Motherhood is like Ivan Drago, it will break you, if you let it. Mouthy kids, messy house, everybody obstinate, demands unending, crying, whining, clinging, pestering, need, need, need. It is utterly exhausting.
Louis CK has a great bit called, “Why?” It about sums up what parenthood can do to you.
I share all this because I read via a friend’s Facebook feed this mom’s lament about a truly crappy morning with her darling angels:
I lost it this morning. Really lost it. After the kids were all dressed for school, breakfast eaten, teeth brushed, backpacks packed, I turned on the TV. I have a rule that the kids can only watch certain channels. Annabelle never, ever, ever sticks to this rule.
You can go read the rest to see how she proceeded to handle Annabelle. Let’s just say this, at least mom didn’t let the disobedience stand.
This mother is worried about people judging. Maybe some non-parent is going to judge, but most parents are nothing if not utterly humbled. Kids will do that to you. I’m convinced that it starts with pregnancy and the uncontrolled, public fart that happens at least once. A parent is not a parent if he or she hasn’t lost his or her dignity. Sometimes, it’s lost and never returns. And this is with normal, regular old kids.
In addition to my “normal” children, I also have an autistic child in the mix. Having a special needs kid sent me to the books. I needed help.
Through my desperate searching, I did find one gem. There is a great book for parents struggling with disrespectful, entitled brats. I wish I had bought and read and implemented the principles years ago, but I was so buried and overwhelmed back then and no one told me. So, I’m telling you.
Read this book. When things start spinning out of control again, read it again. Lock yourself in the bathroom (yes, I still do that and no, it still doesn’t work) and refresh yourself with the principles.
For me, the maddening parenting thing is making the same request over and over and having gifted and talented children looking at me slack-jawed and drooling and acting as though I’ve just spoken in an obscure Chinese dialect. Oh, you know The Look. We all know The Look. This book will help you with that look.
Allow dollars to follow the child. A Texas teacher makes her case for school choice:
Texas has increased education spending 95% with a 19% increase in school age population while test scores are flat.
I’m coming to believe test scores are less important. A child should be able to read, do simple math, and write by the age ten–5th grade (and that’s me just being arbitrary). With the innovations in education and the ability to tailor education to a kid, the money should be freed up. There are just so many ways a kid can be educated now.
My kids are in public school and all of them could probably be in environments better suited to their needs. Children develop in uneven ways.
It’s strange to think, but the one-room school house actually catered to kids better in some ways. A slow learner could be paired with kids coming along. A quick learner could accelerate as quickly as he wanted.
Our current educational system is just not responsive to the individual. Freeing up money and allowing kids to thrive in environments suited to them would be a step in the right direction.
The Hunger Games premise is not for the faint of heart: children are offered up as sacrifices to appease the central government gods who control 13 districts. [See more about an explanation of the movie in Part I of my Hunger Games Series.]
Here are the tributes:
You’ll note that some are babies. And, in fact, in a wrenching scene one of the youngest of them dies a brutal death. And the protagonist Katniss Everdine gives the child funeral rites even though she is a competitor.
The kindness in the midst of the brutality causes a riot in the dead girl’s district.
It is a lot to take in for an adult. For a child? Well.
Not all children should see this movie. In fact, children under 10 – 12 shouldn’t see the movie no matter their constitutions. There is some good reasoning here as to why.
One of my older children (14) is especially sensitive and won’t be seeing the movie either until it’s on a small screen, the movie can be stopped, and the issues explained. Also, the books must be read first.
My twelve year old daughter did see the movie. She’d read all the books and didn’t seem to grasp the horror of forcing children to fight each other to the death.
She sat curled into my arms at a couple points during the movie. Seeing is believing, evidently.
While the filmmakers did their best to minimize the blood and gore, the graphic nature of kids breaking necks, stabbing and slashing, poisoning, etc. disturbs all but the most detached.
The books are actually more graphic and distressing. As I shared in my previous post, I was so sickened by the premise that I put the book down.
Many books deal with children as protagonists in life and death situations — Lord of the Rings (in the books the Hobbits were coming of age), Ender’s Game (6 year old protagonist), Black Beauty, Lord of the Flies, etc.
Children read these books, evaluate them, and process them on a different level. Their lack of life experience is a help here. In books, one imagines what one has experienced and apply it to the reading.
The movie gives no such room. The violence is there to see.
There is great risk watching the movie Hunger Games of becoming the voyeur watching the reality game. The American audience, especially, weaned on Survivor, the Bachelor, etc., can be immune to the human difficulty and suffering.
Children are used as pawns and killed while, as a friend stated, trying to hold on to their humanity. This is a subject only the more mature can process. Beware of robbing your child’s innocence with this movie.
If you doubt your child’s ability to handle it, wait.
[More about the cultural relevance in the next installment.]
Well, that will disappoint some of the readers here. Oh wait! Not that kind of spanking. Here’s the study:
The results of a survey of more than 17,000 university students from 32 countries “show that the higher the percent of parents who used corporal punishment, the lower the national average IQ,” Straus wrote in his presentation.
In looking at spanking just in the United States, Straus and a fellow researcher reviewed data on IQ scores from 806 children between 2 and 4 years old and another 704 kids aged 5 to 9.
When their IQs were tested again four years later, children in the younger group who were not spanked scored five points higher, on average, than did children who had been spanked. In the group of older children, spanking resulted in an average loss of 2.8 points.
“How often parents spanked made a difference,” Straus said in a news release from the university. “The more spanking, the slower the development of the child’s mental ability. But even small amounts of spanking made a difference.”
