modern parenting is harmed by the public

I no longer have a Facebook page, so this blog is going to become more bloggy in the future. In spurts, because I just don’t see the point in sharing most of what I would share on Facebook (hence, my removal of self from that virtual world and all social media). I do feel the need to share this particular observation/thought, though.

I currently live in The South. I am from The South and am quite comfortable with certain Southern expectations, as they are typically the expectations of all “civilized” hordes of people: Use your manners and show consideration for others. (In fact, the point of manners is to show consideration for others. They can also be used as a form of artificial hierarchy, but I reject that usage, in general.)

I love manners. I even own a card deck for teaching children manners. Good manners, in my opinion, are the backbone to a graceful society. They are an easy tool for creating ease in our social, often superficial interactions with one another, and they can help keep less superficial moments from becoming traumas to overcome. I can easily imagine how the world would look if more of us showed a baseline level of consideration for others, beginning with basic manners.

However, that’s not the world we live in.

In reality, we are surrounded by people who find rudeness and lack of consideration (from ingratitude to name-calling to outright violence) funny and entertaining. This makes parenting quite challenging at times. Sure, I can keep my child from watching a cartoon that glorifies (or at least gives ample screen time to) blatant rude behaviors and pointless murder, but I can’t always keep my child from interacting with (and gleaning from) YOUR child after your child has internalized problematic messages from tv shows and movies.

We don’t often think of media as “the public”, but it most certainly is. Whenever we subject our children to random people about whom we know very little, we have entered into the public sphere. And, the public isn’t really where I want my child learning her values and figuring out which of her characteristics she should fully embody (aka character development). The public is where we go to practice our skills, not learn them. Ideally, we learn in the home and then take what we learn at home out into the world and use that knowledge to forge connections and make an impact.

All too often, it feels like I’m having to resist being impacted upon more than making an impact myself. Especially where my child is concerned.

The other day, I went to a pop-up food market. I told my child to sit down and wait for me to return after wandering around the room to see what was offered. An adult at the doorway suggested that I bring my child with me. I said no, and she insisted that my child pick something out for herself. I had to stop moving forward and give this uninvited guest into my life a moment of my undivided attention. Looking her in her eyes, I told her that my child would not be coming into the space with me and that she would sit right where she was. My child is old enough to do that and she was happily engaged with a mobile device. The woman backed off.

I, however, was a bit perplexed. Why in the world would a random person assume that my child needs a voice in what she eats? Haven’t we seen the results of that? We have parents with 2-year-olds and older who “won’t eat” anything but chicken nuggets and french fries. We have children with mouths full of cavities and the correction of cavities. We have children who are obese and we are, allegedly, alarmed by this fact.

So…why does “the public” think my child should have a say in what she eats?

Now, this was only one incident, but it’s certainly not the first time (nor will it be the last) that a random person decided to try to interfere with my parenting. It seems that the village (because it takes one to raise a child) is only willing to intervene in ways where they can have all of the voice and none of the responsibility. I am the one who has to survive a sugar-addled child, pay for dental work, stress over poor eating habits, etc. I have yet to see “the public” try to encourage more of a child-centered approach to parenting in the name of more veggies, where food is concerned. Generally, we are maneuvering offers of unsolicited candy and other so-called snacks.

My child eats a very healthy diet. She did even prior to our awareness around her many food allergies. I have witnessed many people express shock (happy or general) that she loves vegetables. But, this didn’t happen in a vacuum. She also loves sweets, but she knows that they are not always an option. These days, with her food allergies, they aren’t an option at all. As a result, fruit tastes sweeter to her than candy. She has told me so. And, we know it’s certainly healthier, so I have no complaints.

