’t swallow any water, and there was no need for resuscitation–except on my wife who took several hours to begin breathing normally. We repeated the same process with all the children. It took only one time for each of them to learn respect for the water. And it got easier on us.

      We did have trouble with one of them. She is the one who became mobile early, crawling at four months and walking at seven. She always had marvelous coordination. She just wouldn’t fall in. I got weary taking walks to the pond. So, to bring the class to graduation, I pushed. Oh, she didn’t know it. As she was balanced over the water, I just nudged her with my foot. To this day, I still believe that if I had left her alone she would have swum out. But, it distressed her enough to make her not want to play around the pond.

      • http://suburbintwasteland.blogspot.com RenadaJoy

        “… there was no need for resuscitation…”

        This is just chilling. So calmly stated, as though if there had been a need for resuscitation they would have just revived her, and everything would have been hunky dory. How do they know she didn’t take any water in? I read of a case a few years ago where a 10 year old boy drowned hours after swimming, due to water that he inhaled, not to mention the risk of dry drowning, which is caused by (generally very cold) water suddenly rushing into the mouth, causing the airway to snap closed. It is truly miraculous that none of the Pearl children sustained serious medical damage due to this “training.”

      • Alice

        The idiots could have just put up a fence like a normal parent would.

  • Jill

    It made me so sick to my stomach to read the first few quotes that I couldn’t even go on any further. I also don’t understand how it is that these people are not being investigated. People who incite others to violence (for example, for hate crimes) are punished. In this case, it would be pretty easy to prove, since they wrote a book, and there are multiple cases of children’s DEATHS due to people following their advice.

  • KristinMH

    Lorelei, there’s a quote from ARISTOTLE complaining about KIDS THESE DAYS. Apparently the behaviour of children has been getting steadily worse since 5000 BC!

    As for the Pearls, they whipped the 4-month-old crawler because she wouldn’t keep away from the stairs. Because if they installed a baby gate people would no longer be able to see at a glance what a super in control patriarch Michael is. Or something.

  • Catlover

    These people are monsters.

  • Rebecca Schreiber-Reis

    This is sickening.

  • Meg

    This was written in response to a post by Neimand (sp?) referring to TTUAC as “torture porn” – the system switched just as I was posting! and I was going to wait til it was all updated, but I’m not sure I’ll remember after another day or two. I think Neimand is very, very much on to something so I want to continue the train of thought.

    TTUAC is sensational, explicit in detail, and Pearl expresses delight, amusement, and satisfaction in causing pain to, and otherwise terrorizing, children. While it isn’t everyone’s thing, many adults enjoy spanking b/c it’s a form of stimulation to erogenous zones; even before 50 shades, Cosmo ran features on erotic spanking. It’s rather mainstream now and it’s far from new – there’s no way everyone involved in TTUAC’s success is completely unaware that spanking has sexual implications.

    Even though the Pearl’s are inflicting pain rather than pleasure, they’re still doing something vaguely (or for some people, very) sexual as punishment. http://sarah-whoiamwithoutyou.blogspot.com/p/still-crying-series.html did a series on spanking and the sexual link came up a few times (with even more people writing in anonymously to tell her they’re uncomfortable speaking about it, but that they’ve shared the experience). I have to wonder if Pearl gets his jollies from reading, in detail, how other people are “spanking” their kids and how many parents are drawn to it or continue it into teen years because of the sexual dynamic.

    • tsara

      I think it is very unlikely that he is unaware of it: http://www.christiandomesticdiscipline.com

      • tsara

        Probably should add a warning for the link; it takes you to a website that may be blocked by some filters. Here’s the warning text:

        “”This site contains themes pertaining to spanking and may be suitable only for adults. Please do not enter if you are under 18 years of age or if the concept of adult discipline offends you.””

      • Meg

        Oh. my. Biblical justification and everything.

        It all smacks of the same stuff.

      • Brian

        Heh. ‘smacks’.

  • http://wateringgoodseeds.tumblr.com/ Shira Coffee

    I know this comment is very late, but I just saw a post that I thought you might like to know about. Here’s a quote:

    “But, people say, if children are not controlled, there will be chaos. William Golding’s Lord of the Flies is cited as if it were documentary evidence, as if, without the authority of adults, children will become vicious little monsters. Children are made to read this malignant propaganda against their childhood selves, and its message is beloved by those who believe that the opposite of obedience is disobedience. But these are false opposites. The true opposite of obedience is not disobedience but independence. The true opposite of order is not disorder but freedom. Most profoundly, the true opposite of control is not chaos but self-control.”

