Some Looks At The Williams

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.)

Reb Bradley

Latebloomer was raised in Reb Bradley’s church, Hope Chapel, and is one of the Sheltered, Controlled Homeschoolers who “didn’t ‘turn out right,’ yet another disappointment to the former parents and leadership of Hope Chapel.”  She shares some important insights about this in “Biblical” Parenting, Introduction.  (By the way, I was surprised to see Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz mentioned in this post.)

This post is the introduction to series of posts reviewing Reb Bradley’s book “Child Training Tips”.  In this series of posts she looks at how this kind of parenting is “damaging to individuals and relationships because it sacrifices all other virtues for the sake of authority and submission.”

Each Post in her series focuses on one criticism.

Criticism #1: A Parent Who Assumes The Worst in which we see the concept of adversarial relationships taken to new levels.

Criticism #2: Parents are urged to exercise an extreme level of control of their child’s mind and body, which prevents the child from preparing for adulthood
in which we learn how his teaching grooms perfect victims for child predators by breaking the child’s will, removing their sense of bodily ownership and teaching them that they must respect and obey anyone older than themselves.

Criticism #3: A Parent Who Tries to Change Minds and Hearts through Spanking in which we learn about his teachings on spanking which take abuse to new levels as well as his “severe misunderstanding of the Bible and serious scholarly negligence.”

Criticism #4: A Parent Who Isolates In Order to Control in which we learn that he teaches parents to isolate their children from the world and the results of such isolation.


Sarah’s Arguments Against Spanking

Sarah explains why she does not believe in spanking in a well researched and chatty post entitled, A person’s a person no matter how small.  She also answers some common arguments for spanking with counter arguments, which many will find helpful.

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.

Should Obedience Be The Goal of Parenting?

The Hippie Housewife asks if our goal for our children should be Obedience or something else.

On a similar note, Created To Be His muses on the idea that Sons of Hell Can Be Rather Impressive.

Meanwhile, Pearl in Oyster (PIO) continues her 52 Tool Cards series with 52 Tool Cards Double Feature: Act Without Words and One Word.

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.”

Behaviorism at the Root of Child Training

Carissa Robinson explains that “If you observe most recommended Christian parenting practices today, you might be surprised to discover a secular influence: behavioral psychology” in Awaken Their Hearts.

Meanwhile, Greenegem explains the error in thinking that we have to DO anything more than believe in order to be saved in No Assembly Required.

Psychology and the Christian Mindset

JeriWho has written a very interesting blog about Psychology and The Fundamentalist Christian at Blog On The Way.  Her premise is that while rejecting Psychology for being “atheistic, Darwinistic, and utterly secular,” they tend to embrace behaviorism which is also atheistic and unbliblical.  She makes some very good points here and gives much food for thought.

Unstringing the Pearls: A Critical Pastoral Assessment

Unstringing the Pearls: A Critical Pastoral Assessment is a warning from a pastor to his church, updated from a 2006 email. Since this pastor recommends Tripp, this is obviously another argument from someone who promotes spanking and will be tagged appropriately.

Behaviour Modification

This blog post is exactly one year old today. I am linking to it because I just found it and have always found this topic interesting.  Behaviour Modification: Punishment by Hippie Housewife.  Here is a quote:

…Every day I hear the same parenting advice – punishment and rewards, threats and praise, negative and positive attention. In other words, the very definition of behaviour modification.

Does it work? That depends on what your goals are. If your goal is to get your child to mind you, then yes, it quite often does. However, for our own family’s goals, we have chosen not to use this system of behaviour modification. I’d like to share our reasons for this choice, today focusing in particular on the punishment side, saving the rewards/praise aspect for another day…

Here is her follow up post Behaviour Modification: Praise to which she alluded in that quote.

Counter Arguments 4

Karen made a comment on Train Up Your Child at Awful Library Books to which I would like to reply.

Perhaps the person who put this in the “awful books” category should have read the positive as well as negative reviews on Amazon…the list of things from the book were from the top negative review there. Here is one that might give you all a little clearer perspective on the other side of the spanking debate, if you’ll actually bother to read it. :^)

Ok, that is fair. And I would like to share my responses.

Read the Actual Book and Be Honest with Yourself, May 22, 2010
By BLB (Oregon, USA) – See all my reviews

This review is from: To Train Up A Child (Paperback)
The actual book does not promote child abuse. The problem is, it requires parents using it to have enough self-discipline and character to use corporal punishment consistently, calmly, in a measured way, and without reflection of their moods. It doesn’t allow for using corporal punishment exclusively, either.

It is true that Michael Pearl says in the book not to abuse your children. The problem is that he never explains how to follow his advice without abusing. Would not the very act of training an infant by “switching” him be abusive?  Nor does he explain where chastisement ends and abuse starts. He never says how many licks is ok and how many would be abuse. Nor does he define abuse by how long to keep spanking. He does say that if you are not 100% consistent that you will fail. He also says that you should keep on spanking until their yelling stops and turns into a submissive whimper. He does not explain what to do if you keep spanking for hours at a time and there is still no submissive whimper.

The authors are farm people who train their own horses. They’re used to a situation where they’re dealing with a creature that can’t be effectively trained with either verbal reasoning or fear, a creature that could endanger itself or others if it is not disciplined properly. They raised their children on a traditional farm, a place full of serious physical dangers, where learning the hard way isn’t an option that a loving parent can consider.