Often, when I gaze out upon “the public”, I see well-meaning people who just aren’t thinking very clearly. There are so many instances in parenting where people are more of a hindrance than not to “parenting well”. This often fickle, maladjusted “public” wants to subject our children to a world of entertaining poor judgment and bad behavior while expecting those same children to behave wonderfully. What happened to our collective acknowledgment of “garbage in, garbage out”? There have always been versions of the sentiment, but these days we act as if you can expose (aka inundate) children with just about anything and they behave perfectly, anyway, and are completely happy and healthy.

When has that ever been accepted as truth, outside of this modern age?

Personally, I will keep deciding for myself what food is brought into our home, what kind of entertainment my child is subjected to, and even what is considered entertainment versus malignant indoctrination. “The public”, as far as I can tell, is a sketchy lot and any issues my child ends up having (because we all end up with issues) I want to be due to my intentional practices. I don’t want her future therapy sessions to be rooted in unintentional negligence due to a lack of assuredness within her mother.

Of course, “the public” aka society will impact my child. I do not raise her in a bubble. But, we do exercise our right to boundaries. I do recognize a parental authority that is rooted in parental responsibility. And, I will act like it.

It will be a blessedly wonderful day when the rest of the world acknowledges that we don’t really need its input to parent our children. Unless, of course, we ask for it.

Perhaps I’ll take to wearing a shirt that reads “NO SOLICITORS” when out and about. That might be more comprehensible to most folks than a “MIND YOUR MANNERS” shirt. Same meaning, though, when you think about it.

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if

if you hold on to definitions that harm you

(even when you tell yourself they don’t)

if you believe more in bad than good

(or worse, believe that bad can be good)

if you are forever searching outside yourself

for love

for meaning

for stabliity

for spirit

if you are too dependent upon yourself

for love

for meaning

for stability

for spirit

how will you ever be free?

the oracle

there are times in life when

you realize

your life is not your own;

you are not breathing,

you are breath.

you are not living,

you are life.

in those moments,

those times in between

noticing and being noticed,

you become One

with

All That Is

All That Was

All That Will Be

(but i repeat myself)

and you are aware that

life happens

in between the moments you claim to live.

there is more to life

than living,

my friend.

there is more to life

than you care to know.

OPEN

and feel the wonder

of what it means to

EXIST.

 

safe

I live a life that exists between two worlds. The world we all perceive together and the world many of us don’t seem to perceive at all.

I am guided and loved upon by SO MANY entities that it’s a lot easier to come back to center these days. I see how they’ve always been with me, always watched over me, and I assume it’s the same for all of us. But maybe it’s not.

I don’t consider myself any more “tapped in” than anyone else could choose to be, but I am also aware that we all have our paths to walk. For some of us, maybe all the “unseen” isn’t as necessary for where we’re going and what we’re here to do. I don’t know.

What I *do* know is that I feel restless. I feel ready to leave this place. I want to say I hate it here, but that’s not entirely accurate. It’s more accurate to say that this is the first place I’ve lived and known and literally felt the effects of how pervasive evil is and how intentional evil is and how dense and palpable evil is. Not my first taste of evil, but definitely my first immersion experience in evil.

I just don’t like it here. I don’t feel comfortable. I don’t like feeling all this icky energy consistently. I don’t like constantly having to be on my toes, energetically speaking.

This morning, as I lay in bed pondering my ability to leave this penal colony (that’s how I think of the place I live), I looked to my ancestors. They are always in my mind’s eye. I can see them as clearly as I could see you if you were standing in front of me. And, I was greeted with a wolf snarling and snapping in my mind’s face.

Yay. The ancestors aren’t happy with me leaving.

Instead of looking away, again, I just kept watching. I’d never noticed a wolf amongst the spiritual entourage that accompanies me everywhere in life. I come from the Bear Clan, the oldest clan among the Cherokee. (It was basically disbanded and renamed during relocation and concentrated assimilation times.) I come from the Turtle Clan (still not sure which people this is, except it’s either Cherokee or Comanche). Most of the ancestors that walk with me daily look Indigenous to North America. This is likely why I’ve always felt more Cherokee than African.

