Spare the rod. Save the child.

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Yesterday I re-posted a link on my Facebook page to The Center for Effective Discipline’s Spank Out Day.  Honestly, I almost didn’t re-post it because I thought it rather unnecessary to tell people not to spank for two reasons.  1) Most people don’t spank anymore anyway.  2) People that do spank know there are better options but are sometimes too angry to control themselves.  I thought it would be silly to even bring it up.  We’re all working on doing better everyday, right?  Wrong.

I’m glad I did.  Because I was wrong on both counts.  Apparently spanking is still considered an appropriate means of dealing with what parents deem as behavioral issues with children.
no-spanking

I’m feeling pretty judgmental on this issue today and, after careful consideration, feel absolutely certain that there is no grey area here.  I’ve trotted around it in my head trying to think of a kinder, gentler way to help people to understand why it’s unnecessary and positively damaging to spank children.  There isn’t one.  Because people who spank feel absolutely entitled, if not obligated, to do so in order to raise obedient little soldiers.  So I’m going to say it really loud- STOP HITTING YOUR KIDS!

We could go on about peoples considered as lesser throughout our history being subjugated to the will of the dominant sector- yes, as recently as women who were punished routinely by their husbands (completely within their rights) for any manner of ‘wrong’ doing.  But parents who spank don’t hear this because of their determination to raise an obedient child.  Children do not have the same rights as other groups in the eyes of these parents and, indeed, in the eyes of the law.

We could talk about issues of perpetual violence and detrimental associations between love and violent behaviors.  But parents who spank will say that this was how they were raised and they love their parents and turned out well.

We can talk about linguistics and the fact that spanking is a soft word that parents use to alleviate the guilt associated with the words ‘hitting’, ‘abuse’, ‘violence’, ‘control’ which are all more appropriate words to describe the actual act being committed.  But parents who spank will say that the motivation behind spanking is different.  They are not hitting their child out of anger, they are hitting them out of love.  (Now say that last part again in your head.  Do you hope to be loved that way?)

We can even cite literature that shows that physical punishment is completely ineffective in creating the behavioral change the parent seeks.  What it incites is fear and any manner of deceit in order not to get caught again.  Spankers say it works because they see less of the behavior.  Might we be hopeful that this is because the child has sought out a more supportive environment and is spending less time with the abusive parent?  We can hope but given that children of ‘spanking age’ are usually in their very physically dependent early years, I doubt it.  But it’s not because the desired lesson was learned.  What is internalized by the child in these encounters is to live in fear because those who love them also inflict physical, psychological, and emotional harm on them.

Hitting is only one of many (a few more: time out, isolation, humiliation, withdrawal of affection, taking away personal items/’priveledges’) overt and damaging methods of controlling a child.  Simply replacing hitting with another method of control is not the solution.

The hard part here is NOT learning a new skill to use in these situations but changing the way in which we view them and our children.  It is changing the way we view the traditional hierarchical family dynamic to one of trust, appreciation, support, and true love (not this wacky, power struggle, abusive cycle kind).  And guess what?  You will never need discipline or punishment because what you have created is a respectful home community in which your wisdom, care, and love are appreciated because they are communicated in ways that are clear to the child’s heart and mind. This article- Why we don’t punish our son. Ever. – nailed it in my opinion. Thank you, Jillian Lauren, for rocking me to sleep last night with the pull I needed back to MY reality- the one in which my children communicate openly with their parents and each other and difficult situations are met with compassion and problem-solving not violence, guilt, and shame.

Having support in parenting is monumental and generally people parent the way their parents did so the support for change is definitely not coming from there.  When we know better, we do better.  Here’s some great literature for reconsidering and healing the parent-child relationship:

Connection Parenting by Pam Leo
connection parenting
Parenting for Social Change by Teresa Graham Brett
parenting for social change

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HB #28- Guest Podcast:: Freedom & Responsibility with Barb Lundgren and Quinn Eaker

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Quinn is Barb’s oldest child and a grown unschooler.  Having been unschooled in the deepest sense of the word, his sense of self is strong and his awareness is broad.  Discussions with Quinn are immediately intimate.  There is no small talk, no waste of a moment.  He truly lives the intention of being present in the moment rather than simply spending time.  I encourage you to listen to this podcast.  It is truly revealing as are most discussions with Quinn.

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Topic:  Responsibility is the New Compassion
click to the right of this box to listen to the mp3 recording now!

Many people believe compassion is high level action, a sacred/good/right/high feeling and/or thought about another. This, like with all else, is ok, but the reality remains that the energetics of what it is based on is dysfunctional.

