an open letter to my brothers and sisters in Christ who serve in leadership to homeschooling families:

An open letter to my brothers and sisters in Christ who serve in leadership to homeschooling families:

On February 6, 2010, Lydia Schatz, the seven year old homeschooled daughter of Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz, died after having been brutally beaten for mispronouncing a word while reading out loud to her mother. Butte County, California District Attorney, Mike Ramsey, reported that evidence shows the child was severely and repeatedly whipped, most likely for several hours, with a 15” piece of ¼” plumbing supply line, the same instrument that also left her older sister with severe kidney damage and in critical condition. The other seven Schatz children are now in foster homes, their parents having been charged with torture and murder.

While it might be comforting to believe that this is one horrific, isolated case of abusive behavior, the fact is that Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz were Bible-believing Christians who welcomed not only their own children into their home but three adopted ones as well. Their friends reported how shocked they were to hear this story about parents whom they called “loving” and “warm” and children who were “polite and well-behaved,” words that could describe most homeschooling families.

But Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz were also devotees of the book To Train Up A Child and its authors, Michael and Debi Pearl, and they patterned their “discipline” methods after the Pearls’ instructions, down to the very instrument they used to beat their children.

This is not the first time a child has died at the hands of parents who embraced the teachings from TTUAC. In 2004, four year old Sean Paddock suffocated after his mother also beat him with ¼” plumbing supply line and then wrapped him tightly in a blanket to keep him from getting out of bed. She is now serving time in jail for first degree murder.

The killing of precious children in the name of “discipline” must stop and those of us who desire to come alongside and encourage homeschooling families must do all that we can to see that this sort of tragedy never happens again. I believe that the Pearls’ teachings on chastisement unto repentance, found in their books and magazines and on their website, is not just one among many approaches to disciplining children, but rather, is a form of child abuse and even one that is considered to be assault and battery of a child and punishable by law in many states.

As Christians, it is even more important to understand that the Pearls’ philosophy is based on the aberrant theology of “sinless perfection,” a perspective that leads to the notion that parents are able to change a child’s sinful heart and save a child’s soul. Here are some excerpts from TTUAC:

“The parent holds in his hand (in the form of a little switch) the power to absolve the child of guilt, cleanse his soul, instruct his spirit, strengthen his resolve, and give him a fresh start through a confidence that all indebtedness is paid.”

“The guilt burdened soul cries out for the lashes and nails of justice. Your child cannot yet understand that the Creator has been lashed and nailed in his place. Only the rod of correction can preserve his soul until the day of moral dawning.”

“Let the guilt come, and then, while they are yet too young to understand, absolve it by means of the rod. When their time comes, the principles of the cross will be easy to grasp.”

The Holy Word of God tells us that only by faith in the finished, atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross, an act of His mercy and grace, is a person saved. (“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”~Titus 3:5) Physical chastisement by a parent cannot truly absolve a child of guilt nor can it cleanse his soul. To teach this and to lead any parent to think otherwise is promoting false doctrine and false hope in the works of man.

To that end, I would like to ask those who serve as homeschooling support group leaders and others who seek to serve within the homeschooling community to join the growing number of voices who are expressing their outrage and horror at the death of little Lydia Schatz and I would ask you to remove any recommendation of Michael and Debi Pearl’s teachings you have on your blogs or websites. Please stand with me and publicly say “This is wrong and it must stop.”

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” ~ Proverbs 31:8-9

By His grace,
Karen Campbell,
homeschooling mother and grandmother

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  1. says

    I would like to ask any readers of this blog to copy this letter, add your name, and send this letter along to your homeschooling support group leaders and to any homeschooling family you know and ask them to do the same.

    If you are part of a group of homeschoolers who are not believers, I would suggest changing the heading and omitting the following section:

    As Christians, it is even more important to understand that the Pearls’ philosophy is based on the aberrant theology of “sinless perfection,” a perspective that leads to the notion that parents are able to change a child’s sinful heart and save a child’s soul. Here are some excerpts from TTUAC:

    “The parent holds in his hand (in the form of a little switch) the power to absolve the child of guilt, cleanse his soul, instruct his spirit, strengthen his resolve, and give him a fresh start through a confidence that all indebtedness is paid.”

    “The guilt burdened soul cries out for the lashes and nails of justice. Your child cannot yet understand that the Creator has been lashed and nailed in his place. Only the rod of correction can preserve his soul until the day of moral dawning.”

