Guest Post: What Happens When Children Become Numb To Their Fear And Alarm System By Hannah Klassen

I’ve had this realization: When people are defending spanking and they commonly say that they never feared their parents, they are right. They didn’t and don’t feel the fear. The emotion is the energy and the feeling is the consciousness of that energy. They were numb to their fear, so since they can’t feel it, they make the assumption that it isn’t there.

So when we understand that when the brain perceives danger and alarm is activated in us, we are first to be moved to caution and if that isn’t possible, we are to be moved to tears and if that isn’t possible, we are to be moved by courage. When we become numb to our feelings of alarm, then instead of caution, we are moved to be reckless. You see that with children and adults who are adrenaline junkies, dare devils, and danger seekers. They are numb to their fear. Thus, they are called fearless.

Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the mix of fear and desire.

So when the parent becomes a source of alarm to a child, in order for the child to hold on to the relationship, the brain has to numb their fear. Which puts them in a dangerous position. Because what if they also put themselves in harms way with other people, because they can’t feel their alarm. So that little voice, that sensation that warns of danger, can’t be heard because they have become deaf to it.

Parents should never be a source of fear and alarm to a child! They need to be a source of safety. A place where natural fear and alarm can be, understood, supported, and empathized with.

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Using Detective Work To Meet Your Children’s Needs

Gentle parenting looks at the whole child instead of just the behavior. Children often act out in order to communicate a need to us.  So many times parents focus solely on the unwanted behavior and ignore the fact that the child is trying to communicate.

We need to understand that there is usually an unmet need behind unwanted behaviors. Once we can figure out that need and meet it, the unwanted behavior usually disappears. For example, a child who is getting sick may exhibit more aggression. If a child has a more serious condition such as a sensory processing disorder or Autism, they may exhibit more unwanted behaviors.

Instead of thinking that a child is being defiant or manipulative and punishing the child, we need to understand he or she probably has an unmet need. A little detective work can help a great deal in stopping unwanted behaviors.

That detective work includes something called tarry time. Tarry time is when we give children ages birth to five a few moments to process verbal stimuli. The young brain takes longer to process new experiences. Giving children time to process and respond to us is very helpful.

For example, waiting ten seconds before repeating a request can allow the child to cooperate. It is developmentally inappropriate to expect young children to always respond immediately. In an emergency be prepared to help the child cooperate.

Parents and caregivers may find tarry time is beneficial for them too. When confronted with a stressful situation, taking time to count to ten can help us remain as calm as possible.

Understanding that all children have needs is crucial for treating them with respect.  Ignoring a need and/or punishing the child for having a need will only make the child act out more.  Listen to your children.  Validate their feelings and try to meet their needs as much as possible.  You will find that your children will be more respectful to your own needs.

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Make Your Children’s Memories Of You Happy

This was a rough week for my husband and me.  I dealt with the three month anniversary of my beloved grandpa going Home, the first year anniversary of my husband’s beloved mom going Home, and today was the 13th anniversary of my abusive dad going Home.

Having these hit all in a row made it obvious to me that I would much rather feel the pain of losing my mother-in-law and dear grandpa because I have happy memories to think back on.  The reason I miss them so much is because they loved me!  They never intentionally hurt me.

I believe in signs from Heaven and it is a joy when I get one from my mother-in-law and grandpa.

But with my abusive dad, it’s a totally different feeling.  An emptiness.  A dark feeling even though I forgive him and have hope for our relationship to be restored in Heaven, I just feel like I want so badly to miss him but I don’t.  Instead I still feel angry and I just can’t muster any good feelings about him.  I so wish that I could.

Losing two people with whom I was extremely close has put this stark contrast between grieving for the loving people versus my dad. And I must say it sucks!

Therefore, as I’ve gone through this week of grieving for the loving relationships I’ve physically lost and the yucky one I never had, I wanted to make a meme to try to explain how I feel. I hope this helps parents understand better what it feels like.

May parents love their children because having wonderful memories is MUCH better than abusive, hurtful memories even if in Heaven, that will all be wiped away.

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Review Of “13:24: A Story Of Faith And Obsession” By M. Dolon Hickmon.

I read this book over a year ago.  It is excellent!  Now that I finally have a blog of my own, I can post my review here.

Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them” (Ephesians 5:11, NASB).

As Christians, we are called to expose darkness where we find it, and to recognize sin not only in the world around us, but also in the Body of Christ. M. Dolon Hickmon has done just that in 13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession, a fast-paced crime thriller that offers readers a sobering glimpse of one of the darkest aspects of Christianity.

13:24 opens with protagonists Chris and Josh leading hard, sinful lives. Chris is an emotionally neglected teenaged fan of the heavy metal band, Rehoboam. Josh is the wild, tattooed leader of that band. At every concert, Christians protest with signs and slogans that are almost as hate-filled as Josh’s violent lyrics seem to be. When Chris goes on a murderous rampage, people blame his fascination with “demonic” music. Meanwhile, celebrity evangelist Allen Garnfield capitalizes on the media frenzy, using details from Chris’ crimes to rail against what he sees as the true cause of violent youth: society’s ongoing shift away from old-fashioned physical punishment. While the criminal investigation unfolds, Garnfield’s sermons are presented alongside scenes of disciplinary beatings, which contribute to the implosions of both Chris’ and Josh’s lives.