Compassion is based on the idea that there are people who NEED help, that there is nothing you can do for them besides feel sorry for them, pray for them, decide for them, take care of life details for them or donate goods to their cause.  All of this is just a handicap for ongoing dysfunction and thus makes the individual who expresses compassion part of the dysfunction.

This conference call is designed with focus on the parent/child relationship to bring forth some realities of freedom and responsibility.  As an example, let’s say one has a child..and this child is upset, angry, shy, frustrated, sad or some other aspect of bad energetic.  Instead of adopting the feeling of “I will pray for my child to find his way or I will buy her something to ease the pain,” a parent could choose instead to talk to the child about how he is feeling, sharing that it is ok to feel however one may feel but there ARE options.there are alternatives.there are infinite possibilities.  Or, possibly an even higher action would be to know that pain is a part of life, as is confusion, uncertainty, doubt, and all may all be a part of evolution.  This is OK.  IT IS NOT a bad thing and actually very important in the self-existing and growth process.  It is  important that an individual be able to deal with one’s own thoughts feelings and life.  It is important that one is able to know that she has the ability to influence her own experience and that she is capable of dealing with whatever experience life brings forth.  Until an individual is capable of dealing with one’s own thoughts, feelings, actions and overall life one will continue to be subject to the system of government/school/corporation/control/manipulation/dogma that is established for them.

There are many people who are aware that they dont really like what is going on but have no idea what to do to shift or engage beneficial new realities to unfold.  There are so many people that do not think for themselves but look to others for guidance.  This is a guaranteed path to suffering.

There is no benefit in taking care of everything for a child, with regard to thinking, choosing, and deciding for a child.  One may think this is compassionate and that compassion is holy but, in fact, it is a handicap that does not serve the parent nor the child.

Children are born of pure potential.  It is, in fact, this world that they are born into and their parents that birth them that is replete with fear, limitation, doubt, lack, control, manipulation, war, abuse, compromise, suffering etc., etc.  Why is it that these children need adult guidance?  Why is it that they need adult TEACHINGS?  Why is it that they need adult COMPASSION????

They do not, of course, and though the title of this is cool and powerful it still boils down to the fact that children are born capable and connected and by living in this world and the influence of the world around them that they lose connection to that.

The alternative to all this is Responsibility.  Children will NOT be responsible until they actually HAVE  responsibility.  Most children are not only irresponsible but wild, destructive and rebellious because they have not experienced real responsibility.  When a child is authentically able to choose for himself, when he sleeps, how he keeps his room, how he treats others, what he does with his time/thoughts/feelings, this child becomes very involved in the process we call LIFE.  A child becomes fully engaged and efficient with her choices and chooses highly beneficial realities for herself.  It is only when a child does not have responsibility that she is irresponsible and seemingly wastes her time.

A child is born with an inner guidance system that is highly sensitive and in tune with what is important.  Every time a child is forced, controlled, manipulated, advised or taught something not actively sought, he is further and further from this natural state of being.

Give your child full responsibility for her life, her choices and follow where that energy goes.  Provide unconditional support and love.  When a child needs/wants something you have to offer you can be sure that child will come to you with a clear and honest request.

Mistakes may be part of life and a free, responsible child may make them as well.  What a free, responsible child will not do that children without responsibility WILL do is repeat mistakes, for when one is living for oneself and responsible for all that one does it is silly to repeat mistakes.  When a child has no responsibility then the mistakes are not for them but for others.  If a child has no responsibility she will not care if she breaks something.  Actually, a child might want to break or ruin things to rebel against control.  A child who is responsible will know that unless there is some very important reason it is not beneficial to break things.

Click here to stream this podcast or download FREE on itunes!

Rethinking Everything Conference 2010 is Upon Us!

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Yes, it’s almost here!  Chris and I are once again thrilled to be a part of this amazing, life changing, growth experience so aptly renamed the Rethinking Everything Conference.  We are prepared to enlighten and be enlightened, connect, grow, challenge, be challenged, inspire, expand, and have TONS of fun!  I can easily and without hesitation say that this conference is as unique and profound as it is dynamically fun.  Our kids have been looking forward to it since… oh… our departure last year!

