Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Let's play, "Pretend!"

"Let's pretend..."

Did you ever play that as a kid? I did. I had 2 friends who lived on my block and that was probably our most common thing to say after, "Hi." We pretended we had pet deer that lived under my porch. Can't remember much beyond that (as far as plot!) but I do remember we always, "played pretend."

A few days ago I had an experience that made me feel really icky while it was happening. My 7 and 4 year olds were playing with some 5 year old neighbors while the mom visited with me. One of the neighbor girls came running in almost crying and said, "Mom! Elisa is telling me that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny don't exist!"




Ugh oh. Instantly I thought, "Hmmm...we have always told the kids that those things aren't real, but, I guess I never told them to keep that a secret!"

Back when this first became an issue in my life my husband at that time (who is now dead) was against it. He had a bad experience with it because he remembered feeling like a total fool when he found out and he never wanted to do that to his own kids. So, we just never started it and have never done it.

I said, "Sorry," to the mom who said, "don't worry about it, it happens!"

A few minutes later then the other kid comes running in and says, "Mom!!! Tori says that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and the Sandman and the Tooth Fairy aren't real!!!!"




She was a little more upset than the other girl was and so this time I called for Tori to come over and sit on my lap. As she approached me she said, "She thinks Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are real!!!" I sat her on my lap and cupped my hand around her ear and said to her, "Tori. They believe that all those things are real because their mom and dad tell them that they are."

That felt a little icky.

Tori turns to me with a puzzled look on her face and says, "But? They're fake!"

I could feel her confusion at my behavior. My behavior that was going completely opposite of my normal character...

While the mom sat by me and comforted and reassured her daughters that those things really are real I proceeded to tell Tori to not tell her friends that they are not real anymore...and I started to feel that same icky feeling you get any time you're doing something wrong....and I wondered even as I was still speaking if the 50 year old me would look back on this moment and see so clearly how wrong I was to be saying the words I was saying to her, "Tori, don't tell them that they're fake anymore, OK?"



The conversation that had just happened is not uncommon in our country, is it? Most people tell their kids that all those things are real until those kids have enough cognitive abilities to figure out, "duh" on their own.

Why did I feel icky? Is it because I'm that legalistic and that stuck in my ways? No. We feel icky when we do what's wrong because God designed our bodies to tell us the truth. 

The truth.

The reason I felt icky was because basically I was telling Tori that lying is OK if it is for fun. 



Tori in her 4 year old innocence identified that her friends believe something untrue. She did the same thing I do when I find out people believe something untrue...she tried to correct them. She turned the light on. She identified the lie and told them what the truth was. 

Really, it is quite cool she did that and she should have been commended but...she was taken aside by her role model who has taught her the truth and to speak the truth and told, "Let's help that other mother lie to those girls and let's let those girls believe a lie. OK?"

I felt like I was confusing my daughter and marring my own reputation with her by this whole situation.

Because this is SO common in our culture, people don't accept or like to even think that there can be anything WRONG with it. But, just because something's common doesn't mean it's normal or good. And, just because kids are told something that's not real is real for fun...doesn't make it not a lie, does it?

If you're a non-Christian you can go ahead and skip to the very end from here...but for the Christian...


1 John 2:21

I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth.

Jesus is the way and the truth and the life...

Someone else...is a liar and the father of lies, right?...

Maybe you never really thought about it before. It's tradition. It's habit. It's our culture. It's just what you've always done and you really think it's OK because you're only lying for fun. I understand that. It's fun to see the kids so excited about Santa or whatever, I know. But, in everything we do with our children we are teaching them about life and how to live it. And, no matter why we do this...no matter how innocent our motives are...what we really are communicating with our actions is that...lying for fun is OK. 

And, really...when do we lie for any other reason? Do you ever lie to get yourself into trouble, cost you money, or make you have pain? No! Lying is always for some sort of "pleasure." So, no matter how much this is just a "tradition" for us...if we're lying, we're lying and why is lying about Santa...on Jesus' birthday...any different?

