Quotes from To Train Up A Child

When quoting from To Train Up A Child (written and published by Michael and Debi Pearl), we should be careful about paraphrasing. We are being accused of misquoting. Here are some quotes from the first edition of the book, which is found online here. I got the page numbers  for the 1st edition (1994) from quotes which are in circulation (originating from stoptherod.net) but I painstakingly checked each quote in the book to make sure that I am using direct quotes. Page numbers for the 17th edition (April 2006) were provided by Robbyn Peters Bennett of  StopSpanking.org.

The Pearls recommend switching infants only a few months old on their bare skin. They describe switching their own 4 month old daughter (1st edition p.9).

At four months she was too unknowing to be punished for disobedience. But for her own good, we attempted to train her not to climb the stairs by coordinating the voice command of “No” with little spats on the bare legs. The switch was a twelve-inch long, one-eighth-inch diameter sprig from a willow tree.

In the 17th edition (April 2006) the above quote is the same but the baby is a month older.  Also on page 9:

At five months, she was too unknowing to be punished for disobedience. But for her own good (and our peace of mind), we attempted to train her not to climb the stairs by coordinating the voice command of “No” with little spats on her bare legs. The switch was a twelve-once long, one-eighth-inch diameter sprig from a willow tree.

On p.60 of the 1st edition they recommend switching babies who cannot sleep and are crying, and to never allow them “to get up.”

But what of the grouch who would rather complain than sleep? Get tough. Be firm with him. Never put him down and then allow him to get up. If, after putting him down, you remember he just woke up, do not reward his complaining by allowing him to get up.For the sake of consistency in training, you must follow through. He may not be able to sleep, but he can be trained to lie there quietly. He will very quickly come to know that any time he is laid down there is no alternative but to stay put. To get up is to be on the firing line and get switched back down.

This has been reworded somewhat in the 17th edition (P63)

But what about the grouchy child who would rather complain than sleep? Get tough. Be firm with him. Never put him down and then for some reason reverse your position, allowing him to get up. For your reputation with the child, you must follow through. He may not be able to sleep, but he can be trained to lie there quietly. He will very quickly come to know that any time he is laid down, there is no alternative but to stay put. To get up is to be on the firing line and get switched back down.

On p.79 they recommend switching a 7 month old for screaming.

A seven-month-old boy had, upon failing to get his way, stiffened clenched his fists, bared his toothless gums and called down damnation on the whole place. At a time like that, the angry expression on a baby’s face can resemble that of one instigating a riot. The young mother, wanting to do the right thing, stood there in helpless consternation, apologetically shrugged her shoulders and said, “What can I do?” My incredulous nine-year-old whipped back, “Switch him.” The mother responded, “I can’t, he’s too little.” With the wisdom of a veteran who had been on the little end of the switch, my daughter answered, “If he is old enough to pitch a fit, he is old enough to be spanked.”

On p.65 co-author Debi Pearl whips the bare leg of a 15 month old she is babysitting, 10 separate times, for not playing with something she tells him to play with.

After about ten acts of stubborn defiance, followed by ten switchings, he surrendered his will to one higher than himself. In rolling the wheel, he did what every accountable human being must do–he humbled himself before the “highest” and admitted that his interests are not paramount. After one begrudged roll, my wife turned to other chores.

On p.56 Debi Pearl trades blows with a 2 year old.

This time, her bottom came off the couch as she drew back to return the blow; and I heard a little karate like wheeze come from somewhere deep inside.

On p.59 (1st ed) and 62 (17th ed) they recommend spanking a 3 year old until he is “totally broken.”

She then administers about ten slow, patient licks on his bare legs. He cries in pain. If he continues to show defiance by jerking around and defending himself, or by expressing anger, then she will wait a moment and again lecture him and again spank him. When it is obvious he is totally broken, she will hand him the rag and very calmly say, “Johnny, clean up your mess.” He should very contritely wipe up the water.

On p.55 the Pearls say a mother should hit her child if he cries for her.

If a father is attempting to make a child eat his oats, and the child cries for his mother, then the mother should respond by spanking him for whining for her and for not eating his oats. He will then be glad to be dealing only with the father.

On p.46 of the 1st edition, p. 49 of the 17th, the Pearls say that if a child does obey before being spanked, spank them anyway. And “if you have to sit on him to spank him, then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher.” “Defeat him totally.”

At this point, in utter panic, he will rush to demonstrate obedience. Never reward delayed obedience by reversing the sentence. And, unless all else fails, don’t drag him to the place of cleansing. Part of his training is to come submissively. However, if you are just beginning to institute training on an already rebellious child, who runs from discipline and is too incoherent to listen, then use whatever force is necessary to bring him to bay. If you have to sit on him to spank him then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring and are unmoved by his wailing. Defeat him totally. Accept no conditions for surrender. No compromise. You are to rule over him as a benevolent sovereign. Your word is final.

On p.80 they say

On the bare legs or bottom, switch him eight or ten licks; then, while waiting for the pain to subside, speak calm words of rebuke. If the crying turns to a true, wounded, submissive whimper, you have conquered; he has submitted his will. If the crying is still defiant, protesting and other than a response to pain, spank him again.

On p.47 of the 1st ed. they give details of what to use for a spanking instrument.

Any spanking, to effectively reinforce instruction, must cause pain, but the most pain is on the surface of bare skin where the nerves are located. A surface sting will cause sufficient pain, with no injury or bruising. Select your instrument according to the child’s size. For the under one year old, a little, ten- to twelve-inch long, willowy branch (striped of any knots that might break the skin) about one-eighth inch diameter is sufficient. Sometimes alternatives have to be sought. A one-foot ruler, or its equivalent in a paddle, is a sufficient alternative. For the larger child, a belt or larger tree branch is effective.

That quote is reworded in the 17th edition and is on page 50.

