How Old is Too Old For Beating Children?

How Old is Too Old For Beating Children? December 31, 2017


It’s that time of the year again. No, I don’t mean the New Year (Happy New Year’s Eve out there!). But it is one of the six times per year that Debi and Michael Pearl publish their No Greater Joy magazine. I look forward to it because it always gives us a cornucopia of very bad ideas to discuss at No Longer Quivering.

This edition surprised me because one of the articles on child rearing by Debi Pearl wasn’t entirely abusive. No one got switched, and she allowed the kids to be kids. Now I think I would intervened in the cousin-fighting sooner than she did, but it was a pleasant departure from the usual beat them until their spirits are broken. I don’t know if this means that they are trying to be pretend to less abusive or if Debi is just less likely to beat a child. I do question her chicken raising methods if chicken abuse is taking place like this routinely.

And then I laid eyes on a letter to Michael Pearl by a lady upset that her husband will not use the rod on their ten year old daughter and just in general upset that her husband does not discipline their children to her strict standard. Straight back to beat down town in a letter titled The Parental Root.

Michael7Can you guess what Michael focuses on as the primary problem here, and who he blames? It’s not the father, the children or application of the rod. He starts out saying something very close to that cliche television’s Dr. Phil loves to spout. That even the thinnest pancake has two sides and she’s just giving her side only.

Michael8Does it really matter that this is a one-sided view? Whether it is the entire truth of the situation this is how the letter-writer is perceiving the problem, it’s her reality. Likely it’s not the whole picture. Helping her with her issues does not always mean pointing out that she’s likely not telling the full truth. This isn’t even the worst blame Michael throws at her throughout his answer.

Michael9So he turns this into an opportunity to sell more books while blaming the mother for not starting ‘training’, also known as using a plumbing line as a whipping instrument until the child’s spirit is broken and they will do anything to avoid another beating in the name of ‘discipline’.


So…… the rest of the piece is about trying to control your husband, how control by a woman is the ‘WORST THING EVER!!!!!!!!!’ and promising rebellious children who hate her if she continues dissing her husband.

Michael11Did he just admit that children aren’t harmed by liberality of punishment? Shocked and surprised.

Michael12This and Debi’s article aren’t the only ones significantly toned down on the toxic. What’s going on here? Still with blaming, shaming and beating kids, but at a much lower level that usual. Are they trying for an image remake or possibly being sued by someone for encouraging child abuse?

moreRead more very bad child discipline ideas by Michael Pearl

Child Asking Why

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • If we’re talking about serious physical/emotional harm–from the moment of birth. I have always been conflicted about corporal punishment–parental or otherwise. One of my character flaws, I guess, that I don’t see EVERY instance of spanking or other physical correction as a massive wrong. I have never had the slightest doubt that actually hurting someone, especially in the pursuit of “correction” is stupid AND wrong.

  • Saraquill

    My guess is the Pearls are unaware of the Wayback Machine, and are convinced they can remake their image in the name of plausible deniability.

  • SAO

    I don’t see why kids need to be cheerful when doing chores. Make the chores consistent, something they always do, and over time, they’ll accept them and just do their chores. When parents fuss over “attitude” they are demanding that their kids hide their emotions or pretend to enjoy something they hate. And let’s face it, few of us actually enjoy taking out the trash or doing the dishes, even if we don’t find it that burdensome.

  • Based on Libby Anne’s reviews of the Pearl’s books and the discussions among the LJF commentariat, I think that Michael’s talk of the dangers of being controlling are an example of the pot calling the kettle black.

  • AFo

    Seriously. I think the better lesson for the kids is that there are some things that just need to get done. We wash the dishes because that’s what civilized people who want clean dishes to eat off of and don’t want germs and vermin in the house do. People who hem and haw over whether or not the kids are smiling while they’re doing dishes are missing the point.

  • bekabot

    Continuing to do something which obviously is not working simply because the Witch Man or the Witch Man’s Wife told you to do it and also forbade you to look for alternatives is stupid…never mind about whether or not it’s “wrong.” It’s one of the stupidest things you could possibly do; and Michael Pearl, smart man that he is, knows that very well. This is the basis on which I find fault with Michael Pearl: he encouraged people to continue in a course of conduct which would not benefit them and which wouldn’t benefit their kids, and he did it out of sheer cussedness (or so it appears, because it certainly didn’t win him piles of money or much of any other earthly advantage)…though perhaps the “lust for domination” he keeps talking about was an ingredient at the start.

    At any rate, gotta admit, it’s pretty comical that now he’s scolding people for acting in the ways he spent decades of his life nagging at them to act. I’m glad I get to look at him through the wrong end of a telescope because there, for sure, is a man you can’t please.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Did you read his crazy story about the chocolate pie in his full posting on his site? Apparently his parents allowed him and his brother an object lesson in not being greedy pushy jerks.

  • Shan

    Sigh….”Ladies, obey your husband, even if what you want to do is exactly what we’ve been ordering you to do for years to get ‘properly raised’ children.”

    You can never, ever win with the Pearls if you have a vulva.

  • Shan

    If you’re happy when you obey, you’re doing it for the Lord, since doing right by the Lord makes you happy. If you’re not happy, then you aren’t doing it for the Lord, and, of course, they feel you must do everything ever for their god, not because the floors need swept.