Does the Bible ever say anywhere that there are grades of lying? That some lies are OK and others are bad? Does the Bible say that if you're lying for "evil" purpose then THAT is bad but if you're lying to have fun that's OK?

I use "Biblegateway.com" to copy/paste Bible verses when I type here and I encourage you just to go over there and type in the key word "lie" or "liar" or type in "lie truth" in the keyword search and see what verses come up about lying. Lying...is only one thing: bad!

I believe I felt icky the other day encouraging my future adult who I sure hope seeks and stands up for truth...to let her friends believe a lie...I believe, because it was wrong of me to do so. 

"Aw, c'mon! It's all in fun! What's the harm in it? You're overreacting! You're taking this too seriously!!!!"

I fear as I consider posting this that that's how it'll be received. People will find this annoying and judgmental. But, it's something that always gets me every time this topic comes up and I can't let it just go after what happened with my little one!




If you are not a Christian and don't buy into the whole "religious" argument against it...why would you want to be basically training your children up and teaching them and sometimes lies are OK if they're for having fun?

Going to parties your parents don't want you to go to is fun. So, will it be OK for your kids to lie to you about that someday? Don't kid yourself that those associations don't get made, because they do...





And, why would you want your child to look like a fool? We knew a kid once who was in the double digits for age and argued and swore up and down that she KNEW that Santa (etc) were real because her parents told her so! I often wondered how that child felt after having argued so vehemently once she found out she'd been lied to?

I was at Home Depot one day for that Saturday morning craft thing and I saw a boy who looked to be about 10 - 12 yrs old holding an iPad with a really cool case on it. 

I said, "Ooh! Where'd you get that case?" 

He said, "Santa." 

That just totally made my "surge protector" flip its switch. I couldn't make sense of what he'd said! 

I blinked and said, "What?" 

He repeated, "Santa. I got it from Santa."

Then, I got it. I looked at this 5 foot tall kid standing there with a $300 "toy" that he got "from Santa" and I waited for his eyes to twinkle with "just kidding about the Santa part I mean I got it for Christmas ask my dad where he got the case..." but he looked almost as confused at me as I was looking at him. I looked at his dad standing next to him and waited also for some glimmer of "sense" in this situation but the dad just stood frozen like, "Don't tell him!"

Inside I wanted to say, "Dad! Are you kidding me? Your kid is old enough to do algebra and probably is growing hairs in his armpits, what the heck are you telling him Santa is real for?!" 

My oldest daughter was with me and she could see the look on my face and she KNOWS me...and I'm sure she was praying, "Oh God! Don't let her speak! Don't let her speak!" hahahaha

ANYWAY...

The short moral to this long ranting story is...

You don't have to lie to kids to have fun with them!!!!!!

None of my kids believe or have believed in Santa or the Easter Bunny or any of that, but they do not have any less fun with those holidays than anyone else. No! And, in fact! Some of them when they were younger actually would choose to "pretend" that Santa was coming. They would talk about Santa and I'd say, "But you know he's not real!" and they'd tell me they were pretending.

So, you don't have to lie.

You can have just as much fun doing with kids what they love to do anyway: pretend!!

Then, they can know they can ALWAYS trust you.




Then, the fun doesn't even have to be over when they're able to use their brains and figure out "the truth" for themselves. Who doesn't love pretending? You could even pretend that Santa's coming till your kids are grown and the whole family could have fun with it...without ever having to admit to your kids that you'd been lying to them for years!

After that experience with my daughter...I'm not going to tell my kids to keep their mouths shut about stuff like this anymore. I'm not going to tell my kids to help other parents lie...because I don't think I would be able to keep going in life if I ever caught God in even a little white lie. It would make me question everything He said...and without faith...we got nuttin'! 

If anyone posts this on facebook who happens to be my friend...please do not tag my name with it!!! I don't want anyone offended by me but I had to vent this!!!!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

"I was spanked and I'm OK!" Really?

