The Duggars seem to skirt the issue of corporal punishment and offer what seems to be a retelling of the child training methods that are already popular within their Independent Baptist and homeschooling circles. They have also studied and recommended the writings of Michael Pearl in the past.
Blanket training was adapted from Pearl to what has been renamed “blanket time” (as BabyWise/Gary Ezzo coined it) -- or what Michelle has coined here as “quiet and still.” Perhaps the word "time" seems softer than "training," or at least more human -- for the whole method is based on how one goes about training animals. She refers to the method in general terms (in their books and on their website), yet she still uses the shared language within these communities such as the reference to blanket training as “a playpen in a purse.”
Quiet and Still: Teaching Self-ControlTo instill self-control in her children--especially her energetic little boys--Michelle uses a process that she calls Quite and Still (similar to Blanket Training, but without the toy). From the time they are young, the mother of many teaches her kids to sit quietly and slowly increases the length of time."It's not waiting until they do something wrong to correct them, but actually taking moments to train them," explains Michelle in our July 2011 interview. She recommends starting with increments of five minutes.
Do the Duggars practice a modified form of blanket training that does not involve bating a child off a blanket and then hitting them with a paint stick or wooden spoon? Do they rely on positive reinforcement with the use of the general scheme that is typically followed in their homeschooling and religious culture?
"They Have a Rod"
Upon close inspection of the 2006 police investigation of Josh Duggar's reported molestation, when questioned about inappropriate sexual touching, one of the younger children revealed that their parents did spank and that they did use “a rod.”
Within their belief system, the use of spanking and a rod is acceptable and is seen as “godly” if not a duty. Some teach that frequent spanking is critical when raising good, Christian children. The Pearls state that if you do not break a child's will with spanking that you are sending them right into eternal hell – language and concepts that are ubiquitous within this culture.
I continue to be disappointed by the evasion that the Duggars display. Spanking is not illegal in the United Stages, and given its acceptance within their religious culture, I expected that they did spank their children. But why not be honest about that, especially if they use it as a last resort because their other methods of discipline are effective?
Why not be honest about the claim about sending Josh to a “training center” for counseling instead of admitting later that they'd sent him to do hard labor in construction with a family friend who was not a counselor?
Can they even be honest anymore?
They capitalize on the idea that they've found a way to make a very complicated life work for them, but they haven't been honest with people about it. But they do live in a culture of fear – of the evil world, of government, of sin, of harm... But it seems that they show more fear of the loss of their public appeal and what will be thought of them if they are honest about the effectiveness of their chosen methods.
But this family has heavily invested in the myth of family and the fantasy that Bill Gothard and the IFB has woven for them. Their whole lives wrap around the promises that have been made to them – if they will only have enough faith. And for a time, they enjoyed much money and much success – by putting their children in a storefront for the world to watch.
They may not be able to be honest with the public. If they're honest with themselves, their webbing of their world will dissolve. They have far too much to lose – a loss that makes their cancelled TV show insignificant.