Guest Post: Book Review By M. Dolon Hickmon

Note: My friend recently read a book that is on the side of the abuser. It is triggering but I feel that survivors need to be aware that there are psychologists who minimize our abuse.

Parents Who Spank Face ‘Epidemic’ of Estrangement
Dr. Joshua Coleman’s latest book offers caution, comfort to cut-off parents

By M. Dolon Hickmon

Content warning: This is a review of a book written by a psychologist who specializes in
treating the grief of parents who have been divorced by their adult children, often over
allegations of abuse or neglect. Although this book contains valuable insights, the
author’s frequent minimization of child abuse may be upsetting to trauma survivors.

According to a 2021 book by psychologist and formerly estranged parent Dr. Joshua
Coleman, mental health professionals are facing a new crisis: generations of older parents
cut-off by their adult children over allegations of child abuse. Importantly, Dr. Coleman
says that what constitutes adequate reason to end contact has changed: “It doesn’t have to
create marked distress in almost everyone,” Coleman writes in chapter two; “nor does it
need to produce obvious distress in the traumatized person.” Rather, evaluations are
based on the child’s perception: “if I say that you abused, neglected, bullied or
traumatized me,” Coleman writes, “then you did.”

Coleman compares the wounds of estranged parents to life imprisonment in a purgatory
of guilt and sorrow where only their children can commute their sentences: “Speaking of
pain, what are you doing for the holidays, your birthday, your child’s wedding, the birth
of your new grandchild, your child’s graduation? These are all events that you never in
your wildest dreams thought you’d be excluded from. If you’re like almost every
estranged parent, you feel a sense of morbid dread when these days approach.”

Adding salt to these wounds is the fact that estrangement often feels completely unfair to
the cut-off parent: “There are plenty of dedicated parents whose children choose to end
the relationship. The fact that so many dedicated parents are estranged today shows that
this is part of a larger social phenomenon, more than the problem of any one parent.”

Among other relevant social trends, Coleman identifies shifting attitudes about what
constitutes physical child abuse as a driving factor: “However loving, dedicated, or
invested you were, your adult children have their own scale to weigh your behavior as a
parent, one calibrated in a way far different from the one you brought into the nursery.”

Part of that different scale is reflected in modern attitudes about the inappropriateness of
whipping, switching, smacking, or paddling. “A common thread in the perspective of
estranged children are allegations of harm committed by the parent. This is challenging
terrain for today’s parents of adult children because much of what younger generations
consider hurtful or neglectful parental acts, would barely be on the radar for parents of
almost any generation before.” In fact, despite estrangement being roughly as common as
spousal divorce, examples lifted from Coleman’s estrangement-focused psychology
practice feature a telling number of physical abuse allegations. Coleman claims that many
are based on conduct that previous generations would have considered reasonable and
even responsible parenting.

“There’s been a generational change,” says Dr. Robert Sege, lead author of the American
Academy of Pediatrics’ policy statement against corporal punishment. “As we’ve woken
up to the issues of domestic violence and intimate partner violence there’s been a
growing rejection of any sort of violence within the home, including spanking.”

Global approval for physical punishment has been in decline for more than a century.
New Jersey banned paddling from public schools in the 1870s, and similar laws have
expanded to cover more than 90% of American public school children. Dozens of
countries including America’s closest allies list physical punishment of children as a
criminal offense. In the U.S., it is against the law to spank children in group homes or
foster care, and tales of parents heading to prison for whipping or paddling their kids
appear in the news every day. Such developments are cheered by all but a fringe of
secular experts, who broadly agree that spanking carries serious risks of physical,
emotional and psychiatric harm not offset by any potential benefit.

In contrast to prior generations, the majority of today’s parents have taken to heart the
global consensus on physical discipline. According to a Monitoring the Future study of
25 consecutive groups of graduating high school seniors, among adults with children
aged 2 to 12 years old, the proportion who said they spanked their child dropped from 50
percent in 1993 to 35 percent in 2017. As a consequence, younger adults may feel a
moral responsibility to deny both sympathy and affection to a parent who they consider a
serious criminal for inflicting emotional injuries while willfully ignoring widely
publicized and accepted scientific evidence.