For some believers, it might be tempting to deny that Christian spanking advocates have contributed to such tragedies of physical abuse. Sadly, Allen Garnfield’s incendiary lines could easily be quotes from popular books by real-life iconic Christian pro-spanking teachers:

“On the bare legs or bottom, switch him eight or ten licks; then, while waiting for the pain to subside, speak calm words of rebuke. If the crying turns to a true, wounded, submissive whimper, you have conquered; he has submitted his will. If the crying is still defiant, protesting and other than a response to pain, spank him again” (Pearl, 1994, p. 80).
“The child may be more strong-willed than the parent, and they both know it. If he can outlast a temporary onslaught, he has won a major battle, eliminating punishment in the parent’s repertoire. Even though Mom spanks him, he wins the battle by defying her again. The solution to this situation is obvious: outlast him; win, even if it takes a repeated measure” (Dobson, 1970, p. 45).

“For example, a dime sized bruise on the buttocks of a fair-skinned child may or may not indicate an abusive situation. It all depends. In an otherwise secure and loving home, that bruise may have no greater psychological impact than a skinned knee or a stubbed toe. Again the issue in not the small abrasion; it is the meaning behind it” (Dobson, 1996, p. 25).

“After you have spanked, take the child up on your lap and hug him, telling him how much you love him, how much it grieves you to spank him, and how you hope that it will not be necessary again. Then if he is still not restored, you are to check your own spirit to see if you have handled him roughly… [or] brought unholy anger on this holy mission, and if you have, seek forgiveness from God. If your child is still angry, it’s time for another round, ‘Daddy has spanked you, but you are not sweet enough yet. We are going to have to go back upstairs for another spanking'” (Tripp, 1995, p. 149).

As a Christ-follower I was a bit nervous about reading this book. I was concerned that its purpose was to rip Christians and the Bible apart. Having read it, I can assure readers that Hickmon does no such thing.

The title of the book is taken from Proverbs 13:24, “He who withholds his rod hates his son.”   See here regarding how to accurately interpret the “rod” verses.  The importance of this verse becomes clear when Josh uses music and stagecraft to reenact the rarely-told history of King Solomon—widely credited as the compiler of the Book of Proverbs. In these concert scenes, readers graphically witness that King Solomon, though gifted with wisdom from God, was also deeply flawed as a father, husband, and spiritual leader. He ultimately chose worldly sensuality and treasures over keeping with the wisdom that God gave him.

“Solomon was a great ruler who sowed the seeds of the dissolution of his empire and his kingdom was split into two after he died. Solomon’s blunder was that, as he got older, accumulating personal wealth became more important than building up his country. His love for foreign women caused him to accumulate a ridiculous number of wives (I Kings 11:1-4). As Solomon himself noted, leaders need wisdom, understanding, righteousness, and truth to ensure the success of their reign. Wealth, fame, beautiful women, and incredible edifices are not what leadership is all about. God himself praised a young Solomon for choosing wisdom and justice over wealth, longevity, or power over his enemies (I Kings 3:10-11), but it seems that he forgot about his mission” (Friedman, http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/economic/friedman/moralleadership.htm).

Hickmon’s ultimate point is made when Josh, while being questioned about his possible connection to a string of murders, points out how Solomon’s seemingly harsh, authoritarian prescriptions violate Christianity’s important ideals: “Jesus didn’t burden his disciples with impossible demands or whip them into automatic obedience. Rather, Jesus said ‘My yoke is light,’ and demonstrated his authority by kneeling to wash his servants’ feet. On the subject of physical punishment, Jesus said, ‘Whoever is without blame, cast the first stone.’ And while Solomon dismissed children as fools, Christ insisted, ‘Heaven is ruled by such as these'” (Hickmon, 2013, p. 47). Yes, the entire Bible is divinely inspired. However, Jesus changed everything when He suffered and died on the cross for humanity’s sins. Jesus desires mercy, not sacrifice.

I must quickly point out that upon deeper study of Hebrew, the “rod” verses of Proverbs do not mean to spank children, but rather to discipline (teach, guide) children. Most Jews do not practice corporal punishment.

Another aspect of the book is that both Chris and Josh experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Hickmon does a wonderful job depicting what people go through when they have this serious disorder. Wired with fear from harsh/abusive parenting, a child may suffer with anxiety for the rest of his/her life. Experiences of maltreatment can also leave victims feeling like failures, because no matter how hard they try, they can’t always overcome the intense, overwhelming fear and anxiety.

