Dear Pearls,

We recently visited a family who follow your teachings to a “T.” The children are very well behaved. But I wondered if you’ve ever had anyone overdo it?

The children didn’t have the spark of life as much as we remember our children having. We pass out your books and have been around other families with wonderful kids that are more relaxed and happy. We were troubled. Should we be?

Debi Pearl Responds

Yes, we all need to be troubled, and young couples need encouragement and help from the older couples. We have seen families who take what we and others have written and use it like the law. When older, wiser people try to help bring balance, the younger couples do not take their counsel. It grieves us. If children are not bubbling with joy and eager to be a part of life, then something is very wrong. Good training begins and ends with tying strings of fellowship and bonds of good times.

The Letter Continues…

We also noted that the mother was swatting their very young children for not meeting possibly unfair expectations. One as young as 13 weeks old was being swatted to stop crying. The mother was trying to teach her one year old to put toys away, but the kid just didn’t understand and it was an intense confrontation. We tried to let them see a balance but what they understood you meant and what we understood you meant were two very different things.

Debi Responds

It is true that we occasionally hear that young mothers and more seldom, fathers, take what we teach out of context and misuse their children. First, love your child. Care that the child is well, happy, and relaxed. Training should not be tense, upsetting, hurtful, or pushed. It should be a simple exercise in showing the child what you want him to do. A tiny stimulus to direct the child when they are small is enough. For example, if a 3 month-old nursing baby bites, don’t spank. She does not know she did bad. Just gently pull a hair on her head. She will startle back in momentary discomfort and immediately start nursing again. The tiny bit of discomfort makes the baby relate the biting down with the gentle pulling of the hair. You have not made her obey, you have only conditioned her to respond differently. That is training. If you take a 13 week-old baby who is fussing, and squirming and pop her leg, it will only bring more fussing and crying. The child cannot relate those 2 events. She most likely has a tummy ache that needs some relief, not added pain. Ask God for wisdom. He promises to give to those who simply ask.