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.
I don’t recall anything about striking the child on the back or legs. Somehow I took from it that the only place to strike a child was on the buttocks. Now, I don’t know where I picked that up from, it was probably another child training book. But the teaching I implemented here was pretty much based on the premise that this area was well padded, and it would take considerable force to injure a child there. Whereas, to my way of thinking, hitting on the back is torture. Maybe the Pearls do advocate that this is okay. I don’t know, and I don’t care to reread their books. So if you can tell me what it says on this, I would certainly like to hear it.
Anyway, as I said, it became apparent that this ‘one size fits all’ approach simply wasn’t working for her. This made me step back and re-evaluate. I started to change how I approached child training. But with no real guidance as to what to do next. It seemed obvious that the rod was an important child-training tool, and that if I ‘spared the rod’ I would be ‘spoiling the child’.
I went to several Christian seminars run by Parenting with Confidence in New Zealand (check out their materials, I am now much more inspired by them than I used to be). But I did have one problem with them. In the local newspaper, the leaders of this group stated that they were a ‘step removed from spare the rod and spoil the child’. I was baffled by the idea that Christians could outright state that they were ‘a step removed from the Bible’!
Between my 6th and 7th daughters there is a 9 year gap. I have long since left behind the Pearls teachings. But not because I had any firm understanding of their false teachings. I simply came to the conclusion that I didn’t like the fact that my husband was hiding behind what they were saying and becoming abusive towards the girls (I know they say never to smack in anger, but the truth is, he did and occaisionally still does). He still justifies this in his own mind as ‘righteous anger’. In a lot of ways I felt guilt that I wasn’t able to train the children correctly so that they would be so well-behaved that he would have no reason to get angry with them! (another Pearl teaching).
My 7th daughter was born 9 weeks premature, and at 4 weeks of age was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. She has softened my heart immeasurably. She is now 2 years old, and not afraid to exert her independance. But, due to her delays, I instead look at her and rather than thinking ‘she is so disobedient’ I tend to think ‘she is so clever, she is able to tell me NO when she doesn’t want to do something. She is not just blindly following!’ What a turn-around in attitude!
Then a few weeks ago, a friend of mine ‘liked’ a few FB pages such as ‘Why not to train up a child’ and ‘gentle parenting’ etc. I clicked on some of the many links provided (including this one) and read articles like the one that talks about the Hebrew meaning of the words used in the verses that are so strongly spouted by the TTUAC crowd. Verses that formed the basis of my child-training techniques.
I broke down and cried. You see, I couldn’t understand why the children of my more ‘liberal’ Christian friends were growing into beautiful young adults, while my own firstborn is currently living with her boyfriend and claiming she doesn’t even know if God is real. (until she was 18, she had a real reputation around our town of being basically the perfect Christian teenager, but then she left town, and all her beliefs). We honestly thought her good behaviour and her moral beliefs were solid. We were wrong. Once she was out from under our authority, she immediately rebelled.
Other Christian friends (several families) were adherents of TTUAC, and to my way of thinking, were much more consistent at applying their teachings. I always felt a failure in comparison to them. Now, their children are also reaching adulthood. Those children are rejecting their faith and pursuing lives of sin.
I am finally starting to see the truth. It has taken nearly 20 years.If it hadn’t been for my daughter with Aspergers, and my daughter with Down Syndrome, I may never have learned.
I am hoping and praying that one day soon, before it is too late for my teens, my husband will learn. For many years now, I have wanted to leave my marriage due to his treatment of the children. A lot of the time I still do. This is no way to live a marriage. But, I do see my youngest mellowing him a bit. I have a 14 year old with an acquired brain injury. She comes across as fairly ‘normal’ in most respects, but certain things just don’t make sense to her. At the moment there is a lot of aminosity between her and her dad. He was just last night getting angry at her over something totally insignificant (he wanted her to go through to the kitchen so she was ready to do dishes when her sister started washing them (the sink wasn’t even run yet), and she said she would go through when there was something there to dry. He told her to go through NOW. She said ‘why? I’ll go when she has started them, she hasn’t even run the sink yet’. His reply? ‘Simple obedience. You will do what I tell you when I tell you, and not answer back’. Sound familiar?
