|May 15, 2013||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
Excerpts from Children Talk But No One Listens from s.e. smith:
The sentiment ‘better seen than heard’ reflects a larger social attitude of the value of children’s voices, namely that they have none. Children should remain silent, and they are ‘good’ when they’re quiet, but ‘bad’ when they are not, because they are disturbing the adults and causing trouble. This attitude runs through the way people interact with children on every level, and yet, they seem surprised when it turns out that children have been struggling with serious medical problems, or they’ve been assaulted or abused.
The most common response is ‘well why didn’t the child say something?’ or ‘why didn’t the child talk to an adult?’ Adults constantly assure themselves that children know to go to a grownup when they are in trouble, and they even repeat that sentiment to children; you can always come to us, adults tell children, when you need help. Find a trusted adult, a teacher or a doctor or a police officer or a firefighter, and tell that adult what’s going on, and you’ll be helped, and everything will be all right.
The thing is that children do that, and the adults don’t listen. Every time a child tells an adult about something and nothing happens, that child learns that adults are liars, and that they don’t provide the promised help. Children hold up their end of the deal by reporting, sometimes at great personal risk, and they get no concrete action in return. Sometimes, the very adult people tell a child to ‘trust’ is the least reliable person; the teacher is friends with the priest who is molesting a student, the firefighter plays pool with the father who is beating a child, they don’t want to cause a scene.
Children are also told that they aren’t experiencing what they’re actually experiencing, or they’re being fussy about nothing. A child reports a pain in her leg after gym class, and she’s told to quit whining. Four months later, everyone is shocked when her metastatic bone cancer becomes unavoidably apparent. Had someone listened to her in the first place when she reported the original bone pain and said it felt different that usual, she would have been evaluated sooner. A child tells a teacher he has trouble seeing the blackboard, and the teacher dismisses it, so the child is never referred for glasses; the child struggles with math until high school, when someone finally acknowledges there’s a problem.
This attitude, that children shouldn’t be believed, puts the burden of proof on children, rather than assuming that there might be something to their statements. Some people seem to think that actually listening to children would result in a generation of hopelessly spoiled brats who know they can say anything for attention, but would that actually be the case? That assumption is rooted in the idea that children are not trustworthy, and cannot be respected. I’m having trouble understanding why adults should be viewed as inherently trustworthy and respectable, especially in light of the way we treat children.
Treating children well, treating them as people, and being part of the solution in creating a world where they have a place involves allowing children to speak, listening when they do, and believing what they say.
|March 25, 2013||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
I cannot seem to track down my inspiration for this idea, so I can’t attribute it. But, we had a great time! Dylan liked moving the paint around, and I liked that there was no mess!
All you have to do is drop some paint globs down into a Ziploc bag, tape it up to the window, and then (if you have my kid!) sit nearby to make sure un-taping it doesn’t become more interesting than the “painting”.
|March 20, 2013||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
The cover does promise a lot. Dieting for kids? Autism? Bribes? Let’s go!
- Germs in your mouth
- Scissor injuries
- Infections under your bandaid
- Grandmas who haven’t kept up on safety fads (Ooh! Scary grandma!)
- Carrying your kids on the stairs
- HFCS – Astonishingly this page never mentions “obesity”.
- Kidnapping – Actual quote: “These days kids get kidnapped every day. If they were on a leash maybe they’d stand a chance.” Okay, seriously? Kids who are in the leash age-range are, what? 1-4? And a leash implies that it’s a time when they should be by a parent’s side, not, say, at school. So, how many times in the US has a 1-4 year old kid been kidnapped when they were supposed to be standing near their parent? I’m going to go with NEVER. If you can dig up one I’m gonna give you a COOKIE. And this quote would still be dumb!
- In more than one place, they printed some tweets. Printing tweets is when you know you’re a loser. (See also: CNN)
- There’s an interview with a blogger. Okay, fine.
- There are 4 stories pulled entirely from Facebook comments.
- There’s a ”hot on Pinterest” section. You know what else is hot on Pinterest? Being on Pinterest.
How many ways can you signal your irrelevance?
