The Pearls and Your Child’s Heart

First I would like to say that it was not my intent to post about this today or ever, really.  However, because of recent events and since I recently posted about discipline, I would simply like to clarify our family’s position on the Pearls.

Before I begin let me clarify my actual, personal experience.

I was given a copy of the Pearl’s book “To Train Up a Child” about 2 years ago.  I skimmed the first several chapters and realizing that this was not teaching I agreed with, I put the book away.

So, realizing my limited exposure to their teachings, I would like to share with you why we do not follow nor subscribe to them and why we have never recommended their materials to others.

It is our family’s belief that the ultimate authority on child training (and everything else) is to be found in the Word of God.  We believe that the Word of God and a real relationship with Him is sufficient to guide us in all areas of life.

In our opinion the Pearls give directions that are not clearly taught in scripture (at best) or that clearly violate scripture and present them in a manner that can be and sometimes is misleading to those who are not familiar with  Biblical teaching.  I encourage you to go read “Senseless Deception” for more information about the Pearls and the tragedies that it appears their teaching has caused.

We believe that to regain our culture Christians must begin to think Biblically, that is the hope and intent of this blog, to encourage others to examine every thought and deed in light of God’s Word and then to live out that Word in our life.  Do you wonder how to raise your children?  Go to the Bible, it really is all you need.

Other posts in “Your Child’s Heart” series:

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55 Responses to The Pearls and Your Child’s Heart
  1. GapGirl
    March 2, 2010 | 2:23 pm

    Hmmm, thanks for this post, more and more I have been stumbling across small snippets about “to train up a child…” I was planing for a while to order the book but have since changed my mind…


  2. Kathi
    March 2, 2010 | 2:26 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this Kimberly.

    I had wanted a few of the Pearls’ books for a few years. I signed up to get their monthly magazine, and once I received the 2nd one, my husband and I sat down and read through it together. Then he went through their website. We decided it was NOT for us, and I have silently prayed for others when I have found out they were using the Pearls’ materials.

    We discipline biblically and carefully. I have appreciated your series and book recommendation (Tripp) very much. The recent events surrounding the Pearls’ teachings have broken our hearts. I went in to our daughters’ bedroom very late one evening early last week, to find our 12 yr old still awake and crying. She was mourning the death of the 7 yr old little girl in CA. And it was a hard thing…consoling her, and trying to help her understand.

    This is a very serious subject, and the fact that you are acknowleding it, and in such a thoughtful way, is what the Christian Community needs.

    Thank you again.


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I like your words “Biblically and carefully”. Yes, that is what Christians must do.

    I honestly believe this all boils down to our (speaking generally of Christians here) ignorance of scripture. We don’t KNOW what God’s Word says and so we are easily led astray.


  3. shannon
    March 2, 2010 | 2:32 pm

    Beautifully put. You are a very wise and Godly woman. I have agreed strongly with everything you have posted about discipline. I enjoy the insight of your blog so much! Thanks for sharing Jesus with so many!


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Thank you Shannon for taking the time to encourage me. I appreciate any and all prayers for wisdom that you care to offer. 🙂


  4. Erin
    March 2, 2010 | 2:46 pm

    My husband had the wisdom to “forbid” any Pearl materials in our home after we were exposed to some of their things, as well, and I am so thankful as I learn more and more about their teachings. It is always dangerous when we look to the teachings of man to tell us what they think the Bible says instead of going to the Word of God itself.


  5. Cascia @ Healthy Moms
    March 2, 2010 | 3:05 pm

    That is well said, Kimberly! I agree with you completely, although I have never heard of the Pearl’s book “To Train Up a Child” before. Now I know that I shouldn’t bother reading it.

    Have a terrific Tuesday!


  6. Monica
    March 2, 2010 | 3:41 pm

    Thank you for posting this. A family member used the Pearls methods and recommended it to me. One look at their website and some other articles and I knew it wasn’t for us at all. It breaks my heart to see this type of harsh unmerciful discipline being taught to parents who are looking for answers. Thank you for teaching and modeling a better way.


