No Defense, Just Reflection

A beautiful reflection of a heart wounded…  Please take a moment to read and reflect on your own life.  I also want to encourage any of you who feel so compelled to reach out and share yourself with this writer.

S O U R C E

Processing Spanking

Spanking.  A huge hot button topic. I know.  And now, with post #1, being somewhat normal, and post #2, being an emotional cry, I figured it was okay to break up the hot button topics in post #3.Knowing that my parents loved me, and would do anything for me, and yet still processing how spanking affected me is a very painful process.  I feel like I am the problem. I feel like the feelings and effects spanking had on me are unique to only me, and that if I were just “better” in some way, I would not have the severe emotional trauma from such a “normal” childhood event.  To put this post in perspective, let me just spend a few moments to brag on my wonderful parents.  My dad is a wonderful Godly man.  He isn’t afraid to take the uncomfortable road.  He is more generous that most people I know.  He is deeply committed to taking care of the needy, and reaching people with the gospel of Christ.  I am, and always have been, a daddy’s girl. <3 I remember going on daddy daughter dates.. I remember being a able to cry in his arms. I remember how excited I would be when he would get home.  My daddy was always the #1 man in my life, until I met Pine.. And now, he still is very important to me.  I want his approval, and I have strode to get it my whole life.  I feel safer, and more secure if he tells me I am doing well.

My mom is a very strong woman, with a heartbreaking past.  No one should be able to be as healthy as her considering what she has gone through.  My mom probably would understand the deep soul searching I am doing now, if it didn’t hit her personally, because I have seen her do the same things.  Evaluate the way she was raised.. Try to keep the good, and get rid of the abusive, unhealthy patterns she was raised with.  My mom was committed to our characters no matter the cost.  And she has cried many tears, because she felt as if she never lived up to it.  I can totally understand that feeling now as I look at my own little boy, and think of all the mistakes I have made in such a short time.

Spanking.  To this day, we (my parents and I) do not agree on the topic of spanking.  I can point you to a hundred different studies that show why spanking is unhealthy.. I can show you a hundred different stories like mine to show how it affects people. Not all people, but enough to make me think twice.  But that’s not the purpose of this blog. For once, I am not going to defend what I have come so strongly to believe.  Instead, I am just going to write out my feelings.  My vulnerabilities, my anxieties, my memories.  This is part of a process towards healing..

I remember being spanked often as a child.  Sometimes several times a day.  I remember the panic that would well inside of me as I was forced to bend over.  I remember instinctively, uncontrollably rolling off the side of the bed to avoid the spoon, or belt, or hanger.  I remember trying so hard to stay still as they hit me.. Because I knew that if I did move, I would get more. I remember crying out in fright, frustration and anger “I am not trying to move! I can’t help it!”  And I remember getting the extra lashes anyways.  My parents did spank in anger, but some of the worst spankings I got were done “correctly” My parents were not visibly angry.  They explained in quiet tones why I deserved what was coming.  They explained that it would all stop as soon as I repented.  The amount of shame…  A sick, dark cloud of shame would hang over my soul.  I am not talking about my conscience here.  I think that the word shame means something very different than guilt.  Guilt is something you feel because you committed a wrong action. Shame is something you feel, because you are worth less.. Your very value is defined by an action, or how someone perceives you.  I would be spanked, a minimum of 10 times.  That seemed to be the starting point to the best of my memory.  When I got better at staying still, it would only be 10.  Otherwise it would be until I had received 10 in a row without moving away from the blows. Every time I flinched to hard and moved to the side, the count would restart.  After the spanking was over, my parents would hold me.  I remember being terrified, humiliated, and scared to do anything that would displease them in the least, lest the nightmare repeat itself.  I would sit in their laps and pretend I was sorry.  I learned that tears of “repentance” really made them happy.  I became a fake repenter.  I felt bad about what I had done, don’t get me wrong.  I even wished I had not done it. But not because it was wrong.. But because with the punishment came the terror of shame.  The sick feeling of worthlessness, and a total and complete failure as a person.

This dynamic I think, is why I am having such a hard time understanding the grace of God.  God does not love me because I “perform”.  And God’s love does not change when my actions or attitudes are not pleasing to him.  God’s love is constant.  I learned the opposite.. That acceptance and otherwise love is conditional on performance.  And I also learned that if the person you were trying to please thought you were doing right, then you could earn your acceptance, and still behave the way you liked.

