Remembering Lydia Schatz

Lydia Schatz

March 16, 2002 – February 6, 2010

We remember Lydia Schatz today, February 6, 2013. We pray for the children in abusive families, even well-meaning and loving families where there is abuse, and families who are susceptible to harmful teachings.

Three years ago today, Lydia died of abuse from her adoptive parents. I’m reposting this in memory of her and to protect other Lydias (and Seans and Hanas. . .)

_________

One year ago today, 7-year-old Lydia Schatz died after her adoptive parents disciplined her to the point of death.

Lydia was a vivacious little girl, adopted from Liberia. People who knew her say she had the most heart-warming smile.

I sit here crying. Heavy-hearted. February is a difficult month for me: mourning Lydia and Sean Paddock, facing the reality of abuse within the church and Christian families.

Lydia’s adoptive parents, Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz, are currently in jail in Butte County, California. They are awaiting trial. (See records here: case numbers CM032009 and CM032008.) Later this month are scheduled the trial readiness conference (2/17/11) and the jury trial (2/28/11). They each have been charged with murder, torture, and cruelty to child by inflicting injury. The murder charge is related to Lydia’s death, the torture charge is related to her sister (also adopted) who was hospitalized but recovered, and cruelty charge related to a biological son’s injuries.

Lydia died from rhabdomyolsis, a condition related to kidney and heart failure from toxins released when muscle tissue breaks down. Lydia’s muscles broke down as a result of repeated beatings over time, though her death was proceeded by an especially long “discipline” session.

Lydia’s parents used a plumbing supply line, which is recommended by Michael and Debi Pearl of No Greater Joy Ministries in their book “To Train Up A Child.” Both plumbing supply line and TTUAC were found in the Schatz home and the older children have attested to those methods being used in their home.

While death is not a common result from the implementation of TTUAC, this is not the first time that a child has died when parents have carefully and consistently applied the so-called “child training methods” espoused by the Pearls. In February 2006, 4-year-old Sean Paddock was killed. How many other unreported cases of quiet abuse are happening under the influenced of these harmful, unBiblical teachings?

O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will( strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

Psalm 10:18-19

Compounding the tragedy is the professed love of these parents for their children, the desire to nurture their children through homeschooling, the commitment to seek out help in parenting.

Further compounding the tragedy is that Lydia and her sister Zaraiah were adopted. Her parents needed to provide love, security, attachment. . . and instead beat them with a plumbing supply line. Sean was a foster son in the process of being adopted.

Sing to God, sing praises to his name;
lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts;
his name is the LORD;
exult before him!
Father of the fatherless and
protector of widows
is God in his holy habitation.
God settles the solitary in a home;

Psalm 68:4-6

We need to remember Lydia. We need to remember Sean.

We need to remember the children who need families, who are in families.

We need to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

We need to open our eyes to the abuse within our own communities.

May God have mercy on us all.

Remembering Sean

Six years ago today Sean Paddock died.

A 4-year-old child, Sean Paddock, was killed by his adoptive mother. The child was suffocated from being wrapped tightly in blankets to keep him in bed, so tightly that he couldn’t fill his lungs to breathe. His body was covered with “layers of thin, long bruises — old and new — stretch[ing] from Sean’s bottom to his shoulder blade.”

Sean’s adopted mother relied upon two-foot lengths of plumbing supply line and parenting books by Michael and Debi Pearl to keep her children in line.

God have mercy.

Sean Paddock.jpg

Sean Paddock, 2001 – 2006

February will always be a month for me to remember. I believe we all need to mourn these little ones and warn other parents.

““Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”"

Mark 10:14-16

More about Sean:
TulipGirl.Com
ThatMom.Com
WhyNotTrain.Com
WorldMag.Com
Salon.Com

When Friends Defend The Pearls

The Pearls have published a response to Hana Williams’s death. Unlike with Lydia Schatz, they are no longer laughing.

Parents who utilize and/or support No Greater Joy Ministries, Michael and Debi Pearl, or the book “To Train Up a Child” sometimes have trouble understanding how a book they find “helpful” can really be so harmful.

