Dear Michael & Debi Pearl:
I am in awe of the few things I had a chance to read in your book “To Train Up a Child.” For years I’ve had a problem with overeating/over weight. I tried everything, diets, counting calories, fat grams, meal replacement, etc., etc., etc. Finally, after much self-hatred, confessing the sin to God every night, promising to do better, I asked God why I overate. Imagine finding the answer in your book, “To Train Up a Child”.
I am 70 years old. My husband went home to be with the Lord a year ago and my problem of overeating got worse.
When I was a child I almost died with malaria, and as I got well, the more I ate, the better my body felt! Not my parents fault, though, that’s the way they were taught, and so with every generation. I taught my kids the same way. I never knew about discipline like you teach it. Oh, how I wish I had known. So, now, I need to re-teach myself not to eat when I’m overly tired, stressed, disappointed, etc. Self-control is what I need. But God has shown me and He’ll help me. I want to hear Him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Concerning discipline in my eating, I want a crown to lay at His feet. Please, how do you teach a child discipline in food? Would you please tell me how much the book costs? I want four for my two grown daughters and my granddaughter-in-law and myself. I am so happy that today, God showed me in your book, what I need to do. Will you please pray with me, this giant of self-indulgence has got to go! I praise God for your book. Love, J
Re-teaching a child, or even a teenager how to eat properly is the easiest and hardest of all training events. It is easiest because it does not involve the will of the child. It is hard because it demands everything from the will of the parent. A newborn baby prefers something sweet. If you ever give the one-year-old just one taste of junk food, he is an addict ever after. He will choose the sweet, salty, greasy, fat-filled fluff every time. I eat a little of anything from time to time—even junk food, but as I get older I eat more raw vegetables and things like baked potatoes with nothing on them. I have had people look at me sympathetically and ask with compassion, “Do you like that? Does it taste good to you?” The answer is, “No, I feel like a goat.” I crave hamburgers and French-fries. If it didn't make any difference to my health, I would eat fried pork chops and fried potatoes every night for supper. And I would top it off with a big piece of chocolate cake or pecan pie. I would drink a coke and eat cookies before bed each night, and wake to a breakfast of bacon and eggs—fried in pig grease. Life would be a lot more fun if I ate what I wanted and as much as I wanted—that is until it started showing in pants sizes, doctor bills, headaches, crippling diseases, and indigestion medicines. Self-control is self-controlling self. The very term implies that some part of self needs management, and that some part of self should limit or control the other part. It is a contest between the body, which has no values—sweet will always taste better, and the mind which is informed as to the need of exercising some restraint.
Small children are not yet equipped to deny themselves. If a parent allows the child to choose what he will eat, when he will eat it, and how much he will eat, he will make the wrong decision every time. I started by saying, “retraining children is hard because it demands everything from the will of the parent.” The burden falls entirely on parents. And that is where the problem lies. Parents have no more self-control than do their children. Children are easy to control, because if it is not in the house they can’t eat it. But parents have learned to manage their junk food at a level just short of committing food aside. I am going to take all the fight out of this issue.
Your children don’t want to eat their meals; fine; don’t make them eat anything. Forget it. Let them eat what they want when they want it. Just go home and throw away all sweets, all pre-prepared foods, all greasy foods, and stock your home with nothing but basic staples—rice, beans, potatoes, raw and cooked vegetables, whole wheat breads, oats, lots of fruit, nuts, dried fruit, and fruit juices. Them let them eat as they will. How simple! Picture this. It is breakfast time. The table is set with oats or scrambled eggs, real butter, honey, orange juice, and wheat toast. They are invited to the table. All must come and sit, but it is their business whether or not they eat. If they do not eat, ignore them. When the given amount of time is passed, the table is cleaned off. Fruit is available at any time. There will be nothing else to eat until lunch, at which time you will place in front of them beans, rice, salad, a cooked vegetable (not corn out of a can that has sugar in it) or what ever suits your fancy. It is up to them to eat. If they don’t like it, it is no concern of yours. Supper will be at five, and there is always the raw fruit to eat. Supper is similar to the noon meal. Eat all you want, kids; there will be fruit, but nothing else until breakfast.
You say, “But my children sneak food.” Fine, let them sneak into the kitchen and eat anything they can find—a slice of wheat bread, cold beans, or rice. There is nothing else to be pilfered. The dog ate all your junk food last week and died of constipation. Ah! But you say, “My children would cry and refuse to eat.” Spank them for crying and don’t worry about them not eating. They will eat when they get hungry enough, and a three day fast would be good for them if they are coming off the junk food. There it is: the easiest answer and the easiest solution to a common problem. The only drawback is weak-willed Mamas and Daddies who can’t give up the junk food themselves. Don’t expect to lead your children closer to self-control than you are willing to go. Set the example. This newsletter is free. The information is free. Applying it will cost you something. Pay the price for the sake of your children.