There is more than that though.  A darker side of spanking.  One I have voiced very rarely, and one that is deeply humiliating.  And that is the sexual side of spanking. Even typing this out makes me shake a little bit, and the nerve endings in my bottom twitch uncomfortably. Its something people don’t talk about.  But I am not alone in the way it felt.  Before I had any idea what sex was, or how different parts of our bodies reacted in different ways, I always felt… encroached upon whenever someone even brushed up against my butt. Spanking was a nightmare because of it.  I felt dirty, and deeply humiliated by the act of bending over, and willingly allowing someone else to invade that which was so deeply private to me.  By humiliated, I don’t just mean embraced.. I mean a feeling so strong and dark it would make me physically ill.  I don’t remember any of my siblings struggling so much with staying in the one position while the spanking was administered.  But I literally could.not. stay still without trying to move away.  It took years of training before I could force myself to, and even then my entire body would flinch.  I didn’t realize until after my husband tried to show me sexual attention with my butt just how unsafe I feel. I have a hard time when he shows me intended and healthy sexual attention, because every time he touches me, it throws me down across a bed, and my whole body flinches to get away.  The invasion of the basic boundary of my body was devastating.

My parents did not sexually abuse me.  There was not one spanking that was intended in any ill manner. I know this with 100% certainty.  I also know they have no idea how it felt.  And I have no intention of telling them.  It would cause to much heartache.  If they even believed me.  Processing these feelings has been very hard.  Actually confronting them, instead of shoving them so far under the surface has been deeply painful.  But even now, I know my parents loved me.  They sacrificed, money, convenience, and so much more for us kids.  They did many things right. They taught us the value of hard work and honesty. They taught us that wrong actions often have unpleasant consequences.  And they never once fathomed a simple routine “godly” spanking could cause so much harm.

That thought scares the bejabbers out of me.  Aspen!  My son.. The one I would die for much in the same way my parents loved me.  How is he going to understand and feel the things I do only for his benefit?  Am I going to so deeply invade his personal boundaries, to where the simple thought of it makes him quake and shiver with fear, hopelessness, worthlessness?

Not all children have such a harsh reaction to spanking.  But if you presented everything in this post to my parents, I am sure they would say with certainty it never affected their children this way.

I have so much fear of hurting Aspen unintentionally. But yesterday I realized something.  God is forcing me to deal with the hurt and pain I suffered.  He is working healing in my heart. I have forgiven my parents, and love them dearly.  Really, what God is doing in me now, is a fulfilment of his promise to my parents.  He is being faithful to them to fix the mistakes that they made.  I can only trust that he will do the same for Aspen and Sappling, and any of my other kids.  There is no such thing as a parent that will not cause their children emotional distress. That I am sure of.  I am equally convinced that God has the power to heal the wounds I make in my children, that I have no idea of.  He is faithful!  And that is so encouraging to me.

I don’t think my parents would understand that I am not angry with them if I shared this with them.  I don’t think they would understand that my facing and processing this is a sign of His deep and everlasting love and faithfulness not only to me, but to them.  I have no desire to hurt them, so I probably will never share this with them. There really is no purpose.

I praise God for the changes he is making in me… And tonight, for the first time, I thanked him for healing the wounds I will inflict on my own children.


A few related posts…

A Letter
Why Spank? Well, It Works. Embarrassment is a Powerful Tool
Why Timeouts Are Even Worse Than Spanking
Beyond Spanking, Beyond Training: A Look At Our Littlest Minds
Humiliation – Far Reaching Effects on Children, Adults, Society
Toddler Spanking


Conveniently Artificial

From my FACEBOOK comment…. Continued here – and rather oddly placed in this blog, but the concept here is much farther reaching than its content alone.

Try this on – A society that in general, and as a whole, for as many years as is well documented, views women as inferior.  Why? My guess is it all stems from the survival of the fittest instinct that runs rampant, especially in males, and women are in a position where they need the physical efforts of men, especially while pregnant.   Could a society void of men survive?  From purely a physical survival standpoint, minus reproduction, yes.  Would it be more work for all women? Yes.  My guess is after a few generations, the women would adapt and their bodies would be bigger, to support the physical demands of the absent male bodies.

Wet nurses were a necessity in the event that the mother died, was too ill to produce milk, or… absent.

 

Now the rest of it…

I heard an argument once that a woman was disgusted by the thought of having another woman’s breast feeding her baby.  Science defeats this theory, given the woman tends to hygiene.  She could eat terribly, but hydrate properly, and her body would still come up with something capable of nourishing and sustaining, maybe even benefiting the infant.  You know what? In the south, women discovered something, their slaves made wonderful nannies. So wonderful that many women would force the slave to stop tending to their own babies so that they could nurse the master’s infants.  Boy, it was good that formula had already been invented because in the rare event that a slave was solo and didn’t have another slave to nurse her baby, while she was off nursing the master’s baby, the slave’s baby would die.  Perhaps preferable to many slaves, but as the slave’s status followed the mother, not favorable to the slaveholder.

“Make babies!”  The slaves were ordered to.

“But nourish my baby!”

