Another Interesting Quote from Pearl

My friend, Rebecca Diamond, brought this quote from Michael Pearl to my attention.  It is from his website: Rodless Training from June 1999 (emphasis mine):

“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.”

The reason I find this quote so interesting is that the bolded reminds me so much of the Williams Tragedy. For more posts about the Williams see here.


  1. Kate on March 10, 2012 at 6:19 am

    I know I am late to this thread, but your post reminded me of my first thought learning about Hana Williams, which was that it sounded like so many similar cases that are associated with attachment therapy (not attachment parenting, but a pseudoscientific, often dangerous set of methods for adoptive parents to use).

    What Pearl is saying here sounds so much like attachment therapy reasoning– the child must understand that the parent is in complete control of everything, good and bad. Different AT authors/practitioners have slightly different methods, but generally, children must “earn” everything, including meals, a bedroom with furniture in it, companionship of anyone but a parent and the right to go to school. Children must obey every command to the letter or it doesn’t count. Children are assumed to be manipulative and willful. Parenting is seen as a contest between parent and child.

    Advocates of AT would say that it should never become abusive, that the goal is to help the child and forge a positive parent-child bond, that if you fail to do this early on the child will be doomed to a life of misery and crime, that parents have to be brave enough to treat their kids harshly for their own good, etc. Just like with Pearl, the ends justify the means, and it’s not hard to see how that focus on (and fear about) the future product can eventually lead parents to ignore the humanity of their child in the here and now.

    Do you know of any intentional crossover between Pearl-style parenting and attachment therapy? I have not come across any, but there seem to be so many basic similarities.

    • Hermana Linda on March 10, 2012 at 10:30 am

      Thank you for this insight. I was not aware of this but will keep my eyes open.

  2. Teri on March 1, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    That is precisely what they did! You know their system. They claimed that none of that stuff was in the books…. so I quoted it word for word from the books, and they said that I was taking it out of context…. one even saying that I should read other materials of his to understand what a loving person he is. barf. He speaks out against child abuse in order to protect himself…. it’s really that simple. It’s his formula. He knew that others would say that this was abuse, so he speaks out against abuse while saying exactly how to abuse children. When I say that I have 2 kids, one an adult, who has been a joy to raise and is a wonderful person, they say to talk to them in 20 years when my children are in prison…. because they are convinced that my children will be in prison if I don’t spank them. I don’t spank at all…. I don’t hit/strike/whip/switch/spank any child. So far, it has worked beautifully for us.

    • Hermana Linda on March 2, 2012 at 12:15 pm

      That is precisely why I don’t usually involve myself in such discussions. If they come here, I answer them as the Spirit leads me. On very rare occasions I find the Spirit leading me to get involved in a discussion elsewhere.

      I actually believe that Pearl does not see the abuse and really believes himself to be in the center of God’s will. I believe that his followers sincerely love their children and want the best for them. There is none so blind as one who wilt not see.

      • Teri on March 2, 2012 at 3:25 pm

        Years back, I was talking to a lady who was a “recovering Pearl parent” and told me that what drove her was fear. While she didn’t like the idea of spanking her baby, the book was so convincing that she was afraid that if she didn’t do this, she would raise a hell-bound nazi. In her mind, she had no choice but to do this, because it was the only way to keep her kid safe (teach her kid not to run into the road) and the only way to make sure that she didn’t raise a nazi, or a future prison inmate. She was sucked in to the thinking that “experts” don’t really know what is best and if you follow their advice, you will have horrible children … and that whole nazi and prison thing again.

        My mother raised me this way. I was strong willed, though, so it turned from her not intending to abuse me and really just wanting to save my soul, to outright abuse. People like Pearl might really think that swatting a child with a wooden spoon 10 times on a bare bottom won’t leave a bruise, but when that spanking is repeated over and over because it’s just not working, and the parent *has* to win — well, those bruises will show up. She knew I had ADHD, I have been diagnosed, but she still believed that this was a behavior problem that she had to “train” out of me.

        Sure, I grew up to be just fine (debatable, but from the outside it would seem that way), but I have also never loved my mother. Ever. THAT is disturbing. She didn’t follow the Pearls, as I don’t think they were around then, but reading their books, you would think she had. The stuff she said and did was exactly the same, including swatting my little sisters from infant-hood on with a ruler. And did they turn out okay? If you call drug abuse, multiple kids by multiple fathers, not being able to hold down a job, and preferring to be with abusive men and abusing their own children okay. I don’t. But, you can’t convince a person who has already joined the cult. They will not listen. I can only hope to convince others, who have not fallen for this yet, not to.

        • Hermana Linda on March 2, 2012 at 9:43 pm

          You are right, even though they won’t listen, there are others reading who might. Fight on.

  3. Teri on February 29, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    I just want to point out this discussion after the article going on. There are Pearl defenders on there, and one saying that none of this stuff is in the books, calling people liars. I posted direct quotes from the book.

    • Hermana Linda on March 1, 2012 at 10:13 am

      Thank you. I have quotes on my site complete with page numbers for them to reference. Of course, once they verify that the words are there, they will declare that they were taken out of context. The context is a loving relationship. When we remove his words from the book and shine a light on them, they look so harsh. And they consider that twisting his words. What they refuse to see is that his book is full of contradictions.

  4. Cindy K on February 28, 2012 at 11:28 am


    Could I ask what specifically about this quote puts you in mind of what happened to Hana Williams? I have my speculations, but that is really all that they are. Does the idea of starvation that Pearl mentions, something that it appears that the Williams did with Hana, spark the connection for you? Or is it the reports that they didn’t allow her to enjoy the comforts of living indoors with sufficient heat and access to the family bathroom and such that sounds like what Pearl descries as “satisfaction of their pursuits”?

    • Hermana Linda on February 28, 2012 at 12:10 pm

      It’s the concept that they must keep denying them comforts until they learn to comply and submit to the parents’ demands. So, yeah, pretty much what you said.

  5. CrazyAreU on February 24, 2012 at 9:35 pm


    These people claim that Colorado Social Services commends their use of “To Train up a Child”, they need to be “Xposed” for their abusive ways, thought you might want to take a look since you were the number one google result for being against “To Train up a Child”. Be warned their crazy rantings are not for the faint of heart.

    • Hermana Linda on February 24, 2012 at 9:48 pm

      Thank you. This is very interesting. I’ll make sure that the right parties see this.

      • CrazyAreU on May 9, 2012 at 8:47 pm

        The must be feeling some heat, they removed their post glorifying “To Train up A Child” but they haven’t stopped with the abuse. I took a screen shot of the post for future evidence

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