Coleman points out that the decision to estrange from such a parent is now also likely to
be met with considerable support, particularly on social media. “The current model of
how we become who we are puts adults on a path of self-discovery where the quest is to
hunt down and eliminate — not only those traits that stand in the way of happiness, but
the individuals they believe to have put those problems there in the first place.” So while
there’s nothing new about ending family relationships, “conceptualizing the estrangement
[…] as an expression of personal growth and achievement is almost certainly new.”

Coleman’s heart is clearly for healing estranged parents — so much so that I, as a
survivor of child abuse, spent an hour crying in the shower after reading this book, which
is filled with Coleman seeming to minimize crimes like child torture and rape
with
statements like: “however small or great your mistakes as parents, those mistakes don’t
mean that living the rest of your lives without your children or grandchildren is a just
punishment for whatever complaints they have about what you did or didn’t do.”

Ultimately, Coleman is forced to admit that most of the estranged children he contacts
demonstrate little interest in relating to their parents. By his own estimates, nearly two-
thirds of estranged adult children he approaches either ignore or openly rebuff his guided
attempts at reconciliation. “Many” use mediation sessions as a platform to verbally berate
their abusers for as long as the therapist allows it. “It’s one thing for an adult child to say, ‘I resent that you weren’t there for me more, that you were critical, self-absorbed, whatever.’ But it’s another to scream insults and tell them they should die.”

When reconciliation fails, Coleman’s task is to help parents come to grips with the
heartaches of being permanently exiled. He offers advice on what to do with the estate
that your adult children do not want, how to respond when your son or daughter files for
a restraining order, and how you might excuse yourself for a cry when your dinner
companions start sharing photos of their grandchildren. “The message of estrangement,”
Coleman writes, “is that you can have your most treasured person torn from you and
there’s nothing — or seemingly nothing — that you can do about it.”

Supported by case-studies lifted from Dr. Coleman’s psychology practice, the author’s
latest, titled Rules of Estrangement, (Harmony Books, Releasing 2021) is a brisk read that
packs valuable insights into a few well-thought-out pages. Coleman clearly has little
empathy for victims or survivors of child abuse, but his work is a harbinger, making it
clearer than ever that the debate over legally sanctioned family violence has already
ended. For a while longer, America’s governing generation will deny children legal
protection, but nothing protects parents from their children’s moral outrage: “some
parents have been so destructive when the child was young that there is little left to build
a foundation upon, even if the parent is able and willing, later in life, to make amends.”

M. Dolon Hickmon explores the intersections of religion and child abuse in essays
published around the web, as well as in the pages of his critically acclaimed
novel,
13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession.

I highly recommend Hickman’s work.

Isolation And It’s Negative Effects

With the ongoing pandemic going on, my husband and I have been in isolation for eleven months now, and in October,  the one place I could safely go in was taken away because of the rising numbers of COVID-19.  So except for rides and medical appointments, I have not been anywhere in four months.  There’s a little hope with the new president that takes the virus seriously and with the shots that may prevent COVID-19, but there’s a lot of uncertainty and people still don’t want to take proper precautions to limit the spread.

All this is leading to unprecedented anxiety, depression, and desperation for me and many others.   I am a trauma survivor with the serious side effects of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and CPTSD.  I am losing track of the days and I am feeling like time is going in a weird speed.  My trust issues and abandonment issues are becoming worse and I don’t want to push the very people who truly love me away.  It’s a scary, lonely place and I am continuing to work with a therapist to get through the trauma of the abuse that was heaped upon me. But even therapy is harder because I can’t go in person.

This has been leading me to think about isolating time-outs for children.  I know I covered it in this post I wrote a few years ago, but with this new understanding of isolation and what it is doing to my 39-year-old brain, I want to talk about it again.

Isolation can definitely cause negative effects on the child’s brain as well as adults.  Here’s research showing the effects of isolation on the brain.

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It can cause anxiety, depression, desperation, despair, anger, and hopelessness.  This article shows the research on the effects of social isolation.  We are social beings that need meaningful relationships.  As someone with a severe disability, even before the pandemic started, there have been many times in my life that I was in a room full of people but I still felt lonely because I wasn’t able to find a deep relationship with anyone there.  I communicate easier online due to my slurred speech, but I still require in-person interaction.