I honestly do not know what to do about this. If I speak up in front of the girls, I am undermining him, and encouraging them to not listen to him. If I try and talk to him about it later, it is usually too late and the damage has been done. If I talk to him about this sort of thing in general, he agrees with me at the time, but all that flies out the window when he is angry. I am so scared that he is sending the other girls down the same rocky path that our eldest has chosen.
If anyone else has gone from following TTUAC to a more gentle approach, but has a husband who hasn’t changed, any advice would be appreciated.
I think I might copy and paste this to the FB page now……
Thanks for listen to me ramble. And believe me, I can see how this woman could have gotten to the point of killing her child without anger. If she was switching her across the kidneys, it isn’t necessarily force that did the damage, but repitition. She probably had no idea that any damage had been done.
Carolyn, thank you so much for sharing your testimony with us. I would like to take this opportunity to show what Michael Pearl teaches about where to spank. In his article, In Defense of Biblical Chastisement, Part 2 from October 2001, under the heading of, “Where on the body?” he says,
The Bible says, “the rod is for the back.” That would include anything that is not the front—the back from the shoulders down to the feet. When training, and not chastening or punishing, any convenient place on the body is effective. When you have told a child not to touch, and he reaches out, you can thump or swat his hand. If he is trying to climb down from his chair after being told not to, you can swat his legs. But when you are engaging the child in serious chastisement, the small of the back down to the thighs is the most effective. You can spank half as hard on the back with a light, stingy switch and be more effective than spanking harder on the bottom or thighs.
I would like to remind my readers that Lydia did not die of blunt force, she died because she was struck over and over for hours over the course of a few days which caused toxins to build up slowly and overwhelm her kidneys. The tissue broke down as if it had been tenderized. As far as I can tell, they probably were following the advice given here to the letter.
Now, to your other question. I never actually followed the Pearls’ teachings so I’ll just remind my readers that if anyone has any advice to please comment either here or on Facebook. All I have to say is what I said on Facebook: he will not listen at all if you say anything in front of the children because he will be too busy being mad about you undermining him.
I suggest you take notes and bring it up when you are alone, as often an necessary. This will happen over and over. Hopefully, when he is in the moment with one of the children, he will learn to notice your expression and remember your words. If he agrees and just needs a reminder, maybe you can work out a code.
I suggest that you warn him that the damage he is doing to the children not only risks that they might leave the faith, but even if they don’t, they are likely to cut him out of their lives either partially or totally. Also, pray without ceasing.
A few days later Carolyn posted the following:
When I wrote that, I was thinking about my own wrong-doings. I am not good with words and often say what comes into my head, without considering how my words will be interpreted. The things I said about my daughter were unintentionally harsh and uncalled for. By saying that my friends’ daughters had grown into beautiful young adults, then stating that my daughter was living with her boyfriend and had abandoned her morals, and God; I left the impression that I was saying she wasn’t a beautiful young adult. I totally didn’t mean to do that, but re-reading it now, it seems so obvious how that would come across. My daughter is, in fact, a really beautiful, loving and wonderful young lady.
The struggles she is having with her faith right now are largely due to my own child training methods. My formula of do this and that and your child will be a good Christian, never left any room for them to question us or God. We were right, and they needed to get their thinking in line with ours. In hindsight, it is not really surprising that it was only when she was out from under our domination, that she could actually pull apart and start question what we had told her to believe.
We lived our lives in judgement of those who weren’t ‘proper’ Christian parents. We lived our lives in judgement of our own children’s questioning minds.
It is only in the last month or two that God has really started to soften my heart. And right now, I am absolutely horrified that I have just made things worse for my daughter. I was totally trying to change things. I don’t know why I said what I said in the way I said it. And I want you all to know, that I am deeply sorry. I messed up, and hurt her in a public forum. So now, I need to set the record straight and apologise in that same forum.
A….. I am truly sorry that I hurt you. Please forgive me.