Friday, November 20, 2015

Why We Should Fear Syrian Refugees

They say that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. And I see our great citizens forgetting history now, in the Syrian refugee crisis. So let me remind you of some history, so you can understand why it is perfectly reasonable to be afraid of the Syrian refugees.

Not so long ago, a group of refugees arrived here on the East Coast. Some were political refugees, some were religious refugees, and some were flat out criminals. These people didn't have the skills they needed, didn't speak the language, and were incapable of taking care of themselves. In a stunning show of generosity, a group of Americans took it upon themselves to help these refugees. They taught them necessary life skills. They helped them with their language skills. And, at the end of the harvest season, they prepared a huge feast for them, giving their own food for free.

And what happened? Those kind Americans were repaid with bio terrorism, gun massacres, forced religious conversions, and genocide.

Do you remember this event? Or has the liberal media whitewashed it from your memory? Did your godless schooling teach you some alternate version?

Next Thursday, we will gather in family homes across our great nation to celebrate Thanksgiving. A feast shared by Americans with refugees and criminals who had no preparation and completely inadequate vetting for coming to this country. Those Americans paid a heavy price for their generosity. Are you willing to pay that price?

If you are crazy enough to think that we should welcome refugees to this country, maybe because you believe Jesus meant what he said in Matthew 25:40, or maybe because you are not so distantly related to a refugee, or maybe because you are just kind, make your voice heard:

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Your Relationship is Not a Special Snowflake

Your relationship is not a special snowflake. You are unique, and so is your partner, but when abuse enters the picture, being unique will not save you.

When your partner injures you physically, he is not a kind man who made a mistake. He is a man who is willing to use violence to win a dispute.

When your partner calls you a fucking son of a bitch, she is not a loving woman dealing with PMS. She is a woman who uses contempt and name calling to avoid dealing with the real issues at hand.

When your partner handles ALL the money, and occasionally hides or lies about financial issues, he is not a control freak who just wants to protect you. He wants to control you via money.

When your partner with PTSD or anxiety or other mental illness uses violence of any kind against you, she is not "doing their best" to deal with it. She is failing to deal with mental illness and needs to adjust current treatment before regaining the privilege of access to you.

When your partner abuses a dependent child, your responsibility is NOT to do a better job of managing the interactions between the child and your partner. Your responsibility is to call the police and get the child away from the partner.

We all want to believe that our relationship is different: that our partner will not really "go so far." 

We all want to believe that our family will survive domestic violence because we have some secret ingredient (love, remorse, God, Jesus, Buddha, GMO-free diet, forgiveness). We want to believe our abuser when s/he apologizes and swears eternal love and devotion. But when your partner abuses you, s/he is sending you a very clear message.

This relationship is about me having power over you.

It takes a woman an average of seven attempts to permanently leave her abuser. We don't know how many attempts it takes a man to leave his abuser, because we often don't even acknowledge that women can abuse men.

If your relationship shows any signs of abuse, leave. Abusers can change. But they can only do so if they begin to suffer the consequences of their choices.

Check out the Power and Control Wheel for more insight into your relationship.

And please, don't wait to leave. Your relationship is not a special snowflake when it comes to abuse. Save your life and the lives of your children by getting out immediately. Abusers can change their ways, but they must do so alone so you are not a victim of a relapse.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Gift of the Strong Willed Child

 I have a strong willed daughter. Not like, oh, she’s stubborn. Not like, oh, she’s so strong willed. More like, cut off your nose to spite your face. More like, I will fail as hard as I can just so you’re wrong and I’m right. More like, I will get the last word if it’s the last thing I do. More like, we went to a family therapist and I’m pretty sure that’s the only reason we survived the Terrible Threes.

Now, some of this is my fault. I have chosen to use positive and conscious parenting styles with her. That means no spanking and extremely few time outs. That also means a LOT more talking. And picking my battles. And giving her choices. And spending a LOT more time on every single activity because I’m empowering her and guiding her. I don’t know if I would have been more “successful” using other methods. Maybe if I had spanked her and yelled at her and just plain forced her to do things more often she would be more obedient and more pliable now. Perhaps. But I believe that she also would be broken. I believe the experts who claim that breaking a child’s will is detrimental to the child. I follow the advice ofBecky Bailey and Laura Markham. At least, as much as possible. 