Common responses from these parents to the news of the abuse and deaths of Sean Paddock, Lydia Schatz, and Hana Williams are along these lines:

“We … have read “To Train Up a Child” and have actually gotten some good practical advice from it. I never interpreted them to be condoning child abuse, but simply giving practical ways to discipline (flicking the hand, never disciplining in anger, finding creative approaches, etc.) … I am certainly not condoning everything in Michael Pearl’s book, but I have a hard time blaming them for the terrible cases of child abuse done by other parents who claimed to follow Michael Pearl’s teaching. I think they disastrously misinterpreted the book.”

This is similar to the excuse the Pearls make themselves. . . it is never parents following their teachings who abuse — but parents who are NOT following their teachings.

In my experience, a lot of parents first read TTUAC with what a friend calls having a “good-mommy filter” on. . . only the positives come through in an initial reading (tying heartstrings, being consistent, etc.)

But, when parents are struggling or their children aren’t conforming, they go back to TTUAC. And what messages are found then? Consistency (which can be good), and beyond that a “parents-must-win-at-all-costs” message.

While this is just one quote, it illustrates a repeated theme in their writings,

“And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring and are unmoved by his wailing. Defeat him totally. Accept no conditions for surrender. No compromise. You are to rule over him as a benevolent sovereign. Your word is final.”
from To Train Up a Child, by Michael and Debi Pearl
Chapter 6: Applying the Rod)

Defeat totally. No compromise.

Consistency.

Train through swatting (smacking, spanking, switching… different terms used in different places in the book. . . regardless, “training” uses an implement on a child’s skin to case pain.)

It doesn’t take long to see that if a child is not “easily” trained and compliant immediately, a parent trying to do the “right” thing will be led by the Pearls’ teachings and philosophy to abuse.

A child who doesn’t understand, doesn’t comply, or isn’t submissive right away. . . A parent is taught to be consistent, defeat totally, continue spanking/swatting/smacking. . .

In this context, can you see how easily the Pearls’ teachings can lead to abuse?

I’ve know parents. . . loving, well-meaning, dear parents. . . Parents who never spanked in anger. . . who got to the point where they saw they were ABUSING their children (in love. . . with good intentions) because of this underlying theme of consistency and total defeat.

Does this help make sense of why some people are very upset and alarmed about a resource some parents only remember as helpful?

Good and related resources:
Spanking in Anger Isn’t the Problem
In Defense of the Pearls. . . Some Thoughts
Why Blame the Pearls at All?

On the Pearls and Parenting, Once Again

Long before the tragic deaths of Sean Paddock, Lydia Schatz, and Hana-Grace Rose Williams, Christians have been raising concerns about the parenting and theological teachings of Michael and Debi Pearl.

In spite of the folksy encouragement to “tie heartstrings,” the underlying philosophy of the these teachings miss out on the place of the Gospel in parenting the littlest disciples in our families. I am re-posting an email conversation I had with a young woman several years ago, because I believe it can help people who are upset about these children’s deaths understand that larger, harmful philosophical context of the Pearls teachings. Similarly, I think it can help parents who have only gleaned a few good ideas from the Pearls understand why so many other parents find the overarching message to be harmful.

Originally posted March 2005 and again May 2008:

This is an e-mail conversation I had with a young woman not long ago about the Pearls and their highly punitive parenting ideas. Although I’m more concerned about helping parents see the problems with Ezzo, I decided to make available here some of my thoughts about the Pearls/To Train Up a Child/No Greater Joy.

_________________________________________________

Hello, TulipGirl. My name is *******, and we’ve crossed each other’s paths on a board by a woman named ********* talking about the book To Train Up a Child by Michael and Debi Pearl.

Hi, *******!

I remember you from *******’s blog. *grin*


I’ve been researching all I can about the Pearls, and I’ve come across your name a couple of times.