Once he stopped snapping at me in anger, he became a person in a wolf’s coat. We looked at one another. I felt the medicine, the message.

“You are safe here.”

This is what my ancestors keep telling me. They called me here. Why? I’m still unsure. But they always want me to know I’m safe.

That’s good, b/c this place doesn’t *feel* safe. Wado! Asante sana! Reminders are always welcome.

“You are safe here.”

I confirm. Everyone nods. Everyone smiles. I am safe. This place is not a safe place, but I am safe. So maybe this place actually *is* a safe place.

Wolf medicine comes to me in waves. Between Wolf and Bear, I am constantly fed in my spirit. We all are truly living in our spirits, but so many of us have forgotten.

The old ways are not lost, they are laid down. Pick them up. Regain your right sight. Regain your wisdom.

You are safe.

momming with the Gospel

One of the reasons I enjoy reading Christian parenting books is because I love being a parent. Since 2005, I have read probably close to 100 books on parenting. I have read the insights of parenting coaches, other parents, grandparents. I have been a parenting coach, myself, and taught some classes in San Francisco when my youngest was a baby. Parenting is my passion.

More than just parenting diligently, I want to be able to have my children say I parented them well. Basically anyone can be a parent; not everyone is a good parent. My latest book on parenting, Gospel Centered Mom: The Freeing Truth About What Your Kids Really Need by Brooke McGlothlin, offered me a chance to read a parenting book that was more rooted in personal struggle than I’m used to. It was an interesting change.

When I say “rooted in personal struggle”, I mean that, like most Christian books, Brooke’s foundation for the books is her personal hardships and how she’s used God’s word to empower her to overcome them. It’s a perspective that generally only sits well with other Christians, but I happen to find a lot of wisdom in these books. For me, parenting well is built upon one’s ability to see situations from another perspective, whether or not one agrees with that perspective.

I did find great wisdom in Gospel Centered Mom. One overarching, helpful reminder is that we’re not the ones in control of all this stuff we call “life”. When you’re the kind of person who values self-improvement, this is a kind reminder that one needs regularly. We are not in control of everything and thank goodness for that! Once we accept that, we can sit back and enjoy our children more.

I slowly made my way through this book and there were helpful tidbits throughout, but I have to say that my favorite part of the book was Chapter 10. In this last bit of the book, Brooke sums everything up nicely by exploring what it means to “Protect the Story”. Honestly, I felt like the entire book could have been about this part and it would have been even more helpful. In Chapter 10, the author discusses how it’s more important to look at the overall story of our families and our desires for our kids rather than focusing upon material success or societal approval of us as parents. This gets to the heart of the matter, in my opinion. Sometimes, parents, even those of us with the best intentions, get caught up in day-to-day behaviors and choices and forget to step back and look at the bigger picture. Giving us a framework for how to keep the bigger picture at the fore of our thinking when disciplining and generally raising our children was extremely helpful.

I had many “aha” moments while reading Gospel Centered Mom by Brooke McGlothlin. She touches on some common themes that run through the lives of most mothers. If I didn’t have mothers in my life with whom I could share my struggles, this book could easily serve as a support “group” for me. Reading any chapter is likely to provide the reader with a refreshing reminder or perspective that helps ease any emotional and intellectual burdens around parenting.

I especially enjoyed the formatting aspect of Gospel Centered Mom where each chapter ends with a “hard truth” and a “beautiful truth”. The hard truth is where the author lays out something that just is and that we have to accept along this parenting journey. The beautiful truth is the freedom or the silver lining to that hard truth. This part of the book always brought a smile to my face. I truly believe that every bad has some good in it, if we are patient and look for it, and these hard and beautiful truths align with that belief.

Last but not least, dear readers, I want you to know that while I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review, this review is my honest thinking about the book.

inspirational read for those who like treasure

I have  thing for self-help books. I can’t help it. I firmly believe in doing my best to overcome any challenges I face in life, including the ones that arise from my personality or thinking habits. One of the “issues” I’m currently trying to heal is my relationship with money. We all have a money story and mine could use some improvement.

