Monday, September 12, 2011

Play Here Now

Welcome to the September Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Through Play

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how challenging discipline situations can be met with play. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Not too long ago I was having a really bad day. You know, one of those days which starts just a bit off kilter and goes down hill rapidly. I had hopes of getting some work done, tackling some home improvement projects, essentially have a satisfying, productive day. Instead everything took longer than I had planned, I ended up at my job much longer than I had expected, other family members were equally unproductive and it topped off with an interruption by a pushy door-to-door salesperson just as I was making dinner (oh and when she rang the doorbell I turned on the wrong burner and nearly set the house on fire). By the time our salesperson left I was quite literally in tears and just wanted to hide for the rest of the day.

Except that wasn't really what I wanted. What I wanted was my day back. I wanted to be able to be able to lay my head down at night and be content with where I stood. As I took a few breaths and attempted to get some level of composure I knew what I needed - I needed to let go of the expectations of productivity and do a little "be here now"ing. My zen exercise is play.

It is hard for me to play. I claim to find it boring, but it would be more honest to say that the "protestant work ethic" and drive for productivity that is an integral part of my learned experience leave me struggling to "waste" that kind of time. As is so often the case, my oldest suffered the most, and at one point when she was 3ish had an imaginary friend who she named "Jessica." My mommy guilty story is that she wanted to play with me, and since I had not accommodated her, she pretended that I did. And as is so often the case with each child and passing years, I have been able to appreciate the opportunity that play provides for truly being in the moment with your child.

A couple of years ago my middle daughter was in a play and at that time was young enough that I wasn't comfortable just dropping her off at rehearsals. This meant that 3-4 times a week I would be sitting on the floor off to the side of the rehearsal space with the youngest who was then a bit over a year. Old enough that I couldn't just sit and nurse her and young enough that she needed my constant attention in this non baby-friendly space. So for those hours I couldn't read or knit or do laundry or anything else "productive" - I had to focus entirely on my baby. The universe certainly knows what lessons we need.

So back to my bad day... As I was finishing up cleaning the kitchen I called in the oldest boy and asked if he wanted to play Othello. Not to turn away from a chance to beat his mom he said of course and grabbed the game. Shortly in we were joined by the 2 of the 3 other kids who were at home as well as my husband. After I lost the game (though only by 4!) dad and daughter played and by the end of it everyone was feeling more relaxed and in touch with each other.

Play is a way to connect. It is often less intense than cuddling or conversation so can be particularly useful when there is internal and/or external tension. It is a way to cross ages and often interests. It is a shared experience that has the potential to be universally accessible. And while I also continue to value and nurture my children's ability to play without me (benign neglect and all), I want to remember to play more.

Daily Mantra....
Play Here Now


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • On being a more playful parent — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine shares how the Playful Parenting book impacted her.
  • Parenting a toddler through play — Alicia at I Found My Feet lists some examples of how she uses play to parent through everyday tasks and challenges.
  • Splashing in Puddles — Abbie at Farmer's Daughter shares how she learned to get dirty and have fun with her little boy.
  • Say Please — Cassie at There's a Pickle in My Life explains how they taught their son manners by "play," showing that actions speak louder than words.
  • No Nanny Needed — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life wishes parenting through play was her only responsibility during the day.
  • I'll Run Away With Gypsies — Nikalee at Spotted Pandemonium maneuvers physical and emotional obstacles while spinning playful tales, jumping through hoops, and inspiring the kids to clean the living room.
  • A Promise To My Daughter — Lindsey at An Unschooling Adventure writes a poem for her daughter promising to use play instead of anger when facing difficult situations.
  • Parenting Through Play — Not Always Easy But Always Rewarding — Amy at Peace4Parents discusses how play hasn't always come easily to her, the power of appreciative observation, and how her family learns together through play.
  • Imagination Plays a Role in Our Parenting — Tree at Mom Grooves shares how parents can use play to set the foundation for communication and understanding.
  • A Box of Crayons — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction talks about how a simple box of crayons has become a wonderful parenting and teaching tool.
  • The Essential Art of Play — Ana at Pandamoly shares some of her favorite lessons available for young ones through play.
  • The Art of Distraction — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro shares a list of distracting alternatives to harsh punishments in tough parenting situations.
  • Grace and Courtesy Games at Home or School — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now has ideas for grace and courtesy games that help you encourage courteous behavior without reprimanding your child.
  • I am woman, hear me roar! — Mrs Green from Little Green Blog shares how one simple sound can diffuse an argument in an instant.
  • Getting Cooperation Through Play — Amyables at Toddler In Tow talks about respecting the worldview of a preschooler by using play to encourage connection and cooperation.
  • Playful Parenting = Extra Energy??Momma Jorje didn't think she had the energy for playful parenting. See what she was surprised to learn…
  • Dance Party Parenting — Laura from A Pug in the Kitchen learned how to be the parent her children need through play.
  • Wrestling Saved My Life — Wrestling is as vital to her son's well-being as babywearing once was, finds Hannah at Wild Parenting.
  • Parenting through play — By playing with her children, Tara from MUMmedia is given amazing opportunites to teach, train and equip her children for life.
  • Parenting Through Play Starts in Infancy — In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, Issa from LoveLiveGrow shares that though she only has a 3-month-old, playful parenting has already started.
  • Play Before Sleep — Adrienne at Mommying My Way writes about how playing and singing with her son before he falls asleep helps calm her frustrations that tend to arise at night.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Learning to read

