Quoting Quivering: Dealing With a Dominating Defiant Child?

Quoting Quivering: Dealing With a Dominating Defiant Child? September 17, 2014

defiantby Michael Pearl from No Greater Joy Ministries – The Will To Dominate

We start with one of those wonderful fake-esque letters the Pearls receive regularly. Warning – the letter is a fake doozy!:

Dear Michael and Debi,
Our daughter Sue is almost four. She has been a handful right from birth. In the hospital nursery they had to keep her in a separate room because her screaming disrupted the other babies! The hospital nursery workers told my husband that we were going to have our hands full. Sue never wanted to be cuddled until she was sick for the first time at 8 months of age. She wouldn’t even let us take her hand to show her things, even pat-a-cake! Sue wasfrustrated(sic) (and still is) about everything. frustrated that she couldn’t roll,mad that she couldn’t sit, furious that she couldn’t walk or talk.

We didn’t help matters by always putting her to sleep by means of walking, rocking, or nursing. Consequently, she never learned patience. We always went to her or picked her up with the first whimper, since we knew it would soon turn into a full blown, purple faced, raging fit. She had a temper. Finally at eleven months of age we began proper and consistent training, and when she turned one she at last began sleeping through the night.

When I asked her to put up her toys, she would throw the toys the other way, even after I would make a fun game of it, doing most of it myself. Or sometimes she would pick one item up as slow as a turtle, or place the toy on the edge of the bucket, so more often than not it would fall out, not in.

And yes, after a long time of working on the cleanup concept, I’m sure I applied pressure – nothing ever got cleaned up!

She’s still the same, picking up items with her feet or mouth, or going on to play with something else when I leave the room. Funny how her sister Ruth was taught the same way, and right from the start she loved putting things in buckets, and is a wonderful cleanupper.

Sue is the same if I ask her to put her sandals on and go collect the chicken eggs. She puts her boots on instead. I’ll say, “No Sue, your sandals.” So she puts her sandals on backwards. I’ll say, “No Sue, put them on properly,” and she’ll put them on and run out, only to take them off when she gets outside. When I realize she hasn’t returned with the eggs, I look out and see her sandals are off her feet and she is playing in the mud. I finally had to take away the privilege of collecting eggs, adding it to my responsibilities.

Staying in bed has been an issue since the 2nd week after we put her in a big bed. The novelty wore off and she realized her freedom, even though she understood the rules – no getting out of bed unless she calls and asks. Nap time and bedtime became spanking time. Off the bed she would come 2, 4, 10, 20 or more times! When we couldn’t take her bottom getting another spanking, we began to look for other penalties. If she got off the bed, we put her in the playpen (the crib was then occupied by her baby sister). She hated that, and would throw a fit and a half. She quickly learned how to climb out of the playpen. We finally took down her big bed and let her sleep on the floor.

Now that little brother has arrived, Sue and Ruth share a room. Ruth, who never questioned our authority about when it was time to go to bed, and who would be breathing heavily in less than five minutes, now jumps off the bed along with Sue. Sue will also call out many, many times, keeping herself and us up until nearly 10:00 some nights.

We make sure all needs are met before lights are out (potty, drink of water, read a Bible story, tucked in, one song while I rub backs, a few more minutes of ‘talk about’ if it’s not too late, and send daddy in one more time). Then the games begin. She wants more water. We say no. She wants a teddy bear or doll. She wants to talk some more. She wants another hug. She wants her back rubbed again. She wants more kisses or hugs. She wants to blow us kisses. The problem is, we have found that if we deny her any of the things she requests, and she goes to sleep on a bad note, like if we spank her for anything, she wakes screaming in the middle of the night, demanding the one thing we denied her before putting her to bed.

This literally went on for weeks. Lack of sleep was affecting everyone. We warned her before bed not to wake everyone up in the night or she would be spanked the next morning. That did not faze her. If she goes to sleep on a good note, with no spanking, then there is no problem in the middle of the night. But we can’t give her everything she demands at all hours of the night.

Sibling rivalry is another issue. Sue is selfish to the extreme, and very mean to her sister. She ‘bugs’ her sister all the time, which warrants a spanking, and she usually takes advantage of the times I am nursing her brother. (He was on oxygen and monitors for a long while and so was used to nursing in a quiet room – now if I try it in any other location, he refuses. He also has to be upright after feeding so I can’t just lay him down and go chastise her during his feeding.) She knows she will be punished, but enjoys the momentto it’s fullest.

Her behavior during spanking is difficult as well. I will ask her if she knows why she’s going to get a spanking, and she will say, “for being mean to Ruth.” Then when I spank her she will flail, arch, and start SCREAMING, “huggie, huggie, huggie,” over and over. I’ve told her before that when she’s ready to hug to stand up and come get one, so I now consider this screaming a form of talking back and I spank her again and again and again. We go through this every time. It is a very tiring day.

Now, this whole letter has begun to sound as if we have WWIII going on in our home constantly. Admittedly, my husband often comments that Sue may be only a skinny little 30 pounds, but when she wakes in the morning in a foul mood, the whole family is completely affected the rest of the day. She can be a real sweetie, saying “Mama, you’re the best!” Or in the middle of brushing her teeth she’ll stop and give me a hug, or she’ll put a whole bunch of toys together into a bag and give me her “present.”

She is so easily distracted, and most times her behavior is not necessarily out and out disobedience. Yes, there is a standard that she has to meet, butspankings don’t seem to change her behavior. She even has missed out on numerous family outings. If she throws a fit, we do not allow her to go with us, but take her to my mother to keep. When we return, she acts indifferentand boasts of what a swell time SHE had.

