Saturday, November 24, 2012

Wives with Knives

I like watching the TV station, "ID" and all the true-crime shows…Last night I was watching, "Wives with Knives" and there was one case involving a woman who'd killed her abusive boyfriend…and the FBI profiler was talking about signs of being an abused woman...and so...the topic of "abused woman" got me thinking…

If you Google, "signs of unhealthy relationship" you find lots of hits with generally the same list of indicators that you are in an abusive relationship…

(obviously the woman can be the abuser but I'm focusing on the ladies as the abused here)

Signs of being in an abusive relationship...
- he uses of physical force when he wants you to do what he wants
- he uses threats of physical force force 
- he will verbally abuse you (speak disrespectfully/impatiently, curse, call names, degrade, criticize)
- you feel afraid to disagree with him
- you feel ignored or dismissed by him
- you feel unheard and unable to communicate what you want
- he is in control (tells you what to do, where to do, what to wear, etc.)
- you have no personal space and have to share everything with him
- you feel isolated
- you feel stifled and trapped
- he makes all the decisions
- he lies to you
- he blames you for all the problems in the house
- you feel pressure to change to meet his standards
- he pushes, shoves, pinches, hits, punches, kicks or otherwise hurts you
- you constantly have to justify what you you, where you go, and who you associate with
- he presss you to do things you're uncomfortable with
- you find yourself making excuses for your partner's behavior

So, you have a daughter…and you want her to grow up and marry a man who will love and cherish and respect her and not abuse her (as in the list above). How can you "train" her to recognize this treatment as abusive? How can you train her so that she won't end up as one of those ladies who stays in a relationship with a man who beats her for years and years...hiding her bruises and making excuses for his behavior? How can you protect your daughter from this?

Fortunately, for the Christian parent...God has promised that the way you raise her up she won't depart from when she's older. (for the non-Christian, you simply realize that what you teach your kids sticks with them)

So, what is your daughter learning about love and healthy relationships from her first relationship: the parent/child relationship? 

Is your daughter being taught by your example that a man who truly loves you will not ever:
- physically hurt her
- threaten to hurt her
- speak disrespectfully to her
- control her and make all decisions for her
- violate her privacy
- make her suffer for disagreeing with him
- ignore her
- isolate her
- lie to her
- manipulate her
- expect her to change
- make her do things she's uncomfortable with

That is what we all want, isn't it? We all want our daughters to know this and to never end up in a relationship like this, right?! We all want our daughters protected! So...in our parent/child relationship we are teaching them what healthy relationships look like...and this is the best way to protect her!

In teaching her by example with your love...do you…
- use physical force to get your daughter to do what you want? (does she get a spanking if she doesn't do what you say?)
- do you threaten your daughter to get her to do what you want? (You better stop that or you'll get a spanking!)
- do you yell at your daughter or speak to her disrespectfully? Do you call her names (brat!)? Do you criticize (you ALWAYS spill things!)?
- is your daughter free to argue with you if she disagrees with you...or do you punish her for "back-talking?"
- does your daughter ever cry all alone in her crib ignored and dismissed by you?
- do you decide when your daughter sleeps, gets up, eats, etc? Do you decide everything?
- does your daughter have items you do not interfere with (like a diary)? Do you knock before entering her room or before entering the bathroom if she is in there?
- does your daughter spend time feeling isolated (naughty step, time-out chair)
- does your daughter feel free?
- do you lie to your daughter? (Santa Claus is comin' to town! The Elf on the Shelf is watching you!) 
- do you manipulate her with your lies? (And, you better do as I say or Santa won't come!)
- does your daughter feel like she's acceptable as she is or is she pressed to improve/change constantly? (why wasn't that grade an A?)
- do you blame your daughter for problems in the house? (You are stressing Mommy out so bad!)
- do you push, pinch, shove, hit (spank) your daughter to make her do what you want?
- does your daughter have to constantly justify what she's doing and who she's with?
- do you make your daughter do things with her body she's uncomfortable with? (Sit on Santa's lap so I can take a picture while you cry! Kiss Uncle Bob good-bye!)

What lessons about true love are you giving her?

If parents are saying to their daughters that they love them…and that God loves them…and that this is why they do these things with their daughters…there is no way that upon graduating from that first school in life (the girl's parent/child relationship) that she is going to suddenly realize that anything other than being treated this way is "love." 

For your daughter...everything you do with her = love and how someone who loves her will treat her. You are her primary source of love now but one day it will be her husband and she will look for a man who loves her the way you have taught her that love is...

SONS...

And, for your sons…the same list goes in a different way…is your son being taught that to love a woman means to do all those things? Is your son being taught that that's how God expects him to love his family?

And, for both sons and daughters…since earthly parents are the child's first representation of how God is…is this how your children are being taught that God is?

CHALLENGE...