  7. JenT
    March 2, 2010 | 4:26 pm

    This is interesting. I knew that the Pearls had a “following”, but I’ve never heard anything that serious happening. We have a lot of their material, but some things I don’t agree with. I tried something they suggested and it didn’t work, it only made things worse. And despite what they said, I DID do exactly what they recommended. Anyway, I haven’t read your series yet on “Your child’s heart”. I’ll have to go back and read it. Thanks for your view on the Pearls.


  8. JhonaO
    March 2, 2010 | 4:37 pm

    After I read about different things happening I was so quick to throw anything I had away. I had been feeling that their teachings weren’t right for some time. I am grateful for this well-worded and wise post.


  9. Veronica @ A Quiet Heart
    March 2, 2010 | 4:54 pm

    Thank you for posting this. I recently finished their book, “Created to be His Help Meet” at a friend’s request/reccommendation, and I was quite concerned about some of their teaching on marriage. I know it is hard to write negative reviews about books. Typically, I’d rather not, but, when the teaching is leading others astray, it is necessary. Thank you for calling parents to look to the truth of God’s Word for direction in training and disciplining their children. 🙂


  10. Laryssa @ Heaven In The Home
    March 2, 2010 | 9:49 pm

    Totally agree. Throwing out books now. Thanks for speaking out.


  11. Jenny
    March 2, 2010 | 10:03 pm

    It’s truly frightening how many christians are led off the path so easily. There are some “popular” pastors out there that are leading many down the wrong path as well! It’s so nice when people like you speak out- YOU GO GIRL!!!!


  12. valerie
    March 2, 2010 | 11:07 pm

    I had never heard of the Pearls parenting books. I have not been to their site, but I was given the book “created to be his helpmeet”. Actually I only read half. Some parts did seem questionable, but over all I take all things besides the bible with “a grain of salt”, ya know? Anyhow, I so appreciate this post. Now if I am given the parenting book I will politely but firmly say no thank you.


  13. Annie
    March 3, 2010 | 6:50 am

    Thank you for your series on having your child(ren)’s heart and this post as well. My husband and I both believe in the value of bibilcally disciplining our children and realize that it’s a process that requires God in the center of it all. We have also read Ted Tripps’ book Sherparding A Child’s Heart and have really learned alot more than we thought we knew.
    Anyhow, it’s refreshing reading your posts and hearing from your heart the things that God has pressed upon it. Thank you for sharing your Godly wisdom with us!


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    It requires “God in the center of it all.” Yes, He is the only one who can change hearts and that is ultimately what we want. We can only obey Him and trust that He will bring about that miraculous change in His time and in His way.


  14. Dawn
    March 3, 2010 | 4:57 pm

    Thank you, and may God bless you for not remaining silent on this! I was so happy to see someone with a voice such as yours speak out in such a way as this.



    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Thank you Dawn.

    Hope to see you all in a few weeks for the spring conference.


  15. Marty
    March 4, 2010 | 12:10 am

    Thank you for adding your voice in defense of children against the Pearls’unbiblical teaching. May I affirm as well, that in going to the Bible to know how to raise our children, we must go to the entire Word of God. The grace of the gospel is the meta narrative of Scripture from beginning to end, and all of Scripture must be understood in the context of that meta narrative. Adding up all the verses on families and child rearing is not the sum of what God wants us to understand about those subjects. It is far more than principles and admonitions. That’s a poorly articulated paraphrase from Ted Tripp who also says that the job of a parent is to embed his child’s story in the bigger story of God. The rich young ruler may have been his earthly father’s delight because of his good behavior and attention to the law, but Jesus knew his heart. It is far easier to raise rich young rulers than to nurture and care for the heart of a child.


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Yes, Mary you are exactly right. We must look to the whole Bible. This is where I think so many Christians are easily led astray. They really aren’t familiar with the whole Bible and so they simply default to what is taught in a parenting book.


  16. TulipGirl
    March 4, 2010 | 12:51 am

    Thank you for sharing this. . .

    The other day we had an “incident” with a child that required some intense time of discipleship and discipline. And in the moment, God showed me once again how much I really MUST rely upon Him — in the moment, for each child, seeking Him, relying on the Holy Spirit. In the moment, it isn’t easy. In the moment, I often just want my kids to “shape up”. But as you know, that so easily leads to a performance mentality. But it is the Holy Spirit who works on the heart — both my child’s and my own.