This letter has become quite lengthy. I have been “Rambling” a bit myself. Sue has so much energy, a short attention span, a wicked temper, and a very strong will, and it all manifests itself in a disregard for rules. We thought that by age four we wouldn’t need to spank nearly so often. But instead of decreasing, the instances have increased!

Can you offer any suggestions?

Be sure and read the entire reply at No Greater Joy. Wish we could quote the entire article. Here’s a few of Michael’s gems of advice to these parents:

Note carefully. Here is the final step that brought Sue to where we find her in this letter. She now seeks symbolic victories over her parents—over all authority. She will take a position for no other reason than that it is the opposite of her parents’, thus enabling her to experience the exhilaration of the fight, with the only prize being the title of winner. Sue now seeks opportunities to score victories over her parents. She finds pleasure in humbling them, in taking the wind out of their sails; just to win the contest of wills, to prove her prowess, to demonstrate her autonomy, to be her own person, to know that no one can make her bend or bow—what joy unspeakable and full of power!

and

Sue’s addiction to dominance is as strong as any addiction to heroin, alcohol, pornography, or gambling. Lust seeks opportunity. The possibility of opportunity keeps lust simmering on the front burner. This mother said that spanking was just not working. Just as the gambler will lose time after time, yet ignore the pain and press on in hopes of a better day, so a child will suffer the pain of spanking time after time, in hopes of winning the blessed reward of dominance the next time—or maybe the next. If Sue became convinced that there was no game and no chance of winning, that there would never be the “thrill of victory,” only “the agony of defeat,” she would drop the game and go where she could find true pleasure.

plus some advice on spanking Sue

Dear Mother, as we said, you cannot depend on spanking Sue into compliance. Do not fail to spank, but don’t expect it to work until you have made some other adjustments. And when you do spank, make sure that it is forceful enough to get her undivided attention. If she can scream “huggie” while you are spanking her, you are probably not spanking hard enough.
Do not allow 15 seconds to lapse between the offense and the spanking. And do not allow more than 10 feet between the place of the offense and the place of spanking. The association is essential. Don’t hug her in reference to the spanking. That is an apology, and it is a diversion from the issues. Again, spanking will not be the deciding factor, but it will help keep the pressure on.

and he also advocates bugging this four year olds room and this advice on making her obey

Do not drag her to the bed. It is important that she exercise her own will to obey. If she throws a screaming fit, give her several moderate licks every few minutes and wait beside her until she is so tired she obeys. Do this all night long, every night, until she readily complies.
If she puts her shoes on backwards, do not threaten or complain, just commence giving her licks right on her feet or ankles until she gets her shoes on the right feet. If she takes her shoes off in the yard, do not warn her, just go out in the yard and spank her feet until she finds her shoes and puts them back on.

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 and Spiritual Abuse honestly and thoughtfully.

Comments open below

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce

13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession by M Dolon Hickmon


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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Anonyme

    DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, *but* a lot of Sue’s behavioral problems stand out as “symptoms” of autism or a similar condition. I’ll go into more detail when I can pick up my jaw from the floor (this hits home hard because I was and still am diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at a very young age–it’s very similar to autism and I had a lot of Sue’s challenges as a child).

  • Nea

    You are not the only one thinking that. Michael Pearl has just given advice to try to beat a disability out of a toddler. He has also, despite his insistence in his book and in the response that spanking won’t work in its own and to not “beat up” a child, ordered the mother to whip without ceasing every single time she doesn’t get perfect obedience. Without ceasing. Without waiting to calm down. On any body part considered relevant.

    And then he wonders where people get the idea that he teaches how to beat children all over their bodies until they die.

  • SAO

    There’s so much wrong with every single line in this letter and answer, starting with 1) the parents don’t seem to like their daughter and
    2) Pearl’s answer is to beat her into submission.

    Anyone who recommends fighting power games with a toddler and using a stick to insure the adult wins needs their head examined. You’re not winning because you’re a mature, reasonable adult but because you’re bigger and stronger? That’s utter parenting failure.

  • Saraquill

    I was thinking the same thing. Hates being touched, has trouble understanding instructions, (she’s a toddler for crying out loud!) poor short term memory and so forth.

  • lodrelhai

    I… okay, I was going to post a little quip about my horrible sense of humor latching on to a “point of hope” that is probably an editing error of whoever made this story up, but I thought I should at least try to address the actual horror of this advice.

    Apparently my horrible sense of humor was a defense mechanism against an emotional landmine triggering.

    This advice reminds me of being stuck in horrible loops of punishment and forced disobedience when I was a kid. If I hadn’t done something in the way or time my mom expected, she would spank me. Then stand in my doorway and tell me to go do what she wanted done. Except, of course, she was *standing in the way,* and having just been hit repeatedly I was not about to get within striking distance again if I could avoid it. I also wasn’t going to push past her, or take my eyes off her, or indicate I was doing anything but listening with all my attention until she signalled she was done with me by walking away. Any of those behaviors were rude and unacceptable – which is to say, punishable by spanking. So she would stand there glaring, and I would stand there terrified, until she got tired of waiting and hit me again for not going to do what she said.

    These deadlocks were usually broken when either her additional efforts to discipline me shifted our positions, so she was no longer between me and the door and I could actually go do what she said, or when my father would call her off. The hitting, at least, mostly stopped as I got older, but the screaming never did. I was in high school before I was able to pull together the guts to point out that I couldn’t go do what she wanted if she was between me and what she wanted me to do. She did not appreciate the information – apparently I was sarcastic about pointing it out, and could have just asked politely any time for her to please give me room, so being frozen in terror was still disobedience and the additional smacks were still my fault.