    Thus, you force them to at least look happy. That way others will see their smiles, no matter how pained or forced, and assume their obedience makes them happy and filled with their god’s love. It’s about appearances. It’s never about the children in question except as living props.

  • Shan

    Hey, her owner husband wants to do something else, and obeying her slavemaster man is the most important thing.

  • Lucy

    And it’s complete hypocrisy too. He pushes these brutal methods, then, when the husband doesn’t want to do them and it’s the woman worrying about them, he admits they aren’t necessary. And they aren’t. That’s the thing.

  • Mel

    I’m not fond of corporal punishment across the board. Corporal punishment only works as long as the parent is certain they can man-handle the kid. That’s easy enough done when the kid is 3 or 5 or even 7 – but 10? I reached my adult height at 10. My twin sister and I stopped having sibling rivalry fist-fights at that age because we realized that we could seriously hurt each other.

    In this specific case, it’s not working because the daughter is 10 years old and still doing whatever annoys the mom. (Granted, the mom’s demands are probably insane – but the basic idea holds.) What ever problem the mom had with the girl is going to seem real minor the first time the girl fights back and lands a few knees, elbows or fists on her mom.

  • Bravo Sierra

    Re: “I’m not fond of corporal punishment across the board.”

    While conducting the meta-analysis, which included 62 years of collected data, Gershoff looked for associations between parental use of corporal punishment and 11 child behaviors and experiences, including several in childhood (immediate compliance, moral internalization, quality of relationship with parent, and physical abuse from that parent), three in both childhood and adulthood (mental health, aggression, and criminal or antisocial behavior) and one in adulthood alone (abuse of own children or spouse).

    Gershoff found “strong associations” between corporal punishment and all eleven child behaviors and experiences. Ten of the associations were negative such as with increased child aggression and antisocial behavior. The single desirable association was between corporal punishment and increased immediate compliance on the part of the child.

  • KarenOfRocks

    I am 58 years old, and have never been a parent. But I’m an observant person. I was never hit growing up, not because that option was off the table, but because I was a depressed child. (I’ve fought this depression all my life.) A stern parental take-down left me in tears, and determined not to transgress again. It was just too painful to be yelled at.

    My cousins (paternal grandfather’s brother’s grandchildren) have been busy raising children in Norway, where my paternal grandfather came from. They’ve never been spanked in their lives, they’re atheists (actually Humanists), they’re now grown and in university/obligatory military service, and more charming, kind, thoughtful young men couldn’t be imagined. In Norway, it’s actually illegal to spank your kids, but there’s a strong cultural sense that it is wrong, too.

    My husband and his sibs were seldom spanked, and those sibs seldom spanked their children. The result is that I’ve got a host of kind, thoughtful, well-adjusted nieces and nephews. Some are liberal Christians and some are atheists.

    I’m a scientist; anecdotes are not data. But Pearl can’t show any scientific studies that his brutal way has long-term value. Until the issue becomes personal (i.e. someone in the family decides to take up Evangelical Christianity) I’ll stick with my own anecdotes.

  • Anonyme
  • smrnda

    I’m curious how he would have answered this letter if the gender of parents were reversed? If the man writes in that his wife is too liberal, I’m 100% sure that Michael Pearl would never have done the whole ‘well, I’m only getting one side of it and maybe it’d be better if you just decided to go along for the sake of harmony.’

  • smrnda

    this is why it fails even for parents who think it works. at some point, the kids will be able to hit back, and hit back they will. there’s also the fear that children will decide to make up for a possible lack of size/strength with weapons as well. It’s not unheard of, and even if your house doesn’t have any ‘weapons’ like firearms of anything intended as a weapon, kitchen knives, tools, damn near anything can be a weapon if someone is creative enough. the difference is the kids will view their actions as totally justified once they can get a few hits in and will likely not hold back in the least.

  • Mimc

    If a husband wrote the same letter his advise would probably be that he needed to demand that his wife spank their daughter.

  • Mimc

    In fact all the studies from the last fifty year directly contradict Pearl. Pretty nearly the whole field of developmental psychology is again corporal punishment.

  • Mimc

    Did it sound to anyone else like this women was writing her letter with a thesaurus on her lap?

  • Carstonio

    How old is too old for beating? I would say when the parents were conceived.

  • At what age is a child too old to spank?

    BIRTH. BIRTH is too old for a spanking.

    Hitting just isn’t okay, and it teaches things, bad things, like “might makes right”.

  • persephone

    There seem to be two types of letters the Pearls print: ones with misspellings and colloquialisms, and then these over-processed, faux-educated messes. Most of us here assume that a number of the letters are written by the Pearls to give them an opportunity to preach their latest revelation. Others are rewritten to fit what the Pearls want. My assumption with this letter is that Michael wanted to berate a woman who sounded educated. They usually go easier on the less-educated letters.

    I also personally believe that Debi writes a lot of these letters, then gives them to Michael and lies about where they came from. Whatever her mood is determines the letter style.

  • katiehippie

    And they are making a ton more work for themselves by policing all mannerisms and behaviors and facial expressions. What a waste of time.

  • AnonCar

    Seriously. That’s the only reason I do dishes. I take no joy or enjoyment from washing dishes. I take enjoyment from the lack of mold and bugs and foul odors.