This Month In Fat Hate: Oh my god. Apparently this was the We Hate Fat People issue. The VERY FIRST piece of “letter from the editor”-style content shames the author’s fat family and talks about how we can never give up trying to get rid of fat kids. Fuck you, “Ana Connery, content director”. how about your direct some content that doesn’t shame, stigmatize, and oppress your readers?
There’s a little inspo piece about Jillian Michaels adopting a baby from Haiti. Simply printing her name and giving her a platform is a form of fat-hate. In case you’re not familiar with her, Jillian Michaels hates fat people for a living (see: The Biggest Loser). Was this adoption story supposed to be sweet? Instead, it just shows that she’s not just a fat-hating bitch, she’s also a white saviour, baby-snatching racist. Probably not the effect they were going for.
Fuck you to Shawn Bean, too. He’s written a “humor” column that outright calls for more judgment of the bodies of men while equating fat with health and fat with food. This same dude later on makes fun of his kids’ musical efforts. Way to go, dad. You might be skinny, but you’re an asshole.
Then there’s an article called “Should I put my Kid on a Diet”? The article reads, “No,” and then you turn the page for the next article.
Haha, just kidding.
The first line is “Our culture teaches us that there is little worse than being fat.” By “our culture” don’t you mean “our magazine”, Parenting? I mean, you featured Jillian Michaels, and then you had an article explicitly saying that dads should be thinner. You are the problem!
This article starts off with “epidemic” and fear mongering about fat kids, fat toddlers, fat babies OMGWTFBBQ! then asks you to focus on things “that work”. Oh, good. Get back to us when you’ve figured out what those are! You can plop down some same-old-same-old advice in your little list, but that doesn’t mean these things “work”. Have you READ any diet studies? Have you READ the ones that focus on interventions with children? No? Yeah. I could tell.
I literally felt ill reading “A Letter to My Fat Child” in which an anonymous parent calls her child a “reverse avalanche”, accuses her of sneaking food, and admits to lying about the availability of the swimsuit the kid wanted. Congratulations, you’re a horrible parent. And every single person who works at Parenting who touched that shit and didn’t put up a fuss about printing it is a horrible person.
Bad Science: Amongst all the other anti-fat-kid suggestions is the one that all you have to do is deny your kid the afternoon goldfish snack and there won’t be any more fat kids. What an idiotic representation of already biased science.
Other People Who Don’t Need to be Cured: The Autism article features “epidemic”, “puzzle”, “cure”, and shout outs to Autism Speaks, an organization that DOES NOT speak for the autistic people I listen to. It’s funny (not funny) how no one is allowed to just BE. Maybe nothing needs to be “cured” about people with autism. Maybe they don’t need to sit in daily training sessions with people forcing them to make eye contact. Maybe they don’t need huge organizations focused on parents of kids with autism instead of focusing on actual people with autism.
Underachiever: 5 pages of themed birthdays? In case you have too much time on your hands and are a serious show off? Yeah, let me get right on sewing robes for my kid’s Harry Potter birthday party.
Sex: Oh dear. I’m not sure a mainstream mag should be advising me on “sexting”. They remind you to delete the trail when you’re done, and then they recommend sending your partner steamy texts like, “My mom says she can take the girls for a playdate this weekend,” or “Thinking about last night…XOXO.” I think I just died of an orgasm, right here while reading this. This is just the thing my sex life needs. Joshua’s not going to know what hit him.
The other half – ADS:
There’s never much real content in these magazines, and Parenting is looking even more flimsy these days. I take an ad tally as I read. I only count full or half page ads.
6 ADS for healthist stuff. This is “nutrition”, weight-cycling, “fitness”, etc.
4 ADS for harmful baby stuff.
- Similac has some new ingredient that makes it more like breast milk. You know what has had that ingredient all along? Fucking breast milk. You know what currently has the ingredient Similac is going to add next year? Also breast milk!
16 ADS in the Beauty/Cleaning category, also known as “The world is scary!” or “There’s something wrong with you! (or your kid!)”
- There’s a Lysol ad that tries to coin the word “Healthing”, because why shouldn’t fucking Lysol get in on the health obsession. You might think you’re killing germs, but it’s not healthing until you’re 100000% sure.
- The Orajel advertised itself as gluten-free and dairy-free. Is that normally a problem with toothpaste? Or are those the cool codewords required in all advertising now?
