I Am Learning To Love Myself: Mara’s Story, Part One

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HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Mara” is a pseudonym.

Part One

I grew up the oldest of nine children just barely inside the perimeter of Atlanta, GA. My earliest memory is my father coming in and telling my mother that Clinton had just won the presidency. My mother had been a teacher by profession before deciding to homeschool us. She had grown up in the middle of downtown Atlanta and had been bullied in school. She told us stories of spending most of her lunch break hiding in a bathroom stall and didn’t want us to have the same experience.

I remember sitting next to her and her teaching me to read and doing math with me. We didn’t have much money then, and she would get what school books she could second hand. For this reason, she helped me complete a 5th grade math book in the first grade and I was so proud of being able to tell my friends I was in 5th grade in math. Because there were so many children, she would give us assignments – 30 math problems at the end of the chapter, write this a paper on this subject, finish the assignment at the end of the grammar book, bible, and memorize this verse. Then we would go read the chapter, teach ourselves, and come back to her if we couldn’t figure something out on our own. We were supposed to finish by 12:30 if we wanted dessert after dinner, but if we finished before then, we were free to play. After we ate lunch, we would do an art or craft and music (everyone in my family plays at least one instrument). Once we completed a school book, we would go to the next grade.

I used to get so confused when anyone asked me what grade I was in. (Well, 6th grade in math, 4th grade in grammar, and 5th grade in writing!)

If we finished future days school work, she would give us a coupon for a “free day” in which we could redeem at any time and meant we didn’t have to complete any school on that day. We did school through the summer so we could afford to take more days off during the school year and my mom assigned each of us a day of the week called our “helper day” in which we would cook the meal of the day (mine was bread for the week and pizza for the day), complete a chore, and do our laundry with our assigned child if applicable. The day following our helper days was our “computer day” in which we could do Oregon Trail, Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, type our verse, and play Math Blasters instead of school.

My mother felt it was important for us to be well rounded and would call local public and private schools to see if we could participate in some of their activities. For this reason, we would either do some kind of sport all of us could do with either local groups she found or with schools. My mom took us to a few homeschool groups, I’m not sure why we never joined – either they charged a fee we couldn’t afford or my mom thought the women there were too cliquey and judgmental (based on the home-school program they used).

At this point in time, my father was in the marine reserves and would frequently travel for both work and the marines. I remember him and my mother arguing occasionally, but they waited until we were asleep and kept it to themselves. We ended up moving outside the perimeter, and went to several churches that my mother never felt were the right fit.

One day, through the big-family-connection (that sixth sense big, homeschooling families have that allows them to instantly know if someone else is a big, homeschooling family when they meet in public), my mom met a family that was part of a 1 Cor 14 home church and immediately fell in love with this type of church. They believed in “letting God decide how many children you have” a.k.a. no birth control. They also believed there women should have long hair “as a covering” while praying, they believed that women should submit to men and that men should love their wives. They believed in church discipline for anyone in “rebellion” to God’s will, and that women should “keep silent” in church. They also believed strongly that a woman should not teach a man anything and I remember being told time and time again, that I had to phrase anything I said to a man in such a way that he couldn’t learn anything from what I said.

Shortly after he finished the reserves and began working from home, I remember quite vividly at the age of 12 after about a year and half at this house church, being sat down in the living room with the current 6 brothers and sisters (2 weren’t yet born) and being told by my dad that mom was in rebellion and that the church was bad and wrong because he had had a disagreement with them over doctrine. My dad had been a sergeant in the marines and was every bit the stereotype.

I remember everyone in that room crying after a couple of hours of him repeating this again and again. I learned that day what the doctrine of Calvinism was. My great-aunt who had become my mother’s mother lived next door at that time and I remember going next door and seeing my mother crying. She told us she wasn’t in rebellion, that she was supposed to be under God’s authority when anything her husband told her conflicted with God. She said that the church is supposed to be run in the way 1 Cor 14 describes (no pastor, all the men talk, no women speaking) and because that little paragraph ends with “ If anyone among you think that he is a prophet, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command” (v. 37), that going anywhere with a pastor would be a sin. We were told to stand up for our mother and go tell dad the truth.

