Saturday, October 25, 2003
This blog is moving here. The new site will be dusty with construction for a while. :)
Friday, October 24, 2003
I’ve been participating in a thread regarding circumcision. I typically don’t participate in them; it would be hypocritical for me to do so. I believe one way (against routine infant circumcision) but did another.
5 years ago, I was researching this topic. Yes, I realize have an 8 year old son, but I didn’t know circumcision was a choice, an issue or something that required research. It was a given that we would circumcise him. I began researching because I was pregnant.
I wasn’t online during this time, so my research was in articles, books and in person. My husband’s 17 year old son was living with us.
It wasn’t a pretty, smooth or happy time in our home. I felt increasingly uncomfortable with circumcising our child. DH remained adamantly for it. He came from a place that was so deep, so heartfelt that it had an element and dimension I’ve not seen before or since.
This, from a man who supported and trusted me in terms of co sleeping, “extended” nursing, homebirth, vaccine choice and absolutely no sleep training. He even refrained from (too many) comments regarding my dietary changes. ;)
After many discussions, tears, and fights, I submitted that if we had a boy, we’d circumcise him. I then researched the best way to do that, and that’s what we did. My youngest son was circumcised by a mohel who is also a medical doctor, on the 8th day.
From a spiritual standpoint, I had to pray that I would not hate my husband, that I would not resent him and that I would not break down in tears every time I changed a diaper. I prayed for peace for both Mike and I and I prayed for safety for my son.
I soon got online at alternative communities. I saw many threads about circumcision that completely tore at my heart. I saw suggestions that moms who “gave in” were horrible mothers, fathers who believed in circumcision were wusses and shallow. I saw moms claim they would leave marriage over the issue and/or not have another child due to the issue.
What I have not seen, however, is an honest look at “the other side”. I do not believe that RIC is necessary, medically or otherwise. I think the overwhelming majority of stories where boys had to be circed at a later age are due to the fact that we live in a culture that still uses RIC. When a culture circs, circ becomes an easy option. When a culture circs, care of an intact penis (which is basically: do nothing) is not known.
I’ve read how men/fathers/husbands think with their penises, are selfish, and are immature. But, I’ve not seen an honest appraisal and mention of the fact that we live in a culture that *does* RIC.
My DH is going on 53 (sh! He’s convinced Larsen he stays 49). My DH grew up in a culture of RIC. He knows, in a deep way, the emotional experience of being a boy/man in our culture. He knows it in a way that I never will, never can. The truth is that penises matter among boys/men. How they look, their size, their shape. And, the truth is that it’s not “just” cosmetic. Experiences around such issues shape our boys/men.
When I was researching this issue, I had a book in the van about “40 Reasons to Not Circumcise Your Son”. My stepson took the van during this time and one of his (average, normal) 17 year old male friends found the book. Apparently the boys literally *tortured* my stepson emotionally all night long and for some time afterward. My step son is circed; it was the fact that his step mom had a book about it and was considering leaving her unborn son intact. This was in 1998. It hardly helped my assertion that the culture around intact penises was changing.
I wish we didn’t live in a culture that “needs” books like 40 Reasons to Not Circumcise. But, we do. And until the time that we don’t, I suggest we stop emasculating our men, husbands and fathers of our children.
If/when they react vehemently or even mildly to the suggestion that we leave our sons intact, let’s not dismiss them. Let’s not discount them. Let’s not condescend to them. Let’s not assume they are wrong.
Instead, let’s assume both sides are right. RIC is unnecessary, painful and cruel. Circumcision in a culture where RIC has been practiced for generations is understandably something families consider.
I’ve gotten plenty of incredulous “didn’t your DH want what is best for your son” questions over the years. The answer is: Yes. Yes, he did. We both did and still do. And, we were both “right” although we were on polar opposites regarding the issue. My DH wanted to circumcise our son *because* he wanted what was best – and my DH had an understanding of the issue that I never will. I had an objectivity he will never have but I’ve stopped assuming my objectivity was better than his coming from his men’s heart.
Does this mean that we should bow to cultural customs in our decisions? No. But, it does mean that we should include them as part of our decision making process. And it certainly means that we do not have to emotionally castrate our men who believe circumcision is best.
Recently, I read a thread about a 2 year old throwing a fit in a public place. The description of the fit seemed like a manipulative fit rather than an overwhelmed meltdown. Although I’d remove my child regardless of the origin. I read post after posts of (AP) moms who basically felt that other people in public places would have to “put up with” the “normal and age appropriate” behavior of their 2 year old.
My kids are past the AP tool years. I've been an active member of the online and IRL AP/alternative/natural parenting community for 8 years. I've seen and talked to hundreds of AP families.
