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I'm doing a live-tweet thread of 'To Train Up a Child', by the Pearls, so TW for abuse, 'discipline' and evangelical extremes. Definitely go ahead and mute this whole thread/conversation as it will likely be brutal, and I'm talking about my childhood too. #exvangelical
Fair admission, I have an early(ish) edition and they MAY have changed some of the content in later prints such as the one on the right (which I remember my parents owning). The first print was in 1994 — this copy, the 11th print, 1999.
Second point, this book alone cannot be blamed for my parents behaviour. I don't know if they had the book first, or if it backed up their own understanding. But even a flick through has re-enforced my memories of what it was like growing up in an Authoritarian household.
I'll be sure to stop reading if it starts doing my head in, and will take a break to get pizza.

Also, I'm not a child psychologist or even a parent myself, however I don't think you have to be either of those to draw an opinion on the content of this book.
Two pages in and I am absolutely aghast. Quotes to follow.
From the intro: 'These truths are not new....rather, the same principles the Amish use to train their stubborn mules, the fans technique God uses to train his children.'

Okay, so, he's coming in right away with, 'Truths'. He's presenting this book as, 'God's Technique'
Chapter 1, and he opens with a joke because nothing says, 'Here's a book recommending that you hit your children, even if it hurts you to do so' like opening with a joke.

From now on, I'm picturing a smug grin on the writer.

Joke quoted below:
"When you tell some parents they need to switch their kids, they respond, 'I would if I could find someone willing to trade.'"

THIS. This smug attitude on grown up Christians who hit their kids is something that has ALWAYS sat wrong with me. You're cracking jokes?
Reminds me of Eric Porterfield and the way he joked on TV about drowning his kids if they turned out to be gay, and did it with this mask of a grin on his face. What is that?

"I have had children in my house that would be enough to give an electric wheat grinder a nervous breakdown. Another hour with them, and I would be searching the yellow pages for discount vasectomies."

We get it, #MichaelPearl, you don't like kids.
"Another mother walks in with her little ones and sits down to talk. She says, 'Go out...to play and don't bother Mama unless you need something.' For the next two hours, we are not even aware the children are present."

Stepford Children?
"When the children are called to go home, one says, 'Mama, can I stay and play with Shoshanna?' Mother answers no...The little fellow is picked up. Hugging his mother's neck he says, 'I love you Mama.'

This mother has trained up children who bring her joy and honor."
Nice enough of your child brings you joy, and understands that you make final decisions as the grown up, but I think what will quickly become apparent is that this is not 'honor' its fear.
"Training does not necessarily require that the trainee be capable of reason: even mice and rats can be trained to respond to stimuli."

I think it's fair to say, no childhood psychologists or experts will be consulted in this book, rather the kids will be treated like animals.
I thought this was going to be a book about inappropriate, old fashioned discipline. It's not. It's worse. It's about training a child to obey the parent, without question, and submit. They talk about 'conditioning' a lot.
'Proper training always works on every child.'

Immediately, children are given no agency and are reduced to 'things' without personality, character or the space to have anything other than nuerotypical traits.
They repeat the often used one-tap verse, "Train up a child in the way free should go: and when he is old he will not depart from it."

It doesn't take much digging to show that, No, this verse either means something other than switch your children into absolute obedience or
We prove it wrong by existing (as survivors of this training).

A. we've not departed from it, in which case, okay, listen to us and acknowledge our choices,
B. We weren't trained,
C. The verse ain't true

Which will evangelicals/Christian extremists pick?
"Just think of the relief it would be if by one command you could gain the absolute, silent, concentrated attention of all your children. A sergeant can call his men to attention and then, without explaination, ignore them and they will stand frozen until they fall unconscious."

Also, if this was the expectation that this book and similar teaching gave to my dad, no WONDER he was constantly frustrated by the lack of RESULTS.
"TO THE REAR--MARCH!" translated to family language would be: 'Leave the room,' or, 'Go to bed.' Without question they would turn and go. This is normal in a well trained family."

