Michael Pearl says that his teachings are Biblical. Lee Woofenden does not agree and he explains why in his post, To Train Up A Child, or: Spare the Rod? What Rod? This is a long article and worth the read. He points out, among other things, that Mr. Pearl is actually teaching parents to condition their children which is not Biblical.
Sarah at Field of Vision has started a small series of posts looking at the Pearl’s teachings and specifically their attitude towards children. This series focuses on one particular article by Michael Pearl called, Emotional Manipulators.
Part 1: Parenting and the Power of Perspective in which she discusses how Michael Pearl assigns negative intent to a 4 year old child and her mother.
Part 2: Michael Pearl and Responding to Attention Seekers in which she discusses Michael Pearl’s diagnosis of the child and his very harsh proposed remedy.
She may post more of this series in the future, in which case I will add them to this post.
Back in March of 2012, Jan Heimlich debated Michael Pearl in a video which was featured in The Christian Post. Although, I did mention the debate at the time as well as Samuel Martin’s Rebuttal to one of his statements, I never gave my own rebuttal.
I would like to respond to some of Mr. Pearl’s statements. Rather than transcribe his comments myself, I will use the quotes given in the Christian Post article.
… In our book, To Train up a Child, we clearly point out that parents should not spank when it doesn’t work; they should not spank when they’re angry. We point out that they should spank five or ten licks, no more. And we point out that the spanking should be in accordance to the size of the child. We point out they should never leave marks.
I really don’t know where he says not to spank when it doesn’t work. I would appreciate some help with that. All I can find is him saying that if you are consistent, it will work. Here is an example from To Train Up A Child (TTUAC)
Those who are MOSTLY consistent must use the switch too often. Those who are ALWAYS consistent come to almost never need the switch.
Whatcom Mom had an interesting comment which I would like to highlight.
I’m hoping the readers here will have some ideas about improving adoption home study practice, based on what we have learned from the deaths of Hana Williams and Lydia Schatz and injuries to their siblings.
So you know where I’m coming from. I’m an adoptive parent of now adult daughters, one adopted as an infant from a local nonprofit agency, the other as a toddler through state foster care. I’ve been active in pre-adoptive education and post-adoption support and have had plenty of occasion to reflect on issues that arise in transracial, special needs, and international and open adoptions. I have long been concerned about adoption agencies that place especially needy and difficult children with naïve, unprepared (and maybe overconfident) families and then fail to follow up with oversight and support.
I followed the Williams trial especially closely because the family lives in my area and because I know people who have worked for, and adopted from, the agency that placed Hana and her brother Immanuel. [Read more...]
As I reflect with sorrow and horror at the tragedy which was the Williams Trial, I find myself trying to make sense of what happened and why.
What I see as the root problem is pride. The Bible says that God hates pride. We know that “pride goeth before a fall and a haughty spirit before destruction” (Proverbs 16:18). I believe that very few people would argue with me when I say that Carri Williams had a problem with pride. I heard her described as a person who had to be always right. She was said to have perfect children. People described her as intimidating because her children were so perfect. I was told that when someone disagreed with her, they had a hard time confronting her because she had a reputation for a very cutting tongue. So, when people had concerns about how she was raising her children, they just withdrew away from her and left her alone. What else could they do? She would not listen, and she certainly would not accept help.
I’m not sure how and when she found To Train Up A Child by Michael Pearl. [Read more...]
Cindy Kunsman, from Under Much Grace, looks at the Williams Trial and compares the Williams family with the Schatz family in
Awaiting the Verdicts in the Williams Trial: Another Michael Pearl/To Train Up A Child Associated Death. She also gives a brief outline of Pearl and his teachings and a lamentation for the devastation they have caused both to Christian families as well as to the lost who observe and turn away in disgust.
Maureen looks at the homeschoolings aspect of the Williams in Homeschooling, Christians, Identity, and Isolation. (Speaking of Maureen, I just added a (very triggering) link to the 2nd half of Carri’s testimony to last friday’s post.)
Today I would like to reflect on why we are following this trial. It is because the Williams were Pearl Followers. Their 7 biological children were all raised by the Pearl method and Carri was very happy and confident in this method being the best for everyone. I know this from reading on the Remembrance of Hana Williams Facebook Group and from private messages from people who knew the Williams. I have been told that she would recommend To Train Up A Child, by Michael Pearl to everyone, even going so far as to give people the book. Some have told me that they read the book and threw it away in disgust. But they were intimidated by how confident she was and how perfect her children appeared and so most did nothing. Someone did try to confront her about the abuse and was harshly scolded.