Let's talk about what's "OK!" 

Are you not easily upset?
Are you not easily hurt by others?
Are you not effected by others' opinions of you?
Are you unconcerned with "measuring up" to what others think of you?
Are you confident in yourself and who you are?
Are you confident that you are loved?
Are you not full of fears?
Are you capable of dealing with stressors without "freaking out?"
Are you confident in your relationship with your spouse?
Do you always feel loved by your spouse?
Do you feel like you matter?
Do you feel like a success?
Do you feel valuable?
Do you feel beautiful/handsome?
Do you feel worthy of others' love?
Do you have no issues with anger?
Do you have no issues with anxiety?
Do you have no struggle with depression?
Do you have no struggles with self-doubt?
Do you feel others respect you?
Do you have no eating issues or struggle with your weight?
Do you not have issues with drinking or drugs?
Do you have very little illness in your life?
Do you enjoy life?
Do you enjoy an issue-free disinhibited sex life with your spouse?
Do you do well when you have conflict with others?
Do you recuperate well when you have conflict with others?
Do you easily forgive others?
Do you easily forgive yourself?
Do you not hold grudges?
Do you easily come up with ways to repair mistakes you've made?
Do you not find contradictory opinions threatening to you?
Do you easily read blog posts you disagree with without your blood pressure rising or feeling the need to attack the person or mock them? ;)
Do you have confidence that God's approved you?

If you were spanked and you can answer yes to all these then...then yes, you can honestly claim that you were spanked and "you're OK."

So, what do you think?

Were you "spanked and OK" or...were you...just spanked?

I know I know...you are saying this is unfair. That all that stuff is over the top! Unrealistic! No one could say, "yes" to all those! You want to say that the "no's" you had to some of those questions "are normal" and have nothing to do with being spanked or not being spanked, because EVERYONE has some issues! Ridiculous! Right?

Yes. "Everyone" does seem to have issues. But, that doesn't mean those issues are "normal" for humans to have them. And, actually, trying to compare yourself to others to determine if you're "OK" or not is not a true measure of "OK" because...People often confuse what's common with what's normal.

Over 90% of parents admit to spanking their children. That makes it common. Therefore, the majority of the world is going to be "like you" if you were spanked. The characteristics found in children raised in a punitive household and how that makes them turn out as adults is therefore going to be what's common. But, not...what's normal.

Find someone you know who has never been hit/spanked by their parents, but was instead talked to and taught lessons with words. (Not talking about the parents who are absent and don't do anything at all with their kids...I'm talking about the people who discipline their children but without spanking...ever...not even once.) Talk to them about how they are. See how OK they are? See what you think then? Then, see if you still wanna say, "I was spanked...and I'm OK..."


"I was never spanked...and I'm not OK!!!
I'm awesome!!"

In about 15 years you could talk to my youngest child and she will be able to tell ya how it worked for her. Till then...you can click here to see how it's turning out so far...




For more reasons 
not to spank 
check here:




Parents who shine like The Man in the Moon

I watched "The Rise of the Guardians" last night for the 1st time and saw something that is there is a common "theme" you see in movies like this...and it's got me thinking...



Jack Frost wakes up one day "as Jack Frost" and has no idea why or who he is. 

There is a scene then where he looks up at the all-knowing "man in the moon" and asks what his purpose is. 

And, the moon...is silent... 




Santa, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy, etc...are told by the moon that Jack Frost is to be one of them: a guardian of children. So, Jack is brought in to be officially declared a guardian...He asks what would make them think he wants to be one? They said that the man in the moon told them he was.

For one thing this whole process reminds me of how Christians attempt to evangelize, but, that will be another day...

What Jack says next is what has me thinking. He says, "The man in the moon talks to you? Why didn't he just tell me himself?"

This is a common theme in movies. The "highest power" that all the characters seek out for wisdom, instruction, guidance and help...is mysterious, silent...or confusing. And, usually unreliable, absent, random, and no help at all with the main problem in the story.