    “Let the guilt come, and then, while they are yet too young to understand, absolve it by means of the rod. When their time comes, the principles of the cross will be easy to grasp.”

    The Holy Word of God tells us that only by faith in the finished, atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross, an act of His mercy and grace, is a person saved. (“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”~Titus 3:5) Physical chastisement by a parent cannot truly absolve a child of guilt nor can it cleanse his soul. To teach this and to lead any parent to think otherwise is promoting false doctrine and false hope in the works of man.

  2. badmsm says

    I wouldn’t call anyone without the discernment to know the difference between correcting a child and physical/emotional abuse a Bible believing Christian. I don’t remember Jesus or the apostles ever advocating beating anyone to death. Remember the woman who was to be stoned? Our faith in Christ is what cleanses our soul, not violence.

    We had an abusive family in our former home school group. The reason why the kids were so ‘quiet and well behaved’ was that they lived in constant fear of their parents. No one would believe it when it came out, because abusers are good at hiding their sin.

    Poor little girl, glad she is resting in Jesus’ arms now. So very tragic!

  3. Jerzy says

    I will definitely be forwarding this to our homeschool group’s leadership, Karen. Thank you for writing this. (Slapping forehead saying, “Now why didn’t I think of that?”)

  4. says

    Glad the outrage seems to be growing. Seems like every day more and more people are coming forward; sadly, there are still those who won’t say anything because they don’t want to offend Pearl followers. One thing that has most interested me is the silence.

  5. says

    I home taught my children who are all now adults. All of us find this act of brutality totally unnecessary and heinous. While it is important to direct a child–and sometimes that direction is in need of consequence–it is, in no way, right to torture a child. And the assumption that we can, in any way, change our children’s spiritual direction is arrogant. It is only Christ in us that can be the example to our children. When I stopped trying to control my children and started letting Christ love them through me, I began to understand this. All three are adults whom I respect–Godly and contributing to society. And all three want to home teach. We need to remember the Scriptures which say ‘If any one of you causes one of these little ones to fall away it would be better for a millstone to be tied around your throat and cast into the sea.’ (my paraphrase) We need to be very careful that we follow Christ’s example with Christ’s strength. The minute we take matters into our own hands we should begin to feel the noose and the millstone.

    Donna Fawcett
    Author of Thriving in the Home School
    Author of award winning novel Vengeance (pen name Donna Dawson)

  6. Margie says

    This is a very disturbing story – particularly as I am a Home Ed mum. If you think about it, could we say that anyone who spanks their children is at risk of doing such a thing? As humans, we have the leaning to bow down to images/idols and I think there are many of these teachers/ministeries that can draw us away from following Christ and looking to Him for daily wisdom. Funny, I’ve read the Pearl’s book, and the thing that stood out for me was that if you weren’t able to spank without anger/temper, don’t spank at all. We can blame spanking BUT from the other side – this family must have been through an assessment process with the system: social workers etc. They were unable to work out that this mom was problematic, mentally unstable it would seem. As moms, is there any way of knowing how vulnerable we are; was this mom mentally unstable from the start; or was it a slow slide or sudden aberration; she is in her 40’s – hormonal imbalance? I guess many of us have days when things seem too much – are there warning signs we should heed?

  7. Melindie says

    Michael and Debi Pearl’s books are about oppression all in the name of christianity. Even their book on marriage should not be read by women or men because it leads to fear and oppression. I hope every homeschool family takes this warning to heart and teach their children love and grace instead of fear and oppression.

  8. says

    Melindie, you are correct about the toxicity of the Pearl materials.

    If you haven’t already listened to these, you might want to check out the series of podcasts I did on patriocentricity.

    Two of them are a review and discussion of Created to Be His Helpmeet by Debi Pearl and include Spunky Homeschool Mom, Karen Braun.

  9. says

    Thank you for putting this strong alert into such gracious words. I think I may post something akin to this and link to your site – if that is ok… Thanks again.

    Homeschooling mom to 6

  10. says

    Hi Jamie and nice to meet you!

    You are welcome to post/link/forward to as many people as possible. We want the word to get out and for hearts to be touched.

    Have a blessed day!

