Book Review// To Train Up A Child
When I shared that I was reading this book, I got many messages asking for my opinion. When I first got the book from the library, I didn’t know that it was a controversial book but after finishing it I can see why people have mixed opinions about it. To Train Up A Child by Michael and Debi Pearl is a very popular book and has something like 25k copies sold. First published in 1994, the book offers advice and tactics for training up your child. Proverbs 22:6 states, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” This is the inspiration for the Pearl’s methodology; to train up a child.
Training and Discipline
While training your children to grow into great adults sounds wonderful, the methods described in this book are comparative more to training your puppies than your children. They are teaching the reader to be proactive instead of reactive in parenting. But some situations seem like setups purposely created to cause your children to fail so that you get to train them. According to the author, “Training is the conditioning of the children’s mind before the crisis arises. It is preparation for future, instant, unquestioning obedience.” Over and over he speaks of training the mind and breaking the will. Disciplining is part of the requirements and thus these setups seem like a hunt for moments to discipline children.
At the beginning of the book, he states, “we are not talking about producing godly children, just happy and obedient children. The principles for training young children to instantly obey can be applied by non-Christians as well as Christians.”
But why are we not talking about producing godly children? Where are we instructed to just produce happy and obedient children?
Surely there are times when we would like our children to obey without questioning. Parents want their children to stop before running into the street when we shout stop. We desire them to be trained to respond to us but not just because we broke their will. We want them to obey because we’ve proved to be respectable and trustworthy as their authoritative figure. Parents are the caretakers. Instead of breaking their wills, we should hear more about discipleship and raising children to become godly adults.
While I can’t imagine that the authors would want to write a book to encourage abuse, it is clear that this instruction in the hands of some less wise parents has and will lead to the mistreatment of children. There are many concerns about this book. Many articles are found online about opinions both for and against using these methods. Personally, I’m so glad I didn’t read this book as a new mom. I can’t fathom the kind of confusion that I would have had fighting the inner thoughts of me supposedly needing to treat my children this way. I also know that there are parents that swear by this book and have raised wonderful children. Use discernment! Hold it all up to scripture. Pray about everything.