I decided to repost my contribution to a thread on a local homeschool board.  It is an issue important to many young or new homeschooling families:

As .... alluded to, there is a school of thought (supported both by research and anecdotal reports) that reading is primarily a developmental task and that many a diagnosis of "dyslexia" is actually when we attempt to push the brain to go beyond its capabilities at any given time.  Imagine diagnosing all of our 9 month olds who weren't pulling up and cruising with paraparesis.

Day 48 - Some books
 Phil and Pam on Flickr
On the personal side I have had children reading at 4, 12, and 8.  Child number 3 was reading before child number 2 - I've known this to happen in other families.  The child who read at 12 is not one of those who picked it up and was at grade level in 3 months like many, it continues to be a difficult task for him.  However.... he is willing to do it, he looks forward to the day when it becomes easier and novel reading is enjoyable, he is "well read" thanks to audio books, and his self-esteem and image of himself as a learner has zero relation to has natural ability is this one particular skill.  He is also functional and was actually functional prior to the point that I would have described him as "reading".  Frankly given the benefits we have incurred by allowing the natural progression, even if reading is never a relaxing past time for him I am fine with that.  As a special education teacher I saw the lives of far too many children sacrificed on the alter of an externally imposed reading time line.

A couple of links.... this is a site of stories of learning to read in various ways at various ages (Think of it as _How Weaning Happens_)  I will say that Sandra Dodd rubs me totally the wrong way, but don't let that deter you from the useful stuff she has on her site.  These are a couple of academic researchers who have decided to focus on unschooling families  There is also some good stuff in the work of Raymond and Dorothy Moore (_Better Late than Early_, etc).

In the end it has helped me to think of it a bit like potty learning.  I can spend months or years in a miserable battle with a kid that just isn't ready or I can watch their developmental timeline and avoid the headaches and potential long-term (and life-long) fall-out of a less than positive experience.

ps - this is absolutely not to dismiss observations of different learning styles. Just like with potty learning, weaning, crawling, etc there are different motivations and strategies that work better for all of us.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

When gender binary is just easier and what can we do about it?

Marley is nearly four.  And like most of my other kids when they were around that age she has a fascination with sorting things.  She takes the shapes out of her pattern block set and piles them up: circles, squares, rectangles, triangles, ovals.  She take food out of her play kitchen and lines it up along the floor: produce, cartons, meat products.  She also has a fascination with taking about body parts: how we poop, can we cut our hair.  Bringing the two together we end up having a lot of discussion about the genitals of various folks.  Marley has a vagina like mom and [naming her brothers and various friends] have a penis.  Like any good three year old this must be followed by "why?". It is in these moments that I long for the days 14 yrs ago when my oldest was this age and I just didn't think about such things because then, the answer was easy. "Why? It is because boys have a penis and girls have a vagina". That's it, end of story.

By Debs (ò‿ó)♪ on Flickr

But we know that isn't it.  First we have to consider the fact that regardless of the fact that they are often conflated gender (boy, girl) and sex (male, female) are NOT THE SAME THING. Gender is a social construct, sex is a biological one - and there isn't just two of either one. I'm not going to go into listing and discussing the various labels that are currently being used because frankly I don't know enough about it, but I do know enough to know that I could easily end up giving out-of-date or offensive information so it's best to just not go there.  For the purposes of my life with my children I am most concerned with marginalizing those with assorted gender variant experiences.