  11. says

    Hey ladies. While I wholeheartedly agree that physical abuse is just plain WRONG, I am wondering how you deal with such vs. as Proverbs 13:24, Proverbs 22:15, Proverbs 23:13,14 and Proverbs 29:15,17?

    I have read ‘To Train Up a Child’. Do you see the Proverbs vs. as being biblical but applied incorrectly by the Pearls?

    I strive to be a Berean in all matters and examine (and sometimes re-examine) what I believe in light of God’s word.

    Karen, great series on Patriocentricity. Biblical headship it is not!

    Peace to all in Christ 🙂

    home-educating mama to 7 arrows in Canada

  12. says

    Sandi, I started trying to respond to your questions and decided I needed to write an entire post….

    I would encourage you to get a copy of Martin’s book. The Hebrew word studies, as I suspected they would be, are amazing and so much richer than simply looking at the English and especially as they are usually applied. Martin, for example, examines each of the Hebrew words for “child” showing that there is definitely an acknowledgment in Scripture of the various stages of child development, which I think is one of the missing ingredients in all the child training books. In fact, some of these guys think you are falling for psychobabble mumbo jumbo if you even suggest it. The really lovely part of this section of Martin’s book is the analogy that is made in the text of the mother/child relationship and God’s relationship to us. I can’t wait to share it with mom’s at a retreat some time, it is so beautiful.

    I really would love to hear what others are thinking about this.

  13. Lize says

    Dear Karen
    I can’t help but to reply on this matter, since I do disagree with some of the things you said. I do understand your concern for our children, but to blame the Pearl’s book for a little girl’s death, makes no sense at all. I read “To train up a child” myself and I was blessed by it. The Pearl’s advocate that you should never spank a child in anger and that you do not have to hit the child very harshly. They also put emphasis on love, tenderness and humor. To blame them for a out of control mom, makes no sense. Are you perhaps focussing on too much psycology, rather than the Word? My family benefited deeply from this book and the fruit from it is precious. Even their book, “Created to be his help meet”, benefited my marriage very much and I know of many marriages that was on the brink of divorce, being saved by this book. Isn’t a tree jugded by it’s fruit? I know we live in a society of feminism and many have difficulty in grasping the principle of submitting to their husbands, but in the end, everything in the book is scriptural. Never, in reading their books, did I feal fear or judgement. In submitting to my husband, I found myself in a very safe haven, created for me by God.
    Another point mentioned was about the state of sinlessness. Though we might not achieve it, is this not what the Word tells us to aspire to? The Lord’s command was that we should be Holy as He is Holy.
    Karen, I do see your sincere heart in all of this, so I hope that you can see that there is more sides to this matter than just the one you stated. I pray that the Lord will give each of us the ability to discern everything we read and that we will digest the good and leave the bad.

  14. says

    Hi Lize and thanks for your input. Since I am not certain exactly what you disagree with me on in this post, I will point you to a couple other places on this blog that might clear up my perspective on the Pearls.

    This article addresses “why” I believe Michael Pearls bears some responsibility for Lydia’s death:

    And here is a link to the podcast reviews of Created to Be His Helpmeet by Debi Pearl that Karen Braun (Spunky Homeschool Mom) and I did:

    Here is a great link that further discusses in more detail the problems with the Pearl’s false theology of sinless perfection.

    I am currently working on a post on Biblical submission that I hope to get online in a day or two so I hope that helps you see my perspective a little better. Please feel free to share what you disagree with and we can talk about it.

  15. Lize says

    Hi, Lize again. Even after looking at your articles, I still can’t see where this is coming from. This women did’nt use the punishment in the way the Pearls recommended. They never advised that you should beat your child routhlessly, which is what this lady did. How can you blame them that she ignored the part where they told her to not hit in anger? It is untrue to say that she followed them to the letter, because that is exactly what she did’nt do. A person who is calm and in control of his fealings, will never have done what this lady did.

  16. says

    Lize, I would posit that someone can be “calm and in control” and still do something horrid. Striking a child repeatedly with an implement, as advocated by Michael and Debi Pearl, can be done with calmness and still bruise the body and break down tissue.

    DA Ramsey has not been timid in linking the quarter-inch plumbing supply line with Michael and Debi Pearl’s control-at-all-costs advice.

    Quote: …the seven-year-old was held down for several hours by Elizabeth and beaten dozens of times by Kevin on the back of her body, causing massive tissue damage. “It was torture.””