This is why this trial is so interesting to me. When they adopted the children, they apparently expected them to also conform to the teachings and when they did not, they went WAY outside of what the Pearls teach. I do not want to imply that they were following the Pearls’ teachings in regards to the adopted children. The only thing they were following was the spirit of always winning, always being consistent and ever admitting defeat. For more on that, please see my post, “Why Blame The Pearls At All?”.
I also read in the same Facebook group that the girls used to always dress like “Little House On The Prairie” but wore jeans to court when they testified. This speaks volumes to me. It took a lot of guts to defy their parents in that way. They had to know that would upset and displease them. Changing from a lifetime of all dresses to pants is a big step and can take years. In a formal setting like court, they would not stand out for wearing dresses. This makes me suspect that they have lost respect for their parents and their teachings. Of course, it is also possible that the defense attorneys asked them to wear pants to show the court how normal they are and that they were not damaged by their upbringing. I have no way of knowing, but I doubt that the Williams approved.
The Skagit Valley Herald reports that a Forensic Dentist testified as to Hana’s likely age today and the best he could do was that she was somewhere between 13 and 18 years of age. He testified that she was probably at least 15 but would not be surprised if he were to find out that she was 13. Hana’s biological cousin also testified today and I already know from his posts in the Facebook Group that she is 13. If the jury believes the forensic dentist over the cousin, the Williams will be charged with Manslaughter By Domestic Violence instead of Homicide By Abuse.
Larry Williams’ sister says she saw Carri Williams throw herself on Hana’s casket and sob “Hana, I’m so sorry.” #Williamstrial
Here is the story with video from KiroTV. They say that even if the jury were to throw out the charge of Homicide By Abuse, they could still spend decades in jail for manslaughter and assault.
Please note that Maureen has posted part 2 of her case study.
Also, I added this article to yesterday’s post. It has some new information in it. (This article is Subscriber Content and will add a cookie to your browser. You are allowed to read 5 such articles in each 30 day period)
Edited to add: Biniam, who has been in the courtroom, has been making weekly synopses of the trial on the Ethiopian Community in Seattle page. Here is his synopsis of Week 3.
After his review of Created To Be His Help Meet a few days ago, Tim Challies has decided to review To Train Up A Child, which he does in 2 parts:
Tim Challies Review of To Train Up A Child Part 1 in which he looks at training versus discipline, and his concerns with Pearl’s training.
Tim Challies Review of To Train Up A Child Part 2 in which he looks at the innocent child, the redemptive rod, and gives his conclusion.
Hi! We would like to inform you that the publishing of a book “To train up a child” (and one more) has been withdrawn Poland (by the publisher).
There are some other books like that (Fugate, Dobson, Smalley, Barnes) in Poland, but we hope that they will be withdrawn too.
We hope that all this books will be withdrawn everywhere!
This story is from February 2012, but I had not heard about it so I very much appreciate them sharing the news with us. Here is the news story they linked for me and here is an English translation of it. Of course, the translation is done by computer program, so it is not perfect, but gives us the idea.
This is very good news! The Polish Anti Spanking community has been working hard and have convinced a publisher to remove two books from circulation! ( the other book is Discipline Them, Love Them by Betty Chase.) I wish that could happen here, but To Train Up A Child in English is self-published by the Pearls. We are trying to get as many book sellers as possible to stop selling it. We have convinced quite a few and are still working on Amazon.com.
Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas has uploaded a video from FOX News in which “SMU Psychology Professor George Holden, who specializes in child-parent relationships and positive child rearing, talks critically about Michael and Debi Pearl’s book “To Train Up A Child,” which advocates spanking.” More information about Professor Holden here.
“There will be times when a spanking is appropriate. But you are prevented! Then use your power as the caretaker and dispenser of all privileges and responsibilities to make his actions totally counterproductive. If you can’t spank the flesh, starve it with an embargo. Stand your ground and do not let the little fellow find satisfaction in his pursuits. Stay on duty, demanding obedience until he surrenders his will to your persistence. If there is a way to deny him access to some means of indulgence that relates to the offense, then by all means as governor of the island on which he lives deny him normal privileges until he complies.”
Cindy of Under Much Grace explains the scientific evidence that shows the damage done to children who suffer harsh punishment from a young age. Parents who follow Pearls’ advice to punish toddlers for age appropriate behaviors may end up with seemingly happy and compliant children, but at what price?