I challenge you to look at each of your interactions with your children today and ask yourself if what you just did or said is a sign of a healthy or abusive relationship. Ask yourself with each of your own interactions with your daughter...how you would feel to see your daughter's husband treat her that way...

Ask yourself if you need to make any changes...because, each child comes into the world with one question, "I wanna know what love is! I want you to show me!" And, everything you do or say to or around your child is answering that question...

HELP CHANGING...

If you find that you feel helpless to parent a child without spanking, threatening to spank, punishing, and controlling...if you find that you have no idea what to do if you don't do those things...click on the tab at the top about "books" and you will find a long list of books which can help you...and there are lots of great blogs out there like, "Aha! Parenting."

Also, you can check out "Olive Branch" on Facebook...which is an community of people who wish to stop spanking (etc.) and parent in a different way...

For testimonies of people who have stopped spanking: Olive Branch Blog




Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My report card

I was just thinking about self-esteem...and how much how you think about yourself effects what you do and how you succeed or not in life...

Well...

My 4 year old  gave me a report card the other night...how I'm doing with her...

me: I love you!
her: And, I love myself!
me: (smiling...beaming!!! and thinking, "wow where did that come from! Awesome!!!)
her: Do you love your self? (she separates the 2 words)
me: (ugh oh!)
her: Mom! Do you love your self?
me: (thinking I could say the right answer, "yes!" but that would be a lie! But, how can I tell her, "no!" That would mess her up! What do I do!)
her: Mom! Do you love your self?
me: (be a politician!!!) Do you think I should love myself?
her: Yes!
me: (hugging her) I love you!




Tori is my 8th child...and after many mistakes with my 1st 7...I can say that Tori...nursed on demand, slept with me (sleeps with me), has never been put in time-out, never had toys taken from her, never been hit by me (spanked), never been yelled at or threatened (punished at all basically)...all the things Gary Ezzo, Michael Pearl, and James Dobson (for example) would say are big no-no's!!!

And, how is this teaching working out for Tori?
What's the fruit say?

“Beware of the false prophets who publish Christian child-training manuals that teach you to spank and control your children, who come to you in sheep’s clothing proclaiming to be speaking for Me, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 

You will know them by their fruits. Like how Gary Ezzo's kids have disowned him...and how all the studies and research have shown that this type of parenting leads to more aggressive kids with self-esteem issues!!!

Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. So, if your toddler is a monster or your teen won't talk to you and is disrespectful it's because the tree you've planted with that advice you're following...the advice and what you've been doing is bearing its fruit. A good tree or book of parenting advice cannot produce bad fruit or a terrible two or a rebellious teen, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. As in not spanking or punishing my daughter can't produce a good, happy, polite, not terrible toddler or 4-year old. 

Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. If you've got unhappy naughty kids get rid of those books you're reading and quit spanking and punishing! 

So then, you will know them by their fruits.
Matthew 7


Monday, November 19, 2012

Pain!!

I was just thinking about how the function of pain... 

Romans 1…remember? Says that everything we wanna know about God is evident/obvious thru what He's made because it's clearly seen in the Creation and in us.

So, just take a look at the human brain. We know it's made by God...designed by God...and looking at it either from a Creationist perspective or even from the findings of evolutionary scientists they all come to the same conclusions about how our brains come wired. Our brains are pre-wired to do a lot of things...and one thing it's pre-wired to do is avoid pain.

This is God's loving way of helping us. And, as the Bible says, "He's placed the truth on our hearts." He's wired certain things into us for our own good. 

Another thing that science has shown is that social isolation activates the same area of the brain as physical pain. Being cut off from others doesn't just figuratively or poetically "hurt" us...it's literal. 

So, following God's design of pain avoidance would "save us" from so much in life, wouldn't it? Think of all the negative consequences to sin in life…they're all painful! For example...

Stealing has painful consequences because it hurts those who are stolen from and can result in social isolation (jail)…

Adultery has painful consequences because it destroys relationships and separates us from those we love…

Jealousy has painful consequences because it isolates from the one you're jealous of…

Lying causes relationship troubles...

...and so on...

All those things have negative or painful consequences in our relationships, personal lives, and bodies (health via stress) true? And, so the natural design inside us to avoid pain should keep us away from things that cause us pain...and on a daily basis this would be one way God would be saving us from our own sin! (Paul referred to being saved as a process...not a 1 time thing) It's a beautiful safety design by God, really! Like a permanent helmet or seat belt! 

Christian parents wanna parent as God desires. They want to know "What is God's will for my child?" "What is God's plan for my child?" "What is God's will for me as a parent?"

Again…Romans 1 has the answer…and I believe most parents would agree that it's pretty obvious we parents are wired to be vigilant of our children's safety. We all feel that protectiveness and worry about kids running out into the street,we strap them into car seats, tell them to "be careful" when playing, etc. That protectiveness is always there. So, we're wired to protect and they are wired to avoid pain. Pretty good combination.

