Train Up Your Child
June 6, 2010 · 53 Comments
To Train Up a Child
Submitter: I actually remember my mother having this book at some point (I don’t think she ascribed to it). Two children have died as a result of the author’s child care advice and one other was in critical condition. At some point some books aren’t even funny to joke about and just need to be removed because they endanger society. This is why I weed – to get stuff like this that might hurt others off the self.
Here is what Amazon Reviewer R. Craig “Mother” said and I couldn’t have built a case better myself. Currently World Cat has 56 libraries still holding this material.
Here are some details:
1) The Pearls recommend whipping infants only a few months old on their bare skin. They describe whipping their own 4 month old daughter (p.9). They recommend whipping the bare skin of “every child” (p.2) for “Christians and non-Christians” (p.5) and for “every transgression” (p.1). Parents who don’t whip their babies into complete submission are portrayed as indifferent, lazy, careless and neglectful (p.19) and are “creating a Nazi” (p.45).
2) On p.60 they recommend whipping babies who cannot sleep and are crying, and to never allow them “to get up.” On p.61 they recommend whipping a 12 month old girl for crying. On p.79 they recommend whipping a 7 month old for screaming.
3) On p.65 co-author Debi Pearl whips the bare leg of a 15 month old she is babysitting, 10 separate times, for not playing with something she tells him to play with. On p.56 Debi Pearl hits a 2 year old so hard “a karate chop like wheeze came from somewhere deep inside.”
4) On p.44 they say not to let the child’s crying while being hit to “cause you to lighten up on the intensity or duration of the spanking.” On p.59 they recommend whipping a 3 year old until he is “totally broken.”
5) On p.55 the Pearls say a mother should hit her child if he cries for her.
6) On p.46 the Pearls say that if a child does obey before being whipped, whip them anyway. And “if you have to sit on him to spank him, then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher.” “Defeat him totally.” On p.80 they recommend giving a child having a tantrum “a swift *forceful* spanking.” On the same page they say to whip small children on their bare skin until they stop screaming. “Don’t be bullied. Give him more of the same.” They say to continue whipping until their crying turns into a “wounded, submissive whimper.”
7) On p.47 they recommend their various whips, including “a belt or larger tree branch” to hit children.
The Pearls recommend pulling a nursing infant’s hair (p.7), and describe tripping their non-swimming toddler so she falls into deep water (p.67). They recommend ignoring an infant’s bumped head when he falls to the floor, and ignoring skinned knees (p.86). They also say “if your child is roughed-up by peers, rejoice.” (p.81) And on p.103 the Pearls say if children lose their shoes, “let them go without until they (the children) can make the money to buy more.”
9) The Pearls claim their “training” methods are Godly, yet they have *no religious training or credentials* They never mention Jesus’ injunctions to forgive “seventy times seven” and be merciful, and they decry the “extraordinary ingnorance of modern psychology.”
The Pearls’ methods have resulted in parents being investigated by Child Protective Services, children being taken away from parents, a restraining order against a father, and even a babysitter going to jail on felony charges!
Something that has hit me like a wrecking ball in all this research I’ve conducted in the last few weeks is an awareness of how what I do, EVERYTHING I DO, as far as my child is involved, literally molds and shapes her very existence. Mentally, physically, psychologically, emotionally.. every single aspect of her being is vulnerable to outside experiences, and will be throughout her entire life, but never more so than these early years when her brain is actually physically still developing the foundation it will function from until her final breath.
For example, previously, when my husband would depart for the office and my daughter would be upset and ask for him to come back, I would tell her she was ok, Mama was with her, and that Papa would return shortly.
One day, while saying these very words, I actually focused on her face, and her body’s response to what I was saying. She was angry. With me! She knew Papa would eventually return, but she was NOT ok! She was upset. She was sad, and she was experiencing the anxiety and discomfort of having her Papa leave her presence. She did not need me to point out the obvious, nor did she need me to invalidate her feelings by trying to reverse or counter them. She needed my empathy and comforting.
Now, when my little one expresses a feeling or emotional response to something, I will ask her for more details and talk to her about it as if I were also a two year old that is not capable of understanding what an adult does. I will hold her, tell her I miss her Papa (or whatever) too, and ask her what I can do to help how she feels. Notice here, I do not ask her how I can help her feel better, because it’s likely she doesn’t need to feel better, but needs to feel the impact of the emotion that she is experiencing, and work through it as her mind dictates.
This goes back to experiencing life through the eyes of the child. Now, I have even more reason to do so, not only to prevent my little one from feeling dis-valued or simply “humored”, but now I am aware of what chemicals are released upon stress (especially in forming brains) and how these chemicals affect the mind and its development. This is a HUGE responsibility, if you ask me. We’re not only talking about this person’s childhood, nor just her future as a functioning adult, but we’re talking about her in her entirety. ALL that she is.. I have the responsibility to guarantee that nothing I do to or with, or around her, is going to cause her mind to be affected negatively or to force it to function in a diminished capacity.
Do you feel the impact and weight of that? I’m still on the floor… it’s been about 10 days.
When I shout because I loose my temper, my daughter’s brain responds and floods certain areas with certain chemicals, and after time, if this keeps happening, these areas of the brain will not develop as they should. (If you want the science behind this, ask me.)
When my husband and I argue – same principle, only even worse, because her logic places her in-between as a peacemaker.
I cannot fathom intentionally subjecting my child to any form of trauma.
Let’s define trauma – Take a look at the dictionary’s definition, and read this article
a. a body wound or shock produced by sudden physical injury, as from violence or accident.
b. the condition produced by this; traumatism.
a.an experience that produces psychological injury or pain.
b. the psychological injury so caused.
c. An event or situation that causes great distress and disruption.
Below is an excerpt from an article that discusses, in relatively simple English, what happens when children are experienced to situations they perceive as threatening.
Many of the articles and stories presented on the NGJ website (examples to follow, but just glance at the topics on the right and you’ll find plenty) are very descriptive and explain how their method causes the child to experience fear, survival responses, and dread. They also discuss what to do when your child attempts to evade you coming after him to spank him – track him down and do it harder – they will learn to not try to escape. If logic were being used instead of terror and power tactics, though the child might not like the natural consequences to their actions, they’re not going to have the same responses as they might to the knowledge that they’re about to be struck, and humiliated, and that they have no choice but to submit because if they don’t, they know their “punishment” will just become that much worse.
When a child is threatened, various neurophysiological and neuroendocrine responses are initiated. If they persist, there will be ‘use-dependent’ alterations in the key neural systems involved in the stress response. These include the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. In animal models, chronic activation of the HPA system in response to stress has negative consequences. Chronic activation may “wear out” parts of the body including the hippocampus, a key area involved in memory, cognition and arousal. This may be occurring in traumatized children as well. Dr. Martin Teicher and colleagues have demonstrated hippocampal/limbic abnormalities in a sample of abused children.
Another set of neural systems that become sensitized by repetitive stressful experiences are the catecholamine systems including the dopaminergic and noradrenergic systems. These key neurochemical systems become altered following traumatic stress. The result is a cascade of associated changes in attention, impulse control, sleep, fine motor control and other functions mediated by the catecholamines. As these catecholamines and their target regions (e.g., amygdaloid nuclei) also mediate a variety of other emotional, cognitive and motor functions, sensitization of these systems by repetitive re-experiencing of the trauma leads to dysregulation in many functions. A traumatized child may, therefore, exhibit motor hyperactivity, anxiety, behavioral impulsivity, sleep problems, tachycardia and hypertension. In preliminary studies by our group, we have seen altered cardiovascular regulation (e.g., increased resting heartrate) suggesting altered autonomic regulation at the level of the brainstem. In other studies, clonidine, an alpha2 adrenergic receptor partial agonist has been demonstrated to be an effective pharmacotherapeutic agent, presumably by altering the sensitivity of the noradrenergic systems. Studies by Dr. Michael DeBellis and colleagues have demonstrated other catecholamine and neuroendocrine alterations in a sample of sexually abused girls. These indirect studies all support the hypotheses of a use-dependent alteration in the brainstem catecholamine systems following childhood trauma.