    (For the record, I’ve tried the quiet, polite requests concerning various issues over the years – for the most part they are a quick route to being screamed at for not appreciating her, or not understanding what she goes through, or just for not accepting that this is how she is and if God hasn’t seen fit to change her than I should just accept it already.)

    This is not a way to encourage loving obedience. This is a recipe for PSTD, depression, anxiety disorders, lifelong resentment, and escalating violence over a lifetime. I hope, I PRAY that this letter is a Pearl fake, that Sue does not actually exist, because I am horrified by the idea that her parents might take this advice to heart.

    (Just for the record, the horribly inappropriate humor was because the first mention of a younger sibling says sister, but all later references say brother. And my first thought was, “Well, at least they’re willing to adapt for the sake of their transgender child?”)

  • Mel

    In the parents’ defense, many parents with “difficult” children don’t always like their children. They may love them – very deeply – but a child who struggles with a behavioral, psychological, or other issue that severely disrupts daily life can be hard to like.

    In a therapy group I belong to, many parents feel great relief when they learn that they are not the only parent who doesn’t “like” their child. It doesn’t mean they are bad parents – usually just that they are exhausted.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    “(Just for the record, the horribly inappropriate humor was because the first mention of a younger sibling says sister, but all later references say brother. And my first thought was, “Well, at least they’re willing to adapt for the sake of their transgender child?”)”

    That’s the thing that tips me off that this ‘letter’ is likely fake. That and the use of the name ‘Sue’. Debi and Michael have a habit of using the same names again and again in all their writings.

  • I hate the way they describe children. A newborn doesn’t have screaming fits of rage–they’re a newborn. Crying is how they communicate. An 11 month old doesn’t have a temper–they have needs and the inability to communicate them as well as they would like. I don’t see how attaching these negative characteristics to very, very young children could ever been viewed as helpful, but I’m not a Pearl, so there’s that….

  • Giliell

    I thought that as well. Lots of it seems familiar, my oldest is not neurotypical. She can drive me up the wall, but so far we’ve managed without me beating her and I don’t expect that to change

  • texcee

    I knew right from her birth that my daughter was hyperactive. Her pediatrician blew off my concerns by saying she was just “energetic.” I completely disagreed and sought other doctors. None of them thought there was any problem. Of course, THEY weren’t up walking the floor all night with her, trying to get her to sleep, searching for answers. They didn’t have to deal with her night terrors either (“she’s just having bad dreams”). I was frustrated and spanked her to make her obey me. It wasn’t until she was in the second grade that a teacher strongly suggested I have her tested for ADD or ADHD. She turned out to be a textbook case and we put her on Ritalin. It was like night and day! She calmed down, concentrated, did great in school, and became a delightful child. I learned the hard way that I’d been abusing a child that couldn’t help the way she was. She had a medical condition that required medication!

  • Uh huh… lemme look at that list of symptoms for a moment…
    Hates being touched… I’ve had situations where I have flinched and *panicked* when someone’s face was too close to mine and I wasn’t ready for it…
    Has trouble understanding instructions… uhm… yeah… which is probably why I tend to read the rules on new sites three and four times before opening my big mouth…
    Poor short term memory… I thought EVERYONE had that!! Seriously, some days I can’t follow a sentence from beginning to end and I’ve got EXCELLENT reading skills.

    Oh, and a cup or three of hot chocolate coffee makes some of these improve greatly.

    Damn… technically the jury’s still out, but the evidence is seriously piling up… and not just that Michael Pearl is an ass of the nth order, though that would be an insult to some of the great asses of the world. (Related to the donkey… seriously, it’s a real word. *chuckle*)

  • Astrin Ymris

    Isn’t there both a younger sister–Ruth– and an even younger but unnamed brother in this hopefully-fictional family?

    The details about baby brother’s feeding difficulties being the reason she CAN’T spank Sue for the offense when it happens– and the way Michael completely ignores this situation by telling her to spank immediately anyway– makes me dreadfully afraid that this may be a real letter.

  • Astrin Ymris

    I didn’t have it nearly that bad, but I do remember crying after a spanking, and my mother threatening “If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you something to cry about!” Which made me immediately start crying even harder and more hysterically than before, because I knew I couldn’t stop crying.

    I don’t remember if she ever carried out this threat, but I do remember the trapped panic I felt in those moments. In fact, I’m not sure I ever completely forget.

  • Astrin Ymris

    Isn’t it amazing how all these “Patriarchal” disciplinarians claim that preschoolers and toddlers want to “dominate” and “control” their parents? Yet in all areas of their writings they reveal that it’s THEY who are obsessed with receiving the submission that they feel is “due” them from their inferiors. It’s classic projection.

  • ConcepcionImmaculadaPantalones

    Who knows, there could be thousands of homes in the U.S. where families are being terrorized by a 3-4 year old Stalin/Attila the Hun/Catherine the Great…I mean, there are a couple of homes where the family is stuck in one room because they’re being menaced by the family cat, to the extent that they call 911 for help…

  • Astrin Ymris

    *Will… not… Google…… Will… not… Google…”

    ;-D

  • Allison the Great

    I was thinking the same thing. I have Asperger’s syndrome too and I could not finish this article. It made me too mad. This girl deserves better parents.

  • Allison the Great

    I have a feeling that most of the “letters” that Michael and Debi get are fake. I couldn’t even finish this outrageously cruel pile of pig shit. However, that still doesn’t stop me from getting extraordinarily angry. Yeah, the Pearls wrote this letter. They intentionally listed some of the symptoms of being on the Autism Spectrum and they’re trying to pass this imaginary child as something that is evil and manipulative (they do this to all children, this is true).