    Grace and hope,


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Thank you for making me aware of this issue!


    Mellissa Reply:

    Thank you Tuplip Girl for being so real here. I can really relate and very much appreciate your wisdom and encouragement to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit continually.


  17. barbara
    March 4, 2010 | 6:55 am

    i do not believe in god (but in the human soul) and this is not my point, i just hope you accept my opinion anyways…

    i think the passages about discipline in the bible leads many people to misinterpretations. and i think it is tragic that people beat their children to death in the name of god.

    if i remember correctly god loves children and values them. then why do you have to use physical violence to “teach” them?
    i know that there are phrases in the bible that imply that physical violence is to be used, but after all we live in modern times where we know that violence harms childrens souls.
    i never have raised a hand against mine, i tell and explain them in WORDS why their behaviour is unacceptable and do not have to work with fear of punishment, but with true understanding on the kids side.(and they are well behaved *g*)

    i know that i am probably disregarded right away because i do not really fit into your readers cycle, but i like some of your creative ideas and stuff.
    i just cannot get around the fact that your children had to endure physical violence, how well meant it was anyways.

    i mean the bible (even if it was dictated to moses by god) was written and collected in archaic times.(at least the older part of it)

    in germany, where i come from, violence against children (even a slap on the cheek) is regarded as a crime, and i think it is.


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Barbara, I appreciate you taking the time to comment and express your opinion.

    I wrote a post about the procedures for argument here at Raising Olives titled “Disagreeing with Love” where I state that I welcome disagreement and discussion as long as it is done in love (I believe that yours is) and I also mention that the only standard for discussion here is God’s Word.

    If you encourage others to disregard God’s Word, then your argument does not have a place here at Raising Olives. I’m glad that you are here and that you find some things useful, but the audience that I write to is Christian and a Christian does not have the option to simply disregard God’s Word.

    I hope that you understand my position on this point. Thank you again for taking the time to comment.


    barbara Reply:

    yes it was definitely with love and not with evil intentions, what i wrote. me not being religious does not mean i do not value others religions and i understand where you are coming from.
    and i mean everyone can see and read here on this blog that you are a doting mom. if i would not think highly of you i would not visit this blog.

    and i do understand that you live by the bible.
    but the bible for example also “talks” about stoning or other things one cannot think of as good.
    i share your point that children need loving discipline and consequence.
    but in the same way as you would surely not advocate stoning a woman which is not a virgin in her wedding night (as it says in Deuteronomy 22:13-21 )
    in christian faith this woman has sinned but nowadays she would find other redemption than being stoned.

    i personally always read the bible (as a child when i believed in god and went to church) as a book that explains things and often uses parables and other ways to describe things.

    i took the “rod” always as a paraphrase for punishment/chastiting etc. in a general way.
    and i personally always took notice that the bible, as i said before was written in archaic times where disciplinary methods such as e.g. timeouts where not established but physical punishment was.

    i hope now you can understand better where i am coming from, although i also understand that we are from different cultures and have different beliefs.
    i regard it highly that you answered me, which shows me that you are a respectable and honest person because you could just have ignored my post. so thank you very much.

    and i especially like that you are a critical person and that you dissaprove of the pearls and wrote this review because as we both agree upon this has nothing ( or not much) to do with christianity.

    i hope i didn`t come around as unfriendly or harsh because this is not my native language and this limits my possibilities to express myself.
    if some of my sentences lack politeness i am very sorry because i did not want to be disrespectful but just share my look on things.
    (and i am obvs. very talkative *hehe*)


  18. barbara
    March 4, 2010 | 7:18 am

    i wanted to add that i SEE the difference between your method and the perls method (these people should be locked up)if that was unclear

    as i said even a slap is violence in my eyes.
    i did not want to imply that you are hitting your children or anything.

    my point is just, that if nobody would discipline a child physically there would be no possibility of crossing the line. but in many households “light” discipline is unfortunately usual but where is the line, is it at the moment the child is bruised, should there be an age limit, and why?
    who tells you when to stop?
    there is a gray area and parents like you know where to stop but others are more easily influenced
    i think solving problems physically shows weakness.

    i experienced slight violence in my childhood (some slaps on the cheek avery month or so) and i still have not forgotten the hurt it caused in me.
    i behaved of course so i am not beaten or yelled at again but out of fear, not out of understanding ( and remember these were more or less painless slaps)


    Bri Reply:


    I know this was written some time ago, but I wanted to comment on your comments. 🙂

    I used to be very opposed to any sort of physical discipline and felt it was very violent and shouldn’t ever be used. However, I began to understand (through God’s guidance and life situations) that not every child is the same. Most people who chose to spank do so out of love for their children and an interest to protect them and teach them. I think we can agree that when we go through a situation (even as adults) that is uncomfortable and not quickly forgotten we tent to retain those lessons far longer than if it is just moved on from.

