This means not allowing your child to go down the wrong road that could lead to a premature death. This has absolutely nothing to do with actual crying as Dobson and many other Christian advocates of spanking believe! Children need limits. We wouldn’t let a toddler run out in the street to be run over by a car. But instead of spanking the toddler, we should firmly tell the toddler that the street is dangerous, and then show the toddler the safe way to cross the street holding onto Mommy or Daddy hands. Does hitting a toddler really teach him or her why the street is dangerous and how to be safe? No! It teaches them that danger makes Mommy and Daddy hurt me. That Jesus wants me to be hurt when I’m in danger. Remember, young children cannot make abstract connections like adults can.
From the naturalchild.org website
Emotions are Not Bad Behavior by Robin Grille
Excerpted from Heart to Heart Parenting
A Child’s Right to Receive Attention
One of the most commonly heard parental laments is about how children try to get attention. So many behaviors that adults don’t like are brushed off as “merely” attention-seeking devices. “Don’t worry about him,” we say, “he is just doing it to get attention.”
When children use oblique ways to get attention, such as causing a ruckus, exaggerating or feigning their hurts, picking on other children, showing off, being coquettish – they risk being ignored or put down, as nearby adults roll their eyes in exasperation. Sometimes, this also happens to children even when they directly and openly call for the attention they crave. Instead of scorning the child, why don’t we ask these questions: When a child is being manipulative, instead of direct, how did he learn to do this? How did he come to feel that he shouldn’t openly ask for a hug, an answer to his question, sympathy or just to be noticed or played with?
All children begin their lives with complete frankness about their needs. Babies and toddlers reveal their longings with no compunction: what you see is what you get. If a child reaches out for attention and for warmth and she gets it, her ability to be open and directly assertive is reinforced. By begrudging our children’s healthy attention-seeking behaviors, we unwittingly train them to be indirect. We leave them little room for much else, so they go for the attention they need and deserve through the back door.
We unwittingly train our children to be indirect.
Our society tends to consider children’s needs for attention as a bother. No wonder children become indirect attention seekers, some even going to great lengths to fall ill or get injured in order to be noticed. Children who have too often been denied attention can become insatiable, as if no amount of limelight ever fills their cup. Attention is life-giving, a basic need and a human right. Children deserve all the attention they want.When you wholeheartedly give a child the attention she asks for from the beginning, she soon has her fill. This is precisely what helps her to become more autonomous. As she grows, she asks for less of your attention (research shows that well-attached babies grow into children who are more independent), and when she does want attention, she asks directly, boldly and clearly.
Punished for Feeling
Time and time again children are heavily reprimanded for committing the offence of crying or being angry. Let’s get this straight: emotions are not bad behavior. Emotions don’t hurt anyone. Suppressing children’s emotions does, on the other hand, cause them harm: over time, if done repeatedly, it unbalances their brain chemistry, it stresses their immune and digestive systems, and it undermines their ability to relate to others.
Emotional censorship starts early. One of the most common things we say to a crying baby is “Shhh!” We say it soothingly, but why exactly do we shush them? Think of all the lullabies that start by telling our little babies to “hush”, and “don’t you cry”. Have you ever paused to wonder why, in trying to comfort our babies, we ask them to be quiet? It seems as if the first thing we want is for the crying to stop – instead of connecting with our baby until the reason for crying has gone.
Attention is a basic need and a human right.
Instead of berating your child for feeling her feelings, give her the space to feel, and comfort and support her if she needs it. Sometimes when our children cry, sob or yell in anger we feel overwhelmed, irritated or burdened. Our children don’t deserve the blame for this. When our child’s emotions press our buttons, we need to own the problem. We need to somehow honor our own need for support or rest without making our children responsible.
What Does Listening Mean?
The listening I am talking about here is not just about receiving and storing information, not just about remembering what your child said. I am talking about listening with your heart, not just with your ears. Real listening is all about feelings. All you need to be a good listener is a genuine interest in your child’s emotional world. When you truly want to hear, no special skill is needed. Your child senses your interest in the tone of your voice, in your body language and the look in your eyes. You know you have listened when you feel moved. You might feel compassion, protectiveness, you might feel some pain about your child’s hurts, pride or excitement about his achievements, or joy to meet his joy. Listening means letting yourself feel touched somehow, and being aware of the feelings that move through you.
