When Parenting Kills: A Teachable Moment

Barbara Curtis, at the widely read blog Mommy Life, hits it out of the park with this post:  Growing Outrage At Michael Pearl and His Response to a Child’s Death

Michael Pearl expresses no remorse for teaching his followers to strike their children with a plumbing supply line until they are in complete submission. Instead, as he says, he “laughs at his critics” and sneers that his children – so bright and well-adjusted – will be the responsible citizens while any raised without his methods will be dependent on government entitlements.

….Michael Pearl himself escalated this into a scandal by his reaction to criticism, which revealed his true heart.

True.  Meanwhile, as Barbara points out, this is a teachable moment for parents:

A time when we can reflect on our own parenthood. For me, the bottom line in parenting is that I try to remember how God treats me – with mercy and grace.

This tragedy also offers a teachable moment for people who — perhaps understandably — are defensive and confused about why the Pearls have a place in this story since they weren’t the ones holding down Lydia and Zariah and whipping them ’til their internal organs began to fail, since nothing so extreme happened in their homes though they follow the same materials.

As Barbara says:

Just because you were able to “eat the meat and spit out the bones” doesn’t mean that others might be choking on them even as we speak. And others have choked and died emotionally and spiritually.

So it’s a moment also to realize with compassion that distributing the Pearls’ material far and wide is a bad idea.

The Pearls ship boxes of free sample issues of their publications to homeschool convention planners to be stuffed in attendee packets.  Convinced Pearl followers buy the books by the case and give them away.  At the very least this broad distribution is unwise.   If there is anything we can learn from the death of Lydia Schatz it is that you never really know the situation in other peoples’ homes.

The Schatz family had no history of abuse, and were admired for their sweetness, generosity and hospitality. You think you know what a family on the edge of horrific child abuse looks like — but this tragedy shows us all that we don’t.

We need to remember that the people most likely to adhere too closely to a set of parenting instructions are those who are least able to filter them with a timely “reality check”.  They share a deep desire to rise above the home life they grew up in and to raise the kind of happy family the Pearls portray. Advice that, to others, might seem over the top, may not strike them that way.

Advice like the following which is directed to parents of a 3 or 4 year old child, from “Different Techniques to Control Parents” :

When she screams or flees, calmly follow through by physically subduing her. Sit on her, if you have to, and slowly explain that you will not tolerate this resistance. Explain in a normal tone (She will eventually stop screaming and listen) that you are going to give her, say, five licks for the original offense and an additional two licks for the fit. Slowly apply the five licks, counting out loud. When I say slowly, I mean with a thirty second gap between each lick and a calm explanation to the screaming child that you are not the least impressed except that you are going to spank harder and she still gets the additional two licks plus one more for her ongoing screaming. When you have finally arrived at five well- anticipated and carefully counted licks, say, “OK, your spanking is over; that is the five licks you got for hitting your brother, but now I must give you two more for trying to run away.” Give her one lick and say, “Now, that is one of the licks for running away; you have one more coming.” Give the second lick, and then calmly and slowly explain that all her licks are over now, except for the one additional lick she incurred for continuing to scream during the spanking. After you have finished, tell her that you are going to let her up now, if she stops screaming, otherwise you are going to give her one additional lick. If she stops, or at least makes a great effort to, then you have won. You may never have to go through this horrible time again. But, if she is continuing to scream in defiance, you have the option of continuing to warn and spank, or of ceasing here with a parting warning: “Next time you better not run and throw a fit; for if you do, you will only get more licks and harder ones.”

Makes it a little easier to see where a parent could go off the rails, and/or a child could be injured, doesn’t it?


About katiekind

Enjoying the second half of life. I have three sons who are the apples of my eye and a wonderful husband of 35 years--those are the important things. Long ago, out of the blue, I became a Christian. It was something I never planned on, but what joy it has been. I do website development and I like to read and garden and paint and I love beauty and truth.
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3 Responses to When Parenting Kills: A Teachable Moment

  1. oh, my goodness, yes.

  2. TulipGirl says:

    Thank you for what you’ve written. . . I always appreciate how you can clear away the fog and shine light on the heart of the matter.

  3. Pingback: TulipGirl » Blog Archive » Speaking Out, Updated. . .

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