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Organize and Manage

October 15, 2011
Mother and daughter doing the dishes together.

Eleven-month-old Suzie was hurrying across the store toward the big, swinging, automatic doors. Her Daddy saw the danger and called, “Suzie, come back here.” But the sound of his command lacked finality and expectancy which was confirmed by his immediate jumping up and racing to intercept the child before the doors swung open again. When Suzie heard his voice, she looked over her shoulder and picked up speed, running away in an almost stumbling, controlled fall, as if there were a wonderful prize at some finish line. I could see that she was thrilled with the chase. Daddy, too, was running and he caught her just before a customer on the outside stepped past the infra-red beam that would cause the 150-pound door to swing open like a giant child-swatter. Suzie just laughed and squirmed to get free. Mother looked a little distressed, and Daddy looked as if he were wishing he was back at work, bossing his employees who not only paid attention to his commands but even to his suggestions—at least the ones he keeps on the payroll.

I have observed and engaged a sufficient number of parents, both in action and in conversation, to have made a very good guess about what this frustrated father was thinking. I’m certain he was proud of his patience and tenderness, knowing that he was not being overbearing or insensitive toward this child. His philosophy clearly is, “She’s a handful, but kids will be kids! Just love them, and in time they will turn out all right.” No doubt, he was solaced by the fact that in the best of times she responds to his commands. He has “faith” that such a sweet child will survive and eventually “grow into” obedience.

I cautiously mentioned to him that he could actually train her to stop upon command, pointing out how much safer it would be if she obeyed instantly. He brushed it off with, “Oh, she is not being disobedient; we play games like that.” And then he made some comment about how he didn’t like to spank his children except in extreme situations. He didn’t really consider it to be disobedience in a child so young. He was a foolish young father, not yet having seen the final end of the seeds of self-will and rebellion he was sowing.

I chose this example because there is nothing extreme about it; it is the kind of thing that happens often, and no one considers it much of a problem. I could speak of children constantly whining, occasionally screaming, kicking, demanding, and eventually striking their parents. Just go to Wal-Mart and you will see plenty of examples of untrained children and countless frustrated parents.

There is no doubting that this young father was limited in his thinking. He saw only two options: either let her run and act at her discretion (up to the point of hurting herself or someone else), or do the unpleasant thing and spank her for disobeying. He didn’t understand the need for, or even the concept of and the simplicity of training. He reasoned that if he spanked her for every act of disobedience he would be spanking her excessively. He enjoyed fellowship with his little girl and felt that even if he rebuked her for not responding to voice commands he would be losing the congenial, fun spirit they shared. Like many parents, he has the best of motives, but experience has repeatedly demonstrated that good motives are no more productive in child training than in operating a computer. Many things can go wrong. Trusting that a child will somehow find the right way and do it without being constrained to do so must have been the source of this biblical passage “…a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (Proverbs 29:15). Many parents bathe their children in a pool of indulgence and permissiveness, thinking it to be an expression of their deep love, assuming that children should be allowed a time of irresponsibility and unimpeded pleasure.

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35 comments on “Organize and Manage”

  1. This might sound suprising to you but it's widely considered socially unacceptable and psychologically damaging to put force upon your child in any way. Not to mention it's written in the country I live in ( Canada's) criminal code under section 43 to have penalty under law. Now I cannot say that I have ever raised a child and had to deal with tantrums and being frustrated in that way but I do know this, I'm glad I never got spanked. It sounds brutal and traumatizing, you may not see it but ask that kid when they are 25 and have normal feelings and desires that human beings, as beautiful, imperfect and conscious as we are. I think it's really unsettling that the way you portrayed this article and other's that I have read to convey a message that you are trying to create your child but they are already their own individual person and your stripping that by making them "obedient." You were not perfect as a child or teenager and you know that, but did you ever stop to think that things you might look down upon..say, masturbating and being angry are normal and beautiful human emotions and actions? No probably not. You created your child but you have no right to make them into who you would like them to be. I think this is the kind of energy that has stopped evolution in it's tracks. In closing, stop making your children fear you, they will remember it forever. Teach them to be good and honest and to love openly, to think and pursue their lives in the way THEY see best fit and be open minded, isn't that all you can basically ask for? Thank's for letting me speak my piece.