    My husband and I do chose to spank our boys for direct acts of defiance. Meaning they know the rules, they have been warned (unless an immediately dangerous situation), and they have made a choice not to obey us…then they are spanked. We do not plan to continue spanking past the age of 5-6 (but we’re nowhere near that yet so that could change). This means, for instance, if our children know that they are not to pull things off the counter and they do it anyway, they get a spanking. The fear is that they could pull something down that could do them severe harm. When they are old enough to reach the counter, they’re old enough to understand the rule. Another spank-worthy offense is not listening to directions (after a warning and a chance to listen/respond again)–if this happens on the street or while playing they could be killed.

    While spanking may not be neccessary for every child, my children do NOT respond well to time-outs. I do implement time outs as a way to help my oldest son refocus since I understand that is his problem (we suspect he is autistic) and time out is where he goes when he doesn’t do things like pick up his toys when asked, doesn’t use an inside voice inside, hits his brother (I don’t use physical punishment to punish physical violence between siblings), or throws a tantrum. These are instances where he needs a chance to calm down and then we can discuss what happened.

    You are correct in saying that many Christians utilize the verse about sparing the rod and spoiling the child. But, as Christians, we need to look at the whole narrative of the Bible…this means also examining how God himself punished His people for misdeeds. This was generally through physical pain/experience. And so, should a Christian choose it, spanking or other forms of physical reprimand is appropriate to teach a lesson. However it doesn’t give anyone the right to beat a child or be overly aggressive with them to make a point as that would not aid in being able to teach them to behave differently.

    Not sure if that makes a lot of sense, but I hope you understand what I’m saying.

    Also, I agree with what Kimberly has said. And no one (that I can see) is saying that this is the ONLY way to effectively parent a child and raise them well. As you said your children are well bahaved without the need to spank. However, my children are not and need physical correction in some ways. Especially my son we suspect of autism. It interrupts his thoughts and is uncomfortable enough to allow him to then listen to us and pay attention to what we are saying (whereas in the middle of a fit or when he gets distracted we could talk till we were blue in the face and he would never acknowledge it).

    Yes, I know that my children will remember these corrections, but I also strive to make sure they remember why they happened as well as we ALWAYS take time to explain any form of correction afterward. Kisses and hugs also happen afterward so they know that we don’t do this out of pleasure or because we don’t love them. I think that intent also shines through when we, as Christians, allow God to direct our paths. If God is directing us, and we are paying attention, then our children will see that and understand. I’m sure there are Christians out there who, just like non-Christians, should NOT spank their children…for instance those who have difficulty with controlling anger or have been victims of violence in their past and may be less sensitive to it. But that, again, doesn’t make it wrong in every instance.

    Hope this helps you understand where some of us come from in discipline.



  19. Alene
    March 4, 2010 | 9:46 am

    >>>The rich young ruler may have been his earthly father’s delight because of his good behavior and attention to the law, but Jesus knew his heart. It is far easier to raise rich young rulers than to nurture and care for the heart of a child.<<>>In the moment, I often just want my kids to “shape up”. But as you know, that so easily leads to a performance mentality. But it is the Holy Spirit who works on the heart — both my child’s and my own.<<<TulipGirl

    Oh, how convicting! How challenging! How encouraging!! I'm a "red pen, list making, git 'er done" kind of person, and it's so easy for me to see the raising of a 'rich young ruler' as the goal. BUT IT'S NOT! How thankful I am for the slow, patient, on-going work of the Holy Spirit in my life, and in the lives of my children and husband.
    Thank you all for sharing out of the wisdom He has grown in you!


