Child Development, Jumping Frogs, and Evading Dinosaurs

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...]


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Talking to Kids about the News

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...]


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

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...]


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Why I Sometimes “Give In” to My Children

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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How Being an Older Sibling in a Big Duggar-Like Family Is Like Being a Polygamous Sister Wife

I was talking recently to a friend about inter-sibling relations in a large Duggar-like family. After listening, she said this: It sounds almost like sister wives or something. Wow. I had never thought of it that way before, but, yes.I grew up in a family very like the Duggars, except that we had half a dozen fewer children. We older children were expected to help raise the younger children. My parents followed the same parenting manuals as the Duggars, and those manuals advised placing … [Read more...]


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The Tomboy in Skirts

My six-year-old daughter Sally wears dresses, well, basically, all the time. If she's not wearing dresses, she's wearing skirts. I can't think of the last time I saw her in shorts, and she swore off pants last year. Too uncomfortable, she said. When it's cold, she wears leggings under her dresses. Dresses, dresses, always dresses.  This is weird to me. I grew up in a conservative evangelical homeschool culture that valued female domesticity. When I was 13, I swore off pants. I believed women … [Read more...]


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Parenting Positively Means Much More than Not Hitting

Yesterday as Sally climbed into the car, she knocked over a can with flowers in it, something she'd brought home from school, and in the process spilled water on the seat. Sally began to fret about the water, but I didn't have a towel or other rag in the car. Since we were about to head home home, I suggested that she sit on the wet spot, soaking up some of the water with her dress, and that she could change when we get home. Sally responded that the water was in a corner of the seat, so she c … [Read more...]


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