    Beating the living hell out of a child with Asperger’s or Autism is never and I repeat NEVER going to make them do what you want them to do. Not only do we have problems followings directions but we can’t take social cues or read facial expressions and sometimes I don’t think smaller Autistic children will understand why they’re being beaten to a bloody pulp, and will thus continue their behavior and keep being beaten without knowing why.

    What really pisses me off about this letter is not only the lack of understanding of the girl’s condition (moreover, the refusal to learn anything about it) but the standards they would hold her to. “Always express joy on your face with a smile or get a beating” ugh . I have problems with facial expressions and I’m in my 20s for fuck’s sake! My boss is always nagging me about my facial expression, something that, try as I might, I cannot control. I have tried explaining to him that no, I’m not in a foul mood I’m just concentrating really hard and most of the time, I can’t control it. You’d think after all I’ve done, what with not looking at the floor anymore when I speak to people, not rocking back in forth in public, developing a social life and so forth, people would leave me alone about my face, but nope, they still won’t let up. They nag and it really bothers me.

    With the problems that I have faced with trying to pretend to be normal, I can’t imagine what it would be like trying to do this with a whip at my back. And this fake letter makes it clear that the Pearls would take pleasure in beating someone with a disability like that. This fake letter makes it clear that they view this behavior as demonic, when it really isn’t. It’s indicative of how really, really SICK the Pearls are.

  • Allison the Great

    I think it’s because the two have all the symptoms of being sociopaths. It’s all a treat to them, and quite honestly, they’re just looking for reason to hurt them, which seems like something they enjoy doing.

  • Kitty

    I don’t think it’s just autistic kids. I remember my father telling me once that babies are evil and that you have to discipline them to be good. It’s pretty much core fundamentalist Christian doctrine.

  • lodrelhai

    I thought the first mention of Ruth was that she was the older sister, but now I don’t see it. So possible I assumed Ruth was older because the letter says the mother used the same “teaching” methods on her and they worked. Mind may have filled in “Well this worked with Ruth at that age so it should work with Sue too,” because that makes far more sense than “Since none of these methods ever helped with Sue, let’s try them again on the new baby and see what happens.”

    Story does start with addressing “our daughter” before tossing a second one in for contrast partway through, so still hoping it’s fake. But thanks for catching the sibling assumption I was making.

  • Gypsy Rose B

    Let’s pretend for a minute that this letter is real: Wouldn’t someone (a family member, friend or neighbor) suggest that maaaybe this is something to take to a pediatrician? And then maybe a pediatrician would refer them to a specialist? Of course, the Pearls would never recommend something that practical and helpful. This poor girl (assuming she’s real) is missing out on extremely important developmental milestones and is being tortured because of it! The fact that it was mentioned that she had difficulty rolling over and speaking and such and was clearly frustrated by it makes it plain as day to anyone who isn’t sucked into PearlWorld that some outside assistance might be needed.

  • Gypsy Rose B

    They will only scream in rage if their needs aren’t being met and they have no other way of expressing their frustration!

  • lodrelhai

    Oh god yes, I remember those threats too. Seriously, what are parents thinking with a threat like that?

    I do remember a couple times my mom followed through. The really ridiculous part is she’d give me a few hard whacks as something to cry about, then tell me, “Now stop crying!”

    That chain of punishment and reaction and more punishment seems to be common to most of the people I know. Most of my friends when I was younger reported getting the same line and hating it – which didn’t prevent some of them from using it on their own kids.

  • Allison the Great

    Yeah, I know, as I’ve stated before, and mentioned in the first paragraph that they view all kids as evil and manipulative who are out to get their parents. It’s just that this particular post just struck a little too close to home and it made me very angry

  • B.A.

    Me too. It sounds like the little girl has a lot of sensory issues,which is common with Autism. I,too,have Asperger’s and I have sensory issues with loud noises sometimes.

  • B.A.

    I wonder if the Pearls are psychopaths. They seem to have no conscience or remorse when it comes to beating children.

  • KarenH

    Well…..some do. 🙂 My son’s little sister (with his Dad and stepmom) is one of those. She was, literally, born disliking (or not wanting to be around) most people. Primarily, she wanted to be held by Mom and Dad, my son and ironically enough, me. and if someone who wasn’t on her approved list (such as most of the nursing staff) picked up her up, everyone on the floor knew about it.

    She’s 13 now and not quite so antisocial–in fact, she’s a lovely and delightful young lady. But she didn’t become that way because her parents beat her constantly until she became a lovely delightful young lady. It’s because they pretty much catered to her short list of acceptable people. They introduced her to others, but they followed her cues as to whether she would be held by them. One of her most favorite (now) aunts was someone she wanted nothing to do with as an infant; rather than punishing her, that aunt set about befriending her. Talking to her, laughing and playing little games with her, while she was held by someone she liked. Little Sister had been won over thoroughly by Now Beloved Aunt before her 1st birthday–because Now Beloved Aunt had proven herself to be trustworthy.

    The Pearls are much like the North Wind in that old Fable of the Wind and the Sun, where they challenge each other to get a man to take off his cloak. The Wind blows and blows gale force winds and the man only winds his cloak tighter around him. the sun, by contrast, shines down steadily on the man until the heat that surrounds him compels him to remove the cloak. The Pearls, apparently, learned nothing from that Fable–except a conviction to be more evil than the North Wind.

