No, Happiness Is NOT a Moral Obligation

This video has got to be one of the most godawful things I've seen in a long time.The full transcript can be downloaded here, and it's a doozy. Let me quote some excerpts for those not interested in (or able to) watch the video:Most people think of happiness as essentially a selfish issue: “I want to be happy -- and I want to be happy for me.”I’d like to suggest that in fact happiness is far, far more than a selfish desire. In fact, it is a moral obligation.. . .It i … [Read more...]


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Parenting Away from a Conflict of Wills

Growing up, my parents followed the child rearing teachings of Michael Pearl. The basic idea is to view childrearing as a conflict of wills between parent and child---a conflict the parent must win. Pearl advises parents to break their children's wills early, to show them who's boss. Today, I have two children of my own, and I don't parent this way---at all. Instead, I use a different framework, one that is cooperative and centers communication and compromise. These frameworks matter, because t … [Read more...]


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The Listening Parent (and the Thinking Child)

I was going to post something about politics today, but then I realized that there is way too much about politics out there right now, and that politics is a dark and unhappy place. So instead, I'm going to write about parenting.Last night I was watching Supergirl with my four-year-old son, Bobby, when he asked for a cup of milk. We were watching the show in the basement and had only just gotten all settled and started the show. I didn't really want to go upstairs to the kitchen, or to … [Read more...]


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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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Why I Don’t Force Confrontation with My Children

Last week I wrote about the importance of getting down on your child’s level to interact with them face to face. Several commenters noted that as children they had sometimes found it scary or uncomfortable when an adult got down on their level, especially if it involved forced eye contact or interaction they couldn't choose to avoid. This brought up something I didn't discuss in that post---namely, that I try to avoid forcing interaction---and especially confrontation---with my children.I thi … [Read more...]


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Let’s Talk Parenting: Size Matters

I remember when I first realized that, from my children's perspective, I was a giant. It was that moment that I fully understood how important it is to get down on my children's level when speaking with them. Like, really really important. If you talk to your children without getting down on their level, you're usually talking down at them rather than fully talking with them. Understanding why size matters---and how our relative size should effect my interactions---has become central to my par … [Read more...]


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In Defense of Letting Kids Talk Back

I grew up in a family where "back talk" was not allowed. The result was that I often felt muzzled and suffocated. For example, when I was in trouble any attempt to explain what actually happened or to disagree with a selected punishment and suggest an alternative resulted in more "spanks" being added to my punishment total. I often felt compelled to say something---to speak out in the face of what appeared to me to be clear injustice---but any words I might say were silenced, replaced by incre … [Read more...]


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