TTUAC: This Is What Got Lydia Schatz Killed

To Train Up A Child, pp. 9—11

In this section, Michael finally touches on the topic of “excessive discipline.”

EXCESSIVE DISCIPLINE

Disciplinary actions can become excessive and oppressive when the tool of training is set aside and one depends on discipline alone to do the training. I have observed proud, stern fathers, ruling their house with a firm hand and making sure everyone knows it. The rod is swift to fall, and especially in the presence of company. The children tremble in his presence, fearing to incur his displeasure. I have often wondered why, if he is so firm and faithful to gain obedience, he has not achieved it before entering the public arena. I am impressed, but not in the way he hopes.

Except where the very smallest children are concerned, training at home almost entirely eliminates the need for discipline—especially public discipline. Yet, should the need arise in public, do a flanking maneuver and administer it; then go home and train so that it never again happens in public.

Oh lordy.

Michael is playing fast and loose with words and definitions here. He is splitting hairs. These two paragraphs make it sound like “discipline” is what happens in public and “training” is what happens in private. And it seems that’s not far off—here is how Michael has described the distinction before:

Parents should not wait until the child’s behavior becomes unacceptable before they commence training—that would be discipline. Discipline is a part of training but is insufficient in itself to effect proper behavior. Training is the conditioning of the child’s mind before the crisis arises; it is preparation for future, instant, unquestioning obedience.

And then it dawns on me. Michael speaks of “excessive discipline” and not of “excessive training.” I don’t think Michael thinks training can be excessive. He is suggesting that a parent should use private “training” to gain complete control over a child’s mind and will, and that then the child will be perfectly behaved in public and will have no need for “discipline.” It is that public “discipline” that can be excessive, and is a sign of not placing a great enough emphasis on private “training.”

You know what? Lydia Schatz died as a result of “training,” not “discipline.” Lydia mispronounced a word in a homeschool lesson, her parents told her to pronounce it correctly, and she became defiant. According to the Pearls, every such opportunity should be used as an occasion for “training” a child into absolute obedience and complete submission. And that is just what Lydia’s parents did. Again and again Lydia was defiant and refused to submit, and so again and again they applied the rod, “training” her to submit and obey.

And she died.

TRAINING THE ORNERY AMISH BOY

As I sat talking with a local Amish fellow, a typical child training session developed. The father was holding a twelve-month-old boy who suddenly developed a compulsion to slip down onto the floor. Due to the cold floor, the father directed the child to stay in his lap. The child began to stiffen so as to make of himself a missile that would slip through to the floor. The father spoke to him in the German language (which I did not understand) and firmly placed him back in the sitting position. The child began to make dissenting noises and continued the resistant slide. The father then spanked the child and spoke what I assumed to be reproving words. Seeing his mother across the room, the child began to cry and reach for her. This was understandable in any language.

At this point, I became highly interested in the proceedings. Most fathers would have been glad to give up the child to continue their own conversation. It was obvious the child felt there would be more liberty with his mother. If he had been given over to her, the experience would have been counterproductive training. He would have been taught that when he cannot get his way with one, just go around the chain of command. The faithful mother, more concerned for her child’s training than the gratification of being clung to, ignored the child.

Here is what I want to know: Why in the world could the father not have just put the child down? I get that sometimes that’s not an option, but it sure sounds like it was an option in this case. My little boy was 12 months not long ago, and I expected him to get wiggly and want down. Because at this stage in his development, that’s how he’s supposed to be. This is why I’ve said before that the number one piece of parenting advice I would give is to try to see things through the child’s perspective. When I’m holding Bobby and he wants down, I see that as a totally legitimate want. Unless there is some compelling reason, generally involving safety, that I have to hold him, I put him down. There is nothing wrong with a child wanting something, especially something so developmentally natural.

That all said, what Michael describes here is very familiar. My parents didn’t believe in Sunday school or even the church nursery, so even the babies sat through the entire church service with the family. Once a baby was old enough to try to wiggle off of a lap, my father would hold her, and would do just what Michael describes watching. And eventually, they would stop wiggling.

The father then turned the child away from his mother. The determined fellow immediately understood that the battle lines had shifted and expressed his independence by throwing his leg back over to the other side to face his mother. The father spanked the leg that the child turned to the mother and again spoke to him.

Clearly, the lines were drawn. The battle was in array. Someone was going to submit his will and learn his lesson. Either the father would confirm that this one-year-old could rule his parents or the parents would confirm their authority. Everyone’s happiness was at stake, as well as the soul of the child. The father was wise enough to know this was a test of authority. This episode had crossed over from “obedience training” to discipline for attitude.

For the next weary forty-five minutes, fifteen times the child would make his legs move, and the daddy would turn him around and spank his legs. The father was as calm as a lazy porch swing on a Sunday afternoon. There was no hastiness or anger. He did not take the disobedience personally. He had trained many a horse or mule and knew the value of patient perseverance. In the end, the twelve-month-old submitted his will to his father, sat as he was placed, and became content—even cheerful.

Oh my word the militant language! Parenting isn’t supposed to be about going to war with your children! It’s supposed to be about cooperation, communication, mutual understanding, and loving guidance. Parenting isn’t this either/or between the child “ruling” his parents and the parents “confirming” their authority. It can be about cooperation and listening to each other’s needs. Oh, and if you’re more concerned about maintaining your “authority” than you are about your child’s happiness and physical wellbeing, you are the problem. There is just so much wrong here, but to be honest it’s a pretty good example of the mindset the Pearls teach parents to have when they approach their children. And it’s that mindset that got Lydia Schatz killed.

Some will say, “But I couldn’t take it emotionally.” Sometimes it is difficult and trying to set aside your plans for the sake of child training. It does involve emotional sacrifice. Yet, what is love, but giving? When we know it will work to the temporal and eternal good of the child, it is a joy instead of a sacrifice.

Where our motives are not pure, where we suspect anger may be part of our motivation, our pricked conscience causes a reluctance to act. We fear that our discipline is an act of the ego to dominate. We must deal with our own impurities for the sake of the child; for if the child doesn’t receive this kind of training, he will greatly suffer.

I. I just. Wow. Okay, look, again, this is why Lydia Schatz died.

Michael is telling parents to ignore their inner feelings of love and compassion for their children. He is telling them that proper parenting should involve the pain that comes with violating one’s internal sense of what is right and what is wrong. He is telling parents that training their children in this way is a “sacrifice,” a way of “giving” to children and showing them love. (Which is odd, given that Michael has previously boasted about just how convenient children become if you cow them into submission, and how much easier and smoother your life will be, and he’s also indicated that he very much enjoys applying this “training,” leaving me to wonder just what “sacrifice” he is talking about.) Michael says that if you love your child, you must train him to absolute obedience, no matter what it takes. And if you don’t, that child will suffer long-term consequences. So harden your heart, mother, father, and set about brutalizing your children into utter submission.

A quick note on the anger bit. My understanding is that the Schatzes made sure not to discipline in anger the day that Lydia died. They did what they did calmly and calculatingly, not angrily. And Lydia still ended up dead. Being hit calmly doesn’t cause any less pain or physical damage than being hit angrily. Hitting a child angrily isn’t just wrong because it’s done in anger, it’s also wrong because it’s hitting a child. Hitting a child calmly doesn’t make it any less wrong. It just makes it a whole lot creepier.

BE ASSURED OF TWO THINGS:

1. Every small child will have one or two times in his young life when he will decide to take hold of the reins. The stubbornness is profound—amazing—a wonder that one so young could be so dedicated and persevering in rebellion. It is the kind of determination you would expect to find in a hardened revolutionary facing enemy indoctrination classes. Parents who are trained to expect it and are prepared to persevere still stand in awe at the strength of the small child’s will.

2. If you are consistent, this test of authority will come only one, two, or, at the most, three times in each child’s life. If you endure, conquering the child’s will, then in the long run the child wins. If you weaken and let it pass to the victory of the child’s will, then by winning it is a character loss for the child. You must persevere for the both of you. The household cat who, regardless of protest, door barring and foot swinging, is occasionally allowed to stay in the house will take the occasional success as impetus to always try to get in. If he is consistently kept out (100% of the time), he will not come in, even when the door is left open. The cat, allowed to occasionally get its way, is trained, despite your protests, to come into the house. If you kick it hard enough and often enough, it will become sufficiently wary to obey while you remain on guard but will still bolt through the door when it sees the opportunity. On the other hand, dogs, thirty-five times smarter than cats, can be trained either to come in or stay out upon command. The key again is consistency. If the dog learns through conditioning (consistent behavior on the part of the trainer) that he will never be allowed to violate his master’s command, he will always obey. If parents carefully and consistently train up a child, his or her performance will be as consistently satisfying as that rendered by a well trained seeing-eye dog.

This is what got Lydia Schatz killed. Seriously, this, right here. It’s also what came very close to causing one of my little sisters very serious harm. It puts parents in a situation where they can’t give up or back down, where they have to continue their discipline until the child submits, no longer how long it takes or how far it goes. How anyone can’t see that this is a recipe for absolute disaster I do not know. And we know it’s what happened in Lydia’s case. Lydia was still “rebelling” and refusing to give the word she had mispronounced another try. And since the Pearls teach parents to see these conflicts of the will as battles of eternal importance, and also as battles that only come once or twice and will cease once the child has completely submitted her will, the Schatzes continued to spank Lydia, using the plumbing supply line Michael recommends online. Lydia refused to submit, the Schatzes refused to surrender, and Lydia died.

Note that we have moved beyond conditioning here. We’ve moved to the point where a child begins to develop a mind of her own—something Michael views as a bad thing. I remember my mother telling me that the first time I looked at her and said “no” she was convinced that she had failed in raising me, and went to her room and cried, feeling that she had somehow ruined me. I was 18 months old. It just so happens that I feel the opposite. When Sally first said “no” I was delighted that she was learning to know her own mind and have her own opinions. Bobby doesn’t say “no” yet, but he does make his likes and dislikes clear. Children are supposed to assert their wills. It’s feature, not a bug. It’s part of growing up, developing personalities, and moving toward independent adulthood. Training children out of asserting their wills stunts that process.

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.

  • http://yllommormon.blogspot.com/ aletha

    Wow. The whole silencing love and compassion in order to “help” the child sounds downright creepy. Like Michael is advocating good parenting (or training) requires no emotion. I’ve never been a parent, but every relationship I’ve had -platonic or otherwise- involved emotion, communication, and mutual need fulfillment. It doesn’t sound like any of that is what Michael deems good.
    I feel bad for all the kids whose parents bought into this.

    • Jackie

      It’s like he’s advocating dissociating on the parent’s part – just shut that part of yourself down, ignore your conscience. Definitely creepy. And a recipe for disaster.

      • sylvia_rachel

        And we know it’s not very good for the siblings, either.

  • Jackie

    If you kick a cat hard enough and often enough, it will remain on guard? He’s using animals as examples for training and then talks about kicking them? The man has no empathy. I also think he has no imagination. Apparently his children gave in easily so he assumes all children will. Wrong. He was also probably completely catered to as a child and is used to getting his own way. He told a story in one part you quoted several weeks ago about his mother napping with him – and he doesn’t even see the difference in how he was raised and how he is expecting others to raise their children. He is truly a spoiled brat.

