Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Michael Pearl Responds

Update #2: The Pearl interview has been canceled but they are still planning on covering the story.

Update:
The Pearl's website now says the interview will be held on Friday morning between 7 and 8 AM.

Tomorrow, Michael Pearl is scheduled to be on the CBS Early Show between 7 and 8 AM. He'll be discussing the murder of Lydia Schatz and his child training methods. I've met and listened to Michael Pearl and if he's still anything like he was ten years ago I'm not optimistic about a postive outcome. Rather than examining his teaching he prefers to "laughing at his critics." Pray that God will be glorified and that Pearl's message will not be confused with what Christians, especially homeschool Christian, believe.

I'm not laughing and the lack of clarity in Pearl's definitely not a laughing matter.

A month ago, Michael Pearl issued a written statement regarding the death of Lydia Schatz. In his introductory paragraph he wrote,
We do not teach "corporal punishment" nor "hitting" children. We teach parents how to train their children, which sometimes requires the limited and controlled application of a spanking instrument to hold the child's attention on admonition.
That's a fine statement and for those not familiar with the Pearls would probably be enough in their mind clear things up. But those of us who are more familiar with the Pearls know that nothing is every that clear with him or his teachings.

He can say he doesn't teach "hitting" but he certainly doesn't completely condemn it either,
If you or your children have been hit (other than the children being spanked) so as to leave discernible marks two hours later, and you genuinely fear that he will repeat his battering, you can take legal steps without divorcing your husband.
Hitting is always wrong no matter how long the mark lasts and if a man does it once he'll do it again. Yet, Pearl qualifies the statement and sends an ambiguous and confusing message.

Pearl can say that he doesn't teach "corporal punishment" because he prefers the term "corporal chastisement" and no one's the wiser. To the parent of a young child he advises about when it's too young to spank,
"under three (give or take six months or so) cannot profit from corporal punishment, but we have made the point elsewhere that small children do profit from the application of the training rod."
And how does he define "limited?" Ten, fifteen, or "Never threaten, and never show mercy. One squeak of a scream gets a switching." In another article he says, "There is no number that can be given." So much for "limited."

Pearl may think his teachings are clear, but on a busy day when the newborn is crying and the three year old is struggling in the bathroom (some of us never quite mastered trickle treat), and the first grader is stumbling through his phonics lessons and wandered outside it's easy to mix it all up. At that moment, mom isn't thinking about the difference between corporal punishment, biblical chastisement, and a profitable application of the rod. It is all becomes a blur of words in the face of her frenetic reality. But one message is clear and that is "never show mercy" and if your at all inconsistent you're an unfit to parent. At this point, guilt and despair can easily set in a parents mind and in the worst cases, death is the result.

Pearl's not repsonsible for this murder, but he is responsible for the lack of clarity in his writing. For that, Christians should hold him accountable and thankfully many are doing just that.

Tulip Girl has been covering the Pearls for many years and has links and more info for those that may be interested in reading more.

I'm not going to speculate on what Pearl's going to say tomorrow on CBS, but if his words tomorrow are anything like his writing I don't think it will end the matter and could actually make things worse.

Barbara Curtis is urging people to call CBS. " Let them know - in a non adversarial way - not only that the Pearls do not represent your views on raising children, but that we would be grateful to see some mainstream Christian parenting educators/family and childhood advocates added to the mix."

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