Friday, June 13, 2014

Better parenting through fear- a Friday the 13th post

If you read parenting books or websites, you'll see a wide variety of theories on how we can help our kids avoid making mistakes or do dangerous things. Helicopter Parenting! Free Range Parenting! Religion! No religion! Fear of punishment! Non coercion! the parent is always right! Open debate is encouraged!

We agonize, we make these decisions, in the hopes that our kids will exit their teenage years alive, with all their limbs intact, and hopefully without making us grandparents (unless we are OK with that because we don't want to make value judgments).We want them to stick with the buddy system in the hopes they won;t be mugged or raped or pressured into taking drugs. It can be hard to know what parenting decisions can produce the desired result.

But what if it's not that difficult. What if I told you that I'm pretty sure my kids aren't going to go parking in a cemetery...or the woods...or a cornfield? Or go drinking and having sex with all their friends in a cabin in the woods at spring break? What if I told you I lay all the credit for this at the virtual feet of Netflix?

That's right, I'm a Bad Parent. And by Bad Parent, I mean the type of parent who lets her kids watch the kind of TV shows and movies that both sweet peace loving hippie moms and nice Christian moms (both categories I identify with), do not approve of. Buffy. Angel. Supernatural. Horror movies starting with silent black and white films and going the whole way up to adaptations of Stephen King books. Shows that show that actions have consequences: like splitting up, like allowing yourselves to become isolated, like getting drunk and having your reflexes inhibited. We all know that's when the killer (who is perhaps a beast from mythology) will burst out of the bushes and tear you to shreds.

So a little fear? It's a good thing, maybe. Even if the monsters will probably be all too human. Now, if I could just convince my kids that they'd be happy they worked out if they had to run from a psycho killer...

Saturday, June 07, 2014

How being a religious progressive is like being a good man (are you like that?)

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been pondering how I can relate to the "not all men" issue from the place of my own experiences. In the course of these weeks, I've engaged in several conversations with men on that topic, one of which I felt went well and renewed my dedication to respectful discourse.
My experiences as a progressive Christian in a world where my religion is often painted as conservative and narrow minded serves well. It's difficult to see "all people like you" lambasted for the extreme actions of a crazy few. It's easy to want to protest "not all of us"...and I have, frequently, in the past. I'm sure I still do. But one thing I have learned by listening to marginalized people is that verbally protesting "But we're not all like that!" is at best, meaningless, and at worst, sounds like one is protesting too much. I have done my best to stop doing that. That's why I chose not to involve myself with the Not All Like That Christians Project , even though I support being open and affirming. Because I know how people react to the "not all like that" phrase, I instead choose to share positive stories of religious people working for full equality. When someone posts about the excesses of a "prosperity gospel" preacher, I remind myself not to say "Not all pastors are like that!"...I know it won't be long until I can share another story of Pope Francis humbly advocating for the poor. And I have made a vow to share the positive stories...of people, whether my co-coreligionists or not, who make a positive difference in this world.
The thing is, you can't change someone's perception of the group you belong to by protesting that you are good , that others in your group are good. You need to BE it. You need to show it. You need to share positivity in it's own space, and not shout it over the words of the marginalized.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Braiding and hand holding

When you take the parenting path I did, there's a lot of physical contact. For the first year of my kids' lives, my body was their main source of nutrition,I wore my babies, and they all slept in the family bed for 2-3 years.

And then they get older and that fades, reduced to a hug now and then if you're lucky. I can see my youngest leaving that phase.

But I still have a small thing with my daughter, my middle child. My child who breastfed and coslept the longest. She still wants me to braid her hair.
She's 15, and she's had two trims in her life (her choice). She has waist length hair that tends to wave. As often as not, she'll come to me in the evening after her shower, when my husband and I are sitting watching something probably produced by BBC, or maybe Syfy, while I knit. She brings her hair brush and ties. I put down my knitting, detangle her hair, and braid two braids. I take my time. I don't know how long she'll ask.

This week, my two younger kids had their standardized testing. It's held at a church about a mile from our house,so we walk. As we were walking home, she walked ahead, holding hands with her 11 year old brother. This also is passing,way too fast.