Chris and Josh also demonstrate a range of other effects that we now know to be associated with even mild corporal punishment. “Corporal punishment has been linked to a host of psychological problems. A history of harsh punishment has been found to underlie ‘conduct disorder,’ and anxiety disorders in children. Adults who were physically punished as adolescents are more likely to suffer from depressive symptoms, suicidal thoughts and alcohol abuse” (Grille, 2005, p. 184).

One of my favorite quotes from this book is a comment one investigator makes about his grandfather: “He used to say that Satan’s greatest trick wasn’t making people think he didn’t exist–it was convincing Christians that he couldn’t speak from the pulpit” (Hickmon, 2013, p. 308). This is so true. Pro-spanking theology is not from God. Hurting children in God’s name is blasphemy. I explain this in detail in my own book, Gentle Firmness.

If you like mystery/thrillers, you will not be disappointed with 13:24. I must warn that many scenes are extremely graphic and can be triggering for some. I had a very hard time reading the child abuse scenes and cried through them. I give Hickmon five stars for creating a totally fictitious story that exposes one of Christianity’s darkest corners, creating the possibility of real insight and change.

References:

Dobson, J. (1970). Dare to Discipline. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

Dobson, J. (1996). The New Dare to Discipline. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

Friedman, http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/economic/friedman/moralleadership.htm.

Grille, R. (2005). Parenting for a Peaceful World. New South Wales, Australia: Longueville Media.

Pearl, M. (1994). To Train Up A Child. Pleasantville, TN: No Greater Joy Ministries.

Tripp, T. (1995). Shepherding a Child’s Heart. Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press.

Guest Post: Gentle Parenting May Have Saved My Children’s Lives By Donia Varnon

I tell the story of both of my kids in regards to running into streets/parking lots to a lot of people because that question comes up so often. I found peaceful parenting when my first was about a year old. We don’t do any punishments or rewards with our kids. I don’t yell at my kids and I don’t use the word “no” very often. It’s not that I let them do what they want (we have some pretty firm limits on certain things), but I had learned that children will begin to tune out the word “no” if they hear it to often so I try to use different ways to tell them when we can’t do something. 

So anyway, when my first was a little over two, we were leaving a building and my hands were full. She was always great about walking with me but this time she took off out the door running towards the car, (which was parked right outside the door) but she was headed to the back of the car because she knew I was putting stuff in the back. It’s a little used parking lot but at that moment someone came tearing into it at a rate of speed not really appropriate for a parking lot and it scared me to death that she would run out from behind our car, the other driver wouldn’t see her, and he would hit her. There was no way I could catch her. I shouted “STOP!!” She immediately stopped, turned back to look at me, and came straight to me.

There was no fear in her eyes, only trust. She knew I wasn’t going to hurt her and she also knew that mom never uses that voice to talk to her so this must be super important. At that moment, I was so thankful that I don’t yell at or spank my kids.

Fast forward a few years and I have another crazy little toddler (also two years old, also being raised without punishments). We had to leave somewhere and she wasn’t happy about it so she was crying and sat down on the curb with her arms crossed because she was angry. I was standing just a few feet from her giving her a little space to calm down. In typical unpredictable fashion, she jumped up from the curb and took off into the street but on the opposite side of a car from where I was. She was angry and there was a car coming down the busy street that I knew had no way to see her in between the parked cars and was going too fast to stop. I was even more frightened because this kid is so hard-headed and persistent but there was no way for me to reach her so I did the same thing. “STOP!!

Exact same reaction as my first daughter. She immediately stopped, turned to look at me and came to me. I don’t know if the result would have been the same had my parenting styles been different. Maybe it would…..but I have my doubts. I think peaceful parenting saved my kids’ lives.  I also think that even if spanking would accomplish the same thing, why use it if a peaceful alternative works just as well or better?

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Am I Truly “Privileged” Just Because I’m White? A Story Of Oppression From A White Woman With A Severe Disability.

***Special note: I wrote this over a week ago but because I take this matter so seriously, I had some peers read over it.  I have edited this post a few times and have rewritten things.  I hope my love and my own story touches all who read this.***

I am in tears as I write this. I didn’t sleep very well last night due to someone I thought I knew and I thought he/she knew me calling me a “racist” for not jumping onboard with the Black Lives Matter movement.  I am also losing friends for this reason.

In my original post regarding the recent two police brutality cases and cop killings, I said that “all lives matter.”  You can find the link for the post and my follow-up post a little later in this post.  When I shared my “All Lives Matter” post on Facebook A.K.A. “Hatebook,” I came across a meme claiming that the phrase “all lives matter” was created by white supremacist groups in opposition to Black Lives Matter.  I should have known better and researched it before writing my follow-up post where I apologized but explained that I truly mean it when I say all lives matter.  But my emotions took over and I didn’t investigate it.

After calming down, my husband looked it up and discovered that “All Lives Matter” was NOT created by white supremacist groups!  He made the observation that wouldn’t white supremacists say, White Lives Matter?”  After all, they hate everyone who isn’t a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant — “WASP.”  Yes, we know them best for going after black people, but they hate everyone else too.  Sure enough, there is nothing to show that “all lives matter” is from a white supremacist group.  In fact, black people say it too.