This all leads me to isolation and children.  While toddlers will be ok with this pandemic and the quarantine as long as they have supportive adults who are able to manage their stress, older children are definitely being effected by not having the same level of social opportunities that they used to have.   Sadly, suicide rates for children are increasing.  Some children live in abusive or dysfunctional homes and they have lost their outlet of school and other activities that give them a break from their home lives.

Due to the experience of being isolated from the world except for online, I have an even better understanding isolating time-outs. Using isolating time-out is damaging to the child’s brain. I am not talking about the quick break that we all need sometimes.  I am talking about forcing the child to sit quietly alone for a specific amount of time and then making it longer if he/she doesn’t sit quietly.  This is punishment and harmful.  It is essentially isolation.

While if a parent is still bent on using punishment, I would rather have the parent use time-out rather than spanking/hitting their children.   However,  isolating time-out doesn’t teach anything but that the child deserves to be alone until he/she can behave.  Children, especially young children, have no sense of time so they feel like it is forever.  I remember feeling that way when I was put in my room and I would scream with anger and fear.  I hated my parents.  It didn’t teach me anything.

My husband remembers his dad leaving him for a brief period of time and he felt anxious about when his dad would be back because even though he was 8-years-old and old enough to be left briefly, he still had no sense of time.  

As I mentioned in my previous post about time-outs, children are usually not sitting there thinking about what they did wrong.  Rather, they’re angry, confused, in fight or flight mode, and wondering how much longer they have to sit there.  Some may learn to berate themselves for messing up.  Some may learn to distract themselves during the time-out.

Time-in, however, allows for quiet time with a supportive adult even if he/she just sits nearby until the child calms down enough to talk through what happened.  The adult can use time-in to teach children emotional regulation, empathy, validation, and coping skills such as deep breaths or using words to help them express themselves in a healthy manner.

 I understand that we are all on edge right now but isolating children to punish them will only make the children feel even worse and may exacerbate negative behaviors.  We all need to give each other grace and empathy during this ongoing stressful time.

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Unconditional

How many things are truly unconditional?  It’s almost Christmas and we tell children that Santa will bring them presents if they are good.  We put Elf on the shelf so that they know he is watching them for Santa.  I know that some families play games with this toy but many people don’t.

Love is supposed to be unconditional but it often demands things from others or it’s removed when the child misbehaves—no matter how old he/she is.  Christian doctrine teaches that God is love but one must say the “right prayer” to avoid going to “Hell.”  I feel like true unconditional love is rare. I have seen both in my life and now it’s even more apparent with the pandemic.  Love for our neighbors means doing everything we can to protect them from COVID-19 by wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands frequently, and staying home for Christmas with immediate family.

And children should have presents just because they are loved; not because they were good.  The real St. Nick gave to the poor and helped the oppressed because he was kind and loving.  He didn’t expect anything from them. Here’s a wonderful video on the history of Santa.

Have you ever just given something to someone without telling anyone or given something to a complete stranger who needs help?  These have been the most rewarding experiences for me.  This is loving people unconditionally.

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I believe that respect is earned but love is not.  Love, especially for children, should never ever be earned.  This doesn’t mean that we have to be involved with toxic people.  Love them by walking away from them.

I understand that some people have very high-needs children and it is really hard but they should love their children for who they are.  Speaking from my own experience of being a very high-needs child as well as having a parent ask in a Facebook group about what to do to prevent damage from not being able to meet every single need, I believe that it is more important to explain to the child that we are trying our best and validate the child.

However, coming from an abusive, narcissistic home and struggling to come to terms with my own mother being narcissistic and and that she will never be able to be a good mom to me, what hurts is parents not talking about it in a healthy way.  I have severe cerebral palsy and even my husband can’t meet every emotional need I have and sometimes he gets frustrated which is human but it triggers me. The difference is that he is truly trying and admits to his shortcomings.  I do the same.

But with narcissistic parents, they don’t care and won’t admit that they are falling short.  In these cases and other abusive situations, the love is not unconditional.  I think as long as one has a good connection with his/her child and teaches healthy coping skills, the child may need help later on in life, but he/she shouldn’t have the same amount of pain and damage that us who were abused by our narcissistic parents have.

Accepting that one’s child is different than the parent is unconditional love.  When this happens and children have very different personalities than the parents, the best thing that parents can do is accept it and support the children.  Get involved with at least one activity that the child enjoys.  And share each other’s interests with each other knowing that it’s ok to be so different.  Yes, it is hard at times but the key is to validate and accept.

