Tuesday, April 26, 2011

To Train Up a Child: A Review

I wrote this review on Amazon a few years ago and thought I'd post it here.  Please keep in mind that this review was written before the deaths of Sean Paddock and Lydia Schatz, both of which implicate the Pearls' teachings as contributing factors to these deaths.  I would have MUCH stronger words today then I did several years ago... but this review is a pretty good summary of what I think about their godless, evil teachings.

One star out of Five

I think a few of the main problems I have with this book lie in a couple of areas:
1. The Pearls view training children the way some people view training animals. Several times in TTUAC, Mr. Pearl states that the biblical way to train children is the same way we train a mule or a dog. He seems to ignore the fact that children are human beings made in God’s image. Biblically speaking, we are to treat human beings with a great deal more dignity and respect than a dog.
2. The Pearls set up an antagonistic relationship between parent and child. The child’s will must be subdued and conquered and the only way to accomplish this, it seems, is through switching. If parents fail to use this method, Mr. Pearl states that parents are creating a “Nazi.” He commands parents to look for opportunities to “thwart” the will of one’s children. I don’t see that in the Bible anywhere.
3. Obviously, parents react to the Pearls’ materials in different ways. I see TTUAC as a manual for child abuse. Pearl supporters claim its saved their homes. It seems to be a matter of interpretation. How can we know how anyone is going to interpret what is in that book? Even some Pearl supporters say that they don’t agree with everything they say which means there are elements that just don’t sit right with many, many people. I would hope that those folks ask why those elements bother them so much.
4. The Pearls represent themselves as biblical authorities on parenting and “child training”. Parents who don’t have a good support system in place tend to get desperate very fast. Mr. Pearl states in his introduction to TTUAC that once you read his book, the techniques will seem obvious and you’ll wonder why you didn’t figure it out on your own. Desperate people often tend toward extreme behavior. There are many MANY pro-spanking parents who feel that the Pearls’ methods are extreme. Switching for each and every single offense. Placing a child’s hands on a hot stove to teach him not to touch it. Shoving an unsuspecting child in a pool to teach them fear of the water. Hosing down a child who’s soiled his pants while learning to potty train as punishment for not using the potty.
Believe me, there are innumberable ways to raise godly children that have nothing whatsoever to do with the abuse advocated in this book.
5. This book is also full of horrible theology which I believe stems from the Pearls errant view on the nature of man.
6. The Pearls are just bad writers. They are totally unclear about several of their ideas and they contradict themselves in a number of places. Never show mercy to your child, show mercy to your child. Pick your child up when he cries, don’t pick him up when he cries. Things like that. I know for a fact that their style alone has left a number of parents totally confused about what to do with their kids. If the Pearls believe that consistency is the key, perhaps they should work on being more consistent in their writing.
Please, please don’t buy it. Amazon should stop selling it.
I’d give it zero stars if I could.


  1. It's a horrible book. We were given a copy when in seminary by another seminarian family. We looked through it and were appalled. It wound up in the garbage. It's hard to believe this book is even allowed. It simply advocates abuse.

  2. I'm kinda of disturbed that this book has made inroads whatsoever in the Church. Pearl is an unabashed fundamentalist- his biblical literalism alone should be enough for any Orthodox person to put the book where it belongs: in their fireplace.

    Sorry for the strong words, but I have a difficult time being charitable where these people are concerned. I am VERY glad you threw the book out.

  3. In the past 4 years I have known SO many people who follow this book. Most take it as "Gods word". It is very disturbing that it is so widely read by new christians trying to to do the right thing, and there are no wiser christians out there speaking up about the trash in this book.

    Thank you for speaking up!!

  4. I tend to have verbal diarrhea when it comes to the Pearls. I just can't shut up once I get going. I have a personal policy to never give parenting advice unless someone asks me... unless that person is using either Babywise or the Pearls. I think failing to speak out puts children in danger.

    I've seen the most die-hard Pearlites become their most ardent critics after encountering people who've spoken out against the Pearls' teachings. If we keep making noise, people will hear us!