    Compare what was done by the Schatz parents to what is taught by Michael and Debi Pearl:

    QUOTE: “…then use whatever force is necessary to bring him to bay. If you have to sit on him to spank him then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring and are unmoved by his wailing. Defeat him totally. Accept no conditions for surrender. No compromise. You are to rule over him as a benevolent sovereign. Your word is final.”

    From To Train Up a Child, by Michael and Debi Pearl
    Chapter 6: Applying the Rod

    QUOTE: “Otherwise, tell him to bend over on the bed or couch; and while he is in this position give some choice admonition. You have his undivided attention. Slowly begin to spank. . . . I found five to ten licks usually sufficient. Sometimes, with older children, usually when the licks are not forceful enough, the child may still be rebellious. . . . A general rule is to continue the disciplinary action until the child is surrendered.

    QUOTE: “Any spanking, to effectively reinforce instruction, must cause pain. . . For the under one year old, a little, ten- to twelve-inch long, willowy branch (striped of any knots that might break the skin) about one-eighth inch diameter is sufficient. . . . A one-foot ruler, or its equivalent in a paddle, is a sufficient alternative. For the larger child, a belt or larger tree branch is effective.”

    From To Train Up a Child, by Michael and Debi Pearl
    Chapter 6: Applying the Rod

    The Pearls’ instructions set parents up for normalizing patterns that lead to abuse — “defeat totally. Accept no conditions for surrender. . . five to ten licks. . . continue the spanking. . . continue the disciplinary action until the child is surrendered.”

    While yes, anger and rage can lead to a lack of self control, what is taught by the Pearls is harmful whether a parent is hot with anger or cold and calculating.

    We, in the Church, must shine the light on this false teaching. We cannot keep silent and allow the children Jesus welcomed into His arms to be harmed in His name. We cannot allow vulnerable parents to be led down the path of abuse, as they struggle to love and discipline their children.

  17. says

    Thanks, TulipGirl, for your very good and absolutely correct assessment and answer.

    I would like to add this perspective. Lize, I do not believe that “anger” is the sin that drove Lydia’s parents to beat her to death. I believe, as I quoted from the book of James, it was the sin of idolatry that lead first to the temptation to have perfectly behaved children which resulted in her beating and then her death. I believe these parents, as I think the DA will demonstrate, had succumbed to the lure of the Pearl paradigm and were following the steps the Pearls say will achieve that perfection. They may not have been angry at all, in fact, I think it is a great possibility that that will also be demonstrated.

  18. says

    Thanks for your reply Karen. I look forward to reading and discerning it. My time on the computer is limited, so I’ll try to get back here as soon as I can.
    Peace to all in Christ 🙂
    home-educating mama to 7 arrows in Canada

  19. Martha home-educating mama of 3 boys says

    As I have read this post, I am saddened and confused about the entire situation. As a momma of 3 boys (1 teen and 2 pre-teens), I am the one who is accountible to the Lord (and my husband) for my own actions! The little girl’s mother and father appeared to make many choices (of their own choosing) that ultimately brought them to the place that they find themselves today! As parents and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are bombarded every single day with teachings and false doctrines that we must view in light of the Word of God to determine whether it is of the Lord. In our society we want to put “blame” somewhere, but ultimately the TOTAL blame lands squarely at the feet of these parents for their poor (and abusive) decisions in parenting! There is much that I disagree with the Peals on in the area of childtraining, but I am the one who is responsible for the decisions I make. Treat false teachings as such but let us hold each other accountible for our OWN poor choices! That is who the Lord will hold responsible in the end!

  20. Jeanne says

    Thank you Karen for the excellent information about darling Lydia and the
    viewpoints. I was adopted 1960 to “religious nuts” who were mentally ill.
    It is amazing how God protected us against Rhabdomyolysis. The Bible also
    teaches to encourage our children. Setting a loving example, calm and
    grounded, not violent, judgmental, using the Bible & man made rules to
    discipline in anger and violence. How cruel, I hope the Schatz has justice
    served. This has been going on tooooo long. In Lydia’s death, the other
    siblings can be saved from further abuse. I pray for all of them and I find
    myself praying the Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz that they will humbly announce
    the cruel injustice served on these precious children. They were good kids
    not deserving of this abuse. The Schatz, unfortunately, will suffer in their
    own seclusion while reviewing what they did. I hope. I hope they are not
    sooo “hard hearted”. And say, I am right. My question is , How could they
    inflict this on their children, the eleven year old sister suffered major
    kidney damage and the seven year old, her death. Don’t they have a clue that
    repeated punishments with an implement can cause severe damage? Thank you
    for reading my lengthy letter.