This Christmas, with so many people sick and dying from COVID-19, let’s remember the little Baby that came to Earth to try and teach us what unconditional love is.  Or if you don’t celebrate Christmas, please think about how you can make this world better by loving people instead of being selfish.

Have a peaceful Holiday season.  We remember all who we lost this year.  May 2021 eventually be a better year!

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Guest Post: How to Support Your Pregnant Loved One During the COVID-19 Pandemic By Emily Graham

Emily Graham is from Mighty Moms. I hope you find this helpful.

Photo via Unsplash
Photo via Unsplash

Do you have a friend, sister, or relative who has been trying to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic while pregnant? There’s no denying that pregnant women have dealt with many unexpected challenges during this pandemic. Whether your loved one is looking for helpful parenting resources like Disciplining With Gentle Firmness or guidance as she aims to protect her health (and her baby’s!) during this difficult time, these tips will allow you to give her the support she truly needs.

Memorable Milestones

Has your loved one cancelled celebrations because of the pandemic?  You can mark these milestones with virtual events!

  • Bring your friend’s baby shower online by planning a virtual shower with her — you can still celebrate while social distancing.
  • Has your loved one considered calling off her gender reveal party?  Host it over video chat instead!
  • If your loved one wants maternity photos, help her stay on the safe side with suggestions for a DIY photo shoot.

Outlining a Birth Plan

Your loved one may be wondering whether or not she should plan for a hospital birth with the ongoing pandemic. These resources can help her decide.

  • Is your friend considering a home birth because of the pandemic?  Research the pros and cons to see if it’s a smart choice for her.
  • Will your friend be heading to the hospital when the big day rolls around?  Help her go over the precautions she should take to stay safe.
  • Remind your friend that no matter what she decides, her unconditional love for her child is what matters most.

Giving Gifts

Nothing will cheer up your loved one like a thoughtful gift. Check out these ideas to find the perfect present.

  • Put together a basic postpartum gift basket, which you can drop off at the hospital or your loved one’s home.
  • Before her due date, give your friend a cozy labor and delivery gown so she can stay comfortable during labor.
  • Cook up healthy meals for your loved one, which she can reheat when she’s too tired to cook after the baby arrives.

Pregnancy isn’t always smooth sailing, especially for mothers-to-be who are trying to avoid unnecessary risks during this pandemic. If you have a pregnant woman in your life, now is the time to lend a helping hand. She will definitely appreciate having someone to lean on!

Interested in learning about effective disciplinary methods that don’t involve spanking? Sign up for one-on-one parent coaching with author and parent coach Stephanie G. Cox today.

A Pandemic Thanksgiving

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Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving and while my husband and I are used to celebrating on our own, I know many of you are doing the right, selfless thing by staying home to celebrate with immediate family only. Some of you are facing a first Thanksgiving without loved ones due to COVID-19. Please know that we’re thinking and praying for you.


This has been a year of constant anxiety, trauma, uncertainty, and unrest. Therefore, as we, hopefully, stay home and gather with immediate family, may we try to find things we’re grateful for even if it is small. May we think or look at the children in our lives and consider the type of world we want for them. One full of divisions and hate and bad church doctrine. Or one full of unity, love, kindness and compassion.


Have a peaceful, safe, loving Thanksgiving.

Where’s The Empathy?

As we continue to deal with this COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of empathy is so apparent in this country.  People not wanting to do the simplest things to protect others from the virus.  Anti-maskers are shouting about their rights and, ironically, they are using the pro-choice slogan, “My body, my right.”  This totally disregards the lives of others.  If one is truly pro-life, one cares about the life way after birth!  Otherwise, it’s just pro-birth!

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes to understand as much as possible in order to try to understand what the other person is feeling or going through.  One can feel the same feelings as the other person or at least get an idea of what the other person is going through.

Empathy is a learned behavior.  While some children are born with more empathy than others, infants, toddlers, and preschoolers are naturally egocentric due to their developmental stage.  This is a survival mechanism and not a “bad thing.”  Adults can help the development of empathy by modeling it to their children and pointing out feelings of others—whether positive or negative.

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Source unknown. I got it off Facebook.