  20. pam
    March 4, 2010 | 2:02 pm

    you know it took me a long time to be able to say i do not agree with there teachings totally. i met them several years ago and i have to say if you ever meet him you will think he is a big teddy bear. we did realize that all of teaching was not for us. i would love to know some of your teaching tips. like how do you handle back talking or lying or what about just laziness. i have been to your blog several times but am looking forward to going back through your blog more


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Thank you Pam.

    Honestly we try to handle those things as much as we can by what we are taught in God’s Word.

    I think Tulip Girl made a great point, each situation calls for parental wisdom and prayer and applying what God has revealed to us in His Word.


  21. thatmom
    March 4, 2010 | 6:53 pm

    Thank you for adding your voice. God bless you!


  22. Harmony
    March 4, 2010 | 7:51 pm

    This is really interesting to me. I’m a young mom, and was introduced to the Pearl’s ministry by my sister-in-law when my oldest was 20 months old. I was at my wits end with him and realizing how little I actually knew about discipline. I scoured the Bible and scanned the internet for Christian sites–everything from to, eventually, the Pearl’s site: All I had to go on was that my SIL’s family of origin was the most joyful, most happy, most industrious, most well-behaved, most mission-minded and servant-oriented family I had ever met. She attributed it to how they were raised, and it was very closely to the Pearl “method”. I knew I wanted children like theirs–I’d never seen such joy in any family. All eight children grew up to love the Lord mightily, and they are now serving him all over the globe.

    I have mixed feelings on the Pearl’s teachings. For a first-time mom, they confused me greatly and I found myself being too harsh in my discipline and too legalistic in my application. But the years that followed my initial introduction made me wiser, as I grew in the Lord and began to confidently discern what to receive from a teaching, and what to throw away.

    What has kept me coming back to their materials is the joy. Simple concepts such as, “smile at your children” may seem common sense, but to me, they were life-changing. Smile at your kids. Enjoy your kids. Laugh, play, delight in them thoroughly. These themes are the backbone of their teaching, and allow everything “harsher” they say to fall into proper perspective. When I missed those themes, I was harsh. When I realized it was the POINT of what they were saying, I truly began to transform into a joy-filled, happy mama, enjoying my kids immensely.

    I know joy is not found in some man’s teaching, but for me, joy was discovered through the Pearl’s words. It was the venue God used to capture my heart for motherhood and wife-hood, and I am forever grateful.

    It is hard for me to recommend their writings to others because of the propensity to take it more harshly than one ought. I always tell someone, if the subject arises, to take it with a grain of salt: the writers are from an earlier generation, live in an Amish community, and have a more “hillbillly” way of speaking than most folks I know. The culture difference may have a lot to do with the misunderstandings that arise.

    So all that said, thanks for your words on making decisions via the Word of God and a relationship with him. I appreciate that greatly.


    Amanda Reply:

    I have just been discovering the Pearls’ child training material after “Created to be his Helpmeet” was instrumental in changing my heart, life and marriage. I ENTIRELY agree with this post–my son has just turned one, and it is tremendously helpful and informative. The recent tragedies are, obviously, sick and sad….however, as Christians we must remember that we have a very real Enemy who loves nothing more than to take Truth and twist it. If he can destroy a few children/families in the meantime, all the better. My husband and I will continue to study the Pearls’ materials along with Tripps (which we love), and the works of many other authors; we will then concentrate on submitting our parenting to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.


    Bri Reply:

    I agree with you both! I do not use the Pearl’s methods as I don’t feel they are appropriate for my family, however I think that you two have done a great job of conveying that you can be successful in use of these types of methods AS LONG AS you allow GOD to be the center of your parenting. I think that the danger with any parenting material (especially for first time moms/dads) is in the interpretation. Many times it can come across as if this is the ONLY way to teach your kids, but it just isn’t true of anything I’ve read aside from the Bible. There may be helpful tools in each thing, but you’re right to caution others that the application can easily be taken too far (as I feel was the case in the deaths that we’ve heard about with this material and others such as Babywise). The fear of failure is so rampant in parenting and I think spurs many on to apply parenting methods they feel wrong about in their spirit.


  23. Adventure Mom Janna
    March 7, 2010 | 12:42 am

    I’ll admit I read and went along with many things they said until God brought a real wake up call in my own life.