For the next 9 years, we lived in a constant state of arguing. My dad would begin by dropping some remarks to my mother who would be all-too-happy to pick anything up and start an argument, which would lead to doctrine and a shouting match about our rebellion. The sister next to me and I would draw our father’s attention to us while the other one physically pushed my mother out the door to go cool down. She would go next door and fall apart crying and asking us if what she should do and if she should divorce our father. She would make hundreds of plans that fell apart by the next day and would ask anyone she could get a hold of to “help.” Every time we met someone new, within 5 minutes she would be talking about how abused she was at home and asking them to help.

My parents loved to get children on their side, because if they had a child, they could use them to hurt the other spouse.

The girls went with my mother and the boys went with my father. For a reward, my dad would take my brothers out for ice cream and movies and give them gifts to stay on his side and then taunt us asking if we were sure we didn’t want to come with him. I remember my dad having my brothers tape some of his rants on me – another debate on Calvinism – so that he could rewind it and play it to me in case I accidentally admitted to something that meant I believed in predestination and consequently his authority.

The NSA must have taken tips from my father. Nothing in our house was private.

There were key logs on all the computers, and he could watch the screen from his computer at any time. We found hidden cameras in the living room and, god-forbid you write something on paper. My mother used to journal in French before she met my dad and I remember my dad translating all her journals to use against her. If my dad found anything you had written in secret he would use it against my mother. Any failure on my part was a weapon against her. If she found anything, she would use it to guilt us and to help keep us on her side and taking care of her. I developed a secret code — a short-hand cipher — so that I could have thoughts that everyone couldn’t spy on and I only I could read.

It drove my parents crazy, but I survived.

Part Two >

 

Parenting With Fear: Why I Don’t Agree With It

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HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Caleigh Royer’s blog, Profligate Truth. It was originally published on October 11, 2013.

I have long pondered and thought about how I was raised and how my siblings, from infants to young adults, were raised. As we get closer, hopefully, to have children of our own, Phil and I have had lots of conversations about how we are going to raise our little ones. My parents went to several of the Pearls’ conferences, had pretty much all of their books, and I distinctly remember sitting in [home]church watching my dad “train” the baby of the family at the time. My sibling was probably 6 months old, and was sitting on dad’s lap. My dad held a flexible rubber plumbing rod in his hand and would swat the child on their leg if they started making any noise or squirmed. Then of course, the child would start crying and they would get swatted again to be silenced.

I remember sitting at the kitchen table with everyone, and dad force feeding another child. The baby didn’t want to eat what was in front of them, and in a few cases, it was because the child was sick. Dad would start yelling at the baby, setting timers, and getting the baby down from the table to be given a spanking, all because they weren’t eating their food. Mom wouldn’t do anything to stop the “disciplining” and all the rest of us kids would sit at the table, petrified that we would be next if we didn’t eat or made a noise. We got disciplined for making too much noise, we got disciplined for running to get mail if we didn’t ask, we got disciplined for not eating or for losing tools we hadn’t even used.

My dad created the illusion of a well disciplined, well put together family, but under it all was this idea that the kids were only there to be seen not heard, and there was no room for children to just be children.

I grew up understanding that children were evil and only capable of disobeying and had to be trained fiercely and kept a close eye on because anything they did was with the intent of disobeying. 

It wasn’t until I started nannying that I began to see just how wrong and destructive my parents’ parenting styles were. I was closely tied into helping raise the little girl I was nannying. I remember many conversations and shared articles between her parents and I. I remember feeling confused and scoffing at the idea that children were their own identities and that their “disobedience” was simply their way of exploring the world they were growing more aware of. I watched my little charge closely to see if maybe my employers were right. I was amazed at what I started seeing as I began adjusting my beliefs on how to raise a child. I saw a child enthralled with the silliest things, things to me that were boring and not worth noticing. But to that little girl, those things were fascinating, something she had never noticed before. The entire world, even if it was only certain areas of the house, was brand new to her. It took a lot for me to break out of the child training ideas I was raised with. It helped seeing how ludicrous those ideas were when it came to this little girl I watched almost every day.

