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Patheos blog series offers page-by-page commentary on To Train Up a Child

a recent post in the series
a recent post in the series

Multi-faith web site Patheos has been hosting a weekly, in-depth look at the entire text of the abusive parenting book To Train Up a Child, complete with commentary about its teachings and better ways to deal with discipline issues.

Series author Libby Anne explained in the first post of the series:

You probably know that I’ve been writing a page-by-page review of Debi Pearl’s manual on how to be a good wife, Created To Be His Help Meet. I’ve decided to begin doing the same for Michael and Debi Pearl’s child training manual, To Train Up A Child. Because the text is available online, I’m going to quote the entire thing over the course of this series rather than just excerpts. The end product will be the text of To Train Up A Child, with my commentary. I will be posting a new excerpt each Monday.

...And, as you may expect, I’ll be sharing some positive parenting tips and suggestions and contrasting them with what the Pearls advise.

The series began in August 2013 and is ongoing. Current posts include:

  • Laying out the Goal
  • The Promise of Perfection
  • Dogs, Soldiers, and Disturbing Analogies
  • Immediate Obedience or Death
  • Definitional Discussions and Pavlov’s Dog
  • Children Should Be Convenient
  • Booty Camp, Crying as “Manipulation,” and Switching Babies
  • This Is What Got Lydia Schatz Killed
  • The Grocery Store Terrorist
  • Short-Circuiting Children’s Natural Development
  • The Spiritual Fetus
  • “Child Development” My Foot!
  • Anger Management, Pearl Style
  • I Made a Child That I Don’t Like
  • The Strings That Suffocate
  • In Which Michael Admits Children Have Feelings
  • Pulling a Child’s Strings
  • If You Love Your Children, You Will Beat Them
  • Don’t Let Your Empathy (or Flashbacks) Get in the Way of Your Corporal Discipline
  • God Spanks His Children
  • Children Want To Be Beaten
  • Guilt, Self Loathing, and Punishment, Oh My!
  • The “Magic Wand”
  • Applying the Rod
  • The Naked Sword of the Law
  • Children Obey Your Siblings
  • Blessed Mother, Don’t Have Mercy
  • The Bigger Bully
  • Police State
  • Spank Your Baby to Sleep
  • Debi Pearl Knows Nothing about Babysitting

As mentioned, the series is ongoing and more posts are published weekly.

Libby Anne sometimes has emotional reactions to the text as she discusses it. For instance, in TTUAC: Children Want To Be Beaten, she quotes the book and discusses the way Pearl tells readers that actually want to be painfully whipped. After scrutinizing this section paragraph by paragraph, she says:

Go ahead and reread those three paragraphs a couple of times. Yes, Michael says that what makes a child angry is not being hit with plumbing supply line but rather, well, not being hit with plumbing supply line. And yes, he said that not being spanked creates “bitterness,” because the child knows that by not being spanked she is being treated unfairly. And yes, there was this line: “both the child and the adult have an innate need to be governed.” In other words, as we’ll see, children actually want and need to be punished “with the rod,” for the sake of their own consciences and to free them from bondage to self.

And yes, Michael says the child who misbehaves feels “guilt and self-loathing.” And you read that next line—that any punishment besides a painful whipping just makes the child “more vile.” Yes, Michael really did say that it is the lack of a painful whipping (Michael’s words, not mine) that “provoke the child to anger.” And yes, he said that any punishment besides a painful whipping magnifies the problem, and that in these cases “his heart of uncleanness is confirmed in its evil.” Michael really did just write all of that.

After commenting on alternative, positive ways of dealing with misbehavior and offering insight into all of the messages in this section, she finishes off the post by saying:

I was going to keep going, but I can’t. In what follows this passage, Michael explains what he means about children’s self-loathing and guilt, and goes on about how much children actually want painful whippings, and can in fact only be happy if beaten.

It should be noted that this series is hosted on an atheist, feminist section of the multi-faith Patheos site and the author is herself a survivor of an abusive conservative Christian upbringing. While she brings some of her own experiences (such as here, where she wrote about how she was put in charge of hitting her younger siblings) into her posts, the series does not seem to be an indictment on religion in itself or anything other than To Train Up a Child.

It should also be noted that many, many Christians have spoken out against To Train Up a Child. You can read some of their statements here.

The stand against the abusive teachings of TTUAC has been and should always remain a multi-faith movement. There should be no room for the sort of abuse the Pearls advocate in any church, group or home.

This series is an excellent page-by-page dissection of Michael and Debi Pearl's actual words, tempered with the insight, common sense and compassion that our children deserve.

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