Sunday, May 07, 2006

A Tragedy of Authoritarianism

The latest in the terrible saga of the death of Sean Paddock can be found here. Warning: it makes for painful reading.

The errors in parental thinking that are revealed here can be traced to the instinct for authoritarianism. Instead of attempting to find out what caused Sean to wander at night, instead of seeking to find consensual solutions to the problem (you know, like take him into one's bed for a cuddle...that sort of thing?), she believed that instant obedience through physical force was the way to go and it ain't that hard to see how she could extrapolate in such a way from the teachings of the Pearls. *

And note this from the same article:

"Investigators say Paddock had also been whipping Sean's 8-year-old sister and 9-year-old brother with the thin, flexible pipes. She faces felony child abuse charges in connection with their injuries."

Yup, that's right. Lynn Paddock faces felony child abuse charges, as indeed should all those who follow the child beating teachings of the Pearls.

*From another article in the News and Observer (all credit to that journalist for sticking with this story):

"This is a sampling of Pearl's advice from "To Train Up a Child" and his newsletter, "No Greater Joy":

PROBLEM Baby bites during breast-feeding
SOLUTION Pull baby's hair

PROBLEM Boy is a crybaby
SOLUTION "When he begins to scream his defiance or hurt, just ignore him. ... If he demands attention to a supposed wound, then reach in your purse, pull out a terrible tasting herbal potion and give him a spoonful. After he gets through gagging on the vitamin and mineral supplement, tell him that he is now completely healed, and invite him to come back for another dose if he again gets hurt."

PROBLEM Rebellious child who runs from discipline
SOLUTION "If you have to sit on him to spank him, then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he has surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring, and are unmoved by his wailing. Hold the resisting child in a helpless position for several minutes, or until he is totally surrendered. Accept no conditions for surrender -- no compromise. You are to rule over him as a benevolent sovereign. Your word is final."

PROBLEM Child whines to mother after father disciplines him
SOLUTION Mother must go over to child and "give him one or two licks on his exposed ankles or legs while commanding, 'Obey your father.' "

PROBLEM Child lies
SOLUTION Switch him 10 times at noon each day. Make him pick the tree branch.

PROBLEM What to use for a rod
SOLUTION For babies under age 1, a footlong willow branch shaved of its knots. For older kids, plastic plumbing pipe, a 3-foot shrub cutting or a belt to help turn a child "back from the road to hell."


Anonymous said...

What appalling reading. The 'make him pick the tree branch' to be beaten with is reminiscent of the sort of sadistic, victim involving, treatment of prisoners of war, Jews by the Nazis, and so on.

It's hardly surprising, given this, that the victims end up loving their parents anyway and go on to emulate them. They could easily be suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome.


Sue said...

It's unbelievable that people would write this appalling "advice", and even more so that any parents would go along with it. I used to think James Dobson's books were way too focussed on corporal punishment, and about as extreme as one could go. But it sounds like the Pearls are a thousand times worse, without a clue how to raise children.

Allie said...

What horrific reading. I can't imagine the misery of day to day life for children in this situation. Bad enough that anyone should descend to such behaviour but that people write books, promote and profit from it, is deeply depressing.

Anonymous said...

If you used these methods to train a dog you would get one nasty unstable dog.
One day w/out warning it will lash out & more than bite the hand that feeds it.
But the Society for Prevention of Crulety to Animals doesn't have to worry about getting advise from the Pearls. NO! their advise is strictly for training children not dogs.
To Bad Dante was before their time he could have written a special circle in hell just for the Pearls.

Ron R said...

"PROBLEM Rebellious child who runs from discipline
SOLUTION "If you have to sit on him to spank him, then do not hesitate. "

And their defense in the SP case is that they do not recommend "restraint".

The excerpts alone are sickening. I appreciate you posting them though. It would be a challenge for me to read it to find them.