To shut down her healthy curiosity seemed so wrong, to train her to stay in a certain area, even though other areas were safe for her, seemed so cruel. 

I had to go through a massive shift. I couldn’t, in my right mind, treat this little girl like I had been treated growing up. When she cried as she was being put into her highchair, more often than not there was something actually wrong. But, because she couldn’t speak, crying was her way of letting me know something was wrong. It was not her fighting me or being sinful and disobedient. Babies, infants, toddlers, even most young children aren’t fully capable of logically and thoughtfully telling you, an adult, what is wrong. I realized my parents’ ideas of training me and my siblings was as if they were treating us like full grown adults capable of interacting on my parents’ level. There was no leeway given for children’s developing brains, their natural curiosity, their eagerness to understand the bright new world around them even if they can’t understand what is bad for them or not. Nor was there any room given for natural fears a child faces, like a fear of the dark, nightmares, or scary noises. It most likely was just the way my parents were, but I remember there being very little grace and love for any of those natural fears I or any of my siblings faced. Oh, then add in the abuse and yelling my dad did often, and then the entire home environment was one of fear.

My parents raised us through fear; fear of my parents’ spanking stick and the consequences for being a child. I found a quote the other day is the exact opposite of how I was raised.

“Don’t stand unmoving outside the door of a crying baby whose only desire is to touch you. Go to your baby. Go to your baby a million times. Demonstrate that people can be trusted, that the environment can be trusted, that we live in a benign universe.”  Peggy O’Mara

Babies are brought into the world fully dependent on us adults. They only know the warmth of their mother’s womb, the safety in being held by loving arms. An infant has no cause to distrust their safety. Unless we give them cause to distrust and fear us by disciplining a child for something they cannot understand they have done. I am willing to change and give up my comforts to comfort any child I may have. I believe it is very appropriate for moms to find time for themselves and to leave their child(ren) with a friend or family member for some “me” time. But my habits should change whenever we have a baby. I will then be responsible for that child, for its comforts, safety. I shouldn’t expect to continue living as I have and expect my child to adapt to my lifestyle and to force it into unnatural habits.

I believe in teaching a child, when they are old enough to start beginning to understand, the difference between right and wrong. I don’t believe, nor do I agree, in teaching a child, an infant, toddler, or an older child, the theology of sin. If we as adults can’t even fully understand what real sin is, then how can we expect a child, who doesn’t even have half the understand we have, to understand it? Raising a child is raising a fully human being, not a little being you get to twist and train however you so please. They have feelings, they have memories that will haunt or warm them as they get older. But they also need to be guided as they grow and as they begin to understand their place in life. I believe in teaching a child how to make wise choices for themselves and to not be afraid of their own opinions.

I don’t ever want a child of mine to question whether or not they matter, nor do I ever want to give them cause to fear me or Phil. I believe in showing a child respect. Just because a human being is pint sized and needs to be carried by you does not make that person any less important.

Our children are brought into this world helpless, how can we then hit them and treat them like animals to be controlled? 

I heard a phrase once about house-proofing your child. This has got to be one of the most selfish things I have ever heard. The parenting styles my parents’ tried to implement on me and my siblings had to do with them not really changing how they do things, but instead expecting and “training” us to do what they wanted. The only place I think house-proofing anything is appropriate is when you are training a puppy or a kitten to be house trained, but a baby? Hell no. It is so selfish for parents to expect for their children to conform to their ideas of what a well behaved child looks like, instead of taking the time to make the house a safe environment for the unsteady, curious baby. Much less forget about treating a child as a real person.

Comparing my siblings to the little girl I nannyed is heart wrenching. It has only been in the past maybe two years that my siblings have somehow broken the harsh bonds they have been tied up with and are finally starting to act like real kids. But in some cases, it is too late. I never had a childhood. I had to become a full blown responsible adult by the time I was 12. I cooked, cleaned, did laundry, was expected to complete my homework, and became a second mother to my youngest siblings. This is part of the problem I have with having a large family. I know I am not the only one and I know others have not had this experience. But as I have said before, this blog is specifically about what I have been through and my journey out of it.

I want to see my children be happy, allowed to be curious, and their inquiring of how things work to be encouraged. I will respect my children for the amazing little humans they will be. 