We are honored to be part of a truly noteworthy line-up of rethinking speakers.  We hope to be able to offer MP3 recordings of our sessions so check back!  Here’s what we’ll be talking about:

Who Needs a Doctor, Anyway? with Sarah Parent
We will all agree that the human body is an amazingly complex system of anatomic and physiologic connections and, while this skims the surface of the actual interconnected brilliance of our being, this is the sole focus of allopathic medicine.  Traditional Western medicine assesses symptoms, identifies the physiologic pathology, and implements chemical or physical manipulation to alter or mute the symptomatic response.  Even illnesses without identifiable physical cause have elaborate diagnoses and medications to alleviate symptoms without ever addressing a root cause beyond physical or chemical alteration in function.  Even identifying psychosomatic manifestations is a thing of the past as consumers demand concrete explanations and quick fixes just as they would at the auto mechanic; and this is as close as medicine had come to linking the emotional and energetic components of the individual to what becomes a physical manifestation of illness. 

Sarah is a Master’s prepared Registered Nurse of 12+ years and has recovered thoroughly from her experiences in the medical profession.  She will share the information she uncovered in her Master’s thesis, Reiki studies, and herbal and homeopathic research to convey the basic health of each of our physical bodies.  Discussion will focus on the emotional and energetic imbalances that contribute to physical manifestations of illness and biologic breakdown.   Get ready for self discovery, self love, discussion, and a change in the way you view wellness.  We all get sick sometimes.  Let’s figure out why.

“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.” -Isaac Asimov

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My Kids Don’t Do Anything They Don’t Want To Do
with Chris Parent
And why should they?  Independent thought can only be had when one is allowed the freedom to be independent; to succeed and to fail on one’s own terms; to own the experiences and information and move forward.  As a whole-life unschooling dad, my kids have the freedom to make their own decisions in life.  We do not force our kids to eat what we eat, when we eat, or go to bed at a particular time.  They decide what learning opportunities they will pursue and even what constitutes a learning opportunity.  Our family works as a unit with everyone having input to the decisions we make as a family.  When we try to plan out our days (if we try to plan out our days) we take into account what everyone wants to do with their time, not just the adults in the family.  By respecting everyone’s needs and desires, we maintain a peaceful environment at home because no one feels out of control or ‘less than’.  In this session we will explore what it means to support true freedom in our children, how these dynamics work for my family, and how they can work for yours.

“In the end, the secret to learning is so simple: Think only about whatever you love. Follow it, do it, dream about it…and it will hit you: learning was there all the time, happening by itself.” -Grace Llewellyn

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Finding the heart of what Works for You and Your Family  with Sarah Parent
Living consensually – a lifestyle in which all family members are equally valued and respected – is exhilarating, empowering, and… challenging.  Unschooling is based on a foundation of trust that each child knows everything they need at any given time which, in theory, is brilliant and, in practice, can be downright terrifying.   How can we stay the peaceful, trusting course when family, friends, society, and our own inner voice place seeds of doubt or wage all out war on our decisions and practices?  

This session will be devoted to the construction of individual Guiding Principles that will form the unshakable foundation of your vision for your family and children.  Sarah will use meditation, imagery, and supportive discussion to    help each attendee extract their core principles and use them to form vision statements to maintain alignment between goals, dreams and daily interactions.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” –Albert Einstein

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We’ll be kicking back and sharing bliss, too! 

Rock Star Parents with Chris Parent
Calling all adults/parents!  Are you a rock star in hiding?  Dust off your instrument of choice (guitar, drums, or vocal chords) and check out the song list.    We’re forming an adult rock band to open the show and warm up the crowd for the Beatles tribute band at RE.  We’ll be practicing solo over the next few months then rocking and having lots of fun together.  Let’s stretch ourselves on the stage and show off a little joy and talent for the youngsters!

Set list:
Summer of 69 – Bryan Adams
Free Falling – Tom Petty
Take the Money and Run – Steve Miller Band
Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC

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Fairy Houses with Sarah Parent
“There are many things in this world that I have never seen but it’s not for me to deny their existence.”  This is what I tell my children when they ask if fairies are real.  And, indeed, fairy dust and notes ‘written’ in sticks have arrived shortly after they have completed fairy houses near our home.  Join in the delight of constructing natural, conscious creations for our fairy friends.  We will read  Fairy Houses  by Tracy Kane and, using the eco-conscious guidelines set forth in this joyful tale, build our very own fairy village in the woods surrounding the AATC. 

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Letterboxing – Letter what?! with Sarah Parent
Letterboxing is a hobby or pastime combining arts/crafting, nature, and treasure hunting.  Letterboxes can be found all over the world.  You may have walked right by one without ever knowing it was there!  To letterbox, one follows a prewritten clue (some are quite simple and others require research) to seek out a small box housing a stamp and logbook.  The stamp you carry as your identity is stamped in their logbook along with your ‘trail name’ and hometown.  You also mark the book you carry with their stamp – giving a lasting memory/proof of the find.  For more information see: www.atlasquest.com.  Most letterboxers who ‘plant’ boxes hand carve their stamps and write a clue that provides information about a topic of their interest, historical information about the location of the letterbox, or some type of coded clue to exercise the brain.  Hand carving stamps is fun and easier than you think with a little practice.  There are many sites that show how like this one:
http://www.atlasquest.com/tutorials/carving/

The AATC is situated on 30 acres of beautifully wooded land on which to hide letterboxes and have a colossal, weekend-long treasure hunt!  People from all over the world will come together to hide boxes, seek boxes, and have lasting memories of this fun, artistic, exciting adventure.

