When We Expect More of Our Children than of Ourselves

Some months ago Sally left the family iPad in a store. She had been reading interactive storybooks when it ran out of batteries, so she put it on the rack under the cart and subsequently forgot about it. We didn't realize it was missing until we got home. Needless to say, I was not happy. Actually, I was really quite upset. Sean took Sally back to the store to look for it, but they couldn't find it. I'm afraid to say that I was more than a little stern with Sally. I didn't punish her (after al … [Read more...]


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How Spanking Sounds to a Never-Spanked 5-Year-Old

Have you ever wondered how the idea of spanking comes across to a child who has never been spanked? I wondered, too, and given that I have a never-spanked five-year-old, I thought I'd find out. This conversation is the result."Sally, do you think mommies and daddies should be able to hit their children?""No.""But what if their children do something wrong? Should parents be able to hit their children then?""No!""Why not?""They should use words, they're not … [Read more...]


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Dolls, Yes; Ballerinas, No

It may surprise some readers to know that in spite of my parents' patriarchal beliefs, they gave one of my brothers a doll for Christmas one year---because he had begged for a doll of his own. My parents believed that my brothers were preparing to be fathers, and that that meant boys playing with dolls was perfectly acceptable.There's lots more, too. There's the brother who built his own dollhouse so that he could get in on dollhouse play with his sisters. He carefully fashioned the rooms, … [Read more...]


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Are Bugs “Boy” Things and Dolls “Girl” Things?

This fall a little girl wrote to Abdo Publishing after becoming concerned that the book she was reading, "The Biggest Baddest Book of Bugs," was part of a series titled "Biggest, Baddest Books for Boys." "Some girls would like to be entomologists too.," she explained. Abdo wrote back, thanking her concern and agreeing to change the series title to "Biggest, Baddest Books." But there was something about the story that struck me: According to the local paper, the publisher responded and told her … [Read more...]


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“Normal Childhood Sexual Exploration”?

When I was around seven, we often got together with a family with a little boy my own age. His parents went to my parents' church, and I think they were in the same Bible study. At some point he began nagging me, wanting me to pull down my underwear and let him see my bare bottom. I didn't want to do that, and I told him as much, but he wouldn't let up. Finally, I gave in. When no one was around, I laid down on the floor face down and pulled my underwear down so he could see my bare bottom. Afte … [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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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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