    Those around me still want me to follow the Pearl’s advice and it’s hard to have them think I am being “unbiblical” and “wrong.” However, I’m thankful for the peace that I have now that I have prayed about God wants for my family.

    They are so dogmatic in areas the Lord was never dogmatic in, and that’s a scary place to be.


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I think that you hit the nail on the head about them being dogmatic in areas that our Lord was never dogmatic. That is a VERY scary place to be.


    Jennifer Reply:

    Hello Kimberly,
    I absolutely LOVE reading all of your great insight on this blog and have gained such perspective many times over, while reading it. Thanks for that. I just wanted to add my 2 cents on this topic. The primary book I’ve used on parenting is Tripp’s and I love it and feel that it gives clarity to what God does say in scripture. It helps for my “vision” of parenting to correctly line up with scripture 100% and this is definitely a help in that area… but I wanted to ask, especially since the Pearl’s book is such a fast read, would you consider finishing the book and adding any “updates” to this opinion. If your opinion doesn’t change, I fully respect that. I think your judgement of the Pearls could not be fully correct if you haven’t actually finished the book. I agree that there are opinions in the book that the Bible isn’t nearly as dogmatic about, which just so happen to be primarily in the first couple chapters. I was introduced to their book by a friend who had loving and close relationships with her 2 toddlers. The toddlers were quick to obey but they were also very happy and very loved. I read tons of reviews on amazon and decided against buying it. Years later, I had a chance to borrow it and have just finished reading through it. The first few chapters were hard for me to read and I didn’t agree with much of what was said, but after that there were some real nuggets of wisdom. Definitely not as in depth as “Shepherding…” but much of it lined up with scripture. I was bummed to see your opinion strong enough about the book to devote a blog post to, without even finishing it. I’ve been a parent for 10 years and fully understand how easily the book could be misinterpreted. I personally would NOT recommend this book to anyone other then an experienced and loving parent… but I REALLY appreciate the practical advice on, not discipline, but “training”. It’s gold. It’s Biblical. It’s very helpful for parents who don’t want to wait until children are disobeying to teach and instruct them yet don’t quite know how. I agree that the Word of God is absolutely the foundation, but sometimes people like me (who tend to be more task oriented) need to know the practical ways to “tie strings” as Pearl says (build good relationships with the kids) and how to “train” so that discipline will not revolve around what the kids do wrong. Sorry this is so long, just wanted to see if you would even consider actually finishing the book. Either way, I love your blog and so do most of my friends. We’re a small community of homeschool moms in northern california and it’s not all that popular here. We all appreciate the encouragement we get from your blog. Thank you!


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Jennifer,

    My short answer (because that’s all I have time for 🙂 ) is, given the venue (this blog), I will not recommend the Pearl’s books because of the problems with their theology that I’ve outlined in these comments.

    That said, I’m not saying that every piece of advice they offer is unbiblical or not useful, but I will not recommend their parenting resources to the thousands of people that I do not know who visit this blog daily.

    Thank you for your kind words. It is because of encouragement from people like you that this blog still exists.

    Grace and peace.


  24. Corrie
    March 7, 2010 | 5:01 pm

    Hello Kim and readers! I just wanted to say, Kim, that I really enjoy your blog and have been lurking around for a while. Your family is encouraging and I have been sharing your “Do you have your child’s heart?” series with some friends.

    The Pearls also have been an encouragement to me, I have to admit. Like Harmony two posts above me wrote, the theme I have heard over and over through their writings is “joy” and “fellowship” and needing to have a relationship with your children in order for them to be who you and God want to see them become. Another thing that has really benefited me is learning the difference between training and discipline. One thing that I remember most clearly is them writing “everyday, look your child in the eyes and tell them how much you love them.”

    I appreciate your honesty in how much of the Pearls you had read, or had not read. But I think if someone read the bulk of their child training materials, and not just an article or two, they would understand that the Pearls’ hearts are for fellowship and peace, not punishment.

    I read the article you referenced called “Senseless Deception” and I think that the Pearls would be just as horrified by the tragedies there as I was. To attribute that attitude to their philosophies, to me, is akin to saying that the pastor who preaches that homosexuality is not from God can be blamed for someone in his congregation hanging a homosexual. All things can be misused and abused because of sin, including the Bible in many sects and cults.