Real listening is all about feelings.
What Listening is Not
Sometimes listening comes easy. You find yourself intently listening in stillness, without even having decided to, and there is a wonderful and natural flow between you and your child. But sometimes listening can be hard. Our children’s emotions spark off our own, and in discomfort we turn away, or we try to talk them out of their feelings. Whether it’s because we cannot bear to see our children in pain or because they are freely feeling something that we were never allowed to express – anger, joy, sadness, fear, passion – we block them out, we nip the connection in the bud.
Anyone can be a profoundly good listener.
I remember the embarrassment many of us felt as students of counseling psychology as we awkwardly practiced our listening skills together in the classroom, how often we appeared to be listening, while inside we were miles away, disengaged from the person speaking to us. It was often funny, and always quite confronting, to ask ourselves and each other: Are you listening right now, or just nodding your head a lot while you wait for your turn to speak? Are you actually listening, or sitting in judgment? Are you really listening, or just taking mental notes and storing facts? Are you listening, or just thinking about how you can change me?
How often we tell ourselves we are listening intently when in fact our minds are wandering elsewhere. It is unlikely that consistently good listeners exist. For most of us, good listening is a skill that comes and goes with our fluctuating moods. All counselors, psychologists and anyone in the helping professions are imperfect (and sometimes lousy) listeners, and we should be honing our listening capacity for the rest of our lives. It is humbling to note that anyone can be a profoundly good listener without any training whatsoever, since all it takes is an open heart and an interest in the other person.
It’s a fact of human relationships that our capacity for listening is elusive; we lose it, we regain it, we lose it again. Sometimes it is hard to see whether we are listening so that our children really feel heard. We kid ourselves. We think we are listening when really we are avoiding contact – and then we are bewildered by and surprised at our child’s frustration. It can be very useful to get a clear picture of what is listening and what is not. When our own fears, our shame, our jealousies or our emotional exhaustion get in the way, we tend to play some pretty clever games to deflect our children’s communications so that their feelings won’t touch us. One of the biggest reasons we avoid listening is because our children’s disappointments make us feel guilty. Our evasive tactics are called “empathy blockers”. Empathy blockers save us the trouble of listening, but they cost us our connection with each other.<
Our children’s disappointments make us feel guilty.
Sometimes we use empathy blockers inadvertently because we are anxiously trying to save our children from emotional pain. Ironically, the greatest salve for our children comes from being heard, not from us trying to change how they feel. For all of these reasons, we all use empathy blockers from time to time, quite automatically and unconsciously. You could say we are all quite skilled at blocking. Here are some of the most common examples used when children become emotional:
EMPATHY BLOCKER EXAMPLES
Downplaying Oh, don’t cry. I’m sure it’s not that bad! It’s not the end of the world.
Denial There is nothing wrong; nothing for you to be upset about. Everything is OK.
Reasoning Don’t cry. Can’t you see that the other child didn’t mean to hurt you?
The positive spin Look on the bright side. Can’t you see, this probably happened for a good reason?
Cheering up Don’t worry. Here, let me tell you something funny I heard the other day. Here, have an ice cream. That’ll cheer you up.
Advising/giving options Why don’t you try doing this, or that? I think you should just ignore that so-and-so.
The expectation You should have known better. Get over it. Don’t let it get to you.
Put down Don’t be silly. Don’t be ridiculous.
Diagnosing/labeling You are being over-sensitive.
Distracting/diverting Hey, have a look at the pretty puppet.
Stealing the thunder Now you know how I felt when the same thing happened to me.
As you can see, on the surface most empathy blockers are not malicious, they are not ostensibly attempts to shame the child, and sometimes they can even be well intentioned, but they do not help the child to feel heard and connected to you. It might seem surprising, even bewildering, to hear that when you try to cheer up a child who is upset, this can often backfire – she might even feel more distressed, even angry. This is because she feels that her feelings are not accepted when what she actually needs is support for feeling the way she does. If this is hard to understand, then think of the last time you felt deeply upset, offended or anxious and someone told you to lighten up. How did that make you feel?