It is difficult though, because brains at this age aren't designed to handle nuance. They feel most comfortable with "the sky is blue" not "the sky is sometimes blue, sometimes purple, sometimes green, and sometimes black. Really it depends on the air quality and diffusion of light through the atmosphere.  I think it might have something to do with the weather patterns too." Most kids stopped listening five words in and are happily skipping off with their answer to the next thing.  And for the simple answer to the simple question of "why?" I've satisfied Marley and myself with "Well some people have a penis and some people have a vagina. And there are a few people who have something a bit different." It is almost short enough to hold her attention and it satisfies my need for honesty.  It also hints at the "more" out there which I think is essential when giving simple answers to ultimately complex questions - because if they don't know there is a "more" then when they are ready for it, they won't know to go looking.  For me, leaving gendering concepts out all-together is easiest at this point.  Later we can talk about how a person's genitals relate to their social experience.

Is this something that you consider when having these discussion with your children?  If you do (or are wondering about it now) how do you incorporate all of our wonderful diversity?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Why the vaccine "debate" will never be settled

In the August 2011 edition of The Costco Connection there appeared an article promoting various vaccines for adults.  You can read the entire article here.

I just emailed the following letter to the editor:

If medical and public health vaccine advocates want to know why they do not hold any credibility with those of us who question the current vaccine protocol they need to look no further than the quote credited to Dr. Raymond A. Strikas in the August 2011 edition of the Costco Connection.  In the article Dr. Strikas is quoted as say "If you've lost your [immunization] records and are unsure about whether you were vaccinated as a child, there is no harm in getting revaccinated as an adult,".  This is patently false.  Every time a person is vaccinated they are exposed to the possibility of adverse reactions to that vaccine.  Looking at the package inserts of some of the most common vaccines these potential adverse reaction include encephalitis and encephalopathy, chronic joint symptoms, or aseptic meningitis - all of which are listed as reported adverse reactions by the manufacturers for various measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox vaccines. While all of these events are quite rare, it is cheap and easy to run a titer to see if a person is already immune to the disease for which the vaccine is suggested.  Why take the risk of any adverse reaction, even a minor one, if it can be clinically determined that a person is immune?

If Dr. Strikas or others would like to discuss the relative risks versus benefits (personal and public) of various vaccinations that is a conversation worthy of consideration.  But I would ask that neither he nor The Costco Connection insult my intelligence by arguing that vaccines are risk-free.

I would love to hear your thoughts.....

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Create This

Welcome to the August Carnival of Natural Parenting: Creating With Kids

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how they make messes and masterpieces with children. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

I don't consider myself a creative person.  Not artistically anyway.  I could blame that on a couple of middle school teacher experiences, but more than that it probably has to do with a perfectionistic leaning that seems to flair up when it comes to things of "permanence" - such as painting or tie dying. I've tried not to pass this on to the kids with some  success.  So far no one has jumped both feet into the visual arts, but they are quite willing to engage in a variety of projects for their own enjoyment and benefit - including such things as duck tape clothing (and other items), other types of clothing decoration and creation, drawing, painting, cardboard construction, "cooking dangerously" and others that aren't coming to mind at the moment. Many of these things they pursue at home and for those that are beyond the scope of my experience or willingness to indulge the mess I find other places and opportunities.  This is the mom that I am and I'm [mostly] okay with that.

When I saw this months carnival topic I strongly considered not submitting anything.  I don't have a great tutorial to offer nor any ideas for creative stimulation that belong in Family Fun. But as I pondered the question of how we create as a family I began to feel like there was a bit of something that I could share.

In our family we create with ideas.  I am fairly introspective (everyone who knows me can make sarcastic gasps now) and tend toward big picture thinking.  I like to synthesize ideas, concepts, opportunities.  This is what we do together.  We think, we ponder, sometimes we put these into action either ourselves or by stimulating others to act.  If a child approaches me with some thought about the universe or the things in it that they've run across we look at it, discuss it, explore complementary and contrasting ideas.  It is critically important to me that my children see ideas as questionable and facts as manipulable.  Not that I'm a complete relativist - but only that it is as important (if not more important) to know the question that was asked and by who in relation to the answer that was given than the answer itself.