It is most effective to strike a light rod against bare skin, where nerves are located at the surface…

The Pearls  recommend pulling a nursing infant’s hair (p.7 both editions)

One particularly painful experience of nursing mothers is the biting baby. My wife did not waste time finding a cure. When the baby bit, she pulled hair (an alternative has to be sought for baldheaded babies).

They recommend hosing off a child outside in order to clean him if he continues to soil himself. (p. 75 17th edition)

So, my suggestion was that the father explain to the boy that, now that he was a man, he would no longer be washed in the house. He was too big and too stinky to be cleaned by the babywipes. From now on, he would be washed outside with a garden hose. The child was not to be blamed. This was to be understood as just a progressive change in methods. The next dump, the father took him out and merrily, and might I say, carelessly, washed him off. What with the autumn chill and the cold well water, I don’t remember if it took a second washing or not, but, a week later, the father told me his son was now taking himself to the pot. The child weighed the alternatives and opted to change his lifestyle. Since then, several others have been the recipients of my meddling, and it usually takes no more than three cheerful washings.

Also, here are 3 quotes which I feel show some questionable doctrine:

The guilt burdened soul cries out for the lashes and nails of justice. Your child cannot yet understand that the Creator has been lashed and nailed in his place. Only the rod of correction can preserve his soul until the day of moral dawning.

The parent holds in his hand (in the form of a little switch) the power to absolve the child of guilt, cleanse his soul, instruct his spirit, strengthen his resolve, and give him a fresh start through a confidence that all indebtedness is paid.

A child properly and timely spanked is healed in the soul and restored to wholeness of spirit. A child can be turned back from the road to hell through proper spankings. “Withhold not correction from the child; for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell (Prov. 23:13, 14). (p. 44)

Note: I find it ironic that he recommends using plastic plumbing line for a rod and then objects when people say that he teaches people to whip children.

Now, here are some very disturbing quotes directly from their website.  You are going to have to go read this yourself to really appreciate it and believe that I did not take quotes out of context.

This is from Question #9: “Please give examples of the kinds of things for which you used the rod, both as a training tool and as punishment, for children were under 12 months.”

We never used the rod to punish a child younger than 12 months.

For young children, especially during the first year, the rod is used very lightly as a training tool. You use something small and light to get the child’s attention and to reinforce your command.

One or two light licks on the bare legs or arms will cause a child to stop in his tracks and regard your commands.

A 12-inch piece of weed eater chord works well as a beginner rod. It will fit in your purse or pocket.

Later, a plumber’s supply line is a good spanking tool. You can get it at Wal-Mart or any hardware store. Ask for a plastic, ¼ inch, supply line. They come in different lengths and several colors; so you can have a designer rod to your own taste. They sell for less than $1.00.

A baby needs to be trained all day, everyday. It should be a cheerful, directing training, not a correction training.

When your 6-month-old baby grabs sister’s hair, while he still has a hand full of hair, swat his hand or arm and say “No, that hurts sister.” If he has already let go of her hair, then put his hand back on her hair, so as to engage his mind in the former action, and then carry on with the hand swatting and the command.

If your 10-month-old is pitching a fit because he wants to be picked up, then you must reinforce your command with a few stinging swats.

Wait one minute, and then tell the baby to stop crying. If he doesn’t, again swat him on his bare legs. You don’t need to undress him, turn him over, or make a big deal out of it. Just swat him where any skin is exposed. Continue to act as if you don’t notice the fit. Wait two minutes and repeat.

Most babies will keep it going for 3 or 4 times and then slide to a sitting position and sob it out. When this happens, it signals a surrender, so give him two minutes to get control and then swoop him up as if the fit never happen and give him a big hug, BUT don’t hold him in the manner he was demanding. Now remove yourself from the area so as to remove him from association with the past event.

Don’t ever hit a small child with your hand. You are too big and the baby is too small. The surface of the skin is where the most nerves are located and where it is easiest to cause pain without any damage to the child. The weight of your hand does little to sting the skin, but can cause bruising or serious damage internally. Babies need training but they do not need to be punished. Never react in anger or frustration. If you loose it, get your self under control before you attempt to discipline a child.

Here is another quote from the No Greater Joy website.  This quote is from an article from 1998,  Angry Child.

A proper spanking leaves children without breath to complain. If he should tell you that the spanking makes him madder, spank him again. If he is still mad…. He desperately needs an unswayable authority, a cold rock of justice. Keep in mind that if you are angry you are wasting your time trying to spank his anger away.

I could break his anger in two days. He would be too scared to get angry. On the third day he would draw into a quiet shell and obey. On the fourth day I would treat him with respect and he would respond in kind. On the fifth day the fear would go away and he would relax because he would have judged that as long as he responds correctly there is nothing to fear. On the sixth day he would like himself better and enjoy his new relationship to authority. On the seventh day I would fellowship with him in some activity that he enjoyed. On the eight day he would love me and would make a commitment to always please me because he valued my approval and fellowship. On the ninth day someone would comment that I had the most cheerful and obedient boy that they had ever seen. On the tenth day we would be the best of buddies.

(Note that the quote above was linked to Stockholm Syndrome in an article in Secular Homeschooling Magazine which makes some interesting points.)

In an article called, Training Roseanna’s Flesh, Pearl explains how and why one must control a child at all costs.

For example: a child tries to slide from your lap onto the floor. On most occasions that’s just a way of letting you know where he wants to go. Fine, but there are times when you do not want him to slide to the floor. If your little fourteen-month-old makes an attempt to dismount your lap, and you indicate that you do not want him to, and he makes a protest by jerking away or whining, then by no means can you allow him to intimidate you into compliance. For, by so doing you have allowed the authority to pass to him. You would be encouraging rebellion. YOU MUST ALWAYS BE PERCEIVED TO WIN ANY CONTEST. It is all determined by what the child thinks. If there is a seed of resistance in the child, it must never be allowed to grow. Don’t allow that spirit of rebellion to become profitable.

When the child whines and makes an issue of something that to you was otherwise irrelevant, you must then follow-through, causing the child to do what he did not want to do. This is soul training – character building – sanctification of the natural spirit in your child. This won’t make him a Christian, but it will give him a better character than most Christians possess.

