To Train Up A Child

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Cheshire Cat

Puritan Board Sophomore
Has anybody read 'To Train Up A Child' by Michael and Debi Pearl and what did you all think of it?

Edit: Not the theology aspect, but the actual advice on training a child. It seems that in trying to defend the "age of accountability" that the author denies original sin. I could be wrong, but it seemed like this to me at least.
 
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a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
Caleb I think the author does deny original sin and the whole system of training is based on that faulty theology. Because of that the theology is somewhat inseparable from the advice: it will work purely on a self interested level with the common kid, but it doesn't work in all cases and if you use it the exclusion of something with more theological accuracy and depth you're just producing a well behaved little monster of selfishness. Besides which it works on the 'if you do everything right, your child will turn out okay' model which is completely unrealistic in that the parent cannot do everything right, and the kids who turn out okay had faulty parents just like everyone else-- and that it is the grace of God, not the parent, that makes the real difference. It ultimately produces a great deal of false guilt which I carried around when we had a foster child who didn't straighten up in three weeks: I lost all ability to see how he was improving in discouragement that I must still be doing everything wrong. I liked some of the tips and have used them often with kids I babysit (and their parents will ask me, "How did you get them to do that?" so it does work) but would never implement it full scale. I would recommend reading The Pastor's Daughter by Louisa Payson Hopkins for a more theologically rooted illustration of interacting with children in their sins, and balancing Michael and Debi's advice with that picture of how a godly man actually reared his daughter. I'm sure there are other books but that is the best one my husband and I have read.
 

LadyFlynt

Puritan Board Doctor
Ditto @ Heidi. Add to that the model of parents intentionally setting a child up for a spanking in order to train, rather than waiting for the teachable moments to arise naturally on their own.
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
The ladies are right, it is terrible!

I hope no reformed parent of covenant children would ever provoke them to wrath as the authors recomend. They are advocating a form of training that is more suitable to your puppy, but please not your child who has a soul.

:down: :down: it gets a 2 thumbs down from me.

ps my wife says Debbie's recent book for ladies is quite good and she has recomended it to several of her friends, but she always sends it with a warning "do not trust anything else by them"
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Ditto @ Heidi. Add to that the model of parents intentionally setting a child up for a spanking in order to train, rather than waiting for the teachable moments to arise naturally on their own.
Tempting a child to sin?! Blah!

It's a bit of an ironic title for a book from people that don't believe in the Covenant inclusion of children since Proverbs is written by a man trying to train his child up in the faith and even says it's the purpose for the book.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
Kevin, just a word about Created to Be His Helpmeet. There are some problems with it. The first part of a several part review of some of them is here.

In response to these reviews Rebekah (Pearl) Anast posted this comment here (comments section, one of the first five): "I think some of the amazement you may feel over the stories or the presentation of the stories and letters probably stems from a belief that we all have a sinful nature and therefore our natural reactions cannot be good. Again, I suggest you listen to the Sin No More Series. This will absolutely answer these questions. Not that you will agree ;-) But you will understand."

(Evidently the "Sin No More Series" presents the Pearls doctrine of not having a sinful nature?) The daughter admits that their doctrine is a foundational element in what is probably the Pearls' best book. I think most of their material should be used with all the doctrinal red lights going off, and not be recommended to people who don't have doctrinal red lights to warn them from blanket acceptance.

Also I had forgotten what Colleen wrote, about setting up the children to sin in order to 'train' them.... yes, blah indeed.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
I'm not sure Colleen -- I was amazed to find Rebekah Anast saying that. Perhaps she doesn't understand what she is saying? I was wondering if someone else had slogged through her dad's work on Romans....
 

LadyFlynt

Puritan Board Doctor
Personally, I couldn't even get all the way through her mother's book. I read TTUAC years ago and it turned me off. I'm not sure I could stomach having to go through his other stuff.

Reading his views on marriage certificates (and it putting ppl in league with homosexuals) is wild enough. Due to this, his daughter is not considered legally married.
 

bfrank

Puritan Board Freshman
I haven't read the book for quite some time. When I first received it from a friend I tried to incorporate some of it...that was about 7 years ago. Nowadays, as I've matured as a believer, I really have no use for it. I've found there are much better resources.

As far as the theology point, I really don't see how you separate the two. Michael Pearl has a faulty view of Scripture...it translates into a faulty view of parenting. The fact that he believes he doesn't sin any more is hilarious.

The thing that attracted me at first is the use of the rod...that fact that he affirmed it caught my eye. So many in today's culture, even in the church, do not and it shows in the actions of their children.

