Wednesday, May 11, 2011

REAL parenting joy

So yesterday I shared my reservations about GKGW.  Thank you for your comments.  I realize that many loving parents do use Babywise and don't sabotage their milk supply.  I realize that doing GKGW doesn't mean your baby will scream in his crib for an hour until he vomits.  Many caring parents use Babywise with common sense and do just fine.  I thank those parents for extending grace to me when I say that it did not work for us.

And now I'm on to another Christian parenting book that is popular in my circle.  No Greater Joy Ministries, a fundamentalist Christian ministry that puts out several popular parenting and marriage books.  I have read To Train Up A Child No Greater Joy (Vol. 1-3), Rebekah's Diary, and Created To Be His Helpmeet.   They were all interesting reads, and did contain nuggets of helpful truth.  But in the end, I cannot recommend them.  My husband always encourages me to chew up the grain and spit out the straw, but at some point the grain-to-straw ratio becomes unpalatable.  And the poisonous nature of some specific straw (is my metaphor breaking down here?) makes it dangerous to ingest.  (Just ask the two children who died because of its teachings.)

Let me explain.

My husband has dined with Michael and Debbie Pearl and says that they are kind, meek, loving people.  I have some issues with their doctrines (KJV only, water baptism only, sinless perfection, etc), but I don't doubt that they genuinely love Jesus and desire to strengthen families.  What I do doubt is their method and their general feelings about child-parent relations.

The Pearls say that their methods will work 100% of the time.  If you end a spanking before you have achieved 100% outward submission and repentance in your child, you have failed.  Which will make it even harder to break your child the next time.  If your child flees from you, you should stalk them, hold them down and beat them.  When you are spanking them, you should act like it's a big joke and pretend you have lost count of how many licks you have given and jest that you must start over.  You should wear your switch around your neck so your children are always reminded of your authority.   BUT, if you are steadfast and continue to whip your child until they repent, every single time they disobey, with utter impunity (and a smile on your face!) you will have completely happy and obedient children. 

Most rational, thinking, loving people can read that and realize it is a load of hogwash (not to mention disgusting!).  There is NO guarantee of a perfect outcome.  God has disobedient children, who am I to think that I am a better parent than He?  What we must do is PRAY!  Often and in earnest!  Ask the Lord what we should do and teach our children the Word from an early age.

But there are folks out there who do not have this common sense check in their spirits.  Well-meaning, Christian folks who read these books and fall under a load of condemnation for their children's faults.  Who read these books and think, "If I just spank more/harder/more consistently......if I just break my child's will....then I will have an absolute guarantee of their success!"  And so they throw rational thinking to the wind and end up with dead children.

I understand the draw of a guarantee, but as attractive as that thought is, there is no biblical precedent for this.  Instead we must draw near to God in faith and work with Him to train our children and LOVE them into the kingdom.

In addition to the sickening descriptions of spankings in the book,  the entire premise of the parent-child dynamic seemed off to me.  It, and books like it, seem to promote a ruler-serf mentality with children and parents.  I am no permissive parent, and firmly believe that this is the time to be my child's parent - friendship will come later.  However, I see no reason to be my child's adversary.  I want to be his coach, his teacher, his cheerleader.  The Bible says we are co-heirs with Christ.  We are growing in grace and wisdom together and I see no reason to assume antagonism between my children and myself.   Yes, there are times when they must submit to my leadership as the mother of the home.  But they are also my brothers and sisters in Christ, and we, as a family unit, are trying to follow hard after Him. 

I didn't want to write this.  I had read parts of the Pearl's books and liked them.  But when you know better, you do better.  And I know better now.


Anonymous said...

That was a breath of fresh air. Thank you. Could you review "Grace Based Parenting" next?

Tamara said...

If I'd read it :) Anyone have a copy they want to lend me?

Anonymous said...

I stumbled on your review of TTUAC, and thought I might point out the following. I totally understand how disgusting the Pearl's views of child-rearing would appear to folks; and I don't entirely agree with it myself. But it seems to even a critic like myself that most people who read the books only come away with the more spectacle-driven parts of the book on spanking itself. Too many of their critics miss the balance they insist on (repeatedly) throughout their writings, regarding things like trust and fellowship. I'm quoting from memory here, but one thing Michael insists on is this: "Discipline should never conflict with fellowship with your children. If you have to choose between discipline and fellowship, ALWAYS choose fellowship." They point out many occasions in which a child should absolutely not be spanked. And consider their constant reminder, especially in their magazine, that parents who are not, on the whole, cheerful and happy should never under any circumstances spank their children. Don't get me wrong: their laissez-faire attitude towards spanking will certainly appear abusive on its own. But to their credit, they don't present it on its own, though their critics believe (wrongly) that they are only about spanking, and as often as possible. I don't often hear their critics refer "To the Recipients of the Millstone Award," which, while only a few sentences long, is one of the most caustic denunciations of child abuse that I know of. I disagree with much of Michael's theology and some of his child-rearing advice, but it is for me a breath of fresh air in light of the many parents I know who forgo teaching their children how to behave, end up raising brats, and pat themselves on the back for not having been "abusive" parents--not that I'm saying you're one of those kinds of parents. I have a friend whose son has tried to hit my son four different times in the head with a blunt object. No discipline from his parents each time. But I get an earful from them on the fact that I have the Pearls' books on my shelves. Just a cat-call from the bleachers.

Tamara said...

I agree that the Pearls have great stuff in their books about fellowship and tying strings with your kiddos. Really, there are many great things in the books.