One idea I’ve been feeling a close affinity to, lately, is the idea that our lives and bodies are not our own. They don’t belong to us. We will leave them behind at some point and, regardless of what we believe comes next, that is a sobering thought. If I don’t even own my body, the thing that goes with me everywhere and is the only thing that can’t be taken from me, then maybe my understanding of life and the choices we make in it need to shift.

cover

Enter The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving by Randy Alcorn. This isn’t a new book; it’s a revised and updated edition. Randy lets us know that when the book first came out, he received quite a lot of grief. He’s a Christian writer, writing from a Christian perspective about what God has said in the Bible about money. As someone who has read The New Testament often enough, I was surprised that the book found controversy among believers. When it comes to money, though, isn’t that often the way things are?

Randy pushes the idea that Jesus was clear in the Gospel that we are to give away our wealth. God let us know that this life and its riches are temporary; we need to strive for eternal riches, not temporal ones. Chapter 2 states the Scriptural “proof” quite thoroughly. Through a quick, enjoyable read, Randy lets us in on his thought processes. It’s compelling and it’s something that aligns with my understanding of the Bible. My favorite part of the book begins toward the end, on page 102, when Randy shares “31 Radical, Liberating Questions to Ask God About Your Giving”. I’m a huge fan of asking God questions and mulling over the answers I receive, so this section was a little exciting. We never need to lean on our own understanding. We can always go straight to Source.

While the main crux of Randy’s argument in The Treasure Principle is rooted in the fact that we can’t take any of this with us, anyway, the message I found most compelling was how money is sacred and it’s intended for sacred work. As someone who often feels that money seems to do more harm than good in the world, it felt good to read a perspective that made money part of God’s inherently good world. This perspective leaves me wanting to see how my money can be of direct benefit for spiritual good in the world. I can’t say that I’ve ever read a Christian book about money that left me feeling this way. I’m more curious about how I can use money in a sacred manner and for the Higher Good.

Almost every page of The Treasure Principle had my brain working in overdrive. As someone who enjoys thinking, this was a pleasurable experience. I certainly didn’t expect it. While so many religious writers tackle money from the “God has promised you riches” perspective, Randy Alcorn lets us know why God has promised us abundance. Here’s a hint: it’s not to horde it and leave it for our children.

Although I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review, you have just read my honest opinion of this compelling book.

Re-W-Or-D-A-Ble is A-Dor-A-Ble

Our family LOVES games.

We love them so much that we play them daily. Our newest addition is called Rewordable and it takes word games to a whole, new level. If you enjoy Scrabble, you’ll definitely like this game.

The objective is to build words using cards with various word parts on them. Some cards have a single letter, some have two letters, some have three. As you look at your five-card hand, you need to construct a word using at least 2 of those cards. It seems like a simple process, but it can get very challenging when you add in the reward tokens.

Reward tokens are there for inspiration, I think. You have a three-token pile sitting in front of you, egging you on. If you can accomplish what’s written on a token, you can take that token (and more than one in a turn!). This is likely to be the most infuriating and satisfying part of the game. When you have a situation where all three tokens require you use at least 5 cards to create your word, anxiety and determination kick in. Luckily, you can steal words from your opponents by figuring out how to use your hand to build upon the words they have compiled in their “lexicon”.

Of course, how intense Rewordable gets depends upon your fellow players. My 7-year-old got as much of a kick out of the game as I did. I’m sure a 51-year-old word game veteran would love finding this new way to keep word challengers running for the dictionary. In the end, the player with the highest score wins, but Rewordable is almost like chess with how canny you have to be. I’d recommend learning to win against yourself first before taking on your community linguist.

I received this game from Blogging for Books for this review and my review is my honest perspective on this engaging product.