More thoughts this morning on the teachings of the Pearls from Elizabeth Esther:
“This is an extremely difficult post for me to write because my radical fundamentalist church ordered their books by the boxful. I saw first-hand how these “child-training” methods were implemented. I can tell you that while Mike Pearl might justify his methods as “limited” and “controlled,” the reality is that babies and toddlers are subjected to systematic, repetitive, hard spankings…..Practically speaking, a child is spanked into submission.
I had childhood friends who were given 25-100 swats per day. I sat through many meals where a child was removed from the table and spanked repeatedly for not eating his supper. Sometimes the child was taken away three or four times and swatted 3-5 times per incident.
I observed so much harsh spanking in my childhood and teen years (their first book was published in 1994 when I was a junior in high school) that I refused to implement the Pearl methodology on my own children.”
And this article has much insight into the authoritarian view of family life. I have repeatedly heard moms say how shamed they have felt by others who tried to manipulate them into being more harsh with their children. I can remember one instance in my own life when this happened. I had been sharing with a mom how the Lord had shown me, after parenting for many years, that one anothering and grace filled relationship building with my children was really important. She began to admonish me otherwise, insisting that I needed to go back to the “old paths.” She had used the shame-based approach and I can still feel the sting of it! Here is one quote that talks about the effect these teachings have on moms and dads:
“Authoritarians not only promote shaming children, but their teachings also have a shaming tone toward parents. If a parent does not teach a child to obey the first time a command is given, the child may be hit
by a car or be bitten by a poisonous spider. This fear tactic insults both parent and child, who understand the difference of importance and tone between “Time for bed” and “STOP!” (The Pearls advocate no change in voice tones or emotion for different commands.) Now, the point is well taken that parents often give too many warnings, but this authoritarian approach becomes manipulation of another sort, where every command is a crisis by definition.
The Pearls also tell parents, “Fail to use the rod on [a disobedient, bullying child] and you are creating a ‘Nazi.’” Fear of producing a Nazi may compel parents to use a “rod” even when their intuition tells them there is a better option in a particular situation. The Dedricks shame parents with, “It is disgraceful to hear a grown man putting on his ‘I’m afraid you’re not going to like me’ voice when negotiating with a two-year-old.” They also state, “The parent who neglects or refuses to discipline his child [according to their idea of discipline] is himself undisciplined and disobedient to God.”