Adult privilege

Remember those memes that were going around (and still probably are) of all these rules dad had for dating his daughter? It rubbed me the wrong way because it clearly expressed archaic, unhealthy ways on how to respond when your daughter inevitably starts dating. I recently saw another one that showed a wonderful alternative, here.

Not only do both parents and partners have no say on what a woman does with her body, but this is the case for all young people, including men. There is definitely plenty of sexism in the idea that dad has some kind of co-CEO role in deciding who is good enough to date his daughter, but what is also missing is the larger role adult privilege has in this mindset as well.

People are so quick to tell other people to check their privilege regarding race, sex, or sexual orientation, but rarely will you see someone check their own adult privilege or encourage someone to do the same. I doubt most people even believe this exists. The idea that your dad has a say in who you date or marry is very demeaning to women. But it’s also equally demeaning to young people in general. No one should have to jump through your arbitrary, subjective hoops to be worthy to date your child. And there should be enough trust in your child that they can choose someone who will respect them on their own terms, not yours.

Ok, no easy feat, I know. But it’s certainly a great parenting goal to aspire to. My kids are not teens yet, so check on how stressed my DH and I will be in 10 years!

Labels

I follow a blogger who unschools her children and can best be described as a liberal Christian. I mostly like a lot of her pieces on spanking and children, as she advocates not using corporal punishment.

In one of her latest FB statuses, she says she read another post from a blogger that referred to her as an “AP blogger”. “AP” as in “Attachment Parenting”. She said this didn’t sit well with her because she doesn’t like labels and it causes people to pigeon-hole you.

Fair enough, I mostly agree. But only to an extent, because labels can be useful. For both children and adults, it helps to label things in order to make sense of your world. But with maturity and experience, you learn that people are complex beings and rarely fall neatly into categories. Unless they’re pod people.

I suppose the problem is that many adults never evolve to this line of thinking. So when one runs into these types, you have to give up control and not care what they think of you.

Also, some people are so in love with being different or thinking on another wavelength, that they become obnoxious.

“Don’t label me because I am sooooo singular and think out of the box!!”

I think this dweebishness happens when you, again, keep caring what people think of you. There is nothing wrong with being concerned about being clear on a given position to promote understanding. But after while, some people are going to think what they want to think about you. And that is their choice and responsibility.

Limp wrists? Crack ’em

Well, the day after Spank Out Day, during which I read so many encouraging posts about positive, respectful parenting, I got to listen to a nice sermon clip (insert irony) from a North Carolina pastor encouraging his flock (and other Christians I assume) to physically assault their children if they suspect they are gay.

And of course those suspicions are fueled by really stereotypical garbage like a boy “acting girlish” or a girl “acting butch”.

You know, if your son starts walking around with a limp wrist, `å la Jack Tripper, he advocates cracking that wrist.

And your daughter? She can play sports to the glory of God, but she’d better put some lipstick and a dress on (I assume not while playing sports)!

It’s bad enough that this advice has someone judging their child because they might be gay. It’s also bad enough that, if their child is gay, again, the stream of judgment.

But the worst part? The co-signing of wanton physical and emotional violence against someone, a defenseless child in this case, who isn’t going along with your program. Listen to the clip. The “amens” and laughter in response to what this dude is screaming about is chilling to me.

People want to blame everything under the sun for societal problems; video games, television, comic books, trashy novels, whatever.

But we really don’t have to look any further than our own homes.

When will people realize that the best chance your kid has of being a happy adult that tries to play well with others is having unconditional love and acceptance from the parental units? That this does not make them needy and dependent? That, in fact, the hitting, the head-games and the constant control will likely produce just that result? An angry, bitter, resentful adult who doesn’t know why he/she is angry, bitter and resentful all the time?

I just hope that some of the people in that audience will call bull on this insane advice and that they outnumber those who will blindly follow it.

 

On spanking

Whether or not to spank your kids is a hot topic. I’d say most Americans think spanking is okay. Many others consider it abuse. Some are on the fence.

I recently read a blog post from Demand Euphoria about this disconnect some have between kind of thinking spanking is ok…but kind of not….but kind of is…in extreme cases…

You get the drift. There is conflict.

I know how that feels. Both my husband and I were spanked. For me, by the time I came along my mom lost the desire to continue with this line of discipline because she said she hated it.

Mom did follow through on not spanking as much or for as petty reasons as her mother did (e.g. eye-rolling). But my grandmother’s perspective (she passed away earlier this year) also shifted in older age; she said many times that in retrospect, spanking did nothing to improve behavior.

We don’t want to think badly of our parents if in all other areas, they were kind to us. But, as the blogger from Demand Euphoria said, our parents are human and they just didn’t know any better. Thinking they were wrong for spanking, doesn’t mean you have to hate your parents.