Why?

The slaveholder was busy being a society woman, with her many slaves to show off among other things… but tell me, with the horrible opinion and assumed inferiority of slaves, why did these female slave masters assume the milk that came out of those brown breasts was safe for their baby’s little white mouths?  I suspect it was the same thing we know today, and instinct is what it is – breast milk is just that, and the baby needs it.  If it comes out of a breast, it is liquid gold, and it is what new life needs.

So, that takes us into the previous century, when a new reason became apparent for substitute human milk.  As Kate stated above – women joined the war effort.  As equals?  No.  Not only were they not given the same recognition and compensation as the males who were exerting just as much effort as the females, but the females had an extra burden to carry, that of motherhood.  While the men were off chasing their anger and proving their self righteousness, the women were obligated to support that game, tried to insist on equal recognition when it wasn’t automatically given, and managed to keep having and caring for the offspring that was continually created due to human nature running its course.

Were wet nurses in existence during the world wars of the early 20th century?  Yes, especially where there were enough women not stuck in a factory to provide for such a luxury. But, with the advent of society and/or, in stark contrast, families that settled themselves on land in the west that was annexed for their use, wetnurses became much less common.  Though some of those “settling” families saw fit to “employ” indigenous women to supply this crucial aspect of early life… much like the women in the south who turned to their slave’s breasts.

Enter mid-century, the silently tumultuous and oppressed 50’s, where, after centuries, women suddenly found their voices. Unfortunately for them, in the face of no equal respect for their contribution to humanity, yet in their need to demand appropriate recognition and compensation for their efforts and contributions, they went about forcing the issue the only way they could see how.  They decided that to prove they were not inferior to a man, they had to behave like men – like the very 1/2 of society that had managed to collectively raise itself into a stupor of superiority – at least those that came from the European influence (other regions as well).

Well, if a woman has to behave like a man to be considered as superior as man, there are a few things that happen (and that don’t).  First, she has to be capable of doing and managing the exact same situations that a man is capable of.  Funny how the men throughout history, have never had to prove the same the opposite direction – though I see some indication that may happen in the near future.

Second, while women conducted themselves during the day in the same environment that the men were in, those environments were not conducive for their children. Women couldn’t assemble or type very well while holding a baby at the breast, or chasing a toddler.  Men couldn’t assemble, type, or have adult conversations while chasing toddlers either.  Women seem to have the conversation ability a bit better figured out… while chasing 10 toddlers. Sort of.

See, when we forget how valuable each of our unique contributions are, we have to compensate to survive.  Instead of working together, which some societies still actually manage to succeed at (though few and rare), we tear each other apart.  And in so doing, the most helpless of our society suffer the most.

My life is a bit of a paradox in that I spent  my 20’s functioning in a career where I did manage and accomplish the exact same tasks and situations that my male co-workers did.  And when I discovered I was being paid less than my lateral male associates, I caused the situation to be remedied.

I have always taken a stand for “equality”, but not until the recent years have my eyes been open.  I no longer see women needing to demand equal consideration and recognition with most men, but they are now waging this battle among themselves.  I also now see men being diminished systematically by the very women (and their daughters) that took the only route they could come up with to make a difference in how they were treated. Albeit a sad route.

We are such an intelligent creature, are we not.

Now, in my 30’s, as a mother who has to routinely stand up for myself because somehow the work I do raising my daughter is viewed as something less than a career worth recognizing (let alone, the most crucial in the continuance of the species), I am starting to see a bigger picture.  Originally, it was men vs women, but now, more and more, I experience women vs women.  And in the process, we have shrunken the men to the point where many of them won’t even lift a finger to help us because they know we’ll criticize and belittle them for doing so.  This is not what was supposed to happen.

The fact is, that in order for a woman to work somewhere that doesn’t include her nursing child be with her continually, the child must take second chair.  Whether this means with formula, bottles of breast milk that the mother regularly manages to pump, a wetnurse, daycare, or some other solution, a substitute for mom must be acquired, on all fronts, while mom is away being comparable to the men and other women.

I develop websites.  I teach English to foreigners. I taught teens to drive for 6 years.  I teach music – multiple instruments.  I am a musician and artist.  I am a teacher – and now I independently educate my daughter.  I have been a nanny.  I have been a manager of others.  I have been a technician and responsible for lots of important (to those I worked with) stuff.  I write.  I speak publicly.  Someday I may run for office.  I am crunchy, advocate for animals, and try to protect our natural environment.

I am a wife, a soul mate that is a partner 100% and then some.  I am a mother, who believed in the strength of her body, the abilities of her body to naturally function, and believes in respect and wholly loving her child.

We are all connected.