  • Allison the Great

    I truly think they are psychopaths. They have found a way to use their faith as justification for hurting people which they clearly like to do.

  • ConcepcionImmaculadaPantalones

    Oh you so have to Google “family calls 911 after attacked by cat”…it’s actually happened a couple of times that I’ve seen on the news.

    Now, whether or not there are parents out there who are willing to admit that they’ve raised a mini-Stalin/Attila the Hun/Catherine The Great, that I don’t know. But they could be living with one of those mini-dictators in silence and terrible shame.

  • Kitty

    Since they are sadists who enjoy tormenting children it does make sense that they would derive extra pleasure from abusing autistic or other types of even more vulnerable children.

  • Trollface McGee

    Ugh, this is sick. Beating a four year old? Clearly the problem is that they aren’t beating her enough.
    What I wouldn’t give to be able to use one of those switches on the Pearls, one lick for every kid that’s had to suffer because of them.
    Disgusting people.

  • Nea

    But it’s the atheists who hate life and have a nihilistic outlook…

  • Allison the Great

    Yeah, and since I’ve dealt with people who like to harm or take advantage of those of us on the spectrum, this just… I can’t even begin to say how this makes me feel.

  • Allison the Great

    Psssssh. I’ve had people tell me that before. Then I list all the cruel things that I’ve had to endure at the hands of Christians and yeah, they try to use the “no true Scotsman” thing with me and I shut them down.

    I told one lady that not only had I seen her treat people like shit in the name of Jesus on countless occasions (hell, I even listed those occasions), so that must mean she’s not a Real Christian ™, but the Atheists have always shown more Christlike love and acceptance than she could ever hope to. I told her that people like her manipulate the bible and legalism so that they could get out of having empathy for other people. I told her she likes being an asshole, and she’s interpreted bible verses to give her leave to do so. Of course she tried to use even worse arguments as rebuttals, but then true colors were coming out.

  • Allison the Great

    And I’m going to add to my last comment, I think the thing that really makes me mad is that the fact that the Pearls advocating torturing children, some have died from those who have followed their advice and yet, the Pearls are still not in prison. This fake letter was just the icing on the cake for me.

  • Astrin Ymris

    There’s a fanfiction genre known as “kidfic” which involves one or more adult characters in the show being physically transformed into children.

    My fantasy is to run this process on the Pearls… then place them in the care of ardent disciples of their methods. True poetic justice.

  • Poster Girl

    That has to be one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever read. I really do hope they made it all up.

  • Trollface McGee

    I love it. So fitting.

  • If I understand the subculture correctly, the family would be taking active steps to *prevent* anyone from knowing that there was any sort of a problem. That’s the whole POINT of allowing no expressions other than happy ones. To hide anything that might *actually* need attention by someone outside the family.

    So yeah, if the letter is real, there’s a very real chance that the family isn’t *letting* anyone see enough to know that they might suggest taking “Sue” to a doctor. If they even have the money TO see a doctor in the first place. Remember, the subculture keeps its adherents in GRINDING poverty. They might actually be avoiding doctors completely.

    Horrific situation all around.

  • Allison the Great

    This is in his book, in plain English an the STILL hasn’t been arrested.

  • Allison the Great

    STEphen King said this in a book once (The Stand: Complete and Uncut Edition) It stops being funny when it starts being you.

  • Astrin Ymris

    You can get arrested for doing this to a child, but telling people that they SHOULD do this to kids isn’t considered cause for legal action.

    Perhaps a noncustodial parent whose child was killed by his or her ex- following such advice would have the standing to file a civil suit against Michael Pearl. I’d love to see Michael on the stand explaining that though he SAID to keep beating harder and harder until the child obeyed, the parents should have known that he didn’t really mean it.

  • Astrin Ymris

    As I recall, that was in the original published version, too. Right at the beginning, after the Superflu was released from the Secret Military base?

  • Guest

    I never read the original . In the uncut version, the line was used as the flu was winding down, and everything was going crazy. The soldiers that were called in to control and/or execute the panicking masses were getting sick and they ere panicking themselves.
    There were a bunch of short anecdotes as to what was happening throughout the country, like the execution of the radio personalities Ray Flowers by the military before the soldiers opened fire on their own commander in one “scene”, the military massacred some demonstrating college summer school students who had been demonstrating and then the particular scene that the line was used (I remember this so well because Stephen King wrote this so well, I was captivated by it, I want HBO to make a series out of it, the other movie version sucked donkey balls) a bunch of deranged deserters had kidnapped the other men in their unites and were holding them hostage in the room in a town civic center where the lottery numbers were drawn. The captive soldiers were forced to sit in an audience and clap at gunpoint as their dog tags were being drawn from the lottery number machine. Whenever one dog tag was drawn, its owner was ceremoniously executed in front of that live audience. He used the line then. Sorry for all the spoilers. It was broadcasted on TV, and Fran was watching it, but she didn’t think it was real.

  • Allison the Great

    I wrote another comment about the part that I thought it was on, but then I read my copy and found I was inaccurate. I will have to read the book again, but I have no idea where that part is. I thought it was when the soldiers were killing each other in a ceremony but I looked and that line is not there but it is in the book. I deleted that comment but it still appears as “guest” so disregard that.

  • Allison the Great

    YEah, this is the comment. I thought for sure it at that part. Maybe that’s the xanax talking, I don’t know. Ignore me.

  • There is only one 4 letter word for Michael Pearl: EVIL.

  • Nea

    Well done!

  • KarenH

    There are many 4 letter words for Michael Pearl. Evil is just the most general.