As society changes so do the dangers. So, our children aren't necessarily "wired" to look at a stove burner and see that it's red and red = pain. Really, red = pretty and "touch me!" So, our children need taught what dangers are in the world they've been born into.

That's where we parents come in...God's done half the work for us and all we have to do is work with it. It's a beautiful design.

So, our child is born in the age of electricity and gadgets. Our child lives in a house with an electric stove. The child touches a burner when it's on. We hear the child's cry, we respond and we tend to do two main things. We attempt to minimize/stop the pain and help the child understand what has just happened, "See! When it's all bright, shiny, pretty and red it's HOT and OWWIE! Hurts!!! No touchy!!!" 

The parent's part in the child's life is to minimize pain and heal the natural consequences of their bad choices…and point them toward the truth. 

It's beautiful. We're just like God…the healer…protector…savior…and source of truth for our children! All because we're made in His image and all with the goal of pointing our child toward God!

But, now…imagine that the child goes back and touches that red hot burner again! And, again! And AGAIN! What if the child would touch that hot stove purposely every time you turned it on!? Eventually, you would likely take the child to a psychologist because you'd realize something is very wrong!

Why would it be wrong?

It's just not natural to willingly engage in something that's painful! It's not natural and not God's design at all to willingly do things that hurt us. God's wired our brains to avoid pain and we all know that even without a degree in neuroscience. If our child was willingly touching that hot stove every day we'd just know something was wrong. 

Imagine also that child…touching the hot stove and being burned every day and not reacting at all to it! If the child was having no reaction to the pain, then, the alarm bells would really be going off, wouldn't they? You would really know that something is very VERY wrong with the child! Right? 

Most "Christian" parenting books tell parents that it is God's will for them to strike their children on the butt to cause pain to teach them lessons. The logic is the same as in the hot stove - the teaching believes that it is teaching the child that if they do "X" and they get pain and so they will be deterred from doing whatever it is ever again.

This philosophy and teaching does have an element of truth mixed into it because yes, the brain is wired to avoid pain. But, let's look at "what pain" and "what the brain is identifying to avoid."

(Oh, I get it...element of truth...haha)

In the example of touching the hot stove, the lesson learned by the child's choice/actions is touching the hot stove = pain. This is a direct cause/effect lesson. Not all lessons are so straightforward and direct. Some cause/effect relationships between bad activities need help in being pointed out because the effect is much less obvious or direct.

For example, "Don't pull the dog's ears because you will hurt the dog and make the dog turn mean" is a lesson that a child can't learn by pulling the dog's ears once. They must be reasoned with and taught that lesson because little children don't have the mental capacity for "empathy" and the result of the "dog turning mean" could take years. To help a child learn this cause/effect relationship to choices/actions like this takes a lot of patience and time. One disciplinary moment in a situation like this can take 5-15 minutes because of the time it takes to help the child understand what you want them to see.

In the case of the hot stove, obviously the cause/effect is "child chooses to touch = pain of being burned" and the child learns that quickly.

In the case of pulling the dog's ears the cause/effect is much more complex and the parent is required to help the child see that.

But, most Christian parenting books and Christian parents believe that the proper way to demonstrate cause/effect to the child in the 2nd more complex case is to provide the pain themselves in the form of a spanking/smacking.

If it was a question on a school paper they see it as:

Burn is to hot stove as…spanking is to pulling dog's ears

But, that's not correct.

In order for that to be true it would have to read, "Spanking is to touching hot stove as spanking is to pulling dog's ears."

When you look at it that way you should be able to see the problem.
The correct answer would be this, "Burn is to hot stove as...mean hurt dog is to pulling dog's ears"

"The parent's part in the child's life is to minimize pain and heal the natural consequences of their bad choices…and point them toward the truth."
Neither of these things happen when the parent takes on the form of the consequence. The parent unnaturally becomes the amplifier or source of pain (rather than minimizer/healer) and the parent points the child toward the punishment...

Parents who become the source of the pain ruin the child's opportunity to learn the true cause and effect relationship to their actions and pain by skipping the "discipling" part and opting instead for "punishment". It's swift. It's fast. It seems to work. 

Worse than that...What is REALLY happening when a child is being taught to willingly submit to spankings?

When I was "taught" to spank in Sunday School class (that place where we learn about the savior…the prince of peace and author of love and life!) I was taught that any resistance on the child's part is equivalent to "rebellion" and must be "dealt" with. Usually with additional swats or a 2nd spanking.

But, if a child who would touch a hot stove willingly and not react is a sign of a child who needs to see a psychiatrist…what in the world do we think we're teaching kids when we follow thru with the spanking philosophy that expects children to willingly submit to painful stimuli with no protest? We're failing to teach our children cause and effect as God wishes them to learn based on how He designed the world to work…and we're unwiring what God has wired in the child's brain with regards to pain response.

