Refuting Pearl’s Analysis of Spanking Studies

In a recent post, I shared discussion of an addition to To Train Up A Child by Michael Pearl.  There is an exerpt from the chapter on the No Greater Joy website.  In this article, Michael Pearl refutes studies which have shown spanking children to be harmful and shares the results of some other studies which he claims show the opposite.  Of course, there are flaws in his logic.  Here is an example.  He states:

Child psychologist Elizabeth Owens, scientist at the Institute of Human Development at the University of California, Berkeley, conducted a study. She concluded, “If you look at the causally relevant evidence, it’s not scientifically defensible to say that spanking is always a horrible thing. I don’t think mild, occasional spankings in an otherwise supportive, loving family will do any long-term harm.”

Here is the study of which he speaks. MariJo7 from GCM has kindly given me permission to share her analysis of the study: [Read more…]

He Makes Pearl’s Teachings Seem Gentle

R.L. Stollar has an in depth analysis of Voddie Baucham’s teachings in The Child As Viper: How Voddie Baucham’s Theology of Children Promotes Abuse.  In it, Voddie Baucham’s teachings are compared to Michael Pearl’s teachings with this conclusion:

Baucham’s system thus ends up being more authoritarian than Pearl’s, and that is caused by the fact that Baucham not only believes in original sin (as does Pearl), but also total depravity. How Baucham applies his belief in the latter (total depravity) makes Pearl’s child training system appear gentle and weak in comparison.

This is a very long examination of Voddie Baucham’s theology followed by 3 detailed critiques:

Critique #1: Baucham’s Theology of Children is Unbiblical
Critique #2: Baucham’s Theology of Children Encourages Contempt for Children
Critique #3: Baucham’s Theology of Children Promotes Abuse

While long, it is well worth reading all the way through to the conclusion.

More About the Old Schoolhouse and Abuse

Homeschoolers Anonymous has a new article about Homeschool Leaders covering up sexual abuse. (*trigger warning*) They focus on Paul and Gena Suarez of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, who I have mentioned before.  They are assisted in this story by Eric Novak who used to work for The Old Schoolhouse and was close to the family.

The reason I am interested in this piece is that Paul and Gena Suarez are staunch defenders of the Pearls. This article details some of their abuses and is not for the sensitive.

This piece also exposes that many respected homeschool leaders are aware of this situation yet chose to ignore it and continue to support and promote The Old Schoolhouse.  It is a very disturbing document, indeed.

For more info about this, please see these posts by Eric Novak
Why I Care about the Homeschool & Christian Community
An Open Letter to Heidi St. John
HSLDA & Heidi St. John Refuse to Support Victims of Abuse

Another Look at Voddie Baucham’s Prescription for Spanking

Spiritual Sounding Board looks at Parenting “Experts” who promote what they call, “Biblical Parenting” in Voddie Baucham: Prescription for Spanking and the Shy Child.  Remember, the discussion  is in the comments so don’t miss them.

Is Raising Children The Same As Raising Animals?

            Many Christian pro-spankers such as James Dobson and Michael Pearl equate animal training with child rearing.  Pearl claims that training children is much like training “stubborn mules.”  Dobson uses an example of whipping his tiny dog into submission to taming a toddler.  They believe that training children and animals require fear and pain with “love” in order to achieve absolute obedience.  Is this true?  Is animal training similar to child rearing?  What does God have to say about this?

            I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately due to a recent incident with our cat Patches.  Patches is a calico cat.  She has always been a very oral kitty.  She chews cardboard boxes and lightly bites us whenever she’s happy, playful, or loving.  She never bites aggressively.  Recently, my husband got up in the morning and went into his home office to turn on the computer and his ham radio equipment before getting dressed, making coffee, and feeding our two cats their breakfast.  There is a fan in his office door as the cats are not allowed in there due to all of his electronics.  It can get quite warm in there, so the fan keeps the air flowing.  As usual that morning, the cats greeted my husband in the hallway then eagerly waited for him outside his office door.

All of a sudden there were two loud bangs outside his door then the loud sound of our wooden TV dinner table crashing over.  All the noise alarmed my husband and woke me up.  My husband found Patches in our utility room on top of our water heater very freaked out.  [Read more…]

Dr. Sears Looks At Baby Training

William Sears, M.D. looks at Christian Parenting and Baby Training in a parable called, The Journey of Michael and Susan.

Challies reviews TTUAC

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.

An Incriminating Video of Pearl

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.

Elizabeth Esther on Anderson

Elizabeth Esther will be appearing on Anderson Cooper’s new daytime talk show (on FOX) with Michael Pearl this Friday (Dec 2, 2011) and she writes about it here, My appearance on Anderson Cooper’s daytime talk show airs this Friday, Dec. 2nd #NoMoreDeadKids.  She includes a link to find out where and when you can watch it in your area. And here is a promo for the show.

Here is another recent post where she explains why many people follow Pearls’ teachings: Seductive promise of perfectly happy, obedient children feeds abuse.

