Hana Williams Abuse and Murder Trial Ongoing

Hana Williams died two years ago, in May 2011, of hypothermia after her mother banished her from the house as punishment for being "rebellious." Hana was already overly-thin from starvation---her parents withheld food as punishment---and she had often been forced to sleep in the barn, use an outdoor port-a-potty, and shower outside. Hana Williams had been adopted from Ethiopia in 2008 by a conservative Christian homeschooling couple who followed the child training methods of Michael and Debi … [Read more...]


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Gentle Discipline and Shades of Formula Parenting

There appears to be a growing trend in some Christian homeschooling circles away from corporal punishment. The term generally used instead is "gentle discipline," and it sounds in many ways quite similar to what I call "positive parenting." I hesitate to make the critique I'm about to make, because I truly am glad that these parents are deciding not to spank.The thing is, when I read blog posts by mothers into gentle discipline, I am sometimes afraid that they have simply exchanged one … [Read more...]


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Why We Give Parents Power

One commenter on my post about whether children are an oppressed class had this to say: You can't give someone great responsibility without giving them equally great power. . . . If parents are going to be held responsible for their children's actions, they must have the power to curtail their children's actions. This is an important point. While I don't believe in "parental rights," I do believe that parents have responsibilities toward their children. They are tasked with ensuring that their … [Read more...]


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Are Children an Oppressed Class?

I've often heard that children are manipulative, but it just occurred to me that being without any real power can't help but make people turn to manipulation. After all, what other options are there? Think about it: If a preschooler wants to stop by the ice cream store, the only way she can meet that desire is to convince her parent to take her there and buy her ice cream. And the parent, in this situation, has absolute power. The parent can simply say no and that's the end of it. And it's not … [Read more...]


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In Which Sally Grasps Contraception

"Mommy, what's this?"In her hand Sally held a condom, still in its wrapper. Sean had cleaned out his desk earlier in the day, and it had somehow ended up on the floor, a leftover from last summer between when Bobby was born and when I had my IUD put in. I could have just brushed the question off with a non-answer---Sally's only in preschool, by the way---but I decided against that. Instead, I pulled out my copy of Our Bodies Ourselves and showed Sally diagrams of the female reproductive … [Read more...]


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That Time I Put Myself in a Timeout

Sometime last year, shortly after Bobby was born, Sally had the worst temper tantrum she has ever had. Sean was working late and I had the kids. Bobby was fussy and I was trying to cook supper and I don't even remember what set Sally off. But she wasn't the only one who got mad---I got mad too. Really angry, and not just at her. My evening was not going as planned. Sally was lying on the ground, screaming and kicking things. So I chose a course of action and took it. I turned off the stove, … [Read more...]


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What (Not) To Do If Your Husband Abuses Your Kids

I recently ran across this quote from Michael and Debi Pearl's child training manual child abuse manual, To Train Up a Child: Mother, if you think the father is too forceful in his discipline, there is something you can do. While he is away demand, expect, train for and discipline to receive instant and complete obedience from your children. When the father comes home the house will be peaceful and well ordered. The children will always obey their father, giving him no need to discipline … [Read more...]


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