Quoting Quiverfull: All Children Start Out As Selfish Little Beasts?

Quoting Quiverfull: All Children Start Out As Selfish Little Beasts? April 24, 2015

quotingquiverfullby Michael Pearl from No Greater Joy – In Defense of Biblical Chastisement

Editor’s note: What a horrible pessimistic view of children to have! According to Michael Pearl in the rest of this article you have to beat the ‘sin nature’ out of your kids to get them to toe the Biblical line. Has he even read the words Jesus himself spoken about being like a little child?

Children come into this world with all the force of passion, but with no capacity to exercise self-restraint. Until they are three or four years old they do not even begin to have any sense of the need to control their impulses. They have no capacity to value anything other than pleasure. They are carried from one moment to the next by their drives to seek gratification and entertainment. They can thrill at indulgence, but they cannot understand the concept of temperance. They have no social consciousness or sense of responsibility. They cannot live by principle. During these early years, when children are ignorant of their duties, they are nonetheless perfecting the art of self-gratification, and parents sometimes assist them by catering to their every whim and by excusing immature behavior.

Children start life with no knowledge of the rules by which they must eventually live. In those early years they are developing the rules that will govern them when they get a little older—social rules, economic, health, ethical, spiritual, to name a few. During this time of discovery, they are developing habits and forming convictions about how well they will conform to the rules. “Will I be honest, or will I just maintain an appearance of honesty while squeezing everyone for as much as I can get? Will I respect my body, or abuse it? Will I respect others, or use them for my own ends? Will I prepare myself to stand before my Creator and be judged, or will I live as if death were the end of my existence?”

So here is the dilemma parents face: by the time children are old enough to begin to understand that some things are good and some are bad, they will already have made far-reaching commitments to self-gratification as an end. As children grow older and perceive their moral duties, they often find their duties in conflict with their self-centeredness. When conflicts between conscience and indulgences arise, children see no need to pay the price of self-denial that conformity to their belief systems would require. Thus, in these formative years, children are inclined to rationalize their consciences and develop habits of living below their convictions. They accept the idea that it is OK to do your own thing, to be free of the rule of law, to follow your own desires. They hold values but they don’t value them enough to pay the price of conformity.

QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders, cultural enforcers and those that seek to keep women submitted to men 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.

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  • CrazyDogLady

    ” by the time children are old enough to begin to understand that some things are good and some are bad, they will already have made far-reaching commitments to self-gratification as an end. As children grow older and perceive their moral duties, they often find their duties in conflict with their self-centeredness. ”
    Far-reaching commitments? Whaaaaaa? At age… What? Three? Let’s say even by five? What does this even mean?
    All I can think of is that scene from my husband’s favorite movie, “Uncle Buck” (he loves John Candy) where Buck is sitting in the principal’s office to discuss his niece:
    Principal: “… And I don’t think she takes her career as a student seriously.”
    Buck: “… She’s six.” (Or seven. I can’t remember.)
    Principal: “That’s no excuse!!”
    C’mon. Lighten up, Michael. People are taking life way too serious as it is without you having to suggest that children have messed their lives up irrevocably by age five just by being children.

  • katiehippie

    Michael just describes himself over and over, doesn’t he.

  • KarenH

    “They are carried from one moment to the next by their drives to seek gratification and entertainment. They can thrill at indulgence, but they cannot understand the concept of temperance. They have no social consciousness or sense of responsibility. They cannot live by principle.”

    That’s not really true. Small children–even older infants–understand far more language than they can verbalize. I distinctly remember a night when my son was an older infant/toddler–the fall after he turned 1–when he wanted to be up and playing in the middle of the night.

    Now I’ll grant you, what I said I was saying in desperation for sleep because this had been a problem for a couple nights, but I walked him around the house and took him to the living room window and we looked outside and I said, “See how dark it is outside and how all the houses are dark with no lights on? Everyone is sleeping. At night, we all sleep and we don’t wake up until it’s light outside. Now is a time for you to sleep. Sometimes you will wake up when it’s dark and THAT’s okay, but you have to roll back over and go back to sleep until it’s dark because *that’s the rule*. ” Then I took him back to his crib and he had one of those busy boxes on the side of the crib, with a wind up music box, and I showed him how to turn the handle. “When you wake up, turn on the music and it will help you fall back to sleep.”

    Now, as I said, I was saying this with absolutely NO HOPE that he understood me; I just wanted to sleep. So. Much. And I kissed him good night and went back to bed.

    Well….it worked. The next night and the nights afterwards, I would occasionally wake enough to hear his little music box playing in the middle of the night.

    So he was not only old enough to hear and grasp my words, but he also understood the idea of “We all do this because this is what society does.” Maybe not the finer points of it all, but enough to know “that’s the rule.”