    • Pam

      I read that part and all I can think is how much I wish a particularly pissed off cat would scratch his face until it bleeds and leaves permanent marks.
      It really isn’t surprising that someone who is so inhuman in his attitudes to children would nonchalantly talk about viciously abusing an animal, but it’s still awful to read.

    • Mel

      Has he ever had a cat? We live on a farm with barn cats. They’ve never been in a house before but will happily colonize the house if a door is left open. (My mother-in-law once found 16 of them scattered throughout the house. Actually, there were 17, but one of them hid really well and wasn’t discovered until the next day.)

      Do we respond by beating the snot out of the cats? No. We just close the doors. Pearl seems to miss the point of being an adult.

      • Highlander

        I’m pretty sure he’s never had a cat. We have a guest bedroom in our house that the cats are never allowed in (my dad is allergic to cats and needs a place to sleep that hasn’t had cats in it). They try to get in every time the door is opened though. Every. Single. Time. Even to the point of coming running from far parts of the house when they hear the door open. One of them will even sit outside the room and paw obsessively and meow loudly at the door until I get out the squirt bottle. I think it has destroyed her emotionally to be prevented from going wherever she pleases. It is her house after all. We also have a closet under the stairs that generally has the door closed but of course when you’re carrying something out of there, it’s hard to close the door. She sneaks in there regularly, only to get trapped in the dark when the door gets shut behind her. You would think after being trapped for an entire day in there, when the whole family left after I pulled holiday presents out of the closet to load into the car, she would avoid the closet, but no, she still tries to get in every time. As the saying goes, curiosity killed the cat, it hasn’t killed this one so far, but not for lack of trying.

      • Jackie

        I think what he misses is that some kids are like cats in how they respond to discipline – they ignore it and are determined to do their own thing. And it isn’t because cats are dumb, they just have different motives. So you end up kicking a cat 20 times – or beating a child over and over? I don’t think so. That’s just bad animal ownership and bad parenting.

      • Gillianren

        Yeah, my cat isn’t allowed outside. It’s against the rules of my apartment complex. (We have wildlife.) He knows he’s not allowed outside, and that has literally never stopped him. He got out about a month ago, because I had the choice of letting him escape or dropping the baby to stop him. He hasn’t been out since, but that doesn’t stop him from trying. This battle of wills between me and the cat has been going on for something like six years, and the only things that can end it are moving to a place where he’s allowed out or his death.

      • Ruana

        Meanwhile, my ex once told me about a very well-trained dog – his uncle’s, I think – who persisted in trying to edge into the dining room when the family was eating. He knew perfectly well he wasn’t allowed in, but he’d inch his way over the threshold anyhow. No doubt Pearl would say the problem was his owner didn’t hit him…

      • The Other Weirdo

        My dog wasn’t allowed on the couch. Ever. She knew that. One day day she was injured–stepped on some broken glass–and as soon as she got home she jumped on the couch and sat there, staring at us like Lady of the Manor, daring to not feel sorry for her and kick her off. That lasted until her paws healed and she knew the sympathy was about to come to an end.

      • ZeldasCrown

        When I was growing up, there was this hole in the upstairs bathroom closet that lead to above the ceiling in the kitchen (at the time, the kitchen had drop-down ceiling tiles that were clear, so this anecdote was how we knew that). My cat would go into that hole whenever she could, and we’d inevitably see her in the kitchen ceiling some time later, and then have to try to stand on chairs and the counters and whatnot to try to get her down. No matter how vigilant we were with closing the closet door, she’d always eventually find a way in there. The same cat was the only cat we ever had that we’d let outside (they live so much longer if the don’t go out, and the only reason we let her out was because her previous owner used to let her out). We’d usually take her out on a leash, so we’d be outside with her, but she was always trying to get out. She would wait until my mom would come home with groceries so that her arms would be full and she wouldn’t be able to stop the cat while she opened the door. Funnily enough, none of the other cats I’ve ever owned has ever tried to go outside. They love(d) looking out the window, but never make(made) a break for it.

        I miss that cat. She used to bring me (and only me) stuff that she killed as an offering of love or something (I don’t really know what was going on in her cat brain, so I apply my own emotions to it) and leave it in my room somewhere. It was slightly vexing when she’d sometimes hide them in some box in my room rather than leaving it in the open, and I’d find them later when I wanted to play with whatever toy was in that box, but it was still sweet (after I got over the surprise of “there’s a dead mouse in my poly pockets” that is). It makes me a little sick to think that Michael probably would have kicked that cat for doing that.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        It’s either, “I love you, so I brought you this kill” or “damn, you’re a lousy hunter”.

      • Trollface McGee

        Mine hates locked doors. He will go up to every closed door and bang on it and yell until I show him that there is indeed nothing interesting on the other side. Thankfully he has a terrible memory so I’ve managed to make him forget about the more dangerous doors, but every morning I have to re-acquaint him with the fact that beyond the shower door is evil water. But that’s just how he is, and I’ve learned to live with it, resistance with cats is truly futile.

      • Rosa

        the difference between a cat and a child is, if you scare the shit out of the cat every day it will just leave, and neither the police nor “friendly” strangers will force it to come back and get kicked again.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    Gods above, I can’t even!

    I just… no. No. I don’t care what your intent is, it is never okay to hit a child.

    • The_L1985

      It’s taken me a long time to get to that point.

      Today, I came in depressed and a coworker brought up the possibility of family therapy. I joked that the man who spanked me over every little thing wasn’t likely to ever see the problem as anything but me, and he looked at me in shock and said, “Your father hit you?”

      I keep forgetting that a lot of people, even here in the southern US, don’t view spanking as normal. Somehow, it feels good to have validation IRL, too.

    • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

      It’s not okay to hit anybody.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Agreed, with the obvious exception of self-defense.

  • Shaenon K. Garrity

    Is there anything these people write that isn’t the exact opposite of the religion they purportedly follow? Or did my Papist upbringing not include the part of the Bible where Jesus tells you to rid yourself of emotion so you can beat children harder?

    • Mel

      Ditto. Pretty sure I’ve of remembered that bit.

    • Justin

      It’s in Proverbs, actually. “He who spares the rod hates their child. But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.”

      • Lyric

        Except that the “rod” in question is more or less a sheep-steering device. You don’t beat the sheep with it. You kind of nudge them. (With a bit of vigor, admittedly, because, well . . . sheep.) But the end result is not a sheep which thinks, “Humans hurt me if I don’t do what they want,” because sheep really aren’t capable of processing anything after the “if.” It’s more, “Can’t go that way, there’s a stick. Can’t go the other way, there’s a stick. Man, it’s stick-y out today. Okay, I’ll go this way.” Sheep: not particularly deep thinkers, but easily manageable once you realize that their driving passions are to take the path of least resistance and hang with other sheep.

        So the verse might be better translated as, “He who offers no guidance hates his child. But he who loves him steers him diligently.”

        Bronze age middle eastern shepherds: better than Michael Pearl.

      • Justin

        One problem with that. Exodus also instructs slave owners to beat their slaves with ‘rods’, and this uses the same word. And as long as they didn’t permanently disfigure that person or kill them, they were free to beat them as much as they wanted.

        There are also plenty of other verses that talk about beating people with rods, and they definitely aren’t talking about ‘nudging’.

      • Stev84

        There is also the part about stoning disobedient children in Deuteronomy.

      • Lyric

        Oh, I’m not saying that they were civilized. “Better than Michael Pearl” is a pretty low bar. As for the business about the rod being a tool rather than a weapon, I’m just passing along something I heard—but I would trust almost anybody’s word on animals over Michael Pearl’s, so I suspect there’s at least a little truth in it.

      • Justin

        Problem is, Pearl’s methods are straight from the Bible.

        Do not hold back discipline from the child, Although you beat him with the rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with the rod, and rescue his soul from Sheol. – Proverbs 23:13-14

        Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts. – Proverbs 20:30

        There are literally dozens of verses like these throughout Proverbs and the Bible. Modern Christians simply ignore them or reinterpret them in light of modern social norms rather than admit that the Bible teaches child abuse.

      • Conuly

        I always figure that if that sort of childrearing didn’t do a damn thing for Solomon’s kid, it’s not going to anything for anybody elses.

      • The_L1985

        Not to mention, look at Solomon’s siblings!

  • Matriarch

    My father put me in the hospital when I was 4 years old because I wouldn’t stay in my bed one night when company was over. I was sick and afraid. He used his belt on me and I refused to back down. I wouldn’t go back to bed. Then I started crying and he continued hitting me with the belt — we were never supposed to cry when we were spanked. I started to throw up and couldn’t stop. This was seen as rebellion, and the whipping continued. Before morning, I was in the hospital. I’m certain there must have been welts on my legs. I was a small, frail and often very ill child. Why didn’t one doctor or nurse say something? Why didn’t one of them tell my father how wrong it was to whip a small child so hard? I was often afraid my father would kill me when I was young. It was wrong then and it’s wrong now. It perverts faith because the reason given is ‘Godliness’. Children don’t need to be broken; they need to be loved. I was not a perfect parent, but I never beat my children. I never wanted to break their wills or cow them into submission. And, thank God, they will never remember me the way I remember my father.

    • Caroline Galwey

      What a terrible, sad story. I salute you for being able to break the cycle of violence … go on telling your story and let us hope that one day it will stop.

    • Jackie

      I am so sorry no one stepped in to help you.

    • sylvia_rachel

      I’m so sorry that you had that father, and that the other adults in your life were too afraid or too … whatever … to see that you needed help and help you.

    • shuttergirl46q

      So sorry for your situation. Be assured that doctors and nurses are required by law (at least in my state) to report suspected child abuse. Teachers and emergency personnel too. God love you…

      • Matriarch

        What I forgot to add, I’m 57. The Pearls and their sick, abusive attitudes came from the same place I did. The origins of ‘break their wills once or lose the battle forever’ go far back into some dark place of Calvinism and poverty.

  • Jolie

    Just wondering: how does Michael expect children ‘trained’ with his methods to learn to say ‘no’ to, say, a bully who demands they steal money from their parents for him, under threat of beatings?

    • Things1to3

      Michael just has to make sure the kid fears him more than they fear the bully. If they kid is already acclimated to beatings, well then a bully couldn’t do much more.

      Just a guess at how that kind of screwed up logic would go in Michaels head.

    • Shaenon K. Garrity

      No Longer Quivering has stories from people who were molested as children because their parents trained them to obey any and all orders from adults.

      • sylvia_rachel

        I am so, so unsurprised to hear this :(

      • NeaDods

        My soul will die if I click “like” for this but yes- this is the obvious result of treating children as minions. They will be abused and preyed upon because they have had any resistance or alternative literally beaten out of them. This method of raising supposedly superior children only coins victims.

  • Ruana

    And now he’s dissed cats! Oh, it is *on*!