- An Always ad tells me that “odor protection isn’t just for underarms”. The ad shows a woman who’s been picked up by a man and tossed over his shoulder, putting his face 6 inches from her ass. How about we make a deal? You stay the fuck away from my ass if you don’t like how people smell?
13 ADS for miscellaneous non-offensive things.
- Turbo Tax advertising is a welcome relief after all this other crap.
- The Chicco carseat looked so awesome I kind of want one. 9 reclining positions!
- The Jello pudding ad with “a smile on your face and another in your belly” is just what I’m looking for in a food ad. How difficult is that?
I’m afraid I may have been too annoyed to be funny with this post. How about you? Any parenting advice or advertisements that have pissed you off lately?
|March 13, 2013||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
Sneaking Up On A Theory of Homeschooling from Sierra at ChildWild resonated with me. She talks about how in a short time their homeschooling pattern has already changed to be less about textbooks and more about being self-directed.
I understand the allure of textbooks, but I want more freedom for Dylan. I can imagine my future unschooling self (and anxious self) in a constant mental vacillation between more and less structure.
As Sierra seeks a foundational theory for their homeschooling, she lands on this:
What if I approached schooling like I approach food?
Here’s how I feed my kids: I put healthy food on the table for them at regular meals that we sit down and eat together as a family. I trust them to decide what to put on their plates, and how much to eat. Snacks are similar: I prompt them to eat a few healthy snacks a day, but I let them choose what they want and how much. I restrict sweets to a degree, and try to model the kind of healthy eating habits I hope they’ll have as adults.
Sometimes they eat great food! Other times they eat peanut butter & honey sandwiches at every meal for a week straight. I have absolute faith that this will sort itself out over time, and that what matters most is the good food habits their dad and I model, not the details of what they eat this Thursday.
As I’m reading I’m thinking, yes! This is great! Just like I provide healthy food and creative food and model good eating habits, with unschooling I can provide good learning materials and inspirations for learning, model passionate learning myself and then let Dylan freely flow within that framework.
But then, wait. Uh. That’s not really how we do food around here. Sometimes I forget to feed Dylan entirely, a luxury of extended breastfeeding that I kind of lean on. There’s certainly not much of a schedule. Dylan eats a lot of whole foods, mostly fruit and meat, but I’m not sure I’d call what we’re doing “modeling healthy eating habits”.
Frankly, it’s probably unrealistic to think our unschooling days are going to have much form, either. We’re flexible on bedtimes, nap times, showers… very flexible. All those sorts of things that people put into schedules and routines, we just kind of dance around.
As Dylan gets older, I know our meal patterns and eating habits will change with him. But at least for now, if I’m seeking out a compatible analogy for educational aspirations food is probably not going to cut it.
|January 23, 2013||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
I mentioned in Dylan’s 19 month old post how hard he’s working to do things just like we do.
This results in adorable things like him trying to carry things twice his size.
It also results in purely not-yet-functional things, like him trying to work a screwdriver (here on an old laptop).
Even as young as he is, his desire to participate allows him to really get involved in our daily life.
He has started carrying in firewood, for example. Yes, he’s very slow, toddling the wood in one piece at a time. But he picks it up from the garden cart himself, carries it into the house, and places it in (approximately) the right place.
He can let Basement Cat in or out when she asks.
He can turn on a light when requested. This one is awesome, because it requires tools. He has to find something to stand on and move it to the light switch in order to reach.
He’s started helping with cooking tasks, like stirring up the eggs in preparation for making scrambled eggs.
Last night I was cooking dinner, and he picked up the pepper grinder and tried to grind pepper.
It’s really easy to overlook all this effort on his part – to be in a hurry, to want things done a certain way, to be mocking of his “helping”.
But what’s happening is extraordinary! I never taught him what to do with the pepper grinder. He just thought, “I can do that,” and he did it. Each of those little steps in learning tasks and skills is fascinating and enjoyable to him. His whole life right now is, “Hmm. I can do that,” “Hmm. I can do that,” “Hmm, I can do that.”
How awesome is that!? Please, may my tedious ideas about schedules and correctness interfere as little as possible in the face of such connectedness to the tiny details of right now.
|January 16, 2013||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
I missed writing this at 18 months old because the days can slip by so easily and here you are almost another month older. They are all wonderful days. Oh sure, some of them are louder and more chaotic or darker with more tears. But always, always we are in love, we two, and it’s good to be together.
