The State of Children’s Rights in Our Society Is Abysmal

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"No, I'm sorry, if there are no bruises CPS won't even take the report," the woman from the ChildHelp hotline told me over the phone. "There's nothing they can do.""But her mom keeps yelling at her, and they're going through her stuff," I insisted as I pulled up to a red light. Making the call in the car wasn't my initial plan, but it would have to do. "Surely there is something I can do?""No, I'm sorry, if there are no bruises they're not doing anything against the law.""Okay, thank … [Read more...]

Part of Parenting Is Letting Go (School Edition)

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School approaches, and in my Facebook feed I've seen many posts by moms sending their children off to kindergarten for the first time. They're worried. They're scared. They talk about crying over their impending separation, and about wondering if maybe they should keep their children home a few more years---homeschooling is better known, now, especially among the more progressive hippie types who grace my friend list. The tenor at school orientation was similar.On some level this feels … [Read more...]

When Positive Parenting Doesn’t “Work”

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Last week I wrote a post about struggling to convince my three-year-old son, Bobby, to take a nap while on a camping trip. I thought about how my parents would have handled they situation---by spanking the child refusing to lay down or stay still---and then about the problems with punishing children for age-approripate behavior that they will grow out of in time. I ultimately solved the situation by suggesting that Bobby and I pretend we were hiding from dinosaurs, a game that he engaged in … [Read more...]

Child Development, Jumping Frogs, and Evading Dinosaurs

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We went camping earlier this year. You know, the lovely peaceful sort of camping at an out-of-the way campsite, with hikes, 'smores, and afternoon naps in the tent. Well. Sort of. One afternoon as we all lay down in the tent for a nap, three-year-old Bobby decided he was a frog. He had walked quite a bit on our hike that morning and ought to have been tired out, but kids are nothing if not unpredictable. Six-year-old Sally decided she would take a nap, but Bobby? Nothing doing!Sean and I … [Read more...]

Talking to Kids about the News

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Some years ago I read the book Nixonland. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and the glimpse it provided of the turbulent 1960s. But the book gave me a gift I didn't realize at the time. We all see history happening all around us every day, but we usually don't notice it. Nixonland made me keenly aware of it. Someday a popular history book covering our current period will mention Michael Brown, Dylann Roof, and even Rachel Dolezal. It will mention Hobby Lobby and the birth control mandate, Obamacare and B … [Read more...]

An Atheist Parent, an Evangelical Grandmother, and a Six-Year-Old Girl

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On a recent visit home, my evangelical mother informed me, with horror, that my six-year-old daughter Sally doesn't know Jesus Loves Me. She tried to keep it light and almost funny, I think. I've set boundaries with her and she has generally respected them, but one thing I haven't done is told her I'm an atheist. Partly I want to preserve her peace of mind. At least this way she can imagine I'm saved. Partly I just don't know how she'll react. I think she knows, though, deep down, and is afraid t … [Read more...]

Why I Sometimes “Give In” to My Children

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Growing up, my parents were very firm that "no" meant "no." If we begged or tried to get them to change their minds, we would get in trouble. That was disobedience. More than that, they thought that if they were to "give in" to begging after already saying no, they would be allowing us children to rule them and would lose control of the family. So not only were we not allowed to beg, they also didn't allow themselves to change their minds. That would have been showing weakness.I see this … [Read more...]


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