Sunday, March 7, 2010

The WTF Report

Ok, ok. I've seen some screwy websites in my time but this one has been noodling my mind for 2 days.

Everyone has their parenting philosophies, by the time I got Jimmy in my hands I realized he had plenty of time to learn that life can suck; that as a youngster I wanted him know life as warm, welcoming, funny, respectful, and satisfying.

So far, so good. He has his moments of course, but I can tell he is growing up to be warm, welcoming, funny, respectful, and wonderful. He is secure and well cared for and as a result he addresses hubby and me with respect. He can protest with the best of them, but knock on wood he doesn't have smartass bone in his body and he is utterly nonviolent. He trusts that his home and his parents' arms are where he can go to feel safe, and that means the world to me.

Yesterday I stumbled upon the No Greater Joy Ministries led by Michael and Debi Pearl. I got there because I saw a Facebook page devoted to outlawing their books and websites, which inspired me to click around with some sensationalist whoa-oa, this looks good zeal. The Supernanny recently aired a family who learned some Spare the Rod tips from a "Christian" parenting course and it was pretty effed up ["I am going to hit you because you don't obey me. I am hitting you because you didn't obey me. I love you even though you didn't obey me. That's why I hit you."] so I knew some of what I was in for, but dang. Kids are dying in response to what the Pearls advocate.1 With them there's a lot of talk of quarter inch plumbing supply line to stash around the house, or wear around your neck for handy fetching, using it to "train up" your children until they are left "without breath to complain." About winning over the wills of a child, about purposely erroding spirits so that children will obey. No greater joy than that!

It's basically not my style, it's obviously criminal, even if I read a testimony from his daughter who appears to have blacked out her own abuse. Yet there was still a part of me that thought it must be exaggerated, that their suggestions couldn't be as bad as they sounded, that it was important to preserve the right to raise your children according to your beliefs. I know there is squawking about some of the choices I make, and I quite enjoy having the right to parent the way I do. I was willing to continue to search a solid reason behind the Pearls's parenting methods, however much I disagreed, there had to be an explanation.

That's when I read Butterflies and Backdoors. It was so ridiculous I started to blow it off as such, but ultimately I couldn't, these people have followers and this was the second creepiest story I'd read on the internet. 2

Here is my invitation to get horrified with me. Presuming this story is true, he should be arrested. If it's not true, he should be locked away for entertaining such fantasies. In short, old wise Michael Pearl writes of neighborhood children who invade his house, one in particular, a 2-year-old "blonde butterfly" whose office den pop-ins he says he enjoys. He writes:

During the first few visits, I never attempted discipline.
Backup, What? This was a child visiting his home, a child his daughter was babysitting. How does that evolve into a disciplinary obligation (I'm one of those people who doesn't invite the village to raise my kid.) Who does he think he is, he mentions intentionally setting out to "gain her respect and devotion" only to later use it (use her) as an opportunity to belittle her into obedience. Later, when the "Butterfly" ignored Blowhard's "commands" to keep the door shut, he starts throwing his weight around to the reader AND the 2-year-old then takes his belt off and whacks her legs with it. Seriously!

Now at this point I could have forced the door shut. At six-foot-four and 240 pounds, all of it pure, aged muscle, I was quite capable of shutting the door. But to do so would not have taught her obedience, quite the opposite. It would have taught her that she could do anything that does not meet with overpowering physical resistance. Forced to comply, she would not have practiced self-control. For the human will to function, circumstances must permit choice. So I allowed her to choose. She forced the door against the little resistance I offered and continued into the sunroom. One more door stood between her and the judgment seat. To make sure she understood, I gave one more command, “Amy, do not go outside.” As she opened the outside door, I took off my belt and surprised my little butterfly with one swat across the calves. She shut the door and looked at me with shock and anger. Her scream was not just of pain, but of defiance.

This is a GUY who is in a HOUSE that she was left at, this is not her parent, her misguided grandparent, her hired toddler drill sargent, this is not her freaky weird cousin. As an adult Michael Pearl certainly has a responsibility to guide her to safety and he can certainly return her to the babysitter to rid his office of her shenanigans, but holy frig, have mercy on the person who breathes thought on doing anything like this to my child (which is unlikely considering I'm lucky enough to have our son with us most of the time.)

I can only imagine what this little girl was really thinking. Michael Pearl understands that she feels pain, but the defiance part...? I think she was probably more confused than anything. HOW could he do such a thing??? WHY have I been violated like this??? It breaks my heart.

But what would a broken heart be without more despair. The story continues:

She must be caused to recognize the supremacy of government. Her soul depends on it. So I commanded, “Amy, stop crying.” She screamed louder, so I gave her another forceful lick on the legs. She again screamed her defiance.

Quivery sigh.

Everyone hates a bully, and it becomes a matter of principle to resist him or her. Out of fear, one may surrender to a bully, but no one will ever respect the bully. Bullies are angry, self-willed, take offenses personally, exact their due in the pain of compliance, and maintain an attitude of “No one does this to me and gets away with it.” Most parents bully their children.

:buzzer: Wrong! Most parents do not bully their children. Most parents love their children and most parents are not psycho egomaniacs hellbent on assuming they have the ability to govern the souls of others.

Here I was with a screaming, defiant two-year-old standing there testing her strength of resolve against mine. I have 53 years of resolve, and it gets calmer every day. Again I gave her one lick on the legs and commanded, “Stop crying, now.” She dried it up like an Arizona wind, then turned and voluntarily walked back into the living room. She was sniffling, but the defiance was all gone. She ran to a corner to sort out her feelings and I left her alone, as did everyone else.

Whatttt on earthhhhhhh??? Can you imagine this nightmare. You're 2 years old, you visit this old guy, he looks like Santa, you're playing around, you're 2 years old, he yanks off his belt and firmly thwacks you with it, then delivers icy demands to stop crying, when you can't stop crying because you're terrified out of your wits and no one comes to your rescue, Santa flogs you again, until you stop crying. They make horror movies out of this stuff.

The story ends, of course, with the "butterfly" lunging into santa's arms, incessantly smiling and cured of rebellion.

I didn't believe it either.

So yesterday, when I came home to this in my arms:

I couldn't help but feel immensely sad for this:

and just wonder what could ever be in the heart of a person look who can look at a face like that and seek out a disciplinary style such as the Pearls's, in the name of "God." I don't get it.

You are not managing an inconvenience; You are raising a human being.
-Kittie Frantz

1 Following the death of a second child, Michael Pearl responds to critics of his discipline techniques on this website. It's rich. What was it again he said about bullies?

2 Number One


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