BUT, the descriptions of spankings made me sick to my stomach. We do spank our children at times, but not in the style of the Pearls.

I also take issue with the tone of their writings. They call people names fairly often, and are abusive towards those who disagree with them. He says on his website, "If you do not see the wisdom in what I have said, and you reject these concepts, you are not fit to be a parent. I pity your children. They will never experience the freedom of soul and conscience that mine do." To me, that shows a marked lack of humility.

MP commits a logical fallacy in his teachings, however. He basically says there are two options: his way or permissive parenting. But there are MANY ways to parent. And a wise mom can definitely deliver consequences without spanking, especially Pearl style.

Tomorrow I'll discuss why we MUST evaluate teachings in light of Scripture and why teachers must be held responsible for their teachings.

Julie said...

I completely agree with you!! The danger in these books is that not all people can take the good and leave the bad. And to their credit, with the kind of claims that MP makes one would be "afraid" to do it ANY OTHER way for fear of ruining their children. I was given all of these book when I had my first child. (I have 4 now). I am so thankful that God put a check on my spirit as I read. I begin to see the inconsistencies in his teaching. In some cases speaking of showing NO mercy and than in other cases showing mercy. I was confused. But the clincher was his statement about being 100% consistent and you will have 100% success. I knew then and there that I would fail. I am not perfect, and neither are my children...for me to expect that would only cause extreme discouragement and utter failure. I remember the day I threw one of his books across the room as I had that epiphany. I feel like God saved our family years of heartache.

SusanJ said...

Thank you ... fresh air indeed. NO child should ever be spanked. It's cruel, demeaning, and teaches nothing. It also makes a child fear parents, and induces anger and hate. And the Pearls vile methods of treating children just disgust me to my stomach and soul.

"Discipline should never conflict with fellowship with your children. If you have to choose between discipline and fellowship, ALWAYS choose fellowship." - if I followed THIS piece of advice, i would NEVER hit a child - how can fellowship possibly be formed by hitting it ??

One can denounce child abuse as much as you like, but still on the other hand advocate such brutal treatment of children as the Pearls do.

Anonymous - how do you KNOW for sure that child wasn't 'disciplined'? Just because perhaps he wasn't spanked in front of you, or you weren't told about the discipline might not mean he didn't receive any! Perhaps HIS parents actually know that discipline means to TEACH not to hit. And not a spanking or any other punishment such as talking, demonstration and time out etc are going to work first time. In fact, that child might well have been spanked, and that could well answer as to why he thought that hitting another being was ok. After all, if you are hit by someone who is three times larger than you [and who is supposed to love and protect you] when they are cross with you, why wouldn't you copy that behaviour??

I am a 56 yr old grandmother who WAS spanked as a child. I was a quiet, well behaved child - and my parents lost me from the first smack the first time they spanked me. They lost my love, trust and respect. I have never respected anyone who hits another. And how could I trust anyone who hits me ?? I learned only fear, pain, anger, hate and resentment. I learned they lied as adults would and could do anything and get away with it. [After all, I was told not to hit ... but they did, how was this right? !!] I learned they didn't love me - and no, that post spanking pep talk of 'oh we love you' told me nothing ... meant nothing as they had just hit me.

I never hit my children, and they are wonderful adults. My daughter doesn't hit her two children either and they are delightful children.

I believe that no one should be hit ever - I can't hit my husband, or you or even a criminal, and I can't hit an animal - so why on earth should I be allowed to hit a defenceless child?

Jesus told us to love one another. Hitting is NOT loving between adults .. and it certainly isn't loving to a child.

I also would love to take every book with such dangerous, spiteful and unkind teachings of how to parent and put them on a pyre. Children deserve better than this. If you teach a child violence ... it is more likely to go on to commit yet more violence and believe that hitting a child is acceptable. It isn't ...

Amber Rain said...

I recommend "Spiritual Parenting" by Michelle Anthony. One conversation Bob and I have had regarding demanding obedience/authoritarian parenting while not giving voice to children is the implications of living in a world that demands worship for everything BUT God.

Kari said...

WOW! I agree that the Word of God and prayer are our real helps, but this representation of the book was ridiculous. I am a parent that has chosen to use this book. Many of my friends have chosen to and not to use this book. This over view of this book was not a reflection of this book at all.

mommyx12 said...

I read their book too. And I read Created to be His Helpmeet. I enjoyed both but I also have the freedom to pick and choose what I liked and didn't like. That's the beauty of books like this and free thinking. Like you I strongly advocate prayer in the relationship between parent and child. The Lord knows each of us and knows what is best for each of us. Staying close to the Lord is KEY in every thing we take on as parents.

I'm a softy when it comes to extending the corporal punishment they spoke of. Spanking my child to the point of exhaustion for both them and me is totally unthinkable and unnecessary. I have found in my 28 plus years of raising a houseful of children that the more hugs, kisses, and positive feelings shown toward my children almost always brings a child to want to obey. The nurturing that comes between mother and child goes a long way in raising competent, obedient, caring, unselfish children.

So what's my point? I don't even know!! I think what I'm aiming for is just that we as parents need to get our roadmap from the Lord as much as possible when raising our kids!!! And be open minded on what we read and willing to pick and choose ideas that are meant for building up those around us.

TulipGirl said...

A third child has died, related to TTUAC. *sigh*

In spite of the inspiring "tying-heartstrings" words, the underlying teachings of the book lead many families to intense parent-child antagonism. I know so many parents who regret the "well-intentioned child abuse" that they perpetrated while thinking they were doing the "right thing" for their families.

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