Michael and Debi Pearl’s discipline manual, To Train Up A Child (view text here), is popular in Christian homeschool circles. The Pearls advocate spanking children with a piece of PVC piping and emphasize that parents must break their children’s wills and render their children utterly submissive. Even a bad attitude is considered disobedience in need of punishment in Pearl circles. For many families, the Pearls’ teachings become more than just a discipline method, but rather an entire lifestyle. I was raised on the Pearls, but I have come to see their methods for what they are: destructive and abusive.
But the Pearls methods, so carefully packaged in To Train Up A Child, are not new; indeed, much of what I write about on the Pearls also pertains to authoritarian parenting in general. Authoritarian parenting focuses on obedience and compliance above all else, and privileges the needs of parents over those of children. Authoritarian parenting frequently involves corporal punishment, but it doesn’t have to. Authoritarian parenting is a mindset rather than a specific discipline method.
Make sure to check out Positive Parenting, the parenting method I follow today with my young children.
Key Posts on “To Train Up a Child”
Resources on “To Train Up a Child”
Spare the Child, by Phillip Greven