  2. @Emmalie - The unsound considerations of other is of little consequence in the face of the reality of the positive results of the child training philosophy of the Pearls and NGJ. Slavery and the prohibition of interracial marriages were once encoded in the laws of most countries but fortunately are no longer. Hopefully Canada will change its laws regarding this issue as well. It is not necessary to ask adult children that were blessed by being raised by this philosophy about it. The Pearls

  3. Thanks I needed this. My 3 year old daughter is well trained, but my 1 year old son has been "left to himself" too much. My husband is noticing. I need to get serious with him, like I was with her.

  4. Alethia
    I have to agree with you, My older kids are great and I think that the one year old is good but my poor three year old was left to himself sense I was so sick with #4. I am trying to get things back under controll.

  5. I was raised by the same standards that the Pearls teach. Mom and Dad trained us well. We were so blessed with our upbringing. I used to cringe when I went into friends homes. There was so much more peace in mine. My brothers all are in positions of leadership. Their families are doing well. They are all grateful for the discipline they received. Our country (Canada) is doing itself out of the wisest leaders when it tries to stop parents from training up children in the way they should go.

  6. This article was very helpful during a time when I felt lost in my parenting. I had let too many seductive unbiblical opinions come in and rob my home of it's direction and joy. Anger may be normal but it is not beautiful. Anyone who has been on the recieving end of a tantrum, child or adult thrown, knows how ugly and unhealthy it is for the angry person. Child training and spanking do not repress emotions but help teach control and proper expression of difficult emotions. Brutish parents will be evil regardless of what parenting methods they hide under. It is the sinful parent that causes damage not the method.

  7. A good reminder. My 19 yo daughter sees this problem/ situation allot in the store she works in. She told a friend/employee that was complaining about a child screaming that the child did not have proper training. Thank you God for this ability to teach and train our children to love you!

  8. Right on Michael!
    I shop at Wal-Mart and I think I've seen the whole gamut of child training. Good and Bad. You can tell who trains their children well at home, and the ones who lose their temper and scream in public. On another note, I hope Emmalie will discover before it's too late that the Earth was created by a loving God and NOT evolved from the big bang.

  9. Thanks for sharing this! My husband and I have 4 children, all of whom we began training as soon as they could crawl to come upon our command. Not only has it kept them has also freed us from much chaos. As soon as we call them, they respond with, "yes ma'am/sir, I'm coming!" On another note...I rejoice in the fact that my parents disciplined by spanking, it was Biblical, and it rescued me from folly. Thank you Mike and Debi, for standing for truth in this Godless, and lukewarm society.

  10. Thanks for the reminder to train early. When they are so little disobedience may not look like such because they are still babies and we usually don't give them enough credit for much intelligence at that age. I've had 8 children and have been shown time again that these little guys undersand way more than I thought! When I understand that and adjust their training accordingly they respond with happy obedience. When I neglect to train them in obedience they are always so cranky and frustrated. Life seems so bad then! When I pay more attention to their training and lovingly but firmly teach them to obey their mommy then they are so much happier and secure. I've tried it both ways and have many opportunities to learn from my mistakes and say let the results speak for themselves! I think it should be very hard to pass judgement if you've never experienced raising children yourself! ;^). We've taught our children obedience and we are continually complemented by friends, acquaintances, and strangers about the happy, good behavior of our kids. And they are not putting on an act! They are really that way! They're not perfect of course. They have their moments, but we deal with those times and things work out just fine. And I'm not a frazzled mom either. Pleasant kids are a joy and other Mom's comment on my calmness. Of course it wasn't always this way. When our kids were smaller and less well behaved the Lord saw fit to let us know about the Pearls and it has been quite a learning journey! Anyway, thanks for your advice to us young parents who never learned how to raise children before we had them!