    That said, the Pearls are NOT the word of God, and not every parent will benefit from them. You are absolutely right on in admonishing your readers to look to the Word as the first and final authority on child-training. But I think it is good to be careful not to speak ill of another believer and a ministry that has born good fruit in many lives.



    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:


    Thank you for your kind and respectful comment.

    Even though I have not read the majority of the Pearl’s writings, I have read enough to make the claims that I made. I am not attributing any attitude to the Pearls. I am simply saying that they hold beliefs that are contrary to Scripture and then tell parents that these teachings must be used as the standard for parenting.

    If you do not see the wisdom in what I have said, and you reject these concepts, you are not fit to be a parent. I pity your children. They will never experience the freedom of soul and conscience that mine do. ~Michael Pearl

    Here are two of their teachings that are contrary to Scripture.

    Parents hold in their hands (in the form of a little switch) the power to absolve the child of guilt, cleanse his soul, instruct his spirit, strengthen his resolve and give him a fresh start through a confidence that all indebtedness is paid in full. ~Michael and Debi Pearl, TTUAC

    Contrary to this idea, the Bible teaches that the wages of sin is death and that the only thing that can cleanse us of sin is the blood of our Saviour Christ Jesus. If our indebtedness could be “paid in full” by a “little switch”, then Christ’s death on the cross was unnecessary. The Pearl’s statement strikes at the very core of Biblical salvation.

    The Pearls say,

    Never threaten, and never show mercy. One squeak of a scream gets a switching. (NGJ, Vol 1, pg 26) emphasis mine

    The Bible says,

    Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. ~Matthew 5:7

    He (the righteous) is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed. ~Psalm 37:26

    For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. ~James 2:13

    While it is true that even Biblical teaching can be distorted and taken out of context, the Pearls begin with many teachings that are unbiblical and then hold them up as a standard that must be followed to be considered a “fit” parent. This is not something that I can support or recommend, but it is something that requires a Biblical response.


    Mellissa Reply:



  25. happymom4 AKA Hope Anne
    March 11, 2010 | 12:38 am

    Thank you for giving some clear-cut examples of the dangers in the Pearl’s child training books. We had people give us their books (oldest son was on the autism spectrum, need I say more?!) and while there are some valuable principles in the books, I have long said that for those who are insecure, followers of man rather than followers of God etc. etc. MP’s books pose a huge danger. Only God can give us specifics on how exactly to parent each of our own children. Only God can speak specifics into our hearts and minds when we are in the heat of a issue with our child. And He will do it if we are asking and seeking Him. And what He tells us may be so incredibly wild . . . but work like a charm! One thing I know . . . God will NEVER tell us to beat our children for two days just because they mis-pronounced a word. Had these parents sought God’s face for their children, rather than relying on their own wisdom (which led them to swallow hook, line and sinker the extremes in MP’s books evidently) things could have been SO much different. It is a heart-breaking situation on every level.


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I agree. God has laid out the principles for Biblical discipline His Word and then He has given the responsibility for carrying out that discipline to the people that love those little children more than anyone else in the world, their parents.

    God gives us each wisdom and insight into our own children.


  26. Deirdre
    July 15, 2010 | 12:45 pm

    Amen, sister.


  27. Deirdre
    July 15, 2010 | 12:59 pm

    I have friends that will see these bks and those of another Christian parenting author couple for sale 2nd hand and will buy them and dispose of them so they won’t fall into the hands of other parents. Hee-hee.


  28. jeana
    August 10, 2010 | 8:11 am

    I want to thank you for your thoughtful words regaurding the Pearls and their ideas and books. I too have been given their To Train Up A Child and Created to Be His Helpmeet. I have to say, I loved Helpmeet. It helped me better understand marriage and the role I play as a wife. However, To Train Up a Chlid was the opposite. I read it carefully, even thought a lot of it was good sound advice, and like you said I didn’t have much of a Bible background or knowledge to know what I needed to know. I did pray about it though and went ahead and set the book aside without finishing. I agree with you and your parenting style. Extremely biblical and Holy Spirit led. Thank you for your post about this subject.