Research is good. I’m sure you’ve found a mixed bag of people who are thrilled with TTUAC and those who aren’t–as well as those who are rational about their opinions about TTUAC and those who are very emotional or accusatory. The Pearls aren’t my “pet issue” so I’m a bit surprised you came across my name a few times. I looked back through some things I’ve posted online and realized I had written more than I thought about them.

First, I’m interested to know what you (and others) find so objectionable about the Pearls.

The heart of the issue is that they are teaching something they claim is Biblical, but is instead based on Behaviour Modification and building a subculture. They are very persuasive, especially to young parents. I believe their underlying philosophy goes against applying the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our family life.

One way this comes up is, while there is mention of “tying heart strings”, there is far more that leads parents/children into an antagonistic relationship. The parent/child antagonism is one of the key problems I have with the ******** site, in spite of the many professions of love and delight in children. The attitude behind “ambushing” children is antagonistic. The attitude of “power struggles” and “outlasting” is antagonistic. And, I believe, unsupportable Biblically.

Galatians 6 talks about discipline. . . “Brothers, if someone is caught in sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. . .” Restoring gently, being careful yourself–that sounds nothing like the Pearls.

This antagonistic attitude towards children also comes across in things like their constant comparison between children made in the image of God and likening them to mere animals–horses, dogs, etc. For example:

“Training does not necessarily require that the trainee be capable of reason; even mice and rats can be trained to respond to stimuli. Careful training can make a dog perfectly obedient. If a seeing-eye dog can be trained to reliably lead a blind man through the obstacles of a city street, shouldn’t a parent expect more out of an intelligent child? A dog can be trained not to touch a tasty morsel laid in front of him. Can’t a child be trained not to touch? A dog can be trained to come, stay, sit, be quiet or fetch upon command. You may not have trained your dog that well, yet every day someone accomplishes it on the dumbest mutts.”
TTUAC, Chapter 1

“I became anxious and started pushing him to perform. He was making me look silly. “What right does he have to do this to me? Me, of all people. My family would have thought I was so smart, and now I look dumb. Stupid dog. Must be inbred.” Sensing my disapproval, he started to shy away from me. To get my approval, he must make me look good in public. After all, what is a dog good for, but to elevate his master?”
TTUAC, Chapter 18

Of course, the Pearls were talking about their dog here–but in the context of training children. The message is “What is a child good for, but to elevate his parent?” The focus shifts from discipling the little blessings God has given us, to placing our children’s worth on how well they perform. As well as deriving our worth as adults on our children’s performance.

Sadly, I know a lot of Christian parents who fall into the trap of thinking that way–that our children must be perfectly behaved, especially around others–and that leads parents and children into legalism, rather than into building a stronger relationship with one another and trusting in God. Pride and trusting one’s “child training” can sometimes quench one’s trust in God.

Another problem I have with the book is the theology. As Doug Wilson aptly said,

“The innate sinfulness of the child is denied, which leads the Pearls to sharply distinguish training from discipline. Training is what the innocent infants and toddlers get, and is identical to what puppies get when they don’t go on the newspapers. Discipline supposedly comes later when sin enters the picture. While this is not a book of theology, a Finney-like Pelagianism runs near the surface. And while there are some similarities between animal training and child-discipline, the distinctions between the two are not adequately maintained in this book. The result of this confusion is not only heretical, but also offensive to any parents who value the dignity of their children.”

I believe our parenting should be shaped by our theology–and I’ve found as I’ve grown in my walk with the Lord and in studying theology that it has impacted my parenting in a very big way.

I read a passage in the TableTalk devotional recently that pointed out to me, yet again, how theology impacts parenting.

“God is Father (James 1:27) and therefore loves His children deeply. Yet God is Judge (James 5:9) and thus is required to punish sin. God’s love and righteousness, we know, motivated Him to accomplish redemption for us based on the sacrifice of His perfect Son who suffered the punishment we all deserve.” –Robert Rothwell, TableTalk January 2005

Our children are part of the Covenant, and I believe Christ has already suffered the punishment for their sin on the Cross. I do not need to “punish” them when they do wrong. I do need to discipline them, disciple them, help them see their sin and repent, as well as help them learn the “rules” of living in polite society. I am not permissive. But I do not think that using a rod to spank my toddler, ala Pearl, will cleanse them of sin. Nor do I see any command in the Bible for parents to punish children for their sin–I do see many commands to disciple, discipline, teach, love, train and chastise.

