When this month’s No Greater Joy magazine was published consisting of three articles credited to patriarch Michael Pearl I said there was no freaking way that Michael actually wrote those articles. I stand corrected. This is pure Michael, whether he wrote them in crayon, dictated them, or sat at a computer and pounded on the key these clearly came from him. Or at least parts did. This article – “7 Important Things to Know in Raising Children” = features a great deal of the new kinder, gentler, don’t mention beating the tar out of children advice. But then there are these two crazy pieces of irrational advice that prove that the beatings are still there, the tendency towards abuse is just more hidden now.
A big theme of this month’s magazine is a) no cell phones ever or your child will end up molested and ruined, and b) buy Debi’s book “Create a Better Brain Through Neuroplasticity”. Michael mentions ‘Brain grooving’ several times in the article, what you and I might call repetition that leads to good habits and muscle memory.
First, the brain and keeping your child in control lest they end up a ‘hippie.’ Has anyone actually really been legitimately considered a real hippie since the original Woodstock era?
“It is easy to avoid enforcing boundaries because it is the path of least resistance. You don’t have to stir yourself or upset the kids. Let them do as they please—free expression, you know—and they will become your average reprobates.
If children all came into the world disciplined and wise and willing to deny their impulses for the greater good, we could just leave them to free expression, but every parent knows better. All children come to us innocent but fallen. They are hedonistic, self-indulging hippies in their natural state. Left to themselves they will bring their mothers to shame (Proverbs 29:15).
Adults are supposed to be mature enough to choose the virtuous path and do what they ought to do even if it is contrary to their desires. That is character—something that no one is born with and that has to be developed. Training children to respect boundaries will build character. Small children do not see the need for self-denial or self-restraint. They feel desire and they do what feels good. Therefore, parents must constrain young children to right behavior. In time their moral understanding will develop and they will begin to choose good, even when it is contrary to their carnal desires. Character is formed, and as training continues, their character grows stronger as they mature into adults.”
Let me state the obvious. Babies are not born evil, selfish, reprobate, or any other negative that Michael can dream up! Babies do not cry to manipulate people from evil. They cry because its the only way they have to express their needs. Meetings the needs of a child isn’t being manipulated or controlled by them. Of course, it should go without saying that as parents we are charged to teach them life skills as they develop, sharing, not being selfish, working with others and other things, things that ‘hippies’ also do.
There is the usual level of insane controlling of a child’s friends and isolation we’ve come to count on in No Greater Joy parenting advice, equating a kid going to day care with someone swimming in fecal matter. How lovely.
“It all starts very young. You must choose the social circle for your children and guard it. The quickest way to throw your small children away is to enroll them in daycare or preschool or first grade. You lose all control over their friends and they become part of the social pool, eventually reduced to the lowest common denominator. If your child shares a pool with kids where just one of them has pooped in the water, your kid is swimming in poop. A few good kids don’t keep the water clean, but one bad kid pollutes it for everybody. I cannot remember the good kids in my third grade, but there were a couple bad ones I will never forget. I can remember their foul words and deeds to this day.
This is probably the hardest thing for a parent to do. It requires great effort and constant vigilance to sift your social circle. There will be times your kids will not understand, and there will be times other parents are offended, but a mother hen guards her chicks against the foxes and coyotes, regardless. To protect your kids may require an adjustment to your lifestyle. A chicken that has roosted under a chicken hawk nest needs to move, even if it is inconvenient. If your church is full of public school kids, you will need to keep your children at your side all the time and not allow them to get personal with the other children. It becomes impossible to limit the social contact of a teenager in such an environment. They shouldn’t have the burden of constantly choosing or eliminating people from their acquaintance; that is your job. Find a social circle that is righteous and productive where you have nothing to fear from 25 of the teenagers getting together to play soccer or go roller skating together.“
In Michael’s mind anyone not severely isolated, socially stunted and raised like righteous veal in a box needs to be avoided. This is just wrong. Kids need to be exposed to people from all different walks of life, learn how to deal with those differing from them. It does not mean they’re going to immediately roll a pack of Marlboros into their shirt sleeves and start guzzling little Miller beers if exposed to kids outside of your little group. Learning to navigate with different ‘those’ is a valuable practical skill. As a parent many times you will have the opportunity to say “Hey, doing that is not a good idea because of x, y, or z.”
Growing and learning involves you as a parent allowing greater and greater freedoms as time goes on, or you end up with someone, to use Michael’s team, jumping ship and rebelling. You must allow your children to try their wings. They will sometimes fly upside down, or do things you disapprove of, but it is part of raising them to be mature responsible adults.
Now onto the first cellphone bashing in the magazine. Mike labels this “Beware the greatest evil of them all!” in fearmongering bold font:
“Today’s world is different from any other. It is difficult in our world “to train up a child in the way he should go,” and some very good and sincere people fail, not for want of personal righteousness and not for want of trying. Over the years we have watched our culture change as we listen to the weeping of parents sitting in front of us as we counsel. Children are being exposed to some of the most horrific evil imaginable while they sit on their couch with their parents. The cell phone is the devil’s favorite toy. It is Satan’s direct line to most every child.”
This is simply all about control. Why take after cellphones like this and not mention the ubiquitous Ipad or other tablet everyone seems to have or a laptop. Both of these items also run the same programs, can access the same information, and be reached by all the same social media platforms and messaging apps? It’s literally the same. Cellphones these days are like walking around with a literal computer right in your pocket.
We ended up getting our children cellphones in the aftermath of 9/11, being that my husband worked in Washington, D.C. On that terrible day we lost contact, the news media was putting out all sorts of wild rumors, and he literally had to walk out of the city and catch a ride with someone else to get home. A trek that took from 10 am to after 3 pm.
Our kids were frantic, in elementary school and middle school at the time, hearing bits from their shocked teachers about what had happened. It was because of this our family went all to cell phones.
Michael claims it brings in sin. We never had that experience, but what it did bring in was frantic phone calls like, “Mom, please come get me. I’m at so and so’s house and everyone started drinking Thunderbird and playing with a Ouija board. I’m not comfortable.” or “Mom I ate something that caused my lips and tongue to tingle and swell. I took some benadrul but I still feel sick!” or one time, ” Mom they just announced Kelsey died last night. I’m so sad.”
It made it possible for me to be right there when I needed to be in stressful and sad times. It gave my kids the freedom to immediately reach out to me in those times when they knew they could not handle something without a parent.
There’s another extremely fear monger-y piece in this month’s magazine about someone luring perverts into contacting them so they can be taken down ala Chris Hansen and Dateline. But every single thing about the piece reads very false, written by someone who seems not to understand much about social media and responsible parenting. We’ll look at it next week.
You cannot just turn your kid loose with a cellphone. There have to be some rules in place. Michael presumes every kid with a cellphone is just running around in the virtual Wild West when it’s nothing like that for most teens.
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