    The entire article (which is not QUITE making the same points you frequently do) is at http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/7379

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sarah-Adams/1143985903 Sarah Adams

    Why are these people not in jail? This is not a rhetorical question. If I published graphic accounts of myself hurting children wouldn’t it be used against me in a court of law? Why has that not happened here? Have they run out the statute of limitations? Has anyone even tried to prosecute them? Why not?

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Because its legal for parents to hurt their children.

  • Debbie

    I truly feel sorry for you. Yes, there have been movements that did not follow Biblical instruction the way God intended, but your twisted, self-centered hatred for anything good is sad. You are bitter and self-absorbed. I hope you will take a clear look at the Bible the way God wrote it, not the way man has always interpreted it. I got caught up in legalism when my 6 children were young because I did not know anything but hypocritical church doctrines that had nothing to do with God’s heart. Instead of becoming an atheist, I got into God’s word and sought the truth for myself. I know who God is and I am totally free to love and be loved by Him. I am not afraid of what people think of me and I know what you do or do not do does not make you any more “spiritual” with God or anyone else. I have gone back to all 6 of my children and asked forgiveness for not going to God for His truth, but accepting man’s doctrine of bondage. All of my kids have forgiven me and I have a wonderful relationship with them. That is the way God works – forgiveness. Not self-righteousness (even as an atheist).You will reap from your choices – just like every human will. That is the difference between believing the garbage and believing the truth. Your life is up to you. You cannot blame your parents, your church leaders, your friends, your relatives, or anyone else. I truly feel sorry for you. You are no more free than those that believe all the garbage you are so adamantly speaking out against.

    • Shem

      So, where is the “anything good” that she is apparently expressing hatred for? Are you saying that the Pearls’ advice for raising children is good? What about their advice for marriage?

      Does “freedom” mean never bringing up the bad things that bad people do? Are you okay with people who call themselves Christian doing terrible, un-Christlike things? Do you think that God is okay with it?

  • Just Thinking…

    The Pearl’s are truly revolting “people.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.crawford.182 Kelly Crawford

    How are these idiots not in prison?

  • Pingback: choices and being allowed to make them, part two | Defeating the Dragons

  • Richter_DL

    These people need to be locked up. And everyone who followed this book’s advice, too. Maybe Guantanamo would be a good holdover for such people. Or Guantanamo and all the other secret prisons.

    This is sickening. And they’re proud enough of their deeds they write a book exemplifying them as good and god-willed. And, as Cooper says (this was before his outing, right?): “And you represent a lot of people’s beliefs.” I hope not, but I fear he does.

  • Beth

    I just threw up in my mouth. These people are sick!

  • Trish

    As a seasoned elementary school teacher, I have a fairly accurate sense of the affect of young children who are psychologically healthy vs. those who are not. I am unspeakably sad to say that I know of intelligent parents who, influenced by the Pearls, have mismanaged their children in deplorable ways. Food withheld, food forced, spanked for pulling off a hat at age 1, spanked for asking to go to the bathroom when they failed to urinate, “trained” to use the toilet at less than 1 year, forced to get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night when, at 3 or 4 years, they were bed-wetting (after such micro-management, a surprise to no one with any common sense). Underlying so much of this is the assumption that any self-direction on the child’s part is “rebellion”. At any rate, the children have no sparkle in their eyes; they constantly thumb suck; they are always one moment away from hysteria; their speech is unclear, probably because of multiple, untreated ear infections; at least one of the children was significantly underweight. Of course, they are significantly behind in academic development but, this won’t be obvious because they’ll never see the inside of a classroom. They have “arrested emotional development”–rather than develop self-management strategies, these children must continually be in a reactive mode to even formulate a sense of self. These people are pro-life, a perspective that I can understand and support. Ironically, however, the fate of these children is the strongest argument for the other side. Some things are worse than death.

  • fff

    The world would be a much better place if the Pearls died. This book should be illegal, since it’s literally inciting child abuse.

  • Layla13

    The Pearls are psychopaths.


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