I did a study on the Fruit of the Spirit several years ago. One of the things that surprised me was that in so many passages that talked about gentleness, it was linked with discipline. God puts the two together. There are other things related to what I’ve studied in the Bible and theology that leads me to have concerns about the Pearl’s parenting, but I don’t want to overwhelm you.

As I posted before, I don’t agree with 100% of what they say,

Is there anyone that we would say we agree with 100%? *grin* I’m curious what you disagree with that they teach?

But their principle – that children should obey their parents – seems sound.

Biblical, even. *grin* Btw, it isn’t “their” principle or even that (obedience) which is what is controversial about what they teach. I’m not sure whether I mentioned over at ******’s or not, but I started my parenting journey with a strong view that I was required to make my children obey. Now I believe that I am called to help them obey, as they become the people God has created them to be. There is a world of difference between the ideas make and help.

And, a look at Ephesians 6 reminds us that God is talking to His littlest disciples in that passage, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” That’s quite a difference from if it read (as many seem to assume) “Parents, make your children obey you, for this is right in the Lord.”

And again, while sometimes they go overboard, I think their style of parenting – strict – works in the long run.

In what ways do you think they go overboard? Are you aware that there are many parents who are strict who don’t embrace a Pearl parenting style? You’d probably agree with a “mean what you say and way what you mean” attitude in parenting. Are you aware there are parents who do that without resorting to either “ambush” swats or bribery?

I mentioned on xxxx that according to one study, children who had strict boundaries were less likely to end up taking drugs as teenagers.

Firm boundaries, I believe, are a good thing. The Pearls don’t have the corner on the market for that. That is not unique to their teachings. One friend of mine, Joanne, is very firm in her boundaries but enforces those boundaries in a way that isn’t laced with Pearl-esque Behaviour Modification. Take a look Joanne’s Discipline Resource Center (now defunct).

One characteristic of those teens who did take drugs was that their parents had difficulty punishing them as children.

I’d be interested to know what is meant by “punishing.” I no longer punish my children. Christ has borne the punishment for their sins on the Cross. I do enforce boundaries and discipline my children. Personally, I have wider boundaries than I used to have with them–but they are older now and I’m less of a control freak than I was when I was a younger mom. *grin*

Second, I think a lot of people tend to lump Pearl and Ezzo together in the same boat as a knee-jerk reaction.

Knee jerk? Some people online do seem to be a bit reactionary, don’t they? *grin* The vast majority, though, seem to understand the issues either from experience, evidence-based concerns or the Bible.

I usually see Ezzo and Pearl discussed separately–only linked when misuse of the Bible is being talked about in the context of parenting teachings (or, like over at ******, when one is presented as an alternative to the other.)

I respect a parent’s decision never to spank, but somehow to me the anti-spanking movement has become a bit of a cult: Thou shalt not spank.

I can’t defend the anti-spanking movement as I’m not part of it, per se.

And somehow the anti-Pearlers, and anti-spankers in general, seem to take a “more enlightened than thou” approach:

I think we need to clarify before going on. While anti-spankers will almost always be anti-TTUAC, not everyone who has serious problems with TTUAC is an anti-spanker. Lumping them together may lead to people not seeing the concerns in TTUAC as valid. (Saying this to clarify that I know spankers who do not like TTUAC in the least.)

that they, not the parents of that particular child, know what’s best for somebody else’s family.

That’s interesting. I hear more “This is the only way to raise Godly children” from people advocating the Pearls, the ******, the Ezzos–and a lot of condescension to those poor mothers who don’t know any better or are too “afraid” to spank.

