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The Best Medicine

April 15, 2010
Older sister smiling at pigtailed younger sister and holding her in her arms

The best child training medicine I know is a heart that overflows with a consuming desire to give children pleasure. Our training can’t stop there, but neither can it begin anywhere else. It must be part of the image of God within us―that desire to bring pleasure to children, to make their lives fascinating and full of joy. They are so easy to delight. I feel like a grandfather to all children everywhere. . .well, except maybe some of the brats I see in grocery stores. But if I had them for three days, they would cease to be brats. It would probably take me two days to begin to like them, but I can endure anything when I know there is relief around the corner. You can smile children into peace and grace.

Here is the key—the way it actually works. When you become a source of pleasure to a child and they feel that they are your source of pleasure as well, they become dependent upon that relationship for their continued pleasure. They don’t want to do anything to break fellowship with you. They will seek to be all you want them to be. You have their heart; you have their will. They are way too smart to fall for a fake. If they do not know that you are delighted with them, they will keep you at arms’ length and may even try to antagonize you.

If children ever sense that you don’t like them, they will develop an adversarial posture toward you. No amount of spanking or rebuke will win their hearts. You might spank them into obeying any given command, but they will never seek to please you from the heart. On the other hand, kids who know they are treasured will give you their all to be worthy of your high opinion of them.

Now, some of you are saying, “I agree with you fully, but how do I delight in children that only cause me pain and grief?”

You may have spun your tires in the same hole until you buried your whole family it. You need to taste a little of the joyous possibilities. You need a small victory to give you hope.

Single out just one of your kids, and begin bestowing special attention on him. Leave the others with grandma and take the one child with you for a day out. The both of you need to get out of the rut and meet on friendly ground. Go to the zoo, a playground, out to eat his favorite junk food, wherever, just as long as he is having fun and sees you enjoying him having fun. Smile into his soul until you see something that makes you smile without effort. Talk with him. Let him know that he is special to you. When you have tasted the goodness that is in that one child, you will have hope to endure the trials you must go through to bring the whole family into your circle of love and approval.

Go back and read No Greater Joy Volumes One, Two, and Three. Re-read To Train Up A Child. Watch the video The Joy of Training. Spend some time worshiping God and giving thanks. When God has your heart and you know you are loved and forgiven, you will be able with joy to pass that love and forgiveness on to your children. You can do this!

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19 comments on “The Best Medicine”

  1. You are so right. We bring our grandchildren over, give them breakfast and homeschool them in the mornings. When I pray with them, I thank God for giving me the pleasure of spending time with them, and as I speak, I can feel them snuggling in closer to me.
    Once, a few years ago, after I had prayed this way with my grandson, he looked up at his wrinkled old grandma with loving eyes, and with all the sincerity of a five year old said, "Grandma, Your beautiful."
    A never to be forgotten moment!

  2. either terrorize them with spanking or manipulate them with kindness. In any event, you are creating an extremely unhealthy relationship with your kids (I speak from personal experience). Children can tell when their are strings attached...and boy are there ever strings attached here! For anyone who is considering using the Pearl's method of child raising I urge you to reconsider. The relationships you create with your child are extremely dysfunctional to say the least.

  3. I just want to say that I do totally agree with this and ALL that the Pearl's teach/preach. I just wish I could have found them when my children were young, but God has His own timing and I now have beautiful grandchildren that I am enjoying teaching about the Lord. I pray my own children will one day put their trust back in Him. I have faith that they were raised in the Lord and shall one day return fully.
    THANK YOU so much Michael & are doing a very wonderful job at even teaching us "old dogs" new tricks....You have been a blessing in my life and one day I look fw to meeting you even if it is only in Heaven.

  4. I've been with the Pearls from the beginning. I bought To Train Up A Child in the early 90's LONG before we started having babies. I wanted say to Peter above - you just don't get it. I've got three daughters trained up according to God's Word. We ALWAYS get compliments on our children's behavior wherever we go. We have not "terrorized them with spanking". We are NOT creating "dysfunctional" children. We are training up young women with the pure love of God.
    Thank you Michael for this "refresher" article - it perfectly summarizes all of your books and other training materials. God bless you and your lovely family.

  5. I just wanted to let Carol know that her comment was a blessing to read! How wonderful that grandparents take the time to pray with their grandchildren and help homeschool them! Such a blessing...those grankids will grow up to honor those grandparents!

  6. I feel sad that so many people misunderstand what you are saying. This is not a way of manipulating your children, far from it. We are being told to find delight in our children. Why would anyone not want to delight in their children? Jesus delights in me and, yes, that makes me love Him even more and want to obey Him even more. When I do that my life is even better. It is the same with our children. Everyone wins! Yey!

