Emotion Control

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The Pearls have begun applying this three-part personality system to children. A recent article by the Pearls’ daughter Shalom Brand was titled “Three Types of Children, Part 2: Kisses and Tickles (Visionary/Dreamer Type).” As I read through this article, I wondered whether Shalom is amending her father’s methods in a few ways. I also, though, found myself horrified at the emotion control she preaches—emotion control also outlined in To Train Up A Child. [Read more...]

No, Explanations Are NOT a Problem


If that’s your logic for giving explanations, of course you’re going to have a problem! I don’t explain things to my children in an attempt to get them to do what I want them to do. That’s so backwards! I explain things to my children because I want to help them understand the world around them and learn to navigate that world themselves someday. I explain things to my children because I believe all people, including children, deserve to know the why behind things rather than functioning on mere obedience to commands. [Read more...]

Little Bundles of Sin? I Think Not.


Sean and I took the kids out for pizza. I held Bobby on my lap, as he likes. I finished my first slice and was engaged in conversation. I looked down just in time to see Bobby putting a new slice of pizza on my plate, having taken it from the tray just within his reach. Bobby had noticed that I had finished my slice, had thought correctly that I would like a second, had worked out how to get me a second, and had carried forth his plan. [Read more...]

Michael Pearl Is Not Original

susanna wesley

Michael Pearl’s To Train Up a Child is not original, not in the least. It’s actually a rehashing of ideas that had been floating around in evangelicalism and fundamentalism for literally hundreds of years. Let me offer a few excerpts from various evangelical or fundamentalist sources to illustrate what I’m talking about. [Read more...]

Michael Pearl and a Victorian Poem


I recently came upon a poem by J. E. Pollock. It was published in 1883 and was called “Woman’s Influence.” It’s very Victorian, and it helps show just how many of Michael and Debi’s ideas come straight from that era rather than from the Bible. In this post I’ll share the poem (and link to the Michael post that most directly relates). [Read more...]

The Twisted Evil


I write a lot here on the blog about Debi Pearl’s Created To Be His Help Meet ´╗┐and Michael Pearl’s To Train Up A Child. I think it’s important to remember that there are people who wholeheartedly believe and follow both books. This isn’t some abstract thing. For these individuals and families, this is real life. And the things the Pearls say—things that are, I might add, actually quite widespread in fundamentalist Christian circles far beyond the Pearls themselves—shape the directions of people’s lives. [Read more...]

Lesbians, Satan, Hitler: Debi Pearl Responds To Criticism


I’m glad to know that the Pearls are finally facing criticism from within the Christian homeschooling world. I would very much like to believe that 9 out of 10 homeschooling families believe that the Pearls’ methods are dangerous, but I suspect that is a bit of an exaggeration. What I would believe, though, is that 9 out of 10 Christian homeschooling families have at the very least heard rumors of the two girls’ deaths, and that’s at least something. [Read more...]

Hana Williams Trial Verdict: Guilty


Yesterday, Larry and Carri Williams were found guilty of manslaughter in the 2011 death of their daughter, Hana. Larry was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter and Carri was found guilty of both manslaughter and homicide by abuse. Janet Heimlich sums up Hana’s story, bringing in the role of the Pearls and isolationist homeschooling. [Read more...]

Bottling Up Your Emotions, Children Edition


I grew up in a family liked this. Complaining and bad attitudes were not allowed. We children were very aware that being sulky could get you spanked or sent to your bed. Even a disconsolate face could get you a time out, or assigned sentences to write out over and over. As a result, bad attitudes and complaining were rare (relatively speaking)—at least on the outside. I don’t understand how parents don’t realize that teaching children to bottle up their feelings is a good idea. [Read more...]

Hana Williams Abuse and Murder Trial Ongoing

Hana Williams

Hana Williams died two years ago, in May 2011, of hypothermia after her mother banished her from the house as punishment for being “rebellious.” Hana Williams had been adopted from Ethiopia in 2008 by a conservative Christian homeschooling couple who followed the child training methods of Michael and Debi Pearl. Her trial is currently taking place, including testimony from some of the children’s seven biological children and Hanna’s adopted Ethiopian brother. [Read more...]

What (Not) To Do If Your Husband Abuses Your Kids

mother and child

Presumably the Pearls think that a woman should stop her husband from beating a child senseless, or killing him—and presumably a man should stop his wife from, say, starving a child to death. Presumably this idea that you should support injustice rather than question the other parent’s judgement has its limits. But then, maybe I’m presuming too much. Either way, they don’t give any such caveat in their book, To Train Up a Child. [Read more...]

“The Rod Is a Tool To Stay Connected.” Say What?


The Pearls and their followers argue that the rod is simply a tool to foster connection between parent and child, but the only thing I remember the rod teaching me is that when I didn’t obey I would pay for it, and that I should be afraid of my mother and father because if I stepped out of line I would end up with a spanking. The rod never made me feel connected to my parents. Ever. Actually, it made me feel afraid of them. And that’s sure as hell not the same thing. [Read more...]