How to be a bad parent

(cross-posted from my regular blog)

You know, I’ve been putting off writing this for ages, as it is not a nice fluffy subject, but I felt that my blog audience should become aware as to what is going on in some circles. Sure, it is mostly in homeschooling circles and some would argue only affects a Christian audience, but I propose that this topic is actually important to ALL parents.

If talking about spanking and abuse is triggering for you, please go read something light and fluffy instead. I’ll be in a better humour tomorrow, I promise.

My sincerest apologies if reading onwards makes you feel sick.

The news story is well over a month old. A boy named Sean Paddock died at the hands of his mother, who was “disciplining” him. The mother was a follower of a book called “To Train Up a Child”, written by a couple known as The Pearls. She was administering the suggested techniques when the boy died.

Many people would argue that it is entirely the mom’s fault for doing what she did. I am not absolving her of anything. Clearly, something was wrong. But I am not willing to overlook the “advice” that was out there in the Pearl’s books. Their advice relies heavily on swatches or smacks for every trangression a child makes. Everything.


Wiggling too much during a diaper change? Smack ’em, they’ll learn. They wiggle some more, smack ’em till they stop. Baby won’t settle down and go to sleep on schedule? You guessed it, another smack.

I could go on with even more nauseating examples, but I won’t, to spare you. If you have the stomach for it, go Google it. I refuse to link to anything they’ve written.

You may also think that because they are Christian books marketed directly to conservative Christian homeschoolers that you don’t need to worry about it.

I’m here to argue that you do. It is the worst thing to be uninformed. First and foremost, they are marketed as parenting books. Then can unwittingly fall into the hands of parents, just like you. Your neighbour, your family, your extended family. They have even been given away as freebies with other homeschooling materials. In one line of defense of many of their conflicting arguments and mis-quotations of out of context Scripture, the Pearls have tried to defend themselves saying essentially (and I am paraphrasing), “Well, we meant this part for unbelievers.”

Pretty odd line of reasoning for a Christian book. I know of another Christian “parenting” book author – Ezzo. He has a lot of similar advice, and his books have been secularized. I fear that at some point, the Pearls will get the same idea and spread their word to a larger, and unsuspecting, secular audience.

I admit, I am still confused about one thing: if the basis of your parenting philosophy is a “christian” rationale for spanking, and you strip all God references out of your material, then what leg are you left to stand on? This isn’t even a case where you can take what you need and leave the rest. There’s too much to leave, too many wrong conclusions, misinterpretations and just plain bad advice.

The other danger in “advice” like this has result as seen in the third paragraph: take a person prone to abusing their child, maybe even trying to overcome it, and place in their hands a book that says it’s not only okay, but their children will be worse off if they don’t.

And we’ve seen the result.

So now you know, as they say, and knowing is half the battle. The second half comes when you are in the presence of other parents and the name finally surfaces.

Are you going to be quiet?

About andrea

City kid turned country wife, obsessive crafter.


  1. Haven’t been silent so far. Except on my blog, which might be odd, but there you go.

  2. Thanks for posting this, Andrea. This is the main reason I cancelled Natalie and Noah’s blogs over at Homeschool Blogger.

  3. A lot of people wish I would be quiet.

    Thank you for speaking up.

  4. A lot of people wish I’d quietly take my toys and go home. Or die. Or just STFU. Or stop pointing out their hypocrisy. Or something. None of it nice. Or fluffy.

  5. Thank you for taking a stand. Well said.

  6. Well said, Andrea.

  7. Hi Jax, Lisa, Kris…Do you want your blogs added to the list of bloggers objecting to the message of the Pearls? Let me know. Bws.

  8. Andrea,I have briefly read some articles from The Pearls. I never felt right about their methods,but they always had testimonies of children ‘turning out right’,and of course you think they must be right. I tried the spanking once when baby was squirmy and again didn’t feel right. I use distractions instead and we are fine-try smiling,singing etc. I feel so bad for that poor boy and his mother. Let us pray and hope more cases don’t come up.


  1. […] In this case, the drivel that the site is selling is supposedly the surfire, can’t fail, easy to follow program for parenting infants. It only takes having 2 children to learn there is no such thing. The irony that I couldn’t resist was that the post the spammer chose to associate with the site was How to be a Bad Parent. […]