International Babywearing Week 2011

#1 chillin in the Ergo and me, smiling really hard, in Cannon Beach, Ore.

 

This week is International Babywearing Week. I was very surprised to see there was not an Oregon chapter of Babywearing International. I know what you’re thinking…start one up yourself!

As far as I know, I am the first person in my family to babywear (and exclusively breastfeed, for that matter). When my #1 was born, we bought the obligatory Baby Bjorn. But as most parents know, your baby will grow out of that roughly five minute after they’re born. And your back will yell at you for the abuse being heaped upon it. I got a Moby Wrap, which I found is great for infants but for me, it got a bit cumbersome as the baby gets older (however, its still way more comfortable than a Baby Bjorn).

So when my son was about seven or eight months, we researched the best baby carriers and decided on the Ergo. Best investment ever. Awesome on the back and and you wear baby front, back and sideways. For a long time, I would walk #1 down to sleep for naps and night-sleeping in the Ergo. The same Ergo is still going strong for #2 (who is almost 6 months) who pretty much lives in it while I am doing things around the house (parenting #1, cooking, laundry, doing my hair, etc.). In fact, he is napping in it right now, as I am writing this.

There are plenty of other carriers that are good, too. Just depends on your preference.

Things like breastfeeding and babywearing are practices that folks in industrialized nations “rediscover” after abandoning it for decades (or even centuries). It’s definitely a step in the right direction, as our species has survived on raising our children like this for millions of years. But once our culture gets a hold of something, it inevitably gets commodified, like this article talks about regarding breastfeeding.

I hope more people discover the joys and advantages of babywearing this week. And maybe I should get started on that Oregon chapter…

Spirited Children

My worn library copy of the book

 

I just finished reading a book titled Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents whose child is more Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, Energetic by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka.

Both hubby and I are introverted. Hubby has studied Myers-Briggs extensively and by extension, I have developed an interest in it as well. We’ve already figured out that our #1 is extroverted. One of our main clues into that was the fact that he cannot play alone for long periods.

I hear of other parents saying their kids can do stuff alone for hours…I don’t know what that is.

Set him up with some paper+crayons? Or legos? Or painting? Or playdoh? We’re talking 10-15 minutes, tops, playing with any of these things. And we have to play with him. For introverts, this can be very draining since we get our energy from being alone.

But in addition to that, his tantrums and frustration events are very intense, he reacts dramatically to new places/people (but when he is warmed up, he’s exuberant), and an extreme picky eater. People call children like this “difficult”, but Kurcinka says these are some of the features of spirited children.

The five spirited traits (intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent, energetic) are actually present in all children; but, as Kurcinka says, spirited children possess them in much higher quantities.

One excellent point Kurcinka made was that most people admire spirited traits in adults. The energetic go-getter who dances to the beat of his/her own drum, who questions everything, whose persistence pays off in some way. Could be be becoming the founder of some business that will become a household name. Or as simple as not being vulnerable to peer pressure or always questioning authority.

Reading this book reinforced my desire to support my children as they are, rather than trying to change them into something I want them to be. And this is difficult. It’s way easier to yell, spank and scare them into submission. Constructing boundaries while trying not to be overly controlling or disrespectful takes more time and creativity. And both can be in short supply while living this fast-paced culture.

 

Roomies

Somehow my husband and I just fell into attachment parenting.

From our decision to exclusively breastfeed, sprung the desire to find ways of rearing our children in a way that will yield the least emotional damage possible. No spanking, no shaming, no threats, etc.

So part of AP is co-sleeping. Our #1 son, who is three, has been sleeping with us since he was 7 month old. Before that, I tried the crib thing (in our room) and after one night of no sleep, I put him in our bed and he’s slept like a dream since (naps were another matter, however). So we’ve all been roomies for almost 3 years.

Now, our #2 son is 4 months old. The four of us co-sleeping doesn’t work because #1 sleeps like he is fighting off a pack of hyenas in his dreams. So #2 and I slept in the twin and SO and #1 were in the king. But the last three nights we’ve put #1 in his room.

He doesn’t like it.

Oh, he’ll stay in the bed. After lots of stories and talking. Once or twice in the night he may cry. SO will console him and he will go back to sleep.

But he says, “I want to sleep in the big bed.”

We say, “Do you like your own bed?”

He says, “I may cry.”

Meaning, he may get upset because he doesn’t want to be by himself. He told my SO this last night and to me today when we talked.

We told him we understood. We’re going to brainstorm to see how we can have a solution everyone will like. We’ve tried the toddler mattress on the floor of our bedroom, but he is getting a bit tall for it now and he doesn’t seem to like it.

In fact, I think the reasons he has been accommodating to the point he has in sleeping in his room is because:

1. he naps there during the day

2. It’s actually rather cozy in there (way better than sleeping on a mattress on the floor)

What’s missing is being with mom and dad at night.

We’ll see what we can work out.