This is NORMAL in a well trained family? That you command them like a platoon?
I mean, no wonder my dad thought that the correct way to respond to him was not only 'Yes' but 'Yes Sir.'

I saw one of my brothers caned again, and again, and again for only saying, 'Yes' and not 'Sir.' Ahh, and then some more for not stopping crying right away.
"Training is the conditioning of the child's mind before the crisis arises; it is preparation for future, instant, unquestioning obedience." - Michael Pearl, To Train Up a Child, here extolling a method that leads to a future of being abused by authority figures.
Wut did I just read
Here's a trick that recommend setting up when your child can't get even crawl (while they are rolling):

A. Place an enticing object where they can reach it
B. Say, No don't touch it
C. When they dive for it, "switch their hand once and say, No."
D. It may take several times
All I can see in my mind right now is welts on my baby siblings hands, and chubby legs below the nappy line.

My parents didn't set up tricks like this one, but they had obviously been taught that caning your child before they can talk is not just okay, it's Godly.
Michael (Debi too, but the book is mostly in his words), goes on to compare training of children to God planting a tree (trap) in the Garden of Eden for Adam and Eve. He's saying, this is how God trained, with tricks and pain, and you should too.
"I know a mother who had to call a baby-sitter everytime she takes a shower."

Well, now, that just didn't happen did it. 🤨
"One father tells of his training sessions with each toddler. He sets aside an evening for 'booty' camp, which is boot camp for toddlers."

I don't even.....booty camp...can we not.
Not examples from chapter one include training babies not to cry 'in order to manipulate the adults into constant servitude' - - this exaggerated language throughout - - how they switched their child into not crawling upstairs (a switch then left on the bottom step to scare them)
and switching toddlers who do not come immediately when called.
We've all held a baby that wants to go down, and does the wiggling and does the straightening and tries the slippery eel
The Pearl's tell a story to finish off the chapter of a father holding a slippery, wiggly baby that wants to go down, and how that father trains the baby by spanking his legs. "He has trained many a horse or mule"
The baby starts looking for its mother, thinking her more sympathetic, turning to find her, by the father keeos turning him back and swatting his chubby legs. "This episode had crossed over from obedience training, to discipline for attitude."
A child's stubbornness, Michael Pearl says, "is the kind of determination you would expect to find in a hardened revelutionary facing enemy indoctrination." They often refer to children as terrorists in your home

If you didn't want kids in your home, why'd you breed em, Michael?
In a shop, "The child spies the object of unbridled lust. The battle is on!"

I'm sorry, is this a child or some kind of monster? Ahhh, yes, I forget that to Christian Extremists, children are full of evil, greed, anger, lust, pride, sin.
Omg. Jumping into chapter 2 (gunna take a break, quick glimpse):

"It was both to make you believe the Devil started out as an infant. I'm just thankful that one-year-old u weigh two-hundred pounds, or a lot more beers weighs be victims of homicide."

We get it, you hate kids.
I'll pick it up later. I'm INCREDIBLY grateful for the awesome #exvangelical folks who have paved the way for understanding these Evangelical/extremist teachings in a new, fresh way, and acknowledging the reality that goes along with it. Keep being you!
I'm back.

And I'm confused.