    Typical of his self-centred attitude that he doesn’t consider the fact that dogs are pack animals and cats aren’t; all he cares about is his idea that cats are more likely to behave in a way he finds inconvenient. Therefore, cats are dumb.

    In any case, he seems to lose the plot a bit here. First he says that cats, like children, require complete consistency; then he says that ‘smarter’ dogs can be trained to recognise when they’re allowed to come in – like children. Huh?

    • Gillianren

      I’m impressed by the fact that not only are cats not as smart as dogs, but dogs are “thirty-five times smarter.” Given how dumb some of the dogs I know are, my cat shouldn’t be able to find his food dish.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Funny, as I’ve found cats to be highly intelligent.

        Dogs… notsomuch.

      • sylvia_rachel

        I’ve met smart ones and really, really not smart ones of both species. The main difference to me is that dogs and cats are motivated by totally different things.

        I am definitely a cat person — I think of dogs as kind of like cute toddlers who will never grow up, and cats as kind of like a not-very-considerate flatmate with fur (wait, I’ve got it! Sherlock isn’t a high-functioning sociopath, he’s just a cat!!). The fact that cats are less motivated by a desire to please their humans, and more inclined to think they’re the boss of you than to think you’re the boss of them, doesn’t make them less intelligent than dogs (duh), but I’m not entirely convinced it necessarily makes them more intelligent, either. Just … very different.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Yeah, I’ve known a few cats that were dumber than a box of rocks, usually the sweetest kitties, though.

        I’ve also known cats who are devious little schemers, able and willing to manipulate the humans.

        They’re like little toddlers in fur coats, with all the attitude of a teenager.

      • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

        I’ve got one of each right now. It’s like living with Harvey Dent as a toddler.

      • NeaDods

        Michael is equating obedience with intelligence. Does this surprise anyone?

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Nope.

        Of course, in my book, blind obedience == extreme stupidity.

        What if one of these parents, say, orders their kid to go downtown to whomever is on the corner and pick up a 40-sack of weed? Should the child obey and commit a criminal act, or disobey and take the consequences? And if the kid gets nabbed by the cops? What then? “Mommy made me do it” isn’t exactly a defense…

        (Disclaimer: I am quite fond of certain leafy green substances myself. This example is pulled out my arse because in most places, cannabis is, quite unfortunately, still illegal.)

      • NeaDods

        There was a case in the papers a few years ago where the cops caught a woman on the highway speeding, while nursing *while* on the phone while writing notes down.

        Her defense, I kid you not, was that she was a properly submissive wife and that her husband had told her to do it. And her husband backed her up in court (and offered to do the jail time for her). The judge was NOT impressed and told them both that their beliefs were not a “get out of laws or good judgement free” card. If I recall correctly, he threw in a charge of reckless endangerment to the baby.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        That’s where I was going with this — “I was just following orders” is not, and never has been, a valid legal defense. Or moral defense, for that matter.

  • Squire Bramble

    Can anyone explain what he means by “household cat”? The phrase seems to imply a house cat, rather than a barn or a farm cat that lived on the property.

    Oh wait, this is Piss-for-brains Pearl, he probably feeds the cat in the house and then kicks it when it tries to get in the house. It’s not like he’s going to draw the line at animals when he openly advocates abusing infants.

    • Trollface McGee

      Yeah I was confused myself – if the cat doesn’t come home, then how is it a household cat?
      Also, going in, and out, and in and out and in again – is what cats do – it’s why cat doors were invented by a man much wiser than Michael. If you don’t like that kind of thing – no one is forcing you to get a cat, or a kid for that matter.

      • Squire Bramble

        Thank you. As I suspected, this is more of Michael’s asinine philosophy put into practice. Domestic cats are either farm/barn cats kept to keep rats away from crops or livestock, barred from the house, but enticed to stay in a barn with warm boxes and blankets – in which case only an idiot feeds them; or they are household cats.

  • Trollface McGee

    There’s nothing more macho than “winning” against a 12 month old baby… maybe kicking a cat counts too.

    • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

      The heartbreaking thing: those kids he’s dominating are very likely figuring out what counts too. Kenny Glenn didn’t spring full-formed from the brow of Zeus.

  • Trollface McGee

    First of all – cats are not less intelligent than dogs, they are different species and react in different ways – just like children are less developed than adults and should not be expected to react the same way an adult does – but far be it for Michael to understand pesky Commie things like facts.
    Second of all – I still can’t get over how much evil it has to take to write that it is ok to beat children and animals. That’s evil. I don’t care whether he actually believes it or is writing it to sell books, the advocacy is evil in itself.

    • ZeldasCrown

      The motivation for cats and dogs is completely different. Dogs are pack animals, and wish to please whomever’s in charge. Cats are very independent and intelligent creatures. Almost every cat I’ve ever had or known pretty much always knows what you want it to do, but if what you want doesn’t line up with what the cat wants, well, then the cat’s not going to obey you. The cats I’ve had have always known what areas or surfaces they’re not allowed on, and they either just don’t care and go there anyway, or just wait until you’re not home (can’t even say how many times I’ve returned home to see or hear a cat jumping off some place they’re not allowed). It’s not really a matter of one being more intelligent than the other-I’d say the two are intelligent in different ways (and, of course, there’s a distribution in intelligence within the two species). I’m guessing by intelligent, Micheal means “obedient”.

      • Lyric

        I read one article about trying to test cats’ intelligence, and I think the verdict was that nobody knows how, because how do you motivate a cat? There was one test in which they tried to get the cats to distinguish between two cords, one of which yielded food if pulled. And, of course, the result was . . . STRING! String, string, string, I CONQUER YOU, STRING now I’m bored of string good night.

      • Trollface McGee

        Precisely – my cat isn’t motivated by food – apart from the occasional roast chicken, he treats every meal as a necessary evil that he must endure to survive.. but he does appreciate a good piece of string!

      • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

        If the cat doesn’t care about food treats (mine don’t either–food is “hard little brown pellets that smell vaguely of meat” and nothing else is even recognized as a valid food object), then it’s hard to make the cat care about the test. And unlike dogs and other animals, cats tend not even to take a stab at tests they’re uncertain about; they’ll just sit down and groom when they’re confused or uncertain. So it’s just about impossible to figure out just how intelligent a given cat is, much less how intelligent cats as a species are.

        PS: FUNNIEST DESCRIPTION EVER of a test. You win :)

      • Lyric

        Thank you! :)

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        OMG, STRING!

        It really is the best thing ever.

        Well… next to catnip.

      • The Other Weirdo

        So, basically, “There is no food when I pull that string yet the other… Oooh, shiny!”

      • Gillianren

        My cat is a particularly dumb example of the species, I admit, but he’s still smarter than some of the dogs I’ve known. Though I thought it was common knowledge that it’s almost impossible to accurately gauge intelligence within a species, much less compare intelligence between species.

      • ZeldasCrown

        I may be somewhat biased, but I would agree that cats seem smarter to me, but as you say, it’s tough enough to gauge within a species, let alone between two.

      • Paula G V aka Yukimi

        One study measured cats versus dogs and I certainly don’t know how good the methodology was but the results were such than in some areas dogs scored 5/5 and cats 4/5 whereas in others was the reverse. What I mean to say it that there wasn’t much difference and cats scored better in emotional understanding of humans because that way they could manipulate food out of you I guess XDD My cat does come to console me when I cry. She also jumps over me from high up landing on my belly the adorable monster.

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

        The thing about cats is that you can’t treat your relationship with them as one where the cat “obeys” you. A cat won’t obey you. If they are scared enough of you, they’ll behave in the ways you want while you are there watching them, but then they’ll do whatever the heck they want as soon as your back is turned.

        I’ve always had great success with cats just by treating them like roommates (that I feed and care for). I respect their boundaries, and I let them know my boundaries (by redirecting, usually). And I’ve never had a cat that scratched the couch outside of its kitten years, or that used claws while playing, or otherwise behaved in inappropriate ways.

        Part of this, of course, is that I don’t have a lot of rules. I don’t tell cats that they aren’t allowed to sit on high surfaces because that’s instinctual for them. I won’t win that argument, and even if I did, it’s their home too. They have a right to be comfortable.

        I’ve applied the same principles to parenting – very few rules, those that we do have are reinforced through calm discussion and redirection, and we promote an environment of mutual respect. So, pretty much the exact opposite of what the Pearls advocate.

      • ZeldasCrown

        For any of the cats I’ve had, “off-limits” areas are mostly for safety or cleanliness reasons. The cats were never allowed on the kitchen table, or counters, because food is prepared or eaten there. But not many other restrictions other than, “there’s dangerous things that I would also keep a child out of” or “if you got stuck there, you could be seriously injured”. Otherwise, the cats have always had free reign.

        But, yeah, obey isn’t exactly the first word that comes to mind when I think about cats. It’s more like coexistence. If a cat like you, they’ll do nice things for you (like give you affection when you’re sad, for example)/do what you want some of the time (or at least while you’re home), but they’re always going to be extraordinarily independent (it’s like they know that you won’t know what they’re doing while you’re not around).

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Yeah, we have, like, three rules for Gracie.

        Don’t claw the furniture, stay off the kitchen counter, and stay in at night.

        The first is broken with some regularity, not sure why, might just be out of spite. She gives me all kinds of lip when I tell her “no claws”.

        The second has some very specific exemptions, primarily when Jack is here. We put her food up on the counter so he won’t be a greedy pup and eat it all.

        The third is mostly self-enforcing, though we do occasionally have to go herd her in or flat out grab her. She sometimes stays in with my parents, and sometimes out here with me, but she is indoors by 11:00.

      • fiona64

        The first is broken with some regularity, not sure why, might just be out of spite.

        Cats have scent markers in the pads of their feet. Seriously. That’s why they claw stuff. The only thing that works is re-directing them to things that are okay to claw — and that isn’t always successful.

        Which is why one corner of my custom couch looks pretty dreadful, despite the presence of a scratching post less than five feet away.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        My couch is a POS anyway, but I’m aiming for consistent rules so she doesn’t get the idea that it’s okay to claw my parents’ couch (which is far nicer than mine).

      • Conuly

        Cats aren’t children. A child knows that this couch, that couch, and another couch are all the same sort of furniture.

        To your cat, your couch one thing, and your mom’s is something else entirely.

        Cats need to scratch things, and they leave their scent everywhere they scratch. Sometimes it takes a while to find the sort of scratching post or pad they really enjoy, but once you do it is possible to keep on redirecting them to their designated spot and rewarding them if you see them where they’re supposed to be instead of where they aren’t.

        You might also have success, during this process, temporarily covering your couch with a protector, to help make it different and hopefully less scratch-able.

      • Trollface McGee

        There’s a Russian animal trainer that has run a cat circus for decades – but they don’t obey him, they do their natural cat stuff along with some stuff they’ve learned through rewards – he just sets it up so it looks like they’re doing tricks.
        If you train a cat like a dog, of course it will fail and you, being the stupid one, will think the cat is dumb.

      • Rosa

        there is a cat circus from Illinois, too. We saw it last year. She uses clicker training and part of the show is that it doesn’t always work and sometimes the cats get bored and wander off. it’s hilarious.