Sorry, Michael Pearl, But These Fireworks Are Calling You Out: Lisa Joy’s Thoughts

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HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Lisa Joy” is a pseudonym.

Disclaimer: I have been reading Libby Anne’s reviews of the Pearls’ materials on her “Love, Joy, Feminism” blog as they’re published each week. When I read Michael Pearl’s recent article, “Homeschooling: Success or Failure,” I started wondering what she would say to tear it apart. Then I realized I couldn’t wait to see if/when she’d cover it, so I started writing my version of a rebuttal! So if it sounds like I’m parroting her in some way, I’m not trying to… but I might end up doing so to some extent because I love what she has to say in her book reviews. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or something like that!

“It is such a marvelous pleasure to observe the many young couples coming out of the homeschooling community. They are bright as spring flowers, full of hope and good cheer. Children are springing up like dandelions, without a care in the world, secure in their parents’ love.”

Dandelions… a weed that many people try to kill

Michael Pearl has a nasty habit of dehumanizing people, especially women and children. He compares them to dogs, horses, pick-up trucks (yes, really!), etc. Now we can add weeds to that list.

“There has never been a movement in America that has so consistently produced godly young people and holy marriages.”

Oh, really? Are these marriages “holy,” or are they simply trapped & trying to put on a good face? The latter is my story — married for 13 years to a man I knew was cheating on me and lying to me. But I didn’t dare leave because that wouldn’t be the “godly” thing to do. <sigh> (Don’t worry, when it finally dawned on me that my children were in danger of being molested, I worked up the courage to face all the judgment and criticism from my church and my family, and I left him.)

“These kids—they are in their 20s and 30s but to me they are kids—”

I am 36. I am not a kid. I’ve been a legal adult for 18 years, so I should be an adult twice by now!

My parents still treat me like I’m a rebellious teen-ager, including trying to correct me when I have what they consider a bad attitude, tell me where I should attend church, what I should wear, whom I may date and marry now that I’m divorced, (or as they would prefer, that I am to never marry again, except to my abusive ex!) and even punish me when I stray from their desires for my life. (And no, I’m not currently on speaking terms with them. Enough is enough! When they learn to treat me like the adult I am – twice over – then maybe we can be friends again.)

“are the most emotionally balanced, mentally positive, and hopeful human beings in the world;”

Either that, or they’re really good at faking it and putting on a happy face so that they aren’t a bad testimony. After all, if they and their lives aren’t perfect, they know that it’s their fault because they aren’t spiritual enough.

“and let me tell you something: Even at 68 years old I can see that among them are the prettiest girls ever. There is something about a genuine joyful smile and an inquisitive, positive expression that lights up a healthy female face like sun, moon, stars, and fireworks at the same time.”

Stop and really read this again. Let it sink in. This. Is. Sick. I hope all of you are holding your mouths to keep the vomit from hitting your keyboard or tablet or phone. I know Debi Pearl has her issues, but I feel sorry for her right now. I would be horrified if my 68-year-old husband publicly admitted to admiring women 1/2 or 1/3 his age. Maybe I just have a dirty mind, but for an old man to admit that a pretty face reminds him of “fireworks” is beyond gross. Sick. Sick. Sick.

Michael Pearl says in his “Created to Need a Help Meet” book that when he’s at church luncheons, he wants to be surrounded by pretty ladies! What a sick, dirty-old-man vibe I’m getting from him. <shudder> Even if you’re okay with a 68-year-old having these kinds of thoughts about a 20-year-old “girl,” (really a woman but always a “girl” to Michael Pearl!) remember that he’s married. And he just published this on the Internet and in print. His wife is presumably reading this. Just. Yuck. Nasty. Must. Stop. Thinking. About. This.

“I see young mamas and daddies producing a whole new generation of godly, wholesome kids.”

Or producing a whole new generation of abused, trapped kids who must put on a happy face or they’ll be beaten when they get home for making Mama and Daddy look bad in front of other people?

“If we can’t beat the progressives today, we will beat them tomorrow in the numbers game. While they kill their children and stuff them in a green refuse container bound for the city dump, two of our kids multiply to become eight, ten, or nineteen in about 20 years. Think about that—two million homeschoolers today, ten to sixteen million in twenty years. If you can’t out-vote them today, out-breed them for tomorrow.”