I think the study writers were beaten as children.
First, when looking across cultures, how does one control for something like spanking? All Australian children eat vegemite, or however you spell it. Does that make an IQ difference? Do spanked children who eat vegemite have higher or lower IQs?
Not to mention, this statement, an obvious one, invalidates the whole study:
Those findings are plausible and make some sense, Briggs said, but she added that it’s difficult to tease out all the other factors that could play a role in IQ scores — including poverty and parental education.
Ya think? How about the parents being morons themselves since IQ is highly heritable?
Second, the presumption is that spanking a child is an out-of-control parenting experience:
Dr. Stephen Ajl, a child abuse pediatrician, director of pediatric ambulatory care at the Brooklyn Hospital Center and medical director of the Jane Barker Brooklyn Children’s Advocacy Center in New York City, said that “spanking and other forms of corporal punishment mean that someone has lost control, and if that goes on on a chronic basis, it may affect some part of children’s psychological well-being.”
And though some people believe that they can use spanking as a form of punishment without losing control, Briggs said that’s very difficult to do all the time.
“When you’re physical with your child, you open that floodgate, and the likelihood that it could veer into where you don’t have as much control increases,” Briggs said. “Plus, if you’re just spanking, you haven’t taught your child anything.”
You can’t tell me the culture of beating a kid with a stick for every response is the same as a parent who spanks a kid for running into the street. Even if the second parent is out-of-control or angry, sometimes it’s not bad for a kid to get “rebooted” now and again.
This study was put forth for political reasons. Liberals don’t like spanking. They think it’s barbaric. They also believe everyone can be rehabilitated. Ironically, the children who never learn consequences as a kid grows up to being surprised, and in jail, dealing with consequences.
Can a child grow up without ever being spanked and turn out fine? Yes. Can a child receive corporal punishment and turn out fine? Yes. The bigger thing is love being the foundation.
Also: Spanking is NOT hitting. There is a huge difference between the two. Beating is another whole level of abuse. Liberals like conflating these things because nuance scares them. They want a rule for parents to follow, but the fact is, every child is different. Family personalities are different. Parents must make different choices with different kids.
Bottom line, libs need to butt out.
There have been all sorts of articles written about Helicopter Parents and now, there’s a new trend called “slow parenting“. Slow parenting is just as the name implies–yank your kids out of activities and slow down. There is competing evidence, like came from Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers that kids do better with more activities and need at least ten years of consistent, hard work to achieve mastery. And then, there was his extolling of the schools that go year around and for eight hours a day, including Saturday.
Slow parenting might be a new trend, though I’m dubious. Aggressive, strung-out parenting seems to be the norm. Kids have their extra-curricular activities and then they come home…where they are the victims of aggressive schooling.
All the parents complain about aggressive schooling and then, they comply. Their kids come home with projects beyond their ability and the parents are forced to “help” or else the child will be consigned to B+ status.
There is a method to the schooling madness. By making every piece of homework a little too difficult and a must-check and sign by parents, teachers off-load responsibility. If the kid is uneducated, it’s not the teacher’s fault, the parents just don’t care enough and aren’t involved.
Beyond the state’s control of the individual’s behavior, is there any evidence that front-loading education accomplishes anything besides making kids tired and frustrated with school?
And while kids seem to know more minutiae do they have the context to put this information in?
My concern is practical–kids are tired, worn-out and have less time to just play. My concern is also scientific. It seems that there should be evidence that these methods actually work. Children are scheduled heavily and working evenings and weekends when the time could be spent doing other things. Does this work pay off? What are the outcomes to this approach?
If SAT scores mean anything, education has declined, not improved. From the Wall Street Journal:
High-school students’ performance on SAT college-entrance exams stalled, and the gap widened between low-scoring minority groups and the overall population, raising questions about the quality of teaching in U.S. schools.
There should be evidence that broad academic front-loading is helpful and effective. If not, kids need to be cut a break. They have their whole lives to learn taxonomy, but there are only a few years to play.
On the same day I read (via Instapundit) that British boys are keeping themselves stupid so as not to get their dumb asses kicked by even dumber, and ostensibly bigger and stronger, bullies, I read that girls are checking out porn, giving boyfriends a show via webcam and sending naked pictures of themselves to the aforementioned willful idiots.
This is the future: hyper-sexualized ignoramuses. The worst part? They won’t know anything, but they’ll know how to creatively copulate and procreate.
Who buys dirt bike boots for a two year old?
My friend and fellow blogger pointed me in the direction of this video by a 12 year old girl explaining her opposition to abortion. It looks like a school project where she either practiced using the video equipment or turned in her project on video. Go watch it and then come back.
While the content of the girl’s argument is sound and I personally agree with her perspective, my meta issue is the fact that she’s 12, a child herself. The video crawled all over me as a parent. Just as the kids made to sing Obama songs, pay fealty to Obama’s image in school, or in my daughter’s case, come home with homework that required her to describe a change she was going to make (this was a ready-made work-sheet by the way) in honor of Barack Obama’s presidential win, exploits a child ideologically, having a child discuss abortion and then post it on the internet seems…wrong.
A child under the age of 18 cannot enter a contract because he is not “of age”. That is, a person entering a contract must understand the provisions in the contract in order to be held to it. Likewise, a 12 year old child may have the moral clarity to feel a certain way about a topic, but does he have the understanding to comprehend the long-term consequences of having those opinions aired publicly?
This is, no doubt, a gray area. I immediately call to mind child actors, musicians, etc. Children can be mature and wise and change the world for the positive. Lots of kids have started charities, written books, etc.
What do you think?