  21. Katie says

    As one close to the situation and who has first hand knowledge of how this happened I would be careful to lay the blame on the Pearls. Although I do not agree with how they present their material in TTUAC and wish that they would rewrite it I still agree with many of their ideas. If you dig deeper into their teachings and video’s you will find that they are very balanced in their child training ideas which I don’t think are reflected in their first book.

    Now onto the case itself. These were frustrated parent’s of an adopted child they deemed “out of control”. I know those who were counseling them and believe what they were doing was far from the counsel they were receiving. Obviously this is an extreme behavior that was far and above normal discipline and I believe should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. From my inside knowledge of this case it is wrong to blame the Pearls. These parent’s would have been abusive with whatever teaching they had received. Until you know all the facts and the case is brought to trial I would encourage you to refrain from making judgment on a ministry that is encouraging to many people. This a tragedy that happened because of abusive parents and not anything else. Please don’t pass judgment until you know all the facts and they are presented at trial.

    PS Did you know that the other case that you referred to about the child suffocating was also an adopted child. The child suffocated not from a Pearl teaching but a secular teaching I believe. You will find in the secular world a teaching about children who have Reactive Attachment Disorder and how they need to be “rebirthed” through the use of blankets that are wrapped tightly around the child to recreate the birth experience and coming down the birth canal. Talk about a weird and dangerous teaching from the secular world!!!

  22. says


    In digging deeper into the Pearls’ teachings (not just in TTUAC, but in their other books and on their website), I’ve found many very serious doctrinal as well as some very practical problems- they are Pelagians; they teach that the guilt of sin can be removed from a child through spanking; they teach parents to purposely tempt their children in order to correct them- something that is *clearly* forbidden by Jesus Christ; they advocate sitting on children until they submit to correction; they advocate that a woman who is married to a man who sexually abuses their children should remain married to him; they advocate that women should stay in the home where domestic violence is taking place.

    While I agree that there might be “some” nuggets of truth and wisdom we can uncover from their publications… the majority of what they teach is *so bad* that I believe we should throw the baby out with the bathwater where they are concerned. What they say that is good can be found elsewhere and is MUCH better said.

    While Sean Paddock was murdered by suffocation, the autopsy report did show that Sean *had* been abused by his mother using Michael Pearl’s recommended techniques. His brother also showed such signs of abuse.

  23. Carolyn says

    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.

  24. says


    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your own story. It is so profound and really does show how good parents can fall prey to these sorts of teachings.

    Having a child with learning disabilities, I could totally relate to your story. When our son was little, we often heard comments from others like “all that boy needs is a good spanking” etc. What they didn’t realize is that spanking only hardened his resolve to have his own way and was the worst possible way to approach him in any situation. Rather, we learned that he became angry and unreasonable when he felt dismissed or when he became frustrated because he couldn’t adequately express himself. Those time were when he needed to be hugged and loved on, reassuring him that he was in a secure place with people who loved him and who were willing to understand him. To this day, when he is frustrated, if I put my arms around him and gently pat him or rub his shoulders, talking calmly to him, I can feel the frustration and tension melt away. Should I expect him to have self-control? Yes, but that isn’t always what happens. I can choose to react to him or seek to help him gain that self-control by diffusing the situation. None of these notions fit into the Pearl paradigm, as far as I can tell.

    You mentioned your concern about your husband and your other daughters. I would encourage you to find out what constitutes “abuse” in the state where you live and if your husband is violating the law in any way, he should be reported. Otherwise, if he is found out, you could be held as an accomplice and have your daughters taken from you. Also, you should be aware that CPS does not place children in the homes of family members because of their concerns that children could be exposed to their parents during the time of investigation. I am not wanting to frighten you but to warn you of what could happen. Of course,this applies to life-threatening situations or physically abusive behaviors. In Illinois,where I live, leaving a mark of any sort on a child can be considered abuse that could warrant removal from the home. Also, if there are other children who are under 19 years of age who hear the abuse, the perpetrator can be charged with “witnessing” which means that abuse occurred to those children as well if they had to be “witnesses,” even by hearing it from another room, to abuse. Some things to think about……I would be interested in hearing from anyone here who has personal experience in any of these things, including similar situations with dads and tempers.