I heard this kind of thing when I was a kid. Homeschooling has been more-or-less legal in America since 1985, when my family started homeschooling. That’s awfully close to 30 years – a generation and a half. So – where are all the thousands and thousands of homeschool graduates who, like me, now have children of their own that are school-age? Oh, wait, that’s the whole reason for this article.

Because these thousands and thousands of homeschool graduates who were going to take over the world haven’t done so yet.

Also, not everyone can have 8, 10, or 19 kids. There’s infertility, serial miscarriages, dangerous pregnancies, painful/uncomfortable pregnancies, financial and practical considerations such as housing and food and clothing, “kids” who are close to 40 and haven’t married yet (thank you, courtship!), and couples who choose not to have kids even though they probably could. And – assuming 2,000,000 is an accurate number, which I kinda doubt coming from Michael Pearl – how many of those 2,000,000 are homeschooling for non-patriarchal reasons? Dad’s (or mom’s) work schedule, convenience of other pursuits (did you know that Ross Lynch of the Disney Channel & the “R5” band is homeschooled? Also the Jonas Brothers?), peanut allergies, disabilities requiring frequent hospital stays and/or constant monitoring, learning disabilities, etc. I don’t think Michael should be counting on a great army of straight (mostly) white Christian conservatives just like him rising up from the ranks of homeschooling to rescue America!

Another point – doesn’t it irk you that if you aren’t following Michael Pearl and similar patriarchal teachers, then of course you’re killing your children & throwing them in dumpsters?! There’s no middle ground. I’ve seen this over and over as I read Libby Anne’s reviews of the Pearl materials. The Pearls see people as all being in one of two extremes – their way, or the way of absolutely horrifyingly evil.

“I know there are a few highly-publicized stories from time to time of homeschooling failures. There is an online militant group of ex-homeschoolers who hate the experience and are actively trying to denigrate us; but anything that grows large will accumulate detractors and dissenters—great enemies even.”

News flash, Michael Pearl – we are the homeschool graduates that were going to take over the world!

Remember us? From your last paragraph? Sure we’re 20 and 30 years older than the generation that you say will end up out-breeding them, but we were told that we would be the ones that would be the mighty army raised up to overwhelm the enemy with our godliness!

I am curious as to which “online militant group of ex-homeschoolers” he’s referring to, because last I checked, there are quite a few of them. There’s the Homeschoolers Anonymous blog. There’s the Recovering Grace blog. There are dozens and dozens of personal blogs that address everything from page-by-page reviews of the Pearl books to personal experiences of de-programming from the cult-like environments (or actual cults!) in which we were raised.

“Satan hates goodness and will find broken people who want everything to be as broken as they are. But we are not moved by their bitterness; we have too much joy and hope to be brought down by someone already way down near the bottom.”

Good thing that you, Michael Pearl, are so godly and perfect that you can so easily ignore the pain that has brought someone “down near the bottom.” What an arrogant – okay, I’ll stop there but you finish it up with your choice of words!

“Not every homeschool experience will be a great success. Some will be total failures; others will be good but not altogether good. In some cases, out of six children a family may lose one or two to the world, but they will have two or three that are exceptional human beings. The Devil is after us. The flesh is still weak. The world has not lost its luster. So there will be casualties. We are saddened by every failure, but we are not daunted or discouraged. The large number of beautiful successes keeps us charging ahead with confidence.”

Again – I heard when I was a kid that I was in the generation that would rise up and change America – and the world – back to godliness. Now Michael is admitting that only about 1/3 or maybe 1/2 of homeschool graduates will be “exceptional human beings.” Another 1/3 to 1/6 will be lost “to the world.” I guess the other 1/3 to 1/2 is just mediocre so they don’t count for either camp? Very convenient, too, that Michael and similar leaders get to designate what is “exceptional” and what is “worldly.” What is good to Michael Pearl may be considered carnal to the Bill Gothard camp. The Doug Phillips followers have yet another definition of what is good and godly. The Amish and the Mennonites and the Independent Fundamental Bible-Believing Baptists have their own definitions. It must be so nice to be a Michael Pearl or a Bill Gothard or a Doug Phillips and get to decide what is godly and what isn’t… that would make life so much easier on me, because I would be the godly one and all of you had better do what I say or you won’t be godly like me!