Empathy blockers leave anyone on the receiving end feeling shut out and frustrated, and as if there must be something wrong with them for feeling the way they do. Our children just want to be heard. Take a few moments to check this out for yourself. Have you ever heard yourself use one, a few or perhaps even all of the above empathy blockers with your child? How did your child respond? Can you imagine what you could have done instead? Now, in case you’re tempted to become self-critical, remember: we all put up barriers to listening from time to time. Those of us who teach others about empathy blockers know them too well because we’ve used them so much ourselves.
By the way, not all of the responses in the table above are always inappropriate. There sometimes is a place for advice or a helpful opinion, but unless we take the time to hear our children’s feelings first, advice comes too soon and it alienates our child from us. Before jumping in with advice, we need to ask our children if they want it. The most important thing for us to get is that primarily, our children just want to be heard. First and foremost they want evidence that they are not alone, that someone sees how they feel and cares about them. This makes more of a difference than all the advice in the world.
Empathy blockers really muddy the connection between parents and children; they create detachment and distance, and they frustrate children’s attempts to reach out. The more we use empathy blockers, the less our children are inclined to come to us with their feelings, the less they want to tell us about their lives and the less they want to listen to us. When we are concerned that our children don’t listen to us, perhaps we need to take an honest look at how well we have listened to them.
Listening is at the heart of connection.
It is sad when blocked empathy diminishes our sense of closeness with each other, and particularly worrisome when our children feel lost or in some kind of trouble but don’t turn to us for help. Our children’s trust in us is a function of how safe they feel to open up to us without feeling manipulated, expected of, judged, put down or criticized. Listening is at the heart of connection, and if we can’t listen well, we cease to be an influence in our children’s lives.
Excerpted from Heart to Heart Parenting with permission of the author. It is available in Australia through ABC Bookstores. The USA edition will be available in May 2011 and can be pre-ordered now at Amazon.Robin Grille is a Sydney-based psychologist and author of Parenting for a Peaceful World. He has a private practice in individual psychotherapy and relationship counseling, and can be contacted by email at robingrille (at) gmail (dot) com . More Articles by Robin Grille
Effects of Emotional Abuse
Reposted from here – Please, take a moment to read and visit the originating site.
Many of us who have every good intention toward our children may find the need to re-evaluate the environment their children are developing in. With grace and patience for oneself and others, honestly reflect on what is written here and in your own home.
The ultimate goal here is to give our children an environment that honors, respects, and builds up. To never diminish. To love and cherish, without condition. And to do so wholly and in action, not simply intent.
HOW DOES EMOTIONAL ABUSE HURT?
The effects of emotional abuse are often silent. Verbal and psychological wounds leave a child forever changed. Emotional abuse is often overlooked, unnoticed or confused with other causes.
Emotional child abuse attacks a child’s self-concept. The child comes to see him or herself as unworthy of love and affection.
The wounds of maltreatment, in children who are shamed, I can’t believe you embarrassed me like this!,” humiliated, “You idiot!,” terrorized, “You’re really gonna get it now!” or rejected, “Go to your room!” are as equally significant, although seemingly invisible and harder to recognize or quantify than the wounds of the worst physical and sexual abuse.
An infant who is being deprived of emotional nurturing, connection and bonding through close contact, even though physically well cared for, can fail to thrive.
Less severe forms of early emotional deprivation still can produce drastic effects of emotional abuse such as babies who grow into anxious andinsecure children who are slow to develop and who may fail to develop a strong sense of self-esteem.
Other types of abuse are usually noticed because marks or other physical evidence is left, however, signs of emotional abuse can be very hard to define.
In some instances, the effects of emotional abuse are so subtle that an emotionally mistreated child may show no outward signs of abuse. For this reason, emotional abuse is the most difficult form of child maltreatment to identify and stop.
This type of abuse leaves hidden scars that manifest themselves in numerous ways.
Insecurity, poor self-esteem, destructive behavior, angry acts such as fire setting or cruelty to animals, withdrawal, poor development of basic skills, alcohol or drug abuse, suicide and difficulty forming relationships can all be possible results of emotional abuse.