      • Trollface McGee

        I’ll need to check that out. I love that about cats – they never let a thing like paying customers get in the way of them being cats.

      • The_L1985

        I would love to see a cat circus. It sounds like a lot of fun.

      • The Other Weirdo

        Actually, that’s a very good rule with parenting: “Don’t sit on high surfaces.” Of course I’m biased as I’m afraid of heights.

  • ZeldasCrown

    Discipline vs training. Public vs private. In the moment vs in advance. Seems like it once again comes down to appearances, rather than any real difference in substance. One doesn’t want to hit their children in public-one wants their kids to appear like obedient little robots to be shown off to one’s friends. I’m a little surprised that Micheal didn’t threaten that somebody would call CPS and the kids would be taken away forever due to discipline in public. Doesn’t matter what happens in private or within someone’s head, as long as the outward looks good, things are good.

    I just don’t see how anybody could write or read this and not see how easily this method could be taken to the extreme. The emphasis on ever giving in, plus threats of your child’s eternal damnation (not to mention the promise of unruly children), the advice to put aside any emotion (good or bad) felt on the part of the parent-it is a recipe for disaster. The only way I could see someone finding no fault with this advice is if that someone doesn’t think child abuse is a real thing, and that anything a parent wants to do is right (and by extension, anything inflicted on the child was deserved for some slight or disobedience).

  • AAAtheist

    “… The cat, allowed to occasionally get its way, is trained, despite your protests, to come into the house. If you kick it hard enough and often enough, it will become sufficiently wary to obey while you remain on guard but will still bolt through the door when it sees the opportunity. On the other hand, dogs, thirty-five times smarter than cats, can be trained either to come in or stay out upon command. The key again is consistency. …”

    I don’t appreciate the “dogs are smart/cats are dumb” dichotomy that Michael’s trying to analogize onto human children. First of all, obedience isn’t necessarily an indication of intelligence. It isn’t necessarily an indication of not being intelligent, either. An obedient human child isn’t more or less intelligent than an independent one. However, children that unquestionably obey their parents no matter what probably have a greater likelihood of becoming ignorant of their own feelings, abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.

    Not a good strategy for adulthood.

    • attackfish

      This is a man who knows nothing about animals or people except what he sees as bending or obstructing to his will. Cats and many dogs are slow to be trained because they don’t want to be. My poodle would never take a treat from me as a reward, and never do what it took to take a treat, but he would scheme to get it through other means, and you know what? He usually managed his theft. He’s smart, and stubborn, and I love it.

    • Ruana

      Indeed; you could even make a case that it works the other way. A smart kid will be better able to figure out when their parents are full of it, therefore be more inclined to ‘rebellion’. I have zero statistical data to back this idea up – which I’m guessing is exactly the same amount Pearl has.

    • onamission5

      Interesting* to me is knowing how frequently in US culture women are associated with cats and men with dogs, and overlapping that with Michael’s attitudes toward both.
      *for values of interesting that equal sexist and gross

    • realinterrobang

      The funny thing is, if your cat likes you enough (and mine adore me), you can train them to do damn near anything. The secret is, though, you have to do it entirely through positive reinforcement. Don’t punish the cat when it doesn’t do what you want, ignore it instead, and reward it when it does.
      I taught my one cat to lay down on command, another to go down the basement steps before me (so he doesn’t wind around my ankles and trip me), and another one to get off the bed when she feels like she has a hairball.
      I don’t have kids and don’t want them, but I suspect the “praise” method works a lot better with kids than the “punish” method.

  • Mel

    Again, Pearl dramatizes the alleged behavior of an Amish family – which I am extremely skeptical about – to support his enjoyment of beating people. Between the introduction to his book for husbands in which he describes his honeymoon of alternating between physically and sexually abusing Debi and his relish for hitting children, I’m sure we got a very, very sick man here.

    • Jackie

      What’s not so funny about the mix of Amish parenting and be mean to animals here is that the Amish are some of the biggest owners of puppy mills – the kind with stacked cages and miserable animals, the kind designed to cheat you out of a healthy animal, the kind where the owners of the puppy mill don’t care about the misery of the animal.

  • attackfish

    I’ve been quizzing my mother on human growth and development for her nursing masters, and reading this right after that just makes me sick. These normal childhood things, that indicate and are practice for wonderful things are treated as rebellion and shut down by these horrible people. It’s unbelievably sick,and I’m amazed more kids aren’t dead, and more children who grow up this way don’t grow up to remain broken.

  • Mel

    Also, you don’t train large animals through beating. It doesn’t work. You learn the natural instincts of how the animal works, use those to get the animal to do the correct behavior and reward positive approximations toward the goal. It takes over 3 years to train cows how to move calmly from one area of the farm to another. I was moving calves (3 to 9 month old heifers) into different pens. All they know how to do is move away from humans who are behind them and stampede happily when they find themselves in an open area. (Totally natural responses). After an hour, most calves were in the right pen and I was totally covered in manure. The calves were excited and got a reward – a small amount of extra grain – for interacting well with me.

    • Ymfon

      Also, you don’t train large animals through beating. It doesn’t work.

      You know, I think I read something like that once: something about how, if you need a really well-trained horse, “you cannot depend on whipping it into submission.” Now who was that…? Oh yeah, MICHAEL PEARL AT THE START OF THIS BOOK.

      • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

        I’m not overly surprised to hear he treats horses better than children.

      • Ruana

        Well, naturally. Horses have serious muscles and big heavy hooves. Pearl’s only a tough guy when it comes to things that can’t cave his skull in without breaking sweat.

      • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

        I still remember learning to ride and how even the nicest horses sometimes decide they’ve had enough of this ish and decide to scrape off an unwary rider on a tree or under a heavy branch. I ended up doing a saddle limbo once that still scares me just remembering it. The horse looked back at me like “What was–oh, were you RIDING TOO HIGH UP there? My bad.”

        No, Pearl wouldn’t dare go up against a creature that could hurt him.

  • NeaDods

    It’s part of growing up, developing personalities, and moving toward independent adulthood. Training children out of asserting their wills stunts that process.

    I submit that in the world of Pride, Gotherd, Pearl, and ATI, stunting that process is itself the feature. I’ve seen nothing, nothing at all in the posts of the breakaways or even the posts of those who stay in that lifestyle that permitting much in the way of a personality, much less independence, is wanted. Oh, the parents may talk about the different personalities of their children, but at the same time, all children MUST cheerfully obey and all wives MUST joyfully submit and all husbands MUST rule and all Christians MUST follow a prescribed set of rules… on and on and on, drawing the limits more and more strictly so that the best a personality is allowed to be is a very prescribed variation on an extremely unforgiving theme.

    I also notice that there’s something Pearl lets slip here; something that seems very much beside the point but is, in my mind, the foundation of the point: he abuses animals. We know that he whips the dogs; he bragged about it in the “laughing” letter. Now he’s admitted that his idea of training a cat is to “kick it hard enough and often enough” to make it fear you. (That the cat only learns to fear, not obey, makes him think it is “stupid.” Really? The cat, much like a small child, knows exactly what it wants, and learns to fear and mistrust those that hurt it — but never to obey them.)

    The reason this jumps out so strongly at me is that those that grow up to abuse people often start by abusing animals. And here we have Michael Pearl’s admission that he *does* hurt animals. Add that to his previous admission that he sees children AS animals and we have a very clear portrait of an abuser.

    Michael slips again when he says a child trying to hold on to its own personhood has the resistance of “a hardened revolutionary facing enemy indoctrination classes.” A particularly telling phrase from someone who is trying to indoctrinate a weaker person against their own autonomy through pain — in other words, someone who IS the enemy to that child’s being and well-being.

    Michael cannot back down. Michael cannot put the needs of others before his – remember, this is the man who had to “train” his wife to deal with “his selfishness” over a two-year period, while taking another eight to belatedly realize that she may have wants and needs too. Michael cannot tolerate the slightest question or check. Micheal obviously doesn’t have a problem shutting off empathy; he gives little sign of having it in the first place. (And again… this is precisely the kind of emotional damage I’d expect out of someone who was raised by being beaten out of autonomy and independence.)

    And Michael thinks he’s a success story and just fine…

    • http://yllommormon.blogspot.com/ aletha

      And other people think he’s close to a prophet…

    • ako

      The animal stuff is terrifying, especially since he is not only open about advocating animal cruelty, but constantly using it as evidence that children should be treated the same way. It’s a progression – first you convince people that it’s okay to beat a dog or a horse, then that it’s okay to beat a person.

      • NeaDods

        And it’s godly to turn off your emotions to perform this cruelty. Ugh!

      • TLC

        And in the next step, you become a serial killer.

      • Ahab

        You read my mind. Something is deeply, seriously wrong with this man, and I’m surprised his behavior didn’t escalate to that level.

      • TLC

        Well, they live in the woods in Tennessee. Might be a good place to hide a few bodies. . . . . .

    • KarenJo12

      I won’t link to it because it’s disturbing, but James Dobson wrote something in one of his childrearing books about how he spent half one night defeating his dachshund puppy’s desire to sleep some place other than the designated dog bed. Dobson describes beating the puppy and screaming at it, then finally scaring the poor thing into submission. Michale Pearl, here, says the same thing. To these people there is no distinction between children and animals: puppies and cats are willfully defiant, humans respond to operant conditioning.

      • NeaDods

        I know that story! There are no words to express my contempt for the kind of guy who beats up a wiener dog – an elderly one at that – admitting that it’s so much smaller than him and still trying to make it sound like he went Mano-a-Mano with a tiger. There was bonus snobbery from him because his mere kids and wife couldn’t make themselves hit the dog, so it took him to do it.

        There are just some men who hear “Lord, what a great man” when people are saying “Jesus, what a massive dick!” Dobson is one of them.

      • shuttergirl46q

        He spent half the night screaming and beating the puppy when he could have taken 20 minutes to put up a barrier or baby gate of some kind?

      • Ahab

        Dobson and Pearl aren’t alone. Fundamentalism definitely seems to appeal to insecure, cruel, control freak men.

      • golgaronok

        Fraking dogs don’t spend hours screaming at and hitting other dogs who challenge them for dominance. With them, it’s either the large predator’s mostly-symbolic contest — growling, snarling, bristling, maybe a shoving match and some superficial bites, ending when one taps out / rolls over and urinates — or it’s a fight to the death. Either way it’s quick.

    • Ahab

      Textbook sociopath. With all those red flags (animal abuse, child abuse, lack of empathy), I’m afraid to think of what he’s capable of.

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

    One of my earliest memories is of being spanked for pronouncing words incorrectly. I think they eventually realized that it wasn’t a matter of defiance, but ability. It took years of remedial speech lessons to be able to wrap my tongue sufficiently to produce certain sounds. Years later, my mother apologized for taking it out on me that way. With foods it was easier for them tell that I wasn’t just being fussy. Whenever they tried making me eat eggs I would vomit. I should think that would be recognized as a universal indication of distress. When your kid vomits, he’s not just asserting his will, he’s completely incapable of doing what you’re telling him.

