Thank you Michael and Debi Pearl, To Train Up a Child, and No Greater Joy. Another child, spanked to death.
For good measure, let’s thank EVERYONE who continues to support corporal punishment, especially when referring to it being biblical. Let’s thank EVERYONE who still believes that Michael Pearl is worthy of respect as a Christian leader, or as a parenting expert. Let’s thank EVERYONE who believes a parent can read one of the Pearl’s abuse manuals and “take the good while ignoring the bad”. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – if you’re just a heathen beating your kids, you’re a simple minded asshole and criminal. If you’re a Christian doing it, shame on you for abusing your children – while you’re still a simple minded asshole and a criminal – Jesus wouldn’t do that. Jesus wouldn’t hit a little kid with a piece of plumbing hardware.
If you’re a new reader and not familiar with my stand on spanking – here it is – I don’t believe in it. I don’t feel it’s EVER necessary to hit a child. In fact, over and over, I’ve presented evidence that it doesn’t work and given positive examples of alternative forms of discipline. A favorite target of mine is Michael Pearl, a self described parenting expert and Christian minister. He writes books that are widely read (and sadly followed) in the conservative Christian circle, especially homeschooling circles. He advocates beating children as young as infants, and describes the perfect “tool” as 1/4″ plumbing line.
If you want to read my previous posts about Michael and Debi Pearl, just enter “Pearl” in the search box on the right hand sidebar.
In his defense, Michael Pearl has responded to my efforts to blacklist his teachings and efforts (many successful) to remove his books from retailers and libraries, and his ads from mainstream homeschooling magazines. He’s called me a radical lesbian (duh) and an atheist (not true). What he hasn’t done is apologize for the deaths and serious injuries of several children.
Anyway, I’m sure my readers are intelligent enough to do a search and come to their own conclusions. I only speak for myself – spanking is child abuse.
Okay, now that I have all the favorite Pearl search terms out the way (because these are my most popular stats), I’ll get on to blogging.
I actually drafted a post about good parenting just prior to receiving an email (HT: Tulipgirl) about the above news story. Timely, for sure. This weekend, while dining with a group of friends in a small restaurant on the coast, I witnessed some of the best parenting I’ve seen since, well, since I had toddlers (multiple toddlers). A youngish couple entered with what appeared to be about 18 month old twin girls, and a maybe 2 1/2 or 3 year old girl. Boy, could I relate. One toddler can be a handful, but three is nearly impossible, and I can say that because I had three toddlers at the same time. Taking them out to eat? In a packed resort area? At what I believe would have been ‘nap time’ when my kids were young. A recipe for disaster, or at the very least, a lot of crankiness.
Sure enough, about a minute after being seated, one of the tiny girls (adorable) started fussing and screaming. Did the parents raise their voices, act embarrassed, fuss back, leave, or hit? None of the above. Mom scooped up tiny screaming girl, and walked to a quiet area just outside the seating area. She plopped tiny on a bench, said firmly “Sit there until you’re calm” and handed her a stuffed bunny (which she immediately threw to the ground and continued to scream). Mom backed off about 10′ and stood patiently, watching, didn’t pick up the bunny, but at one point pointed at the little girl when it appeared she may have been thinking of getting down. I’m convinced that if she had, mom would have simply planted her back on that bench without a word. Within about 90 seconds, the screaming had been reduced to dramatic sniffles, and finally, quiet. Mom picked up bunny, handed it to tiny, scooped her up, hugged and kissed her, and took her back in to eat, again, all without a word, and peace then prevailed. No, the kids weren’t silent or perfect, but they were relatively quiet and acted appropriate for their ages, and mom and dad didn’t attempt to correct appropriate behavior (a bit of spoon banging and minor whining). Since the kids were acting age appropriately, none of the neighboring diners were upset, nor were the parents. No reason to discipline kids for being kids, right?
I know people will say “but my kid won’t sit in time out”. That’s because you have the expectation that they won’t. Time out isn’t punishment, it’s removing the child from the source of their error, discomfort, motivation, or distraction and allowing them to self correct their behavior so they can return to the place where they are part of their social center, their comfort zone. Children want to be in the center. Removing them from that is a primary motivation. Moving them to a place where there are NO distractions gives them a peaceful place to recenter and a desire to return to the center of comfort. If they attempt to leave, return them, and keep doing it until they understand that they won’t leave that spot until they are calm – predetermining a time limit doesn’t work. That’s punishment. Punishment doesn’t change behavior. If it modifies it at all, it’s only to teach the child not to get caught.
Anyway, if you were a bookish looking couple, dining at a small cafe in Cannon Beach on Valentine’s day, with your three little girls, you have my admiration for your patience, and your obvious good sense. Your kids were adorable.