During those years, I’ve seen AP either blamed or credited for the personality of the child. Some AP advocates are convinced AP creates kind, secure, happy babies and children. Critics claim it creates needy, self centered, out of control children. In reality, AP doesn't create any particular kind of child. It can soften the edges of some children, but in general, it neither creates nor prevents a brat.
I have to be honest and say that I have seen a significant percentage of permissiveness in the AP community. I think what happens is that after breastfeeding, co sleeping and slings are no longer sufficient to respond to the needs of a baby, we need an approach and a variety of discipline tools. Some parents get those tools, some do not. Some reject the need for discipline outright.
AP doesn't come with a discipline approach. Although I feel positive discipline flows naturally from an AP mindset, AP families don’t have a cohesive philosophy or paradigm for real discipline issues. I have seen neglect, abuse and everything in between in AP families.
I think we need to be careful to not be passive when our children need discipline. Age appropriate (a 2 year old throwing a fit) doesn't mean appropriate. ;) They need limits, rules and action. And while “the public” does need to be accommodating to the fact that children *are* children, parents also need to be responsive to the fact that “the public” should not have to listen to a screaming 2 year old.
Keeping in mind that I don't advocate punishment *at all*, I find that my standards of behavior for my children are very high.
Saturday, September 27, 2003
To Everything there is a Season
I just posted an introduction online. Over the years, I must have written a hundred or so of them. This one, however, was the first in which I didn't add that I was an attachment parent or somewhere on the "natural parenting" scale. No initials after my name: Joanne, CDing, S/D vax, HBing, ENing, NSing mom of 3. Nope - I didn't include any of that.
It's a function, I suppose, of several things. The ages of my kids being one. Although I know people feel differently, I think AP is largely a set of tools for babies and toddlers. While I think positive discipline flows naturally out of AP; it's not an inherent part.
I'm less defined by the AP-ness of my life. Although I that has been replaced largely by homeschooling. :)
I'm past the diapering, vaxing, birthing years. I'm nearly past the nursing and co-sleeping years. But, more importantly, I'm past the need to assert those choices aggressively or even proactively. I'm absolutely comfortable with those choices. Thrilled to have had the information to make them.
But, it's strange to be past the intensity of them.
Joanne, homeschooling mom to 3 great kids. I like to read and watch decorating shows.
Thursday, September 11, 2003
A Good Article on a Sad Topic
Here is one to send to Babywise or GKGW parents who are willing to read something outside of the cult.
Article the will be a chapter
I was asked by an author to combine my "How I stopped Yelling" and "How I became a Grace Based Parent" articles for her new book. Here is the result.
“God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called”. These words have been very present in my mind lately. They reflect accurately my journey towards becoming a grace based parent. Although I had a vague idea that I wanted a good, positive relationship with my children, I had few actual skills and resources to get there. I managed the infant months quite well. But when challenging, tiring and tedious toddler behavior began, I found myself increasingly at a loss.
I had prayerfully decided that spanking didn’t make sense for me and my children. With my husband’s support of this choice, I used the oft suggested “time out” in its place. Dutifully, I’d pick up my son, and place him on his bed for “time out” in response to inappropriate behavior. It didn’t seem to work. I re-considered spanking. I even used spanking on occasion. I was consistent, steadfast and diligent. I was also miserable. So was Andrew and he didn’t seem to be learning better behavior. Our enjoyment of our days decreased and frustration on both sides grew. I determined that spanking and time-out made my son act worse, not better. I felt I could not use time out more often or for longer as he was only two. As for spanking, even if it felt right to me, what was I supposed to do? Spank more? Spank harder?
One day, I looked desperately at my son and asked him “How can we make this better? What is the matter”? My brilliant 2 year old took my hand and walked me upstairs to his room. He proceeded to make the baby sign for “scared”. Scared? It was like an epiphany! He was not learning anything helpful or positive by my spanking him or putting him in time out. He was not thinking about what he had done wrong. He was just plain scared! Being alone or isolated was too stressful for him. I realized a scared, stressed child was not the best frame of mind to learn, to grow, or to do better. There had to be a better way.
At my point of surrender I prayed, and God led me to discover positive discipline- a kind, respectful and firm approach to discipline. As I began my journey from punitive to positive parenting, I read a lot of books. I surfed the internet. I watched. I experimented and I tried. I did great, and I failed at times, but Andrew started to feel better and act better. Overall, I was starting to feel good about my mothering. Until one day, I realized that I had fallen into another parenting black hole.
Although I had given up punishment, I had not yet developed many positive parenting skills of what to do instead. I thought that since I was not hitting, I was doing okay, but I had replaced hitting and time-out with yelling.
