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To Train Up A Child: An Examination of the Pearl Method

This is not a book review; this is an examination of a child rearing method, the theology that undergirds it, and the execution of the practice. This will be long. If you want to ignore my examinations and rebuttals you can scroll to the end and be done with it—but I would rather you read all of this. The end of the post will also contain several links of importance.

Up front: a warning—this will not be the last time this sort of examination has to come up.

Parents are like soldiers in the trenches. They’re afraid. They’re living in the moment. They’re wondering if they’re doing wrong and what they could do better while trying to discover what their parents did right (and wrong) in their own experience. Quick fix books, especially the short and easy to read variety, will keep showing up on the web and in bookstores. For Christian parents, these books will cite Scripture and give a façade of being Biblically grounded. The spurious glitter of their treasures of pseudo-wisdom will fade, but sometimes not before doing incalculable damage.

The current culprit is Michael and Debi Pearl’s To Train Up A Child. Their ministry (No Greater Joy) is known within individual fundamentalist circles for their training methods and some of their other writings regarding the marriage relationship. Up front: their book and their teaching is dangerous. Not only is it Biblically naïve, it is theologically confused and potentially damaging, at the very least, physically and mentally.