Implications of Trauma-related Alterations in Brain Development
All experiences change the brain – yet not all experiences have equal ‘impact’ on the brain. Because the brain is organizing at such an explosive rate in the first years of life, experiences during this period have more potential to influence the brain – in positive and negative ways. Traumatic experiences and therapeutic experiences impact the same brain and are limited by the same principles of neurophysiology. Traumatic events impact the multiple areas of the brain that respond to the threat. Use-dependent changes in these areas create altered neural systems that influence future functioning. In order to heal (i.e., alter or modify trauma), therapeutic interventions must activate those portions of the brain that have been altered by the trauma. Understanding the persistence of fear-related emotional, behavioral, cognitive and physiological patterns can lead to focused therapeutic experiences that modify those parts of the brain impacted by trauma.
Our evolving understanding of neurodevelopment suggests directions for assessment, intervention and policy. Primary among these is a clear rationale for early identification and aggressive, pro-active interventions that will improve our ability to help traumatized and neglected children. The earlier we intervene, the more likely we will be to preserve and express a child’s potential.
There are literally thousands of articles and studies that speak about the brain’s responses to stress, especially in children.
Our scientists and doctors know that certain repeated behaviors and actions with children cause damage and dysfunction in the brain. They can show how the brain becomes altered, and they can identify what parts of the mind are affected and when.
Here’s an article describing how we can do more than simply “treat” the emotional and psychological responses to abuse and similar repeated ill-treatment of children.
Child abuse experts said the findings reinforce the importance of interventions to prevent abuse.
If children are abused early, they are flooded with stress-related hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, said Louise Newman, a professor of perinatal and infant psychiatry at the University of Newcastle in Australia.
“This impacts directly on how the brain develops and the stress regulation mechanism. It becomes highly stressed so it’s like setting the thermostat on high, setting up a system which regulates stress less efficiently,” Newman said.
“Also it impacts on the area which controls feelings, so they’re more likely to be highly stressed, have difficulties with anger and emotions, and be prone to self-harm, anxiety, suicide and depression.”
It’s not clear why some people overcome their past while others succumb to it.
Source: Maltreatment at an early age can have enduring negative effects on a child’s brain development and function
It is hardly surprising to us that research reveals a strong link between physical, sexual and emotional mistreatment of children and the development of psychiatric problems. But in the early 1990s mental health professionals believed that emotional and social difficulties occurred mainly through psychological means. Childhood maltreatment was understood either to foster the development of intrapsychic defense mechanisms that proved to be self-defeating in adulthood or to arrest psychosocial development, leaving a “wounded child” within. Researchers thought of the damage as basically a software problem amenable to reprogramming via therapy or simply erasable through the exhortation “Get over it.”
New investigations into the consequences of early maltreatment, including work my colleagues and I have done at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., and at Harvard Medical School, appear to tell a different story. Because childhood abuse occurs during the critical formative time when the brain is being physically sculpted by experience, the impact of severe stress can leave an indelible imprint on its structure and function. Such abuse, it seems, induces a cascade of molecular and neurobiological effects that irreversibly alter neural development.
To test this hypothesis, Fred Schiffer worked in my laboratory at McLean in 1995 to measure hemispheric activity in adults during recall of a neutral memory and then during recall of an upsetting early memory. Those with a history of abuse appeared to use predominantly their left hemispheres when thinking about neutral memories and their right when recalling an early disturbing memory. Subjects in the control group used both hemispheres to a comparable degree for either task, suggesting that their responses were more integrated between the two hemispheres.
Because Schiffer’s research indicated that childhood trauma was associated with diminished right-left hemisphere integration, we decided to look for some deficiency in the primary pathway for information exchange between the two hemispheres, the corpus callosum.In 1997 Andersen and I collaborated with Jay Giedd of the National Institute of Mental Health to search for the posited effect. Togetherwe found that in boys who had been abused or neglected, the middleparts of the corpus callosum were significantly smaller than in the control groups. Furthermore, in boys, neglect exerted a far greater effect than any other kind of maltreatment. In girls, however, sexual abuse was a more powerful factor, associated with a major reduction in size of the middle parts of the corpus callosum. These results were replicated and extended in 1999 by De Bellis. Likewise, the effects of early experience on the development of the corpus callosum have been confirmed by research in primates by Mara M. Sanchez of Emory.
This to teach the child who’s in control and not to be questioned. The Pearls recommend keeping a plumbing line in every room and even one around the neck to remind the child of that message.
Please take a moment to review the dictionary and thesaurus as they define and discuss the word spank (verb). Note the antonyms as well. (The complete listing is found at the end of this post.)
|Part of Speech:||verb|
|Definition:||penalize for wrongdoing|
|Synonyms:||abuse, attend to, batter, beat, beat up, blacklist, castigate, chasten, chastise, correct, crack down on, cuff, debar, defrock, discipline, dismiss, do in, execute, exile, expel, fine, flog, give a going over, give the works, harm, hurt, immure, incarcerate, injure, knock about, lash, lecture, maltreat, misuse, oppress, paddle, rap knuckles, reprove, rough up, scourge, sentence, slap wrist, spank, switch, teach a lesson, throw the book at, train, whip|
|Antonyms:||award, exonerate, let go, praise, protect, reward|
Mike’s Response (to the Schatz case)
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. Over 1,000,000 parents have applied these Biblical principles with joyful results.
The courts have never charged NGJ Ministries with teaching abuse; quite the contrary. In a former case where a woman owned one copy of To Train Up A Child, the prosecuting attorney used that very book as testimony against her out of control methods. Likewise Ramsey, the prosecutor in the Schatz case, is quick to point out that No Greater Joy does not advocate spanking to the point of serious injury.
If indeed these parents were abusive, and that has not yet been proven by the courts, it is regretful that our teachings were not able to turn them from their predisposition to abusive habits. Those of us who deal with substance abuse, psychological impairment, and family issues, try to make positive changes in every person, but sometimes our best efforts are too little or too late. But for the sake of our precious children, we must double our efforts and move forward.
Michael Pearl, CEO
No Greater Joy Ministries, Inc
Mr. Pearl, you are incorrigible. And you are digging your own grave, and those that follow you.
|Part of Speech:||adjective|
|Synonyms:||abandoned, beastly, hardened, incurable, intractable, inveterate, irredeemable, irreparable, loser, recidivous, uncorrectable, unreformed, useless, wicked|
|Antonyms:||good, manageable, nice, obedient, reformable|
|Part of Speech:||adjective|
|Definition:||free from moral restraint; uninhibited|
|Synonyms:||corrupt, depraved, dissolute, immoral, incontinent, incorrigible, licentious, profligate, shameless, sinful, uncontrolled, unprincipled, unrestrained, wanton, wicked, wild|
|Antonyms:||chaste, innocent, moral, pure, restrained, virtuous|
|Part of Speech:||adjective|
|Synonyms:||biased, bigoted, bugged, burning*, contumacious, credulous, devoted, dogmatic, domineering, enthusiastic, erratic, extreme, fervent, feverish, fiery, frenzied, headstrong, high on, immoderate, impassioned, impulsive, incorrigible, infatuated, mad, monomaniacal, narrow-minded, nuts for, obsessed, obsessive, obstinate, opinionated, partial, partisan, passionate, possessed, prejudiced, rabid, radical, raving, single-minded, stubborn, turned on, unruly, violent, visionary, wild, willful, zealous|
|Antonyms:||disinterested, dispassionate, impartial, unenthusiastic|
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2010.
Cite This Source
Cite This Source
// // spank
v. spanked, spank·ing, spanks
To slap on the buttocks with a flat object or with the open hand, as for punishment.