If, during the course of a day, no contest arises naturally, you should arrange one. Seek opportunity to thwart the child’s will, to cause him to submit to your command. If you cause him to surrender his will to you twenty times during the course of a day, he will not disappoint you with disobedience in public. Tell him to stop, sit, don’t speak for five minutes, etc. Play the half-hour “quiet time game,” the half-hour “don’t wiggle and squirm game.” Refuse him a treat when he is wanting it badly. Give it to him only when he is joyously submitted to your timetable. You mustn’t give the appearance of being blindly arbitrary, but always maintain full control. Never allow the child to dictate your actions.

I have found an article on the No Greater Joy site where Mr. Pearl explains some of his different terminology (aka DoubleSpeak) in regard to when a child is Too Young To Spank.  Here is a quote from that page discussing a 6 month old:

So we watch him, knowing his propensity to selfish compulsion. When he seizes his bowl with intentions of dumping it, swat the offending hand with a little instrument (light wooden spoon, rubber spatula, flexible tubing less than a quarter inch in diameter, or any instrument that will cause an unpleasant sting without leaving any marks).

Note: Comments are welcome and I try to reply where appropriate but I reserve the right to delete any and all flames at my discretion.

About Hermana Linda
Hermana means sister in Spanish and Linda is my name. I was born in late 1960 to a mother who had traveled around the world and had been impressed at the baby wearing she saw in Africa and Japan. While in Japan she purchased the baby carrier in which she is wearing me in my avatar. By the grace of God, I trusted Jesus as my personal savior in 1983. He gave me a husband in 1987 and 2 sons in the early 1990's. All glory to God.

Comments

  1. Toni Holroyd says:

    I don’t even know where to start.
    I’m pleased to hear from the people here who have moved away from this disgraceful method.
    I’d hope that authorities are investigating these people.

  2. JC says:

    I now wonder if this was similar to the way I was “trained” as a small child. By the time I was conscious of myself (4 or 5) year old I was afraid to disobey my parents. I didn’t like the consequences. I also remember my parents getting lots of compliments on our behavior in public. By that time I just knew better than to behave badly. I was fully indoctrinated before I could really even think for myself.

    I have read several of the Pearl’s books and I have to say years later that I no longer agree with their premise let alone their methods. At one time though I thought it was a good idea. I was raised in a christian cult (they believed in control-you can’t be united unless all believe the same-uniformity) and that may explain a lot of why I found this book appealing. Over the past 18 years I have come out of this kind of teaching and embraced Grace rather than Law. I can now see this type of teaching and training for the mind warping sociopathic nonsense that it is.

    I will say to those who want to do violence on people who use these methods you should know that many were trained and indoctrinated so early they don’t know what they are doing. It is only by the Grace of God that I am not that person anymore. Pray for change and if you have an opportunity to influence people making this mistake please do it in love and not condemnation. They have most likely grown up with that already and they won’t be able to hear you. Love speaks volumes and patience is necessary because they won’t get it right off. Its a complete mind change that needs to happen. Young parents especially need encouragement and guidance. I wish I had had someone all those years ago to do that for me. I might not have spent so many years raising my kids the wrong way. God brought people into my life and helped me change things before it was too late but I will always regret how I punished my 2 oldest kids in those early years. I just want you to understand that people don’t always make a conscious choice, sometimes it’s a natural extension of their own messed up childhood.

    When you never know unconditional love it is a hard thing to give even to your children. If you can give that to someone who has never had it you may affect many generations down the line.

  3. Passerby says:

    Just a few passing thoughts on both the article and the comments.

    The only thing religious or godly about the Pearls’ methods of child-rearing seems to me that they are attempting to build a religion around themselves. Several of the quotes talk of “yielding to a higher authority”… it’s language normally used to refer to trusting in the power of God or fate, but in those quotes it’s referring to the children giving in to the parents. To me it seems that the only things the Pearls learned from the testaments were the Old Testament: to make those you have power over fear your wrath and the destruction you can rain upon them. The Pearls are not interested in glorifying God, but rather in glorifying themselves as gods. Amusingly, due to Randism’s staunch promotion of atheism, it’s quite Randish in its concept… the one who controls the money and housing and power standing up over the lessers that they control and dealing with them coldly, unemotionally, having become their own god.

    That’s what is at the root of the Pearls’ approach, I think. If not replacing God in the child’s eyes as the dealer of great punishment and few rewards, then they are replacing the church and its authorities in being the one who deals out God’s will. They are quite literally teaching their children “It’s from God’s mouth, to my ears, to your bruises. You will obey me as you obey Him or you will suffer.” It’s not about parenting, or obedience, or even really control, though all of those things are both result and tool. It’s about power. The Pearls and the people that swear by their advice are on a power trip, pure and simple, trying to become gods to their children… not through the power of love and protection they hold, but by fear of their wrath.

    On another note, some of the atheists in the comments should really be ashamed of themselves. It’s clear that you’re not upset on behalf of these children, or any other children… you seem far more interested in merely using their suffering to reinforce your own beliefs, to throw it in the faces of people that do believe and say “See! See! This is what Christianity is! I was right! I was RIGHT!” That’s no more grounded in reality and gives no more evidence of what Christianity is or Christians are than finding an atheist murderer or abuser or cheater or anything else is evidence that not believing in God makes you a bad person. For one thing, if you don’t like it when it’s done to you, you should know better than to perpetuate the cycle of hate and viciousness by doing it to them, especially when that’s such a core concept of this article. For another, how can you prove that you can be a decent and compassionate person without God when you’re more interested in winning arguments on the internet than you are in standing up for abused and dominated children?