“In the discussion surrounding “Black Lives Matter”, the slogan “All Lives Matter” is sometimes used as an alternative. Its supporters include Senator Tim Scott.  According to an August 2015 poll, 78% of likely American voters said the statement All Lives Matters was “close[r] to [their] own” than Black Lives Matter. Only 11% said the statement Black Lives Matter was closer. Nine percent said neither statement reflected their point of view” (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Lives_Matter#.22All_Lives_Matter.22).

What’s even more interesting is that U.S. Senator Tim Scott is a black man!  As my husband and I further investigated this in order to be absolutely certain that the phrase has nothing to do with any white supremacist groups, we found the following article from the Washington Post  about a student that left a note on a professor’s door in the College of Law that read “All Lives Matter” which states the following:

“Then two members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights — speaking as individuals, not for the commission — wrote to the dean.

“The response of American University faculty and staff was nothing short of Orwellian,” Gail Heriot and Peter Kirsanow wrote, in part. They also wrote:

“Nearly sixty members of the law faculty and staff signed a letter calling this an ‘act of intolerance,’ because it refers to ‘all lives’ rather than only ‘black lives.’

This makes American University look foolish.

Even sillier, the letter calls this obviously true statement — that the lives of all members of the human species are valuable — ‘a rallying cry for many who espouse ideas of white supremacy.’

While we know that President Obama has stated that ‘all lives matter,’ we are not personally aware of any cases in which white supremacists (a rare species these days) have made that statement.

‘Equating a student making a legitimate and utterly unobjectionable point with a white supremacist is nonsensical.’

(Obama, in explaining why he does not think the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ is offensive and that he does not think the protesters are suggesting other people’s lives don’t matter, said in October, ‘I think everybody understands all lives matter’).

By phone, Heriot, a professor of law at the University of San Diego, said that when she saw the letter from the professors, ‘My reaction was that this was — quite outrageous. I just wish that people in positions of authority, like members of a law-school faculty, would try not to make things worse by engaging in name-calling of this kind.'”

If you Google “all lives matter,” the only thing you’ll see is people arguing about it and criticizing people who use the phrase.  SAD!!  An inclusive phrase being ripped apart.  Anyway, note to self: always research stuff before taking it as “fact” when you see it on Facebook.

I want to make it very clear that I support all black people. All my life I have been aware of how unfair the world can be by judging people by appearances in the way some whites will look at a person’s skin color and falsely and automatically assume bad things about them. But I just can’t support the group Black Lives Matter.  I don’t believe that they’re representatives of the race, and sadly, they are hurting race relations through their behavior.  Many black people do want peace and love.  They even peacefully protest.  However, Black Lives Matter seems to draw unstable radicals who cause a great deal of death and mayhem.  I also feel that Black Lives Matter dismisses other minority groups that have been oppressed and horribly treated throughout history and into the present.  What about the Jews and the Holocaust?  Recently anti-semitism has come back.  What about the Native Americans who were murdered and now live on reservations?

To understand where I stand with the recent police brutality cases and the cop killings, see here and here.

The reason why I am so upset that I was called a “racist” is because I clearly condemned all violence and all racism and bigotry in my posts!  Also, this person said that I have “white privilege.”  To be honest, I don’t feel like I have much “privilege” at all because my family and I have had to fight for everything I need and I am still fighting. My life, while blessed in comparison to many, is anything but easy.

Also, I have regular encounters of prejudice against me based on my severe disability.  Webster Dictionary defines the word “prejudice” as:

“1: injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one’s rights; especially : detriment to one’s legal rights or claims
2a (1) : preconceived judgment or opinion (2) : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge
b : an instance of such judgment or opinion
c : an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prejudice).

Prejudice often leads to discrimination which Webster Dictionary defines as:

“1 a : the act of discriminating
b : the process by which two stimuli differing in some aspect are responded to differently
2: the quality or power of finely distinguishing
3a : the act, practice, or an instance of discriminating categorically rather than individually
b : prejudiced or prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment <racial discrimination>” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discrimination).

Sometimes we must make sure something is good by discriminating whether a fruit is fresh or not.  But when it comes to human beings, we need to stop being prejudiced and discriminatory based solely on their outward appearance.

And I have never understood why white people think they are better than others simply because they are white.  This problem with any and all people thinking they are supreme over others just confuses me.  Of course, it’s especially apparent with children.  Many adults of all races, ethnicities, and religions look down upon children and treat them as property.

And black people are rightly upset because throughout history other people have been prejudiced against them and have discriminated against them based solely on their skin color .  This ongoing prejudice and discrimination is SO WRONG!

However, before anyone calls someone like me a “racist,” you need to walk a mile…Oh wait, I can’t walk, so it’s more appropriate probably to say… Roll a mile on my wheels.  Let’s look at my reality for a moment since I have been looking at everyone else’s.