“It has been our ministry to help parents raise godly children from birth to grandkids. We have addressed every conceivable subject several times from different angles, written over twenty books and thousands of articles, read your letters and answered many of them. We have heard your stories and sought to understand problem areas and the things that make for consistent success. So one more time, I will address the reasons for the few who fail.”

“The few who fail”? I guess if he repeats it often enough, he can convince his followers that the “online militant group of ex-homeschoolers” he mentioned before is in fact just a couple of hotheads. Except that he just said that approximately 1/3 of homeschooled kids go “to the world,” and 1/3 apparently just disappear. That doesn’t sound like “a few” to me. That sounds like 2/3. That’s the majority. Like, 2 out of every 3 homeschooled kids is considered a failure.

If a friend recommended a restaurant that was so delicious and so wonderful and only 2 out of every 3 people got food poisoning… do you think I’d want to eat there?

“How many times have you heard me say, “More is caught than taught,” or, “Your attitude speaks louder than your words”? I have often said, “Children are rooted in the soil of their parents,” and, “You must model what you want your children to become.””

So if Johnny or Susie ends up going bad, it’s your fault, not Michael Pearl’s. Shame on you for being so imperfect.

“It is not enough to teach morals, good character, the Constitution, Creationism, and modesty. Goodness without God is humanism at its finest.”

This is exactly one of my big complaints about the ATI curriculum. It’s a bunch of rules, but with very little to no teaching on having a relationship with Jesus. In fact, Jesus is barely mentioned. The only major teaching I can remember about Jesus was “The Commands of Christ.” Emphasis on the commands. Still no relationship. Most of the Pearl family-related books, such as “To Train Up a Child,” and the “Help Meet” books, throw a few out-of-context Bible verses at you, interpret them for you, then tell you what you need to do in order to raise kids properly, or be a good wife, or keep your wife in line. Again, there is very little emphasis on a relationship with God.

To be fair, I have not read/listened to any of Michael Pearl’s doctrinal teachings, but the family books are by far the most popular of their materials, so that’s what I’m basing my complaint on. They’re just another manual, another to-do list, of what you must do so that you and your family will be godly, as defined by Michael and Debi Pearl.

“Right living without worship is the arrogance of Cain, unacceptable for its lack of faith. Satan can tolerate us being good as long as God does not receive the praise and worship. The world can appreciate and even praise our morals (it makes for good citizenship), but they despise us giving glory to the God of creation, who is the judge of all men.

“Good kids without God are just bait for the sharks of this world. Sometimes the bait in its naïveté wants to be eaten. We can control the family and our environment so as to protect our children from the world—until they get old enough to seek it out, and then the only protection they have is that which is within. If God is not within, they are empty vessels waiting to be filled with folly and fornication. Those who fall from the highest moral standards fall further and land harder, doing more damage.”

Or – maybe those kids grow up, get a taste of the “real world” at their jobs, in their communities, or in their marriages, and realize that the big bad world wasn’t really as awful as our parents thought it was.

“I have observed that most of the failures come from families who did not raise their children in a community of believers.”

Ah, here it is again! The failures aren’t the Pearls’ fault. Nope. Definitely not. The failures aren’t Bill Gothard’s fault. Or Doug Phillips’ fault. Or patriarchy itself’s fault.

It’s because you didn’t take your kids to church.

Except there’s this little thing called “home church,” that the ultra-conservative homeschoolers and/or ultra-controlling homeschoolers like because then there’s no Sunday School, no friends, no youth group to steal the teens’ hearts away, no rock music to invite demons into their souls, no teachers or pastors to offer a different opinion… if another family or two joins your home church, then they’re carefully screened and carefully controlled to make sure that they don’t bring in any worldly influences.

“Few families are completely balanced, able to supply all the needs of their kids.”