To be honest, I would love to see more grace and patience shown to mothers with different values in parenting from all involved. I am completely convinced that parents who embrace a Pearl style of parenting are doing so out of love for their children.

However, love is shown by actions as well as attitudes, and the actions the Pearls advocate are very often unloving.

The final thing: the “Pearl” method of parenting is similar to that our parents and grandparents used, to some extent, and which they still use in some countries today. It’s hard to believe that modern-day North American kids, who are less likely to be physically punished, are really so much better off psychologically than everyone else.

Likely, we will all be psychologically messed up in one way or another by mistakes our parents made. I believe a mother’s love and God’s grace cover a multitude of mistakes.

Having known people both brought up in a Pearl manner, as well as talking with the older generation you appeal to, well, I see plenty of problems.

One friend (parents were Pearl followers) continues to be estranged from her parents. Another (older generation) person I know, a dear believing woman, has gone through much counseling and spiritual growth in dealing with the constant “you don’t measure up” messages from her childhood. (And while the Pearls may deny that is what they say, they are communicating performance-based worth to their children.)

Another guy I know was the poster child for Pearl parenting. He courted a young lady, they did everything “right”, were married and divorced two years later. Only then did it come out that he had been living a double life–the “good kid” around the homeschool groups and church, and the rebellious adult he had become. Good, godly, strict parents. . .

Another family’s oldest son started sleeping around at 12 (again, a family who was doing everything “right” by the ideals taught by the Pearls and related subcultures) and is still involved with drugs at 25.

These were dear, praying, active Christian families who were strict and didn’t “spare the rod” but were sure to use it. They were consistent, involved in church, homeschoolers (all of them) and definitely “tying heartstrings”. I’m sure you can find good results to balance each of these sad results–but that’s not the point.

The point is the almost-blanket-guarantee that is given by the Pearls is just not sound. Early child training through quick swats when kids disobey will not guarantee an obedient child, a non-rebellious teen, or a spiritually secure and emotionally healthy adult.


I suppose the only way to “test” the Pearls’ method would be to compare, say, 100 families who used the Pearls’ method and 100 who did not. And even this would be difficult because the two groups of families would probably differ in many other ways too. Most of the anecdotes I hear about the Pearls are positive, so in some ways I don’t know why if it worked for others it would not work for me if I had kids.

*L* Well, I guess I got ahead of the flow of the e-mail with the above descriptions of some problem-child Pearl scenarios.

Whether or not it “works” is in large part determined by how you define “works.” My goal is to help my children become the people God has created them to be, with an emphasis on them relying upon God’s grace for their daily living. I want to help them learn to recognize their sin and turn to God in repentance. I want to model for them what it looks like to lean into God when we are struggling.

Meeting these goals is how I’ll eventually be able to measure whether my parenting choices are “working.” But, I can tell you now, that the teachings from the Pearls will not “work” for meeting these goals.

So I guess I just wanted to know the reason for your animosity towards the Pearls (and I’m not advocating the Pearls; I’m just curious as to why some people are so vehemently against them).

I hold no personal animosity towards the Pearls. I do oppose their teachings because they teach Behaviour Modification and call it “Biblical training.” I oppose their teaching because while it may seem to “work” in the short term for some families, it sets up an antagonistic parent/child relationship based on control. I oppose their teachings because it leaves little room for the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of the parents or children, and does not turn the children towards the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Grace and Peace,
TulipGirl

Other Related Resources:
Authoritarianism and Isolationism Among Us
Parenting Freedom: Discipline
Biblical Discipline: Conclusions
Avoiding Millstones
TTUAC Review
Why Not Train a Child?
Free E-book: Parenting in the Name of God: Review of No Greater Joy Child-Training Doctrine

Hana Grace Williams, 1997 – 2011

Pulling me out of this blogging hibernation is another heartbreak. Again. Dear God, have mercy. . . not again?

I’d rather write about happy things. . . about the joy our family has in expecting our new baby, about the fun of our first safari, about the quirky experiences of living in a different culture. But, I’ve been tired lately (thanks, first trimester) and homeschooling and school-building-schooling and finishing my master’s. Writing and blogging has taken a back seat to real life.