1. When I was born in 1981, I didn’t breathe for forty minutes.  The doctors wanted to give up on me, but my dad almost had to punch the doctor so they wouldn’t stop working on me.  It literally saved my life.  I am a miracle.

2.  Even after I was stabilized, the doctors still didn’t think I would live.  My parents kept fighting for the best medical care I could get.

3.  When my parents got me home and started raising me, they quickly saw that I wasn’t developing as a typical baby should.  I rolled over and army crawled but I couldn’t sit up, crawl, or walk.  I couldn’t always hold my head up in certain positions. I couldn’t control my arms and legs much.  My parents had to go from doctor to doctor to figure out what was “wrong” with me.  Finally at around 18 months, I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.  After the diagnosis, they said that I wouldn’t do much.

4.  I believe that some people looked at me and assumed I wouldn’t do much with my life and told my parents to just put me in a “special school” or just “put me away” as institutionalizing children and adults with disabilities was still happening in the 1980s.  Heck, it’s still happening today in many parts of the world.  Thankfully, my parents kept me and helped me to do the most I physically could such as hold my head up as much as I could, talk even though it was slurred, and use my hands a little.  They saw that I wanted to do stuff and helped me to do things.  They taught me that I could be like everyone else despite my severe cerebral palsy.

5.  My family was in the working class.  Both of my parents had to work to make ends meet, which meant fighting for all of the services and equipment that I needed that they couldn’t afford to provide for me.  I often heard them fighting the school district for a full-time aide to be with me at school to both help me physically with my schoolwork as well as take care of all of my physical needs at school.  They also had to fight the school to make sure I received the physical, occupational, and speech therapy that I needed.  

School officials would look at me and assume I wasn’t able to even be in the regular classrooms so I had to prove that I could be in a regular classroom instead of in the secluded special needs class.  In third grade I was finally mainstreamed into the regular classroom full time.  

Then my parents had to fight with my teachers to cut down some of my homework or give me extra time to get it done because it took me longer than typical children to do my homework either by dictating the answers to someone or to type it up when I taught myself to type with my nose at the age of nine.

My parents always had to fight to get me the adaptive equipment I needed such as wheelchairs, “potty” chairs, and bath chairs because the insurance companies never wanted to cover any of that stuff and it is very expensive.  All this fighting went on my entire childhood.  Nothing came easily for me!  

In eighth grade, my parents fought for me to get my first speech augmentation device.  Again, these are very expensive and insurance companies don’t cover these most of the time.

6.  Because everyone has always looked at me and assumed things about me, growing up, I never had more than a few good friends.  And sometimes others would make fun of me if they didn’t know me.  In junior high and high school, making friends was even harder because I wasn’t “cool” and couldn’t go out like everybody else did.  Boys– forget it.  My husband was the first and only serious relationship I’ve ever had!  Nobody wants to be with the “disabled girl.”

7.  Being in high school was even worse because on top of the friend and boyfriend situation, even my personal aide looked at me and assumed the worst about me. She told me that I would never go to college, get married, have the career I wanted, have children, and was destined to live in some group home. 

8.  Throughout my entire life I have always been the person with the most severe disability in pretty much every situation.  I am the “Guinea pig” because I was so physically disabled that teachers and others didn’t know how to deal with me.  But I always enjoyed proving people wrong.  I truly hope that I have helped pave the way for other people with disabilities to be successful.

9.  This means when I went to college, some of the professors had their doubts about me, assuming that, because of my appearance I couldn’t successfully complete the early childhood education program.  Again, I had to prove myself and work hard to be at the top of my class, which I did throughout college and graduate school.  I also had to prove that with the right help, I could work with children.  They quickly saw that the children warmed right up to me.

Now you might think I’m done with fighting since I am married, educated, and an author.  If so, you are absolutely wrong!  It’s been two and a half years since I graduated with highest honors from grad school and while fellow graduates of all races and ethnicities have their careers and families firmly established, no matter how hard I try, I haven’t been able to to break through closed doors in order to firmly establish my career so that my husband and I have income and can have a child before we get too old.

I can’t say if any of this is due to discrimination or not but obviously prejudice has played a major role.  I mean here’s what happens at my book signing events:

I just started noticing that some people do avoid me at my book events. As a teen, that was the way it was because I wasn’t “cool” and “like everybody else,” so only those who took the time to get to know me hung out with me. This was extremely difficult for me as a teenager.

I had thought it had gotten better in college and grad school because most were happy to talk with me. But since my book has come out, I’ve had a number of book signings in my area with only a couple people showing up.

At first, I thought it was because my book is about gentle, respectful parenting. Corporal punishment is so ingrained in our society, especially Christian society, that it can be very difficult to get people to see that God never intended for children to be spanked/hit.

But, after a recent book event where some people seemed to go out of their way to avoid me, it became obvious that it is more than just the content of my book. I’m sure there are other reasons why some people don’t approach me. I do feel, after being more in the public eye, some are afraid of me or intimidated by me.

How does this make me feel? I’m fighting back tears as I type this. It hurts. It makes me angry. It makes me sick.

