I Don’t Want Obedient Children

I grew up in an authoritarian family, the kind where the most important thing for children to be is obedient. We played games and made cookies and ate strawberries out of the garden and hiked to a nearby creek to play, but the expectation underlying all of this was that we obey our parents---always. And the word was used---frequently. When dropping me off at a friend's house to play for the day, my mom would tell me to "be a good obeying girl." Mom would read aloud out of Proverbs, and remind us … [Read more...]


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“Do I look like a boy, or a girl?”

My daughter Sally recently put on a new outfit and turned to me with a question."Do I look like a boy, or a girl?" she asked."You look like Sally," I told her.This exchange was brought to mind when reading Jessica Winters' Slate article, "Are You a Boy or a Girl?" In the article, Winters speaks of people's frustration when they can't immediately identify the gender of her eighteen-month-old daughter.Like a lot of 18-month-olds, my daughter is epicene; even if she’s out on the to … [Read more...]


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Why Do We as a Society Still Spank Our Children?

By now, you've probably heard about the new spanking study published in last month's Journal of Family Psychology. AUSTIN, Texas ­ — The more children are spanked, the more likely they are to defy their parents and to experience increased anti-social behavior, aggression, mental health problems and cognitive difficulties, according to a new meta-analysis of 50 years of research on spanking by experts at The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan....“Our analysis foc … [Read more...]


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How Do You Explain the Rapture to a Secular First Grader?

I grew up in an evangelical home. My daughter is growing up in a nonreligious home. One of the weirdest things about this situation is attempting to explain concepts that made perfect sense to me as a child---because they were all I knew, and all the adults around me believed them---too my children, who have no context for any of them. My son, Bobby, is still a bit young for such discussions, but my first grade daughter, Sally, is not. She is becoming more and more curious and more interested in … [Read more...]


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Smartphones, the Parental Boogeyman

I am no technophobe, and I tend to be more okay with screen time---with balance, of course---than other parents. But there is one area where I have sometimes become concerned about technology and my parenting, and that is my smartphone usage. Smartphones have made it that much easier to always be doing something---answering email, reading articles, interacting with friends on social media---and that much easier to be distracted and not paying direct attention to my children. Fair warning---as I g … [Read more...]


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Let’s Talk Parenting: Size Matters

I remember when I first realized that, from my children's perspective, I was a giant. It was that moment that I fully understood how important it is to get down on my children's level when speaking with them. Like, really really important. If you talk to your children without getting down on their level, you're usually talking down at them rather than fully talking with them. Understanding why size matters---and how our relative size should effect my interactions---has become central to my par … [Read more...]


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How I’ve Learned (and Unlearned) Parenting

I was raised in a strict evangelical home, and was taught that children must learn to respect their elders and obey their parents. As a result, I learned to view parenting from an obedience-focused punitive mindset. I left my evangelical upbringing behind just before I gave birth to my first child, my daughter Sally, and that meant I had to reinvent parenting. Over the years I've found the website Aha Parenting helpful, and I've learned a lot from the authors there, but I've also spent a lot of m … [Read more...]


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