Quoting Quiverfull: Ashamed of Discipline?

Quoting Quiverfull: Ashamed of Discipline? December 31, 2012

QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders and ask our readers: What do you think? Agree? Disagree? This is the place to state your opinion. Please, let’s keep it respectful – but at the same time, we encourage readers to examine the ideas of Quiverfull honestly and thoughtfully.

Michael Pearl from “Spank and Save a Child” at No Greater Joy website

Parents who strike out in anger are most often anti-spanking proponents who reach the end of their tolerance curve. Not having spanking as part of their toolkit, they end up frustrated with their rebellious children and eventually explode in retribution. In contrast, parents who wisely employ spanking with their training soon have such happy and compliant kids that no one is ever provoked to anger.

History will show that parents have not abandoned physical discipline because it proved to be ineffective, but because many parents have become ashamed of the way they apply it. That is why No Greater Joy teaches parents to patiently “train up a child in the way he should go.”

Comments open below

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce


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  • Mary Crow

    Completely disagree. Once you allow that window to hit your kid, it’s too easy to do it in anger. That absolutely does not mean that kids shouldn’t be taught consequences in a *meaningful way*, either through time-outs or later, through privileges/toys/video games taken away which they have to earn back. Non-corporal punishment definitely takes more patience and imagination. But good behavior reinforced with reward and praise is so much different than bad behavior threatened with fear and pain.

  • saraquill

    I see no reason to believe a man who was gleeful about goading a father to beat his toddler for being tired and cranky, and who crowed about how awesome he was after a child was killed due to his advice.

  • Baroness Black

    Michael Pearl cannot possibly know whether his children are genuinely happy. He has taught them their whole lives that to show him any response, other than the one he desires, results in physical pain. What a brilliant way to completely alienate your children and teach them to fear you! The guy is certifiable!

  • SAO

    Well, I hang out in pretty left wing circles and I have seen parents who apply no discipline to their kids, because they can’t get them to sit in a time-out. As a result, the kid hits his brothers and sisters and the brothers and sisters quietly detest him. A few firm, but not painful swats on bum usually convince kids that sitting in time-outs is the thing to do.

    But note, there’s a HUGE distance between using a mild swat or two as a last resort and beating as the first or only method of discipline. And ultimately, the most important parenting advice is, if it isn’t working, more of the same won’t work either. Stop and think about why your kid isn’t doing what you want, don’t double up on your ineffective technique.

  • Meggie

    I believed that smacking (used in a calm manner) was an effective method of discipline until I had kids. My eldest son would do something wrong, I would calmly smack him and tell him no, he would continue to do whatever he was doing, I would get angry and everything would fall to pieces. Everyone we knew kept telling us “If you just give him a good smack ….” He was 6 years old before he was diagnosed a partially deaf. He hadn’t understood any of the things we had tried to teach him. The only thing he learnt was that sometimes Mummy hits you and then gets angry. No really the lesson I wanted to teach and definately not something I would want him to copy. I’ve never hit the younger kids and they seem pretty well behaved to me. I would be very open to a visit from the Pearls to show what an upbringing without hitting can achieve.

  • ABaker

    So they teach their kids that the best reaction to someone else’s misconduct is to calmly and methodically cause physical pain. Sounds like a recipe for sociopathy if ever I herd one.

  • KarenH

    Michael Pearl is an abuser who knows nothing about effective parenting. It’s no wonder his advice stinks; he pulls it out of his ass.

  • Jenny Islander

    I saw the very same thing in a mother of my acquaintance who used a wooden spoon on her daughter–seriously she was within earshot of us at a public gathering, Jesus wept! Her child training system started with “They are rebellious by nature” and went on to “Threaten them with the spoon” and ended at “Apply spoon repeatedly.”

    The kid had an atypical ear infection. No pain, just a general yucky feeling, which she couldn’t describe because she was two. So she was grumpy, which in her mother’s child training system meant that she was deliberately flouting her mother’s authority. Also she wasn’t responding when spoken to, another “clear” sign of “rebellion.” So she got the spoon.

    Two days later she was taken in for her regular checkup, at which the physician announced, “This child is deaf.”

    Bonus awfulness: She had been diagnosed with an ear infection about two weeks before the spoon incident, but antibiotics appeared to have cleared it up. However, her mother’s child training system did not prompt her to consider the child’s health as a factor in her behavior. First, last, and always, the system told her that her child was naturally a bad person who had to be smacked.

    Anyway, further treatment cleared up the impacted gunk in her ears. The mother, to her credit, admitted that she had misjudged her daughter. She never admitted that the child training system had prompted her to hurt her child, but at least the rest of the people in her group never saw that damn spoon again.

    As for Michael Pearl, it is very convenient to his need to inflict pain to deny that methods of discipline exist. I don’t call what he does discipline. Training perhaps. In his universe, it’s hit hit hit or let the kids run amuck. In mine, discipline, that is, treating the kids like disciples, is much more difficult than sadistic methods of entrapping children in order to hit them. Am I ashamed of Michael Pearl’s methods? Am I ashamed that people who should damned well know better hold his books up in churches? Yes!

  • BSG 075

    My parents were both the products of criminal child abuse. Of course, back then such concepts did not exist. Women were subjects and children property, the Golden Righteous Age of the Patriarchy. They tried to do better, and I can see why they earnestly thought they were being lenient. I am fortunate I married and had a family later in life. I had a chance to unlearn what I had internalized. I have never wanted to hit my daughter, and I never will. I don’t trust my wife on this. She gives our money to Family Life Radio. I’ll bet Mr Pearl doesn’t know the fear, and the shame of taking a good beating. Tasting your own blood, hoping your tormentor will become satiated before he really messes you up. The fear and the shame is what stays with you after the bruises fade. I’m pretty sure I could teach him what it’s like.