To move briskly or spiritedly.
n. A slap on the buttocks.
– 10 of 19 thesaurus results
* = informal/non-formal usage
* = informal/non-formal usage
* = informal/non-formal usage
* = informal/non-formal usage
This entire post is taken from here, unless otherwise noted.
Dear Mama’s and Papa’s,
I’m writing to you tonight in hopes that I will find you in a position of questioning. If you are in such a position, I don’t suppose you’re entirely comfortable at the moment, but let me suggest that you stand in the place now where good, immense good, can be born.
If you’re reading this, you either already know that the teachings of the NGJ clan (or other similar group) cause destruction, or you’re beginning to wonder if all the good is possibly over shadowed in part, or whole, by what just doesn’t sit right with you. Perhaps you fully support this group and their teachings. If that is you, I invite you to contact me directly and substantiate your position. Otherwise, please, keep reading.
I would like to make an appeal to your intellect this evening. I understand that most parents take up the methods and teachings of such groups as NGJ because they believe they are responsible for raising their children the best they can, in the eyes of the world and of God. I commend you for your intention and your concern over your child’s well being. The trouble with the teachings of this particular group is that there is a fundamental struggle at their core for an unholy power. And by unholy, I don’t mean anti-God, I’m using this term in a broader, more general sense, not a religious one.
I would like the chance to literally show you how the messages of this group are intended to torment your children, all the while you are led to believe they are supremely effective in victory, righteousness, unwavering obedience, and love. I would also like to appeal to your dignity and sense of sanity. The authors and developers of the NGJ doctrine are experts at betrayal, seduction, and power. So, in your defense, if you have managed to see this group for the good they actually do teach, and have missed the horrid that each good instruction is laced with, know that you are not alone and you are not incompetent in your parenting skills; these people are masters at capturing their prey.
Also know that there is hope, there is help and support, and there are alternatives that will produce children who respect because they are respected, children who serve because they are served, and children who wholly love because they are wholly and completely loved, not because of action or diligence, not because they have earned that love, but because they simply are.
Please, if you need someone to just talk to, who isn’t going to jump down your throat, send me a comment or message. If I can’t help, or you wish for more assistance on a professional level, I will connect you with those who are ready and able to support you as you make the transition and emmerge out from the hole the NGJ clan has dug for you.
What follows are multiple quotes, and mostly out of order, but all from the same article. The paragraphs have been kept in-tact, you will not find manufactured content here. Notes and comments are found either in line with the quotations or at the end of the article.
My hope with this post is that you, the reader, will begin to see just exactly to what degree the NGJ ministry is misled. Not misled because I say so, or a million others say so, but because they themselves cannot present a solid and consistent message.
Article by Michael Pearl, August 1998
… Funny thing, 1200 men will go all week without one fight. If you get angry at the wrong person in a prison, you may die with a sharpened toothbrush sticking in your throat. Angry little boys never say, “Don’t do that, it only makes me more angry.” Who cares? When no one is listening and no one is impressed, threats are useless.
I would like to note here that we are not intentionally training our children (or at least I hope we’re not) to be successful at staying alive while in prison. And while, admittedly, that is a valuable skill if one should ever find him or herself in such a situation, I do believe that the instinct to survive will cause the prisoner to adapt rapidly enough, that we shouldn’t have to begin teaching this in childhood.
Additionally, “angry little boys” do have a lot to say, often though it comes out in a scream or silence. If we continue to inquisition them, agitate them, or tempt them into more anger we will not gain an understanding of what lies behind the emotional response.
Children who are incapable of managing their emotions, either due to an environment that has taught them it is not safe to feel those emotions openly, or who are otherwise imbalanced chemically (often for the same reason), are not going to be helped by instilling more fear. Mr. Pearl’s assumed victory over the child he write of here is nothing more than tormenting an already tormented child to the point where he has no spirit or resolve left, and his survival instinct has kicked in. If you beat a child like this enough, even he/she will eventually break, for a time. You will likely see the calm, in the eye of the storm, but I warn you, you are destroying more and more with every attempt to get his anger under control and out of him. You have chosen to ignore the source of the problem, likely because it comes from you or others in his close circle. It is unlikely, though not impossible, that you will see the root of the pain this child is suffering unless someone outside that circle assists you.
If you are struggling with an extremely angry child, please don’t add fuel to the flame, don’t beat it out of them. Don’t spank it out of them either. Don’t turn your back and reject them, and don’t rid them of your compassion. Take a moment, little ones at first and then longer, and see the world through this child’s eyes. Be brave enough to see yourself and your close circle of family/friends through his eyes. Learn why he is experiencing anger, why he can’t seem to rid himself of it, and what he is afraid of experiencing instead of anger… it is a defensive response. It is also often a protective response.
See this child through a different color lens and look through his eyes at his world. It will change your life. And his.
I am not calloused to your dilemma. But the big problem is in your own mind. You are not free to be forceful and bold. Your son needs to run smack dab into a big, high, unmoving fence of authority. You, mother, are a pushover, a sucker. Your need is a renewed mind. Now that I have plowed your fallow ground, I will plant the seeds of understanding
Mr. Pearl, how dare you assume you have any place touching any part of my mind, ground, air, or otherwise. You sir, are a pompous idiot that weaves intelligent and loving advice into your horrible torturous methods of submission, supreme power, and ultimate destruction of the soul.
Mothers, you are not weak. It is not simple. This man is an abuser.
Step back, squat down, remain silent and still, and begin to see your child’s world through his/her eyes. The answers will come, and if they don’t, get help from a professional who is trained to spot signs of difficulty in children. The human mind is not so complex from a scientific point of view. There is nothing new under the sun… in most cases, if your child is struggling, there is an identifiable cause, if only you are willing to accept it and change what needs to be changed so that they can again become stable and secure.
Righteous anger is anger directed at injustice, selfishness. To be righteously angry toward someone is to impute blame to them. It is to hold them in contempt for not acting as they should have. Righteous anger seeks goodness. It is the guardian of love. It is moral choice expressed in the emotions.
Mr. Pearl, where is your righteous anger then concerning the death of a child whose parents follow you? Where is your anger at all the children who are beaten and tormented in the name of unwavering obedience and joy?
Where is your righteous anger for the parents of the child that was beaten to death, the child that was beaten almost to death, and the millions (your number, not mine) of children that are routinely destroyed in body and spirit daily because of teachings such as yours and others who are as insidious.
If I am to hold my child, or another person, in contempt for not acting as they should have, then by what measure am I to declare myself the omnipotent judge? On this earth, we do our best to control one another in the name of peace and goodness. I see something else happening, but that is for another blog. Perhaps, Mr. Pearl, our Big Papa, you are indeed the judge and last word that we should all be required to acknowledge and submit to. Lord knows, THE LORD – and the rest of this planet – knows that you have forced this of your wife, your children, and their children.
Almighty Mr. Pearl, has God ordained you, and we just don’t know it yet?
Righteous anger is agreeing with the innate dictates of common law. It is taking your place on the jury to condemn and then recommend sentencing to the guilty.
What law? The law of David? The law of Moses? The law of the United States, your country, which you denounce (no, not directly, you are to crafty for that, you know better too well how doing so would explode in your face)? You decide – you’re in charge here – you know everything about every family, and every child. (If you think I’m being a bit too harsh here, keep reading.) You, dear sir, are above all and are capable of forcing any child into submission of your sovereignty, to use your preferred term. But I do wonder whether I would not be able to subdue you just the same given the right circumstances and weapons. You see sir, power is indeed an intoxicating and wondrous thing. Just ask Aladdin and his Genie, ask God, heh – ask yourself..