So, in my Utopian society, we respect our men for their strength, their ability to solve problems, their physical ability to lift things that would wreak havoc on my body if I did it.  We would appreciate men for their sensitivities, their attentiveness, their protective and loyal qualities, and their ability to remain childlike while carrying the weight of a man with many children to feed, at the same time.

In my Utopian society, we would honor our women for their ability to nurture life, comfort the weak, teach compassion, organize insurmountable orchestrations of accomplishment (while nourishing life, sometimes), and heal wounded souls.

Further, we would value our children and the future so much that we, as adults, would never do anything to retract, degrade, diminish, harm, or hurt them.  We would not even go so far as to settle for anything less than the most healthy, most positive, most productive, and most beneficial environments.  This, my friends, is why I like Star Trek.

Hitting our children is not a productive and positive solution for a happy childhood and happy, non-harmful adults.  We know this now. Neglect and surrogate care is not what the child needs.  We know this now, thank you chimpanzees.  Women are valuable and do not do well when beaten or oppressed.  We know this now.  Men are valuable and do not do well when not appreciated or diminished.  We know this now.

Preserved meats are damaging and we all know it now.  Chemically altered anything is potentially harmful.  We know it and are learning more and more daily.  Artificial anything has its consequences.  We are learning quickly.  Neglect and abuse of the environment is lunacy. Some of us are aware of this now.

Formula feeding is not as healthy as human milk and we all know it now. There are presumed safeties, and as many concerns for long term effects in using this artificial substance.  I dare you to prove my statement wrong.

I have a friend who cannot breastfeed; she has no breasts.  She is in her 30’s and has a baby.  She knows well about the known dangers and drawbacks of human milk substitute, as well as the many questions and concerns that are not yet fully understood or proven.  She has decided that her child is too valuable to settle for something artificial, so she has involved a couple of her friends and other acquaintances (now friends) in the task of providing her baby with human milk, until the baby itself no longer needs it (this may be a few years still).

One of the friends that supplies this woman human milk no longer nurses her own children – they have weaned themselves – but this woman still routinely pumps her milk and gives it to my friend’s family.  It’s an annoying and time consuming task sometimes (especially to those of us like me who couldn’t get a pump to work for much of anything), but to these people (both the women and the men who are very much involved) it is the only option as they refuse to settle for artificial, even if it is convenient.

Keys to Parenting Aware

Aware Parenting

(French versionSpanish version)

Aware Parenting Consists of:

Attachment-style parenting
blue dotNatural childbirth and early bonding
blue dotPlenty of physical contact
blue dotProlonged breast-feeding
blue dotPrompt responsiveness to crying
blue dotSensitive attunement
Non-punitive discipline
blue dotNo punishments of any kind (including spanking, “time-out”, and artificial “consequences”)
blue dotNo rewards or bribes
blue dotA search for underlying needs and feelings
blue dotAnger management for parents
blue dotPeaceful conflict-resolution (family meetings, mediation, etc.)
Healing from stress and trauma
blue dotRecognition of stress and trauma (including unmet needs) as primary causes of behavioral and emotional problems
blue dotEmphasis on prevention of stress and trauma
blue dotRecognition of the healing effects of play, laughter, and crying in the context of a loving parent/child relationship
blue dotRespectful, empathic listening and acceptance of children’s emotions

line

The 10 principles of Aware Parenting

(French versionGerman versionSpanish version)

1. Aware parents fill their children’s needs for physical contact (holding, cuddling, etc.). They do not worry about “spoiling” their children.

2. Aware parents accept the entire range of emotions and listen non-judgmentally to children’s expressions of feelings. They realize that they cannot prevent all sadness, anger, or frustration, and they do not attempt to stop children from releasing painful feelings through crying or raging.

3. Aware parents offer age-appropriate stimulation, and trust children to learn at their own rate and in their own way. They do not try to hurry children on to new stages of development.

4. Aware parents offer encouragement for learning new skills, but do not judge children’s performance with either criticism or evaluative praise.

5. Aware parents spend time each day giving full attention to their children. During this special, quality time, they observe, listen, respond, and join in their children’s play (if invited to do so), but they do not direct the children’s activities.

6. Aware parents protect children from danger, but they do not attempt to prevent all of their children’s mistakes, problems, or conflicts.

7. Aware parents encourage children to be autonomous problem-solvers and help only when needed. They do not solve their children’s problems for them.

8. Aware parents set reasonable boundaries and limits, gently guide children towards acceptable behavior, and consider everyone’s needs when solving conflicts. They do not control children with bribes, rewards, threats, or punishments of any kind.

9. Aware parents take care of themselves and are honest about their own needs and feelings. They do not sacrifice themselves to the point of becoming resentful.

10. Aware parents strive to be aware of the ways in which their own childhood pain interferes with their ability to be good parents, and they make conscious efforts to avoid passing on their own hurts to their children.