  • I’d argue that a wide variety of babies react that way to strangers. It’s a survival mechanism, not a personality trait, in my opinion, which is much different from the Pearls assigning negative characteristics as something to be defeated. My kids had a preference for people they knew also. It certainly wasn’t because they had a temper, though.

  • I completely concur. That makes it all the more frightening.

  • Jenny Islander

    A quibble: Not all sociopaths enjoy the game of “making people jump,” and of those who do, not all are outright sadists.

  • Kitty

    I’d be careful generalizing about atheists. In organized atheist circles there is plenty of misogyny and cruelty, especially on the internet. But, it’s just meanness for the sake of it – there is no scripture to back it up.

    “With or without [religion] you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” – Steven Weinberg

  • Gypsy Rose B

    Certainly. It’s pretty classic cult stuff and absolutely symptomatic of the Christian patriarchy. I mourn for this child, whether she be fictional or not.

  • No, good people can do bad things for many reasons. People often believe- and the majority of beliefs is not religious in nature – that a particular action will help. Sometimes they are wrong. Sometimes the action they think will help is very bad.

  • teaisbetterthanthis

    The miniseries (from the 90s) was okay, except for MOLLY RINGWALD as Frannie. A whiny, self-absorbed Frannie. And, well, the mid-90s-ness of it.

  • Kitty

    Note that the quote doesn’t say bad things, but evil things. “Evil” means that the action is done with malicious intent – people deliberately causing unnecessary suffering.

  • Malicious intent? What religious views cause malicious intent in good people? What malicious intent?

    I have seen people with malicious intent co-opting religion – for example racists finding the racism they already have in the Bible too (evil people doing evil) – but for the most part people follow their religion because they think it is good. How do religion tell good people to cause unnecessary suffering with knowing malicious intent?

  • Kitty

    The view, despite all evidence that it is harmful, that one must beat one’s children because God says so comes to mind. Also, the view that homosexuals are offensive to God and should be treated as such. The view that working on the Sabbath is worthy of the death penalty. The view that women should be submissive and obey their husbands and that said obedience can and should be enforced with violence. The view that members of the community should be shunned for innocuous sins. The view that slavery is not just allowed but encouraged by divinely-inspired scripture. The view that infidels should be put to death. The view that women who cannot prove their virginity on their wedding night should be executed.

    I can go on if you like.

  • I would think of those as either:

    a) Evil people co-opting religion for their malicious intent.

    b) People who have no malicious intent, getting misled about what is good.

    Even if you disagree with point b), believing these are good people turning intentionally malicious, then other non-religious views by which people start doing evil things should be seen in the same negative light, also as intentional malice. If you prefer to see things done from religious motives as intentionally evil, and from non-religious motives as just bad but not intentionally evil, it is your heart which judges unjustly, not the contents of the actions which differ.

    (Not that I even have a liking for “religion” per se – it is just that some atheist slogans are untrue.)

  • Kitty

    The reason that I do not characterize misguided actions by otherwise moral, non-religious people as intentionally evil is because morality without religion is concerned only with the suffering and well-being of sentient beings. Religious “morality,” on the other hand, is concerned about the will of an omnipresent being or beings, and when that will conflicts with with the well-being of sentient beings (i.e. causes unnecessary suffering) religion dictates that it is the will of the celestial dictator that must be followed.

    The teaching of the Catholic missionaries in Africa that AIDS is bad but condoms are worse is a very good example of what I’m saying. They aren’t concerned with the suffering caused by sexually transmitted infections (the way, say, volunteers for Doctors Without Borders are), but by the sexual sin itself. I’m sure they are all “good” people. I’m also sure they have blood on their hands.

  • bekabot

    Yeah, I kind of thought the same thing in a different way. My idea was: where is it written that this little girl has got to grow up in exactly this household with these people, just because she’s their biological child? Aren’t there any relatives she could stay with for an extended visit? Aren’t there any friends and/or neighbors who are trustworthy enough that they could take her in for awhile? Obviously the girl and her parents don’t get along, and obviously she’s using up time and attention her parents need to deal with their other children, one of whom has special needs in a more pressing, evident way than she does. Plus, obviously there’s a dominance battle going on in the household — though where I differ from Mr. Pearl is that I think a definite victory on either side is just going to result in more damage all around. It’s not going to solve anything. (I’m on the spectrum myself, and one of the things I can tell you about my type of people is that we have long memories.) So, since any victory is likely to be Pyrrhic, why not call off the war? Find some environment which is less grating to this little girl and let her decompress a bit there. Finding the right place would take some doing, but I believe it would be worth the effort, because obviously (again) the little girl isn’t thriving where she is and it’s also evident that she’s driving her parents flat-out nuts. Later on, after this kid has gotten more “sivilized”, maybe she can move back in with her family of origin, who, by that time, might be more willing to accept her.

    Christianist parents get into the whole Fundagelical thing in part because it offers them an extended social system. It’s time for the Fundagelical movement to start to deliver on that promise and to offer some assistance to parents with difficult children. “Start whipping her on her hands and feet the way you already whip her on her ass” isn’t really helpful advice. Remember, Mr. Pearl admits (he of very few admissions) that this is going to take lots of time and dedication and that it’s going to result in completely (as opposed to relatively) sleepless nights — and then remember that this woman has two other children, one of whom has acknowledged medical needs. To do what he demands, if she were to carry out his instructions to the letter, she’d have to be more of a miracle worker than Anne Sullivan and Aimee Semple McPherson combined. Sometimes just getting a kid out of an environment she’s not suited to can break up a bad pattern, but I agree with Gypsy Rose B — it would be too simple to say “just get your daughter out of the house for one weekend and have her stay with your friends so that you don’t go into every interaction you have with her at your wits’ end” would be too simple and potentially too helpful. It would detract from the mystique that says that there’s one tried and true method of dealing with every last kid on earth and that every adult on earth is capable of implementing it. It would detract from the notion that parents and children are all interchangeable and that all you have to do is plug in the appropriate stimuli to get the appropriate response, when that kind of poor man’s behavioralism is Michael Pearl’s bread and butter. He can’t come up with better advice at this stage of the game because he’s already committed himself to too may bad ideas.