But anger at not getting one’s way is something else entirely. Selfish anger is manipulative and unreasonable. It assumes that ultimate good is the gratification of self. It judges all events according to how they personally gratify. To thus be angry toward others, the individual must assume that others exist to fulfill his impulses. To him, right and wrong is: everyone does good by complying with my will and everyone does evil by depriving me of what I want.
Mr. Pearl, you believe in your words. That’s a good thing to do if you intend to sell them. You state here that to be angry toward others, the individual must assume that others exist to fulfill his impulses. To him, right and wrong is: everyone does good by complying with my will and every does evil by depriving me of what I want.
Well said. You know your doctrine well. What was it you said, about supreme sovereignty? Here, let me find a few of your words to quote…
“On the eight day he would love me and would make a commitment to always please me because he valued my approval and fellowship.” Because he valued food and calm, and had a distinct desire to avoid hate, fear, and torture.
“On the ninth day someone would comment that I had the most cheerful and obedient boy that they had ever seen.”
He is in his shell… where he believes is the only place he is even slightly safe.
“On the tenth day we would be the best of buddies.” If I were you, I’d sleep with one eye open.
Like an army Sargent, state your will and accept nothing less. If he doesn’t like what is on the table and he is rude, send him away from the table and do not let him eat until the next meal. Do not feed him snacks between meals, and let him get good and hungry. He will then eat baby food spinach and love it. If you think it is appropriate and you spank him make sure that it is not a token spanking. Light, swatting spankings, done in anger without courtroom dignity will make children mad because they sense that they have been bullied by an antagonists. A proper spanking leaves children without breath to complain. If he should tell you that the spanking makes him madder, spank him again. If he is still mad…. He desperately needs an unswayable authority, a cold rock of justice. Keep in mind that if you are angry you are wasting your time trying to spank his anger away.I could break his anger in two days. He would be too scared to get angry. On the third day he would draw into a quiet shell and obey. On the fourth day I would treat him with respect and he would respond in kind. On the fifth day the fear would go away and he would relax because he would have judged that as long as he responds correctly there is nothing to fear. On the sixth day he would like himself better and enjoy his new relationship to authority. On the seventh day I would fellowship with him in some activity that he enjoyed. On the eight day he would love me and would make a commitment to always please me because he valued my approval and fellowship. On the ninth day someone would comment that I had the most cheerful and obedient boy that they had ever seen. On the tenth day we would be the best of buddies.
Your words, Mr. Pearl, demonstrate your dire addiction to power, complete and unquestioned power. I think you have said it best, “To him (should it maybe read, to me?) right and wrong is: everyone does good by complying with my will and everyone does evil by depriving me of what I want.”
You are, if anything, most accurate in your assessment of yourself.
Now, to those of you who need an alternative to this method, I implore you to listen to my heart and the experience that it speaks from. It is not complicated, does not require a high level education, medicine, or other complicated tactics to regain the “happiness” in your child. It requires you do something that some of you will be able to do and others will not. It requires a humility, a denial of pride, and a ton of courage because what you will learn will likely cause you to weep with guilt and sorrow before you are able to begin correcting what needs to be corrected.
If you are in this position, your child is constantly at odds with you, and you are ready to change, all you must do is stop yourself long enough to experience the world as your child experiences it. But be warned, you may not like what you see because children are huge mirrors and very often reflect back what their parents demonstrate. The younger the child, the more this is true, but it is not limited to age, but is unique to each child.
Tomorrow I will write about the latest things I have learned while experiencing our world as my two year old does. Now, however, I’m going to lie down and just watch her, comfort her, and give her the security and sense of love that comes from being close, because today was tough for her and me, and we both just need some time to be still.
They laugh when they see their Big Papa coming (that’s me) because Big Papa is laughing and they don’t care why just as long as he laughs with them. (Source)
Why you ask? Because they know that it’s their only reprieve and that at any moment they’ll do something that, even if they meant no harm by it, triggers the spanking to begin again.
It has come to may attention that a vocal few are decrying our sensible application of the Biblical rod in training up our children. I laugh at my caustic critics, for our properly spanked and trained children grow to maturity in great peace and love. Numbered in the millions, these kids become the models of self-control and discipline, highly educated and creative—entrepreneurs that pay the taxes your children will receive in entitlements.
When your children finally find an honest mechanic or a trustworthy homebuilder, it will be one of ours. When your children apply for a job it will be at a company our children founded. When they go to a doctor, it will be one of our Christian children that heals them with cutting edge innovation. When your adult kids go for therapy it will be one of our kids-become-psychologist that directs them to the couch and challenges them to release their self-loathing and embrace hope for a better tomorrow.
Blog Author’s Note: There is an interesting principle that states that often people who struggle internally will project their own feelings, thoughts, confidences, and insecurities onto others. When the person doing the projecting either needs to bolster their own damaged self-esteem by appearing more intelligent than they are, or “cover over” and redirect focus away from the very thing they struggle with the most, they will project these concerns onto others, in a variety of fashions.
If this sort of behavior is occurring and the person doing the projection (the offender) is confronted, they will most often deny, become hostile, and repeat the behavior in an intensified manner.
When your children grow old and realize their mortality and seek to make peace with their Creator, it will be one of our children that shares with them the message of God’s love and forgiveness.
My five grown children are laughing at your foolish, uninformed criticism of God’s method of child training, for their kids—my 17 grandkids—are laughing . . . because that is what they do most of the time. They laugh when Daddy is coming home. The laugh when it is time to do more homeschooling. They laugh when it is time to practice the violin and piano. They laugh when they see their Big Papa coming (that’s me) because Big Papa is laughing and they don’t care why just as long as he laughs with them.
We aren’t hearing from any of these children that disagree with their family’s methods; the fear and confusion, and brainwashing that has been instilled in them keeps them silent. I pray that one of them, as he or she grows, will have the courage to eventually speak out. I suspect it won’t happen in the first generation, but the grandchildren stand a chance. It won’t be until they’re grown either, for fear of the beating and excommunication they surely face, but it will happen. The human spirit, even if repeatedly broken in childhood, can and does prevail. There is hope, little ones. The rest of the world sees how delusional and abusive this group of people really are.
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.
From an adult who has spoken: “I struggled with this double message as a child. I feel a deep sense of shame as I remember hitting and torturing my dolls and Barbies when no one was around. I needed some way to express the fear, pain, and sexual confusion I felt inside; yet my childish mind couldn’t comprehend the significance of what I was doing.”
People all around the world, in places like Russia, China, Germany, New Zealand, Guatemala, Peru, Africa, and fifty other countries are laughing with joy because after applying the Biblical principles found in our books they finally have happy and obedient children.
They have obedient children because their children are terrified to behave any differently. This is not a victory! People, if you believe that the perceived positive behavior is a result of this method, you are correct. Children are not stupid. They will not intentionally put themselves into a position of disgusting and destructive treatment by those they are supposed to love and trust.
Listen to me. Spanking may be your chosen method, but you are still using a striking motion, and you’re using humiliation as a tactic to gain obedience. Regardless of your reasons, or beliefs based on your interpretation of the bible. Understand that I disagree respectfully with this choice; I was spanked and I remember it much more vividly than does my mother who did the spanking. However, I am able to respect your decisions to the degree that your children are not being tormented, even a TINY bit..
We are do not have the right to raise our children as we please, it is not a right, it is a responsibility that we raise them to be safer, more secure, more intelligent, and more peaceful and tolerant than the last generation. None of us like war but we are teaching our children to continue war if we don’t teach tolerance and acceptance of humanities differences. This is a fine line, however, and not one that I am equipped to enter a debate over right now.
Even my chickens are laughing . . . well, actually it more like cackling, because they just laid another organic egg for my breakfast and they know that it was that same piece of ¼ inch plastic supply line that trained the dogs not to eat chicken….
No dog on the planet deserves to be tormented by these people, any more than the children do.
I’d like to encourage you to take a moment and read a short dialogue that discusses the value of valuing others, and the value of validating children.
