Confessions of a Beating Her Children Mom?

Confessions of a Beating Her Children Mom? September 30, 2019

This is one of those possibly fake letters to Michael and Debi Pearl from their No Greater Joy magazine. In light of the recent post on sexual sadism and Quiverfull child discipline this is pretty disturbing how she’s bragging on perfect child behavior via hitting her children. Hitting her children. Confessions of a beating her children mom.

I hope this letter is a fake spun out of the air by the Pearls because the idea of hitting children to make them mind is just so awful and abusive on every level. Read on as this mother tries to justify it.

More and more information has come out in the last few years about the harm that spanking or beating your children does. Long term damage that follows them into their adult years and colors all of their relationships.

From Forbes:

All 10 of the other findings showed that spanking was linked to negative outcomes to varying degrees. Children who were spanked had a poorer relationship with their parent and had lower levels of moral internalization, which means they were less able to determine that something was morally wrong for its own sake rather than knowing it was wrong because they’d get smacked otherwise. Spanking was also linked to poorer mental health, higher levels of aggression and antisocial behavior—both in childhood and later on in adulthood. Children were also more likely to become victims of physical abuse and had a higher risk of physically abusing their own child or their husband or wife if they had been spanked.

Wow, that’s quite the laundry list of bad outcomes from spanking. The most surprising yet not surprising at the same time is the ability to be less able to determine if something was morally wrong. It runs counter to everything claimed by the Pearls and other proponents of childhood physical discipline via spanking or beating.

No, the only thing that the spanking taught your son is to fake it, act in a way completely contrary to how he actually did feel.  That his emotions, responses and actions were less important to you than his acquiescence. That he genuinely does not matter, only his outward appearance.

Did you even consider asking him why he was bullying his brother and dealing with it from there? Is it because you have 7 other children and negative attention is the only way he can get any attention at all? Perhaps he is frustrated about something else and does not know how to handle anger or frustration? Maybe the younger brother was purposely antagonizing him? So many possibilities that you will never know if you don’t simply stop and talk to the offender first.

Please, yes of course they are afraid of you. Fear and avoidance of pain underline all of their obedience.  Even the most unintelligent animal will learn to obey once they make the connection between pain and certain behaviors. A intention to please you has nothing to do with the equation at all. Those results of yours come at a high price you are unwilling to admit.


Correction: I need to clarify something I said the other day on the other piece about spanking. I said that M. Dolon Hickmon first mentioned the spanking group and then shared the video. It’s the other way around. Hickmon found the video, shared it first.

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NLQ Recommended Reading …

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce

I Fired God by Jocelyn Zichtermann

13:24 A Dark Thriller by M Dolon Hickmon

About Suzanne Titkemeyer
Suzanne Titkemeyer went from a childhood in Louisiana to a life lived in the shadow of Washington D.C. For many years she worked in the field of social work, from national licensure to working hands on in a children's residential treatment center. Suzanne has been involved with helping the plights of women and children' in religious bondage. She is a ordained Stephen's Minister with many years of counseling experience. Now she's retired to be a full time beach bum in Tamarindo, Costa Rica with the monkeys and iguanas. She is also a thalassophile. She also left behind years in a Quiverfull church and loves to chronicle the worst abuses of that particular theology. She has been happily married to her best friend for the last 33 years. You can read more about the author here.
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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Georgia Sam

    If you substitute “slaves” for “children”/”kids” and “whip” for “spank” in that letter, it makes for some thought-provoking reading.

  • Tawreos

    They admit the reason spanking doesn’t work. That the writer feels fear when they see a cop tells me that they are not maintaining the proper speed limit when they don’t see the cop. I am betting the kid knows enough to behave when the “cops” are nearby as well and I bet there are some threats that get thrown around to make sure that the bully doesn’t get tattled on.

  • Kaia Rose

    Reading it that way was….wow. Thought-provoking, indeed.

  • Sam D

    The Forbes article listed complex future effects from a lifetime of spanking vs communication. The person in the previous quote listed immediate effects from spanking vs a quick statement which would have taken the same or less time than the spanking, no two-way communication at all. Why should she care about the Forbes effects?

  • bekabot

    1. She says “spanking is not fun for me” at least one too many times. It takes about three seconds flat to tell the truth. Example, somebody asks you about the color or your eyes: if you’re telling the truth you say “blue” or “brown” (or whatever) and leave it at that — but if you’re wearing contacts, then you have to tell a story, even if you want to be upfront. A person for whom kid-spanking provided no thrill would not have to repeat herself so often (JMO, of course).