I don’t know of any horse trainers who hit their horses. On top of that, children are not animals they are people, made in the image of God. Why would we compare them to animals?

The truth is, the Perls sound like affectionate, non-blaming people as well as unusually patient and self-controlled people. They are people who have learned to look at things from the perspective of the one they are training. For instance, they stress that there is no way to discipline a child without having a positive relationship with her. A child raised by the Perls would be eager to please them, because the relationship would not be primarily based on getting a spanking when you mess up. I would predict that there would actually be very little spanking in their home, and no yelling, verbal abuse, or emotionally damaging drama. It would be miles better than a lot of “no-spanking” houses. I wonder how many of the people decrying this book provided their children with a home that was as predictable and free from emotional abuse as I expect that the Perl household is, or if their children had the self-control that the Perl children did. Unfortunately, there are many people who don’t know that raising a child fit for polite company without a lot of emotional drama is even possible.

There is very little spanking because they have already trained the child. I object to the very act of training children in this way. This is behavior conditioning. Pearl even brags about how his grown children would drop an iced tea if he were to say, “hot.” I consider what Pearl teaches to be the crown jewel of emotional abuse. The children are switched for any emotion except for happiness until they no longer even feel any other emotion. I feel sick even thinking about it.

If you’re going to spank your child, this is a good book to read, almost a must. As you read it, though, be very honest with yourself about whether you exercise the kind of self-control and humble attitude that the Perls assume you have. If you don’t have that kind of self-control, you can read it and try to substitute other feedback for the spankings, but you’ll still need to learn the respectful, kind, patient consistency that is actually the foundation of the Perls’ method. You have to take in the entirety of the message. Look at what kind of parents the Perls are suggesting you be. Don’t even consider using corporal punishment if you can’t be that.

This book has some “pearls” in it, but readers should not fool themselves. It is not primarily about spanking. If you make it into that, you will fail.

I don’t agree that this book is a good book to read. It is true that there is some truth in it and even some good advice. But I consider the bad advice so dangerous as to be like rat poison. Rat poison is mixed with sugar to make it easy to eat, but it is no less dangerous.

Also consider that there are strong-willed children for whom corporal punishment is never going to work, because they will refuse to be motivated by anything short of abuse, and will resent that even if they eventually capitulate. You may as well try to break a zebra to harness. A parent has to realize that, and absolutely never try corporal punishment with a child like that. That would lead to spectacular failure and ruination of the relationship with the child.

Ok, this I agree with. And an adopted child is likely to fall into that category and should never be spanked.

Amy’s Arguments

  • The philosophical underpinnings of these kinds of “Christian” behaviour “training” models do not sit well with biblical theology.

    The more I read about Ezzo and Pearl’s behaviour modification techniques the more I am reminded of Behaviouristic psychology (the works of Skinner, Watson, Pavlov etc)

    Fundamentally, behavioural psychology advocates the use operant/classical conditioning for behaviour modification (neg or pos reinforcement and the pleasure/avoidance stimulus responses they entail).

    From a purely pragmatic standpoint these often demonstratably work – they get results…for example,

    I see the needle + it causes me pain
    I avoid needles

    I eat chocolate = I feel good
    In order to feel good, I eat chocolate, lol

    …but the understanding of human nature behind it is disturbing from a Christian standpoint.

    At the roots of Behaviourism are a worldview that totally denies that people have

    (a) real emotions (such as love, grief, hatred etc.) our internal states are just a sum of the internal processing of our external behaviour, conditioned according to stimulus response

    (b) personality preferences (unless they’ve been ‘shaped’ through outside behavioural control)

    (c) a moral conscience – people simply learn to “react” and “behave” [so much for God’s laws being written on our hearts and minds…]

    (d) original thoughts/ideas – including the ‘big ideas’ like truth and beauty AND God

    (e) self determination or internal self control [just behaviour patterns that have conformed to external reward/punishment patterns]

    (f) a soul (this is ‘superstition’ which we have been conditioned to believe for purposes of social control or it gratifies some conditioned response)

    OK, so I’ve said that in practise operant/classical conditioning works – we all use it whenever we praise our children for doing something good…but to RELY on punishment/reward for behaviour modification or use it as a sole means of teaching/training a child?

    What a naive and Godless conception of what it is to be a human! Methinks of that song lyric – ‘Despite all my rage, I am still but a rat in a cage!” – Amy in Australia

Kathy Thile’s Arguments

“The Pearls believe that training is a separate thing from teaching and discipline. They start very early using a switch to inflict pain…to train babies to avoid things the parent wants the baby to avoid…just like a behavioral psychologist might use electric shocks and rewards to train rats to navigate a maze.

In my opinion it is repugnant and unbiblical because babies are human beings, made in the image of God, endowed by Him with far more mental and spiritual and emotional equipment and innate worth than animals have been given. In recognition of that, we glorify and respect God’s creation by dealing with human beings in accordance with these higher abilities–and that includes all human beings. Babies. The elderly. Prisoners. Slaves. The handicapped.

I don’t think the Bible is referring to behavioristic animal-style training when the word “train” is used (as in “train up a child in the way he should go”). The Pearls don’t make much of a biblical argument for their methods (unlike the Ezzos), but that one is certainly implied by the title of their book, and as I say, I just don’t think it’s supported by the Bible.”

Kathy Thile