An Example of Validating a Child’s Feelings – “I want Mama!” – Click for article
And now, the opposing example: A bit of background.. The child in the story that follows from the NGJ site is two years old during this event.
This story describes abuse, and is horrid, so please be warned.
Blog Author’s Note: A child of this age cannot grasp fully what is happening during most of his day, especially when he’s tired, hungry, in need of comfort or security, in a strange or uncomfortable place, or otherwise simply needs the reassurance and love of those he trusts. This is the worst time a parent can betray the trust of the child by terrorizing him instead of attending to his needs. The responses and results this child produces are not due to what Mr. Pearl believes; this child is not a brat, or a manipulating little rebel, but a child with some need that he’s trying to communicate. Due to the terror this method (NGJ) produces, and the child’s loss of trust of the most precious kind (that of his parents), he cannot do anything but try to self-console and SURVIVE this trauma and horrible event, with his undeveloped brain that cannot properly comprehend any of it.
Late one night we were riding back from a seminar when the little fellow noticed that he was on the other end of the seat from his mother—with other siblings between them. He was riding in a restraining seat and whined to sit in his mother’s lap. The father SUGGESTED that it would be best if he stayed strapped into his restraining seat. The mother began to sympathetically explain why she couldn’t hold him. Based on past experiences, he knew that this was just the opening round. Their rejection of his proposal was only tentative. He was just testing the waters to see if they would yield. If by continual insistence he should demonstrate how very important this issue was to him, they would eventually come around to seeing it his way. As he pleaded further, asking for water, I could see that the mother was feeling guilty for not being close to “HER BABY”. Didn’t his tears demonstrate how important this was to his emotional well-being? After six or eight rounds, it finally reached the brokenhearted crying stage.
Mother was reaching for her baby when the father turned to me and asked, “What should I do?” Again I explained the principle: by allowing the child to dictate terms through his whining and crying, you are confirming his habit of whining and consenting to his technique of control. So I told the daddy to tell the boy that he would not be allowed to sit in his mother’s lap, and that he was to stop crying. Of course, according to former protocol, he intensified his crying to express the sincerity of his desires. The mother was ready to come up with a compromise. “He was hungry. He was sleepy. He was cold.” Actually, he was a brat, molded and confirmed by parental responses. I told the father to stop the car and without recourse give him three to five licks with a switch. After doing so the child only screamed a louder protest. This is not the time to give in. After two or three minutes driving down the road listening to his background wails, I told the father to COMMAND the child to stop crying. He only cried more loudly. At my instruction, without further rebuke, the father again stopped the car, got out, and spanked the child. Still screaming (the child, not the rest of us), we continued for two minutes until the father again commanded the child to be quiet. Again, no response, so he again stopped the car and spanked the child. This was repeated for about twenty miles down a lonesome highway at 11:00 on a winter night.
When the situation began to look like a stalemate, the mother suggested that the little fellow didn’t understand. I told the father to command the boy to stop crying immediately or he would again be spanked. The boy ignored him until Father took his foot off the gas, preparatory to stopping. In the midst of his crying, he understood the issues well enough to understand that the slowing of the car was a response to his crying. The family was relieved to have him stop and the father started to resume his drive. I said “No; you told him he was to stop crying immediately or you would spank him; he waited until you began stopping. He has not obeyed; he is just beginning to show confidence in your resolve. Spank him again and tell him that you will continue to stop and continue to spank until you get instant compliance.” He did. The boy was smart. He may not have feared Mama. His respect for Daddy was growing, but that big hairy fellow in the front seat seemed to be more stubborn than he was, and with no guilt at all. This time, after the spanking, when Daddy gave his command, the boy dried it up like a paper towel. The parents had won, and the boy was the beneficiary.
Now you may wonder why I did not tell the father to tell the boy that he was going to spank him until he stopped crying, and not resume driving until he had stopped. Never put yourself in the place where you may lose the contest. What if the boy didn’t stop? Would you spank him forever, or would you stop when it bordered on abuse, in which case the child would win? Your word would fall to the ground; you gave in before he did. You would have actually hardened his resolve to rebel. Furthermore, when a child is being spanked and shortly thereafter, he may be too emotionally wrought to make responsible decisions. Our concern is not just to silence the child, but to gain voluntary submission of his will through respect for our command.
Blog Author’s Note: Silencing a two year old… the best way to do this is to assess what they need, determine their cause, and act accordingly. Not terrorize and hurt them. They are not out to make your life horrid, even if it feels like it sometimes. They are tiny people without the skill or ability to cope and manage in an adult world. Why does this group seem to think that we must begin in infancy to destroy our children, so that they will not become embarrassments and inconveniences.
Father tells the boy to stop crying or he will stop the vehicle and spank. Father stops, spanks; the child cries, and the father resumes the drive. He waits three to five minutes, ignores the crying and continues to talk as if all is well. Five minutes later, the father again commands the child to stop crying. By this time there is no lingering pain and he has had time to quiet his emotions and reflect on the parental mandate: “Stop crying or get a spanking.”
Again the father commands the child to stop crying or he will receive a spanking. The child continues crying only because he assumes that the status quo continues. That is, he is not at all convinced that the father means what he says. Judging from past experiences, he is sure that he will win this contest eventually. By breaking it up into several sessions, the father is reprogramming the child—Father commands with a threat; child disobeys; Father carries out threat; child loses and suffers the consequences; it is an unpleasant experience; repeat all of above five to ten times. The child concludes: There is a new order; Father is consistent; he always means what he says; I cannot win; there is no alternative to instant obedience. Get smart, be a survivor, just say no to self-will.
Blog Author’s Note: The value of breaking the will and spirit of our children. Please refer to this entry, which contains a story of a woman who writes of her own experiences.
I, for one, do not believe my child should have to become a survivor – that’s my job. I will not only keep her alive and surviving in every way I possibly can, but I will endeavor to allow her to thrive in every way I can. In fact, I can’t even fathom having this thought of my own child. BUT if the child were an abuse victim, an orphan on the streets, or in a situation of extreme poverty, I would probably have the thought that this was an extremely strong child, a “survivor”, with an amazing self-will. And if in my power, I would do anything to change this little person’s circumstances, love them dearly, and teach them to love.
I will seek additional material related to the all encompassing harm and destruction that occurs when a parent or care-giver, or abuser, is bent on, and accomplishes breaking a child. I will go one step further, step out of my character, and even find Biblical references that instruct in an opposing manner – to never destroy a child’s spirit.
The beauty of this kind of contest is that when the parents conquer, it applies across the board. The child is not just yielding to the circumstances; he is yielding to his parents. The rebel in him is dying. This submission will translate into every aspect of their relationship.
Blog Author’s Note: That isn’t all that is dying… Early Childhood Trauma
The child has learned that the parents have more resolve than he does. They are not liars. When they say stop or else, they mean it. There is no way to bend the parents; their word is final.
….There are those of you who will think that the twenty miles of spanking was cruel. Remember, this was not a daily event; it was a war to end all wars. The spankings were not wild, violent affairs. They were not greatly painful—to the child, that is. They were done in quiet calm and dignity. It is not the severity of the spanking but the certainty of it that gives it persuasive power. Our object in spanking is not to cause the child to so fear the pain that he obeys. It is to gain the child’s attention and give him respect for the parent’s word. I know that there are abusive, angry parents out there who, through their own inconsistency, find themselves in a position where they excessively spank every day. Spanking should just be the early part of a training program. It is our consistency that trains. The rod just gives credibility to our word. If your word is not credible, no amount of the rod will ever be effective. You will become abusive. If you feel abusive, you probably are. Get counsel and advice from a close friend who has a Biblical perspective on child training.