So how does this look in our family? Mostly lots of talking with each other and among friends who have different points of view and different life experiences.  "What if" questions make regular appearances.  Just as an artist might ask and trial "what if I painted this blue?" or "what if I draped the fabric this way?" we might ask "what if this person was still alive?" or "what if scientists had looked at this part of the question instead?"  There is also a lot of "why" even past the age of three. "Why do you believe this particular "truth" of this one?" or "Why do you interpret and then act on these words or actions in the way that you do?" or even "Why were these assumptions made prior to even engaging in exploration?"

It isn't the way we normally think of creativity and there is nothing to hang on the wall to show off to the grandparents, but I believe that many of the mental exercises are the same. A willingness to try new things, experiment, and possibly fail.  However these experiences are achieved I think that they contribute to a vital and fulfilling life and I hope it is something that my children keep with them through adulthood.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Good stuff happens too

As I read through other posts in July's Carnival of Natural Parenting it occurred to me that while the purpose of my own entry was to reflect on how little control we ultimately have, the "outcomes" I focused on were nearly exclusively negative.  In my mind, one of the benefits of letting go of the control is a realization that the behaviors of children are neither universal nor eternal.

One common theme that was mentioned was the goal of empathy and respect. Sibling relationships being the most obvious place for a parent to focus their energy in teaching these values.  I completely share the desire to have my children exhibit empathy to both their siblings and others.  However what I have observed is that often kids can behave in some truly challenging ways with their siblings (or parents) but be quite empathetic and respectful in the larger world.  Additionally, siblings can struggle through their childhood and come out as adults the best of friends.

My siblings and I argued throughout our childhood both verbally and physically.  My mother tried a variety of tactics from ignoring ("Oh he didn't hit you! that was just a love pat") to "time out" all together until we worked out the issue.  It was bad enough that there were periods of time when she couldn't leave a given set of us alone together because it wasn't safe for one or both parties. However as adults my sister and I have an extremely close relationship and my brother, while not as connected on a regular basis, gets along well with both of us.

A similar thought occurred to me recently regarding my own hopes for my children.  I had wanted my children to be excited for adventure as they entered adulthood.  And while I can't think of anything I did specifically to encourage that I consciously did things to not discourage it.  I was a bit sad and concerned when my oldest expressed that she wanted to stay close for college and her late teen years with no plans or desire to move beyond the city where her parents and friends reside.  I was concerned that she was being "held back" and even went so far as to worry that she was trapping herself *for the rest of her life*.  I know that sounds crazy, but when we look closely at our concerns regarding our children's behavior or choices there is often an element of universalizing the issue which is what I was doing.  Then I remembered others who I knew as young adults who stuck close to home.  Some are still there living in the same neighborhood as their parents and are quite happy, others moved on in their own time, perhaps experiencing multiple state moves for employment or adventures to other countries.  The choice that was made at 17, 18, 19 gave no information about the choice they made at 25 or 30.

Believe it or not (from my last post) I am the type that generally believes the world is good place, that things well be all right, that it is okay to trust.  That the fact that you can't take the 2 year old to the playground because they bite everyone within 3 feet of them does not mean that they will be beating up kids for their lunch money a decade from now.  Nor does it mean that the sweet, gentle 4 yr old  who stays glued to your side won't pass through a bit of a "mean girl" stage during adolescence and then come out as an adult with a job in the peace corp, traveling the world.

So while the train may take an unexpected (and perhaps unpleasant) detour or could even potentially derail all together for the most part it I think it will be a fun (and surprising) ride.

Rachael and Marley are playing in an old mini-car at the Firefighter's Exhibit in 2009

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Welcome to the July Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Philosophy
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared their parenting practices and how they fit in with their parenting purpose. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Girl ScoutsParenting isn't outcomes based.  That's the long and the short of it, really.  There is simply no way to guarantee any particular objective and frankly I'm beginning to wonder if there is any way to tilt the odds much past even chance.  There are the goals that are obviously based on externalities.
  • I want my child to be successful
  • I want my child to think, look, behave in some specific way
Often parents who study attachment parenting or consensual living will roundly reject those explicit goals.  Instead they are often replaced with
  • I want my child to be happy.
  • I want us to be connected.
And parents then strive to behave in such a way that the child will be happy and the family will be connected.

