Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hey, Kids: On Thanksgiving, Be Thankful That Your Parents Don't Follow These Pearls Of Wisdom.

They might land your parents in jail - and you in the morgue.

Last week's sentencing of Larri and Carrie Williams for the death of their daughter Hanna Williams refocused on the books and teachings of Michael and Debbi Pearl:

Two parents in Washington state have been found guilty of murder after following the abusive parenting techniques advocated in the parenting book "To Train Up a Child" by Michael and Debi Pearl.

It all started with James Dobson

In the 50s parental child abuse seemed to terminate with Dr. Benjamin Spock. In fact, it was Spock who was blamed for the permissive parenting (hence the rebellious, anti-war youth) in the 50s and 60s. He was widely criticized for encouraging parents to treat each child as an individual - an individual who needed self-expression and affection.

The Christian Right started to find a niche in the pro-war movement, denouncing the "hippies" who were pro-"love" and anti-war (it was Norman Vincent Peale who spearheaded a denunciation of Spock and his guidelines). And while they weren't as successful as they wished in bringing youth (via discipline) back to the fold, they proclaimed their voice and stance through preachers and televangelists like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.Nevertheless, the hawk disaster that was Viet Nam made things difficult for preachers of stern parenting, so it was with a sigh of relief that Dr. James Dobson came on the scene with "Dare to Discipline" (1977). Dobson became founder of the "Vatican of the West" - Focus on The Family with its headquarters in Colorado Springs - as well as a prominent leader in the Christian Right.*

Dobson's influence increased with by his stance against homosexuality and his opinion that it was a "choice" brought about by environmental factors. The Christian Right, of course, ate it up, including his views on parenting: "spanking" became OK - to a limited degree - and stern, disciplinary parents felt vindicated and relieved.

The Words Of A Knife-throwing Sadist** And A Jesus Freak***.

When the Pearls came on the scene with To Train Up A Child in 1994, few people bought into the idea that rebellious children, like livestock, could be trained into docile, obedient kids willing to do their parent's bidding at the drop of a hat. But the champion "hatchet man"* and his Jesus Freak mate* persevered, producing subsequent books, becoming a grass roots effort to tame children according to the Bible.

"625,000 copies in print!"

The most disturbing thing about the Pearls' cover: not the smiling child unaware that he's about to be "disciplined" if he quits smiling, but the "625,000 copies in print." It may be true that the Pearls now have a following, but it is the following of parents who are willing to "break their spirits" at any cost. In this aspect, the Pearls treat children more like horses. Rubber hoses are used more like riding crops - crops that will leave no mark should the child welfare agency come around.

The title, of course, should be indicative: the Pearls are not about rearing or parenting, but TRAINING and subduing any child's willfulness. Children are "disciplined" with switches as young as 6 months old. Boundaries are set (indeed, there are admonitions for children who crawl off a blanket). And while it is true that they guard against abuse, they delight in submissive, obedient children to the point of obsession:
In a lengthy diatribe on his Facebook fan page, he wrote that he and his family are all laughing at the "caustic critics" who have come out against him after the death of Lydia Schatz. He writes that children who are disciplined according to his methods "...become the models of self-control and discipline... that pay the taxes your children will receive in entitlements."
"My granddaughters laugh with joy after giving their baby dolls a spanking for “being naughty” because they know their dolls will grow up to be the best mamas and daddies in the world—just like them."
Perhaps they "laugh with joy" because they are transferring the pain down to another object. The possibility that these children will make good parents is slim indeed.

"Truly An Evil Book"

Although the Pearls actually make conciliatory statements against child abuse, most people agree with the definition of child abuse as causing undue pain. The abhorrent technique of causing pain to infants has caused people to speak out against the Pearls and focus on when their techniques are put to overuse. Review on Amazon:
2 people wrote this book. 900 people gave this book 5-star reviews. That's 902 people that the police should be keeping an eye on.
Too bad the police didn't keep an eye on Carrie and Larry Williams: 
On the night of May 11, 2011, sometime around midnight, 13-year-old Hana Williams fell face-forward in her parents’ backyard. Adopted from Ethiopia three years before, Hana was naked and severely underweight. Her head had recently been shaved, and her body bore the scars of repeated beatings with a plastic plumbing hose. Inside the house, her adoptive mother, 42-year-old Carri Williams, and a number of Hana’s eight siblings had been peering out the window for the past few hours, watching as Hana staggered and thrashed around, removed her clothing in what is known as hypothermic paradoxical undressing and fell repeatedly, hitting her head. According to Hana’s brother Immanuel, a deaf 10-year-old also adopted from Ethiopia, the family appeared to be laughing at her.
Hana was pronounced dead at the hospital, the cause hypothermia compounded by malnutrition and gastritis. The following day, when Child Protective Services tried to check on the other children, Larry Williams refused to let them in. When police followed up, a deputy noted that the family acted as though Hana’s death was “an everyday occurrence.” Twelve days later, detectives and CPS conducted interviews with the children, but their answers seemed rote and rehearsed, all repeating that Hana was rebellious and refused to mind Carri; one child said he thought Hana was possessed by demons. According to investigators, Immanuel said that “people like [Hana] got spankings for lying and go into the fires of hell,” just before Larry abruptly ended the interview.
As investigators searched the house—so orderly it didn’t look like eight children lived there, wrote Detective Theresa Luvera in her warrant affidavit—they found a fundamentalist Christian child-rearing book called To Train Up A Child, written by Michael and Debi Pearl, which advises raising children to obey without question by starting to spank them when they're just a few months old. The book has been implicated in the beating deaths of two other adoptees—an American boy in North Carolina and a Liberian girl in California; the prosecuting attorney in the latter case, Michael Ramsey, called it “truly an evil book.”
Giving Thanks

While the abusive "training techniques" were carried to the exceptional extremes, the Williamses are not alone in their zealous behavior: millions of children are "trained" routinely, using the spare-the-rod-spoil-the-child dictum of the Old Testament. Some of those children will overcome the beatings (as some of their parents had), while others will not: they will suffer emotional as well as physical scars and a few, like Hana, will die. 

Children across the country may not know it, but they should be giving thanks that their parents are not following the Pearls' teachings or their "truly evil book."

*While not an ordained minister, Dobson has his 18 honorary doctorates from Christian colleges and universities prominently displayed behind glass at Focus On The Family.

** From the book:
On another note, Michael is an inductee into the International Knife Throwers Hall of Fame and holds several world titles, including Gold Cup winner of 2008-9, long distance thrower of the year with a record all time high of hitting a four inch target at 63 feet, and he is the undisputed best tomahawk thrower of 2009, holding the world title.
***Debi Pearl grew up during the 1960s at the height of the hippie revolution and the Jesus Movement. The forced draft due to the Vietnam War brought a sense of eternity to the youth, provoking them to seriously consider their souls. It was a time of a great move of the Spirit of God. As a teenager, dressed in tie-dye tee shirt and long drooping peasant skirt, she stood on the highways and byways sharing the gospel and seeing miracle after miracle of God’s amazing grace. She married her life mate, Michael Pearl, in 1971.

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