    I’m an agnostic, because I acknowledge that I can’t ever truly know what will happen beyond death until I die. I don’t know that there will be God, Jesus, Mohammed, Cthulhu, or anyone else there at the end to judge my actions (or possibly eat me because why not), because I don’t have the faith to assure myself that there must be something there nor the arrogance to convince myself there must be absolutely nothing because no one’s proved there’s anything. We are all Schrodinger’s Cat, and until the box of death is opened we won’t KNOW whether we’re all alive again in some fashion or just laying there dead… at which point we won’t be in any condition to go back into the box to all the other cats and say “Hey guys, guess what.”

    But you know what’s a bigger issue than what happens when the box opens? You know what’s a bigger issue than being right on the internet, or having your personal beliefs reaffirmed, or having a chance to snap at people you don’t like?

    Kids being abused.

    So rather than huffing and puffing about what you think the Bible says and how others are allowed to interpret it and whether Christianity is teh suxxor or anything else, how about you focus on the fact that kids are being abused, and that if someone else says “It is not cool that kids are being abused”, you agree with them rather than snapping back “But your religion promotes abusing them!”, okay?

    • Thank you. I have decided to remove some of those comments, namely the ones which are a personal attack on the Pearls. The purpose of this blog is to discuss the teachings, not the authors. We can only judge their actions and their works, not their hearts.

  4. Yvette says:

    In some areas of North America, spanking a young child IS ILLEGAL. This book should not be sold.
    (In Ontario, children under 2 or over 12 cannot be spanked), if I remember the regulations correctly. Not sure about other areas, but they might have regulations on this as well that can help get this book pulled. DISGUSTING. What publisher thought it was okay to put this into print?

  5. A says:

    You can’t teach some be not to hit, by hitting. And children this young do not need training. Something needs to be done about parents in possession of this book. This book NEEDS to be BANNED

  6. Paula says:

    I don’t see any inconsistency with what the Pearls teach vs. the Bible. Both come down to this: “obey or suffer.” The Pearls teach that children must obey or they should be made to suffer; the Bible teaches that human beings must obey or they too will be made to suffer. And not just via a switch — if you disobey God, you will burn in hellfire and brimstone for all eternity. If anything the Pearls are not nearly violent enough. If they truly wanted to mirror the relationship of God to man, they would skip the switch and the rod and just simply burn their children with fire when they disobey.

    In the comments above, one writer wrote of her son who bumped his head yet still insisted he was happy regardless of his pain. It was very sad but doesn’t EVERY Christian relate to God in the exact same way? Isn’t keeping the faith in the face of horrendous pain and loss the lesson of Job? That little boy’s behavior was precisely correct according to what Christianity, and in particular Evangelical Christianity, teaches every Christian’s behavior should be…

    • Actually, God loved us so much that He came down to earth in human form in order to pay the penalty for sin so that we could go to Heaven. For parents to mirror the relationship of God to man, they would have to switch each other, not their children.

      The Bible does not condemn Job for mourning, the Bible does not say that we must pretend to be happy in the face of adversity, that is why the Psalms are filled with examples of the Psalmist crying out to God. Happy is not the only acceptable emotion.

      I have removed the rest of your comments because it is outside the scope of this blog. This blog exists to provide Biblical arguments against dangerous parenting advice for Christian parents. It also provides some helpful parenting advice and follows pertinent news stories. It makes no sense to me for the created beings to judge their creator. You will have to go do that somewhere else.

      • paula says:

        You are exactly like the Pearls in spirit. For your own sake I hope someday you can see that.

        • If you mean that we follow the same Lord, that is true. We both call upon the name of Jesus Christ as our only hope for Salvation.

        • Colleen G says:

          Question to ponder- If she were like the Pearl’s or your abusers would this site exist?, Would she have taken the time to answer compassionately?
          I have been around both kinds of Christians. There are those who are an offense to the very deity they claim to serve. Then there are those who really are attempting to make the world a better place for everyone.

  7. susan says:

    this is flat out child abuse there is no reason what so ever to hit a child much less a baby none what so ever,

  8. Lucy devineer says:

    This books sounds absolutely disgusting. To be honest I feel very sorry for the authors of this book because their morals and education lack incredible depth. I try to keep and open mind before I make an opinion on something but this is just wrong.

  9. Hope says:

    When you hit a child (by any means) the only possible message that child will “get’ is: Might makes Right. And that is NOT the message I want to send to my child. Thank you.

  10. Katy says:

    It’s things like this that alienate people from God- I’m focusing on this as, to me, the fact that this is basically child abuse and horrific in many ways is so self-evident I don’t feel like I need to elaborate- many others have already covered this very well in these comments.

    But this also disturbs me- for me, a parent who calmly switches their crying baby until they learn to be quiet and submit in the name of ‘being a good Christian’ completely and utterly misrepresents God and everything about his personality and ways. They teach their child that God wants them to suffer and that they deserve it. How can a child possibly grow up to love a God with such a cold, cruel personality? All Bible-readers know that ‘God is love’. Yes, discipline is loving as it is how you teach your child valuable things like right and wrong, good manners, and so on. But discipline is NOT synonymous with punishment, and certainly not with pain!

    Look at God’s own example. When the nation of Israel disobeyed him time and time again, he always, always sent multiple prophets to warn them over and over again of what would happen if they disobeyed. What patience! He never took a proverbial switch to them the moment they did something wrong or inconvient to him! And the example of King David- he commited several serious sins, one being tantamount to murder, but when he was obviously truly sorry for what he’d done, God didn’t punish him. Forgiveness, mercy, love.

    Someone else already mentioned about the damage this could do to a child’s relationship with their parents, which I thought very true. If as a baby you learn that getting upset equals physical punishment, you’ll never communicate freely, and if not with your own parents, perhaps not with any adult. How tragic that would be for a young person and how isolating.

    I don’t understand why the couple who wrote this book aren’t chargeable on something like advocating child abuse…

    Anyone who shows such a lack of pity and compassion for their own child is in no way a Christian of any kind, and it makes me so sad to think how sad God must feel to see those poor children being treated in such a horrible way with him as the parents’ excuse. It’s disgusting.