Hana and The Pearls in The Seattle Times

Jeff Hodson of the Seattle Times provides extensive coverage of the death of Hana Alemu “Williams” as well as the Pearls’ teachings in Did Hana’s parents ‘train’ her to death?  I am grateful to see  this blog mentioned and linked to  in this article.  Letters to the editor regarding that article are here.

The Heart of the Matter

Rachel Miller, who blogs at A Daughter of The Reformation, discusses her concerns about the Pearls which go far being spanking or use of the rod and to The Heart Of The Matter.

Since the NY Times article about the Pearls, the story has gone all the way Down Under, as this story in The Sydney Morning Herald demonstrates.

Speaking of the NY Times article, here are the Letters To The Editor  about it.

Also, QuicksilverQueen  is still writing her detailed Book Review of To Train Up A Child and how it relates to the deaths.  In this review she freely shares how being raised by these teachings affected her and what she was really feeling when her parents thought that she was joyously submissive. She has reviewed the first 3 chapters.

New York Times on The Pearls

Erik Eckholm of The New York Times has written a well researched and carefully balanced article about the Pearls called Preaching Virtue of Spanking, Even as Deaths Fuel Debate.  Unfortunately, in his effort to be balanced, he really didn’t warn against the Pearls’ teachings at all. The comments are many and one of them links to my site, for which I am grateful.

Slate Looks at the Pearls Book

J. Bryan Lowder of Slate Magazine read the Pearls’ book in order to answer the question, Did the Disturbing Philosophy of To Train Up a Child Lead to Hana Williams’ Death?

Christianity Today Looks at TTUAC

Rachel Stone of Christianity Today takes a close look at To Train Up A Child  in When Child Discipline Becomes Abuse.  I notice that she linked to my blog which I much appreciate.  She obviously read TTUAC with a critical eye and really “gets it.”

A Closer Look At The Pearls’ Teachings and Adoption

Christine Minich takes a look at The Pearls’ Teachings in:

The Disturbing World of The Pearls in which she looks at Doublespeak and Definitions as well as some examples of his abusive teachings.

and The Disturbing World of The Pearls Part 2 in which she takes a look at their heretical Theology.

Also, TulipGirl tries to shed some light on the underlying philosophy of the Pearls’ Teachings with On The Pearls And Parenting, Once Again.

The Toronto Sun has an article about the Pearls’ Teachings in Was child abused to death due to advice from book?

Missizzy posted a Recipe For Disaster on  the Websleuths.com message board which explains what happened to Lydia and Hanna.  You might be interested in the rest of the conversation, it is really quite interesting.  I hope it is ok for me to link to this.  If anyone objects, please email me at hermanalinda@whynottrainachild.com and I will remove this entire paragraph.

I also thought I’d mention this post from Civil Thoughts about Adoption Education because that is so important.

An Email From NGJ

Patrick Morgan, who writes the  Cybersattva Blog, wrote an email to No Greater Joy Ministries about his concerns with To Train Up A Child.  He received a reply from the Assistant General Manager which he posts along with his commentary. Note that he adds commentary in the comments.

Broken Daughters

I just found another blogger, Lisa Bennet, who is sharing her life story/testimony of being raised in a fundamentalist christian home.  In Part 5 her parents start following the Pearls’ teachings.

Review of No Greater Joy Child-Training Doctrine

Scita>Scienda has finally released their eBook, Parenting In The Name of God

Memories of a Child Raised by the Pearl Method

No Longer Quivering has started a new story by Libby Anne about her childhood in which she was raised by the Pearl Method.  In part 1 she tells about how her mother almost killed her little sister by strict adherence to the Pearl Method.

Another Case of Renal Failure

Cindy of Under Much Grace has discovered another case of a child being hospitalized with Renal Failure.   This family is also known to follow the Pearl’s method of child training.  It is not known at this time if this is another case of rhabdomyolosis or not.

Series on First Time Obedience

Cindy of Under Much Grace has posted part 5 of her series about First Time Obedience: Revisiting First Time Obedience: Finding New Alternatives

For your convenience I will paste here the links to the rest of the series along with her descriptions:

  • A review of the submission required under multigenerational faithfulness as Vision Forum’s carryover from Bill Gothard’s submission teachings with various examples of this demand for unquestioned obedience without credulity. First post specifically examining “First Time Obedience” in young children.
  • A review of the principle of sacerdotalism and parental convenience (as a control issue in dysfunctional families) as rationales for requiring “First Time Obedience” and “leaps of faith” required under multigenerational faithfulness.
  • Review of the tendency to make every banal daily activity one of great eternal spiritual significance as a consequence of works-based salvation. Includes a discussion of viewing personality traits that do not fit the belief system’s paradigm as sinful as well as the building up of all gender related activities as sacramental for the impartation of inward sanctification.
  • Blog host’s personal experience with inherent personality traits treated by parents as sin, the idolatry of seeking parental approval, and the consequences of requiring unquestioned submission with the use of guilt and shame that predisposes one to easy brainwashing and compliance with thought reform. Includes a section from Biderman’s Chart of Coercion addressing the powerful effects of devaluing individuals in religious settings.
  • Discussion of the development of how perfectionism, works-based salvation and First Time Obedience squelch problem-solving skill and prevent the development of critical thinking under the guise of multigenerational faithfulness.