Aware Parenting is based on the work of Dr. Aletha Solter. For more information, please see Dr. Aletha Solter’s books, The Aware BabyHelping Young Children Flourish, Tears and Tantrums, and Raising Drug-Free Kids

Copyright © 1994 by Aletha Solte

 

 

Violence Absent

Something interesting happened in our house this morning.  My husband learned just exactly how valuable our choice to omit all types of violence from our interaction with our daughter really is.

Let me give you a little bit of the setting and plot.

My daughter awoke this morning in a funk.  My husband and I have spent the last two days working through some emotional upheaval between us.  My daughter is well aware of the tension and distress that he and I are experiencing.  Her awareness translates into intriguing response patterns, some of which are more demonstrative than others, but the sense that she is also struggling along with us is very obvious.  Due to this tendency of sensitivity on her part, we try very hard to not argue or really have at each other in front of her, but sometimes life requires that we address things openly.  She is exposed more than I think either of us would prefer, but the positive aspect of this is that she is not only learning to manage the difficulties through observing us, but she is also learning how to cope and work through them, by the same observation.

That said, this morning she was in a definite funk when she awoke.  Not a bad mood, just unstable emotionally.  We went about our morning, he and I talked about a few other difficult things, and she demonstrated her awareness of our conversation, as well as her confusion and semi-displeasure regarding it.  We confirmed that our issues were not due to her, nor did she have anything to do with them, except that our dealing with them was affecting her.

About an hour later, I asked her to come down to eat and her Papa happened to be near her. From what he could tell, she did not comply with my request, or even respond to my beckoning in a timely manner, so he reinforced my instruction by repeating it a bit differently directly to her, within visual range. She continued to disregard him just as she had me.  He was already on edge and this set him off, so he responded in a knee jerk fashion and brushed the top of her head with the folded towel he had in his hands.  He didn’t strike her with it, he didn’t shove or knock her over with it, but he did react out of irritation and impatience.

He watched her face turn from indifference (which was actually a face absorbed in imagination and whatever she was thinking internally) to horror and fear, followed by seeing her reaction to what she perceived as his betrayal of her trust and safety.  She immediately began crying hysterically, the “fear cry”.  I knew there was something wrong when the cry wasn’t a mad one.  Nor was it a cry of having been physically hurt.  She was terrified and actually, seemed confused.  So, I stepped in a bit to inquire (of him, as she was not rationally responsive) the cause of her distress.

My husband showed me the towel in his hand (a fresh folded bath towel about a foot square – he was headed to the shower – that had no rigidity whatsoever) and made a brushing motion to demonstrate what he had done, and informed me that it had connected with her head.  He didn’t believe he could have possibly used enough force to hurt her as it barely brushed over her head and just ruffled her hair.  I confirmed his claim and belief and replied that her cry wasn’t one of physical hurt or pain, but instead she was afraid and seemed like she wanted to be mad but didn’t trust her that feeling to be shown.

I held her for a moment in silence, while she cried, searching the face of her Papa who stood behind her.  She was inconsolable and her Papa realized that he had actually harmed her… he’d harmed her spirit.  He apologized openly to her at that point, but she would hear nothing of it.  At which point, I knew that I had to remove myself from their moment…  I looked at my husband and requested that he “fix this” and reminded him “no violence means none, of any kind”, hoping he would see that she had perceived his actions as violent even though to him they were not.  He acknowledged me and I set her down out of my arms into his, and left the two of them to figure it out.

I heard her telling him that he should never, ever, ever, ever hit his baby.  And she went on to liken the same admonishment where her own toys/stuffed animals were involved, of which she deems her own babies.  He openly and regretfully agreed with her that there should never be any hitting and apologized again.  He told her that he was wrong to have used the towel and her head when he was upset that she wouldn’t respond.  She told him he whacked her.  He confirmed that he brushed the towel over her head out of anger and that if that seemed like a whack to her, then that was ok, and he should never ever do it.  He was also able to express to her the importance of her responding to her Mama and him (Papa) when she was spoken to. She agreed that she should and she explained that she was just playing. He reminded her that being given space to “just play” was important and that she had to remember to hear Mama/Papa and respond so that she could continue to have time to “just play”.

About two minutes later, they were holding each other and giggling. Both had learned a lot from the experience.  Both had grown.  Though I suspect she will likely be as distracted again in the future, and we will have to again talk about the value of responding when Mama/Papa call.  But perhaps, for a while (or longer) she will be more aware and more likely to respond.  (Something to note here, she generally responds mostly immediately, even if she is absorbed in play. I think her reluctance or maybe just delay, was due to the stress our home is shouldering right now.)