First, if you feel you are bordering on something that feels abusive with your child, do not seek the counsel of a close friend because this is not going to result in an objective review and perspective of your situation. Close friends allow sex to continue between the parent-figure and child, they allow mothers to terrorize their children by pulling their hair and flinging them around in the name of obedience; they permit abuse to continue. Close friends won’t likely tell you they disagree, at least not sternly. Chances are, they’re close friends because of your commonalities, and this does not lend itself to any sort of objective review.
The certainty of the spanking is not what causes the child’s behavior to become modified, but instead it is the certainty of the terror and pain they know they will experience at the hands of those they are meant to trust openly and deeply, on every level that is needed by the human mind. To treat a child in this manner is to betray them at their core.
I do not believe in allowing a child to rule my life or run my day in its entirety (well, some days I am perfectly fine with it actually), though the priority I place with my child and her development and well being often dictates that my day be centered around her.
I believe in a parent’s instinct, and that the child is the priority. My marriage is not suffering because of this priority, nor is the rest of my life or work because all are balanced accordingly, but while my child is young and totally dependent upon me for her survival and development, she will remain my utmost priority.
She cries because she needs something. Sometimes, at 28 months, she cries when she hasn’t gotten her way, and her cries are how she expresses the feelings associated with her not getting what she wanted, just as she wanted it. These cries are not rebellious or wrong. They are her expressing her frustrations, her disappointment, and all the other emotions that she can’t understand yet, but that are there and need an outlet so that she can move on to the next thing her tiny little focus find to dwell on.
If she is prevented from expressing and experiencing her emotions, and allowing them to run their course, at this young age, she begins to turn inward and without any mechanism within her mind to accomplish this inward reflection (that adults and older children have), she experiences an inner turmoil at the deepest part of her.
As she grows, and her mind matures from year to year, with each episode of experiencing emotional response, her mind begins to understand and learns to examine and utilize these emotional responses. In time, instead of outbursts that include crying and fits/tantrums, she is capable of processing these emotions in a more subtle, internal manner. This is not the unhealthy sort of internalizing that is a result of forced coping and survival. This is the sort of internal thought and emotional process that is found in an emotionally healthy, confident and socially functioning adult. This process begins of growth begins at birth (or prior) and completes itself somewhere along the way to adulthood. The timeline for this completion is unique to each individual.
In the case where a child this young persists in crying.. there is a reason.. He is not simply being a “brat”, as Mr. Pearl would have you believe. If he’s 10 years old, he will communicate his reason, and if there is crying, it will only be brief (unless he knows this is the best technique to force his preferences) but at two, his cries are his communication method. He is not manipulating you to the point where you need to strike him, or strike fear in his heart.
If the child is perfectly provided for, you have already addressed all his concerns, he is comfortable and not tired, and is simply crying or throwing a fit in effort to get you to give in to his desires, there is a very simple, non-violent solution. Do not withdraw from the child, do not isolate him by setting him in time-out or off on his own, stuck in his room, etc.. Stay with the child, in visual or audible range, while he/she works through the emotions experienced in response to their desire being refused.
Tell the child, while the child is screaming, that you’re there. Tell them that it’s ok for them to be upset, but that their response is not going to cause you to change your mind. AND don’t let it. If you decided, for instance, to not allow your toddler to play with a certain toy, do not relent and give it to her just to stop her crying or screaming. Just remove the object from where she can see it, or where she will be reminded that she cannot have it, and allow her to be upset.
Within a few minutes, sometimes 30, (I have seen the fits go on for this long on days when the tension in the house is particularly thick, or if she is too tired) and stay with the child. That does not mean you sit there and stare at them, aggravating them further. And that also doesn’t mean you continue to plead your case to them, hoping they will grasp your reasoning; they can’t grasp your refusal of the toy in the first place, there is no way they’ll grasp the abstract thought of why you have refused, etc…
Once the episode dwindles, and they become calm, you can remind them of what they cannot have, by simply stating that you have put it away for the day (or more) and that you will bring it back for them to play when you are ready to.
Then be loving, affectionate, and change the subject/focus to something that they CAN do and will enjoy, without a bunch of restrictions. Now is not the time to engage them in some complicated task where they are doomed to fail somehow and end up in another emotional battle with you.
Nearly every researcher agrees that early childhood traumas (i.e. those that happen before the age of six) lie at the root of most long-term depression and anxiety, and many emotional and psychological illnesses. Severe traumas can even alter the very chemistry and physiology of the brain itself! Among mental health professionals, and even some childhood development specialists, there is sometimes a lack of understanding over exactly what constitutes childhood trauma.
In addition to physical, sexual and verbal abuse, this can include anything that causes the child to feel worthless, unlovable, insecure, and even endangered, or as if his only value lies in meeting someone else’s needs. Examples cited in the report include “belittling, degrading or ridiculing a child; making him or her feel unsafe [including threat of abandonment]; failing to express affection, caring and love; neglecting mental health, medical or educational needs.”
The AAP also includes parental divorce in the list of potentially harmful events which can traumatize a child.
Many things on the AAP’s list of factors leading to childhood trauma benefit from further definition. For example, what do “belittling” or “degrading” mean in terms of a child’s development? What actions–or inactions–on the part of parents or child carers would lead little Tommy to feel degraded? Under this category I would include criticism, and even failure to praise him (for accomplishment, for effort as well as just for being a “great kid”), listen to his opinions, and take an interest in his activities or friends. Praise and encouragement are essential to a child’s sense of competence and emotional security, and absence of positive feedback can be extremely damaging to a child’s self-esteem.
Other stressors include parental fighting, domestic violence, and bullying, including failure to curb bullying behavior by siblings or peers. An absence of consistent rules and boundaries also makes a child feel unsafe.
According to the AAP, childhood trauma can also include witnessing community and televised violence. So Tommy may also grow to feel unsafe if he is allowed to watch violent movies or traumatic news footage on TV. In fact violent TV is seen by many researchers as one of the causes of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The important point is that a traumatic event or interaction must be a “repeated pattern” to cause lasting damage. The occasional slap on the wrist probably won’t cause permanent harm; an ongoing pattern of corporeal punishment, or threat of such punishment, almost certainly will.
All types of child abuse and neglect leave lasting scars. Some of these scars might be physical, but emotional scarring has long lasting effects throughout life, damaging a child’s sense of self, ability to have healthy relationships, and ability to function at home, at work and at school. Some effects include:
- Lack of trust and relationship difficulties. If you can’t trust your parents, who can you trust? Abuse by a primary caregiver damages the most fundamental relationship as a child—that you will safely, reliably get your physical and emotional needs met by the person who is responsible for your care. Without this base, it is very difficult to learn to trust people or know who is trustworthy. This can lead to difficulty maintaining relationships due to fear of being controlled or abused. It can also lead to unhealthy relationships because the adult doesn’t know what a good relationship is.
- Core feelings of being “worthless” or “damaged.” If you’ve been told over and over again as a child that you are stupid or no good, it is very difficult to overcome these core feelings. You may experience them as reality. Adults may not strive for more education, or settle for a job that may not pay enough, because they don’t believe they can do it or are worth more. Sexual abuse survivors, with the stigma and shame surrounding the abuse, often especially struggle with a feeling of being damaged.
- Trouble regulating emotions. Abused children cannot express emotions safely. As a result, the emotions get stuffed down, coming out in unexpected ways. Adult survivors of child abuse can struggle with unexplained anxiety, depression, or anger. They may turn to alcohol or drugs to numb out the painful feelings.