  11. Excellent article. I was not brought up in a Christian home. I became a Christian at 25, exactly one day before I met my husband, who had recently been saved. I have smacked my 5 children when needed. I was smacked as a child. The thing that I love most about the Pearls is their teaching of WHEN to smack and HOW.
    I learnt, eventually, to train from birth, then any smacking only needed to be done before the age of about 5. Research has been done that found that children do not remember much before their fifth year. Hence, the only smackings I remember, which I don't agree with, was when my parents continued to smack me, on occasion, into my teens. Obviously I have not done this and I have also learnt not to smack in anger. On the subject of masturbation, (@ Emmalie) I indulged in this and it had a detrimental effect on my marriage. (It was difficult for my hubby to compete with my years of experience!) I have trained all of my, now 9, 17, 20, 21 & 22 year old kids, to leave that area of exploring their anatomies well alone! Keep up the good work NGJ and thank you SO much!

  12. @Emmalie - Sorry, honey, but the criminal code of Canada allows spanking. In fact, my husband defended a man who was acquitted of a child abuse charge on the basis of the fact that she (his daughter) had been disobedient; the spanking was completely justified. When the judge heard the story, he laughed it out of court. Yes, parents have the right to spank a disobedient child. They do not have a right to abuse their child. There is a drastic difference between the two. Those of us who take Christianity and the Bible seriously do not abuse our children. Our children are happy, well-adjusted, and flourishing. Children with boundaries have freedom. If you can wrap your mind around that statement, then you can wrap your mind around the truth.

  13. If someone can read this and NOT see the love involved in teaching children to obey BEFORE there is an imminent danger, then they are believing a lie. I have carefully watched, read and taken notes on the child training techniques of the Pearls and I can say that IT WORKS! Believe it or pay the price of ignorance. I thank God that I had a real friend who gave me "To Train up a Child" at least 10 years ago! Hallelujah! What a change that following GOD's WAY has made in my family! Thank you! God bless You for speaking the TRUTH!

  14. Such wisdom in this article! How much safer and more secure this little girl would have been if she was trained to stop immediately at the command of her daddy. It is not cruel to teach children obedience. It is the best, most loving thing we can do for them.

  15. I have personally watched and learned from my children, watching them raise their 4 beautiful, obedient, well trained, and happy children. THey have followed the Pearls advice in parenting and in their marriage and it is truly a Godsend.

  16. In responce to Michael Bailey's comment on masturbation being natural for animals.This can not be compared to being natural for humans, God created us differently than animals, what's natural for them is not necissarily natural for us. For instance some females eat their young, but even non christians would agree that is a totally unnatural thing for humans to do. As far as being biblical Matt 5:28 says "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery wit her in his heart". So while masurbating who are people commiting adultey with in their heart? I'm sure there are other biblical passages as well to support that. Good message Michael Pearl, thanks for the reminder!

  17. I just wanted to put my two cents worth in. I was raised in a very abbusive home but by the grace of God I now have a beautiful marriage, 4 wonderful children that we are training the best way we know how, (and lots of help from the Pearls) and we spank our children when needed, and they love us to pieces. Now on the other hand I have a sister that went to her marriage with the mentality that she will not do what my parents did, they do not spank their children, and she gets angry at her children on a very regular basis. She screams at her children all the time and her children are misserable brats that even my 7 and 5 year old children will coment on them when they have been with them that they don't want to be with them because "they're not very nice, and it's no fun being with them". What so many people fail to see is that God knew what was best for us, he knew what was best for our children and he still does! He says we should train our children, than that's what we should do! My father was angry with me and everyone-all the time! Now that is psychologically damaging, not being spanked. I would have rather been spanked 10 times a day than screamed at once. You don't beat your child, as with everything else, use your brain and commen sense! I was beaten when I was a child, so much so that I had a black and blue back and I couln't even sleep on my back, but there has been nothing easier to forgive than that, it's the anger, and many other things I won't mention that have been a lot harder, but possible. No, being angry at your children is NEVER a good thing, being grieved is one thing but not angry. God has always known best and always will, a million people doing the wrong thing does not make it right, one person doing which is right when no one else does it, is not wrong.

  18. I totally agree with this article and I'm also reading the book of how to train a child and it's a blessing!!! I 've been doing all, since it's based on the holy bible and my 2 year old boy is SUPER OBEDIENT!!! He obeys right away and if not, I drop anything I'm doing to go to him and talk to him and continue with the training, I spank him when it's necessary. Thank God, Thank Jesus for open our spiritual eyes to see beyond the 'society limits"

    @ Emmalie: You are so mistaken!!!! Evidently you don't have enough wisdom to 'digest' the word of the Lord, instead you critized our brother, trying to contradict this example and he's all based on the bible, he's has his 5 kids as an example of what is discipline. Anyway, the word is taken on the most convenient way for anyone but at the end: Facts speak louder than words, you'll remember my comments when you bear the fruits of the seeds that you plant.

