On March 2, 2010, Michael Pearl released a statement on No Greater Joy’s Facebook page following Lydia Schatz’s death.
It has come to my 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. 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. They 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.
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.
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.
Even my chickens are laughing . . . well, actually it is 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.
On October 7, 2011, No Greater Joy Ministries released a statement from Michael Pearl that was also posted on their Facebook page:
We share in the sadness over the tragic death of Hanna Williams. What her parents did is diametrically opposed to the philosophy of No Greater Joy Ministries (NGJ) and what is taught in the book, To Train Up a Child (see quotes below). We are grieved by Hanna’s death as well as the nearly 1,700 other children that die in this country every year as the result of neglect or abuse. This is part of the motivation of NGJ to provide materials that are helping parents to raise healthy and happy children.
Here are quotes from the book that actually warn against abuse.
“Train up-not beat up. Train up-not discipline up.” “A child needs more than ‘obedience training’, but without first training him, discipline is insufficient” page 4
“Disciplinary actions can easily become excessive and oppressive if you set aside the tool of training and depend on discipline alone to do the training.” Page 9
“Parent, have you trained yourself not to discipline immediately but to wait until your irritation builds into anger? If so, then you have allowed anger to become your inducement to discipline.” Page 25
“Parent, if you are having problems with your children, you can be assured that you are not alone. Your children are also having problems with you. You are going to have to make adjustments in your own life if you are going to help them with their problems.” “… the responsibility for making a significant change is completely yours.” Page 32
“There are always some who act in the extreme. These individuals are capable of using what has been said about the legitimate use of the rod to justify ongoing brutality to their children.” page 50
“The rod should never be a vent for parents’ anger. Where the supreme motivation is anything other than the child’s good, it is inevitable that such behavior by the parent will assuredly create problems.” page 51
These quotes and the rest of the book are about turning the hearts of parents to the children and the hearts of children to the parents.
If, as alleged, Hanna’s parents owned a copy of the book, it is obvious from these quotes and their actions, that they either have not read it or totally ignored its contents. The book repeated warns parents against abuse and emphasizes the parents’ responsibility to love and properly care for their children, which includes training them for success. There are thousands upon thousands of parents (the book has sold over 660,000 copies) who have and are properly applying the philosophy in the book with the joyous results of happy, productive, well-adjusted children in loving successful families.
The alleged presence of the book makes it no more responsible for Hanna’s death than the presence of a weight loss book in the home of an overweight person is responsible for their obesity. Its presence is actually recognition that there was a problem and obtaining the book was an effort to solve it. Unfortunately, if Hanna’s parents own a copy they chose to ignore (or twist) the contents of the book that could have corrected their poor parenting and prevented the abuse and her death.
It is our desire to redouble our efforts to help families and to prevent future tragedies.
Michael Pearl, President
No Greater Joy Ministries
It seems as though Michael Pearl is taking this recent death more seriously than he did when Lydia Schatz died. However, we cannot expect the Pearls or their supporters to understand how the methods presented in their book To Train Up a Child are abusive because in their minds they are not.
Even though the prosecutor says that “issues of faith were not a factor in the case against the couple,” news of Hana’s death and the Pearl’s book have been linked all over the media. This is the time to warn people of the Pearl’s materials and to ask book distributors not to sell the Pearl’s books. And remember, friends, cases like Hana’s, though tragic and unfortunate, will hopefully be the cases that result in more oversight so we don’t have any more parents adopting children, isolating them, and abusing them. Change is definitely needed.