    Some people don’t deserve to be parents. Even if you’re utterly lost in the role of a prent and fix on this book in desperation as some kind of compass, with the best of intentions- no. There is no excuse for it.

  11. Elsa says:

    As a product of their “child training”, this does not surprise me at all. I have more experience than they have with their teachings, because I know what it is like to be on the child’s end of it.
    These people give the affirmation that abusers are looking for.
    Children need to be loved – not hit.
    May God spare those poor children who are being abused by people claiming to speak for Him.
    Michael and Debi Pearl are also standing up for a sexual predator (Bill Gothard [recoveringgrace.org] ).
    These people must be stopped for the sake of the kids that will have to spend years getting over what they experienced!

  12. Kim Light says:

    I’m a teacher and this behavior is appalling!!! These people need to be put in jail, and the key thrown away!!! The worst part is that these people are hiding behind our Lord!!!

  13. Tasha says:

    This is child abuse. These people should have their children taken from them and be thrown in jail. Pathetic.

  14. Harumi says:

    My father used to say: “If you do not know the difference between spanking and abusing then you should never become a parent.”
    My mother said she spanked me, when I was months old, for biting her while she was breastfeeding. Do I have memory of it? No. Did it damage me, traumatize me? No. And just to clarify, being swatted as a baby did not damage me, traumatize me, deform me in any way. And she even did it the wrong way, with her hand, the very way that might make a serious injury, as Pearl says! But then again, I have no memory of it; but according to my mom, it worked. I never bit her nipple again. She had to swat me again just before I turned 1 because I had bitten my aunt, a dentist, when she was looking at my teeth. And you ask: do I remember it? No. Did it damage me, traumatize me? No. I know about it because both mom and auntie told me.
    When I got older, I was spanked with flip flops (Brazil, hehe :P), either on my buttocks or on my leg. Do I remember it? Yes. Did it damage me, traumatize me? No. It did keep me from doing bad things again though (picking on my baby sister, yelling in the supermarket… ). My mother deprived us of toys, candy, dessert, snacks, books, playtime as a punishment (never meals; Asian mothers are all about fattening their young :x). She would say “Duties before rights!”. Do I remember it? Yes. Did it damage me, traumatize me? No. It did keep me from doing bad things again though (not putting my books and toys in order, putting more food on my plate than what I could eat, refusing to go to bed…).
    Now, you could come up with every excuse to put me, a strong, confident, achieved woman, as an exception to the rule: you could tell me that my agreement with the method has roots in some kind of damage it inflicted on my subconscious. You could tell me this damage brainwashed me in some weird way. You could tell me my parents were the exception because they did it lovingly, and most morons do it in anger (even though Pearl says you should not). You could tell me I am a very strong person and that not everyone is blessed to be like me. You could tell me I am a very wise person, who sees through the immediate pain, and learns from a stumble or a punishment (since I was… months old?). You could just roll your eyes as you read my comment. You could just ignore my comment. You could go down several levels, get personal, and call me a sociopath.
    Whatever you say, and how much ever we disagree… I am to love you. That is God’s command. It is hard, and I will be punished for the instinctive rage your opinions stirred up in me. But I am to love you nonetheless. Submitting to the Lord as I have to my parents…

    • Thank you for understanding that we are to love each other. I do not understand this instinctual rage which was stirred up, I mean no harm. I am only trying to protect children from harm. If you were not harmed by spanking, I am happy for you. Many children have been harmed and this is why I am exposing what I see as dangerous teachings and providing Biblical arguments against them. I share my arguments clearly, gently and without rancor. I do not judge anyone for spanking, I just provide arguments as to why I believe that it is not the best way to raise children. Of course, it’s better than neglecting them and failing to discipline them, but there are better ways to teach and guide.

      • Richard says:

        How interesting, Hermana Linda, that you have determined that there are better ways to guide than those supplied by God’s Word. This is indicative of what is so very wrong with the modern world, and why physical child training is required in the first place: without it, most do not walk with humble hearts.

        I think the instinctual rage in Harumi may present itself because to call good evil as you are doing — and clearly, scripture calls physical discipline good, done the right way — is especially judgment-inducing from God’s perspective. There are so many Biblical stories showing the folly, wickedness, or evil in “doing what was right in their own eyes.”

        Indeed there are additional methods that can be used to train children, and I have nothing against them if they are not banned by God and used with discernment, just like I would expect physical training to be used. But the tone of this site is that of a self-perceiving abuse victim cum bully wanting to call everyone else an abuser because some childhood/adolescent hot-button is being pushed. Grow up, get humble, live well.

        • Dara Stoltzfus says:

          “How interesting, Hermana Linda, that you have determined that there are better ways to guide than those supplied by God’s Word.”
          I agree with you that it would be disturbing if someone felt this way. But, I do not see Hermana Linda as doing that. I see that she agrees that the best way to guide children is to do so by God’s Word. The real conflict is among Christians over what God’s Word actually says and should be of utmost importance to all of us.

          I was raised being hit with a paddle and carried that over into my own parenting. I took a parenting class at Church that pretty much laid out the plan for who/what/when/where/why/how of spanking. I followed it well, in my opinion. I only spanked for blatant disobedience and they only got 1 whack. Calmly. (With a nasty mean wide paddle so they only “needed” one whack.) Lying earned 3 whacks.

          I felt like I was doing what God wanted.

          A good friend of mine asked me what I thought about spanking? I told her that as a Christian, absolutely! She needed to do it! And, it was as I was doing searches to try to find teaching on it that I stumbled upon a picture of a shepherd’s rod. I looked into it further and learned that modern shepherds carry something more technologically advanced now instead of the rod – a gun. That revelation ran me over like a train! The modern equivalent to the rod is not a spoon, spatula, switch, paddle, or hand!

          If you look into the Bible…there is no instruction to hit children with spoons, spatulas, switches, paddles, or hands! How did I not see this before? How did I attend a class at church that taught me to do this and I never noticed that God’s Word never tells you to do that?

          God’s Word also says to strike on the BACK and not the butt?!