And now. . .

Another child has died. RIP, Hana Grace Williams.

I heard rumors several months ago about yet ANOTHER death linked to Michael and Debi Pearl and their false teachings, especially in their book “To Train Up a Child” and their website “No Greater Joy Ministries.” But, it was just speculation, and I simply will NOT spread information that is not well documented. (Look through the archives here. . . everything I’ve written about false teachings is documented extensively.)

This is the “probable cause” document filed by the investigating detective which explains the abuse, cites “To Train Up a Child” and recommends the arrest of the Larry and Carri Williams. Arrest warrants were requested by investigating detective Theresa Luvera for adoptive parents for “Homicide by Abuse” and “Assault of a Child 1st Degree”. (Court reference numbers: Carri Williams 11-1-00928-8, Larry Williams 11-1-00927-0).

This is Hana Grace Williams. She was born in Ethiopia, and died at age 13 in Skagit County, Washington.

Her death was attributed directly to hypothermia, with malnutrition and helicobacter pylori chronic gastritis contributing.

“Wait!” I hear Pearl supporters saying. “That doesn’t sound like anything taught in TTUAC!”

Yes, Pearl supporters, TTUAC does NOT say to starve and freeze your child to death. But the actions taken by the Williams ARE consistent with the philosophy and teachings within TTUAC. Hosing off a child for potty accidents (including cold showers). Withholding food. Striking with a plumbing supply line. Larry Williams explained and provided the instrument to investigators: “he spanked with an instrument he picked up from a plumbing supply store. He gave us this stick. lt was a flexible white piece of plastic with a round ball on the end of it. lt was approximately 12 to 15 inches length.”

You don’t believe me? You don’t remember reading anything in TTUAC that would justify (in their minds at least) the Williams’ parenting actions? Let me refresh your memory:

Quote, from TTUAC:

So, my suggestion was that the father explain to the boy that, now that he was a man, he would no longer be washed in the house. He was too big and too stinky to be cleaned by the babywipes. From now on, he would be washed outside with a garden hose. The child was not to be blamed. This was to be understood as just a progressive change in methods. The next dump, the father took him out and merrily, and might I say, carelessly, washed him off. What with the autumn chill and the cold well water, I don’t remember if it took a second washing or not, but, a week later, the father told me his son was now taking himself to the pot. The child weighed the alternatives and opted to change his lifestyle. Since then, several others have been the recipients of my meddling, and it usually takes no more than three cheerful washings.

Quote, from the Pearls’ website:

Now, there are some flavors or textures that we just have an aversion for. Allow each child one or two dislikes, just don’t let their preferences be too limited. If a child doesn’t like what is on the table, let him do without until the next meal. A little fasting is good training. If you get a child who is particularly finicky and only eats a limited diet, then feed him mainly what he doesn’t like until he likes it.

Follow either of those with “consistency” (another key theme in the Pearls’ teachings) and it is understandable how the Williams ended up treating their adoptive children, and how it ended in the death of Hana Grace.

Lord, have mercy.

Related, here at TulipGirl:
About Lydia Schatz’s Death
About Sean Paddock’s Death
Fruits of Pearl Parenting
On the Pearls and Parenting
Avoiding Millstones

Related, offsite:
Why Not To Train A Child?
Parenting in the Name of God: Review of NGJ Child-Training Doctrine
Parenting Freedom: Another Child Dies of Punishment
Local News Story on Hana Grace
Rey Reynoso Examines the Pearls’ Parenting Methods
Skagit County Courts

Another Child Pays for the Pearls’ Abusive Teachings

Another child hospitalized for abuse, related to Michael and Debi Pearl of No Greater Joy Ministries and their child training teachings.

Last week, it came to my attention that a young girl has been removed from her Mennonite home due to renal failure related to child abuse.

And it appears that the Pearl Method of Child Training was being implemented in that home as well. Now, this child’s story will likely never make the news because she did not die.