A specific review of the theological problems in Voddie Baucham’s defense of First Time Obedience as well as the refutation of the practice from Scripture. Echos concerns noted in this previous blog post concerning Baucham’s “Family Driven Faith” book.

Lori Wick involved in Child Abuse Scandal

Rebecca Diamond exposes the teachings or Lori Wick and her church in Preach Jesus and Carry A Big Stick. In case you hadn’t heard, this best selling Christian Novelist has been funding a church which teaches that babies should be switched as young as 6 weeks old. Her son is among 8 people who are facing child abuse charges in Dane County, Wisconsin.   Also see the article in the Daily Mail.

Deb’s Review of TTUAC – Part 3

Deb has posted the 3rd and final part of her review of Michael Pearl’s book, To Train Up A Child. In this post she looks at how Pearl prevented “sissies” and trained his children to always be happy. She also looks at what he teaches about the rod. She says that what Pearl teaches about persistence bothered her the most. I totally understand that. It is exactly this emphasis on persistence which I suspect killed Lydia Schatz.

For your convenience, here are Part 1 and Part 2 and here is the Intro.

Deb’s Review of TTUAC – Part 2

The the Wartburg Watch is finding their discussion of  To Train Up A Child so interesting that they have already published part 2 of their book review. In this post she takes a quick look at Pearl’s credentials and then explains his training advice with many quotes from the book. She promises to look at his teaching about the rod tomorrow. Stay tuned.

For your convenience, part 1 is here.

Deb’s Review of TTUAC

Deb, from The Wartburg Watch, promised to read and review To “Train Up A Child” in Monday’s post and by Tuesday she had already purchased and read it. She has posted part one of her review, and plans to post more later this week.  She is doing a great job of exposing the Pearls’ teachings.

Thankfull for Gentle Discipline

Carissa Robinson has a lovely blog post about how Thankfull she is that they are using gentle discipline, complete with an example of how it works.  She also links to Sally Clarkson’s blog post about First Time Obedience.  Sally Clarkson writes as the mother of adult children and reflects back on how her children were raised and how dangerous it is to try to use a formula for child raising, especially one which involves training.

TTUAC: The Good, The Bad and The Shocking

Elizabeth, at Virginia Is For Mothers, reviews To Train Up A Child. In part 1 she shares her overall reaction which is mixed, and then what she found Good and Helpful about the book. I agree that there are some good and helpful messages in that book. To say otherwise is to put up a wall between us and those who are so taken by the good that they downplay the bad or don’t see it at all. There is a lot of good and that is what makes the book so dangerous. Nobody would eat a bitter tasting poison, it needs to be mixed with honey if anyone is going to eat it. And yes, this is is a very good honey.

But Elizabeth is not fooled. She says:

Here’s what I think about To Train Up A Child: SIGH….these people are such a mixed bag of normalcy and wisdom with a whole lot of weird thrown in. It takes a lot of concentration to weed through the information and advice to find pieces that I think are reasonable and biblical. Once again, I did glean some encouragement and reminders to do what I already believe in doing. So, I’m going to start with that and later write about the (many) parts of the book that had me raising my eyebrows, cringing and picking my jaw up off the floor.

Which brings us to Part 2 in which she reminds people not to fall into the error of relying to heavily on one parenting method and then shares what she found Weird, Harsh and Downright Shocking.  She includes plenty of quotes to back up her conclusions.  I’m glad that she is participating in warning people about this book.

Lexie’s Thoughts on Child Training

Lexie Ahada from The Road Less Traveled has posted her arguments against the Pearls’ teachings, along with a long excerpt from To Train Up a Child. in her post, My Thoughts On Child Training.

Carolyn’s Testimony in Response to the Shatz Story

Carolyn wrote  the following comment in response to That Mom’s post about Lydia Schatz and posted on my Facebook page.

I can totally understand how this is completely attributible to the Pearls teachings. We were introduced to these teachings when my children were little, and I believed pretty much all of what they had to say. We created child-training opportunities. We would calmly switch our daughters until they submitted. We had lovely obedient children (most of the time!).

Then, our 3rd daughter showed us that this didn’t always work!! She has Aspergers Syndrome (which wasn’t diagnosed until she was 10 years old), and this method simply did not work with her.

By the time she was about 4 years old, I was starting to feel like in order to live up to the Pearls teaching of smacking until repentance, I would be stepping from Biblical discipline into abuse. She could honestly keep up the stubborness for hour after hour after hour. [Read more…]

Does Punishment Really Produce Godly Character?

I just found out about the group known as the Assembly under the ministry of George and Betty Geftakys. I had not heard of them before this, but as they were using the teachings of Michael and Debi Pearl (as well as Fugate and Ezzo,) they are of interest.  Apparently, they are another cultic and spiritually abusive group.   In fact, Betty Geftakys had her own pamphet about child training which almost makes the Pearl’s training methods look mild by comparison.

The post I want to highlight today is from Meg, a former member of that group,  and is entitled, Does Discipline Really Produce Godly Character…?