It will be no surprise that I don't very much like the parenting style of the Pearls. They are a family which runs the No Greater Joy Ministries with a magazine of the same name. They believe that public education is immoral, that men have no control over their sexuality, and, how can I put this nicely, that hitting your child is proper if the situation calls for it.
A recent article is representative of how the Pearls view the power arrangement between the parent and child. Mr. Pearl was visiting a home and watching the children tumble on a mattress with their dad as bedtime approached:
... he [dad] suggested that it was almost bedtime. After making the same observation several more times over the next few minutes, he told them to stop tumbling and prepare for bed. All three kids took another turn. ... [snip] ... It took about five minutes from the first command to complete compliance. For this family it was normal. The kids obeyed without a fight. No one threw a fit. No one got a spanking. Daddy never got mad. For most families it was without incident--no problem, totally normal.
Now I, and I think most normal people, would attribute this to the fact that the kids were getting too much activity near their bedtime, making it difficult for them to relax. The solution is to wind the kids down earlier in the evening. But, Mr. Pearl says:
The problem in all this, aside from the fact that the children are not learning to instantly obey, is that for five minutes the children were saturated with anxiousness and rebellion, however subtle. They were defying authority and acting out their self-will. That five minutes was not good for their souls. It created insecurity and damaged their relationship with their parents. You can be certain that because of many moments like that, there will be times when these kids will push it further and openly resist authority.
This is the heart of the Pearl's parenting beliefs: parents should lead and children should obey without question. Now, here is the part that I find chilling: at what point is it acceptable for a child to question their parent's decisions? Should a child always follow their parent no matter what direction it may lead them?
Of course, he is talking about young children here, but I hope that Mr. Pearl does not apply the same philosophy through to adulthood. My children should do what I say because they understand my reasoning behind it. And if they believe I am making a wrong decision they should question me about it. Frankly, I would respect them less if they didn't. Questioning authority and being skeptical are desirable personality characteristics. If this doesn't develop in the individual as a youth, it may never appear in adulthood. Then we have group think, leading people to rush headlong into dubious ventures (see Bay of Pigs Invasion, New Coke, and frontal lobotomy). The pearl of wisdom I would give to new parents is to avoid the Pearls entirely.