Sally Sets Boundaries

One day not long ago, I was under a very large amount of stress. I had to clean the house and pack the car and get the kids and myself underway by a specific time, all on my own, without my partner there to help. My children weren't being very helpful, either---both were upstairs on the computer---but then I'd been so busy I hadn't really taken the time to get face-t0-face with them and explain what was going on. Not stopping for a few minutes to communicate directly with them was obviously a m … [Read more...]


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“She seems to have turned out pretty well!”

It happened so quickly, so naturally, and yet I can't get it out of my mind. At a graduation party earlier this month I ran into the mother of two homeschooled girls I tutored when I was in high school, homeschooled myself. "You were a great teacher for my kids," she told me. "You were very strict with them and they needed that." And I cringed, because I am not the authoritarian person I was in high school. And was that really what she remembered about my time tutoring? What about all the times I … [Read more...]


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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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