Emotional child abuse can result in other more serious psychological and/or behavioral problems. These include depression, lack of attachment or emotional bond to a parent or guardian, low cognitive ability and educational achievement and poor social skills.
One study which followed emotionally abused children in infancy and then again during their preschool years consistently found them to be “angry, uncooperative and unattached to their primary caregiver.” These children more often also lacked creativity, persistence and enthusiasm.
The effects of emotional abuse in children who experience rejection demonstrate that they are more likely than accepted children to exhibit hostility, aggressive or passive-aggressive behavior, to be extremely dependent, to have negative opinions of themselves and their abilities, to be emotionally unstable or unresponsive, and to have a negative perception of the world around them.
Parental verbal aggression (e.g., yelling, insulting) or symbolic aggression (e.g., slamming a door, giving the silent treatment) toward children can have serious consequences.
Children who witness abuse in relationships or emotional spousal abuse demonstrate higher rates of physical aggressiveness, delinquency and interpersonal problems than other children. Children whose parents are additionally physically abusive are even more likely to experience such difficulties.
Children who see or hear their mothers being abused
are victims of emotional abuse.
Growing up in such an environment is terrifying and severely affects a child’s psychological and social development. Male children may learn to model violent behavior while female children may learn that being abused is a normal part of relationships. This contributes to the intergenerational cycle of violence.
The consequences of emotional child abuse can be serious and long-term. Emotionally abused children may experience a lifelong pattern of depression, estrangement, anxiety, low self-esteem, inappropriate or troubled relationships, or a lack of empathy.
As teenagers, they find it difficult to trust, participate in and achieve happiness in relationships, and resolve the complex feelings left over from their childhoods. As adults, they may have trouble recognizing and appreciating the needs and feelings of their own children and emotionally abuse them as well.
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.
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…
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
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!”
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.
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.
Yes, that is what I said. Disobedience doesn’t exist in our house.. and yes there is a child in our house. You don’t believe me. I know. I’ll explain.
By definition, obedience is as follows:
1. The act of obeying, or the state of being obedient; compliance with that which is required by authority; subjection to rightful restraint or control. Government must compel the obedience of individuals.
2. Words or actions denoting submission to authority; dutifulness.
3. A following; a body of adherents; as, the Roman Catholic obedience, or the whole body of persons who submit to the authority of the pope.
Do I hope my child will grant me what I ask of her?
Do I want her to behave in a way consistent with what I have (hopefully) shown her as considerate behavior?
Am I of the opinion that I should attempt to maintain harmony by exhibiting healthy boundaries and giving her the necessary tools, from the moment of birth, to enable her to interact in her environment with ease?
Do I expect obedience? No.
Do I expect compliance? When necessary for safety or sanity, only.
Will I routinely explain my reasons behind the expectations, boundaries, guidance, and requests? With every sentence I speak, with every expectation or request I communicate, I do indeed offer the “rest of the story” for her to ponder and become aware of.
Why do I do this? First, because it is what I would hope of another person causing the same constraints to come over me. Second, I believe my choice to provide her full, detailed explanations of her world gives her the opportunity and option to ascertain for herself what she will take in. Therefore, even in compliance, she exercises her free will. It is in this honoring of her autonomy, she will build her self esteem, increase her intelligence, and improve her emotional confidence and stability. If she does not choose compliance when necessary, she will, by default, still increase her wisdom, improve her ability to interact on an emotional plane, and will, in fact, build her confidence and self image… and if she refuses, she’ll learn she must substantiate that choice with reasons within her own mind that compel her opposition.
She also learns that her actions always have a result. If her choice results in a situation where she must build her patience, she gains. If her choice engages others, she will observe their responses and the result is she grows. If her choice results in the need for her to tend to an effort, she develops focus and stamina – and in all likelihood, enhances her imagination powers.
We have chosen to walk alongside our child, as a partner and guide when useful, and encouraging her to grow within the parameters of her own determining. We believe that a human choosing compassion, respect, consideration, and generosity has much value.