To play:

-Plan to hide a box!  Which will be a little plastic storage box/bag.
    o Place a small logbook (these are usually no bigger than 2”x2”) in the box.  This may be handmade or can be one of
       those handheld spiral notebooks.
    o Place an ink pad in the box so that people can mark your book and theirs!
    o Hand carve or choose a stamp that reflects something important to you or your family (your home state’s bird, a      
       hobby, a sports team, etc.).
    o Name your box and start your clue with information about your theme.  You will finish your clue at the AATC when 
       you choose a location to hide the box.
    o Post copies of your clue on the   Letterboxing Bulletin Board at RE so that others can seek out your box.
-Prepare your trail stamp and logbook
    o Either choose or hand carve the stamp that will serve as ‘your mark’ in others’ logbooks.  Since the logbooks in the
       boxes are small, make sure your stamp is small to fit.
    o Pack a small notebook (a composition notebook or similar will work well) to collect the stamps that you find.
    o Occasionally, letterboxers will forget to place an ink pad in their box so bringing one with you is a good idea.
-Letterboxing etiquette
    o Be sneaky when you’re hiding and seeking boxes.  Hide them out of sight from curious passersby who may disturb
       the box location.  Re-hide them well when you’re finished stamping.
    o Be sure to pick up your box at the end of your stay at RE.  The box can be donated to RE for future use or taken
       home with you and re-planted near you!  If you do this, list your clue on     www.atlasquest.com  so letterboxers will
       seek it out.

See you on the trails!  FYI- if you see another letterboxer on the trail, you may ask to stamp/sign each other’s logbooks with your trail stamps.  There are many more ins/outs and secrecies to letterboxing.  Do a little research and we could have traveling stamps that come back to RE 2011 regaling tales of their adventures in the form of beautiful stamps.

HB#26- Guest Podcast:: Freedom & Responsibility with Barb Lundgren and Teresa Brett

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Another great guest podcast especially for you! 

Barb Lundgren of the Rethinking Everything Conference and Rethinking Everything Magazine and Teresa Brett of Parenting for Social Change dissect the process of consciously moving forward in our parenting by addressing our personal blocks and challenges that hold us captive in struggle.

Topic:  The Spiral of Learning, Growth, Freedom and Responsibility

The idea of learning as a spiral comes from Paulo Freire’s discussion of praxis (action and reflection).  It is the notion that learning is much more like a spiral than a linear progression of knowledge and skill development. For us parents, rather than progressing linearly, we will often revisit the same challenges.   When we consciously develop the ability to reflect on our actions, we hopefully revisit the issue from a perspective that is further up the spiral, requiring thoughtful work on our part.  Let’s talk about the thoughtful process that is required of us as we challenge ourselves to upgrade our actions, our communication with our children and teens and move gradually up the spiral to a place of real confidence and unconditionality.

Click here to stream directly or download FREE on itunes!

HB #24- Guest Podcast:: Freedom & Responsibility with Barb Lundgren & Scott Noelle

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I have a surprise for you!  In preparation for the Rethinking Everything Conference in September, Barb Lundgren is hosting a series of seven conference calls focusing on many different areas of concern for parents regarding Freedom and Responsibility.  I will be sharing them here with you. 

In this episode: Barb and Scott Noelle discuss how to ready ourselves with an awareness of what freedom and responsibility are and how to support them in ourselves and our children as partners.

 Topic: Are You Ready for Freedom and Responsibility?
As much as we might dream about and want to create rich environments of unconditional love and support for our children’s and teens’ freedom-based learning, the fact is we can’t give what we don’t have!  If we feel enslaved to work, bound by beliefs, stuck in relationships, burdened by chores, or addicted to others’ approval, we have yet to claim for ourselves the kind of freedom and responsibility we want our children to have. This can lead to feelings of resentment towards our children and even lapses into the kind of adversarial parenting behaviors we’ve rejected. In this call, we will address some of the conditioned thoughts and beliefs that are difficult to let go of and offer strategies to unload that baggage once and for all, so you can be confident and free to move ahead and create the life you dream of.