    2. She says that her older boys have a habit of amusing themselves at the expense of the younger ones. What are the odds (do you think) that her older boys amuse themselves at the expense of their younger brothers because their mother amuses herself at theirs? Just asking.

  • Friend

    American Academy of Pediatrics website, with excellent guidance for nonviolent child-rearing:

  • Friend

    Calling Bee-Ess on this, as a veteran and witness of spank1ngs. Children do not instantly smile and obey after this. It takes a little while to dry the tears and recover from the hum1liation. Also, everybody around acts a little weird for awhile and gradually settles down.

    Childhood was a long time ago, but I think it takes at least 5 or 10 minutes for an upset kid to get back to normal. People sp@nk their kids in order to upset them, to make them feel bad about their actions.

  • HematitePersuasion

    I agree totally with this column. The only thing violence teaches is hypocrisy and deception.

    I wonder if there might be a connection to Christian behavior here … anyone? Bueller?

  • AFo

    Of course kids who were spanked grow up unable to tell if things are morally right; they’ve literally had it beaten into them over a lifetime that any little “transgression” (which is usually just normal kid behavior) is grounds for a beating. It’s physical and mental torture.

  • Saraquill

    She also says “sweet relief” a few times. Makes the beatings1 sound erotic1.

  • Saraquill

    Jade Snow Wong’s first memoir does into detail about the beatings1 she endured growing up in the 1920s and 30s. “Highlights” included not telling her mom when a classmate attacked her, lest Jade Snow get punished for provoking the kid.

  • Saraquill

    “Loving correction.” I’ve had “it’s not abuse1, it’s love” thrown at me when I was a kid. Never believed it.

  • Friend

    Yes! That, along with the child instantly glowing with happiness. Creepy.

  • SAO

    Assuming the mother’s account is an accurate account, it still doesn’t justify spanking, because time outs or other mild, non-violent punishment would have worked as well. Saying that spanking works without comparing it to better methods is like saying 3 years in jail and a $10,000 fine works as a consequence for overstaying your parking meter or driving 56 mph in a 55 mph zone. Yeah, it might work, but I doubt the people punished have learned to respect the law. Instead, they’ve learned to fear arbitrary enforcement.

    I would expect kids who are used to being spanked might not recognize or respond to time-outs, but that’s another problem with spanking, not an argument for it.

  • Friend

    Actually she does compare it with something else: saying “Stop that” and “Be nice.”

    She is an ineffective, shallow parent, a w1mp who lacks insight and turns to vi0lence because she cannot reach her children—not in any other way, but in any way at all.

  • Jenn H

    Unfortunately I suspect that once the parents start using corporal punishment, it is much harder to backtrack and use other methods. The kids have already been trained to see morality in terms of what will and won’t get them hit. Trying to then explain right and wrong to them will just contradict what they’ve already learnt the hard way.

    I wonder if the “bully” child was just modelling behaviour based on what his parents were doing.

  • SAO

    Parents who use spanking as their form of discipline, often find their kids don’t respond to words. They will calibrate whether they need to change based on how close to losing it the parent is. Unless the parent is willing to spank for every little infraction, the parent will often decide this isn’t worth spanking for.

    To be effective, you need consistent consequences to back up your words. I found asking my kids to write ten sentences, a task that they could accomplish in a minute or two was effective in putting an end to bickering or teasing. And if it didn’t they got 20 sentences.

    It brought “sweet relief” immediately, most of the time. All without waiting days until the problem was big enough to merit spanking. If writing sentences didn’t work, something else was going on and a spanking wasn’t going to fix it.

    In short, I think parents become more effective parents when they take spanking out of their arsenal.

  • Friend

    I’m sure that worked for your children, since they did the chore quickly and their behavior improved, and that is what matters. However, one teacher did suggest to me that writing sentences could cause some kids to view writing as punishment. For another hypothetical kid, of course, being told “clean up your room” could make cleaning feel like t0rture.

    What worked for us was timeout, which is also not universally accepted because of the is0lation. We asked offspring to sit on the stairs for a few minutes and calm down. We made sure nobody felt aband0ned. Fast forward a few years, and offspring enjoy their own company. Cleaning is a calming activity. Writing, on the other hand…. 😉

  • Mimc

    I can see how she would find this approach easier than approaching each situation with curiosity, identifying the core issue, and equipping her children with the tools to better respond to similar situations in the future. At least until her kids are too old to spank and still don’t have those skills.

