Maintaining a Relationship with Difficult Parents

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Over the years, I have sometimes gotten emails from readers wanting advice on how to deal with controlling and manipulative (if not downright abusive) parents. As my regular readers will know, I have maintained my relationship with my parents in spite of the no good very bad treatment I received from them as I came of age. My parents' actions---their efforts to control and manipulate and guilt me into being the daughter they wanted me to be---were emotionally abusive. Why did I decided to keep … [Read more...]

On Coming When You’re Called and Fear-Based Obedience

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Yesterday I argued that we sometimes hold higher expectations for our children than we do for ourselves. One example I gave was when parents expect their children to jump up and come immediately when called while they themselves feel free to take a moment to finish something when someone else calls them.I grew up with parents who expected obedience to be "immediate, complete, cheerful, and without question." Anything short of this was considered disobedience. Half of my many siblings are … [Read more...]

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

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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...]

Michael Farris’s Selective Interest in Protecting Children

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In the most recent installment of my Anonymous Tip review series, social workers Donna and Rita forcibly strip-searched four-year-old Casey. In the comments, a reader pointed this out: The strip-search bit sounds (to me, anyway) awfully similar to a spanking. Child is pinned down against her will, clothing is removed against her will, child writhes and screams to no avail... Casey is probably surprised that after this, the social workers just let her go instead of whacking her with a wooden … [Read more...]

Adrian Peterson and Black Parenting

born in bondage

Several of my commenters have pointed out that there's a racial dimension important in understanding the Adrian Peterson situation. This isn't about saying that what Peterson did in abusing his son was okay, but rather that it's important to understand the context within which black parents make their disciplinary decisions. As a white woman, I don't feel qualified to speak to this directly, but I want to point to several articles I've seen written on this dimension over the past few days. For … [Read more...]

James Dobson and Adrian Peterson

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Two days ago, Focus on the Family's Jared Pingleton condemned Adrian Peterson's abuse of his son but defended corporal punishment. Yesterday I explained that the words Pingleton used to justify "appropriate" corporal punishment are the same words abusers use to justify their abuse. In the comments on that post, a reader pointed out, using quotes, that in the punishment he delivered Peterson was simply following the advice of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson himself. I looked up the qu … [Read more...]

From Humiliation to Cooperation

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Yesterday, I wrote about an article in Time Magazine's online parenting section written by Focus on the Family's Jared Pingleton. In that article Pingleton addressed the Adrian Peterson child abuse controversy. My main argument in my own post was that by misunderstanding the dynamics of abuse, Pingleton both erased abusers and reinforced abusers' justifications for their actions.Today I want to address the rest of Pingleton's article---namely, his advice on how to properly apply corporal … [Read more...]


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