An Open Letter to Roy Lessin: Author of
“Spanking: Why, When, How”
|Beth Fenimore’s father illustrated Roy Lessin’s 1979 book “Spanking: Why, When, How.” As a child, Beth’s family attended the church where Roy Lessin preached. Her parents and the Lessins socialized with each other and babysat each other’s children. Beth and her siblings grew up alongside the Lessin’s two children, Joey and Lydia. Beth’s parents used Roy Lessin’s “godly” methods of corporal punishment under his personal tutelage, and in at least one case, Beth was “spanked” with a switch by Roy Lessin’s wife, Charlene (“Char”) Lessin. In this stunning and courageous letter, Beth confronts the man who taught her parents how to use corporal punishment to extinguish all outward evidence of childish emotions displeasing to the parent, and how to instill instant, unthinking obedience based on fear. She vividly describes the dark cloud Char and Roy Lessin’s methods cast over her childhood, as well as the long lasting psychological, emotional and medical harm which resulted from Roy Lessin’s so-called “loving correction of the rod.”|
September 7, 2005
Open Letter to Roy Lessin
Author of Spanking: Why, When, How
After 19 years I have found the courage to write you this letter declaring how your choice to teach and write about spanking has affected me. My purpose in writing you this open letter is to share with you and others that the spanking approach you recommend is harmful. My parents both know my view on this issue. I have talked to them, as well, about how their decision to implement your spanking recommendations affected me. I have a mission. My mission is to warn new parents who are innocently trying to raise happy, healthy children. Should just one parent spare their child the kind of pain that I endured at the hands of my parents implementing your spanking recommendations, my pain will have more meaning than it does now.
Should just one parent spare their child the kind of pain that I endured at the hands of my parents implementing your spanking recommendations, my pain will have more meaning than it does now.
I want to begin by talking about your spanking approach so that we’ll both be using the same language. In your book, you describe a process by which a parent performs a spanking on their child.
* The first step is to use the right instrument; if a parent uses their hand, the child might become fearful of the parent’s hand.
* The second step is to spank promptly.
* The third step is to find a private place in which the parent can conduct the spanking.
* The fourth step is for the parent to explain to the child why they are going to be spanked.
* The fifth step is to get the child into a good spanking position (when my parents and other adults–such as your wife, Char–spanked me, the ritual involved removing the child’s clothing); you recommend bending the child over a bed, or bending a smaller child over the parent’s lap.
* The sixth step is to hit the child on the buttocks with a stick or other spanking implement.
* The seventh step is to continue spanking until the child yields a broken cry, which indicates a broken will.
* The eighth step is reconciliation. You recommend that parents comfort the child until sufficient time has passed, and then ask the child to stop crying. You recommend that parents spank a child who displays a “wrong attitude” by continuing to cry too long after a spanking.
The language in your book is much more “sugary” than what I’ve just written. But my description does not come close to what it feels like to receive a Roy Lessin spanking. So I’ll describe what a Roy Lessin spanking is like.My first spanking was when I was six months old. My mother spanked me for crying after she put me to bed. She had to spank me repeatedly to teach me to not cry when she put me down. I know about this incident because my mother used to tell all new mothers about how young I was when she started spanking me. My last spanking occurred when I was thirteen years old. The Roy Lessin spankings that I remember most vividly took place between the ages of three and seven, because I hardly went a few days without a spanking at that time. I’d like to share with you, and others, what it was like receiving a Roy Lessin spanking.
The moment I found out I was going to get a Roy Lessin spanking, I felt physically ill. Because the Roy Lessin spanking is a ritual, the ordeal could take a long time. (When I refer to a spanking ritual, I’m referring to the steps you outline in your book.) This was hard for me because I had a child’s sense of time. The dread bubbled up and consumed me, and stayed with me until the spanking ritual was over. My parents usually sent me to a private room, such as my own room, and there I would wait until one of my parents came. (My dad spanked me the most, so in my illustration let’s assume my father is conducting the Roy Lessin spanking.) My father would explain the reason for the spanking. This was an excruciating process because I had to listen while knowing what was coming. Since I might face back-to-back Roy Lessin spankings, I had to be careful not to be disrespectful in my listening to my father. I had already developed irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and would feel my guts cramp up with anxiety during his speech. Then he would ask me to take off my pants and underwear. I would feel deeply embarrassed because my father was not supposed to see me naked. (My family had a high standard for modesty.) My humiliation and fear would grow immeasurably as I leaned over the bed, my father’s knee, or whatever was around. My private parts were helplessly exposed as my dad laid his hand on my back. Trying to pull away and defend myself would only mean that the spanking would be longer, or I’d get a back-to-back spanking. The stick, paddle inscribed with scripture verses, or belt would swish violently through the air before slapping painfully on my buttocks or thighs. I would scream in pain and anguish. I cannot remember a moment of thinking of resisting, rebelling, or trying to “win” anything, as you recommend parents should watch for as they hit their children. I just tried to survive the best way I knew how. The screaming, the hitting, and the pain would continue for unknown amounts of time. When the gruesome pain ended, I would begin to battle with my emotions and my body. I knew that crying too much could mean that my father would start a Roy Lessin spanking ritual all over again to correct my “wrong attitude.”
My parents were never concerned about the marks they left on my body. We never talked about the painful marks on my body, or how clothing, baths, chairs, etc. hurt. The message was clear: there was no pain. Pulling up my pants was incredibly painful, and so was sitting on my father’s lap. Because “there was no pain,” I had to pretend my buttocks and thighs didn’t hurt even though they did, while my father would wrap his arms around me and “comfort” me. I was not like the idealized children you describe in your book, not knowing the difference between the spanking implement and the parent. My father caused me that pain–not a stick! My father’s arms scared me, and I feared my father like I’ve feared no other man. His touch repulsed me. I was the same with my mother. (To this day, I cannot physically tolerate either parent touching me. I feel physically ill at their touch.) My father would pray, and I could hardly go along but for fear of yet another Roy Lessin spanking. After we prayed, it was time for me to be happy. But my insides would be a mess. Tears would threaten to come back and cause me more pain and anguish. I had to pretend that I wasn’t sad, and that I wasn’t in pain. This would be my greatest lesson: to be happy no matter how I felt inside. It would take me a few back-to-back spankings, but I would learn. It would be a lesson I’d learn for life–being falsely happy regardless of how my body felt.
One aspect of receiving a Roy Lessin spanking is the sexual aspect. It’s taken me years to even begin to allow myself to speak of this aspect. You see, as a child I had no idea what sex was. I just had this funny sensation that came and went during the Roy Lessin spanking ritual. To my great dismay, I learned that sexual stimulation can be cross-wired with the painful ritual of spankings. This cross-wiring was a real problem for me. Because I couldn’t cope with the double message of love and pain, I avoided developing an intimate relationship with a man for a very long time. It took years for me to find a healthy sexuality outside the memories I have of the Roy Lessin spankings. I struggled with this double message as a child. I feel a deep sense of shame as I remember hitting and torturing my dolls and Barbies when no one was around. I needed some way to express the fear, pain, and sexual confusion I felt inside; yet my childish mind couldn’t comprehend the significance of what I was doing.
My parents were your “A” students. They followed your eight steps occasionally reducing the entire Roy Lessin spanking ritual to a few swats–not very often, though. My butt and thighs would sting for a long time after a Roy Lessin spanking ritual, so I’d go into the bathroom and use my mother’s mirror to look at my behind. I remember seeing red stripes crisscrossing my buttocks and my thighs. At times, I had old marks underneath the new marks. My parents conducted several Roy Lessin spanking rituals a day when I was a young child. I remember a teacher at school asking me one day why I didn’t just sit still. I couldn’t tell her that it was because the marks on my butt hurt so bad sitting in the little wooden chair.
Now that we’ve established what a Roy Lessin spanking is and what it felt like to receive one, let’s move on to wrong attitudes. I’d like to begin by telling you a story of what it was like having an adult, in this case your wife, address my “wrong attitude.”