A month or so ago, there was a time outside where Joshua walked into the barn to refill the pig buckets with feed for soaking. You started to toddle into the barn, and Joshua told you to go back and get a bucket to bring in with you. With a little bit of prodding, you walked back over to the buckets, picked one up, and carried it into him. I was sitting a ways away, watching this process, and what I noticed was the look of intense concentration on your face. You had seen us carry buckets, you knew just what to do, and you were determined to do it and do it well. I could see how important it all was to you.
Since then, I’ve noticed so many ways that you are turning into a little person just like Joshua and me. You talk on a pretend phone all the time (anything can be a phone!) and you tuck the phone to your shoulder just like I do and copy the patterns of our speech. We brush our teeth every night, and you go through all of the motions, from taking the cap off the toothbrush (which you can’t do yet, it’s just a cute little twisty motion you make), to brushing, to spitting (which you do as a little head bob and a kiss noise). Everything we do you’re watching and learning and enjoying.
Your favorite word/phrase is probably “thank you”, although you’re trying to say all sorts of things now (with very few consonants). I can more readily understand when you’re saying my name. It comes out like Aye-ya, and it is the sweetest sound in the universe.
You are so independent. Just a couple of days ago we were playing outside and I went inside but you didn’t follow me. I talked to Joshua for a moment, and when I next looked out for you you had walked all the way down into the pasture to play with the trailer. I got my shoes on to go after you, and by the time I got out there you had walked up to the sheep and were having a conversation with them. You’d go “Aaaaaaa!” (remember, not many consonants!), and they’d “Baaaaaa!” back and forth. You were happy to be exploring, all on your own.
On the other hand, you are so snuggly sweet and you need me so close. You’ve been learning to kiss, but it’s still open mouthed and I get covered in slobber. We hold hands when we walk together. you pull my arm over you as you drift off to sleep, snuggled deep in next to me.
I love you.
It’s getting harder to get videos and pictures of you, because you notice the camera and want to see things from my side of it. It’s even rarer that we’re in photos and videos together, since it’s always me with the camera. But, here are some of the snippets of life from the last seven months.
|December 11, 2012||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
Back in September 2011, this article of mine was posted at the Natural Parents Network. I’m reprinting it here for you now.
Parenting Through Play Starts in Infancy
One of the overarching values that guides my parenting is playfulness. Through my years as a nanny, everything was made a bit easier with an attitude grounded in play and lightheartedness, and I bring this sense of play to parenting as well. When I think of playfulness as a parenting technique, I’m not just thinking about the games and stories that will be useful years from now. Parenting through play starts in infancy. It has already started, even though Dylan is only 3 months old.
Taking a parenting action that might otherwise be stressful (for either of you), harsh, abrupt, or coercive and turning it into something funny or silly or gentle or cooperative makes your relationship that much more joyful. Keeping play in mind as a value reminds me that things don’t have to be stressful; they shouldn’t be stressful. We can enjoy one another instead.
I’ll give an example.
When Dylan was in the hospital, he used the jacket-style shirts, but when we got home the shirts I had for him went over his head. Right off the bat, he hated anything touching his head or going over his eyes. Putting a shirt on was stressful for him as he jerked his body trying to get away from the offending object, stiffened up his limbs, and made gasping faces. Putting a shirt on only took seconds, but I knew I didn’t want to continue with it being stressful for him. I’m going to put a gazillion shirts on him throughout his childhood, plus touch his head for so many other reasons, like cleaning or putting on hats. I didn’t want to set a pattern of head/face touching being a horrible thing he had to put up with, but I also wasn’t going to stop putting shirts on him.
I started turning shirt-putting-on into a silly moment. I’d lightly touch his face with the shirt, make a silly noise, and pull it away before he could really react. I made it into the same game as the boop-your-nose game or tickle-your-tummy game, all sound effects and light touching. The first couple of times, he was still skeptical. I’d touch his face, make a sound, and pull away, repeat, and then make a different sound and slip the shirt over his head. He’d still be surprised, but not as much so when I’d just put the shirt on him out of nowhere. But these days, he loves the game. I scrunch the shirt up so I can see him through the neck-hole and he smiles at me in anticipation of my putting it on him.