Here's the Pearl's entering chapter 2, 3 and 4
For those just joining, I'm live tweeting To Train Up a Child and its a mess (by mess, I mean, promotes violence towards children). #ExposeChristianDiscipline? #exvangelical
Talking about discipline is difficult, because every family is different, every experience is different, and you want to believe that your parents did the best they could with what they had
Also, I always get this churning in my stomache that if I critize my parents too hard at this point then one day my kids are going to be doing the very same thing to me one day, because each generation sees the previous through fresh eyes
But, you know what, when that happens, may God give me the grace (or I find the grace) to go, 'I'm sorry kids, let's keep moving on the journey together'
So, in Chapter 2, the Pearl's do that thing that authoritarian parents do, where the part they feel forced to do (switching, caning, discipline) is put on the back burner and they face the humanity of trying to bring up a small person well.
I hear them talking about love, and care, and growth, and small children as people, and almost forget that - - wait, nope, I just remembered, they were smacking babies not even out of nappies not that long ago.
The second chapter talks about the world being a womb (a temporary place of growing to be delivered into the next world), and much as a mother gives nutrition, oxygen and life to the fetus before birth (yes, they do say fetus), so do the parents give moral grounding on this earth
They talk about how a child cannot be held responsible for its moral choices at a young age, even by God, by that it's a parents responsibility to train a child into the way of morality because at Some Point they will become responsible for their choices (before God).
They also say God made humans to be filled with needs and desires for the "purpose of moral development", which, nah...............
As if everything is a temporary testing ground only designed to build character for the world to come. Not a fan.
Chapter 3 is an arguement that their so - called "training" will prevent a future of disciplining in anger. "Can you see a state trooper sitting on the side of the road shaking his fist and turning red with anger?" "Discipline them immediately upon the slightest disobedience."
With my parents, there was two kinds of discipline, one was the 'system' which was dispassionate, 'law' focused, with canings administered in private (training?) and the other was, family public swottings in crossness and stress because a situation had got out of hand.
Having one systematic discipline method certainly didn't do away with inthemoment angry spankings, or prevent stress and public outbursts but
being the parent on eleven kids, with one toddler and one on the way at all times, often in small houses, would cause anyone to be angry and react.

NOT AN EXCUSE mind you
If you cannot control yourself in a house with eleven children, if you are dealing with your own stress and complications including mental health issues at times, why do you HAVE eleven children? Worth an ask. #bigfamily
You know what? Chapter 4 is lovely. If it was lifted right out of the book and recreated elsewhere, I'd have thought it was a progressive teaching on treating your family well.
"The feelings of a child are just as important and sacred as those of an adult."

Is this the same book? #totrainupachild
"Alwats treat your child with respect."
I'm reminded by this chapter that evangelical/Christian Extremist parents are often walking this thin line between wanting to raise their child with love and living in fear of doing it wrong and their kid ending up without a soul.
This was always so confusing as a kid, and it's the reason too why it's SO HARD to step out and #ExposeChristianDiscipline because one day your receiving the cane, but another you are receiving love, affirmation and generosity.
As much as I'd like to, I can't paint my mom and dad as cartoon villains dishing out discipline for fun
BUT I do have to wrestle with having seen them cane toddlers and switch young children.
Soooo anyway, this chapter talks about parents and children being held together by strings and that a harsh word or mocking the kids can cut those strings, and then they have to be retired and trust rebuilt.
#MichaelPearl talks about his relationship with his own father being NOT one of fear, but of wanting to do what is right to make his dad happy, cause he loved him.
He paints this beautiful picture of God, "As he awakens to Divine realities, it is through his earthly father that he understands his Heavenly father." - - Ironically, God as a Father is a concept that many now struggle with BECAUSE of the harsh teachings of books like this!
"Parents do not have to be perfect, just a mini-caracature g God's personality. All that God is in infiniteness, the parents should display in the finite." For a moment he almost GETS it.
"The parents need not be sinless, just demonstrate a commitment to the good and holy."
Unfortunately, just as he's about to get to the heart of being a parent, we turn the page, and Chapter 5 is entitled: The Rod.

Okay bye 👋

#ExposeChristianDiscipline #totrainupachild #eXvangelical
Discipline and Diapers
I want to scream.
That's. Called. Child abuse. End of.
*More examples, rather
Dearest Unroller @threadreaderapp, please unroll this thread for me, be a dear.
If you get a sec (the spoons and the energy) to catch any of this, I'm live-tweeting To Train Up a Child by the Pearls under the hashtag #ExposeChristianDiscipline

@ToriGlass @charlotteirene8 @NateSparks130 @C_Stroop @XianJaneway
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