We're parenting against God's design!

For a child to walk willingly into a room where they are about to be hit/hurt/inflicted with pain (spanked) and not do anything "defensive" (like put their hands over their butts or say "no!!!") and then to react almost thankfully and give a hug and not stomp off or cry loudly…WHAT is that doing to their brains which are wired BY GOD to RESIST and AVOID pain!?

The system God put into the child's brain for their safety, protection, health, and futures…is knocked awry by parents who are not really thinking things thru! And, rather than learning to avoid "the action" due to its natural painful consequence…the child ultimately learns to avoid the parent because the parent is the source of the pain. And, by extension then, Christian children learn that if parents = pain…so does God. They learn to believe that when bad things happen in life it's because "God is punishing them."

Remember God said…"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."

So, a child who is trained to ignore pain and not taught proper cause and effect for their actions and taught only to expect punishment is going to be at risk for all types of dangers. And, mostly because they will always be in danger of not being able to equate their actions and choices with potential harm…

They will only be able to look at their actions and choices in light of the fear of potential punishment…and without the direct supervision of the punisher (thru whom they look to for all "consequences") the child will be lost. That child will never be free. And, "it was for freedom that Christ set us free…" 

I've said it before...
I'd rather that my child fears running out into the street because he fears getting hit by a car...not by me. I won't always be there in the street...but the cars always will be...

Which does your child fear? 




Matthew 18
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!


Monday, November 12, 2012

Look up!


Sometimes the best most interesting thoughts I get come from my teenagers…

I was talking to my 19-year old (who is currently in police academy) the other day and he mentioned that humans don't look up. He says that's why snipers often are in a position up high…

He said it's why often in ancient times that when they wanted to protect a city they'd put guards on the rooftops because bad guys would attack from above. He mentioned a bunch of other examples that all boiled down to the fact that humans are vulnerable from above because we're not wired…to look up for danger.

Right away, of course, I realize this means something. 

Romans 1…says…
"…that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse."

So…humans…aren't wired to expect danger or harm or pain from above…this is to tell us something from within and without…

God was really awesome to leave this type of truth for us in the Creation. We can't change physics. Gravity is always the same. Biology is always the same. It's just a matter of discovering it and uncovering the truth it's intended to tell us! No one's culture, language, or bad translations can take those unchangeable truths from us. 

So, if humans are not wired to expect attack from above…what would this tell us about God?

First of all…it would tell us that we don't need to be afraid of God. Bad things don't happen because of God. God doesn't attack us. God is not a source of pain. When we do look up "toward the heavens" we see the beautiful sky…and for the most part looking up brings us relaxation and pleasure.

Second of all…what about small people? (More commonly known as kids?) Children are noticeably smaller than adults, aren't they? All their lives until they hit reproductive maturity they are generally forced to spend their whole lives looking up. So, just like adults…when children "look up" at us, what do they see? Do they see something to make them feel at peace? Do they look at us and find refuge and a reason to breathe a sigh of relief? Do they look up at us and sometimes find themselves in awe of us? Or, have we driven them to go against the way God made them and have given them something to be afraid of?

God has wired humans to not look up to expect an attack, that would seem to tell me that as the parent…as the one the child is looking up to…that I should not be a threat...yet that is exactly how most children live.

God has wired humans so that we aren't to look up for danger, yet, pick up just about any "Christian" parenting book and you'll find the instruction give your child something to fear from above. And, according to statistics most children in America live in perpetual fear of their parents hitting them on their butts with something every time they are naughty.

Seems to me something's off…

Is hitting our children on the butt with something to cause them pain (spanking) when they're naughty really God's way or not? With the debate over this truth and the battle of the verses forever waging how can we know?

I'd say we actually do know…because God says He's made it clear and evident to us…so if we're ignorant of it it's because we have "suppressed the truth in unrighteousness"…and that makes Him mad.

And, because of this suppression…we end up raising people who expect what God has wired them not to: to expect pain from Him.

And, the end result of raising up children to fear their parents is that in 2012 we have a church who believes that God has a "plan" for everything and that everything (including bad/painful things) that happens is part of it. Even if they believe He's not doing it He's allowing it (and therefore still responsible). Every terrible fearsome act that happens on the planet gets attributed to having "come down from above"…

Despite what Romans 1 says… (everything knowable about God is knowable thru the Creation)
Despite what James says… (every good and perfect gift comes from above)
Despite what the life and sacrifice of Jesus says… 

The church can fuss about elections. Fuss about the "non-Christians" pushing their agendas. But, the real enemy…the real "anti-Christ" is anything that puts itself against the knowledge of Christ…and that is what most Christian parents are actually doing when they teach their children to look up and be afraid…which is why God can lament, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…"





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