It’s humbling to admit that I didn’t realize my yelling was “that” bad. Nor did I realize how often and how loud I was yelling, until a friend who cared enough to tell the truth did just that. She told me my home sounded like her childhood home and though I was not yelling anything mean or shameful, my kids were still being affected by it.
I knew deep, deep down that she was right. I knew I needed help and support. I asked my dear friend if she would provide accountability in terms of yelling and 7 years later, she still asks me how I’m doing!
Positive parenting is not easy, nor is it for lazy parents. I discovered that to train my kids, I needed to be active, firm and quick. I learned to follow each command with action. “It’s time to go now” was followed with me steering my child towards his shoes. “It’s time to brush your teeth” was followed with handing my child his toothbrush. This rule became known as “Say it once and act” or “Joanne’s get-off-your-bottom rule” and it was very effective. It taught my kids that my words meant business. Eventually, of course, I didn’t need to “act” and my kids obeyed my words alone.
As my discipline approach matured and grew, I began to take a more proactive approach by incorporating Biblical character studies into our days. Additionally, discovering my children’s love languages, and studying their temperaments has provided me with understanding and direction in disciplining them.
My biggest fear, that non-punished children would become miserable to be around, never came to fruition. Instead, I found that graced based discipline is comprehensive and effective. My children are still a challenge, but they are cooperative, kind, and obedient. Our days are fun and organized. Establishing a routine proved to be a vital and wonderful discipline tool for me. It both minimized and prevented struggles.
Now discipline situations are not feared or stressed over. They present an opportunity to teach, to learn, and to connect. I’ve found that instead of breaking the trust and bond in our relationship, positive grace based discipline has enhanced it.
Monday, September 08, 2003
This Is It
I'm done being a woman of *this* size. More power to big women who are completely comfortable in "plus" sizes. I'm not.
I'm ready to lose the pounds that I don't need to carry anymore. More importantly, though, is that I'm ready to not have the bad eating habits that got me here.
I've danced with diets before. This time, I've settled on the South Beach Diet. I read about it a while back and recently finished the book.
It combines the best of "both worlds" in diet philosophy. It's not as extreme as some of the low carb regimins (although I fully believe some people need and thrive on them). Nor is it "Weight Watchers" - where I gained weight staying within points.
In my short lived diet experiments, I did discover that I need a low(er) carb diet-style. I need a significant amount of concentrated, meat based protein in order to be a non screaming maniac. :) I need, also, to avoid grains to a large degree.
Today is day one. Until I decide what to do with this blog, I'm going to post here about it.
V-8, 6 oz can of lower sodium juice
2 veggie quiche cups
Saturday, August 30, 2003
Raising Your Spirited Child
I read this article.
I wrote this response:
Your review of the book Raising Your Spirited Child is a poor one. It's widely popular because it offers answers and strategies to parents whose children fit Kurcinka's descriptions. It's usefulness is progressive; it's not a book meant to be read and then put on a shelf to gather dust. It supports a very active, involved parenting that must be refined and revisited often as the child grows.
I'll not address the ADD issue direct except to say that in your passion to be of support to ADD effected children and family members, you have lost the ability to be objective. You do not acknowledge the fact that some challenging children are in fact not ADD.
I find it unsettling that you dismiss and disparage the work and research that has proven to help thousands of families.
Kurcinka's book is an awesome resource; it's not a panacea and it's not presented as one. She encourages seeking outside medical evaluation and she gives some guidelines as to when that might be needed.
I kept it short, because otherwise I would have submitted my manuscript. ;) The more I think about it (which is too much, really) the more irritated I get with the author of the article. Her bias is apparent in very line of her article. RYSC is a book that can help the family of any "more" child, including ADD ones (whatever the real percentage is). RYSC calls parents out of passivity and into action.
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
I had the opportunity to answer the "real world" question (yet again) about reward/punishment in child rearing:
Ah, yes the "real world" arguement. My children are *in* the real world. Fortunately for all involved, I am not the police, the judge, the IRS, the government or the boss who pays them. I am their parent. I do not need to make my parenting decisions based on a relationship between adults in the real world.
The reward/punishment paradigm (aka behavior modification) can "work". However, I find its usefulness limited and it's motive creepy. I expect my kids to behave because it's the right thing. Not because they will get arbitrarily punished if they don't or rewarded if they do.
Many children parented outside the reward/punishment paradigm *are* in fact disciplined and held to a high standard. They are held accountable, develop self control and grow in accountability. I just see no reason to withold game boy or offer a lolipop in order to teach good behavior in the long term.
Lack of arbitrary punishment as a child does not equal permissivenss.