Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism

Training up this child – Part 2 – Who let the dogs out?


Living in the bible belt, my family might have seemed strange, but only a bit stranger than the rest. I was born in early 1988. Life was good for my parents. My dad worked several smaller jobs, my mom was a happy homemaker, my grandparents were hyped to have a grandchild. I was the center of attention, God’s blessing to everyone. My mother told me that the first months of my life, I was a dream of a baby. I hardly cried, I slept for long periods at a time, she didn’t have to get up more than twice a night. I was bald, but pretty.

My mother read a lot about raising children God’s way. Though I was spared by the horrors of “To train up a child”, the Pearl’s guidebook to send your child through living hell at this point in my life, my parents were defenders of spanking. A lot, and early. Sin was a child’s nature and you could only get rid of it by beating it out of your kids. I was a nice baby, but that changed soon enough. At a few months age, I apparently started showing signs of terrible sin. I was crying – a lot. I didn’t sleep through the night anymore. My mother was helpless. At that point, my mother was a few weeks pregnant again. I did not stop being a bratty baby. She had a miscarriage a few weeks after I started this “sinful behaviour”. My mom was devasted. He and dad met up with a few elders of the fundamentalist church we went to to get council. They concluded that my sin had brought evil into the house and the Evil One had caused the miscarriage. My dad told me that he first doubtedthis; it seemed too weird. My mother fell into deep depression, but it wasn’t interpreted as depression. It was the Evil one’s influence in our house that caused her to cry all day and night, to not care for herself or me anymore. The house was a mess, food was never on time. This was not what my parents signed up for when they got married.

It took my dad a few weeks to adapt the thought that I was in fact possessed by the Evil One. Keep this in mind, as it came in handy for everyone to explain my behaviour throughout my life. He finally wrapped his head around this thought and again sought advice how he should best handle me and get the Evil One out of our house. My parents started to treat me with what they later called “biblical training”. Before it seems to me they were loving and caring parents. The events of those last months had changed their view.

One of my earliest memories is me in the dining room. For a long time I didn’t know if it was true, but I asked my mother and she confirmed that my memory was correct. I was a few months short of 2 years.

There was – and is – a sideboard in the dining room. In this sideboard, my mom stores the fancier plates and some soup bowls. I can’t explain until today why should would place something fancy within a toddler’s reach.

We had just returned from a walk, or maybe from the garden. I know I still wore my street shoes and my coat. My parents left the room. I looked around and opened the door of the sideboards. There were the plates. I grabbed one and it fell. The noise was delightful and I laughed. Again! I grabbed another plate and let it drop. It was music in my ears. Alarmed by the noise, my parents came in. I don’t know what they said then, the next thing is I remember being thrown on by bed and beaten with a stick. The pain was numbing. I was crying, begging, but they wouldn’t stop. It wasn’t a soft stick, rather a cane. I was left to lay in my bed with no dinner. My mom explained to me that at this point my dad finally realized how evil my behaviour was and that from that point onward he tried everything to rid me of my evil spirits.

This wasn’t my only beating and by far not my severest, but it is one of the most prominent ones in my mind. It is hard for me to see the injustice in this until today. I was a bratty child. An evil child. That’s what I learned all my life. I find it hard to say that my parents beating me back then was wrong. I have been told by outsiders that it was, but it’s still a concept hard to grasp for me.

Read the previous part here, or the next part here.


6 thoughts on “Training up this child – Part 2 – Who let the dogs out?

  1. I don’t understand how any parent in this day and age and in a civilized country can be this ignorant. To think that a childs crying is a sign of evil, that the childs supposed evil can cause a miscarriage, that depression is evil is beyond comprehension. There is never an excuse to beat a child, it is abuse, I have an 22 month old granddaughter and a 26 month old great niece and I can not imagine anyone doing to them what your parents did to you at the age or any other age. I hope you never leave them alone with your children. I am impressed that you survived not only with your sanity in tact but with your faith also intact..

    • Hello Lee!
      Unfortunately, many very conservative christians believe the pearl’s teachings that a baby is born sinful and selfish. Everything a child does (when it annoys the parents such as excessive screaming) is considered evil and of the devil. Thanks to the pearls, parents believe that a child must obey like a dog, a picture they actually use in their books. It’s really shocking to see how they defend it by saying “well our kids don’t scream at the supermarket!”.
      I wouldn’t call my faith intact 😉 I’m still not out of the mindset and I just can’t let go of many things, and on the other hand i WANT to believe there is a God who loves us, otherwise, I just wouldn’t know how to live.

  2. Dear Lisa,
    Please know that you were not and are not ‘evil’ or ‘bratty.’ You were a beautiful baby who had needs, and let her parents know she had them just the way she was supposed to – by crying! Then you grew into a beautiful toddler, who was curious and delighted by all the interesting sights and sounds in the world – like the sound of plates breaking! I repeat, you were not and are not evil or bratty. You were and are beautifully human. Blessings to you as you continue on the journey of discovering your own beauty and goodness.

  3. Pingback: The Effects Of Spanking – Part 2 | Why Not Train A Child?

  4. I am reading through your story for the first time, and am horrified. What your parents did to you was terribly awful. =/ I’m so, so sorry you went through that at such a tender age. There was nothing evil about you then, unless it is evil to be innocently interested in the world and not yet posses the experience and brain of an adult.

    Thankfully, my parents weren’t introduced to the Ezzo’s “Growing Kid’s God’s Way,” until I was older, around maybe six years old. My infancy and toddler-hood remain a positive period in my history. My Mother was even into attachment parenting during my first years, and thought allowing me to explore the kitchen, after she had removed any dangerous items, was important for developing my curiosity. I would remove everything from the cupboards, and later she would clean up the mess.

    How disturbing that the Pearls are so ignorant of child development that they consider the normal, healthy desire of children to understand what is around them, by testing things to discover if something will break, or what it might taste like, evil. They would probably consider my mother’s early child rearing methods, evil. =/ Yet I believe those early years helped, to some extend, protect me from the damage that was to follow. I knew, instinctively, that the way my parents suddenly began to treat me, was wrong, because I had experienced their love and acceptance earlier. Sadly, I believed they no longer loved me, and that still managed to mess me up.

    Anyway… Continuing to read.

  5. This is making me cry, it’s so unbelievably horrible. You were a baby! A helpless baby! Who beats a tiny child with a cane, and for such a silly reason? Not that there is EVER a reason to treat any child like that.

    You weren’t a bratty baby; you were a normal human child, doing what all children do. And your parents were inexperienced, and perhaps very young? But the adults around them should have known better, and advised them better. This should never have happened to you, and I’m so sorry. So sorry.

    I see myself as fairly young still, but I actually have a son just 2 years younger than you. You have many decades ahead of you to create a happy life for yourself, and I wish you health, happiness, fulfilment, and every good thing that life has to offer. I think you are a brave young woman, and will make your mark on the world in one way or another.

    Please accept my very best wishes, and know in your heart that there is not, and never was, anything whatsoever wrong with you. You are perfect, and precious, and deserve to be treated accordingly.

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