There’s a terrifying piece at No Longer Quivering, by a former believer in the child-rearing methods of Michael Pearl. She followed the plan; it didn’t work; she did what Pearl said to do, and followed it harder. Hit harder, was what you were supposed to do when it didn’t work. Hit harder, and blame the child. She had a hard time with that, but her ex-husband didn’t.
My ex-husband got angry with the kids for thwarting the Pearl method, but he remained coldly self-controlled. He also left bruises. A lot of bruises.
Why didn’t I stop him? I finally did, but early in my marriage I was paralyzed by fear and brainwashed by bad teaching. We both feared raising ungodly kids. We were looking for confirmation that some part of this system worked, and my ex-husband began to get results. The children flinched when he even moved. Cowered when he reached for a spanking implement. Had semi-seizures on the carpet following “biblical correction.” We got compliance with our wishes. Eventually, there was immediate and unquestioning compliance. My ex-husband had quelled the rebellion in three kids. He had created unfocused, freaked-out little robots who obeyed.
That last sentence chills me.
To Train Up a Child is a manual of progressive violence against children. Not only are there no stopgaps to prevent child abuse, the book is a mandate to use implements to inflict increasingly intense pain in the face of continued disobedience. The part about not causing injury is vague and open to interpretation, but the part about never backing down or shirking your parental duty to spank harder and harder is crystal clear. The Pearls’ teachings will lead, inescapably, to extremely strong-willed kids being abused and sometimes murdered by fundamentalist parents who are determined to “break” those children.
Like Hana Williams.
The only way to break the wills of children like this is to kill them. The 911 call that Carri Williams made to the police dispatcher says it all.
“Operator: What’s the emergency?
Carri Williams: Um, I think my daughter just killed herself.
Operator: Why do you say that?
Carri Williams, Um, she’s really rebellious, and she’s been outside refusing to come in, and she’s been throwing herself all around, and then she collapsed.”
And died of exposure, with her mouth full of mud. Because she was so rebellious.