Shock – there’s one line in this article that I actually agree with? Kinda. I disagree with the word “few,” because all families are imperfect, because all parents are imperfect, because all people are imperfect. Still, I come within 3 letters of agreeing with this statement. Don’t worry, it won’t last long.

“But in a church of like-minded saints there is balance. The church of Jesus Christ is God’s supply line of ministry to the family. If your family is not part of a Bible-believing congregation of saints, your children are being deprived of God’s method of sanctification and ministry. If there is no church or community of believers within comfortable driving distance, then move to where you can hear the preaching of the word and participate in ministry, and your kids can socialize with other godly youth.”

My parents changed churches 5 times in my growing-up years, and a 6th time since I got married. Yes, that’s 7 different churches within my first 25 years of life. If you’re going to change churches every time you disagree with a church policy (not doctrine, *policy*) or every time they play a taped accompaniment with <gasp> drums with a soloist, then that’s not a very stable environment for your kids to grow up in. Remember that because you follow Michael Pearl, and/or Bill Gothard, and/or Doug Phillips, your family is one of the spiritually superior ones, so chances are, you’re more spiritual than your pastor or fellow church members. It’s difficult for a kid or teen with that mindset to be able to fully engage in and learn from church. Been there, done that.

Also, it’s very easy for Michael Pearl to tell families to “move to where you can hear the preaching of the word.” He’s never had to do that, because he is the preacher of the word. (Whose word, I’m not 100% sure, but I suspect he’s preaching Michael Pearl’s word more than God’s Word. Again, my only exposure to the Pearl philosophy has been through their parenting books, but there’s precious little true Bible in there!) It’s not exactly easy for a family, especially a large family, to just pack up & move to a new place and find a new job for dad that will allow mom to still stay home with the dozen kids, plus how about a house that they can afford debt-free that will fit all those people?

“But when everything else is right, if the husband and wife relationship is not a thing to be envied by the children, you can be sure that you are going to lose some if not all of your children to the world. The last you will hear of them as they look back over their shoulder is, “Hypocrite.” I have heard many say, “If that is what a Christian is, I don’t want anything to do with it.””

Nope. That’s not what turned me away from my parents’ brand of Christianity.

It was actually reading the Bible for myself (gasp… a WOMAN reading the Bible FOR HERSELF?!) and realizing that most of what they taught me IS NOT IN THE BIBLE.

“You need to have a family Proverbs time.”

Conveniently enough, one of the other articles in this newsletter just so happens to be about Proverbs Time! The Pearls are very good at self-promoting their other publications, as you’ll see in a minute.

“You need to “go to church.””

Why is “go to church” in quotes in the original article? You either go to church or you don’t. He doesn’t seem to using a quotation from another source. So these quotes just don’t make sense. Weird.

“You need to involve your family in ministering to others. You need to teach morals, character, and the Bible stories; but most of all, you need to look at your children and smile with delight, and they need to see you looking at your spouse and smiling with appreciation and thanksgiving. It is the difference between success and failure.”

Anyone else notice what this is? IT’S A TO-DO LIST.

If you can check off all these things – Proverbs Time, “go to church,” minister to others, and so on… then your kids will be a success. You can beat them within an inch of their lives (or beyond, as tragically has happened several times) and they will still grow up to love you and admire you and want to be just like you and raise their kids to also be just like you.

“Read again Created to Be His Help Meet and Created to Need a Help Meet. Listen to my FREE Romans messages online, and my series Sin No More, available through the NGJ web store.”

There it is – more self-promotion. Just in case you haven’t bought the “Help Meet” books, or the “Sin No More” series, then hurry your little self over to the No Greater Joy web store and send us money, stat! At least Romans is free… but it still seems a little tacky to be promoting his own materials as the solutions to all your problems! This also reminds me of Bill Gothard, Doug Phillips, and the like. Excellent sales technique – create a problem, then conveniently offer a solution the customer can buy to solve that problem. When that doesn’t work, encourage them to buy more solutions.

This is what I think Michael is saying:

“Yes, some homeschooled kids are failures. It wasn’t my fault, and it wasn’t the system’s fault – it was their parents’ fault because they didn’t follow my checklist! Here, buy more of my stuff & listen to me preach & at least your kids will be successful!”