Not spanking/hitting or using other harsh punishment with children also promotes the development of empathy in children.  Not using aggression to get what one wants teaches children to respect other people and have empathy.  Corporal punishment and using other harsh punishment only breeds fear and anger.  These make children turn inward in a negative manner instead of being open to other people and what they are going through.

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I talked a bit about helping children understand about COVID-19 in my previous post, but here’s a great book written by a teacher that helps further explain this highly contagious, dangerous, damaging, and deadly virus in a developmentally appropriate way.  If you are one who is not taking this seriously, please read this story!

While places are now opened and the topic of going back to school rages on, and schools are opening only to have cases of COVID-19 the first week of school, the numbers of positive cases continues to rise.  I am truly saddened by the fact that this health crisis has become political and empathy for people who are high risk, children, teachers, healthcare workers seems to be going by the wayside.  Except for the rare medical appointment and the fact that my chosen family owns a private tattoo shop and keeps people out while I am there, my quarantine hasn’t ended.  I try to wear a mask but it falls down because of spasms due to my severe cerebral palsy.  Anti-maskers laugh that I am not able to be in public because too many people are worried about their own comfort and rights to have empathy for those who can’t wear a mask and/or are high risk.  What a horrible example they are setting for our children.

As an early childhood professional,  I don’t recommend children going back to school until this virus is under control.    I know it’s hard for poor families and I worry about social-emotional development of the children, but we have to realize that even if children are less likely to get seriously ill,  some are going to get seriously ill or get the inflammatory disease that kills them.   Not to mention bringing it home to the family and then we don’t know who will get mild symptoms and who will be hospitalized and on a ventilator.

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I am so grateful  for everyone who is wearing masks and protecting people like me who can’t wear masks easily and then the health care workers busting their butts to fight this pandemic.

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Children who are old enough to wear a mask in public should!  While some children will have an easier time adjusting to wearing a mask, it is possible to help them with it.

Here are some things that we can do to help children adjust to wearing a mask:

Always wear a mask yourself when out in public.  Actions speak louder than words!

Educate them about how masks help protect others and them.  If they like superheroes, compare them to being a superhero for wearing masks because superheroes always protect others from dangerous situations.  There are some wonderful children’s books to read to them to further encourage them to wear a mask in public.   I recommend this book.

Start with short periods of time wearing a mask and do a fun activity to help distract them from the mask.

Let the child pick out a few masks and/or let him/her decorate one so he/she wants to wear it.

Try different masks for the most comfortable one for the child.

Validate feelings about wearing a mask and tell the child that it is uncomfortable sometimes but it is the only way to go anywhere.

Keep little hands busy so they don’t constantly touch the mask.

Always have extra masks on hand or in the children’s backpacks because they are going to drop, throw, spill, forget masks so they need extras on them whenever they are in public.  Also, keep hand sanitizer with you and/or them for washing their hands.

Make up a silly song to sing such as, “This is the way we wear our masks” to the tune of Farmer Brown.

Turn mask wearing into a game to see who can keep theirs on the longest.

Use mirrors in the car to have everyone put them on at the same time.

If for any reason the child has a meltdown and refuses to wear the mask when you get to have a destination and you have to go in, take some deep breaths, make sure that the child doesn’t have an unmet need, the mask isn’t pinching or hurting him/her,  and carry the child in if it isn’t possible to have someone bring stuff out to you.  

Never make wearing a mask into a power struggle.  This will make the child want to wear it even less.  If the child is showing you that he/she is not ready for a mask, make sure that he/she knows that going out is not an option without a mask.

This is a very uncertain time for everyone.  We are all extremely stressed and anxious and children are no exception.  Regression during times of extreme upheaval and stress is normal for children, so try to hold space for it and your own feelings.

The only way we will get through this pandemic is to have empathy for each other and do what we need to do to stop the spread of the virus.  We can do this TOGETHER!!!!

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Covid-19, Black Lives Matter, Mental Health, And Helping Children.

The past few months have been really difficult for me with the Covid-19 pandemic and being super high risk. It has made me struggle with dealing with my own trauma, trying to do what is right and safe regarding the trauma of having a mother who can’t give me what I need, but still wanting her and my other biological family to remain safe. I have felt isolated and anxious and depressed. Being so high risk due to my asthma and severe Cerebral Palsy (CP) has made me angry when I finally realized how serious this virus is for many and seeing how people just don’t want to do what we need to do to be safe!