Former Pearl follower Becky, from Created To Be His, shares a letter she wrote explaining her concerns with the Pearls and their teachings. In this letter she also explains what these teachings have to do with the death of Lydia Schatz and includes quotes from the book.
I heard a couple of weeks ago that Michael Pearl was scheduled to be on the Today Show. Well, I don’t know if this is related to that or not, but MSNBC’s Today Moms Blog is discussing his teachings in Controversy grows over pro-spanking book after abuse deaths.
Update: Michael Pearl was on NBC’s Today Show on the morning of Dec 28, 2011.
While I don’t like to link to sites like this, I really feel that this needs to be shown. I have come across a video (removed by NGJ by Copyright Claim) which was clearly designed to make Michael Pearl look bad. Someone managed to get a recording of the Q & A part of one of Michael Pearl’s teaching sessions which took place in The Church At Cane Creek and edited out everything Mr. Pearl might have said that made sense leaving small clips which appear to be the ravings of a mad man. I am sure that many will insist that the statements and actions in the video were taken out of context and put together in such a way as to make him look bad. I am therefore asking for volunteers to explain to me how these things were manipulated and what the true context really was. If they were jokes, they really do not seem to me jokes becoming for a man of God, especially the part where he grabs the “child” doll and smashes his face onto the desk a few times and chuckles. I could say the same for his apparent arrogance. Here are some other quotes I would like explained:
“If he screams too hard with the first 5… gets hysterical… Wait… You know, a little psychological terror sometime will affect even the pain.” Said while waiving a switch over the rag doll’s behind. He couldn’t possibly be advocating using psychological terror on your child, could he?
“Thumping them on the head? You’re worried about that??? [turns to wife] Give me another question.” I’m trying to figure out how this quote was used in a Biblical context and falling short. I’m sure that someone will have an answer for me.
“If your husband is an angry man, make love to him, make him happy.” This seems to be the advice given to a wife who asks how to deal with a husband who only disciplines in anger. It would seem that he is saying that his anger is his wife’s fault because she is not giving him enough sex. But I must be misunderstanding, because that does not sound Biblical to me.
[switching rag doll] “So I give them 5 more, so now get up” [makes doll sit, it's showing a frown] “Still got a bad attitude” [whack whack whack] “Get up” [checks again, still frowning] “I’m going to say, ‘You’re still crying… I’m going to give you something to cry about.” This sounds like he’s saying to keep on switching the child until he stops crying. I’m sure he must say at some point when to stop switching because they are making it look like this could go on for a long time. And why would a man of God teach parents that they should punish a child until he pretends to be happy? For the child to force himself to smile and pretend to be happy means that the child must pretend be something he is not, the very definition of hypocrisy. Surely he is not advocating forcing a child to sin! Our Lord, Jesus Christ, reserved His harshest condemnation for hypocrites.
I am trying very hard not to judge unfairly. This video comes from a secular source and was clearly edited to cast Mr. Pearl in a negative light. My purpose here is to provide arguments to counter his teachings, not to slander him. This is clearly a hatchet job, I need to know what his arguments really are in order to counter them. For that reason I linked to the video (removed by NGJ by Copyright Claim) so that someone can explain this to me.
Update: The video which was linked above used to be on YouTube but was removed by NGJ for copyright infringement. I had linked to it on EverythingIsTerrible.com and they had it removed from there as well. I’m still waiting for them to answer my questions.
Update: The Mudracker has posted the video starting at 1:17 of his video, Michael Pearl Censors The Internet. The intro contains some language so if that bothers you, please feel free to skip to minute 1:17.
Update: More info about this here.
BlogHer Network Interviews Elizabeth Esther about her appearance with Michael Pearl on Anderson Cooper’s daytime Talk Show today (Monday for Los Angeles Viewers).
Many bloggers are promoting this episode:
Elizabeth Esther Faces Michael Pearl On Anderson by Free By His Grace
Keeping Up with Michael Pearl: Interview on Anderson (Cooper’s) Talk Show TODAY (and Pearl’s appearance on Dr. Drew And AC360 and in the NYT….) by Under Much Grace. (I am grateful for her kind words about this site).
Also, Under Much Grace shares about another Anderson 360 episode from CNN which aired on October 25 which I seem to have missed. Anyway, the transcript she shares has things in it I had not seen, namely an update about the Willams.
and here is Michael Pearl’s Interview with Dr. Drew on CNN October 2011 both by Under Much Grace
Speaking of Under Much Grace, she has posted an index to her Why Good People Make Dangerous Choices (Pondering Michael Pearl and Lydia Schatz) series.