One day my parents were moving. I was four, and woke up to a house that I no longer recognized. I asked my mother what was happening. Whatever answer she gave, I didn’t understand. She sent my brothers and me to your house, where your wife Char was to baby-sit us. On the way out the door, I saw our small parakeet Chirpy sitting in his cage outside our house near some bushes. Now, Chirpy wasn’t supposed to be outside. A dark feeling of dread came over me. I was frightened as I walked to the car, looking at Chirpy frantically chirping in his cage next to a stack of boxes. At some point, at your house, Char put all of us down for a nap. The confusion and fear filled me, and I wondered if I’d ever see my home again. When the room was quiet, my emotions burst out of me. I cried. Char came in and told me to stop, and I couldn’t. So she performed one of your spanking rituals. I went back to my napping spot. I lay there for the remainder of my nap–unable to sleep, afraid to move, filled with emotions of dread and fear so large I thought I’d explode. But I had to make Char believe that I was cheerfully obeying her. I put on whatever face I could to convince her, and pretended to be asleep. I had to pretend I felt different than I did inside.
There are two points I’d like to make about bad attitudes. The first is that, as you can see above, adults do not have “powers” that allow them to read the minds of children. My parents made this mistake over and over again. They weren’t much better at reading my mind or how I felt than your wife was that day I stayed at your house. You see, parents make mistakes. There’s no getting around this. But when a parent uses a force as violent as a Roy Lessin spanking, mistakes are truly damaging, especially when the spanking ritual involves breaking the child’s will–or breaking any part of a child’s psyche!
The second point about “wrong attitudes” is that you tell parents that their children will be happy with your mode of discipline, or even prefer being spanked. I want to say that I didn’t experience that joy. I built myself a cheerful, obedient shell. I lived in that shell, only peeking my head out when I felt safe, for 30 years. It took me another seven years to actually try taking the cheerful, obedient shell off–only to run back into it when something felt like the “old fears of my childhood.” I have not been happy living in this shell, constantly pretending to be happy when I felt miserable inside. When I think of a happy child, I think of a child who feels free to express their ideas, thoughts, and emotions. I think that a parent’s job is to teach a child how to express their emotions, not hit them with a stick until the child displays the emotion of the parent’s choosing.
You write about parents disciplining children for disobedience. It seems pretty simple. The parents set up some rules and the children follow them. When disobedience is based on a child doing or behaving just as the parent asks, following those rules becomes much harder. As your teachings played out in my growing-up years, I found that I violated more rules than I could keep track of. Not only that, one of the rules was to follow through without my mom or dad asking a second time. So perfection became the rule, and perfection was something I failed at miserably. Even in the cheerful, obedient shell, I was not completely safe. The life lesson I took away was that there is no such thing as second chances. I took this lesson to school, and found that I was afraid to try. Not that my parents didn’t encourage me–it was just that if the encouragement didn’t work, which it often didn’t, they’d spank me for getting letters backwards, words wrong on spelling tests, and so forth. Basically, they spanked me for not trying hard enough. I haven’t even mentioned the hundreds of other issues they spanked me for. I learned how to live helplessly. Not only did I face my own internal disappointment at not getting something correct, I faced a Roy Lessin spanking at home when I wore out my encouragement. I grew up thinking that I was mentally handicapped. Later, as a grown adult, I found out that I’m dyslexic–something a Roy Lessin spanking would never cure.
For most of my life, I worried that I’d remembered all this wrong. About eleven years ago I called Char and asked her to listen to while I recalled a Roy Lessin spanking for her. I described to her in as much detail as I could remember the beatings I endured again and again. Char told me that my memories were exactly what you and she had taught my parents. I had not remembered wrong!
I read your book a few weeks ago. I was again surprised to realize I knew and remembered your teachings very well. After the years of growing up around your family and hearing you preach at Outreach, your book brought back your painful teachings and the painful memories I’ve been trying so hard to live with. I kept wanting to grab my cheerful, obedient shell because to this day I feel scared when I think of all the Roy Lessin spankings and teachings.
Both Char, during my call with her, and you, in your first book, talk about spankings having a higher purpose in saving the soul. You reference Proverbs 20:30: “Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts.” Those “blows” left horrible marks on my body that made sitting difficult and bathing with soap sting horribly, and they terrified my spirit.
Feeling terrified isn’t the only outcome I live with. Ten years ago a gastroenterologist diagnosed me with IBS, a condition I’ve had since I was around three years old. Because of the fierce anxiety I felt because of the Roy Lessin spankings, I had terrible chronic stomachaches and diarrhea while I was growing up and as an adult. Five years ago my psychiatrist diagnosed me with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and I began to work through my deeply rooted fears of my parents and the Roy Lessin spankings. Later a physician associate (PA) diagnosed me with asthma and severe allergies from a poor immune system, a result of my chronic anxiety. The same PA told me that I’m at high risk for colon cancer because of the years of IBS as a result of my anxiety. Roy, these problems are all due to my parents implementing your teachings using Roy Lessin spankings to correct a multitude of childhood blunders and attitudes. I can’t imagine why a parent would want these outcomes for their child. I may have looked happy and acted lovingly towards my parents, but I was emotionally and physically sick inside! Your teachings gave me no option but to live a horrible lie of looking happy when I was miserable.
For almost every day of my life, I fear people. If people like my parents, and friends of my family such as you and Char, would hurt me this badly, what horrible things would others do to me? I was supposed to be safe with my family and friends growing up! I especially fear men in authority roles. I occasionally look even at people I know, and who I know to be safe, with terror just because they’ve spoken in a tone that reminds me of those early times. I fear making mistakes. I choose not to have children of my own because a child’s screams scramble my insides.
Remember all those sermons at Outreach that you, Don Leetch, Dean Kerns, and a few others delivered? I still hear children screaming as their parents spanked them outside the church sanctuary during Sunday morning service during those sermons. I remember the screams of my siblings. I remember on a Friday night, someone was preaching and a dad took a baby outside for a spanking, and a neighbor called the police. We stopped the church service, and you went out with your bible to explain to the officer why it was fine for the parent to spank their baby. All of us inside prayed that the officer would understand and not take the baby away.
As a grown woman I still fear Roy Lessin spankings. I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night begging my husband to “not let them get me.”
My father and I have talked several times about Roy Lessin spankings. He has asked for forgiveness, and is horrified by what he has done. These conversations have been incredibly painful for both of us, and I’m now 37 years old! I believe that he thought he was doing the right thing. You were a leader in the church he believed in, and you were his friend. Our families socialized together. This was not some teaching he picked up somewhere, and then went off to make the best of it.
I hope that by this point you begin to see how your simple, sweet words about raising children are actually harmful. Perhaps you’re wondering if I want to have a dialogue with you, and talk about what you really meant by your early book. Perhaps you’ve adopted a policy of grace, and now recommend that parents spank less and not on bare skin? The truth is, I don’t want to know. If I needed justification or reasoning for your teachings, I could use your book as a reference. What I’d like you to do is reconsider your position after carefully looking at how your teachings affected me. Would a loving parent really want to raise a child to fear people, to wear a cheerful and obedient shell, or to live with PTSD and other ailments? I hope the answer you come to is No. I hope that you realize that hitting a child for any reason is not loving. Then, I hope, you join the cause to end corporal punishment in the homes of children. I came into this world a happy, healthy baby. For no other reason than the Roy Lessin spankings, I now fight for my physical and mental health. Please help others and me so this doesn’t happen to any more children. Help end corporal punishment. Help end child abuse. If Jesus said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea” (Mark 9:42), I can’t image that God would condone such behavior in people who claim to be loving parents.
Bethany A. Fenimore
Roy Lessin, author of “Spanking: Why, When, How” with Lydia, Joey and Char, circa 1978.
Beth Fenimore: “I remember knowing my mother was watching me and telling
me to smile for the photographer. I felt intimidated by my mother to smile.
No matter what facial expression I had, my eyes seemed to show my anxiety.
Looking at this photo now, I feel deeply sad.”
Beth Fenimore: “As a kid, I was on the watch for the moods and emotions of others.
I was usually distracted with anxiety wondering if I had done anything
wrong that would cause me to get a Roy Lessin spanking.”