Child cruelty in the name of religion

To Train Up a Child

One of my favourite bloggers @adadcalledspen has recently blogged about a book called ‘To Train Up a Child‘.  It sounds harmless enough, another handy parenting manual full of useful bits of advice any new parent might seek when facing the daunting prospect of caring for a baby for the first time.  I remember reading ‘Toddler Taming’ when I was in that position many moons ago.

To Train Up a Child

Michael Pearl with his god fearing advice!

A parenting manual this might claim to be, but ‘To Train Up a Child’ is not all it seems.  Written by American husband and wife team Michael and Debi Pearl, what is startling about their parental guidance is the way they endorse the use of physical violence towards children, as part of a training regime.  And this is all carried out in the name of religion, a brand known as Christian Fundamentalism, and through their No Greater Joy missionaries.  Now I’m now expert in the various religions, but I am struggling to believe that any religion advocates the use of violence towards innocent children.

I read the free sample pages of the book from iTunes, I wanted to get some insight into the book.  Even in those limited pages I was shocked and saddened.  Comparing the ‘training’ of children to the training of animals, dogs, mules and horses.  Do the Pearl’s really put children and animals in the same category?  But the bit that really got me was the matter-of-fact way they advocate pulling a nursing baby’s hair while it is feeding, because the baby has bitten at the mother’s breast.  There is a technique to these things, and why should an innocent baby suffer because the mother isn’t able to get it right?  I didn’t get it right, it’s not easy, and I gave up after a short while and moved on to formula.

Spencer is calling for the book, in all its forms, to be withdrawn from sale.  But are we on dangerous territory when we call for books to be withdrawn?  Are we on dodgy ground when we are effectively calling for the censoring of freedom of speech?  Actually, in this case, I would say no! This book is dangerous.  It has already been cited in the deaths of four children in the United States, and what the Pearls are advocating is illegal.  It is assault, child cruelty, child abuse, call it what you like, it is against the law!  I cannot imagine why any civilised country would believe that beating up innocent children is OK, so why should a book extolling the virtues of such practices be allowed to remain on sale?

But don’t take mine or Spencer’s word for it.  You can read the full transcript of the book here.  And you can visit Spencer’s blog @adadcalledspen for more background and information about the campaign, which is gaining more and more momentum.  His blogs give ideas about what we can do to help with the campaign, including signing this petition to have the book withdrawn from sale in all its forms.

Thanks to Spencer for bringing this scandal to our attention. And thanks to him also for finding this little gem of a clip!

Saying farewell to a special lady

Mr Kipling's French Fancies, make exceedingly good Nanny Cakes

A few days ago I attended the funeral of a special lady.  Her name is Yvonne and she is the mother-in-law of my husband’s brother and grandmother to two of my many nephews and nieces.  She was 88.

I didn’t know Yvonne as well as the many others who came to offer their last respects, but I do remember her fondly, and apart from wanting to pay my own respects, I also wanted to be there to support my husband and our family.

A few years ago, like me, Yvonne was diagnosed with breast cancer.  And, like me I believe, she was a fighter.  She didn’t make a fuss, she just wanted to get on with her full life, while at the same time handling the diagnosis and her subsequent treatment with dignity.  I think that word sums her up.  She epitomised dignity.  The treatment at the time went well, but sadly, other health complications took their toll.

Yvonne Wheeler

RIP Yvonne

When we met Yvonne on family occasions, she would always make a point of asking me how I was feeling, and how I was getting on, during and post treatment.  She loved our kids too, always asking after them.  And of course she loved her own kids and their kids.  She loved life and devoted a lot of it to helping other people.

And in a fitting tribute to Yvonne, the funeral service was as dignified as she was.  The words.  The music.

The words

Yvonne’s grandchildren were brave enough to contribute words for their nan at the service.  My nephew had put together a poem in tribute.  He took his place and began to read the words.  He took deep breaths and pauses, but he was starting to get choked with emotion.  We all felt for him, it was a very emotional occasion.  With no fuss, the celebrant took over the reading of the poem, and we all shared in the moving tribute, tinged with humour.

My niece also found the occasion overwhelming and after a confident start reading Death Is Nothing At All by Henry Scott Holland, the celebrant completed the poem.

I admired both of them for what they did – it’s not easy to speak in front of people at the best of times, let alone at a funeral gathering.  But their reaction kind of transcended the words they were each meant to speak.  The emotion and the meaning was there for all to feel and witness.

The music

Apart from the suitably beautiful hymns, The Day Thou Gavest Lord is Ended, and Amazing Grace, Yvonne’s family chose pieces of music that either meant a lot to her or perfectly summed up her life and the occasion. Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler and The Way We Were by Barbra Streisand captured the mood and emotion of the proceedings, and Beethoven’s Fur Elise added a fitting finale to the tributes.

The celebrant gave us some insight into Yvonne’s life.  She was born into a fairly affluent family but her parents separating in the early part of her life meant a time of great change.  She embraced the changes and later on her new family, and when war broke out she not only volunteered to become an army dispatch motorbike rider, she also met her husband to be.  Within a few months she was married, and soon bringing up children of her own, a very traditional family set up.  Sadly Yvonne’s husband passed away far too early in his life, but her determination meant that her children didn’t suffer as a result.  In later life she loved to meet her children and grandchildren, often for lunch.  One of her favourite treats being Mr Kipling’s French Fancies, which went on to become forever known as Nanny Cakes!

Mr Kipling's French Fancies, make exceedingly good Nanny Cakes

Nanny cakes

Yvonne was known for her beautifully refined diction, and this led to her becoming the voice behind speaking newsletters for the blind in her home area of Wandsworth.  She had a full social life, and enjoyed organising events for the many clubs she belonged to.

The day was rounded off by raising a glass at a nearby pub, sharing memories and indulging in a wonderful feast, suitably completed with Nanny Cakes!

She will be missed. RIP Yvonne.