__________________

Today, my husband learned that the idea of no violence, none, really means none in heart, mind, or body.  No physical or emotional action as a reaction to any form of anger, irritation, injustice, impatience, etc… a reaction as a result of these is violence.  Action taken to address the cause of the anger, irritation, injustice, etc., can be done in love and patience (especially where a young child is the provoking entity) and with the complete absence of violence, thereby providing a complete safe and gentle environment, void of fear. This approach yields learning, trust, and growth.

I share this experience with you for two reasons, the first perhaps more obvious than the second. This experience vividly demonstrates the value of a complete void of violence when working with children. My husband’s new position has enabled him to be home and around our daughter much more frequently than he ever has been able to be.  He is still learning the ropes, learning how to interpret her, and learning the value of patience.  He is not a violent man, though his temper can flare just as anyone’s can.  He is patient and generally very endearing and kind hearted toward her (and everyone, actually).  But his reaction to what he perceived as insolence from her was one that was outside her safe boundary.  She is entirely unaccustomed to angry responses from either of her parents, in any form.  Even something as minimal and seemingly benign as this experience was interpreted by her as something she needed to first fear, and then feel wronged by.  Yet, she hesitated… and some might say out of reverence and respect.  I believe she hesitated to feel her natural reaction to being injured in spirit due to fear.  And this, from a child that has no comprehension of fearing her parents wrath… I cannot fathom what must go through the mind of a child who knows all too well what is their reality when they dare respond to those natural reactions that speak against disrespect and devaluing.  They know that their reality is one that will just become harder to bear, should they attempt to stand up for themselves.  This concept is one that is also shared and fully understood by those damaged by slavery and prejudice.

My daughter is entirely unaccustomed as to how to handle an angry outburst or reactionary lashout from either of her parents, because she’s just not been exposed and forced to learn to cope with such behaviors from us.  And you know what, I would have it no other way.  If she were used to such damaging behavior from us, not only would I be too shamed to show my face, but I would be in the depths of despair at my worthlessness, having damaged her so. Yes, there are times when I lose my temper, just as there are times when my husband does.  And believe me, I am no stranger to the self-imposed guilt session that follows my carelessness.  However, these times are so few and far between that my daughter just doesn’t have any idea what to do with herself when we behave so inconsiderately toward her.  She is so little… She will be forced to learn how to manage people with bad tempers and selfish lack of consideration for her value soon enough.  The least I can do for her in this area of her development is spare her from having to learn any earlier than the world would impose.  I hope by the time she has to cope with this dynamic, she will have experienced the absence of it so thoroughly in her own home that she will immediately recognize the behavior for the self-serving and pathetic excuse for maturity that it is, and reject it.

The other reason I wanted to share this experience with you is in hopes to raise your awareness and sensitivity on the value of the absence of violence in the home where children are introduced, as well as in our relationships, from the very beginning. My daughter is three years old and fully capable of expressing herself through verbal language. She is eloquent and articulate.  She let us know this morning, after she was no longer afraid, exactly what she felt, thought, and didn’t want to feel or have to think.

How many of us have acted out against our little ones, when they were much too young to use language to express what our actions have done to them?  If you are a follower of the Pearls’ methods, they have it well figured out, they have you “training” your BABIES (infants! No, I am not exaggerating) so that by the time they can actually speak, they won’t.  In all honestly, I can’t imagine any other adequately reliable way of breaking your children sufficiently to keep them from ever challenging what you cause them to feel than to have been broken before they had the faculties to respond in a manner that could be interpreted by the offending adult.  To that, I will add that even the tiniest of creatures DO actually respond to this sort of harm and damaging behavior from their primary caregiver, but most often, if that caregiver has been blinded to the extent that they believe what they are/have done is acceptable, they will not be aware of their child’s response as anything but mere insolence.  The Pearls have a built in response and method of dealing with this too.  More violence.  More and more until they break. Oh how I would like to spit in the face of the man that wrote the article I have linked to here.

Let the cycle of violence continue and humanity will be no better than it has ever been.  Evil and pain will prevail.

Cause this cycle to burst apart from the center, exploding into so many pieces that none can be retrieved well enough to regenerate and be reorganized into the return of the cycle… then is when humanity will be worthy of its title.

One Kid Spared.

In March of this year (2010), I began this blog.  I honestly expected a very limited audience and wrote primarily out of my own need to purge.  However, within the first week, 400 people had viewed the site.  A month later, Google was indexing the blog and that 400 a week sprang up to 400 a day.

9 months later, we have surpassed 5000 readers a week – on average there are 300 unique views of at least one entry per day.  Most of these viewers don’t stop at just one entry either.

What does this mean?  Perhaps it means that there is a chance that a few children are going to sleep tonight with a little less fear in the hearts, and fewer bruises on their body and soul.  Maybe it means a few less children will grow up damaged.  For these children, perhaps love and respect, honor and safety will prevail, and what could be worth more?