Christians, I feel, should be the most accepting of me. Yet, at a Christian bookstore, Christians seemed to go out of their way to avoid me. But, God is using my disability for His GLORY! I am not being punished. My parents are not being punished. God needs me exactly how I am to do His work for Him which happens to be advocating for children, the least of these. Read John 9 for a better understanding of how God can and does use people with disabilities for His glory.

Please come talk to me. Ask me questions. I love talking with people. I love answering questions. My husband is always with me to help people understand me. Please don’t go out of your way to avoid me.

This is an excerpt from the interview I did with my friend on September 1, 2014.  Please click here to read the entire interview.

Why am I telling you all of this?  It’s definitely not to get pity!  I truly hate pity!  But I want people to understand, especially the people who call me “racist” and “privileged,” to see that I know hardship all too well.  I know what it feels like to have people look at me and decide things about me, negative things about me, just based on my outward appearance. While I don’t have to worry about being pulled over by a cop for no apparent reason just because I’m black and facing the subsequent possibility of being beaten or killed due to police brutality and/or racial prejudice, I know I will never know what it is like to be a black person.  But that’s where it ends because I’ve been called names, I get stared at, I get avoided, I’m not where I would be in my life if I wasn’t disabled.  Able-bodied people will never understand what it’s like to be disabled.  Believe it or not, people with mental disabilities were used in slavery.  If they weren’t useful, they were thrown away in institutions where care was not high quality at all.  Due to this, people with disabilities had shorter lifespans.

I don’t feel “privileged” because money is very tight for my husband and me.  We drive a 20-year-old van that is dying and unreliable but we can’t afford a new (to us) van that my wheelchair will fit in, and people had to pitch-in so we could afford to buy me a new wheelchair, for which I am very grateful!  I don’t get welfare or disability because for some reason we don’t qualify for it.  My husband stays home to care for me 24/7 as it is extremely difficult to get reliable help for me, which is why I work so hard to find my place in my field.  Nothing comes easy for me.

Yet, I feel like I have been crying out and protesting to the world that #peoplewithdisabiliteslivesmatter all my life through the way I’ve been living and fighting to prove people wrong. I feel that if I were to instead scream that “People with disabilities lives matter,” and complain about how bad people with disabilities have it that it wouldn’t show the world they’re wrong about me.  It would only turn people off.  It may even make some angry and not want to help or get involved.  It may even make unstable people want to hurt and murder us even more.

Children with disabilities are very likely to be abused.  I was abused!  Actions speak louder than words, and because people look at me and assume I have nothing to offer, I do my best to live my life in a manner that educates and inspires.  I’m almost finished with a children’s book about my cerebral palsy to educate children on how to treat people with disabilities with respect.  And I have done interviews with my friend to educate others about what life with cerebral palsy is like.

Another thing is that TV shows and movies rarely have people with severe disabilities on them. Usually it’s either someone with Down Syndrome, Autism, or a person in a wheelchair that has upper body control.  Every other minority group is regularly featured in tv shows and movies which is great!  But!  Finally, this fall on ABC, there will be a show with a boy with severe cerebral palsy!!

What’s even better is the boy actually has severe cerebral palsy!!  The show is called Speechless.  I cried for joy when I found this out much like black people must have when finally they were featured in TV shows and movies.  But wouldn’t you know it that some ignorant person already put down the show because it will “normalize” “the disabled” and not make us want to cure them.  Hate and ignorance is everywhere!

As excited as I am about the new show Speechless, it’s also important for me to point out that I don’t focus solely on advocating for cerebral palsy.  Anyone following me for any length of time knows that my passion is advocating for all children.  And when I do share things about disabilities, it’s about all types of disabilities.  I do not feel any disability is more important than the other.

No matter what your race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, gender, age, or disability, if you group people together and label them in a negative manner, that is wrong.  All are equal.  All matter!  All deserve to be heard!  All need a voice!  But let’s do it in a way that gets more people to listen and want to empathize.

So I do understand why blacks have had it with the fact that people will look no deeper than the color of their skin and assume incorrect things about them. Bad things. They will assume that they’re thieves, thugs, criminals, or worse based upon their skin color.  But the way to prove the world wrong about their assumptions isn’t by yelling, rioting, killing, beating, insulting, and destroying property. Such behavior only serves to reinforce the negative stereotypes and inaccurate assumptions about black people.

Love and peace is how we prove people’s assumptions about us wrong and enact change.

Here are a few songs on my mind lately:

 

 

 

 

Compassion Matters!

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The other night I posted a post called ALL LIVES MATTER!  Imagine my horror and frustration when I find out on Facebook A.K.A “Hatebook” that some white supremacist groups have taken over the “all lives matter” phrase and it is seen as racist.

First, I’m truly sorry that evil groups have hijacked something that is so true.  I thought I was clear that I condemn both the two police brutality cases in which two black men were murdered for no good reason AND the cop killing!