I’m not complaining. I’m glad that I have a strong daughter. I hope that she carries her strength forward into adolescence. I hope that her strength gives her courage to dump boys who don’t treat her right, and avoid using alcohol or drugs. I hope her strength gives her confidence in her career as she plunges into this strange new world that’s forming. There’s lots of posts out there about the great parts of having a strong willed child. And I believe them. 

The other day I saw another gift that her strength has given me. I was at Chick Fil A, watching other moms and kids interact. And, as one does, I was mentally evaluating how they acted. Don’t act surprised – you do it too! And something struck me. I saw lots of parents picking fights over what I consider small stuff. Yelling at the table. Crawling on the floor instead of walking. Spilling food on themselves. Burping at the table. 

Now, even if my daughter weren’t the most determined child I’ve ever met, a lot of that I just don’t care about. If we’re in a fast food restaurant, it’s ok for her to act like a child, because she IS a child. If she chooses to move to the door by laying down and pulling her body forward with her arms (which she has done), so what? She’s obeying me and coming along with me, and exercising her creativity while she does so. If she gets excited and yells at the table, so what? She doesn’t have perfect volume control, and we’re in a noisy environment. If she burps, who cares? It’s a natural body function. If she spills food on her dress, who cares? Why would anyone dress a child in clothing that can’t be washed? NOTHING about her appearance is more important than the work she has to do as a child: experimenting with how to sit still, how to eat, how to move, etc. 

But in addition to my own permissive views, I also have to really think about every single battle I pick. When I see a mom chiding her child for crawling on the filthy floor, or for dribbling food on his shirt, I think she’s lucky. She has the luxury of worrying about the small stuff. Her child is compliant enough for her to confront on a minor issue and know that it will be over and done in 5 minutes. I don’t have that luxury. At least, again, because of my choices.

I hate conflict. I hate confrontation. Setting aside the torture of listening to a child throw a tantrum, I don’t even like the initial correction phase. But my daughter is not conflict averse. When she hears a boundary, her first impulse is to test it, to find out just exactly how far it goes. She needs to know every single aspect of that boundary. Are there situations where the boundary doesn’t apply? Does the boundary apply to everyone? What happens if the boundary is violated? Are there any loopholes she can exploit? And, when she was well into her third year, she began to create conflict with me, making requests that she knew I wouldn’t say yes to. And so I grew more and more adept about conscious parenting. I created routines. I imposed consequences. I learned how to remove my emotions from the conflicts and be a strong boundary wall for my daughter. And that’s why I don’t have the luxury of confronting her over the small stuff. 

Is it worth the effort to fight with my child about whether she’s spilling mustard on a white shirt? In my case, absolutely not. Is it worth the effort to fight with my child about kicking me or another person? Absolutely. But the fight about kicking will take all my resources and use me and my daughter up emotionally for at least 2-3 hours. 

This is the gift of a strong willed child. We as parents are forced to not sweat the small stuff. We are also forced to redefine what really is small stuff. Refusing to eat food? Small stuff. Singing loudly in her bedroom for up to 2 hours each night? Small stuff. Pouting while doing a chore? Small stuff.

And a final note: My child is not a holy terror. Yes, she can be loud in restaurants and sometimes she will crawl or walk on her hands and feet instead of walking normally. But she is unfailingly polite, using Thank You and Please liberally. She is kind to other kids at the playground. She can sit at a table and make an effort to eat whatever food is set in front of her. In fact, even if she doesn’t like the food, she won’t come out and complain (unless she’s at home with mommy and daddy). Most people have no idea of how intense and strong she can be. The way we’re parenting is a lot of hard work. And I’m not sure it’s absolutely the best way. But it is working. And at the end of the day, that’s what matters.