    I should note, this happened in late fall when the nights were decidedly longer and it bit me in my behind come early mornings in late spring and summer! LOL But I definitely enjoyed it that winter 🙂 In any case, even really little kids can understand–if you make the effort to help them.

  • Saraquill

    He wants preschoolers to take on maturity he can’t be bothered to demonstrate?

  • That is an awesome story!

  • Baby_Raptor

    They have no capacity to value anything other than pleasure.

    Right, because sating hunger is just “pleasure.” Easing the horrible pain from teething is “pleasure.” Feeling icky because a diaper needs changed is “pleasure.” Being exhausted sucks so let’s sleep because it feels good!

    Fuck this guy.

  • SAO

    This is just nonsense. First, it isn’t “conformity” it’s fairness/justice. Most kids rapidly grasp that rules help them as much as hinder them. If whoever grabs it first gets all the cake, then the chances they get any go down. What small kids lack is the ability to theorize and the experience to know the probable consequences of actions. Selfishness is punished in human societies. The kid who grabs toys from other kids isn’t liked. Small kids can only successfully grab things if they have no competition (which means they don’t need to grab) or if an adult intervenes on their behalf. Kids understand fairness and reciprocity. So do monkeys.

  • That’s like my sister and her projectile vomiting, each and every night. She was about the same age. My mother was told not to get up and walk her, pander to her, but to put a clean sheet on top of it, and let her sleep in it. I remember my mother telling the story, how horrible it was, how she cried about it. But, my sister never did it again – ever.

    Of course there was the time she was in nursing school and had the flu. She wanted tea and toast. I told her it would make her sick, and she was cleaning it up if it did. It did and she did.

  • How can someone with no experience, no grasp of the world, no way to compare what is going on around them, other than to react to hunger, being soiled, light, dark, and the expressions of the faces around him/her do anything any different. Their little minds need to ‘learn’ in order to process. How can that be evil? They are a blank slate.

  • Nea

    Wait… what? This story sounds like she was projectile vomiting for fun or rebellion and not being horribly sick?

  • Nea

    Kids understand fairness and reciprocity. So do monkeys.

    A lot of animals understand fairness… and a lot of quiverful preachers blatantly think that children must not only be treated like animals, *they’re less intelligent than animals!* Both Pearl and Dobson go on and on about how hitting with a hand is “worse” for a kid than beating them with objects. In part, I assume, because a hand will sting and warn the parent when they go to far, while plumbing supplies and wooden spoons do more damage to the kid without hurting the wielder.

    But also because apparently it’s frustrating for the baby-beaters to see their children flinch when the parent reaches for them.

    Only… I do things to my cats that the cats think is horrific abuse: hold them down and pry off ticks, force jaws open for pills, press their feet to shoot their claws to be clipped, etc. Yet… my cats don’t flinch when I try to pet them! They come ASK to be petted!

    It’s as if they’re perfectly capable of understanding the difference when I’m doing one thing and another to them… and that I’m NOT always or even often being “horrible” to them.

  • Julia Childress

    exactly what I thought – Michael must have been looking in a mirror when he wrote a lot of this. Unfortunately, he didn’t recognize himself.

  • Antoinette Herrera

    Shorter Michael Pearl: Your children are vile, amoral hedonists who must be beaten into submission. Because Bible. Because patriarchy. Because I said so.

  • Anonyme

    This coming from a man who sexually abused his wife on their wedding night because of a childish drive to “out-climax” his married friend.

  • Spoiled brat. She would cry. If our mother did not pick her up within so many minutes, she vomited. The pediatrician asked our mother who was the parent and who was the child.

  • bekabot

    Children, babies especially, are selfish little beasts, but that’s because their imperative is to survive, not to make grown-ups look or feel good. If kids were the cuddly angels so many Fundagelicals want to force them to impersonate, we not only never would have made it out of the trees, we never would have made it into the trees in the first place. Geez.

    Will I be honest, or will I just maintain an appearance of honesty while squeezing everyone for as much as I can get?

    O Lord, must the Pearl household ever be an interesting place. (Written in the full consciousness that people can be “squeezed” for things which aren’t money.)

  • ShaLaLa

    Oh my god, forcing a one year old to sleep in their own vomit as a punishment for throwing up? Because, what? The one year old should have controlled their vomit reflex (which plenty of adults can’t do) or deserve to sleep in it?

    That is just so unbelievably wrong, surely you’re not presenting that as a humorous anecdote rather than abuse?

  • ShaLaLa

    Your pediatrician was dead wrong, and you are basically describing Pearl’s patenting philosophy, if slightly different methods.

