More Looks at Michael Pearl’s Teachings

Michael Pearl’s teachings are being discussed in the blogosphere again.

Rick Morton responds to Jonathan Merritt’s Analysis of Michael & Debi Pearl’s “Child Training” & The “Adoption Fever” Dialogue in this post.

Morgan Guyton discusses Why He Would Fail Michael And Debi Pearl’s Parenting Class.

More Court Cases Involving Abused Adopted Children

I have been watching 2 very sad cases in the news since October 2012.  I have not mentioned them before now because neither of them seem to be following any particular extreme teaching.  They are both about Christian adoptive parents who apparently tried to control their adoptive children using adversarial parenting and corporal punishment and ended up almost killing them and are now being tried for abuse.

The first case is the case of Douglas and Kristen Barbour in Franklin Park, PA. He is a Deputy Attorney General. They are accused of abusing and starving their 2 children adopted from Ethiopia. They recently regained custody of their biological children.  There was mention in this article[article no longer available] of their defense lawyer saying that they “did their best to cope with the children’s extraordinary needs.”  Update: They were going to do a deposition of the 5 year old but decided against it.

The other case is the case of the Russel and Mona Hauer. The Hauers live in North Mankato, MN. It appears that their adversarial parenting caused them to starve their 8-year-old adopted son. They took him to the hospital severely malnourished and weighing only 35 lbs. Part of this was because of existing problems the boy had and part was their failure to get help and their way of trying to control the situation. In a news story published today, I see that their parental rights over this child have been terminated. There is a quote in this story which I find very interesting:

[The judge] said the Hauers failed to follow professional advice on services he needed and how to address behavioral challenges. He also faulted them for their “aversion to traditional health care beliefs and practices,” and said their “highly moralistic” efforts to correct his behavior were the opposite of what he needed.

This very much suggests to me that there is Christian corporeal punishment and adversarial parenting involved so I decided that it was time to at least bring these to your attention.  I will continue to update this post as seems appropriate.

I should probably mention poor little Rodrick Arrington in Las Vegas here.  He was not adopted, but it was his step father who beat him to death while his mother helped.  I’m very unsure of this case, but certainly adversarial parenting and corporeal  punishment came into play.  But then, they do in all abuse cases and there are hundreds every year.  🙁  The purpose of this blog is not to discuss undisputed abuse.  It is to discuss abusive teachings which many loving and sane parents are not recognizing as abuse and to give Biblical arguments against such teachings.  That is why this post is categorized as “blog.” Because it is technically off topic and does not quite fit into any of my categories. Although, I admit that I’m seeing a grey area and might end up changing my mind about that at some point. I just don’t see anyone defending any of these abuse cases or denying that is is abuse, except the defendants and their lawyers.

Why Blame The Pearls At All? – Part 2

Yesterday I looked at the question of what the Pearls’ teachings had to do with the death of Lydia Schatz. Today I will look at the deaths of Sean Paddock and Hana Williams.  Lydia died as a direct result of her parents  following the Pearls’ teachings, but that was not the case with Sean and Hana.

So, how does the death of Hana Williams relate to the Pearls’ teachings? It has been confirmed that her parents were following the Pearls’ teachings by someone who has emailed me anonymously. I have also seen a quote from an email list which then got posted (without permission as far as I can tell) on a message board. I then saw it in the comments here and here.  This person confirmed that the family were following the Pearls’ teachings as well.  S/he also gave some clues that I find interesting.

The Pearls do not teach that parents should leave their children outside all night.  The only real problem is that they teach that parents must always win, as I explained yesterday.  Of course, the Williams were way out of line in making Hana sleep outside without so much as a sleeping bag.  Why would they do that?  I can only speculate.  It is commonly reported that Hana had suffered a significant weight loss (I read 30 pounds somewhere).  The comments mention that she was refusing to eat and then stealing food.  That is a very odd accusation.  If you want your child to eat, why would they have to steal food from you?  How could they steal food from their own parents?  Isn’t all the food everyone’s?

Here is a quote from Michael Pearl’s Article, The Angry Child:

If he doesn’t like what is on the table and he is rude, send him away from the table and do not let him eat until the next meal. Do not feed him snacks between meals, and let him get good and hungry. He will then eat baby food spinach and love it.

Now, I can only speculate, I have no proof that is what they were doing. She could have had Anorexia or some other eating issue due to RAD which caused her to refuse to eat. (Edited to clarify: when I wrote this it was speculations before the trial. Now that the trial is over, I can clearly state that there is absolutely NO reason to suspect any kind of eating disorder or RAD whatsoever.)

But, IF they were withholding food to make her eat what they wanted her to and she was stealing food in the night, they would probably end up locking up the food.  If she were somehow managing to get it anyway, and IF it were true that she was peeing on the rug, it might make sense for someone who has been pushed over the edge to make her stay outside.

Another interesting and possibly pertinent quote is found on the No Greater Joy website and is from the article, Rodless Training

“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.”

So, this is what I’m seeing.  A family who was in way over their head, dealing with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and trying to make the Pearls’ teachings work in a situation for which they were not designed.  My thoughts are that they lost control of reality.  They needed help and did not seek it.  It’s a real tragedy.  They probably didn’t think that it was cold enough outside to kill her.  But with her body weakened by lack of food, she succumbed. (Edited to add now that the trial is over: there is no reason to suspect RAD whatsoever.)

I do not know much about the death of Sean Paddock. All I know is that he was wrapped tightly in order to keep him in his bed and he suffocated. Again, the Pearls do not teach parents to do that. His mother might have been trying so hard to win that she did not consider the consequences of her actions, but I can’t really blame the Pearls’ teachings directly for his death.

So far, all 3 cases of children dying at the hands of followers of the Pearls’ methods have been adopted.  It is apparent that these teachings are particularly dangerous when applied on adopted children.   It is very important that the organizations which oversee adoptions are made aware of this connection.

Update: April 6, 2012

I have recently learned of the teachings of Nancy Campbell of, Above Rubies, regarding using international  adoptions as a way to “rescue” the heathen children and “evangelize” them.  I learned this in a public thread on  Gentle Christian Mothers (starting with post 9).  Of course, I can’t know for sure, but IF the Williams were influenced by this mindset, it would explain a lot.

Update: Sept 9, 2013

I have learned during the trial that everything was fine with Hana until about a year after the adoption when she went through puberty.  Apparently she got a drop of blood on the toilet seat according to some, yet Carri claims that she was smearing her pad on the walls.  At that time, they started describing her as “opositional” and “rebellious.” It would appear that Carri got unreasonably strict and/or she started standing up for herself. That was when things started going very bad. Witnesses claim that Carri said that she was expecting a little girl and they sent her a woman. Carri has also been described as a germophobe and Hana was a carrier of Hepatitis B which obviously scared Carri.

Please see my follow up post on the Williams Trial here.


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