    • sylvia_rachel

      I’m sorry that happened to you :(

      It was never that bad at our house, but my little brother had some fairly serious speech issues as a young child and our father used to get incredibly impatient with him and basically act like he was being incomprehensible on purpose. I understood him better than other people did, and I became incredibly good at jumping in with a translation before my dad really freaked out. In retrospect I’m not sure that was helpful — maybe it was enabling, I don’t know — but seriously, who yells at a three-year-old for mispronouncing “juice”?

      • The_L1985

        The same kind of person who spanks and yells at a three-year-old for making a puddle on the carpet.

      • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

        What really springs out to me is how, when you hear about how these little kids are getting hospitalized and even murdered by their “disciplining” parents, the event prompting the final and ultimate act of abuse seems like it’s always such a small and mundane, trivial thing that most parents would have dealt with and moved past without comment or fuss. Mispronouncing words. Forgetting to say “sir” or “ma’am” when talking to a parent. Eating a candy bar when candy wasn’t on the menu. Expressing a food preference or making an editorial comment about some food on the plate. Misspelling words. Getting sick. It’s just shocking how these little things get turned into declarations of war.

        Abusive parents don’t understand–or are willfully ignoring– healthy, sane methods of dealing with dissent or any sort of independence. Only rigid, authoritarian control is what is important. It’s that simple. But at 18, these kids are supposed to magically blossom into adults? It’s insane.

  • ako

    Everyone’s happiness was at stake, as well as the soul of the child.

    You know what happens if you tell people that the happiness of their entire family and their child’s soul is at stake? Particularly if you say it to people who really seriously believe in the soul, eternal damnation, and a Hell where their child will be tortured for all eternity? Many will feel pressured to ignore common sense in favor of pushing that much harder, some will brutalize their children in a controlled and deliberate manner while firmly convinced it’s the best thing, and some kids will die. Because, if you seriously think that correct parenting is hitting until they obey perfectly, giving in will put your children at risk for eternity in Hell, it’s going to be hard to go “No, that’s enough, I’m going to stop hitting.”

    When we know it will work to the temporal and eternal good of the child, it is a joy instead of a sacrifice.

    So now they’re telling control-obsessed abusers they’re being brave and noble to keep hitting, and parents who try to be decent that they need to sacrifice by ignoring their conscience and their child’s pained screams in favor of more hitting.

    I agree. This helped kill Lydia Schatz.

    It is the kind of determination you would expect to find in a hardened revolutionary facing enemy indoctrination classes.

    Or possibly the kind of confusion that comes from not understanding what you want and doing the only thing that they can think of?

    If you kick it hard enough and often enough, it will become
    sufficiently wary to obey while you remain on guard but will still bolt
    through the door when it sees the opportunity.

    They really write for the kind of people who see nothing wrong with kicking household pets, don’t they?

    When Sally first said “no” I was delighted that she was learning to know her own mind and have her own opinions.

    My niece started saying “No” regularly at an early age, when it was one of the few words she could use with any consistency. She’d hold up her hand and say it in the most adorable little toddler-voice. Sometimes we wouldn’t do what she said, because she was telling us to do something she didn’t realize was unsafe, but no one ever took offense at it or regarded it as a sign of failure.

  • Caitlin

    My cousins raise seeing eye dogs. Though they do teach the dogs to obey commands, they NEVER hit them or hurt them in any way. In addition, to become a seeing eye dog, the dog has to learn to disobey a command when it know’s better than the person–for instance, if the person commands the dog to walk, but the dog can see that will mean that the person will be head-whacked by a low-hanging tree branch, the dog is NOT supposed to obey. MP seems to decide what he wants to be true and then portray it as such.

    • NeaDods

      Truer words were never spoken than that last line.

    • attackfish

      This. He keeps mentioning seeing eye dogs, in all kinds of contexts that make it clear he has no idea what he’s taking about. It boggles me he thinks that seeing eye dogs are perfectly obedient, and do what their charge tells them without question. I don’t have a seeing eye dog, but I have a service dog for my seizures, and the reason she is useful is that she sometimes knows better than I do, and tells me. She will knock me down and sit on me if she has to to keep me safe.

    • Eric D Red

      And that’s what I expect from my kids. I was proudest while slightly embarrassed when each of them proved me wrong for the first time.

    • Lyric

      MP seems to decide what he wants to be true and then portray it as such.

      This is not uncommon for abusers. And I think it must be where a lot of gaslighting comes from. There are times, I think, that the abuser really isn’t consciously trying to screw with your mind. He just started from first principles—meaning “I am not at fault,” and “I am the most significant factor in all your decisions, for good or ill”—and reasoned logically from there.

      “The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don’t alter their views to fit the facts; they alter the facts to fit their views. Which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that need altering.”

  • fiona64

    I find that I cannot read too many of these posts, because they are so triggering. My parents’ methodology was to hit at the slightest provocation. I had food dumped on me because I didn’t want to eat it (I was literally gagging and vomiting, and that didn’t matter). I had my mouth taped shut for “backtalking.” I was hit with belts and wooden spoons. I can’t tell you how many times I was backhanded across the face.

    All this did was convince me that I was worthless. It took decades of counseling for me to grasp that yes, I had been abused — up until then, I thought that child abuse meant broken bones.

    No, child abuse is *just what the Pearls recommend.*

    Edited to add: I just noticed that they advocate for animal abuse. I do volunteer work with our local shelter, helping to resocialize cats who’ve been treated as the Pearls recommend. What a sick pair the Pearls are.

    • Ruana

      I can’t get over the accounts I’ve seen here of parents who seem to think their children are capable of vomiting at will!

      ‘Abuse’ wasn’t a term I applied to myself, either, until I saw a friend of mine shocked by my off-handed mention of one detail of my upbringing. Only in my late thirties did I finally realise that the injustice wasn’t that I was hit *this* time, and *that* time, and *the other* time – it was that I was hit at all.

      • The_L1985

        This reminds me of a conversation I had with my mom as an adult.

        See, when I was 5, I was diagnosed with ADHD and put on Ritalin. I also had quite the gag reflex. As you can imagine, I was constantly nauseated and had a lot of trouble keeping food down. When I was 8, my mother “battled” against me and my sensitive stomach to get my weight back up to 35 lb. She was terrified someone would think that she and Dad were deliberately starving me and call CPS.

        She mentioned this at one point, and how it felt like she had an “anorexic grade-schooler.” And how she’d try to get me to eat anything–have some grapes, dear, you love grapes!–then watch me run to the bathroom not 10 minutes later and puke, walking back out with “a triumphant smirk on your face.”

        I was shocked she’d ever seen it that way. “Mom, that wasn’t me being antagonistic–I was relieved, because after I vomited the queasy feeling would stop.” I didn’t want to just not eat anything–I wasn’t stupid, and I knew that death by starvation was something that actually could happen. I just wanted to not feel sick anymore, and if food was making me feel sick, then maybe I shouldn’t have any. I honestly thought at one point that nausea was happening because I was eating too much food at once, and my stomach couldn’t take it.

        And my mother never bothered to talk to me about it because she insisted on viewing it as a battle of wills. It’s like all the times when I was a teenager and she’d say, “I don’t know when you’re going to understand that I’m not the enemy!” and I’d think, “Then why are you setting yourself up to be?”

      • Lyric

        I can’t get over the accounts I’ve seen here of parents who seem to think their children are capable of vomiting at will!

        Bizarre, isn’t it? My father shoved me out of a car and made me walk back to our apartment by myself for vomiting on myself when I was about, I dunno, four or something. And yet when adults were sick, he generally had the residual decency to take it seriously. It’s like they believe that children are more capable of self-control in that one area.

        IDGI.

      • Ruana

        Not just that one area – as Libby Anne has pointed out before, the same people who ‘house-proof’ babies seem to think it impossible for adult men to female-flesh-proof themselves, so it’s the women’s responsibility to cover up.

    • CarysBirch

      Yes! What do you expect from someone who recommends KICKING CATS as though it is basic, obvious common sense?

      I am ferociously allergic to cats and can’t go near them, but I am angry on their behalf!

  • onamission5

    This idea that any child who behaves in a manner not pre-approved by the parents is just being willful, so beat them harder, it’s horrific. So if any behavior can be interpreted as willfulness that needs be squashed through escalating violence, if children are seen as never having legitimate opinions or complaints, what happens when a child doesn’t accidentally misbehave but genuinely rebels? I can tell you of one case.

    I was barely 13 ( I may have still been 12, it’s a blur) when my mom last attempted to discipline me physically. I had “mouthed off” (read: disagreed) one morning before school, and she was going to teach me not to do that any more by spanking me with the family training tool, a leather fly swatter with a steel wire handle. My ire was up, I was not going to submit to a beating, so I when she swung at me I dodged, took the swatter away from her and spanked her right back. My objection was that if beating your kids for perceived misbehavior was fine and dandy, then it was fine and dandy for adults to get a taste of that medicine when they misbehaved, too, and I didn’t like being spanked as much as my mom didn’t like being sassed, so there. She commanded me to honor my parents, I screamed back that parents were not to provoke their children to wrath. She came at me swinging, I scrambled into a chair and kicked at her when she advanced. This battle of wills turned into a full on, knock down, drag out brawl that sent me to school with bruises from getting repeatedly smacked in the face and left her home spitting blood from getting repeatedly kicked in the stomach. It was not pretty. It was fucking awful. This brutal fight was an end result of what happens when abusive methods result in not an obedient, broken spirited child, but a child whose anger and resentment toward their parents are reinforced with each and every beating. Neither are representative of a healthy parent-child relationship!

    My mom, somewhat to her (better way too late than never I guess) credit, changed her strategy with me from that point forward. She actually stood up to my stepfather for once and told him that it wasn’t working, that they’d not be hitting us any more. While I did spend the next four years of my life more or less grounded better than half of the time for everything from outright defiance to sneakiness to completely innocuous behavior, I never saw the business end of a fly swatter again. It should not have taken me engaging in the same abusive behavior toward my mom that she showed toward me to get them to try a different strategy. FFS. I had been lobbying for an end to spanking from before age eight forward. I had made my case for years, I’d explained the effect it had on me, I’d detailed my emotional response, I’d taken a rational approach of talking to my mom when we were both calm as well as an emotional one of screaming when I was angry, I had, looking back, already told my mom at a young age that this was eventually going to happen, that eventually I was going to get big enough and strong enough and angry enough to hit back and then what. Her reply was always that it hurt her more than me and what did I know what was good for me I was just a selfish child so of course I’d not want to be disciplined and to stop crying or I’d get something to cry about. Then they made a rule about talking back and asking for a different form of discipline besides spanking became forbidden upon threat of spanking. Fast forward a couple years and there I am, talking my homeroom teacher out of calling CPS on my mom because I was afraid *I’d* go to jail for hitting her back.

    Michael would probably say that my training failed to take because it didn’t begin until I was two, and by then I’d already been ruined, already spoiled by the rebelliousness of thinking that I was a person rather than a show animal with the temperament and pliability of modeling clay. Or he’d say it didn’t take because his book wasn’t out yet so my parents didn’t have the chance to follow his methods precisely, or something something. I say it didn’t take because fuck you.

    • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

      When you treat a child with violence, the child learns violence. When you hit a child, the child learns to hit. When you scream at a child, the child learns to scream at others. When you normalize abuse of a child, the child internalizes lessons of abuse to use later on. When you treat a difference of opinions as an act of war, the child learns to do the same thing even as an adult.

      Who’d have thunk.

      It’s worth remembering that Fred Phelps (of Westboro) apparently *CLOBBERED* his kids regularly, and it wasn’t till the boys got old enough to be a physical threat right back at him and made clear that if he touched another one of them he’d be hospitalized that he changed tacks and really got into the homophobia act.

      Your childhood sounds horrifying to me, and mine wasn’t a walk in the park either. I’m glad your parents figured things out eventually.

      • onamission5

        That’s the rub, it both was horrifying, and it wasn’t. There were, surprisingly, quite a few things that my parents did pretty okay to good with and that I, myself, do try to emulate. But their edicts of uber-religious obedience combined with patterns of gaslighting, child shaming, sexism and physical abuse simply weren’t one of them.
        Spouse has often told me that it’s like I had two childhoods: one with fanatically religious, conservative parents and one with free wheeling hippies. It is like that and it also isn’t. My parents were on the side of physical abuse long before they found religion, and they to some extent kept some of their flexibility after. It’s more like I had four sets of parents. The free wheeling hippies and the abusive ones. The inflexible, dogmatic religious converts and the more flexible ones, none of which, fwiw, were particularly affectionate. Even today I can’t always tell which set I’m going to get from encounter to encounter and mood to mood.

      • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

        That kind of inconsistency drove me crazy, too. I never knew when a particular act would get a shrug or else an all-out war. It was a lot to deal with in adulthood.

    • Rilian Sharp

      This sounds familiar.
      Anyway I’m glad you retained your self respect enough to fight back.

      • Saraquill

        Your phrasing comes across as a “piss off” to those of us who didn’t. I’m tiny and have terrible reach. Physically fighting back would have ended horribly for me.

      • Rilian Sharp

        Oh. I meant to contrast to people who say, as adults, that they’re glad their parents hit them, that they deserved it. Not that if you don’t physically fight back at any time then you don’t respect yourself. Sorry….

  • Lyric

    I love my children a lot. I love them so much that the intensity is a little frightening, to me.

    But I think, if I somehow convinced myself that every unpredictable or frustrating move was a sign of defiance, I would begin to hate them. Because there’s so much. And if my girl were dumping oatmeal in her lap and sweet potatoes up her nose to get at me—if my boy screamed when he was put in the playpen to spite me—I would have to assume that they don’t like me very much.

    There’s a point at which hatred starts to snowball. I once saw someone call it the “bitch eating crackers” threshold. That is, when you look at someone you hate and they’re eating crackers, and you don’t think, “She’s eating crackers,” but rather, “Look at her, over there. Just eating crackers, deliberately, because she knows it’ll annoy me. That bitch.” It’s the event horizon past which every possible action is reinterpreted into a reason to hate the person more.

    I strongly suspect that there’s a “brat being defiant” threshold. Not to mention that, by the time you’ve hit it, you’ve made yourself someone worthy of defiance, or fear, or withdrawn sullenness—all of which Michael Pearl tells you to reinterpret as defiance.

    I’d like to think that if I reached that point with my children, I’d walk out. Just call my husband, say, “You’d better get home and look after the babies, because I’m not going to be there—maybe ever,” and go. But if I also thought it was my god-given duty to save them from being like that, and I believed in Hell, and I still loved, them, at least a little—

    God damn it. This filth doesn’t just turn love into hate, it turns love into a lethal weapon.

    Evil. Unholy, corrupting evil. This isn’t a book, it’s a monster. KILL IT.

    • Shayna

      With fire!

    • sylvia_rachel

      One of the truest pieces of parenting wisdom I’ve ever received is this: the only way to win a battle of wills with a toddler [and I don't think it's just toddlers, either] is not to get into it in the first place; once you do, you’ve (both) already lost. Every so often over the years I’ve allowed myself to forget this fact of parenting life, and the results have never been good.

      And, you know, there’s just no reason for it, other than the social messaging we constantly get (not just from the Pearls, although the Pearls make it SO MUCH WORSE) that if we were really good parents, our kids would be well-behaved and polite and obedient and convenient all the time, which is just not true.

    • NeaDods

      This was Andrea Years’ thinking, just as she’d been taught. The kids are rebelling, but if you can get them into heaven before they commit a major sin,that,s the best love you can give them, right?

      • brbr2424

        She was a model homeschooling mom right up to the point that she drowned all five of her children in the bathtub. The line between fundamentalist religious belief and mental illness seems very blury to me.

    • TLC

      I will happily grab my pitchfork and torch, and help you hunt down this monster. Then will give it the painful death it deserves. I don’t want it to be a slow death — the monstrosity of a book/parenting philosophy has been living way too long.

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

      My parenting mantra is “he’s not giving me a hard time, he’s HAVING a hard time.”

      It does wonders for compassion. And, like you say, it totally changes my perceptions and my attitude about what’s happening. In fact, recognizing the “bitch eating a cracker” phenomenon (great name for it!) generally has made me a much happier person overall.

      • Lyric

        Yes. My little boy was “giving me a hard time” earlier today (he’s having a nap now, knock on wood). I watched him and noticed that he would scream indignantly at the heavens, then stick his finger in his mouth—one specific spot in his mouth. So I pulled his lip down a little (indignity! TRESPASS!) and took a look.

        And what do you know, he’s got a third tooth fixin’ to cut through. He isn’t giving me a hard time. He’s in pain. And possibly feeling a little queasy, too, since I think I remember that kids may swallow a lot of saliva during the process.

        Poor little guy. I’m gonna give him an ice cube in his juice and hope he can nap through the worst bits.

  • Brad C.

    So, taking abuse out of the picture, I have a question about the idea of having a “battle of wills” with a young child, and how your perspective has changed on it:

    I vividly remember a time when I refused to use the magic phrase “may I be excused?” to leave the dinner table (I must have been 7 or so, late 70′s, well before the publication of TTUAC). I asked “can I go now?”, but my parents didn’t let me leave the table until I asked correctly (no physical discipline was involved, I just couldn’t go play). The standoff felt like hours (it probably was much less) as my dad sat with me at the table in the fading kitchen light, until I finally gave in and asked correctly.

    Pretty clearly a case of my 7yr-old self asserting my will (against an admittedly arbitrary rule). What’s your perspective on this kind of situation now? Is it important to “win this battle”?

    • Rilian Sharp

      Why didn’t you just get up and leave? What do you think they would have done if you had? I was in similar situations and I think the reason I didn’t just walk away was a fear of being hit. They never threatened to hit me, but I knew it could happen.

      • http://noadi.etsy.com/ Sheryl Westleigh

        I remember a similar situation when I was about 5 or 6. One of the rules was that you had to at least try a new food and I was refusing to try something. I had to sit there until I tried it and it was probably at least an hour. In fact I did try to leave and learned exactly what would happen, my dad picked me up and sat me right back in the chair saying he’d do the same every time I got up. No threat of hitting needed.

      • Rilian Sharp

        What about going ragdoll?

      • http://noadi.etsy.com/ Sheryl Westleigh

        I don’t remember ever using that tactic as a kid so it probably just never occurred to me. Not sure what he’d have done if I did but it wouldn’t have involved letting me leave the room until I ate even if I was on the floor.

      • Brad C.

        Oh, no doubt that I would have been spanked if I would have tried to leave the table without permission, that would have been a very clear case of defiance.

        But even beyond the question of corporal punishment, it seems to me that Libby Anne’s new parenting philosophy doesn’t even view disobedience/defiance from kids the same way. I never read TTUAC, but as a new parent I was definitely taught about how important it was to “win the test of authority”, otherwise bad things will happen (the child will forevermore know you are a pushover and will rule the house, they won’t respect you or any other authority, etc).

        And it sounds like, beyond the (very serious) issues with abuse, that this fundamental concept is what is being questioned.

        In these kinds of situations (deliberate defiance/disobedience for its own/boundary testing sake), what is the right approach under the “positive parenting” philosophy? Do we explain the rules/reason with them? Take the opportunity to question and revise the rules? Would love to hear your thoughts.

      • Rilian Sharp

        I’d say talk to the kid about it and try to come to a consensus. Failing that, compromise.

      • Rosa

        obedience for obedience’s sake isn’t really a quality I strive for. I’m not a positive parenting person really, so I can’t answer what the response to “defiance” is from that perspective, but the reason I don’t want my kid to do something is never “because he has to do what I said.”

        In general, he *does* do what I say, because he trusts us (pretty much. Sometimes he has a theory of how the world works that he’s not easily dissuaded from). But the street thing? When he was a toddler I had to restrain him a few times, but in general just “you have to hold my hand here because there are so many cars” has worked just fine. And we live on a very busy street where he’s had pretty free range since he was 2 or 3.

      • The_L1985

        My father used to use the phrase, “If you don’t cut that out, you won’t be able to sit for a WEEK!” We never dared test it.

    • Rosa

      I’d say it’s important not to get into that battle at all. It’s a stupid battle and it just teaches your kid you’re willing to fight for hours over basically nothing – if it teaches them anything.

      My parents had clean your plate rules and pushed my little brother to eat things even though he said they “made his tongue itch”. Until one day he puked right onto the plate. Turns out, he’s got some weird & serious allergies – refighting that fight too often would have just put him in the hospital. As an adult he’s been in the hospital for allergic reactions several times when traveling in places where his language skills weren’t sufficient to avoid certain ingredients in the food.

  • Legally Kidnapped

    Just because Lydia Schatz died does not mean that every kid whose parents does not back down to the kids disobedience will die too. That was an obvious case of excess and abuse and there were probably other issues prevalent as well. It’s a case of one bad apple spoiling the whole bunch.

    You really gotta stop lumping all imperfect parents who are doing what they feel is right with murderers and child abusers, because they’re not, they’re parents. Parenting is a learning experience for all as we go along. Parents will raise their kids the way their culture and their own parents taught them to. In most cases, such as the Amish father, parents will be doing what they think is right even though some, (ya’ll for example) would not agree with their methods. Such methods may very well have been used for generations and although they may not be the best possible way according to whatever study you want to cite, that does not make the culture evil. It’s what works for them as the children grow up to be happy productive citizens in that culture.

    Not everybody has the luxury of brilliance and wisdom of the child rearing experts guiding how they handle every challenging situation. I would not have handled it that way, nor would I drug a child to keep them quiet on a long flight just to maintain the comfort of others, but there are people out there who do because there are situations where we are expected to control our kids.

    Also, society places reasonable expectations of behavior even on children. It is a parents job to teach the kid that. Of course most of these lessons can be taught in a kind and loving way because the kid will learn the limits eventually with a little perseverance. But one of these days that kid will go running right out in front of a car as he has tried to before because the lesson wasn’t learned thoroughly enough the first time when Mom was quick enough to catch him.