Life with CP is limiting and even though we find a way to do stuff that I want to do, it’s not easy like typical people who are able to just jump in the car and go. My state is in Phase 3 of reopening and I got my first non-essential, non-medical outing this week to my tattoo artists and chosen family to finish my Samoset kitty tattoo that was started before the outbreak and lockdown started. I was only able to do it because they locked the door and my husband and I were the only ones in there besides the artists. Masks were worn and sanitizer was used even more.

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Throughout this pandemic, I have been aware of all the different aspects of it. My mental health as well as others have suffered due to isolation, people are losing everything, suicide is up. There’s so much to this pandemic and it is so sad that some elected officials are not doing everything they can to prevent this from being so out of control.

I know children and parents are struggling. I think the best thing to do for children is to create routines that are flexible and, if they are old enough, allow them to have a say in the routines. And as I’m sure you have already heard, answer questions honestly but briefly depending on their age and development.

This is scary for the children too. They have lost a lot and they may not be able to understand why. So I have heard a lot of regression in children’s behaviors have been happening from parents. This is so hard because I know parents are stressed out too. I recommend reassuring the children and finding an activity such as meditation or reading or yoga to help calm stress and fear. This is not an easy time for anyone.

Now we have a horrible murder of a black man, George Floyd, that has set off protests and riots in the midst of a pandemic. It is so scary and sad. Racism has got to stop!

I used to say “all lives matter” and even wrote a blog post in which I used “All Lives Matter” for the title of the post that covered every race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and, of course, children mattering.

Having a severe physical disability made me question, “what about other minorities?” I was a Republican slowly making my way towards Libertarianism at the time. I am now a Libertarian and while I still love Jesus, I’m no longer into mainstream Christianity anymore due to the legalism, bad church doctrine, and abuse, and hate.

I now understand the Black Lives Matter movement and right now this group of people desperately need our support, validation, and LOVE! Saying “all lives matter” doesn’t do this for black people who are hurting badly. Jesus immediately went to the people in desperate need no matter who they are. Jews didn’t hang around Samaritan people but Jesus did.

I know many Christians and conservatives won’t hear me because I was the same way about this topic and I had to figure it out for myself. But I am embarrassed by my ignorance even though I was trying to be fair and supportive and was trying to validate everyone but I was wrong. I support Black Lives Matter and peaceful protests except for the Coronavirus concern. I hope my story helps someone moving away from ignorance to validation and love over being “right.”

Our children are watching everything and need to be taught kindness and acceptance for all. There has also got to be a major change because most black families experience so much pain and violence in their lifetimes and parents of black children are even more likely to spank/hit and harshly punished because they fear that if they don’t teach strict obedience to authority that it could be their child that is murdered by a bad cop. But this spanking and hardship make the children more likely to act out and get into crime.

And while police lives also matter, it’s important to keep in mind that there are many good cops of all races and they don’t deserve to suffer. On the other hand, white cops need to remember that at the end of the shift, they are like everyone else. But black people still have to deal with the racism and can’t hide from it.

Please be safe and get tested for Covid-19 if you participate in the peaceful protests and quarantine yourself because we can’t make change can’t happen if we’re sick and in the hospital or dead.

May we strive for kindness and love and create this in our children. May peace, love, and light reign in our world!

Jesus Hates Religion. Spirituality vs. Religon.

Note: Life has a funny way of taking over.  I started writing this post in December and am just now finishing it.  Thank you so much for your patience.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate.  Happy New Year!  I am writing this post because I no longer consider myself a religious person even though I still believe in Jesus.  However, my belief is no longer the traditional religious belief that mainstream Christianity makes Him out to be.  I am incorporating other spiritual beliefs in my belief system and I am open to everything.  Feel free to read Why I Am No Longer An Evangelical Christian. Plus, Drag Queens And Kings Are Cool!

I recently shared this meme on my professional Facebook page and I got one nice lady who ended up being a joy to talk to because she tried to use Non-Violent Communication principles.  We both admitted to being not perfect and struggling with it.  We’re both open to learning.  I love people like that because another “Christian” called me a “hypocrite” for sharing this meme and then wishing my Jewish friends a “Happy Hanukkah.”  She was swiftly blocked and banned because I have been called so many names that I absolutely will not tolerate it.  But her comment proves that this is right in many instances.  Then there are people that just want to argue just to argue.