Click here to stream this podcast or download FREE on itunes!

Co-Creating with Teresa Brett- Interview

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Listen to my interview with Teresa!

Recently, I had the rich experience of interviewing (conversing really) with Teresa Brett of Parenting for Social Change on Co-Creator Radio Network.  The interview is in preparation for Teresa’s speaking at the upcoming Rethinking Everything Conference about which I am so excited.  I have a previous connection with Teresa through Rethinking Everything Magazine for which she wrote the complete story of her transition from career professional and attached parent to the reality that the encultured parenting mentality and emotional baggage from her own childhood were squelching the development of her children and causing rampant disconnect in their family.  Sound drastic?  It is…  Become a subscriber!  Read Teresa’s story in the July, 2010 issue of REM

Teresa’s journey has many parallels to my own and it was brilliant to discuss the leap of parenting thought with someone who is not afraid to use words like: ‘abuse’, ‘discrimination’, and ‘oppression’ with regard to traditional parenting techniques and mentality.  Politically correctness be damned.  Let’s call it what it is.  There are no more qualified to assess the relationships and damage than those who have experienced the full spectrum of perspectives and grapple with this awareness on a daily basis.  There is a consciousness that comes hand-in-hand with the contrast of our origins and our desire to support authentic children.  Growth is perpetual, uncomfortable, awakening and leads to more open eyes in all areas of our lives.  We are aware of every interaction and communication, constantly turning them around in our minds to evaluate if we are supporting or manipulating- if the voice that is speaking to our children is our authentic voice or the one that has come of our own upbringings- manipulated through enculturated parenting traditions and institutions.

Teresa and I discuss these challenges and the brilliant growth for ourselves and our relationships that results.  What does a world of empowered people look like?

Click here to listen to our lively and thought provoking discussion!

Analyzing "No"

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Have you ever thought about why you say the word, “no” to your children?  Parents are incredibly trigger happy and “no” is their bullet.  Sometimes “no” is disguised in a few other words or hidden entirely in a phrase that sounds different but, in the end, means “no” (e.g. – “not right now”). 

Children are explorers, adventurers, pretenders, scientists, clowns, wonderers, wanderers, inquisitors, and so much more.  How, then, will they learn in a world where “no” is the easy answer from adults who deem a certain behavior to be inappropriate, uncomfortable, dangerous, or (more than likely) inconvenient?  Indeed, how will they learn the importance of the word “no” when it plays on and on in the background of their lives like a monotonous beat lacking interesting lyrics?

Learning requires experience – on this we can all agree.  Even those who support traditional education are aware (though without the ability to fully incorporate it) that hands-on experience is required to incorporate information into our lives rather than in our short-term memory visitation.  I would venture to guess that more than 90% of “no” (or likewise negating phrase) usage is not based in any real rationale.  What people think of us or whether the situation makes us uncomfortable is not considered ‘real’ when weighed against the potential for the continued learning of our children. 

How, then, are “no” and its comrades in negation used?  I can think only of two situations:

1) My child’s exploration is impinging on the freedoms of others.

2) My child is unknowingly putting him/herself in serious danger.

Even with these there are considerations and the evaluation of whether we are clinging to the potential for these two to be true (b/c it makes the situation easier for US) or if they actually do apply to the situation.  Mild injury is not serious injury and can be a significant learning experience.  Dirtying their clothes does not constitute impinging on your freedoms b/c you are the family launderer. 

Tremendous liberation for all of us lies in the deep analysis of our use of negating statements and redirection.   Not only do we open ourselves to the joy of exploration and revel in our role as the supporters of our children’s constant learning, but we regain/maintain the integrity of “no” for those situations in which it is truly needed.  Our opposition to behaviors and activities is taken much more seriously and with value by our children when it used sparingly and with regard to their need to explore their world.  Children who do not hear “no” constantly stop in their tracks when it is uttered by their trusted adult.  Just as needed to support our children, so should the word “no” be used.

Note to my friends from Clan of Parents (May 9, 2010 post ‘Going Up’) – I request that my children not climb on the kitchen counters, walls, etc. with ‘playground feet’ and that they move glassware so that there is less of a chance of breakage/injuries.  This is generally honored but sometimes forgotten.  This is the basis of a consensual relationship in which all parties are respected- freedom supporting freedom.  They explore in plain sight because they know I support them and will help them without question as requested.  My “no”s are generally rooted in reality and rationale.  When they’re not, my astute youngsters respect my need for them to pause while picking apart my holey negations to transparency so that even I can see the ludicrous lack of foundation.  Those moments are the true “teaching moments”- the ones in which I learn more about me.

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