Sadly, extremely sadly, it seems that context no longer matters. Just because hateful people misuse a phrase does not mean that someone like me who had no idea about this is using it to be hateful.  When I say “all lives matter,” or now, “every life matters,” I truly mean just that!

I don’t mind if you’re one of the following:

“American Indian or Alaska Native: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America), and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment.
Asian: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Black or African American: A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. Terms such as “Haitian” or “Negro” can be used in addition to “Black or African American.”
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.
White: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.

Ethnicity Categories
Hispanic or Latino: A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race. The term, “Spanish origin”, can be used in addition to “Hispanic or Latino”.
Not Hispanic or Latino” (http://www.iowadatacenter.org/aboutdata/raceclassification).

Your life matters!  You matter if you’re gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender, or queer.  You matter if you’re physically disabled, mentally disabled, or both.  You matter if you’re a baby in the womb or an elderly person.

You matter if you’re a woman or a man.  You matter if you’re a Jew, Christian, Muslium, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic or any other religion.

You know what is truly unfortunate?  My post the other night focused more on how to stop violence and racism and bigotry, but due to a phrase that I unknowingly used, instead of people thinking of ways to stop the hate, they are arguing over the phrase!  They are arguing that cops don’t deserve respect because of a few bad ones who did wrongly by murdering two black men that were not doing anything to warrant being shot!

Right now, as you argue about this, children of all races and ethnicities are being left to cry-it-out, spanked/hit, taught that they don’t matter, being murdered in the womb, being murdered by evil people, and being harshly punished.

Right now, as you argue about whose lives matter most at the moment, a child dies of cancer, hunger, illnesses that can be prevented with modern medicine, and infection. Children are being raped, forced to do hard labor, forced to get married to older people, sold into sex slavery, murdered and/or beaten for being gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender, or queer.

Right now, as you argue that black lives matter, a child is being abused or murdered because he/she is disabled.  Children are murdered because they are the wrong race, ethnicity, gender, and religion.

Right now, as you argue about what is loving, children are losing parents due to hate. Cops are parents.  Blacks are parents, Hispanics are parents. Native Americans are parents.  Asians are parents.  Whites are parents.  Homosexuals are parents.  Jews are parents. Musliums are parents.  People with disabilities are parents.

Go ahead.  Waste time arguing.  Ignore the hate you are perpetuating by insisting that one group is more important than the other because they are oppressed.  Go ahead and use other hurtful words to other groups of people such as “retard,” “fucktard,” “spaz,” “handicapped,” “slow,” “cripple,” “incapacitated,” “invalid,” and “disabled people.”

I hear these regularly, and yet, I don’t scream, “People with disabilities lives matter.”  We are discriminated against in small and big ways, but I don’t scream, “People with disabilities lives matter.”  I have a Master’s Degree but can’t seem to get my career off the ground, and yet, I don’t scream, “People with disabilities lives matter.”

Look, Black people have been treated horribly throughout history. Racism is alive and well.  But that doesn’t make you better than the Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. Jews who are still murdered today.  Or other groups who are regularly murdered for being who they are.

And, I’m sorry but a black man shooting white cops is just as racist as a white cop shooting a black man for no good reason!

We, unfortunately, have many, many oppressed groups, children included. How about we stop the arguing, hate, side taking, approval of violence against whoever we’re currently angry at, and work together to make this a better place?  That begins with valuing all human life from conception on!

Get off Hatebook and start showing love to all!!!  Because in the end, COMPASSION is what truly matters!

“For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3, NASB).

My husband and I enjoy Reggae music.  We heard this song Heaven Help Us All by Luciano and were brought to tears. It is exactly the message I am trying to get across. Take a listen.

ALL LIVES MATTER!

With regards to what’s been happening in this world lately. I am broken-hearted over the two cop brutality cases. Shooting in a car with a 4-year–old in the backseat is SICK!  I cried over both cases.  It is clear that both were brutality cases.

That being said, I cried over the cops who were murdered and injured FOR NO REASON!  Yeah, there are always bad cops but the majority of them are GOOD and risk their lives to protect us!  Don’t take it out on them!

FINALLY, peace begins at HOME! Stop spanking and punishing children!  There’s an epidemic of corporal punishment in the black community in combination with the fact that they don’t have dads around and usually live in poverty.  See Beating Black Kids for more info.  Teaching all children empathy and respect through respectful parenting would do A LOT to stop violence!  Also, stopping them from playing violent video games and watching violent stuff would also help to stop violence as children get desensitized to the violence.

And social media seems to desensitized us because we’re behind screens and feel a sense of anonymity.

This ISN’T a Democratic or Republican issue. This isn’t a gun issue!  This is a HUMAN issue and we need to come together to fix it.  ALL LIVES MATTER!!

Please see my follow-up to this post here.

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Why Interdependence Is Better Than Independence

As we celebrate Independence Day, I think about how our culture is consumed by independence.  We constantly push children from birth to grow up as fast as possible. We don’t value interdependence at all.

The first thing most parents push their infants to do is hurry up and sleep through the night. Now, I understand that it is exhausting to have to parent a child throughout the night, but sleep is a need, not a skill.  No one can force children to sleep.