Retelling here, a story that illustrates the value of not causing blind obedience to be the driving force in your home. Let’s take a look at the massacre in My Lai, Vietnam.This horrifying display of blind submission resulted in the slaughter of an entire village in Vietnam; nearly 500 people were killed.
The troops sent into the village were expecting a battalion of Vietcong forces but were instead presented with a village of women, elderly men, and children. The company had been previously instructed to kill anyone they encountered and proceeded to do so, with a few lapses in their blind faith. The leader of the company, an inexperienced captain by the name Calley, was later tried for the murder of 107 unarmed civilians. He blamed his actions on the blind compliance that members of the United States forces are expected to give their superior officers. He described the concept as a ‘shoot first, complain later’ process. His actions, although explicitly illegal by the law of the United States service, seemed completely appropriate to him. He was merely obeying a senior officer, an action repeatedly drilled into the heads of American troops.
Our education system is not far off in requiring and thereby creating humans who do not think for themselves. Children are conditioned not to question the authorities, the routine, the expectations, or the assignments they are given. They are expected to blindly accept that ‘adults know best’. This typical shepherd leading the sheep routine results in a completely disinterested society and a youth that is inactive and dependent.
So, how is it that we have no disobedience in our house? Because there is no opportunity for it to occur: obedience is not an expectation. My daughter has the space to choose her path, and her parents hold the willingness to allow her the space to experience the results of those choices. It’s not about who’s boss and who is inferior in our home. It’s not a hierarchy here. It’s about mutual respect, love, and exploration of life. It’s growing in courage, confidence, and stability… It’s trusting the process.
As she grows, we will grow with her. Through communication and empathic awareness, we will all experience and develop, and the results of choices we each make will shape us. We will continue to impart the value of compliance in certain scenarios, where the cause for compliance, and the result of compliance is positive, rooted in respect, and brings enhancement to one’s life. We will also communicate the value of knowing oneself, by demonstrating the value we hold independently for ourselves. Believing and asserting that each of us, and our perspectives, is equally worthy. And imparting, with great hope, a deep sense of discernment for what is just, what is honorable, and above all, what is compassionate.
The resounding benefit is simple: Regardless of her choices, she learns, and her wisdom increases. So does ours.
This morning my almost three year old found the “pupcake” pan.
Well, it was empty and therefore needing filling, and what better way to complete that task than to find a bunch of little things to sort into the empty cups!
We decided on rocks, as we have a large amount of them currently in what we are calling our backyard (that is all rock).
Bugs and I went out on a hunt for the most interesting, most lovely, most colorable rocks. A few minutes later, she had a basket (actually it was Kevin’s nest – Kevin is her most favorite bird) full of “interesting treasure” to sort into the 18 or so cups awaiting her attention.
Two hours later, still interested in this activity, she decided to put all the rocks on the floor and declare the pan’s need to be empty, from there on, and for the rest of the day. “It’s tired of the treasure rocks”, she explained.
Another 30 minutes or so, and about 1/2 dozen “oh!”, “ouch!”, and “yeeeawww’s!” later, I asked Bugs to clean up the rocks and told her that I’d help, and that my feet and knees just couldn’t take it anymore. She was watching Oswald (the blue octopus) and sorta half way acknowledged me.
I muted the tv and asked her to tell me what she’d heard me communicate. “Your knees and my treasure don’t have enough room for each other in this spot.”
A moment or two later, I knelt down next to where she was standing and started to pick up a few of the rocks. As I began, I said, “Bugs, are you going to help me pick up these rocks?”
“Yep!”, she chirped, while dropping to the floor to begin gathering.
We made it a game of “Bugs has amazing spy eyes that can see little, teeny rocks MUCH better than Mama;s eyes can”, and she found quite a few I missed, in fact.
Through this experience, she was able to become aware of the value of cleaning up after scattering the rocks everywhere. She learned she has a great eye for noticing little things. She also remembered that when she focuses on something, she succeeds at what she intends to accomplish.
She was happy to see the rocks had returned to their homes and felt no disappointment at the dismantling of her collection (is this encouraging a respect for the environment, at a very early and simple level?).
Win, Win, and Win. Can’t beat that.
The pan survived, and that’s a light house rock, by the way.