Perhaps one of you could help articulate my feelings here more eloquently.. Basically, when one reads through the majority of the material the NGJ group publishes, one gets a sense that the instructions are rather black and white, intended to be 100% of the time, consistent, and enforced regardless of the child and their response. Additionally, this group repeatedly berates and condemns any parent that doesn’t either see the value of adherence to their doctrine, or doesn’t do it out of “weakness”. (See below for quotes and source related to this.)
However, when actually questioned, by a supporter and follower no less, these people semi-recant, in effort to save their assumed sanity and correctness. But they spin their words in such a way that leaves the reader with a sense of certainty, yet confusion. It’s as if they’re instructing the child to stop spinning on the merry-go-round (or the parent) while they themselves (NGJ) is the physical force that is making the platter continue to spin.
We recently visited a family who follow your teachings to the “T”. The children are very well behaved. But I wondered if you’ve ever had anyone overdo it?
The children didn’t have the spark of life as much as we remember our children having. We pass out your books and have been around other families with wonderful kids that are more relaxed and happy. We were troubled. Should we be?
Debi Pearl Responds
Yes, we all need to be troubled, and young couples need encouragement and help from the older couples. We have seen families who take what we and others have written and use it like the law. When older, wiser people try to help bring balance, the younger couples do not take their counsel. It grieves us. If children are not bubbling with joy and eager to be a part of life, then something is very wrong. Good training begins and ends with tying strings of fellowship and bonds of good times.
The Letter Continues
We also noted that the mother was swatting their very young children for not meeting possibly unfair expectations. One as young as 13 weeks old was being swatted to stop crying. The mother was trying to teach her one year old to put toys away, but the kid just didn’t understand and it was an intense confrontation. We tried to let them see a balance but what they understood you meant and what we understood you meant were 2 very different things.
It is true that we occasionally hear that young mothers and more seldom, fathers, take what we teach out of context and misuse their children.
The rest of this article strikes a specific chord in me because I have nursed my daughter now for 2.5 years almost. We began this love connection moments (literally) after she was born, and will continue until she is ready to sever. (Anyone who wishes to judge our decisions I encourage you to send me your thoughts and rants, and I will reply in turn with science and instinct.)
You see, most of what these people say is laced with useful, logical, practical information. This is why their ministry and publications are so dangerous. Those that follow them may easily be seduced into believing their precepts and instructions are logical, reasonable, and even Godly. And for the parent who is struggling with their child’s behaviors, this group seems to be just what they’ve been looking for. Can anyone supply me with the definition of a cult… and lend their knowledge of how the dynamics of a cult play out, and who cults prey on?
This is why I hope this site will continue to develop with parallel advice, suggestions, and instruction that encourage the parent to see the value of their children, become aware of the effects of their actions and behaviors (and thought processes), and begin to redefine “discipline” from an assumption that is means to punish, back to the original definition of “instruct, guide, teach, develop”.
First, love your child. Care that the child is well, happy, and relaxed. Training should not be tense, upsetting, hurtful, or pushed. It should be a simple exercise in showing the child what you want him to do. A tiny stimulus to direct the child when they are small is enough. For example, if a 3 month-old nursing baby bites, don’t spank. She does not know she did bad. Just gently pull a hair on her head. She will startle back in momentary discomfort and immediately start nursing again. The tiny bit of discomfort makes the baby relate the biting down with the gentle pulling of the hair. You have not made her obey, you have only conditioned her to respond differently. That is training. If you take a 13 week-old baby who is fussing, and squirming and pop her leg, it will only bring more fussing and crying. The child cannot relate those 2 events. She most likely has a tummy ache that needs some relief, not added pain. Ask God for wisdom. He promises to give to those who simply ask.Deb
Ok, to pick this apart, because that is my mood at the moment… The words of NGJ are italic/red.
“A tiny stimulus to direct the child when they are small is enough. For example, if a 3 month-old nursing baby bites, don’t spank. She does not know she did bad. Just gently pull a hair on her head. She will startle back in momentary discomfort and immediately start nursing again. The tiny bit of discomfort makes the baby relate the biting down with the gentle pulling of the hair. You have not made her obey, you have only conditioned her to respond differently.”
If your infant bites during nursing, bring her closer to the breast. She will immediately let go because the mouth cannot suck properly unless it is at the right angle to the breast. The result is instantaneous, and she is not hurt in any way. Further, because the response from her is a reflex, instead of one that requires her tiny brain make a mental connection, she will not be psychologically harmed. Do not push the baby’s face far enough into your own flesh that you are depriving them of oxygen, even for a second. That is not the reflex I’m talking about. This action might not physically harm them in the second or two that it continues, but it does trigger a psychological response of broken trust. See the LLL site for demonstration and a more technical description..
The child nurses from the mother for nourishment. But the actual act of nursing is much more complex than that. Aside from the release of pleasure hormones from the milk (which is not evil, but something highly valuable for the development of the child), the baby and the mother are developing a bond and connection during nursing that will carry on into the rest of the child’s and mother’s lives. This connection is highly involved with the development of the child’s confidence, self-esteem, sense of value, and the ability to love and be loved.
I will include additional resources here over the next day or two, but in the mean time, for more information on the value of nursing our children, please simply to go LLL and browse the site.
I cannot imagine intentionally causing my child to feel (pain) what her tiny brain cannot properly interpret, but knows is undesired. Especially during a time where she is in bliss and trust, love, and security, such as experienced during breastfeeding. It brings such sorrow to me to even contemplate hurting my child in response to her innocently causing me discomfort (especially during nursing). And at three months old, she isn’t biting you out of mischief or defiance. She isn’t. She doesn’t have the mental capacity to “think” like this at such a young age.
A note to mothers who extend their nurse period into the point of life where the child has language recognition, you can tell your child that he/she is using her teeth and that it isn’t what Mama wants to feel. I caution you with using the term, “You’re hurting Mama”. I learned the hard way what heartache is felt when your child responds to you with the guilt of feeling as though they have done something to “hurt” their mama… I will never tell my child she is Hurting me during nursing again.
But if using words is insufficient, you can still use the same technique of bringing the face/head in closer than is appropriate for allowing the child to nurse properly. They will stop the bite. They will let go, and they will continue then to nurse (if you can tolerate it). Again, you’re not hurting them, you’re not breaching their trust and security, and you’re not forcing them to make a connection mentally. You’re triggering a reflex. Don’t bring them so close they feel as if they might suffocate, and don’t do it for more than a split second. If they don’t let go immediately, take a moment and repeat for another split second. Don’t deprive your child of oxygen even for a moment. Don’t force their face into your flesh far enough that you are depriving them of oxygen. This isn’t what is happening when this technique is used properly.
Mothers, please, please educate yourselves as to the value of breastfeeding, beyond simple nutrition, so that you fully comprehend the bond, and the results of this wonderful gift.
Here is just one quote of warning to those who don’t comply. More to follow –
“If you do not see the wisdom in what I have said, and you reject these concepts, you are not fit to be a parent. I pity your children. They will never experience the freedom of soul and conscience that mine do.” -Michael Pearl Source