I've found this to be helpful

Amazon.com: Shepherding a Child's Heart: Books: Tedd Tripp
 

kvanlaan

Puritan Board Doctor
We used it on our Esther since we were far from home, incommunicado most of the time, and didn't have my own mom and dad to lean on for guidance. We found that there were helpful points in it (that are indeed being ignored by many in the church today) but that some of it went too far. At the time, we knew little about the Pearl's theology and had only been married for 6 months ourselves. The book was given to us by another couple and we were very thankful for it. I can't say we regret using it on the whole, though we did take it too far in some instances (and do very much regret that). We still look on their website from time to time, but if the "Sin no more in five easy steps" bit is true, well, I'm not sure that leaves much room for doubt. Doctrinal red lights indeed.

We still leave things out that the kids know they shouldn't touch and I don't know that such a situation intentionally tempts them to sin. Obedience is obedience - just because Esther knows where the pasta is (she loves dried pasta, go figure) doesn't mean that I'm tempting her to sin by not locking it up.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Just a question....



Should God have put the forbidden fruit behind a cage?


He sort of just left it out there in the open didn't he?
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Sorry....I should have quoted the previous posts...

In essence some say that the author is tempting children to sin by placing objects in front of them to "test" them to check on their obedience. This was condemned as tempting the child and provoking them to sin.

I have not read the book yet, so I cannot comment with specifics, but if this is one of the charges against the book, how do we reconcile this with God leaving so many sinful things in front of us?

It seems that there are many things possibly wrong with the book, but perhaps this might not be one of them...
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Sorry....I should have quoted the previous posts...

In essence some say that the author is tempting children to sin by placing objects in front of them to "test" them to check on their obedience. This was condemned as tempting the child and provoking them to sin.

I have not read the book yet, so I cannot comment with specifics, but if this is one of the charges against the book, how do we reconcile this with God leaving so many sinful things in front of us?

It seems that there are many things possibly wrong with the book, but perhaps this might not be one of them...
The difference between God and us in this case is:

1. He is God.
2. He cannot sin nor can He tempt to sin.
3. God is permitted to do things we are not.
4. Adam was not fallen, we are and we are commanded not to tempt others to sin. Honestly, there is enough opportunity with small children to discipline without giving them opportunity to sin.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
So what does the author recommend? Does he recommend leaving candy out in the open or something?
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
So what does the author recommend? Does he recommend leaving candy out in the open or something?
Dude, I don't know. I just know that I have enough to keep up with in trying to discipline for offenses my kids commit from their sin nature and I don't need somebody suggesting ways to tempt an immature kid to rebel against my authority even more.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Rich;

I'll have to wait about 3 weeks before I read the book and then post a reply. I am leary to agree or disagree because I ha ve no idea what exactly is being proposed. BUt yes, kids have enough sin without creating more opportunities...
 

kvanlaan

Puritan Board Doctor
Wait a minute here. I realise that there are many opportunities to teach without tempting our children, but I think you may be taking it a bit far.

When I tell Joseph that he is not to touch the apple grinder that I am working on, I expect him to obey, though it sits on the table before him when I step out of the room and leave him alone. This is not tempting him to sin, it is training a child to obey.

Otherwise, where does it end? "Officer, the man tempted my boy to sin by opening the cash register to make change. Junior couldn't help himself but to reach in and take a fistful." I don't mean for this example to sound sarcastic, but it is a rather logical (though perhaps ridiculous) line to follow from the previous argument.

I guess my point is that I don't want my child's testing to be done on the goods of others, I'd rather test him in the home under my own terms and conditions. Furthermore, it is done in love, and to assure me that I have sufficiently readied my child for the world which will assail him the moment he leaves my care. Will he turn his face away when the scantily clad teenage girl walks by or will he gawk in awe/lust? I need to make sure that he's ready, as he will be leading his own family one day. I don't do it to torment him, I do it because I love him.

In the light of some of the comments below, Michael Pearl's theology is indefensible, true enough. And there are parts of the book which are indeed junk - he takes certain concepts too far. But there are a lot of good points in there with which I cannot find fault. I don't feel I am tempting my children, I am simply training them.
 

kvanlaan

Puritan Board Doctor
Um, just a quick note on the last post - I DO NOT want to make it seem like I will be passing a parade of scantily-clad young ladies in front of my boy in the privacy of my own home! :)

That is likewise a logical (albeit ridiculous) line to follow from the statements I made...
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
So what does the author recommend? Does he recommend leaving candy out in the open or something?
Trevor, it is worse than you can imagine. Thay recomend leaving firearms out so that children will touch them so you will have an opportunity to 'spank' them. After all 'spanking' is the only way to teach er, train.

As someone raised with guns and who is raising my children around them I can not concieve of a father leaving any gun with in grabbing distence of a toddler.