          And, why?! Why had it never occurred to me that the place I was striking my kids was also a place I’d taught them was not to be touched by strangers? It’s a “special” place (part of the body covered by a bikini!) and here I am hitting them there? And, again! God’ Word says “back” and the teaching of men at church was “butt.” How had I not noticed this?

          Further investigation into God’s word then I realized that the Hebrew language, like many other languages on earth right now, use gender specific words for all the phases of childhood like toddler, preschooler, teenager, etc. (An example in Spanish is niño and niña. One is specifically a little boy and one specifically a little girl.)

          So! Where our English Bible translates the “rod” verses to simply say a generic all-encompassing word: Child. The language God used to write the Bible uses the specific word for “male teenager.”
          God never instructs us to strike a toddler! Never a preschooler! Never a tween! And, NEVER a GIRL! How did I not know this?!

          I had 4 daughters at the time I realized this and to realize that I’d been following the words of MEN instead of the words of GOD was horrifying to me. Nothing I’d been doing with that paddle with them was in God’s Word! It was all the words of men!

          I have one more daughter now who is currently 6 and has never been hit by me as a form of “training” and wow…if only there was a way for me to draw a picture of how different she is.
          We have to be on our guard because that roaring lion knows that the rod…is supposed to be used against HIM. And, if he can convince parents to turn and use that weapon on his prey instead…he will have such an easier job at getting them.

          “Stereotypical” pastor’s kids are a great example of how using that weapon on the sheep weakens them and makes them easier prey.

          Woe to those who call evil good…woe indeed.”

        • Dara is correct, I put God’s Word above all else. I don’t know how much of this site you have actually read, because I focus on using Biblical arguments and link to the same. If you are going to refute my arguments and explanations, you must use a Biblical argument to do so. You do not quote one verse, nor do you show where my arguments are not Biblical, since you do not address any of them directly. I believe that you are the one who is doing what is right in his own eyes and calling good evil and evil good. As Dara points out, you are following Man’s teaching. Nowhere in the Bible does it state that one must hit little children in the butt. The Bible teaches that teen-aged boys should be beaten with a large staff or flogged when they exhibit incorrigible folly. If that doesn’t work, they must be stoned. Thankfully, we are now under Grace and since we are subject to the laws of the country in which we live, we instead must turn them over to the governing authorities of the land. Thankfully, I know many who have raised their children gently and found that none of them have grown up incorrigible. They are all gentle and loving adults, many of them parents. However, the jails are full of people who were spanked as children. We can judge teachings by their fruits.

          • Steph, MSEd says:

            Hermana Linda, I see you taking the time to understand God’s Holy Word. I wish everyone would because as Dara so beautifully pointed out, God never intended us to spank/hit our children.

            I’m a Christian, early childhood professional, and have written a book entitled, “Gentle Firmness,” which is an in depth study proving the Bible does not teach spanking/hitting and shows the harmful effects of spanking/hitting children. My book also shows that all children can be disciplined without hitting.

            My Master’s thesis was on denial of the harmful effects of corporal punishment, and the data shows that calm spanking has a higher risk of children denying & repressing their emotional pain of being hit “lovingly” and in God’s Name. Hence the “I was spanked and I’m ok” rhetoric. The statistical data makes it clear that being calmly, “lovingly” spanked/hit in childhood makes these children more likely to view spanking/hitting positively and less likely to believe that spanking/hitting is harmful to children if it’s done “correctly” and in Jesus’s Name. This means people use denial and repression of the physical and emotional pain as a coping mechanism, thus, making them truly believe that they turned out well.

            There are so many positive discipline strategies that do work and are very Biblical that I don’t understand why Christians feel physical punishment is necessary. Some of the discipline strategies that work very well are modeling, child-proofing, validating feelings, fulfilling the child’s physical and emotional needs, setting realistic limits and boundaries, helping children comply, giving choices, and using natural and logical consequences with children. And yes, these have worked with some very difficult children.

            The rod verses were never meant to be taken literally. To further explain Proverbs 13:23-24, this means not allowing your child to go down the wrong road that could lead to a premature death. This has absolutely nothing to do with Hell as Dobson, Pearl, and many other Christian advocates of spanking believe. Children need limits. I am very pro-discipline. We wouldn’t let a toddler run out in the street to be run over by a car. But instead of spanking the toddler, we should firmly tell the toddler that the street is dangerous, and then show the toddler the safe way to cross the street holding onto Mommy or Daddy hands. Does hitting a toddler really teach him or her why the street is dangerous and how to be safe? No. It teaches them that danger makes Mommy and Daddy hurt me. That Jesus wants me to be hurt when I’m in danger. Plus, it’s our job to keep young children safe as they cannot keep themselves safe. Remember, young children cannot make abstract connections like adults can.

            Also, the Bible (supposedly) tells us to BEAT our child with a rod (a huge walking stick with spikes on it) and the child will not die. So, how come children have died from spankings? And how come if you hit a young child with a huge stick, they will die? God is love. God created children. He knows what will hurt them. He would never tell us to do stuff that God knows will cause harm. God does NOT lie!

            Let me briefly explain that the Biblical rod was a huge heavy walking stick with spikes on one end of it. Shepherds never hit their sheep with it nor did they break the sheep’s leg. The rod was used to protect the sheep from predators. The Hebrew word for the rod is Shebet. This is symbolic for authority and discipline. It was never intended to be used to hit young children.

            Another thing I learned and cover in my book is that if God truly wanted children to be spanked, there would be zero neurological, psychological, or spiritual harm done to the children. But research shows otherwise. Even so called “lovingly” spanking is very harmful. And if you are wary of research, many researchers are Christians. Also, Romans 1 says we can learn much about God by looking at His creation.