  25. Kari Amit Prabhakar says

    this is all falsehood…complete and utter falsehood “Christians” falsly accusing their neighbor. I can conclude these very same people are living with a “form of godliness yet denying it’s power” The Pearls have great wisdom from the Lord concerning raising children for Him. Christians should KNOW thier PURPOSE in their child’s life. Their purpose is to raise that child to obey the Lord. How to do this? Train and correct! The Lord says to use the ROD for correction! A child cannot be left to himself to one day have faith. This has NOTHING to do with faith in Christ vs works for salvation. This is raising obedient children who will one day be obedient to God, in faith, in works, in all things. There is too much falsehood to refute here and I wish I could cover everything but their is much to do for the Lord than spend time on this pity. The Pearls know what they are doing and they are not deceived in thinking they are following God. They have the Spirit of God and have raised their children in the midst of Him. I have read their writings. They are not responsible for the choices the “bible-believing Christians” have made towards their children. The pearls never have taught to do the things in the manner these parents may have done. Persons can learn something and stretch it too far. Don’t we know this? How ignorant can this article be?? The Pearls teach training and when ever they mentioned discipline it was never beyond what the the Lord says to do in His word, to use the rod for correction. Their training is always safe and in a controlled and concentrated setting and their disciplining is not more than strong spanks on the bottom or thumps on the hand of a child for training. Who cares what the world thinks when the Lord clearly tells us to use the rod for correcting a child’s folly; to drive it out of him. And those who use the “the bible says to stone persons” OH PALEASE. For you to take words from the Lord without knowing it’s context and probably only having heard it through the grapevine, have no idea what the situation was in the times during the Old Covenant and the different people there and their ways of dealing with things but for those who are disciples of the Lord today know that the Lord does not require of us nor desire of us to use stoning as a method of correction! We have the command to love which fulfills all the law. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I am saddened to see the deaths of children and their abuse and even more saddened for persons to be blaming the Pearls for it. May the Lord protect the Pearls and protect them from their enemies. May the Lord repay those who speak evil and may the Lord quiet the spirits of the parents who did wrong and deliver them out of their troubles. In Christ’s name. Amen.

  26. says

    @ Kari,

    I can see that you feel very strongly about this issue. Are you willing to discuss idea’s in friendly manner? If you are let me ask you these three questions.

    1) If Adam and Eve would have had kids in the Garden, would they have been in or out of the Garden?

    If you answered “in the Garden” then follow up with this question.

    2) If it can be shown that those in Christ have been returned to the Garden would that change the way you looked at your kids and where they stand in relation to God?

    3) (And I am just curious on this one) You said that the Pearl’s “have great wisdom from the Lord concerning raising children for him”. Do you mean that the Pearl’s have gotten direct, inspired revelation from the Lord that no one else has or do you mean that, from your study, their interpretations are the most consistent and faithful to the original audience the passages were written to?

    I don’t need a lengthy answer to any of these. A short answer for each will provide a good foundation for discussing this matter, if you would like.


  27. Adam says


    I am not in agreement with Micah on his eschatology, and we have been around on that several times. I don’t believe that “The Garden of Eden is restored” or that it was even intended to be restored!

    Still, what I would say is that we need to be careful about what Karen is saying here. She is not saying that everything that the Pearls write is garbage. There are many things that Debi and Michael Pearl know from being married all of those years that I think are beneficial and helpful.

    The problem is that they are grossly imbalanced. Yes, there needs to be discipline, but within the context of not provoking your children to anger, and within the context of love and care for that child-not in the context of trying to break the child’s will. Also, when you connect the rod to eternal salvation, it creates other dangers as well, because you will be seeking to do something that only the Holy Spirit of God can do, and that is to change someone’s will.

    The problem, again is balance, putting the rod in the right context-the context of the entirety of what scripture has to say on the issue. When you loose balance like the Pearls have done, it leads to damage-both emotionally and spiritually. I am not saying that they don’t have good and even wise things to say in other areas; however, on this issue, the issue of authority and submission, the Pearls are grossly incompetent exegetically.