  19. Thanks to the Pearl's for good biblical teaching. I am 46 years old and my youngest son is 8. When we go to town, he responds to voice commands. Stop, go, left, right, slower, faster etc. it was easy to accomplish. He has been doing it since he was tiny. He holds the door for ladies. He looks for people to help. He has been trained. He isn't living a child's worst nightmare. He is constantly laughing and having a blast! Proverbs 16:32 makes it plain that ruling oneself is more important than great triumphs in the world's sight. My son is learning these lessons and we are loving each others company day by day. Though some spankings were administered early on, they are few and far between now. My beautiful boy has learned that when I isn't a suggestion.Thank you NGJ!

  20. My sister and I were extremely obedient children, especially with our father, and he never hit us. We knew exactly how much he would tolerate and what he would take away from us if we misbehaved, but discipline never involved hitting. My father always said that, especially since we were girls, the world was going to hurt and shame us enough without him adding to it. As a result, my sister and I are happy and well-adjusted women with strong minds and TONS of respect for our father. It is NOT necessary to hit your children. Be a good, consistent, and attentive parent and your kids will respond.

  21. I know that you will probably delete this link and comment, but I think you and other fundemental "Christians" are smearing the name of Christ by teaching such barbaric child-rearing methods. The link is this: (link removed)
    and I do think that your teachings encourage abuse and potential child murders.

  22. My daughter has ADHD. She was the kind of child that many would consider "a handful" when she was young. It would have been very easy to just spank her when she was disobedient. That would have been the lazy route to take. Instead, I chose to use what separates humans from the rest of animal-kind. I reasoned with her. If you believe that even children who are very young (e.g. toddlers) are smart enough to know how to be obedient, then you are also admitting that they are smart enough for a parent not to need to spank them in order to show them why they need to be obedient.

    My husband and I preferred to explain and discuss matters with our child, instead of teaching her to see us as givers of pain. It has worked so well that we never needed to put her on the ADD medications that many other parents (including other Christian families who did spank) felt forced to use. We taught her how to be a polite, well-mannered girl who has made us nothing but proud of the young lady that she has become.

    She loves the Lord. She was accepted into the top high school in our state. She speaks several languages. She does not date or do drugs. She prefers reading and playing soccer. She spends her Saturday nights at church, when other kids are out engaging in all sorts of behavior that their parents probably don't approve of.

    We are always getting compliments from her teachers and the parents of her friends who praise her helpfulness and compassion toward everyone around her. Since I became disabled with cancer and lupus, she certainly had lots of opportunities where she could have rebelled and I would have had very little that I could have done to physically stop her. However, she has always accepted the limitations and boundaries we've set for her, even when she didn't think they were necessary.

    We have the kind of child that every parent wishes that they could say they raised. Yet, we didn't have to slap, spank, switch, or cane her to do it. We just had to decide not to be lazy and substitute corporal punishment for what could be accomplished with patience and reasoning from the scriptures.

    Those who think it's necessary to spank are simply trying to justify the choice they made. We can find just as many children who grew up to be fine, upstanding citizens and Christians without being spanked as there are those who were subjected to various instruments of pain throughout their childhood.

  23. I never seem to see anything about the role of the Holy Spirit in parenting on this website. Instead, there are formulae which if followed produce XYZ result. Which is exactly what most people want: a formula, a rule, a guideline to follow that will keep them safe. I appreciate the emphasis on loving relationship elsewhere on the site, though.

  24. I think one of the issues I have with pretty much every total-obedience based parenting model I have come across (and there are many) is that there is a fine line in training between parental control, and parents seeking to instill self-control. Human nature is such that parents will often stray into the former error (which is destructive) even if the teaching they are reading is aimed at the latter. In the end, everything will depend on the nature of the relationship the parents have with the Lord and the nature of the relationship their children are developing with the Lord.