Like...

The Lion King...Simba cries out to his (dead) father who randomly appears in the sky with some advice that leaves Simba with only questions.

The Lion, Witch n' Wardrobe...Aslan appears randomly and often gives very mysterious advice that again...leaves the characters with questions and fighting many battles all alone.

Harry Potter...Dumbledore also appears randomly to help the children and the advice he gives is often almost a riddle...and is not present when the children face all their battles.

You get the idea.


In all of these movies the "all knowing" character who is "like a god" in the stories...is who they seek for "wisdom" and look up to and revere...but they never get straight or helpful answers from this "god" and the main characters are totally on their own to win the battles and defeat the "evil" in the story. Always!

The people involved in making all these movies are not one tiny group of people. There are so many people involved and yet this theme comes up again and again. Where would such a common cultural "belief" come from?

"Neurons the wire together fire together."
"Your experiences in your first few years of life lay the foundation for what you expect for all future relationships."

I spent most of my parenting days "in the closet." No! Not to hide from my kids! But, from all the old wives! :) Most of what I did as a parent after my 1st child...was not "the norm." One thing I definitely hid was my habit of responding immediately to my children when they cried...or even responding to the signals that they were GOING to cry. I had gotten the "don't pick them up every time they cry or you'll turn them whiny/clingy" advice over and over. But, I suspected that if I responded to them right away that I would teach them to get what they want/need...without crying. 

When my 7th child was a baby, I took that a step further, even. I would leave her on my (king sized) bed to take her naps because I didn't use a cage (oops! ;) I mean crib!). I'd leave the baby monitor right next to her and close the door so all the random noises that happened in our house of 9 (at that time) that was also always full of neighbor kids wouldn't wake her.


She always woke up with the
most awesome wild hair!!!
I got to thinking one day of what waking up alone on my bed was like for her from her perspective? So, she awakens from sleep and is all alone. She looks and I am nowhere to be seen. She cries out to me but all she sees is...a closed door...and all she hears in response to her cry is silence... 

But, because I had that monitor with me, I would even hear her even as she started to change her breathing that signaled that she was waking up. By the time she was in the middle of a breath to let our her 2nd cry I was half-way up the stairs to the room.



She also always woke up
smiling :)
When I was doing this, I would almost always picture "certain people" I had known in my life who had  told me not to pick my baby up every time they'd cry or else they'd become "spoiled" and "clingy." I often thought how disapprovingly they'd look at me seeing me springing in immediate response to my baby's first peeps. (I guess not only was I going to make them spoiled and clingy but I was letting THEM be in control of me?!) 

But, I wondered, "how would consistently always coming when my baby cried out to me make my baby clingy?" Clingy is just another word for insecure. How would consistently and promptly responding make her insecure? It seemed more to me like I would make her MORE secure because I would fill her with that confidence that I'd ALWAYS come. But, it was just a gut feeling I had and so I kept it to myself.

Then, it even occurred to me that not only would it make her more secure in ME but...by extension...it would make her more secure with God.


I just couldn't take enough
pics of her crazy hair!!!
How many times do we cry out to God and hear "silence" and see only a "closed door?" How many times do we cry out to God and see nothing happening? And, how many times do we end up feeling like He is not responding to us? He's not hearing us? He's not...coming?

If every time...day after day...over and over...as my baby's little brain was shaping it's world view...if every time she cried out when she was all alone and all she could see was a closed door...if every time I showed up responsively...what else could it train her up to believe but that God...would be doing the same thing? That when she'd pray...that though she could "see nothing happening" somewhere inside her heart she'd "just know" that God was coming?

This was when I began to step out of the closet boldly. No more hiding and pretending that I agreed with the old wives tales...because I started to do research and found out that not only was this my opinion...this was hard science!