    • David S.

      Even if you want to view it as one bad apple spoiling the whole bunch, how many spoiled apples are we willing to tolerate? If you know that apples from your grocery store had a 1 in a thousand chance of killing your child, would you really feed your child apples?

      Those murderers and child abusers were parents, too. That division doesn’t exist.

      American Airlines Flight 587 disintegrated midair due to pilot mishandling. Somehow we don’t leave it at that; we went back to the instructors and told them they had to stop teaching pilots that it was okay to do that, something you’re opposing right here.

      “Not everybody has the luxury of brilliance and wisdom of the child
      rearing experts guiding how they handle every challenging situation.” is a half-truth; everyone (in the first world, at least) has access to the writings of a score of child rearing experts. And part of what we are criticizing is one of those writings of a supposed expert that, when taken on its face, can lead to the death of the child. It’s apparently too much to ask that people writing books on child rearing take care to write them as to advise the parents away from behavior that has killed children.

      Part of raising a child is to teach them that there’s a difference between everyday commands and “you are in immediate danger” commands. The tone of voice should be enough to give it away, and even many adults would still promptly obey that type of command from their parents, at least until they got to a safe place to consider the facts.

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

      If you think I only object to the Pearls’ book because three children are dead, I suggest you start from the beginning of this series and read each post. This isn’t a matter of a few bad apples. To Train Up A Child is rotten to its core.

    • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

      If someone doesn’t understand how harmful physical abuse is to children, and why physical punishment doesn’t work and causes later psychological harm to the child and later adult, but still persists in writing books and leading movements that propagate abuse and psychological harm, then that person is not just a “bad apple.” The entire movement is sick.

      And if someone is trying to raise kids and refuses to learn what forms of discipline work and train up productive, happy adults, then I don’t feel a lot of sympathy for that person either. Abuse is cyclical. Parents abuse their kids, who grow up thinking “I got spanked, and I’m fine!” and that this is a fine and good way to raise children, and their children in turn grow up thinking that. It takes a lot of courage to break that cycle. But ignorance and willful ignorance will only continue the cycle.

      You sound kind of defensive here and I get why you might, but there are other options on the table here than “hitting kids to strong-arm them with fear and pain into behaving” and “negligently letting kids come to harm.” That’s a false dilemma that physical-punishment advocates create and it is not a valid representation at all.

      • fiona64

        LK sure as hell does sound defensive to me. I’ve read enough of er comment history to know that xie is okay with physical punishment of kids; honestly, I can’t read any more of it because it’s triggering.

      • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

        Well, you criticize child punishment, and people who’ve internalized its messages get defensive. You’re criticizing their parents, their entire upbringing, *and* their entire child-rearing philosophy as well as their own fitness as parents. Heck, you’re challenging their entire self-perception as good people. Yeah, I can totally get why so many people get defensive when people criticize sick discipline methods like Pearl’s. There’s a lot riding on that one idea’s validity. It’s like creationism and fundamentalists. Seems like a fairly small facet of the philosophy, but really it’s the linchpin.

    • The_L1985

      Most abusers are parents who beat their kids to a pulp “for their own good.” As we pointed out in the CPS thread, if parents are doing something harmful because they don’t know that it is, then those parents need counseling. If the same parents persist in abusing their children, then further intervention may be necessary, up to and including sending the children to live with a non-abusive relative.

      The problem with TTUAC isn’t that a few “bad apples” have ruined its reputation. The problem with TTUAC and similar pro-corporal-punishment books is that they frame the parent-child relationship as an adversarial one. I never EVER wanted to be “bad” or upset my parents. But I was constantly asked, “Why do you view me as the enemy?” I was hit for not developing fine motor skills or adult-level study habits quickly enough to suit my father, because he felt like I was deliberately defying him instead of being an ordinary, imperfect human being.

    • Lyric

      You drug a child on a long flight to keep the child from feeling excessive discomfort and fear.

      But one of these days that kid will go running right out in front of a
      car as he has tried to before because the lesson wasn’t learned
      thoroughly enough the first time when Mom was quick enough to catch him.

      I reject this argument completely. It is false, and too many foul things have been done in its name.

      • Legally Kidnapped

        “You drug a child on a long flight to keep the child from feeling excessive discomfort and fear.”

        I see, it’s for the benefit of the child again even though the practice is dangerous. I would say it’s more for the parent’s excessive discomfort and fear of what the other passengers will say.

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21977785

        “foul things”

        Yes, everybody should be so perfect.

      • Guest

        Nice derailing tactic. No one here was advocating for drugging children on planes, you brought that up out of nowhere.

        The subject at hand is the harm done by Pearl-inspired child abuse. Not whether some parent somewhere gave their kid cold medicine on a flight.

      • David S.

        At the start of this thread, you made quite a claim for the freedom to raise your children the way you see fit. It’s hypocritical to start going after the way others raise their kids, and an ineffective debating tactic.

      • Lyric

        I didn’t say that drugging a child on a long flight is a smart thing to do. I said that it’s a step that parents take to reduce their child’s discomfort. Much like old folk remedies involving whiskey are not at all smart things to give children, but the thought that they might take the edge off the kid’s misery makes it very tempting.

        Nothing in that article makes me rethink that perception. Other passengers may be talking about the kids’ behavior, but the parents seem mainly to be thinking about whether or not they can get their children to sleep through a potentially miserable experience. And when it doesn’t work—when, for instance, a toddler spent the flight in a sort of dismal, drugged haze—the parents in question swore off the method immediately.

        I never claimed to be perfect. I claimed that horrible things have been done in the name of making a child obedient, and for some reason, it’s always the hypothetical car that they pull out to justify it.

    • Rosa

      there’s imperfect, and then there’s inhuman. The advice – which is definitely not limited to the Pearls, my parents stuck with Dobson and “folk wisdom” – to never let children win, always have a united front, never back down because then they’ll never learn – that advice is telling parents to be uncaring robots.

      Whether it’s Babywise food-scheduling or cry-it-out or “calm, reasoned” spanking, telling parents they must not bend no matter what their conscience, empathy, or good sense is telling them, is pushing them to be inhumane and inhuman. The good ones, faced with a child the method doesn’t work on, back down. The bad ones – those are the “bad apples” who permanently harm children. But the advice is bad for all of them and it needs to be refuted and argued against in the strongest possible terms.

    • TLC

      “Also, society places reasonable expectations of behavior even on children. It is a parents job to teach the kid that.”

      Yes, REASONABLE. As in: Some children have difficulty pronouncing certain words. If they don’t grow out of it, you get them speech therapy. You don’t beat them until their muscles start dissolving into their bloodstream and they die.

      As in: The only way children can communicate the first year when something is wrong is to cry. So they should be comforted and cared for, not beaten.

      As in: Children vomit when they’re sick. So,give them something to soothe their tummies, watch them to make sure they don’t get dehydrated, and take them to the doctor if the vomiting doesn’t stop. Beating them will only make them madder and sicker, which will lead to more vomiting.

      So according to your “logic,” parents should be doing REASONABLE things like comforting, teaching, healing and protecting in these very normal situations. NOT beating their children! But yet, you defend these parents because THEY think beating is reasonable?

      Please go away and stop trolling you you’ve read at least one good book or series on child development, and you learn what’s REASONABLE to expect of children at different ages.

      • Squire Bramble

        Society has even more reasonable expectations of adults; reading comprehension, for instance.

        According to Legally Kidnapped’s line of thinking, we ought to have hir up before a magistrate to decide the number of lashes to correctly punish hir illiteracy. If society doesn’t discipline hir in every time she fails to perform to our expectations, next thing you know ze’ll be driving drunk because the lesson wasn’t learned thoroughly enough.

        Just because a few “bad apple” judges want to administer the licks with a tire iron doesn’t mean we can’t administer justice in the way our Bronze Age ancestors did. Screw studies and facts, let’s go gather some stones!

      • The_L1985

        According to my fiance, “stoning” didn’t even mean “let’s throw rocks at people.” It meant to take the accused to a rocky cliff (of which Palestine has plenty) with a blindfold on and hands bound, and wait for them to fall/jump off the cliff to the stones below.

      • Conuly

        Sounds fun.

    • Trollface McGee

      Really? You need to learn that it isn’t ok to commit criminal assault on your CHILD?? There are some things that a mentally competent adult should just understand – hitting people and animals except for self defence or sport is one of them.

      Some cultural practises are toxic and evil – “honour” killings, FGM, slavery, all things that have been done for centuries in societies where it’s “worked for them” and that doesn’t make it ok.

      “But one of these days that kid will go running right out in front of a car as he has tried to before because the lesson wasn’t learned thoroughly enough the first time when Mom was quick enough to catch him.”

      The right way to teach a child not to do something dangerous is to explain to them, in a developmentally appropriate manner, why that is dangerous and if the child is too young to understand, to keep the dangerous environment as inaccessible as possible. Hitting a child is the worst possible way to teach that because the pain might be associated with something other than the dangerous event or the child might not understand altogether.

      • Rosa

        You can also take the child into the dangerous situation while carrying them, restraining them in a stroller, or holding their hand, to model how to (for instance) safely cross a street. People are generally very good at learning from good modeling – my kid is unusually bad at it (autism spectrum) and he still managed to learn not to randomly run into traffic by the time he was maybe 3 years old. And by “teach him” I mean “he had internalized it to the point where he could run ahead of us as much as he wanted because I knew he would wait at the corner and not go into traffic.”

      • Legally Kidnapped

        This is not specifically targeted to one person.

        I realize that this may be a hard concept for you all to grasp, but I never suggested that it was okay to hit a child. And just because I don’t necessarily agree with your self-righteous and somewhat extremest views that everybody should abide by this strict parenting standard which you have all adopted and which is not possible for everybody to live or understand or that every parent should be as perfect as the all wise and knowing feminist, does not mean that I go around abusing children. If you want to accuse me of something, please make sure you’re basing that on something real instead of my questioning your silly “my way or the highway” BS.

        No wonder you all become victims so easily, not that the concept of victimization hasn’t benefited your cause or anything. Not only do you conveniently define almost every act as abuse, you provide for no leeway for minor or relatively harmless incidents while forcing condemnation on all who are as imperfect as yourselves as if whole societies and cultures should bow down and kiss your feet and adopt your methods. Then you top it off by applying the most horrific outcomes to almost every case. For example, an Amish kid on a bus who tries to get away from his father getting a light slap on the leg, (no screaming in pain noted, btw, but rather an irritated child) as… “Oh my God that kids gonna die!”

        It’s like the Queen of Hearts taking on the child abuse issue. “Off with HIS head! But not if he’s a child of course because that would be abuse.”

      • Trollface McGee

        “I never suggested that it was okay to hit a child.”
        Yes, you did. Repeatedly.

        Extremist views being – don’t hit children. Yes, everyone can abide by this stringent and difficult standard, it really isn’t that hard.

        Oh yes, and call us feminists, like it’s a bad thing. And no one said you abuse children – you have said that parents should not be held accountable for abusing children and shockingly we aren’t bowing down at your feet for your wisdom on that matter.