    End of rant.

  • Astrin Ymris

    Re: “…that makes far more sense than “Since none of these methods ever helped with Sue, let’s try them again on the new baby and see what happens.”…”

    You’re correct; it DOES make more sense for Ruth to be the older sister for that reason. However, since they’re still using them on Sue despite their epic failure, I’m not sure that’s a certainty.

    I concur on hoping it’s fake!

  • SAO

    A weekend is not going to change the interactions. Sue is clearly jealous of her sister, who is well loved. Ruth gets praise and Sue gets hit.

    Second, Sue clearly doesn’t have the maturity or self-control to change her behavior. That’s not going to change over a weekend.

    The only thing that can change this dynamic is the parents doing a 180 degree turn in their understanding and treatment of her.

    If Sue is fostered to a decent family, she’s going to grow attached to her foster parents (and sibs). When she goes back to her birth family, she will be mourning their loss, which will probably be taken as evidence that she is an unnatural child who doesn’t love her parents.

  • “AIDS is bad but condoms are worse” Erm, you neglect to mention that these missionaries are for faithful, monogamous relationships, which make AIDS very unlikely. Or abstinence, which make it even more
    unlikely. They are certainly not evil people out to intentionally cause AIDS. You speak of people who ignore the missionaries’ values (values that will decrease suffering) about sex anyway, but you claim their suffering is caused by adherence to missionary values. That is just one example of how you see “inflict needless suffering” “intentionally” by not looking honestly at what people actually say.

    You may be otherwise a good person, but your desire to speak against religion cause you to sling unjust accusations and cause suspicion on religious people, which show the hate (evil) that is inside you.

    (And by the way, Christianity is not about following the will of a despot even when it conflicts with the well-being of people, but about loving the one who loved us people first – the one who wants our well-being.)

  • Kitty

    “… They are certainly not evil people out to intentionally cause AIDS.”

    They actively distribute misinformation (e.g. condoms don’t work) and stupidity (e.g. using a condom adds another sin on top of the fornication) that leads to people dying because of their ideology. It certainly looks like they think AIDS is appropriate for people who don’t subscribe to their values. They aren’t trying to prevent suffering; they are trying to prevent sin. It’s “morality” divorced from concern for human well-being and the consequences speak for themselves.

    “And by the way, Christianity is not about following the will of a despot even when it conflicts with the well-being of people…”
    The popular story of Abraham being told to sacrifice his son comes to mind…

    I would say that Christianity is more a cult of human sacrifice, but we’ll have to agree to disagree. If your reading of the Bible leads you to think the Yahweh is concerned with human well-being, then there’s no rational discussion to be had.

  • Astrin Ymris

    BTW, Baby Brother’s feeding difficulties are probably NOT the result of his time in NICU. Rather than being a quiet environment, NICU is full of activity, noise and movement. My niece was born 7 weeks early, and my sister mentioned concern about hearing loss from exposure to all the loud alarms continually going off!

    So it’s possible that he’s showing early signs of sensory integration problems and a need for sameness that might mean he’s “on the spectrum” also. Yet HIS needs are met with sympathy and consideration. Whether it’s because of his gender, the fact he has an “excuse”, or just that he’s still an infant is an open question.

  • Rael Imperial Aerosol Kid

    When your only tool is a hammer, EVERYTHING looks like a nail.

  • bekabot

    I wasn’t suggesting this as a solution, any more than a vacation is a “solution” to having to work at a job. I was suggesting it as a kind of interim patch to a continually-picked-at wound (supposing the whole thing isn’t purely bogus). Ruth does get praise and Sue does get hit, so my idea is to get Sue out of the environment in which she gets hit while her sister gets praised, at least for a while, so that she can heal up the littlest tiny bit. (Because, for one thing, parents tend to freak out around wounded kids, since they — the parents — sense that they — the kids, the ones who are wounded — might turn out to be a bad investment, because then, darn it, there goes all that time and effort down the drain. Parents tend to react this way even in cases where they’ve inflicted the wounds themselves.)

    You’re right when you say that this may not be a workable idea, since there may not be any escape for Sue and her best defense may be to toughen up drastically and accept her conditions as they stand. Evidently that’s the outcome Michael Pearl is rooting for, though he doesn’t seem to be well enough acquainted with what he’s talking about to realize that Sue will never, under any circumstances, turn into the kind of daughter her parents want to have, because the ingredients for that aren’t in her. (Unless he does realize it, in which case the message he’s trying to transmit could be a villainous one indeed.) I know I haven’t suggested anything which would heal this mess, which sounds like it’s already pretty far advanced into the land of no retrieval; all I’m trying to do is suggest some stuff which might ameliorate it (ever so slightly). Sue, if she’s real, is headed for a lot of loss and a lot of mourning, no matter what happens; her parents have already “lost,” in her, the daughter they want and need to have, and they have the means of making her feel it; and as for Sue, on her side, she has in a sense never had parents at all (which is one of the things her underdevelopment indicates). One thing’s for sure: these people don’t get along, and since that’s so, there’s no reason for them to spend any more time around each other than they strictly must.