So, back to The Guardians and the popular movie theme of inconsistent, mysterious, unreliable and unavailable gods...If me being consistently responsive to my child when she was all alone and crying out could produce a person who would someday have the confidence in God that no matter what He was hearing her and responding even when she could "see" nothing...Where would the common theme that God is mysterious, speaks in riddles, is random in appearing, is actually sorta' useless and powerless and leaves you to fight your own battles, and always leaves you alone when all is dark...come from? 


"Neurons the wire together fire together."
"Your experiences in your first few years of life lay the foundation for what you expect for all future relationships."

Back in 1997 I bought a book in a "Christian" bookstore. "On Becoming Babywise." It is a book which reportedly has sold over a million copies...and then has surely been "loaned" out to just as many. Among the advice in this book is the advice to leave babies to cry themselves to sleep...to "learn to self-soothe." And, when you read thru this book most of the advice is basically instructing the parents to be UNresponsive to the child's cues.

This book is not alone in giving this advice, either. This book was not a response to new child development research or anything scientific. The author didn't even have a college degree when he wrote the book. All this book is is recycled old wives tales that we've all heard our whole lives. When I opened this book and started to read it back in 1997 I thought it "made sense" because...I didn't know any better. It was simply agreeing with what every old wife around had told me. 

Proponents of the practice of allowing babies to cry themselves to sleep insist that the children do learn to settle themselves and "self-soothe" because...they go to sleep. Proponents of being unresponsive to children's cues insist that the parent's being in this "total control" of everything promotes security in the children. Hmmm.

But, what...have they actually learned and why?

For the child left to cry themselves to sleep they learned that they wake up and are alone and that there is nothing they can do about it. They cry out and the one "all-powerful" one in their life is not there and most of the time does not respond at all (but is actually standing outside their bedroom door in pain because they are refusing to respond to the truth inside their hearts that God put there that's telling them to pick up that baby but they are clinging to the bad teachings they've learned!). They wait and nothing happens. They cry harder and still...nothing happens or...mom comes and is detached and dismissive and tells them to settle and then leaves again. They are alone...in the dark...and they learn that they are on their own. Then, at some time which means nothing to them since they do not understand "time"...long after the battle with their fears or discomfort in the darkness has been waged with them fighting that battle on their own...the "all-powerful" one appears and is smiling and happy and actually even often wakens them from sleep. 

Infancy is when we lay the foundation for our expectations for all future relationships. It's when we are learning what to expect from life.

A baby's only "language" is contact. It's his "waa" and your response that teaches him about life. Your touch, your response, your arms and your face are how you communicate to him. And, if his "waa" sometimes gets a warm and loving response right away...and sometimes his "waa" gets darkness, loneliness and silence...

Would this communication from the parent be comforting and make them "secure"...or would this inconsistent response be confusing?

The conscious mind would find this confusing.

And, as far as babies left on their own to cry-it-out...the child's subconscious mind protects them from this confusion by dissociating and one side effect of that is: sleep. They don't "learn to self-soothe" or "learn to sleep"...they dissociate and sleep is the side effect. (Look dissociation, and also learned helplessness up. It's a sad sad process that has life-long effects!!!)

So, although the babies do sleep when their parents ignore their cries in the middle of the night...I believe that the lessons these babies actually learned shine brightest in them when they grow up and are the adults who develop characters like "the man in the moon." 

And, when I see things like this and realize how BIG this problem is in our world...it just makes me sad. :(

Churches need to stop using Ezzo's materials. Churches need to start shining that light of Jesus in how we treat our children. Romans 1 tells us that the world God created tells us the truth. Science has been digging into early child development and brain development since the 90's and has revealed to us so much about God...about how we need to raise our children to be a true reflection of Him. 

He always responds.
He never ignores us.
He always picks us up when we cry.
He always responds no matter why we cry!
He never leaves us alone in the dark.
He never leaves us to fight our battles alone.

He is our example how to live and we are to reflect Him in how we communicate to our children so that they will grow up to have faith in Him...not expect silence and abandonment from Him...

"Babywise", "Preparation for Parenting" and "Growing Kids" is definitely not God's way...




And, it was a good movie, btw :)




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