            Finally, if we must spank/hit our children then shouldn’t we stone people, cut off body parts, pluck eyes out? People pick and choose what to take literally. It makes no sense to take a few verses literally to justify spanking/hitting children but not other harsh verses. All the verses telling us to be kind, merciful, graceful, gentle, peaceful, loving, forgiving, and patient with one another apply to children too. Children are humans. In fact, Ephesians 5:1-2 says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” So to imitate God is to walk in love, not hurt each other. And the fruit of the Spirit is “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, *gentleness,* self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). I end with two final verses. “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). God favors mercy over judgement. “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4). It’s His kindness that leads us to repentance, not fear and pain. May all pro-spankers humble themselves to truly understand how God wants us to discipline the least of these.

    • KathyT says:

      Harumi, Striking a 4 week old baby for any reason whatsoever is evil and vile. The very fact you can’t see it is evil proves that you were indeed traumatized and obviously have some sort of brain damage. There are babies that don’t remember that they were burned by cigarettes either but it doesn’t make it right. Have you ever seen a one month old infant? It would take a baby a long time to associate the pain with the fact that he bit down. She had to have done it many times. Normal mothers break the suction gently with her finger and say, “No ” very gently then immediately allow the infant to latch back on. That way the baby sees the two things are related. Biting and the interruption of the suction go together. Breaking the suction is a form of discipline but the best and most gentle loving and kind possible. A mother is just teaching that to keep milk flowing don’t bite. By the time a baby reacted to the pain of being hit and then went back to the breast he would not remember the bite. Whereas he learns quickly that bearing down on the nipple with his gums loses suction. There is no need to hit a 4 week old nursing infant. My grandmother a Godly woman who is dancing in Heaven right now, used the same technique to nurse her 5 babies. It is a technique that goes back generations upon generations. No one but a monster hits a one month old baby or pulls his hair for biting. Why didn’t she just bottle feed?

  15. Genny Brooks says:

    The words I have read here are so disgusting, and I cannot believe that someo would hold a 4 month old child responsible for their actions. You might as well spank an Alzheimer’s victim, because an infant does NOT know right from wrong, they are simply trying to develop, as in WALK, TALK, and understand where they even are! Babies are not sinfull, they don’t know sin, and are incapable of sinning. [Edited] I don’t believe in hell, but Heaven holds something special for these people, because even in Heaven, there is a special place for child abusers, molesters, rapists. I can’t believe their book got even 2 stars…. God BLESS the children whose parents read, and believed in these books. I hope God can re-direct the people who believe in this book to see what’s right. This is sick, and thank goodness someone shed some light on it.

    • I’m afraid I had to edit out part of your comment because I cannot be posting personal attacks. My purpose is to argue against the teachings.

      I would like to explain that they do not teach that infants understand. Far from it. They tell their followers never to punish an infant. What they do to babies is train them. It’s behavior modification. Their ideal is that, by the time they are old enough to consciously sin, they won’t because they are fully trained to obey. Chilling, isn’t it?

  16. Anne says:

    I understand that there are many differing views on the appropriate ways in which to raise children. What bothers me here is that you are only taking excerpts from “To Train Up A Child” that explain the how-to of training a child with application of the rod. Furthermore it is only parents who have abused their children and then used the name of the Pearl’s to excuse and blame their own wickedness, that get this media attention. Have you read the rest of the book in which you are told that training with love, kindness, joy, and respect, which develop heartfelt fellowship with your children, will ensure that application of the rod is needed very little? Have you met the Pearl’s in person and especially their children, and asked them if they felt abused with such “training methods” or did they feel loved beyond measure by a Mama and Papa who taught them right from wrong, how to behave appropriately, and to respect authority? Have you heard them tell of the wonderful and joyful childhood they had; have you witnessed the repeated cycle of joy and maturity in the raising of their own children ( the Pearls’ grandchildren raised by the same methods,) with not a child abuser, or psychotic mental health patient among them? Have you seen the thriving, productive, well behaved and very happy children and grandchildren that proper use of the Pearl’s training methods has produced? Where are the stories of these parents and children in all your research? Where are the stories of the true followers of their training methods instead of the parents who did the exact opposite of the Pearl’s instruction to never hit a child in anger with anything including your hand, and that no amount of discipline could make up for bad training? The very biased media outpouring and one-sided views are the very ones promoting the abuse that has taken place here because untrained children and uneducated parents are what bring about the extreme frustration that leads parents to strike out in anger and desperation at their children. What other method than proper biblical instruction do you have to offer that has come even close to producing the results that the Pearl’s have been able to reproduce in generation after generation, family after family? Please quit enabling child abusers to blame the Pearl’s for their lack of control of their own emotions, fists, and wicked imaginations towards torturing children. The Pearl’s have never endorsed or condoned such behavior, but far from it, have avidly stood against such abuse. The wickedness done to children in anger, ignorance, and/or with evil intent is not a part of the Pearl’s training practices or methods. Pro_29:15: “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” is a true statement played out time and again by parents who refuse to train their children to do anything but act out their own selfish desires. If you meet a young man in a dark alley carrying a gun, do you want him to be the product of the parent who let the child do whatever they wanted in the name of “being good to a child” and in so doing failed to train the child to have self-control, restraint, and respect for other people and who feels entitled to show his power over you and to have whatever you have for himself; or do you want to meet up with the young man who has honor and integrity and is there willing to help you out of love for mankind and respect for you as a fellow human being? I would rather pull the hair of my biting infant (and it only takes once or twice at most,) or give my toddler a purposeful switching on the leg, when they will not remember the tiny amount of pain, but will get the lesson that to hurt others or to defy authority is not tolerable and will not be accepted; than to live forever with the knowledge that my son is in prison or dead because he thought it perfectly okay to take a gun to school and kill his classmates. Wouldn’t you?

    • Thank you for your comments. I have indeed read the entire book and stand by my assessment. I have read other writings of the Pearls as well as the testimony of his children. I understand his intentions are good. However, I must speak out against the dangers of his teachings. One of my concerns is that when people take the teachings to their logical extremes (spank until the child submits), they become very dangerous. Also, I flat out do not believe that it is necessary or beneficial to inflict pain in order to teach a child. I have seen children raised in Christian homes using gentle discipline grow into loving, self disciplined adults.