The challenge with this line of thinking is that children are not blank slates - not even a little bit. At the moment of birth (and many would argue before) there are aspects to the personality that are already in existence.  These aspects also do not guarantee any particular outcome, but they do make it quite difficult, if not impossible, to predict how a specific child will react to a specific behavior on the part of the parent.  Additionally, as much as we would want to, we do not control the world in which our children live.  And again, though we may strive to create a specific type of world that we deem best (at least for our small children), we cannot predict how that world will interact with the unique individual who is our child.

If this all sounds a little hopeless it is probably a pretty good representation of how I am feeling at the moment. Actually hopeless is less accurate than helpless. I have one child ready to launch into adulthood and the next entering adolescence with more difficulty than the first.  I've spent the last decade watching the children of acquaintances and friends go from young teenagers into young adulthood. These are families who breastfed, baby wore, respected their children, practiced gentle discipline, homeschooled, whatever it is that we've all put into practice thinking that somehow our parenting "method" would protect our children from LIFE. But just as even those who eat vegan, Western Price, take our vitamins will someday succumb to our own mortality so too will our children be human in a world full of humans.

Swedish school

Some of it is truly tragic.  The story of Henry, son of Attachment Parenting author Katie Allison Granju, is one such example. My heart breaks for the family on a regular basis. Some of it is letting go of those things that we really thought our children would never do... the son who marries a girl who Ezzos your grandbabies or the daughter who thinks that breastfeeding will hold her back as a woman.  And that doesn't even get into the differences in religion, politics, lifestyle, values that can surface. Sometimes it is having an ordinary life when we had hoped for or expected the extraordinary.  Or maybe there are a series of decisions that are made that lead to a place where our child truly is not happy.  A relationship, a friendship, a decision made at a party one night that has consequences, either short or long term, that are difficult to walk away from. This is when parenting dilemmas go from night weaning and biting toddlers to advice on choosing sex partners based on your willingness to tolerate that person as a coparent and really no you shouldn't text your friend a picture of your butt because seriously, kids go to jail for that.  And by the way if someone pulls out drugs in public get the hell out of Dodge because if you all get busted that's it for your college federal financial aid and frankly I don't have money set aside for a lawyer.

What does that all mean for my personal parenting philosophy at this point?  I'm not sure.  A friend who I very much respect said to me years ago "does it help to know that no matter what your children are going to do things that you don't like?" She was speaking to my need desire for control.  We are told with regards to our romantic relationships that the only thing we can "control" is ourselves - we cannot control our partners.  This is equally true for our children, even if our desires are to control for happiness, hopefulness, goodness.  The fates do not differentiate. We do not get to control another. We do not get to define the outcome objectives for another.

In practical terms parenting must also then turn inward.  We can only control ourselves.  We can only live by our own guiding value systems.  This might be WWJD or the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child. Personally I find platitudes to be rather helpful here - you know "do unto others", "be the change", and all the stuff.  So that's where I try to start. What is it that my child wants or needs right here in this moment?  If I can't do that what is the least wrong thing I can do instead? Sometimes the next part is easy - I know what to do and I do it.  Usually it isn't.  Often I don't know what to do, even with that because I don't really know what they want/need and often they don't seem to either (or they can't articulate it).  Do they need someone to push them out of their comfort zone or someone to hold them tight? Challenge or security?  Change or stability? And let's say that I do have some idea generally what my ideal response would be - doesn't mean that I'm able to pull it off.  After being unloaded on I may not be able to offer the empathy or support my child is looking for - at least not right away.  But I try to put my  stuff (insert significant stronger language here) aside and barring that I try to go back later after I've had to time to process it a bit and reengage.

Family Enjoys a Fourth of July Holiday in a Park at Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, Which Is 12 Miles West of New Ulm...
So I guess my parenting philosophy is to try.  To try really, really hard to be okay with the fact that I have no control.  To try really, really hard to do the thing that will best meet both the needs of myself and my child in that moment. And to accept with love, humility and respect my own humanness and the humanness of my child.  Because ultimately, what else can we really do?

