Sunday, October 5, 2008

On Silliness And Pearl

My husband and I have always been a bit goofy with our kids. We both are just naturally silly people. One of our sons once described us as a ‘jokative family.” Bad English aside, I believe that he was correct. We are sometimes a pretty goofy family. I used to get my sons to eat noodles by helping them pretend the pasta was really worms. Yes, very sick but my boys loved the whole grossness of pretending to eat something wiggly.

Imagine my surprise when-while looking for herbal information-I came across these words:

A silly boy is disgusting and repulsive, because he is the antithesis of all that is attractive in a male. There is no age at which silliness is normal. It is in all circumstances inappropriate. How many times have you heard people say it, “Don’t be silly”? All of my readers could mimic the tone at which it is always uttered—a hurried, dismissive, embarrassment, carrying a presumption that it is out of place and most unbecoming.

At first I thought that I had wandered into one of those brilliant satires like The Onion. No.....Michael Pearl is serious.

Of course, parents should teach their children that there are times to be funny and moments to be serious. Learning how to behave in various sitiuation is part of growing up. I am not certain why being occasionally goofy is the "antithesis of all that is attractive in a male." Many of the men that I admire most, including my wonderful husband, can be real goofballs sometimes.

I was in grade school in the fifties and started high school in 1959. I don’t remember any really silly boys, not like today’s crowd of them.

Although No Greater Joy is located in Tennessee, I can't help but wonder if Michael Pearl isn't a transplant. Most southerners that I know enjoy a good belly laugh. The older people, especially those who have undergone hardships, are sometimes the funniest. Humor in the face of tribulation seems to be a southern trait.

One of the toughest women that I have ever known was my Grandmother. We called her Nanny. She had survived the depression, a very abusive, alcoholic husband, poverty and my mother’s mental disorder. Yet through it all she maintained a sense of humor that helped her cope with her life. Her ability to be silly and funny made her strong. It helped her to view life, not as a victim, but as a survivor.

Once, after my three year old son, Joshua, had asked her to draw a dog, Nan decided to tease her younger sister, Avo. Drawing an ugly picture of a horrible creature she labeled it with her sister’s name. She instructed Joshua to give it to his great aunt but to make certain that she knew it was from Annie (my grandmother). Poor 70 year old, Avo, was innocently crocheting on the couch when her little nephew brought her the crude drawing. Looking across the room at my grandmother, she yelled, “Annie, what is wrong with you?” Both women burst into loud laughter. My great aunt wasn’t offended at her big sister.

Silliness can only exist in a responsibility vacuum. A man (or boy) who is given responsibilities and is committed to performing his duty will never be silly. Where there is self-respect, there will be sobriety and dignity.

My husband actually got angry at this statement. One of the duties of my husband and his coworkers is the protection of certain weapons systems and personal, although their main job is meterology. Yet,according to my husband, the men and women that he works with can get pretty silly at times. It is because these soldiers have a lot of responsibility that they have a need to blow off steam by joking around.

Daddy and his friends will respond to foolishness like they would a cat licking its XXX.

Could someone explain what the above statement means? Is Michael Pearl being silly? I didn't know that most men had a problem with cats cleaning their privates beyond amazment.(think Puss in Boots on Shrek) I have to admit, when our male siamese would throw his leg up, bend his head over and begin to purr, I would leave the room so he could have privacy. I always felt that I was watching cat porn when our he cleaned himself. Yuck. But what any of that has to do with little boys being silly and the reaction of their fathers is beyond me.

In fact there is a lot in the article that doesn't connect to the main subject of the article-boys silliness. Most of us worry about the effect of Hollywood on our children. Although we still have tv, we no longer have cable in our house. Until we can get cable channels a la cart, and don't have to pay for the junk channels, my hubby and I have decided to have it disconnected. Michael Pearl though connects the junk on tv with, what he seems to consider, a new problem of boys being silly.

It is not the kids sitting zombie like in front of the television who are creative and energetic enough to figure out exactly which joke will gross out their siblings. Its the kids digging in the dirt, enteracting with their friends and being outdoors who come up with new ways to make one another laugh.

I would also like to point out that Pearl, by his own admission, is a child of the fifties and was a young man in the sixties. Considering that his generation brought us hippies and public unrest, maybe we could have avoided all that if young kids during the 1950's had been allowed to make a few fart jokes. LOL (Sorry, I am being silly LOL)

I began by saying that silly boys are public proof of a father’s neglect and of a mother’s indulgence. I have addressed the father’s responsibility. Now, please sit down, mothers. When a son is over-indulged by his mother, and criticized by his sisters, he will be silly

This didn't offend me so much as amuse me. I think that I am a bit more strict then my hubby and Russ is very involved with our children. He's always been a hands on dad. Plus my daughters adore their big brothers.

I am guessing also that Pearl wouldn't approve of our watching The Holy Grail with our kids. Mmmmm.....Our family-even little Sarah-quotes the movie. On second thought lets NOT go to Camelot,(Russ and Deb's house) tis a silly place.-King Arthur

Admittedly, Pearl does give good advice about parents being involved with their kids, giving them chores, helping them learn skills that appeal to them, teaching them to be independent etc...But the fact that he mixes sound counsel and common sense with some very bad parenting advice, fear mongering and psychobable as to why children, boys, are silly, actually makes the article worse.

Here is a link to the article-in case you missed my first link-

Check it out for yourselves.


Luke said...

... ...

I am so glad another person has a problem with Mr. Pearl. He does have some great things to say, but, like you, I am highly disturbed by how much really bad teaching he has mixed in.

I've ranted about him on my personal blog before. My wife doesn't even let me say his name because it gets my blood boiling.

I need to let that go. However, I don't feel right about standing by while someone teaches really horrible lies mixed in with solid Biblical truth. It's dangerous and damaging.

...but there I go, ranting again. Sorry.

Thanks for taking the time to unravel Mr. Pearl's incorrect teaching while still smiling.


Lola said...

Remember Fr. Rutler and "fanatics"?

I think some of the most wonderful people in my life, and from what I understand many holy people have a great sense of humor. Pope John PaulII, St Theresa of Avila, Dorthy Day...

(My grandfather, a country boy, loved funny commercials. That is one of the things I remember of him. And, somehow he paid his bills, never was in debt, lived modestly and soberly! And raised four children who were kind and successful... Oh how he'd laugh! Yep he was Southern.)

I can't read the Pearls anymore, although I do believe in "training" a child, diligently and kindly, consistantly but more like Dr. Ray Guarendi and Dr. Sears. Oh, and anyone in real life who's been there and done that with their kids and the kiddos are still wonderful.

deb said...

Lola, it sounds like our parenting philosophies are very similar.

Because I grew up in an abusive home, I knew that I had to be very aware of my parenting choices. So, overly punitive styles like the Pearls or Ezzo were not what I could use.

I am glad that both comments on my site have been positive. Lately, I have been reading blogs speaking out against certain 'Christian' child rearing practices and have been surprised at the anger that some Pearl supporters express. So, I was uncertain what type of comments that I would get.

By the way, a blogger called, Tulip Girl has a lot of good information on her site about Pearl and Ezzo.

Lily said...

I just came across a quote, which I put on my blog, from JohnPaul II:

Stupidity is also a gift from God, but one mustn't misuse it.

LOL, I think he may have been smirking when he said that.

deb said...

Lily, LOL