Sean Paddock died. Lydia Schatz died, her sister Zariah pulled through. How many more children have been abused by loving, Christian parents misled by harmful teachings? How many children have been abused to the point of injury, but not death? How many children will have long-term medical problems that aren’t seen yet in childhood?

Lord, have mercy on us all.

Remembering Lydia Schatz

One year ago today, 7-year-old Lydia Schatz died after her adoptive parents disciplined her to the point of death.

Lydia was a vivacious little girl, adopted from Liberia. People who knew her say she had the most heart-warming smile.

I sit here crying. Heavy-hearted. February is a difficult month for me: mourning Lydia and Sean Paddock, facing the reality of abuse within the church and Christian families.

Lydia’s adoptive parents, Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz, are currently in jail in Butte County, California. They are awaiting trial. (See records here: case numbers CM032009 and CM032008.) Later this month are scheduled the trial readiness conference (2/17/11) and the jury trial (2/28/11). They each have been charged with murder, torture, and cruelty to child by inflicting injury. The murder charge is related to Lydia’s death, the torture charge is related to her sister (also adopted) who was hospitalized but recovered, and cruelty charge related to a biological son’s injuries.

Lydia died from rhabdomyolsis, a condition related to kidney and heart failure from toxins released when muscle tissue breaks down. Lydia’s muscles broke down as a result of repeated beatings over time, though her death was proceeded by an especially long “discipline” session.

Lydia’s parents used a plumbing supply line, which is recommended by Michael and Debi Pearl of No Greater Joy Ministries in their book “To Train Up A Child.” Both plumbing supply line and TTUAC were found in the Schatz home and the older children have attested to those methods being used in their home.

While death is not a common result from the implementation of TTUAC, this is not the first time that a child has died when parents have carefully and consistently applied the so-called “child training methods” espoused by the Pearls. In February 2006, 4-year-old Sean Paddock was killed. How many other unreported cases of quiet abuse are happening under the influenced of these harmful, unBiblical teachings?

O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will( strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

Psalm 10:18-19

Compounding the tragedy is the professed love of these parents for their children, the desire to nurture their children through homeschooling, the commitment to seek out help in parenting.

Further compounding the tragedy is that Lydia and her sister Zaraiah were adopted. Her parents needed to provide love, security, attachment. . . and instead beat them with a plumbing supply line. Sean was a foster son in the process of being adopted.

Sing to God, sing praises to his name;
lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts;
his name is the LORD;
exult before him!
Father of the fatherless and
protector of widows
is God in his holy habitation.
God settles the solitary in a home;

Psalm 68:4-6

We need to remember Lydia. We need to remember Sean.

We need to remember the children who need families, who are in families.

We need to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

We need to open our eyes to the abuse within our own communities.

May God have mercy on us all.

Remember Sean Paddock, 2001-2006

Four years ago today Sean Paddock died.

A 4-year-old child, Sean Paddock, was killed by his adoptive mother. The child was suffocated from being wrapped tightly in blankets to keep him in bed, so tightly that he couldn’t fill his lungs to breathe. His body was covered with “layers of thin, long bruises — old and new — stretch[ing] from Sean’s bottom to his shoulder blade.”

Sean’s adopted mother relied upon two-foot lengths of plumbing supply line and parenting books by Michael and Debi Pearl to keep her children in line.

God have mercy.

Sean Paddock.jpg

At the time of Sean’s abuse and death, there was an outcry about these harmful teaching — though primarily limited to the homeschool movement both Christian and secular. Perhaps some parents were educated and dissuaded from applying the Pearls’ teaching. But the warnings were not loud enough for everyone to hear.

Now. . . now another little child has suffered and died at the hand of her parents. Lydia Schatz, just seven years old, died a few weeks ago. Again, Michael and Debi Pearl and their book “To Train Up a Child” were an obvious influence.

February will always be a month for me to remember. I believe we all need to mourn these little ones and warn other parents.

““Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”"

Mark 10:14-16

Salon.Com: Godly Discipline Turned Deadly

Lynn Harris wrote about the tragedy of Sean Paddock for Salon.Com four years ago. She’s followed that up with a recent article, spurred by the death of Lydia Schatz.

Her focus for the article is interesting, and I especially encourage those within Evangelical circles and homeschool families to take the time to read her insightful article.

It’s one thing for those of us outside the fundamentalist Christian/Christian home-schooling world to point fingers at the Pearls and voice outrage at their methods. What really matters, and what stands to have actual impact, is the outrage inside the Pearls’ world. And right now, more than ever, an anti-Pearl movement within the conservative Christian community is rising up in heated, if sometimes whispered, fury. Some say — even pray — that Lydia Schatz’s death will bring Michael and Debi Pearl exactly the kind of attention they deserve.

Salon.Com

Vulnerable, To Abuse

I first heard about the Schatz family’s tragedy a week ago Sunday. My immediate response was heartbroken, angry, “Not again. . .” disbelief.

Lydia Schatz’s funeral is over. Zariah Schatz is out of the hospital, after nearly two weeks. The other siblings are in foster care. Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz have a court date on Thursday, February 25th.

And while an immediate reaction of horror, heartsickness is justified — I believe it is important to look deeper at how something like this has happened. In light of it being another death connected with Michael and Debi Pearl, in light of the families who are not in the news but are struggling — don’t we need to ask why?

Interestingly, I’ve run across several people who have known the Schatz family quite well. While those who defend the Pearls wish they could point to “extremists” who may have had anger, abuse or mental issues, the picture so far is of a loving, Christian family; a family who loved their kids and even sought out adopting more kids. This makes people uncomfortable. No longer can we categorize the Schatz family as “other” — they are here, among us, in our Christian family and homeschool circles.

I would strongly urge you to take the time to read what Laurie has written, her insights into the Schatz family and the influences in their lives: in which I discuss the unthinkable.

Please read it carefully, prayerfully. Please see how we in our Christian, homeschool circles can be vulnerable to false teachings. Please see how warped theology can warp our actions. This is not to excuse or justify what Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz have done. This is to point out just how much loving parents can be vulnerable, and how imperative it is that the Christian church warn parents about false beliefs and abusive practices such as those taught by Michael and Debi Pearl.

I know many people want to see this as an isolated example; that there isn’t a pattern in the death of Sean Paddock and Lydia Schatz. It would be a comfort if that were so. Sadly, I believe that what comes to the attention of the media are these (sensationalized) deaths, but that abuse is going on behind closed doors in our Christian homes. Abuse that is not necessarily in anger. Rather in loving families there occurs what I see as “well-intentioned child abuse,” in which motives may be loving but actions cross a line that has been blurred by teachers such as the Pearls.

How does this happen? It helps to understand when we hear the stories of other families. Anne has been transparent about “Giving Up on To Train Up a Child.” Meggan believed the Pearls’ promises of “no greater joy,” but found herself afraid of seriously harming her child. Ann was lured by perfectionism. And Jo shares about growing up with Pearl-esque parenting and the long-term harm it has done to her family.

These are not isolated examples. These stories echo the ones I’ve heard from other parents, both in my local community and in online communities; from parents who have rejected the Pearl type of parenting, and those who are still utilizing these ideas. Christian parents are vulnerable, we are vulnerable. These teachings do not reflect the grace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but ensnare parents and eliminate mercy. This is why the Church must speak out in warning — individuals, pastors, lay leaders, denominations. This is hurting our families and children. We cannot pretend it isn’t happening in our midst anymore.

Lord, have mercy on us all.

.

What others are saying:

Corporal Punishment and the Two Kingdoms

Timberdoodle: Discipline and Murder
Facing Abuse in the Christian Family
Abhorrence Hits Me on This
Child Discipline or Child Abuse?
Child Abuse in the Name of Jesus
Weekend Updates: Zariah
When Parenting Kills, What Can We Do?
Beauty for Ashes: In Which I Discuss the Unthinkable

(will be updated, as I’m able)