  29. Shari Reif
    November 21, 2010 | 9:29 pm

    Thank you for your posts about the Pearls. I was given their book “Created to be his Helpmeet” from a friend that had said it helped her marriage. I got about half way through it and would get sick to my stomach to read it. I felt as though she twisted scripture, ect. It just did not seem like good material to me. Another friend of mine uses their materials and we have spoken about them. She has their books. I am going to gently share the link you have given with her.


  30. Lynn
    December 10, 2010 | 1:52 am

    Thank you for shedding some detailed light on the Pearl’s teachings. They truly break my heart. I am a mother of 6 children, ages 2 – 16. I have never used nor needed to use physical punishment to discipline my dc. It breaks my heart to see so many Christians led to believe the harsh teaching of the likes of the Pearls. I am so fortunate to know, personally, many families who started TTUAC and at some point, turned away from it and found gentle, grace – based ways to raise their blessings. We are a homeschooling family with a lot of joy! And I didn’t need to beat it into them or scare it into them. 🙂 Praise the Lord!!


    Mellissa Reply:

    thank you thank you, from a mom who’s just beginning to try to figure out what “Godly discipline” looks like


  31. Suzanne
    October 19, 2011 | 2:12 pm

    Thank you Kimberly,

    I read the Pearl’s books when my oldest was 4, she’s 10 now. I retained their training methods, but remembered none of their love/joy emphasis, although, I’m sure it was in there. What I think is hardest about trying to raise children in their way is that it made me feel like my children had to perform as perfect obedient children in public or everyone would think I was a terrible parent, and that I had the right to think the same of others.
    I knew that although they had some great ideas, something just wasn’t working out with how they said things would. Before I read their books I as a merciful, fun-loving mom, with 3 children (the oldest being 4). I enjoyed my children although they oldest was a handful. After their books my children were under control but I didn’t feel like I could enjoy them anymore.

    It has been several years now and their teachings have worn off, but parts have remained. I am going to re-examine my beliefs with scripture only (which thankfully I am well versed in) and pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide me in my parenting and ENJOYMENT of my children.

    Thank you SO much. What led me to this post today was:
    1. My online bible wouldn’t load
    2. So I read your RSS feed on “Public Schools and the decline of Christianity in America”, which I knew I would agree with and figured would include some scripture.
    3. Which led me to “Why We Homeschool” and “Your child’s heart: Instruction”, then to “Your child’s heart and the Pearl’s”

    I am overwhelmed with gratefulness at your posting about your child’s heart. I could always tell from your blog that you must be more interested in your children’s hearts than in a discipline method like the Pearl’s but I did not know how to get from their type of discipline to a more merciful way. I knew I should be walking out Deut 6 type instructing instead of always disciplining, but wasn’t sure how. This helped:

    “I can not diligently teach God’s Word to my children if I’m not paying attention to them, listening to them, talking to them.”

    Thank you. Less discipline is needed when you pay attention to your children. Thanks!


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Thank you Suzanne.


  32. Mellissa
    March 18, 2012 | 2:02 am

    I am really really being encouraged by your blog. The words “Character Training” and “Eternal Souls” make me eager for Monday morning! I am even more encouraged to see that you have so many children and have a biblical focus on discipline without agreeing with the Pearls. I needed to hear from someone who’s “done this mothering many thing” before me that home life with many littles can still be structured without sucombing to the way of the Pearls (which many around me point to). I am excited to read more of your wisdom!


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Thank you Melissa. May God bless you and your family.


  33. Amber
    October 14, 2012 | 12:18 am

    I have just found your blog and am relieved to see this. I know a whole mess of people who are wrapped up in the Pearls teachings, and have pushed these materials on us.

    Coming from a non-Christian and very abusive childhood, I had always felt, from day one, inadequate and insecure about my parenting. My oldest was born with developmental delays, and I believe she has many autistic traits. I was given this book, and my biggest nightmare errupted. I felt deep in my heart that this was wrong. I think that any time someone claims complete authority over God’s authority, we ought to run and not look back. This discipline was damaging to my child. It did not show mercy, or understanding of her way of learning and doing. I could probably write forever, but thankfully after a few weeks I went with my gut and approached the other mother who gave these materials to me. Now that is another story!!!!


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