This is such a small example of playful parenting. Maybe it seems like it’s too much work to figure out how to make something a game. But with an attitude of playfulness, the motions of play are fresh in my mind. Maybe it seems like play would take up too much time. But a few moments making something fun can save you many moments of sadness getting in the way later. Maybe it seems like any one example of an unwanted moment for your kid is insignificant, but those small moments add up to many, many moments over the life of your relationship.
Play keeps me centered on the truth that we are having a relationship. It’s not my job to just get a shirt over his head (or whatever other situation arises). It’s my job to give and take and learn and teach and give smiles and get smiles and have a good time while we’re spending our time together. With our relationship full of the joy of playfulness, we’re off to a good start.
|November 26, 2012||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
On a parenting email discussion list that I moderate, a parent recently suggested the “10-20-10″ method of attention giving. You spend 10 minutes in the morning, 20 minutes in the afternoon, and 10 minutes in the evening paying 1-on-1 attention to your child.That sounded like a great idea to me and easy enough for anyone to implement, right? I figured I was already doing 1-on-1 with Dylan at least that much, but that having the guideline in mind would be helpful going forward.
Right off the bat, I got a swift kick in the butt reminding me that what sounds easy to me doesn’t apply to everyone else’s situation. One parent on the list said there was no way she could do that. She had 5 kids. 40 minutes a day in 1-on-1 time with each of them would be over 3 hours a day. Not going to happen! She was an at-home mom, but still! 3 hours is a lot of time! And what would the other 4 kids be doing during the over 2 hours a day she was busy with another child?
I started paying attention to the time I spend truly focused on Dylan. I was really surprised to discover that we can go through entire days where we are never 1-on-1. I’m an at-home mom and so of course we have a lot of time together, but various tasks large and small fill up that time. There’s animal care, meal prep, eating, cleaning, the time I spend working, errands, and naps. Joshua works from home, too, so he and I interact a lot through the day.
Dylan still nurses several times a day, so I know he’s not starved for mama time. I really value that time together, as well as our sleeping time, but it isn’t what I think of as time where I’m focused on him. I’m not really paying attention to him during those times, even though we are literally connected.
Thinking about this has reminded me of the importance of routine activities. When our day is busy and distracted, it’s even more clear to me how important it is to enjoy the tiny moments, like during diaper changes. Normally, you might think of a diaper change as something to hurry through. A little shift in perspective, though, and a diaper change is 2 minutes all to yourselves, 1-on-1. It’s time for a song, some smiles, some touching, some eye-contact, and a moment to “get away from it all”.
The time it takes to get from one place to another is also a great moment to connect. Whether it’s walking from room to room hand in hand or it’s driving somewhere and singing or talking together along the way, these are great times to catch a little connection.
In this way, I might not always spend 10 or 20 minutes fully focused on Dylan, but we have an entire day of being connected even when it seems like we’re really busy.
|November 19, 2012||Posted by Issa under Parenting, Radical Self-Acceptance|
As a person-with-depression, I have good days and bad days. Do I have more bad days than people without depression have? How would I know? There’s never anyone else on the therapist’s couch with you, and all you can see are other people’s outsides. What I believe is that my bad days are worse than most people’s bad days. They aren’t the worst kinds of days a person can have. Not by a long shot. But they suck.
Dylan is stuck with me. He’s along for my ride.
On good days, I am an excited, engaged, creative parent. Songs! Explanations! Ideas! Love!
On bad days, I’m kind of a lump. Stares. Sighs. Turning away. Some hard core whining.
When I’m feeling like a lump, I feel guilty about sticking Dylan with me. I worry that my bad moods are damaging to him somehow. I worry that my moods changing from highs to lows are confusing for him. I wish that he had a better mother.
When I’m not in a depressed mood, I know that that’s all bullshit. Dylan deserves a mother who is human, who has ups and downs, and who isn’t the picture of perfection all the time. And he definitely deserves his actual mother. I am exactly the mother he needs and wants.
What’s your big insecurity as a parent? I’m sure we all have them. What’s the thing that’s central to your personality that makes you question your worth as a parent?