        “Then you top it off by applying the most horrific outcomes to almost every case”

        When we suggested that a child who isn’t hit will run into traffic.. oh right, you said that.

        I don’t know whether you’re trolling (and if you are, you’re trolling poorly) or have had some sort of brain modification where you’ve replaced the brain cells you use for thinking with MRA talking points and projection. That doesn’t change that child abuse is wrong, that your definition of child abuse is wrong, and that hitting children even if it doesn’t rise to the level of abuse is wrong.

      • Rosa

        so what WAS that anecdote about the kid getting hit for mouthing off to grandma? Are you saying it’s not OK to hit people for saying bad words to grandma?

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        And now you engage in victim-blaming. Yeah, you need to leave, NOW.

      • Legally Kidnapped

        I’m sorry but I take offense to that. I haven’t blamed myself for any of the false accusations that these lunatics have slung at me.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        You’re not a victim.

        You’re a perpetrator and an abuse apologist.

        And yeah, you are victim-blaming:

        “No wonder you all become victims so easily, not that the concept of victimization hasn’t benefited your cause or anything. Not only do you conveniently define almost every act as abuse, you provide for no leeway for minor or relatively harmless incidents while forcing condemnation on all who are as imperfect as yourselves as if whole societies and cultures should bow down and kiss your feet and adopt your methods.”

        You said, right there, that we are at fault for being abused, and then implied in the very next sentence that none of us were “really abused”. That is victim blaming and abuse apologetics.

      • The_L1985

        tbh, I think she’s saying in the first sentence you quoted that we weren’t really abuse victims; we just like playing the victim.

        Good to know that my depression, anxiety disorder, and daddy issues are all an act. Guess I don’t need to fool with these expensive prescription drugs anymore, then.

      • The_L1985

        OK, no. A parent yelling would be a “minor or relatively harmless incident.” A parent getting angry at a child over a misunderstanding would be a “minor or relatively harmless incident.” A parent tripping over a child who suddenly darted into said parent’s path would (usually) be a “minor or relatively harmless incident.”

        A slap in the face is not minor and is not physically or emotionally harmless, as we have all pointed out. We don’t all agree on whether the concept of punishment in general is abuse, nor on whether a bare-handed spanking on the bottom is abuse*.

        However, you will find us unanimous on the point that hitting a child with anything other than an open hand, or anywhere other than the buttocks, is abuse because such behavior has been both physically and psychologically harmful to us. When something is harmful, the general consensus is that one should stop doing it.

        * That said, child psychologists for about 20 years or so have unanimously agreed that physical forms of punishment (such as spanking) are much less effective than time-out and privilege-denial/grounding, AND that corporal punishment of a child can result in a host of mental issues, especially regarding violent tendencies in adulthood and/or trust issues. This has been documented and verified through numerous tests and studies. Frankly, I don’t care how many adults were spanked as kids and turned out fine; the fact that it can harm children and did psychologically harm me means that I won’t spank my kids, any more than I’d hand them a live cobra because “that person over there handles them for a living, and he’s never been bitten.”

  • Rilian Sharp

    This reminds me of the Rodney king thing. The cops who beat him up were following procedure, but the procedure was terrible. I would expect a group of cops to just physically restrain the person, grab them and put them in the cop car, it should be easy if it’s 5 against 1. But their procedure said to hit/whatever the person, escalating the violence each time, until the person stops resisting. But it’s kind of hard NOT to resist when someone is hitting and kicking you. There was another thing where the cops wanted this person to get off a bus. They could easy have carried him off the bus, but instead they said “I’m going to taze you now,” and they tazed him and THEN carried him off the bus. Because their policies are all about getting the alleged criminal to “submit”. But if you ask me, the only thing we should be submitting to is reality/rationality/reasoning/logic. So if there’s something important you need ti teach your children, do so with facts and logic, rather than violence, then they’ll do the right thing even when you’re nit there ti tell them what the right thing is! In other words, we should be reasoning, not just following orders. But the reason Pearl may not like this idea is that there’s a chance for his children to reason differently than he wants, and also maybe he isn’t so interested in actually being right in the first place, just with everyone SAYING he’s “right”.

  • TLC

    The stubbornness is profound—amazing—a wonder that one so young could be so dedicated and persevering in rebellion. It is the kind of determination you would expect to find in a hardened revolutionary facing enemy indoctrination classes.

    Just where does Michael think babies get all these abilities to sit around and plot against their parents? Does he think they develop these abilities by the age of 3 months, when he recommends that “training” begin? Maybe he has a secret parenting manual that reveals a startling secret of the universe: Every baby is born with all the skills, talents and capabilities of history’s top military generals, and is able to think and strategize to defeat parents. And the only way to stop these “evil babies” was revealed to him in the form of switching with plumbing supply line; Michael must pass it on to the rest of the world for civilization to survive.

    The only thing as ridiculous as this scenario is Michael and Debi’s belief that babies are consciously thinking up ways to outwit their parents, and it must be beaten out of them.

    “. . .it is preparation for future, instant, unquestioning obedience.”

    Oh, the horrors of this oft-repeated phrase! How on earth are these children supposed to grow up and be “good Christian parents” if all they learn is “instant, unquestioning obedience”? How will they learn to think? Will they be able to function as spouses and parents if no one is ordering them around? What do they do when their parents die?

    • Ruana

      That’s it! Someone just needs to tell him that Family Guy isn’t a documentary!

  • Saraquill

    “…the next weary forty-five minutes, fifteen times the child would make his legs move, and the daddy would turn him around and spank his legs….the twelve-month-old submitted his will to his father… and became content—even
    cheerful.”

    Cheerful my eye. Getting hit so much in the same spot will bloody HURT. At the end of those minutes, the boy would be screaming at each new touch.

    • NeaDods

      It suddenly occurs that Michael claiming that kids get all happy and content after a beating is yet another way to keep not just kids but parents in thrall to him. Because in the majority of cases where the kid won’t fake the right emotion, the parent is going to wonder why they aren’t getting the promised result and buy more books, go to more lectures to find out why the system that promised a result isn’t.

  • Sara Lin Wilde

    These are more horrifying now that I’ve started studying child development. I feel like I’m watching a horror movie and screaming at the dumb protagonist to not run up the stairs but she totally does it anyway every damn time. “No, the kid is SUPPOSED to be acting that way! It’s good! Don’t try to stop him, he’s developing!”

  • rtanen

    I swear, either the Judge Rotenberg Center and this guy have been comparing notes (unlikely… one is an institution for autistic children and the other is a religious author), or they came up with the same principles independently of one another, a worrying thought. Anyone know whether Mr. Pearl has any connections to the autism community, or when he started writing?

    • NeaDods

      That would require Michael admitting autism isn’t demonic rebellion.

      • rtanen

        Because he has never, ever, said something that doesn’t reflect his actual actions before.
        Side note… I thought their party line was that I was demon-possessed?

      • NeaDods

        We don’t know all his actions, but we certainly can extrapolate from his words. Especially repeated ones, and he’s more fond of “rebellion” than even “demon.”

  • Hilary

    Michael, if you ever come anywhere near my cats, I’ll disentangle your intestines with a spork. I haven’t had time to read what everybody else here has to say, but you, sir, are a Nazi poopyhead.

    PS, this is what real fatherhood looks like.

    http://www.today.com/news/superdads-couple-adopts-14-kids-foster-care-4B11187918

    • Brightie

      Thanks for the link. That is cool.

    • The_L1985

      I’ve heard this story before, but it’s all kinds of heartwarming. :) The Hams are heroes for taking on so many children–especially all those siblings that they adopted just to keep families from being broken up.

      • Hilary

        I figured we needed something here to take the taste of MP off our moniters. I don’t think Penny and I will do anything quite at that scale, but now that we are legally married . . . . I dunno, the thought of being a stay at home dad does have it’s appeal for me, a lot more then being a stay at home mom. But so does being the working mom with Penny being a home mom. We’ll see what happens.

    • Shayna

      Oooo, they’re up to 14? The last article about them I had bookmarked said 12. I love that they do everything they can to keep sibling groups together. Many props & well wishes to the Hams!

  • shuttergirl46q

    Oh for pity’s sake, it’s not “the German language,” it’s Pennsylvania Dutch (aka Pennsylvania German), which is quite different from most dialects of German. Granted, Michael is not from Pa., but if he’s doing research, the least he can do is learn the basics of a culture. He keeps getting the little stuff wrong; how can he expect us to believe him on the big stuff? As far as the Amish man; I grew up around the Amish, and that excerpt just doesn’t jive. Why would anyone spend 45 minutes spanking a baby anyway? It’s unnecessary. I encountered the same situation with my son not so long ago, and all it took was a few quiet reminders and a firm hold until he figured out Mama means business — and he was in a full blown tantrum! For the record, we were in a crowded place and it’s wasn’t safe for him to be exploring on his own. I can’t speak for anyone else’s kid, but I find it a lot more effective to encourage good behavior and give appropriate alternatives to bad behaviors.

  • Eve Fisher

    What do these people do when the kid is breathing too loudly? Or too hard? Or too often? Children move. They breathe. They twitch. They look around. They move their arms and legs and feet and hands, and sometimes they go all rigid, and sometimes they go all floppy, and sometimes they smile sweet as an angel, and you know? It’s not directed at the parent. It’s not disobedience. It’s being alive.

  • The Other Weirdo

    All I got from this is, the Amish are as fucked up as everybody else and Michael is into kicking cats.

  • Barbara

    I’m fixating on the bit about cats and dogs. It’s so…telling.

    Michael does not know how to deal with the problems, frustrations, and inconveniences of day-to-day life outside of violence. My stomach curdles at the thought of kicking my cats, but he views it as perfectly normal, because he knows no other answer or outlet. Is it any wonder that he turned to beating his children?

    Additionally, he links intelligence to train-ability. This is both arrogant and self-serving: beings that agree with him or that obey him are “smart,” whereas beings that resist him are “stupid.” It’s a neat little trap that simultaneously insults the object of his ire and boosts his own ego. It’s also incredibly dangerous. The parent who picks up on that message and takes it to heart could come to believe that a child who does not immediately respond to the Pearls’ methods is, in some way, mentally deficient, which could intensify the training. After all, Michael does say that the “stupid” animal (the cat) responds after enough kicks — it just takes longer.

    I am very, very disturbed by this section.

    • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

      Makes you look kinda sidelong at what kind of marriage he’s cultivating, doesn’t it?

      • Barbara

        Oh yes, absolutely. Granted, I’ve been looking at it askance since reading of the trash incident, but this gave it all a whole new and terrible spin. It’s one thing to know that someone is selfish and domineering; it’s another to know that the same individual views violence as an acceptable means to an end.

        I shudder to think what Debi may have actually had to experience.

      • NeaDods

        Michael has told us part of it in his “funny honeymoon” storu, and he can’t seem to realize why Debi got so upset. Debi’s said, (although not in those words) that the emotional abuse began a few hours after the wedding.

    • NeaDods

      You ought to be disturbed. It’s the naked portrait of someone abused to think violence is normal casually teaching that great violence is normal.


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