      I’m afraid that I am very busy at this time in my life and have been neglecting this blog. If God so leads, I will someday write you a more in depth reply and make a post out of it.

      • Silvana Murphy says:

        You are so correct Linda, discipline does not have to hurt to be understood even by little babies. Love & compassion, patience & understanding go a long way. I raised a set of twin boy & girl, never had to hit them but just raising my voice would hurt their feelings & get my point across. I am so very appalled of what I just read out of this book, it is absolutely frightening that some humans consider this ok.

        • Thank you so much for your encouraging words. 🙂

        • Colleen MacDonell says:

          Well said Anne. I raised my two children the same way as the Pearls. My children are normal and can survive this world because of this training.

          • I’m glad your children are normal and can survive this world in spite of this training. I know many adults who struggle a great deal to overcome the effects of such training. Meanwhile, I also know many who are doing very well who were not raised with this kind of training.

    • Colleen G says:

      I have seen the fruits of the Pearl’s methods in my own children and at another family that we know.
      My friend tried to switch her toddler son until he was crying submissively and brokenly. She was horrified at how many times this needed to be done and each event required welting, bruises because he would not be broken until he no longer could stand the agony. She never switched like that again and never used their methods again. She had been following the techniques as described including the correct “tool”.
      I too tried to follow their methods but I could not bring myself to hit that hard. I did not know of my friend’s sessions with her son at the time. That story came out to me years later. I have a temper problem and very strong willed children as well(I know now that is a blessing not a sin issue). While I tried very hard to not let my temper rule me it came out when I had to go through multiple sessions over many days about the same issues with the same child. Their “rebellion” was taken personally and fed my sinful anger problem. I was not seeing results with my young children they mostly just grew out of whatever development stage and corresponding behaviors that I had been taught vis the Pearl’s was disobedience.
      God got a hold of me healing the sin-anger and showing me that my parenting methods were causing me to sin against my children even when I was not angry. The switch was chaotic and it took almost two years for relational healing. Yes I was/am a sinner who had a problem but the Pearl’s methods aggravated and intensified that sin issue compounding the damage I was doing. Yes I had the book, all the connected books. I had videos and the magazine subscription so I was well steeped in their methodology.
      Having now stepped away from it all and truly studied both the bible and child development I can see that much of what they teach is toxic even for mild even tempered parent of equally tempered children. While bible-y in terminology it is not Christ-like and denies what is normal development as sin that must be punished out of a child for the convenience of the parents and the child’s future salvation.
      I have lived with the fruit and it is a sour hellish thing fit only for those who like the Pharisees care more for control and rules than Love and sacrificial living towards the weaker.

  17. Dawn says:

    Oh wow. Having seen this book at a friends house I looked through it. I thought well, that’s a bit much. I myself am guilty of spanking before, but not like this! I pray for the poor kids whose parents choose this method stop.

  18. Mel Dee says:

    I was spanked as a child and I’m not scarred, either physically or emotionally. But I will say, the Pearl’s methods are not very Christian-like. Hosing your child off for potty training? Setting up scenarios for them to disobey so you can spank them? That’s warped. There is a ditch on both sides of the road when it comes to discipline. Just because someone might spank their child, as they were spanked growing up, doesn’t mean they are borderline sadistic as it seems the Pearls are.

    • Hi! Thank you for reading and commenting. What you say is true. I did not mean to imply that all spanking is as damaging as is the teachings of the Pearls and their ilk. My point is that is it not necessary nor required to spank a child. I agree that discipline is necessary and if the only discipline one can manage is spanking, that is better than no discipline at all. However, there are other ways to discipline and I believe them to reap better results. Discipline is another word for teaching, by the way. The root of the word is the same as for disciple. Raising a child without spanking is harder, but I believe it is worth it. This is why I have so many links to pages explaining gentle discipline. I have many things here against spanking for those who are looking for help giving it up and/or explaining why they don’t do it. I am not trying to say that all spanking is the same. I have many objections to the Pearls’ teachings beyond the simple act of spanking.

  19. Devon says:

    I feel sick reading this! I’m looking at my 5 month old baby girl and there is no way on this earth I could inflict any amount of pain on her! A baby cannot sin, fact! [personal attack removed by administrator]

  20. Donna Bridges says:

    Gods word also instructs us to stone an unfaithful wife , I don’t see that happening. Using Our Lord to physically and psychologically harm children is blasphemy in entirety . To the woman who doesn’t remember spankings as a babe. You do its just that it happened pre speech , so your brain was changed by it . I have to be honest I raise/ have raised traumatised children. Those who have been terribly abused. I know this subject , I live it as do they . God is love , His love for us is deeper than we will ever know . Surrender to Him your worries . Be bigger, stronger, braver and KINDER. Does this mean no consequences no, but the child must be able to understand . Under two redirect say no. Over two naughty step or by your side . It is never nessecary to hit a child never. If a grown up doesn’t do as you ask do you hit them?

  21. Heather says:

    Thank you for sharing these quotes. A couple of women in my Bible study have recommended this book to the group, and after reading this site (and others), I am physically sickened. These people do NOT know Jesus and I’m ashamed of how they abuse his name.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] post, responding to charges that critics of Michael and Debi Pearl are slandering them and taking their […]

  2. […] was kind enough to share his concerns with me here.   Dara responded to him with such a powerful testimony that I did not want to leave her words […]

  3. […] aren’t familiar with “To Train Up a Child,” here are some quotes from the website Why Not Train a Child.  These are actual passages from the […]

  4. […] G. was nice enough  to share her testimony here on my blog.. I’m reposting it below so it won’t be […]

  5. […] Why did his mother, who some say always wanted to do the “right” thing, abuse her child to death?  Part of the legal defense points to her own abuse as a child.  Part of the legal defense and the investigation point to the influence of Michael and Debi Pearl and their book, “To Train Up A Child.” […]

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