I Will Listen. I Will Learn. I Will Grow.

As my regular readers will know, I often blog about parenting. Primarily, I blog about the wonder I have found in parenting gently and positively after growing up in an authoritarian family that relied on corporal punishment. One response I frequently get is that I should not speak about parenting as though I know anything when my children are only five and two. I'm told to wait until they get older and see how it works for me then. This completely misses the point.Abuse is a very difficult … [Read more...]


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“God” and the Borders of Belonging

Several weeks ago, five-year-old Sally spent a great deal of time making something for her teacher and then left it at home on accident. When I noticed she had left it, I took it to the school to give it to her. The busses had only just dropped the children off, and when I reached Sally's classroom students were still coming in, putting their lunch containers on the shelf and taking off their jackets. As I left the school after giving Sally the gift she had made, the school's intercom came on … [Read more...]


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But What If They Don’t Do What You Ask?

I wrote recently that I would prefer to teach empathy than obedience. As some readers pointed out, at issue here is also responsibility. If we focus on teaching children to obey their parents and other adults in their lives, we aren't teaching them to make responsible decisions for themselves. One of the things I try to emphasize to my children when teaching empathy is that they live in an interconnected world and their actions affect those around them. This is part of teaching responsibility as … [Read more...]


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More Thoughts on Teaching Consent to Young Children

"When I was at Brogan's house, I kissed him," five-year-old Sally told me recently."Okay. Where did you kiss him?" I asked, curious what sort of kiss she meant."On the back of the head, because he didn't want me to so he was moving all around.""Wait a minute, now---""When we go over to Brogan's house again, I will run and catch him and kiss him again!" Sally proclaimed excitedly."Sally, what should you do if someone doesn't want you to kiss them?" I asked."Just get him … [Read more...]


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“I am so, so sorry, Bobby”: On Apologies

I was sitting on the couch reading when I heard a sudden altercation in front of me, a yelp, and then Bobby was crying. "Sally, do you need to apologize?" I asked. I immediately regretted the question---I should have first asked what happened rather than jumping to conclusions. I'm not perfect. But Sally's response was immediate. "Yes mom, I do," she said genuinely. "What happened?" I asked. By this time I was holding Bobby on my lap, stroking his hair and trying to soothe him. He was still c … [Read more...]


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Obedience, Empathy, and the Laundry Hamper

I was chatting with a friend about the results of a recent pew survey when she asked a question I found very, very interesting. I mean, if you teach a kid empathy, tolerance, and responsibility---do they need to be obedient? Or will they just do the things that are in the best interests of everyone? Like, "Hey, could you do the dishes?" "Sure." Because they realize they should help out with the house.  This is an excellent point.Let me offer an example: I would like my daughter Sally to pu … [Read more...]


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Adrian Peterson and Black Parenting

Several of my commenters have pointed out that there's a racial dimension important in understanding the Adrian Peterson situation. This isn't about saying that what Peterson did in abusing his son was okay, but rather that it's important to understand the context within which black parents make their disciplinary decisions. As a white woman, I don't feel qualified to speak to this directly, but I want to point to several articles I've seen written on this dimension over the past few days. For … [Read more...]


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