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
  • Between Love and Fear: On Raising our Children Sensibly — Mamma Earthly at Give an Earthly discusses the fear factor in parenting and how she overcame it, despite societal pressures.
  • really, when do i get my cape? — Sarah at small bird on fire is a working city mama trying to learn how to set aside her expectations of perfection and embrace the reality of modern parenting.
  • Baby, Infant, and Toddler Wearing — Child wearing is part of Sarah at Nourished and Nurtured's parenting philosophy. In this post, Sarah describes benefits of child-wearing and gives tips for wearing babies, infants, and toddlers (even while pregnant).
  • First Year Reflections — As her daughter's first birthday approaches, Holly at First Year Reflections reflects on how she and her husband settled into attachment parenting after initially doing what they thought everyone else did.
  • Making an allowance — Lauren at Hobo Mama welcomes a guest post from Sam about the unexpected lessons giving a four-year-old an allowance teaches the child — and the parent.
  • How to be a Lazy Parent and Still Raise Great Kids — Lisa at Granola Catholic talks about how being a Lazy Parent has helped her to raise Great Kids.
  • Philosophy in Practice — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares how her heart shaped the parenting philosophy in her home.
  • What is Attachment Parenting Anyway? — Gaby at Tmuffin describes the challenges of putting a label on her parenting philosophy.
  • Of Parenting Styles — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom talks about how she and her husband tailored various parenting styles to fit their own preferred parenting philosophy.
  • Moment by Moment Parenting — Amy at Peace 4 Parents encourages those who care for children (including herself) to explore and appreciate parenting moment-by-moment with clarity, intention, trust, and action.
  • Maintaining Spirituality in the Midst of Everyday Parenting, Marriage, and Life — Sarah at Nourished and Nurtured shares her perspective on finding opportunities for spiritual growth in every day life.
  • Parenting Philosophy — Lily, aka Witch Mom's parenting philosophy is to raise child(ren) to be compassionate, loving, inquisitive, and questioning adults who can be trusted to make decisions for themselves in a way that avoids harming others.
  • Long Term — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis thinks about who she would like to see her daughter become — and what she can do now to lay a strong foundation for those hopes.
  • Connection, Communication, Compassion — She's come a long way, baby! After dropping her career in favour of motherhood, Patti at Jazzy Mama discovered that building solid relationships was going to be her only parenting priority.
  • My Parenting Inspirations - Part 4 — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at her biggest parenting inspiration and how that translates into her long-term parenting philosophy.
  • A Parenting Philosophy in One Word: Respect — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction summarizes her parenting and relationship philosophy in one word: respect.
  • Knowledge and Instinct — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment believes that knowledge and instinct are super important … as are love, encouragement and respect. It's the ideal combo needed to raise happy and healthy children and in turn create meaningful relationships with them.
  • THRIVE!The Sparkle Mama wants to set a tone of confidence, abundance, and happiness in her home that will be the foundation for the rest of her daughter's life.
  • On Children — "Your children are not your children," say Kahlil Gibran and Hannah at Wild Parenting.
  • This One Life Together — Ariadne aka Mudpiemama shares her philosophy of parenting: living fully in the here and now and building the foundation for a happy and healthy life.
  • Enjoying life and planning for a bright future — Olivia at Write About Birth shares her most important parenting dilemmas and pours out her heart about past trauma and how healing made her a better parent.
  • My Parenting Philosophy: Unconditional and Natural Love — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares what she has learned about her parenting philosophy from a year of following her instincts as a mama.
  • An open letter to my children — Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine writes an open letter to her children.
  • My Starter Kit for Unconditional Parenting — Sylvia at MaMammalia discusses her wish to raise a good person and summarizes some of the nontraditional practices she's using with her toddler son in order to fulfill that wish.
  • Responsiveness — Sheila at A Gift Universe has many philosophies and goals, but what it all boils down to is responsiveness: listening to what her son wants and providing what he needs.
  • Tools for Creating Your Parenting Philosophy — Have you ever really thought about your parenting purpose? Knowing your long-term goals can help you parent with more intent in your daily interactions. Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers exercises and ideas to help you create your own parenting philosophy.
  • Be a Daisy — Becky at Old New Legacy philosophizes about individuality and how she thinks it's important for her daughter's growth.
  • What's a Mama to Do? — Amyables at Toddler in Tow hopes that her dedication to compassionate parenting will keep her children from becoming too self-critical as adults.
  • grown-up anxieties. — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life explains her lone worry concerning her babies growing up.
  • Why I Used Montessori Principles in My Parenting Philosophy — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells why she chose Montessori principles to help her now-adult children develop qualities she wanted to see in them as children and adults.
  • Parenting Philosophies & Planning for the FutureMomma Jorje considers that the future is maybe just a fringe benefit of doing what feels right now.
  • Not Just Getting Through — Rachael at The Variegated Life asks what truths she hopes to express even in the most commonplace interactions with her son.
  • Parenting Philosophy? Eh... — Ana at Pandamoly shares the philosophy (or lack thereof) being employed to (hopefully) raise a respectful, loving, and responsible child.
  • Parenting Philosophy: Being Present — Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses the changes her family has made to accommodate their parenting philosophy and to reflect their ideals as working parents.
  • Who They Will Be — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro shares a short list of some qualities she hopes she is instilling in her children at this very moment.
  • Short Term vs. Long Term — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes recounts how long term parenting goals often get lost in the details of everyday life with two kids.
  • Parenting Philosophy: Practicing and Nurturing Peace — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle sets personal goals for developing greater peace.
  • Yama Niyama & the Red Pajama Mama — Part 1: The Yamas — In part 1 of a set of posts by Zoie at TouchstoneZ, Zoie guest posts at Natural Parents Network about how the Yoga Sutras provide a framework for her parenting philosophy.
  • Yama Niyama & the Red Pajama Mama — Part 2: The Niyamas — In part 2 of a set of posts by Zoie at TouchstoneZ, Zoie explores how the Niyamas (one of the eight limbs in traditional Yoga) help her maintain her parenting and life focus.
  • Our Sample Parenting Plan — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey shares hopes of who her children will become and parenting strategies she employs to get them there.
  • Philosophical Parenting: Letting Go — Jona at Life, Intertwined ponders the notion that there's no right answer when it comes to parenting.
  • Unphilosophizing? — jessica at instead of institutions wonders about the usefulness of navel gazing.
  • Parenting Sensitively — Amy at Anktangle uses her sensitivity to mother her child in ways that both nurture and affirm.
  • how to nurture your relationships — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog believes that sometimes all kids need is a jolly good listening to …
  • Philosophy Of An Unnatural Parent — Dr. Sarah at Good Enough Mum sees parenting as a process of guiding her children to develop the skills they'll need.
  • Life with a Challenging Kid: Hidden Blessings — Wendy at High Needs Attachment shares the challenges and joys of raising a high needs child.
  • Flying by the Seat of My Pants — Heather at Very Nearly Hippy has realized that she has no idea what she's doing.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Brown Paper Wrapper