    God Bless,

  28. says

    Oh please. How many terrible quotes from their books need to be posted here before people stop defending the Pearls? As for those who think they are not responsible in the least, the Bible says differently: “Let not many of you become teachers, for we know that we shall receive the stricter judgment.” James 3:1 The Pearls have set themselves up as teachers of God’s truth. They take that a step further by saying that anyone who teaches differently than they are not teaching truth at all. They should take that scripture a little more seriously I think.

  29. says

    Hi, Kari!

    In my experience, a lot of parents first read TTUAC with what a friend calls having a “good-mommy filter” on. . . only the positives come through in an initial reading (tying heartstrings, being consistent, etc.)

    But, when parents are struggling or their children aren’t conforming, they go back to TTUAC. And what messages are found then? Consistency (which can be good), and beyond that a “parents-must-win-at-all-costs” message.

    While this is just one quote, it illustrates a repeated theme in their writings,

    “And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring and are unmoved by his wailing. Defeat him totally. Accept no conditions for surrender. No compromise. You are to rule over him as a benevolent sovereign. Your word is final.”
    from To Train Up a Child, by Michael and Debi Pearl
    Chapter 6: Applying the Rod)

    Defeat totally. No compromise.


    Train through swatting (smacking, spanking, switching… different terms used in different places in the book. . . regardless, “training” uses an implement on a child’s skin to case pain.)

    It doesn’t take long to see that if a child is not “easily” trained and compliant immediately, a parent trying to do the “right” thing will be led by the Pearls’ teachings and philosophy to abuse.

    A child who doesn’t understand, doesn’t comply, or isn’t submissive right away. . . A parent is taught by the Pearls to be consistent, defeat totally, continue spanking/swatting/smacking. . .

    Can you see how the teachings in this context very easily can lead to abuse?

    I’ve know parents. . . loving, well-meaning, dear parents. . . Parents who never spanked in anger. . . who got to the point where they saw they were ABUSING their children (in love. . . with good intentions) because of this underlying theme of consistency and total defeat.

    Does this help make sense of why some people are very upset and alarmed about a resource some parents only remember as helpful?

  30. Donna says

    While I’ve never followed the Pearls teachings I can’t grasp the idea of holding down my child till the submit to me. I keep thinking if you treated an adult in this manner it would be assault I can’t fathom treating my young child like this.

  31. Lisa-Anne says

    Hi, would you consider updating this letter to include Hannah Williams (and her brother Immanuel who is still alive but was tortured?)
    Thank you for your consideration!

  32. Abdul says

    We have to be careful of jumping to conclusions when reading a quite carefully slanted article such as this. True, the treatment of these kids is beyond horrible. The parents should be punished fully for this treatment. However, to lay the blame on the Pearls is beyond absurd. This is the sort of thinking that destroys societies. When we constantly choose to seek out someone to lay blame on and refuse to place the blame where it truly belongs, (with the parents) then we absolve their wrongs. This is dangerous, the Pearls had NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with this atrocity through their teachings or works. To say otherwise is foolish and uneducated. They have put out a teaching that is biblically consistent although outdated in today’s liberal society. They never advocate violence or abuse. To teach a child that there are boundaries that cannot be crossed is a positive thing, we are intended to prepare them for life as an adult by teaching them self control and respect for rules and boundaries. We do them a huge disservice by not training them to follow rules and to allow them to make choices that we know are destructive to them. Please stop trying to tear down the Pearls with this article, I wholeheartedly respect your viewpoint, but also wholeheartedly disagree with it. We need to carefully and prayerfully consider our roles as parents and no one book or teaching should form the basis of our disciplinary prigram with our kids. Spanking is biblical and should never be done away with as I believe it is required with some kids. It was with me. LOL But with my own children it has been very rarely used because it is almost never needed if the parents and children have a close enough bond. This is where so many people fail with their children. They spend too little time with them and have no significant relationship with them. If you are truly close to your children then you can read them carefully and be a better guide to them. I apologize for the longish response, but I am concerned about this issue and even slightly alarmed after reading some of the responses to this post. I will gladly sit down and go through this issue step by step with anyone who cares to and bring a biblical perspective in context along to support my stand. We need to keep our references in the propper context and I think that so much of the radical sounding and sensationalizing things that people throw out for attention are often either slightly or sometimes blatantly out of context.

    Peace and blessings…


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