As I have written about many times, some parents try to force their infants to sleep “independently” by letting them cry-it-out.  Since crying is an infant’s only way of communication, leaving an infant in a dark room to cry alone releases huge amounts of stress hormones to his/her brain.  Sure, infants eventually stop crying and “sleep” when left to cry-it-out, but it’s not the healthy sleep people believe it is. Rather, their brains are literally shutting down from stress.

Then the learned helplessness sets in. Infants learn to mistrust themselves and their caregivers when their cries are not consistently and respectfully responded to. Just because allowing them to cry “worked” and they appear fine, doesn’t mean damage didn’t occur. As an early childhood professional, I cannot recommend cry-it-out ever. Plus, just because they no longer cry out at night does not mean that they still don’t wake up hungry, scared, cold, hot, sick, in pain, or with a soiled diaper in the middle of the night.  They just don’t bother to cry for help because nobody will come.

Infants need a response when they cry. A little fussing with our support as they fall asleep is ok, but ignoring their outright cries is not. Keep your babies close and create a bedtime routine based on your and their needs.  The time you spend parenting at night will pay off and soon enough they’ll be sleeping on their own and you may miss the quiet time at night with your little one.

Another way that we push independence on infants and young children is that we manipulate infants’ bodies to crawl, sit up, and walk before they are ready. I strongly believe God created infants to develop naturally without our “helping” them along. We don’t need to push infants or young children to do things that they’re not ready to do. Don’t hold them back, but don’t push them either.

Also, when children are forced to obey out of fear of being punished, they further learn that their parents cannot be trusted. Plus, we force them to become independent before they’re really ready by expecting too much of them. Another thing is that they learn to hide stuff from their parents. They learn that they “themselves” are the only ones that they can truly depend on. This can negatively affect their adult relationships as well as their relationships with God.

We need to do our best to show our children they can depend on us and God.  I believe encouraging teamwork and interdependence within the family is the best way to grow independent children and adults.

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Does 60 Seconds Of Pain Help Prevent 60 Years Of Disappointment?

I recently heard a sermon about children that didn’t sit well with me.  I held my breath through it waiting for the pastor to get to “discipline” a.k.a punishment in most Christian circles.

While he didn’t come right out and talk about spanking/hitting children, his words and phrases implied spanking such as:

”This is gonna hurt me more than you.”

“When a football player gets a penalty, they get it and then move on to the next play.”

“Sixty seconds of pain helps prevent sixty years of disappointment.”

And he cited James Dobson a couple times in his sermon which anyone familiar with Dobson knows that he advocates spankings and other harsh punishment for children.

It’s sad that he even mentioned the children in the sanctuary looking like, “oh no, not discipline” as true discipline should not make children squirm in their seats.  As I have pointed out a great deal throughout my book and this blog, yes, discipline can be painful as children learn how their actions affected another person or when they don’t get something that they really wanted.  But discipline never inflicts pain on a child!

So, does 60 seconds of pain really help prevent 60 years of disappointment?

In my experience, no, it does not. Yeah, I was abused, but even people who were spanked/hit “lovingly” experience disappointment throughout their lives. Why?  Because disappointment is a part of life.

If anything, being spanked and punished makes it harder to deal with disappointment because it doesn’t teach us how to handle it in a healthy manner.  For example, spanking/hitting a toddler for either not accepting a limit or getting very upset about it doesn’t teach them how to handle disappointment. It just makes them more upset and confused. They either lash out more, which will end in more spanking/hitting and/or other punishment or it teaches the toddler that his/her feelings don’t matter.  This can lead them to lash out as adults or repress their feelings as adults when disappointment comes their way. It can lead to real problems in their lives.

The pastor used an example for this “sixty seconds of pain” concept of a child that was permissively parented and ended up in prison. Yes, permissive parenting also sets up children to not be able to handle life’s disappointments in an unhealthy way.  If they always get what they want in childhood, then they will probably get very angry as adults when things don’t go how they want.

The problem is that trying to imply that if you don’t spank/hit children they will become criminals is very erroneous.  The fact is that the majority of prisoners were physically punished as children!  Violent parenting makes children feel powerless.  This can lead some to use aggression as adults to get what they want as that is what their parents did to them.

The rest of the prison population is usually permissively parented.

Pain makes us angry, sad, confused, and anxious.  Why would you set up children to experience pain from you in order to “prevent” sixty years of disappointment?  It makes no sense.

Disappointments happen from birth and its our job to get on their level and say, “I’m so sorry you are sad, frustrated, and disappointed.  This is the way it has to be but I am here to help you.”  Teach them healthy ways of expressing their disappointments by giving them words, encouraging art expression, using music, petting an animal, reading a book–anything productive that truly helps them.

The number one thing we can do to prepare children for disappointment is to show them that we are there for them and will listen to them. Teach them that they can always count on us and God.  Because sixty seconds of pain will never prevent sixty years of disappointment.

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