A reader writes:
The line from one of your readers about the need to break a child’s spirit made me weep. It is the last thing any of us need as children. Parents need to building up a child’s spirit to withstand the inevitable disappointments of adulthood.
On that note, another reader touches on the religious angle of corporal punishment:
Have you seen this book, To Train A Child? Apparently is it “christian” to start beating children with a rubber hose before (~12 months) they are capable of understanding of why they are being punished. A “good christian” parent is supposed to break their children’s will and make them utterly obedient to them as they are obedient to god, all because of a line about “spare the rod, spoil the child.” It is horrifying how many five-star reviews the book has. Just reading them makes one wonder how this book can possibly be regarded as “christian” in anything other than a deranged sense of the word.
From a one-star review that cites several horrific passages:
This book has been linked to several cases of child abuse and the deaths of no less than 3 children.
I am the mama of 6 beautiful children – some homegrown, some who came to us from other countries – each of them precious. I firmly believe that each child comes to you a full person. It is my job as a mama to encourage their strong points and give them tools to help them overcome their weaker qualities. It is never, ever my job to decide who they are, to break their spirits or to teach them cruelty in their own homes. My kids range in age from 14-2 and each of them is a blessing. Each of them is different. Each of them needs something different from us regarding discipline. Love your kids. Get to know them. If you are a believer, ask God for guidance. And DON’T BUY THIS BOOK.
Some excerpts: On p.65 co-author Debi Pearl whips the bare leg of a 15 month old she is babysitting, 10 separate times, for not playing with something she tells him to play with. After about ten acts of stubborn defiance, followed by ten switchings, he surrendered his will to one higher than himself. In rolling the wheel, he did what every accountable human being must do-he humbled himself before the “highest” and admitted that his interests are not paramount. After one begrudged roll, my wife turned to other chores
On p.59 they recommend spanking a 3 year old until he is “totally broken.” She then administers about ten slow, patient licks on his bare legs. He cries in pain. If he continues to show defiance by jerking around and defending himself, or by expressing anger, then she will wait a moment and again lecture him and again spank him. When it is obvious he is totally broken, she will hand him the rag and very calmly say, “Johnny, clean up your mess.” He should very contritely wipe up the water.
On p.79 they recommend switching a 7 month old for screaming. A seven-month-old boy had, upon failing to get his way, stiffened clenched his fists, bared his toothless gums and called down damnation on the whole place. At a time like that, the angry expression on a baby’s face can resemble that of one instigating a riot. The young mother, wanting to do the right thing, stood there in helpless consternation, apologetically shrugged her shoulders and said, “What can I do?” My incredulous nine-year-old whipped back, “Switch him.” The mother responded, “I can’t, he’s too little.” With the wisdom of a veteran who had been on the little end of the switch, my daughter answered, “If he is old enough to pitch a fit, he is old enough to be spanked.”
Lord have mercy.
Update from a reader:
I can’t stand to read this thread any longer. It is so painful to realize how I applied some the same practices described because my “church” taught me to. And, even after I left that church, my depression kept me in so much pain that I would lash out against my children’s infractions with those same tactics. I’m so very thankful that I got the treatment I needed for my depression before my children left the home, so I could show them the patient, kind, loving person who was entrapped in that depression.
So painful to read. So desperately necessary to be written.