To date, I have received confirmation of 7 families who no longer choose to harm their children in the name of discipline and order.  To me, this is amazing and is all the incentive I need to keep writing. Confirmed means they communicate with me either via comments or direct email and our conversations include their choice to stop punishing and harming their children, in favor of raising them with love, respect, and admiration. They are actively choosing to stop damaging their kids, stop heaping guilt upon themselves due to the constant struggle and failure following the Pearls (etc..) brings, and stop hurting the little ones that hold our future, in the name of anything (order, good parenting, God).  These families are relearning how to be parents, how to be children, how to be a family that loves openly and encourages life and childhood to thrive genuinely and freely.

You keep me going.

The hope that even one child might no longer suffer under the damage and abuse is THE reason I write.  That which I experience personally when I actually learn that my hope has taken the shape of reality for one of these kids is beyond words.

Value of Our Right to Free Speech and the Entire Absence of Slavery

NGJ has just released a new email promo for a book called “Sudan”.
You can find out about it HERE.

My question is why.  What is in it for them?  In case you think I’m loony, to date, I have not once discovered anything they promote to not have some internal benefit to their pockets. They give stuff away free, but there’s always a tie – as if the damage left in the path of the freely distributed isn’t payment enough for them.

At any rate, in spite of the damage that the exercising of this right that this group routinely and widely practices, it is still better than the lack of that freedom.  The book discussed above is about slavery.

If you haven’t availed yourself of the education and information available on the evils of slavery, I might also suggest you take a few hours to explore the book found HERE.  You will be a better person for it.

________________________________________________

Here’s my thought for the day:  How similar to the life of a slave do some of us force our children to lead?  Given the practices of the Pearls and Ezzo’s, among others, I dare say that there are many, terrible similarities.

“Northerners know nothing at all about Slavery. They think it is perpetual
bondage only. They have no conception of the depth of degradation involved
in that word, SLAVERY; if they had, they would never cease their efforts until
so horrible a system was overthrown.”

Talk to me – tell me what reflections you might have on how many of the mindsets, teachings, and practices put forth by those who would promote and support the child raising techniques published by these groups.

Parenting, Aware. Childhood, Worth Remembering.

This is beautiful.  And alas, I surrender.  I permit you to label me.  Happily.  🙂

The 3 aspects of Aware Parenting

(French versionSpanish version)

Aware Parenting Consists of:

heartAttachment-style parenting
blue dotNatural childbirth and early bonding
blue dotPlenty of physical contact
blue dotProlonged breast-feeding
blue dotPrompt responsiveness to crying
blue dotSensitive attunement
heartNon-punitive discipline
blue dotNo punishments of any kind (including spanking, “time-out”, and artificial “consequences”)
blue dotNo rewards or bribes (based upon behavioral performance)  – Italicized content added by Angie for clarification
blue dotA search for underlying needs and feelings
blue dotAnger management for parents
blue dotPeaceful conflict-resolution (family meetings, mediation, etc.)
heartHealing from stress and trauma
blue dotRecognition of stress and trauma (including unmet needs) as primary causes of behavioral and emotional problems
blue dotEmphasis on prevention of stress and trauma
blue dotRecognition of the healing effects of play, laughter, and crying in the context of a loving parent/child relationship
blue dotRespectful, empathic listening and acceptance of children’s emotions

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The 10 principles of Aware Parenting

(French versionGerman versionSpanish version)

1. Aware parents fill their children’s needs for physical contact (holding, cuddling, etc.). They do not worry about “spoiling” their children.

2. Aware parents accept the entire range of emotions and listen non-judgmentally to children’s expressions of feelings. They realize that they cannot prevent all sadness, anger, or frustration, and they do not attempt to stop children from releasing painful feelings through crying or raging.

3. Aware parents offer age-appropriate stimulation, and trust children to learn at their own rate and in their own way. They do not try to hurry children on to new stages of development.

4. Aware parents offer encouragement for learning new skills, but do not judge children’s performance with either criticism or evaluative praise.

5. Aware parents spend time each day giving full attention to their children. During this special, quality time, they observe, listen, respond, and join in their children’s play (if invited to do so), but they do not direct the children’s activities.

6. Aware parents protect children from danger, but they do not attempt to prevent all of their children’s mistakes, problems, or conflicts.

7. Aware parents encourage children to be autonomous problem-solvers and help only when needed. They do not solve their children’s problems for them.

8. Aware parents set reasonable boundaries and limits, gently guide children towards acceptable behavior, and consider everyone’s needs when solving conflicts. They do not control children with bribes, rewards, threats, or punishments of any kind.

9. Aware parents take care of themselves and are honest about their own needs and feelings. They do not sacrifice themselves to the point of becoming resentful.