  7. Its really sad that so many of us have had really bad relationships with our biological parents, but I know from experience, Peter, that even though the past was bad, you must let go of it and even if those people never repent or apologize you must forgive and then pray for them. Psalm 27:10 is my life verse and I spent 30+ years being bitter against my folks for all kinds of things until it almost destroyed me. "He whom the Son has set free is free indeed"!

  8. These were my parenting methods before I ever heard of the Pearls, you have put into words what was in my heart. Obviously if you have enjoyable time together you learn to enjoy each other's company and value each other. Fun times together help your child understand that you do love them and want to enjoy time with them, it also shows them how everyone can have fun when behaving in an acceptable way. When your children really understand your love for them, they want to obey because they understand that you only want what is good for them.

  9. Peter, You obviously have misread the article. If i was going to try to win my childs heart, And treated him to a day out doing things he liked, and put on an act to make him think i wanted to be with him when i really didnt then I would be manipulating him in the hopes he would "man up."But if i approached him with a genuine desire to WANT to be with my child.And genuinely extended love to him, then a sweet bond is formed,And he will be naturally drawn to me because of my kindness and joy toward him. And when spanking is done in the right way and the child otherwise has a close bond with the parents who are loving, then that child will grow up with a healthy attitude. If you were spanked as a child and resent it, then almost garunteed your needs werent being met by your parents. And if thats not the issue, then you were probably just a spoiled brat or had a dysfunctional childhood. And if you bother to read your bible, you will see that God commands us to smack our children. Otherwise, we don't love them. If you don't know how to use the tool properly, Refer to the manual.

  10. I just want to say, I have a son who is 7, and we have been really struggling lately with his attitude and with his quickness to obey. When I first read this article, I realized that this is what we needed--to enjoy each other again. So I left his sisters with Dad and took my son out on a date. He got to pick the activities and we spent about 3 ours just having fun together. No agenda from Mom--just fun. It was a breakthrough! My son actually said to me as we were walking along holding hands, "Mom, this is what I think is the best thing we can do. Because we're building our relationship. And relationship is the most important thing." Yes, my 7 year old son said that. He has been trained to honor God and his parents, using the methods found in the Bible, and he knows what we value most is relationship with each other. His attitude toward me has improved greatly from just that one day. He just needed a reminder that HE was more important than his chores or his schoolwork or my housework or...well, anything! Thanks again for reminding me so so that I could remind him!

  11. What a wonderful and encouraging article!..I get blessed everytime the Pearl's share a "nugget" of wisdom..I have the Train Up A Child book,but I need to order the No Greater Joy books and read those. Through the Pearl's God has given me the desire of my heart to really get to know my children and see them as He sees them..God is sooo faithful and loving. And I want to extend to my children the same king of unconditional love that my Heavenly Father has so graciously given to me...God bless the Pearl family!..

  12. Peter, I'd just like to say that my parents raised me in the way you call "dysfunctional" and "terrorizing" yet I'm a happy, well-balanced, successful adult. I was homeschooled but graduated college with honors. I recently finished my first year of my career. I was loved, spanked, loved, taught, loved, encouraged, and loved some more. If this is what you call dysfunctional, I'll take that over "normal" brats any day of the week.

  13. Peter, you might have had a bad experience, but if whatever your parents did didn't work out, then it obviously wasn't what the Pearls teach. There might have been some of the Pearls' method in there, or maybe they tried but missed something important. I don't think being genuinely loved is 'manipulative' or 'an unhealthy relationship'. I'm glad I have parents who love me, and I'm glad God loves me. The Bible says that if you don't spank your child, then you don't love him.

    "The relationships you create with your child are extremely dysfunctional to say the least." Wow, why don't you just take a look at the Pearls kids, and the hundreds of thousands of people the Pearls have helped. If you 'speak from personal experience' and you say that the Pearls method doesn't work, then apparently you never actually experienced the Pearls' method.

    "For anyone who is considering using the Pearl’s method of child raising I urge you to reconsider." I notice that a lot of the time, people who say that are people who thought ( - or their parents thought - ) that they were using the Pearls' method, (or later learned that their experience was 'similar to the Pearls',) but they still remember having a bad childhood because of something or other that happened that they link to what the Pearls teach.
    Yeah, a lot of people can't understand what's wrong with their child even though they're 'doing everything right', yeah, not everything. SOMETHING isn't right, and that's what's wrong with them.

    I agree with Megan and Susan tho. 😀