  • ShaLaLa

    This. Excellent post :]

  • ShaLaLa

    Or, and I’m just throwing this out there, but what if instead of trying to beat our children into sacrificing themselves to conform to “the rules,” we just worked to foster a sense of compassion in our children (and ourselves), and make intersectional social justice a priority in our homes, and the rest (the things that matter, including things like honesty, integrity, responsibility) will just flow naturally from that.

    Bonus: you don’t have to abuse your kids to make it happen (in fact, you really can’t).

  • Nea

    The same anecdote includes making a full grown woman with the flu clean up after herself when ill.

  • I am the monster who made my sister, who was in nursing school at the time, clean up after herself. I also had the flu. I was a sick as my sister was, but I had the good sense not to eat anything.

    I do not clean up after people. I do not clean up vomit, body functions, or change diapers. That is one of the reasons I refused to have children. I don’t do those things. The very process makes me physically ill. I am not a care-giver. I never will be one. I suppose this makes me a bad person, but then again, maybe I’m just refusing to fall into the patriarchal trap that insists women clean up vomit and feces.

  • I changed my original reply because it was nasty. You don’t know the situation, and really shouldn’t judge and accuse my family of abuse when nothing could be farther from the truth. There was a very good reason the pediatrician told my mother to do what did. It had to be done.

    Due to circumstances my sister, who was probably closer to 2 at the time, was out of control. First was her physical condition. Second was the fact that when she was 10 months old, she fell, cracked her skull and was kept up, for nearly 24 hours. After that, she was carried constantly. About 4 months after that she contracted a form of encephalitis and needed to be kept awake, allowing her to sleep for only so many minutes at a time. This went on for nearly a week.

    The recovery period was long and drawn out, leaving her a total spoiled little monster – and she was a little monster. She was held, constantly. When she would be put to bed, she would cry. If my mother did not jump and grab her, she would projectile vomit. My mother would call my grandparents, who would come, hold Cathy, while she cleaned up after her. This happened several times a night, every night, for months. They were so afraid that it was part of her illness and recovery that she was allowed to get away with it.

    Trust me, little kids can be spoiled brats, which is what she became. When our father was home, she was an angle, as long as he carried her, everywhere. If she did not get her way, she vomited. This was not due to abuse, illness, or an under developed gag reflex. It was part of a pattern she learned to exploit, even when we were in high school.

    Dr. Martin told our mother the only way to regain control was to refuse to jump to her crying. She put a sheet down on top of where Cathy threw up, and told her to go back to sleep. It was not about abuse. He also wanted to see if that was the cause of the vomiting. Was it psychological or something else.

    If it had happened again, then they were going to start doing tests on her. She had been through so much, medically, he wanted to try something simple, first.

    It was not abuse. I’m sorry if you think it was.

  • This was 25 years before Pearl wrote his book. And, it worked after 1 night. No one likes someone who doesn’t know the situation to have their family described as abusive when they aren’t.

  • Nea

    I also get nauseated at the smell of vomit, am not a caregiver, and do not consider it the patriarchy that insists that it is unethical for me to withhold my help from my friends and family when ill. They have, after all, not withheld their help from me.

    My mother has taken care of me when I have the flu. Why should I not do the same for her?

  • I’ll help, but I don’t do clean-up. I never have and I never will. Everyone knows it and knows not to ask. I do other things. I guess I’m not as good as some people. I know my limitations. That makes me a horrible person, I know that, but there are things I cannot do. Care-giving is part of it. I will cook, I’ll run errands, I’ll do laundry. I do everything else. I don’t do personal. If pushed, I’ve been known to walk away. Before you condemn, I have given up the past 5 years of my life to care for my parents. I’ve spent 4 hours today dealing with real estate, probate, and trying to scrounge enough money to pay my mother’s real estate taxes. Caring for my parents has literally broken me, physically, emotionally, financially, and kicked my career to the curb. I’ve literally given up my life to care for them. This said, I will not clean up anyone’s vomit.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I had a toothache myself that day and I do not handle tootaches well. I wasn’t feeling nice.

  • ShaLaLa

    Making a one year old sleep in their own vomit (closer to two or no, top sheet or no) is abusive. No other information required.

    Forcing someone of ANY age to sleep in their own vomit (again, top sheet or no) is abusive, I don’t care how “manipulative” you think they are.

    You don’t have to be coming from after the time of the Pearls (or using the same methods) to describe the same philosophy, and this is it.

    You don’t need to be intending evil to commit abuse.

  • Thank you for telling me my mother was abusive. I never would have know it if you had not enlighten me to the horrific childhood I endured. It is much appreciated.

  • ShaLaLa

    I never said your mom was generally abusive, and I never said your childhood was horrible. You’re just getting defensive because I said the anecdote you shared about forcing a one year old to sleep in vomit covered only by a sheet was an abusive act.

    It was wrong, and no amount of vitriol or anger toward me will change that.