    Sue, alas (again, if she’s for real) isn’t going to have any choice about turning out wounded. The question is how badly wounded she’s going to be. Since her parents are the people that we know of who are inflicting the wounds, my idea is that less time spent around them will translate from her perspective into fewer wounds delivered and fewer problems dealing with her injuries down the road. But I could be wrong.

  • Allison the Great

    It’s interesting that you mention people co-opting religion for malicious intent. I do think you’re right on the money there. People do that all the time. One thing I do wonder is, as all the rings that Kitty listed above are in the bible, I wonder if some of the men who wrote the bible were doing just that, using religion to do evil things.

    One thing I have never understood is how any of the things she listed or any of the things that Christians and people of other beliefs have done since are justifiable in any way. It’s not and it never has been Godly. I think the only logical conclusion to draw from this is that someone with malicious intent wrote those things in the bible and because it was in the bible, it was a holy word, people carried it out without question.

  • I believe some people in the Bible co-opted religion with malicious intent. (And according to someone I know whose grounding is rather in Judaism than Christianity, the commandment about “taking God’s name in vain” is against co-opting religion for private gain.)

    But some things in the Bible is not “co-opting religion”, but plainly people sinning without any pretext of pretense religion. And many things Kitty mentions are not in the Bible, like condoms, or condemned in the Bible, like lying.

    ” how any of the … things that Christians and people of other beliefs have done since are justifiable in any way.” – Double Dukes
    I want to give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume that you don’t mean that Christians have never done anything justifiable. That is a bad word choice, right???

  • “”And by the way, Christianity is not about following the will of a despot even when it conflicts with the well-being of people…”

    The popular story of Abraham being told to sacrifice his son comes to mind…” – Kitty

    In that story God actually shows that he does not want human sacrifice. And that story predates Christianity (thus cannot be Christianity) and even predates Judaism. We agree that a rational discussion between the two of us isn’t possible.

  • Kitty, do you have any real resource (not atheist propaganda) from the Catholics that say “condoms don’t work” (untrue) as opposed to “condoms don’t always work” (true)?

    If you do, I will agree the Catholics are lying – which is a very un-Christian and anti-10-commandments thing to do. God cannot be blamed for it.

  • Allison the Great

    What I meant is that there are some things that people do in the name of christianity that can never be justified.

  • Evelyn

    I was surprised and pleased to see how many sensible and dissenting comments were permitted to be posted! Also fail to see how anyone with a half a brain could think that switching feet and ankles with that plumbing line could be any less than serious damage if done all night. How can MP say he is not responsible for foolish parents going too far, when he advocates spanking all night long?

    “Most would call your suggestions “child abuse” but IMO there is no other way…”

    Wow. Heartbreaking that there are parents who really believe this.

  • Evelyn

    Pope Benedict took all sorts of crap a couple years ago from ultra-conservative Catholics when he said that using condoms in risky situations was a step in the right direction. I don’t know that there is a specific teaching on the licit-ness of using condoms in a sexual relationship outside of marriage, anyway, since it’s already out of bounds morally.

  • Kitty

    “In that story God actually shows that he does not want human sacrifice.
    LOL. Um, ever heard of Jesus? God doesn’t just want human sacrifice – he requires it!

    I agree that in the story of Abraham that human sacrifice is not what the deity seems to desire, but rather the willingness on the part of a human to sacrifice his son. I’m not sure that helps your case that religion is not about following the whims of a despot who seems to relish toying with humanity. The story of Job is actually worse, in my opinion.

  • Kitty

    How about a quote from the former pope?

    Aids is a tragedy “that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems“.

    No place on earth has condom distribution done anything but diminish the spread of AIDS and save lives. By the way, the above quote was from a talk he gave in Africa in an area that has been devastated by the AIDS epidemic. The distribution and use of condoms in that area could do nothing but prevent human suffering, and the pope – God’s ostensible vicar on earth – stands before an AIDS-ravaged population and advocates against it. Nice.

    No, God cannot be blamed for that – God’s only blame in that situation lies in giving children AIDS in the first place.

  • You misunderstood – you talk of my “case that religion is not about following the whims of a despot.” Replace religion with Christianity, then you have my point. Abraham = not Christianity. Job = not Christianity.

    And the point of that sacrifice is that Jesus was God. God took all that pain on himself, because he don’t want people to suffer the hurt. To take the pain he don’t want on himself – once and for all so that no other sacrifices is needed – is the opposite of blood-thirst. He hates the pain as much as anyone else. He ends it.

    Why even that one sacrifice was needed, I don’t quite get. But a religion based on God saying that no other sacrifice is needed because he tolerated pain he hated is the exact opposite of a God who likes human sacrifice. God hates sacrifice but somehow had to tolerate it on himself once – humans killing God (he allowed it) is closer to true than the other way round.

  • Kitty

    Are you arguing that the God of Abraham is not the Christian God? First time I’ve heard that one. In mainstream Christianity, it’s taken for granted that the God of the Old Testament (Yahweh) is the same God Jesus is supposed to somehow be the same as (confusing, I know, what with the complete change of personality from the Old to the New Testament and the whole trinity thing that makes no sense whatsoever). That God requires a lot of blood sacrifice, including the torture of his own ostensibly human son, who is also himself. Also, that’s somehow everyone’s fault even though most of us weren’t there and had no say in the matter and Jesus didn’t actually die for very long. So, maybe it was the torture and blame that was the point, but I’m not sure that makes God sound any saner.

    If you can square that circle, bully for you, but I wouldn’t try to explain it to anyone who’s likely to think about it for more than a minute.