10. Aware parents strive to be aware of the ways in which their own childhood pain interferes with their ability to be good parents, and they make conscious efforts to avoid passing on their own hurts to their children.

Aware Parenting is based on the work of Dr. Aletha Solter. For more information, please see Dr. Aletha Solter’s books, The Aware BabyHelping Young Children Flourish, Tears and Tantrums, and Raising Drug-Free Kids

Copyright © 1994 by Aletha Solter

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Beginning the End of Violence

NVC is a “language of life” that helps us to transform old patterns of defensiveness and aggressiveness into compassion and empathy and to improve the quality of all of our relationships. Studying and practicing NVC creates a foundation for learning about ourselves and our relationships in every moment, and helps us to remain focused on what is happening right here, right now. Although it is a model for communication, NVC helps us to realize just how important connection is in our lives. In fact, having the intention to connect with ourselves and others is one of the most important goals of practicing and living NVC. We live our lives from moment to moment, yet most of the time we are on autopilot, reacting out of habit rather than out of awareness and presence of mind. By creating a space for attention and respect in every moment, NVC helps create a pathway and a practice that is accessible and approachable.

Four Components

  1. Observation: Observation without evaluation consists of noticing concrete things and actions around us. We learn to distinguish between judgment and what we sense in the present moment, and to simply observe what is there.
  2. Feeling: When we notice things around us, we inevitably experience varying emotions and physical sensations in each particular moment. Here, distinguishing feelings from thoughts is an essential step to the NVC process.
  3. Needs: All individuals have needs and values that sustain and enrich their lives. When those needs are met, we experience comfortable feelings, like happiness or peacefulness, and when they are not, we experience uncomfortable feelings, like frustration. Understanding that we, as well as those around us, have these needs is perhaps the most important step in learning to practice NVC and to live empathically.
  4. Request: To make clear and present requests is crucial to NVC’s transformative mission. When we learn to request concrete actions that can be carried out in the present moment, we begin to find ways to cooperatively and creatively ensure that everyone’s needs are met.

Two Parts

  1. Empathy: Receiving from the heart creates a means to connect with others and share experiences in a truly life enriching way. Empathy goes beyond compassion, allowing us to put ourselves into another’s shoes to sense the same feelings and understand the same needs; in essence, being open and available to what is alive in others. It also gives us the means to remain present to and aware of our own needs and the needs of others even in extreme situations that are often difficult to handle.
  2. Honesty: Giving from the heart has its root in honesty. Honesty begins with truly understanding ourselves and our own needs, and being in tune with what is alive in us in the present moment. When we learn to give ourselves empathy, we can start to break down the barriers to communication that keep us from connecting with others.

. . . A model for life enriching communication that can be highly effective in solving conflict with our family members, with our friends, with our coworkers, and with ourselves. The basic outline of the model is the following:

When I see that______________
I feel ______________
because my need for ________________ is/is not met.
Would you be willing to __________________?

Keep in mind that this is just a model, and that using this form and this language is not the most important aspect of NVC. In fact, as you practice more and learn more, you’ll begin to notice that all four of these components can be present in the complete absence of the form.

  • Throughout the course of the week, begin to notice how you are feeling, and when your needs are or are not met. Notice when you are acting with empathy and honesty in your relationships with yourself and with others, and begin to see the place for nonviolence in everyday existence.

What do you mean, “giving of ourselves”?

To me, giving of ourselves means an honest expression of what’s alive in us in this moment. It intrigues me why every culture asks upon greeting each other, “How are you?” It’s such an important question. What a gift it is to be able to know at any given moment what is alive in someone.

To give a gift of one’s self is a manifestation of love. It is when you reveal yourself nakedly and honestly, at any given moment, for no other purpose than as a gift of what’s alive in you. Not to blame, criticize, or punish. Just “Here I am, and here is what I would like.” This is my vulnerability at this moment. To me, that is a way of manifesting love.

And the other way we give of ourselves is through how we receive another person’s message. To receive it empathically, connecting with what’s alive in them, making no judgment. Just to hear what is alive in the other person and what they would like. So Nonviolent Communication is just a manifestation of what I understand love to be.

Nonviolent Communication came out of your desire to manifest love?

I was also helped by empirical research in psychology that defined the characteristics of healthy relationships and by studying people who were living manifestations of loving people. Out of these sources I pulled together this process that helped me to connect with people in what I could understand is a loving way.

Leu, Lucy. Nonviolent Communication: Companion Workbook. Encinitas, CA: PuddleDancer Press, 2003.

Rosenberg, Marshall. Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. Encinitas, CA: PuddleDancer Press, 2003.

You can get these resources through The Center for Nonviolent Communication (www.cnvc.org/bookstore).