  25. @RHarden - You are correct about us deleting the link. Why should we continue the perpetuation of misinformation? Fortunately we live in a country where you are free to express your opinions even if they are contrary to the facts.

  26. @bint alshamsa - From extensive observation, your outcome is the extreme exception to the rule. You state that you can find just as many non-spanked children that have turned out well as spanked children. Considering that 90% of American children have been spanked with the majority of them having positive results, this is statistically impossible. Also, recent head to head studies of the outcomes of teenagers that were spanked versus non-spanked as children (age 6 and younger) are showing the spanked children to have more positive outcomes and fewer negative outcomes than their non-spanked peers. Your own experience does not discount the evidence of the success of countless others.

  27. I wasn't spanked as a child. And I would have rather been then deal with my parents' erratic discipline (totally overexaggerated one day and ignored the next), yelling, borderline verbal abuse and emotionally manipulative methods. Among my friends who were not spanked, this was the usual experience because there was no quick, immediate, negative consequence to bad behavior- it was drug out. Many of the non-spanking methods I have researched rely on emotional manipulation of a child to get them to obey- and they have no consequences if a child chooses to continue to disobey.

    First time obedience does not mean a child who cannot question. The assumption that a child must disobey at least some of the time in order to be able to think and learn shows how much logical thinking has gone down in this society.

  28. I really enjoyed the methods presented by the Pearls. I have 3 homeschooled children who are active in the community. Their ages are 7, 5 and 2 and I am complimented daily on their great behavior, kindness, and great personalities. They are not perfect, but I love them and will spank them whenever they are being willfully disobediant. In addition to the compliments, I am asked for advice. I find many non-spanking mothers at the end of their rope because they are waiting for little Johnny to grow out of his awful behavior. It is so sad to me that no one wants to be around these children, even their own mother. I am thankful for the work of the Pearls, and I am happy to use them as a reference to help others bring up well trained children that bring joy to those around them. Keep up the great work!

  29. I love this article. Back when I started having children (they range in age now from 11 years all the way down to 12 months), I read "To Train Up A Child." I immediately saw the wisdom in what Michael and Debi Pearl teach. It made sense to my husband and me so we put into action the training that we had read about. There were skeptics immediately who told us that 'you cannot train a child under 2.' (Oh good grief! really?) By the time our oldest were 2 and 1, that person was eating their words. At 7 months old my daughter would sit in her high chair with the dish of food on her tray, within hand's reach of her, with her little hands up in the air (I'm not sure why she held them up like that, but it made feeding time quite easy) while I fed her from a spoon that she never attempted to grab; not from me, not from anyone who fed her. The same has happened with all my babies. They also come when I call them, which is actually quite precious to see! A little one, not even able to walk yet, clammoring and giggling over to mama. It is important that you train them to your spoken voice. Start with the small commands (that maybe don't seem so important at the time) and start young. There may be a time when your child will be saved when about to dash into traffic after a ball, but upon hearing "stop" from mom or dad, they immediately obey without question. It is definitely worthwhile to take the time and train.

  30. As a child I was spanked for disobediance. I'm 28 and married and my husband and I will raise our children the same way. Being spanked as a child didn't traumatize me or rob be of my sense of self. It established right and wrong. By the way, I have a better relationship with my parents than my "non-disciplined" peers...

  31. Am I the only l person reading this and thinking that the mistake is entirely the parent's? This is a very young child- why not hold her hand, have her on reins or in a pushchair? The solution to all things on this site seems to be- let them run free then hit them when they don't stop. Why not try some proper, thoughtful parenting, of the sort that keeps children safe, rather than the sort that seeks to harm them?

    1. There is nothing more ridiculous than parents treating their children more like dogs when they put them on a leash. Yes, a leash. Its called lazy parenting. Or the 'i give up' syndrome. You put dogs and other animals on a lead, not children. Require that they hold your hand or on to the shopping cart until they can be trusted to stay within your sight without having to hold their hand. If you child refuses to hold your hand, dont move. If they pitch a fit, take them home and retrain. But for goodness sake, never put them on a lead.

  32. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like you literally just typed in "(link removed)" to make it look like it was removed.
    It is sad to see so many people against the Pearls.