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Monday, June 19, 2006

I recently read a book that is quite popular among Christian homeschoolers - "To Train Up a Child" by Michael and Debi Pearl. Some quotes from the material:

"One particularly painful experience of nursing mothers is the biting baby. My wife did not waste time finding a cure. When the baby bit, she pulled hair (an alternative has to be sought for baldheaded babies)"

"At four months, she was too unknowing to be punished for disobedience. But for her own good, we attempted to train coordinating the voice command of "No" with little spats on the bare legs. The switch was a twelve-inch long, one-eighth-inch diameter sprig from a willow tree."

"Select your instrument according to the child's size. 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. Sometimes alternatives have to be sought. 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."

Lord have mercy. Whipping a four month old with a switch? Belts and tree branches? Pulling hair? What are these people thinking? There is plenty more in there that just sounds appalling (and illegal!) to me. This reads like plain child abuse. And all in the name of God.

I am sorry - well, not really -- but I don't for a minute believe that God wants me to whip my four months old with willow switches. Shudder.

posted by Birgit
8 comments at 10:59 PM

That really scared me; I cannot believe that anyone advocates punishing an infant for biting while nursing.
Does the author really believe an infant has that sort of nueral development to connect the dot?
It would seem to me, perhaps a person far too liberal for the author, that the authorities would have every right to step in and remove a child from that sort of treatment.
You're right, Birgit, that is just not Christian behavior, it's abuse.
Do these people advocate stoning? Oh wait, they'll excuse that as Old Testament. OK, how about slavery then, since there is a basis for that in the New Testament?
oh, oh, stop! I laughed out loud when I read "a larger tree branch!" They have to be kidding, right? Wait, wouldn't num-chucks be even more effective?!
Well, I most certainly don't agree with all that the Pearl's teach, but when my babies bit me, I flicked their cheek with my fingers and they stopped. Also I swatted my kids if they wouldn't lay still for a diaper change if they were wildly flailing about and I couldn't change them.

Also, these books really helped me to gain the control I needed because my kids were not respecting me and walking all over me. They were not happy and I was not happy. When we 'got stricter' and spanked them with the 'rod' the attitudes changed and we had a MUCH happier family life.

I can see how the Pearl's stuff can be taken the wrong way, and implemented in the wrong way, but it helped us and I'm thankful for that.

Just my $.02
There is much in the book that is good (when they aren't talking about spanking methodology) - but to me the idea of hitting a four months old with a willow switch, or according to their website, a quarter inch plumbing supply line (!), hitting with belts, or pulling hair as "training tools" is abhorrent.
Unfortunately, abuse in the name of God isn't uncommon.
I'm no longer surprised by what I read from so-called "Christian" authors.
If material can be "misunderstood" in a way that leads to child abuse, then it is incumbent upon the authors to clarify what they are teaching.

There *are* better ways of helping infants and toddlers learn boundaries without hairpulling or hitting.
I totally agree with you!!! Double shudder!!!

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