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01:00 pm: Stuff that's buggin' me (rant)
I wouldn't say I'm a particularly deep person, but some big stuff's been buggin' me recently and I figured I'd try to work it out here, so I can let. it. go.

I have some friends and relatives who have very different views from my own - views on child-rearing, on religion, on politics. And that's totally cool. In fact, I like getting a range of different perspectives. They're all really smart, thoughtful people, and I like learning from smart, thoughtful people. I can be very knee-jerk in my crunchy-granola, attachment-parenting, liberal ways, so it's good for me to hear other points of view. Totally dig that.

But some of the stuff I've seen recently really, really bugs me. Online social networking means that we're all exposed to each others' thoughts with much greater frequency and - sometimes, if not always - much less filtering. With one little click ("publish"), someone passes something on, frequently without adding any commentary about why they like it or whether they agree with every bit of it or whatever.

So... parenting.

Mothering is one of my very favorite parenting magazines. Very crunchy. Somewhat closed-minded if you're not really crunchy too, which is disappointing (I hold up Moxie as the best example of open-mindedness, regardless of where you are on the spectrum), but since I'm pretty crunchy, I tend to find it like-minded.

I'm a fan of Mothering in Facebook, so I get regular posts about Mothering articles or blogs. Today, they posted an answer to a reader's question about a 4-year-old who says "I hate you" when she's angry.

I happen to have very strong (negative) feelings about using the word "hate," so when Teddy uses it (very rarely, thankfully), he gets LOTS of feedback about using more appropriate language. And most of the advice from Mothering is along those lines. But there were two things there that bugged the heck out of me.
Don't use discipline strategies that make use of threats, power plays (punishment of any sort), or social exclusion (timeouts), because you don't want to model those things. Instead, set appropriate limits, enforced with empathy.
No punishment of any sort? Really? I've read Cohen et al. on the subject, but I have not succeeded in completely eliminating punishments. How, exactly, do you "set appropriate limits," when there's no reinforcement if those limits are broken? "Enforce with empathy"?? "It feels awful when you can't play with a toy, doesn't it?" SMASH! "Breaking that toy must have felt really good, because you were so angry!"


I'm sure there are many examples of how to do that better. I haven't mastered them, however. So Teddy does indeed get timeouts (and threats of them) with fair frequency (a couple of times a week, maybe?).

And I'm OK with that.

But this?
[D]on't make the mistake of validating her anger. Anger is always a response to underlying hurt, fear or sadness.
Validating her anger is a mistake? Anger is always a response to underlying hurt, fear or sadness? (Never mind how I feel about the missing serial comma.)

I don't think so. In my experience, anger is most often a response to perceived injustice. And it is a legitimate response to that feeling (whether the perceived injustice is actually an injustice is an important issue, IMHO, for parents to address). It is a valid response. Suggesting that anger is always wrong is neither true nor fair... nor does it prepare a child to deal with the world, in which anger is so often and vehemently expressed.

I think it's much more important to teach children that anger is sometimes a valid response, help them to identify when it's a valid response (and absolutely, of course, when it's not), and especially help them to express it in constructive ways... or at least not to express it in destructive ways.

I think there's a crapload of neuroses created by suppressing or denying legitimate anger.


So, yeah, that's parenting.

Religion. Religion is tough. I am not a religious person. I never have been, and I doubt I ever will be. I'm one of those folks who require proof for things, and that seems to be the antithesis of faith.

And I'm OK with that. I know, love, and respect a lot of people who are religious on all kinds of different levels and in all kinds of different ways. I don't tend to talk about religion much 'cause, well, I usually have nothing to add to the conversation. I think, too, that people tend to be circumspect about expressing those views in a casual social setting.

In social networking, I don't see much circumspection. I see a lot of in-your-face. I don't care for it.

For instance, a video is making the rounds recently that talks about an incident in a classroom where a professor spends a semester trying to convince all his students that there is no God. All his students are totally intimidated for 20 years until one finally stands up and says he does believe.

The professor, irate, says that there is no God, because if there were, God would stop the professor's chalk from breaking when he drops it. He drops the chalk, it doesn't break. The video describes this as evidence that there is a God and that we all ought to be standing up in classes to declare our belief in Jesus.

First off, I gotta say this is a very boring video. It's all text slides (at least 75% of the way into a long video, whereupon I gave up), with schmaltzy religious music playing in the background.

More important, though, is that it gives no specifics of the incident (again, not in the first 75% of the video): what university, what course, what professor, what true-believer student? So there's no way to verify that it's even true (really? a required course where the objective is to prove there is no God? 20 years of students who accept everything a professor says? a professor ridiculing religious belief? that's not been my experience at 6 different colleges in 2 countries and 3 states).

And if it were? er... so what? (Not about the professor's conduct - that would be appalling - but about the chalk not breaking.) Either God kept the chalk from breaking, in which case I'm deeply concerned that God is spending time proving one idiot professor wrong while letting wars continue and children die of preventable diseases.

Or it's not God that kept the chalk from breaking, which is the likelier scenario, because there are many, many, many other explanations for why the chalk didn't break, what with chalk not being sufficiently fragile to be assured of breaking every time it drops.

What's worse is that several assertions within the presentation are patently false. The one that bugs me the most is that it declares that it's OK to be obscene or racist in conversation at work or school, but not to discuss religion.

um... no. No, it's not. In the U.S., in fact, it's illegal. I would venture a guess that it's easier to get fired (or sued) for obscene or racist conversation than for religious conversation.

This is a hot button for me because I suffered with religious harassment (not realizing that that was what it was) for several years, and it was pretty excruciating. When I raised the issue, I was belittled.

So, yeah. Not diggin' that one either.

And then there's politics. I understand that almost half the country who voted didn't vote for Obama. That's a lot of people who don't agree with him (even assuming everyone who did vote for him agrees with him all the time, which is of course ridiculous).

But our president won the Nobel Peace Prize. This is a good thing. This is something to be proud of. Our president has received international recognition of his goals and his intent.

Yes, goals and intent. Not accomplishments. As Rachel Maddow points out, that has often been the case with the Nobel Peace Prize. This is not new or unique.

In fact, this puts more pressure on Obama to accomplish more.


So why are people jumping all over it and acting as if it's new, unique, and absurd?


I think Nixon was a freaky sneak, but I appreciate what he accomplished in U.S. relations with China. I think Reagan was an idiot who thought he was still acting in movies while acting as president, but I admire his role in ending the cold war.

Why are people taking an excellent example of the improved reputation of the U.S. around the world and acting as if it's bad?



Current Location: Longmeadow
Current Mood: angryangry. and that's ok.


Date:October 14th, 2009 03:24 pm (UTC)

It really is okay

It really is okay -- and even admirable. You've always been a good, clear thinker. And you continue to be. :)

[User Picture]
Date:October 14th, 2009 05:15 pm (UTC)


your opinion means the world to me. :)
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