  • Friend

    When your only tool is a wooden spoon…

  • Jennifer

    She actually says her kids are not happy with her if they’re not hit? That is SUCH 1crap2. You can practically see Debi behind the keyboard, claiming that striking them realigns their brain waves for the good.

  • Jennifer

    Absolutely right. Nobody smiles and goes back to normal after being smacked.

  • Jennifer

    General Christian behavior? No. Religious extremism or patriarchal? Yeah.

  • HematitePersuasion

    General Christian behavior. And Jewish. And Muslim.

    Please let me be clear: I am not discussing theological meaning or intent. I am neither qualified nor interested.

    The Abrahamaic religions repeatedly reference and glorify the fear of God, and I suggest — strongly — that this fear is exactly the fear of a child of her abusive parent: doling out arbitrary and disproportionate punishment for imagined wrongdoing. If there is a guiding hand to the Universe, than every disaster, every ill turn, every less-than-optimal outcome is punishment, for you, your neighbors, your tribe. Every hurricane landfall, every disastrous earthquake, and every deadly tsunami is heralded by as the judgement of God on a sinful nation/tribe/behavior.

    The Abrahamaic God is an abusive parent in conception and action. Small wonder his children followers act abused, and act out that abuse.

    In my experience, Christians not suffering from this abuse (and/or acting abusively) are rare. I can only hope your experience differs.

  • persephone

    Same thing. I knew that when I got my last beating with a belt at 14, bare-a$$9ed, that I was done. It took a while, but I got out.

    I found out years later about a bunch of abuse that was going on in the local congregation. Of course, all of it was kept away from the authorities.

  • persephone

    They all run on fear. Fear is absolutely the basis for these religions. Make God happy or burn forever. I mean, how much worse could it be? The feeling of being consumed by fire for eternity. The worst I’ve had was a second degree burn on my hand, and that was a trip to the ER.

    Additionally, individual churches are often hotbeds of spying and fingerpointing, while covering up actual abu9se.

  • persephone

    She should be worried that they could turn on her. It has happened, especially in patriarchal cults like this; the sons grow up and won’t take it anymore.

  • Saraquill

    How many abusive1 parents allow for discourse? How many will concede when they’ve lost an argument? Jewish lore includes tales about disagreeing with G-d, sometimes to the point where G-d will back off.

    There’s also a Jew who is a semi regular here and really dislikes being lumped in with Christians in these discussions. There’s enough of a difference between the two that painting them with the same brush feels off.

  • SAO

    I used writing sentences because my son struggled to sit still. Time outs devolved into me policing the sitting and having to accept pretty poor cooperation as okay. My daughter would sit and stew, ending up more angry at whatever started the issue. Sentences gave them something to concentrate on. It defused son’s excess energy and daughter concentrated on getting done quickly to ‘win’ (I’m sure she thought, ‘Ha! that took no time’) but it defused her anger.

    The result was an end to the negative energy which caused issue which caused the punishment. So, it worked for me much better than time outs.

    Time outs didn’t work well for me, so I tried spanking, which was not effective and damaging to my relationship with my kids. Writing sentences worked. I like to suggest it because I think most people know about time outs and don’t know what to do if they don’t work. But, really, parenting is about figuring out what works for you and your kids.

  • Mimc

    Definitely. I’ve heard plenty of stories about parents that stopped spanking because the kid hit back or ran away. Oddly they still often double down on their support of spanking. They don’t seem to relive that they just admitted it doesn’t work. They didn’t stop because their kid stopped misbehaving, they stopped because their kid was too big or strong.

  • Friend

    But, really, parenting is about figuring out what works for you and your kids.

    Yes indeed. And our cultural enforcers want one Universal Tool to fix all disciplinary pr0blems. It does not exist. Kids need different things at different times.

    Thanks so much for sharing your story and technique. I’m sure it will help a lot of people.

  • HematitePersuasion

    I will grant that Judiasm lacks the irritating proselytizing of Christianity and Islam2 but … FEAR OF G-D is just as prevalent in Judiasm as the others.