Last month I received a solicitation to subscribe to the Gay and Lesbian Review. As much as I love magazines I don't spend a lot of time searching for new ones so this was the first time I'd run across G&LR.  We've been long time subscribers to The Advocate, but I'd recently let the subscription expire (simply because I'm really bad remembering to follow through on such things these days) and I thought maybe I'd give G&LR a shot for a change of pace.  I was pouring over the information provided, when at that bottom of one flyers I read:

"All correspondence sent in a plain envelope."

I seriously just about blew my top.  My daughter was sitting with me at the time and can attest to the rant that followed.  This of course is nothing new.  My Advocates had come wrapped and I was just as annoyed. And yes, at least with The Advocate, there is an option to decline the wrapping (I tried once, something went wrong at the website and well let's just say it went the way of my intention to renew the subscription).

But that's not the point.  This is not porn.  There is nothing on the cover of these magazines that wouldn't grace the cover of Cosmo or GQ. Nothing from which we need to shield the eyes of the innocent.  The entire purpose of this "plain envelope" was that I would not be outed as being LGBTQ or an ally to... who?  My mail carrier?

And yes I do understand the historical context.  I have family members who lived in openly gay relationships before I was born.  I am forever grateful to the pioneers who created these publications in times and places where it wasn't safe to do so.  I'm glad that they can be discreetly received by those who in this time are still not in a place where it is safe for them to do so.

My question is Why the bloody hell isn't it safe for them to do so?!

Ok so that is mostly a rhetorical question. Only because I know the answer is far to complicated to articulate here. 

Seriously folks.  Those that would like to see the LGBTQ "lifestyle" disappear back into the closet are pretty consistent in their complaints that said "lifestyle" is being foisted on them and their family.  And that there (generally speaking) conservative Christian "lifestyle" is under attack.  But when was the last time any of these people had their issue of  Faith and Family or Focus on the Family's Thriving Family offered to them in a plain envelope for discretion?