In an other place they tell of pushing a child into a pond (!) in order to 'spank' her for the 'disobedience' of jumping in. See this child was complient and would not disobey the family rule about getting in the pond so since the only way to 'train' is to 'spank' they had to force the child to 'disobey' in order to 'train' her.

These people are dangerous to christian families and should be avoided.
 

LadyFlynt

Puritan Board Doctor
Trevor, it is worse than you can imagine. Thay recomend leaving firearms out so that children will touch them so you will have an opportunity to 'spank' them. After all 'spanking' is the only way to teach er, train.

As someone raised with guns and who is raising my children around them I can not concieve of a father leaving any gun with in grabbing distence of a toddler.

In an other place they tell of pushing a child into a pond (!) in order to 'spank' her for the 'disobedience' of jumping in. See this child was complient and would not disobey the family rule about getting in the pond so since the only way to 'train' is to 'spank' they had to force the child to 'disobey' in order to 'train' her.

These people are dangerous to christian families and should be avoided.
:ditto: THIS is the kind of tempting a child or abusing authority that we are talking about. We are not speaking of locking up all the knickknacks, etc. Heaven's I don't believe in making everything "childproof". But I don't believe in INTENTIONALLY GOING OUT OF YOUR WAY to create failure in a child or to be the cause of failure (rather not failure, but simply the cause of a child ending up in a pond) just so you can have reason to spank the child...this is called abuse...and not stopping at physical, it's mental and emotional abuse. Your child learns not to trust you and to constantly look over their shoulder. In my neices and nephew's case, they have learned the fine art of telling half truths and setting eachother up. :banghead:
 

kvanlaan

Puritan Board Doctor
Exactly. Like I said, they go toooo faaaar in some instances. (We had a couple of real issues beyond the two mentioned). But there are good, practical ideas as well. Perhaps it's living in a society that is so far divorced from common sense that made so many ideas in there seem like a good ones, I don't know.

I don't mind being corrected, but I still feel like this book has something to offer, if read through a filter.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
I agree that it isn't simply the non childproofing of your home that they are talking about. They are as Colleen says talking about creating situations with an intent to make the child fail, which is different than having candy on the coffee table. I can't imagine wanting to make my child disobey me (or deliberately trying to train him to obey for all the wrongest reasons) in order to implement a system, because that is wanting my child to sin against God. The Pearls don't look on the sin involved in any more serious a light than they would the training of an animal, though.

Kevin I agree that in isolation much of their advice works well. But most people are not adopting their good tips in isolation from the whole ideology as you say yourself. It's so sad to see people who can't enjoy the family they love because of false expectations of themselves and the children. We try to tell these people (who are Calvinists) that if they believe in total depravity it is not really shocking that their children disobey. It is only grace that can save the child alike from disobedience and a self serving and destructive outward obedience. But the Pearls and others have raised such false hopes. And this does result, especially in the frustration of it, in parents who are too hard on their children (their children must be singularly bad and shocking) and wind up estranging them in an 'Us-them' kind of family situation, seeking sympathy and justification from other parents and only estranging their children further by always speaking about them. I did the same thing with my foster child so I'm not trying to be overly critical of others.

Colleen I asked my husband about the 'no sin nature' thing and he says that they reconcile it (for them) quite easily. We are no different really than Adam and Eve and the angels, half of which fell and half of which didn't. We have good natural inclinations but circumstances will tempt us to sin. It's a fifty fifty chance that we'll fall. (Amazing then how 100 percent of the human race have fallen....?) Adam and Eve didn't really plunge us into sin they just set us a bad example.

Five easy steps to sin no more is taking victory not only a bit too far but a bit too easily and cheaply. What have we been doing struggling with sin all these years while there is this easy five step program???
 

LadyFlynt

Puritan Board Doctor
It may have some god things to offer...but I think the point is that there are better books out there to reccomend.
 

LadyFlynt

Puritan Board Doctor
Thank you, Heidi...and it turns salvation into a man-saves-himself ideal eventually. Not much different between that and much of the new/old age dogmas. Man is an animal and needs to be trained or conquered as such...argh!

I've also found this kind of thinking in several other spheres (the training, not the ideas on sin nature)...Gothard, Ezzo, Kenaston, etc. And yes, I've had personal experience with each. There is also a mothering board that is very promotive of the Pearl's material (and spanking only for each and every offense...supposedly alternate or natural consequences aren't scriptural :rolleyes:...they neglect that God deals with us in these other ways).
 

govols

Puritan Board Junior
Just wondering, are ya saying that there is not a way to not sin anymore or are ya just making fun, per se, of a five step system?

Five easy steps to sin no more is taking victory not only a bit too far but a bit too easily and cheaply. What have we been doing struggling with sin all these years while there is this easy five step program???
 
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