    Orthodox Judiasm is responsible for special-day-mode elevators & appliances … because closing an electrical circuit is starting a fire, starting a fire is work, and one does not work on the day of rest. Having a refrigerator for kosher dairy, one for kosher meat, one for passover-kosher dairy, and one for passover-kosher meat? Having an entire separate kitchen, cooking tools, dinnerware, glassware, and implements for passover? Avoiding mixed-fiber garments, or even single-fiber garments that lack Rabbinical certification? The magic wire strung around New York City? Violent interactions when an ultraorthodox Jew is seated next to a female not of his family? Why? Could it be fear of You-Know-Who?

    Let us not forget the violence in Israel, and the religious appropriation of land considered sacred (not going to get into whether or not the appropriation was righteous, that’s a different problem — the point is that persons living on land that has been in their family’s possession for centuries were thrown off it. Why? Could it be because You-Know-Who commanded it?

    In short, Judiasm has just as much of a fear of V-ldem-rt G-d that Islam and Christianity do, and they impose that terror on the peoples around them, albeit in a different way.

  • HematitePersuasion

    It really is the abused children running scared, and trying to deflect blame.

  • Saraquill

    You’re foaming at the mouth to the point of being nonsensical, plus you’re making fun of me. This discourse is over.

  • HematitePersuasion

    I apologize that my attempt at humor, which I had intended to apply to the situation and religious observances and myself (as I too have a Jewish background) fell instead on you. That was neither my intent or desire.

    I hope you will forgive my clumsiness, and that we may engage in other topics in the future.

  • Oh, you do if you know you’ll cop another beating for “negativity”.

  • The entire religion is based on an abusive relationship with a cosmic entity, so…

  • Jem

    It’s sad that she thinks that there is no alternative between allowing a bad attitude and ugliness toward siblings, and spanking. What a false dichotomy!! I haven’t spanked my kids since my 20-yo was 4, and let me tell you, NO ugliness between siblings is “allowed”.

  • Jem

    I agree. My greatest help in a journey to gentle parenting was a group of gentle Christian mothers. Christian was part of the gentleness. Granted, the group had been formed because that philosophy was difficult to find in the conservative Christian world. Tellingly, many of us left conservatism along that journey, and some of those left Christianity altogether.

  • Jennifer

    Yes. We have a fear of God that’s born of respect, not that He’ll strike us dead at any moment. Only Calvinists believe every natural disaster is a directly designed punishment (especially the Westboro type).

  • Jennifer

    God wasn’t wrong, but He did and does listen to appeals.

  • Jennifer

    Exactly, God is not an abuser and clearly tells His followers to be good to others as well. Any extremist modern following of ancient temporal codes, or acting afraid of the other sex, is from fallible or controlling humans, not God’s command.

  • HematitePersuasion

    No. You are redefining the usage of both fear and respect mid-discussion.

    The fear we are discussing is the fear of knowing that someone bigger and stronger than you can, at any moment, commit physical or emotional violence on you at their whim — and has threatened or promised to do so, and that you are powerless to resist this violence, because the decision to use it is out of your hands.

    We are discussing the FEAR that a prisoner might have of the prison guards. We are discussing the FEAR that a rapist will return to violate us. We are discussing fear for our bodies (and for some, souls) at the hands of an unknowable (and therefore indistinguishable from malign) entity.

    I understand where the confusion comes from. One, after all, respects the danger posed by a wildfire, of lightening strikes, or physical environments so perilous that anything less than full attention and care may result in death or injury (and may so result even with full attention and care, such as SCUBA diving in cave systems). But again, that is not the respect that one has for a person, unless that person is a deranged maniac threatening everyone with a machete and machine gun.

    To attempt to conflate respect owed a person with the fear that person’s arbitrary violence may inspire is nonsense.

    This is my one and only comment on this. I will not be drawn further into ontological, etymological, or epistemological word games. I loathe them.

  • Jennifer

    I’m describing what my own respect for Him looks like. My religion and others were mentioned and their followers were compared to abused children. I can’t speak for everyone, certainly not those in sects or cults run by fear-mongering, but I can certainly speak for myself and every Christian I know well. My love and respect is not just due to Him being an omnipotent God, but a good one who doesn’t strike out on a whim. He is not unknowable to me or anyone who loves Him and does not fear being harmed at random.

  • Jennifer

    True, and QF parents are frighteningly easily fooled by pretend joy and righteousness.

  • Judy Thompson

    And let’s face it, God is the excuse, not the reason, for almost any bad behavior they’ve got going. When you hurt someone, or deny someone, when you verbally abuse a child and tell them God will never let them into heaven, that’s abuse, and you’re using God as the whip.