Here’s the meme:

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I agree with this because religion does brainwash people of every age, makes people angry (How many wars have been fought over religion?), and promotes a “better than thou” attitude.  Believe me, I was a part of this for a decade and a half and used to gasp with disgust or surprise when a fellow believer would do something against the religious teachings of the church.  We’re supposed to be humble but instead we look down on people who don’t believe what we do.  It’s disgusting and sad, really.

Not all religious people are like this.  But some just blindly follow whatever the established organized religion teaches. Much of the Christian church doctrine is toxic with a bit of love and compassion occasionally sprinkled in.  For children, more of the doctrine is spiritual abuse because even though I still believe that children are created to believe in Jesus and/or a Higher Power, when they are allowed to freely explore, they can create a positive belief system.  Unfortunately, many children aren’t given that freedom and are taught that they are inherently evil (which I rejected after much research) and are told to obey or else they’ll get spanked or go to Hell.

Telling children the above is spiritual and emotional abuse.  It’s not ok.  One of my best friends experienced this as a child and now rejects religion but is still a spiritual person.

I, too, cannot support religious doctrine.  I consider myself a spiritual person even though I still believe in Jesus. I am using other spiritual beliefs to create a positive spiritual belief system because when we open our consciousness, we see that there’s so much we don’t know and that doctrine often doesn’t add up to what we experience.  Plus, trying to have enough faith to be approved by whatever God you’re trying to please isn’t easy and makes one feel like a failure.  Also, fear is often a huge part of many religions instead of love!  After all, many religious sects and cults tell us that we’re going to go to Hell for not being a part of their religious group.

Merriam-Webster defines religion as:

1a: the state of a religious

A nun in her 20th year of religion

b(1): the service and worship of God or the supernatural

 

(2): commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
2: a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
3archaic : scrupulous conformity : CONSCIENTIOUSNESS
4: a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith”  (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/religion#synonyms).
A website called ReachOut Australia says that spirituality is:

Spirituality: This is more of an individual practice, and has to do with having a sense of peace and purpose” (https://au.reachout.com/articles/what-is-spirituality).

Now many religious people can be spiritual but it seems like they value the rules and man-made doctrines over truly seeking Truth and God or Whomever one wishes to call Him/Her.  I hear all the religious people gasping after reading this sentence. It wasn’t that long ago that I would have gasped as well.  However, the more one gets away from church doctrine and actually begins to seek the Truth, the less judgmental he/she becomes because we’re all one.  Unless someone practices evil, we really are connected in so many ways with love being our main priority!

Spiritual people are usually more positive, accepting, open, and loving.  They wish to be able to get along with everyone.  Even if they don’t “believe” in Jesus, they are ok with people that do as long as those people respect their beliefs.

And yes, spiritual people do participate in rituals and even some religious ceremonies to help them grow spiritually and they are always learning.  They just don’t subscribe to an exact doctrine, or if they do, they don’t try to push it on others.

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Source: reddit.com

Even Jesus Christ was against religious people and hung out with everyday people. Look at what Jesus said to the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law:

“Matthew 23 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Pharisaism Exposed

23 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 Do not be called [b]leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. 11 But the greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”

Jesus preached LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE!  Yet, “Christians” can be some of the most hateful people I’ve ever encountered along with Muslim extremists.  You don’t say that someone should die because they are homosexual and you disagree with them.  People shouldn’t blow people away because they want their religion to take over the world.  I believe that religion creates a form of narcissism.  “My church is right and yours is wrong.”  I used to be like that, but there’s much grace and freedom in “agreeing to disagree.”  Yet, I have always hated how children are treated in many religious sects.  They shouldn’t be taught how “bad” they are and shouldn’t be taught to remember every sin so they can repent for them to avoid going to Hell.  And they should NEVER BE TAUGHT THAT GOD WANTS THEM TO BE SPANKED/HIT!

Healthy spirituality is what we all need to aim for.  There’s a Light in all of us.   I believe that satan wants to blind us to this and think that we have to do special prayers and other things to be closer to God/Goddess but we can learn to listen for Them ourselves.  Certain natural medicines are also helpful for some adults to gain more awareness of the spiritual world that is completely and always surrounding us.

After all, love is the greatest of ALL!

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“Frozen” Gratitude

Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving and it’ll be a different one than usual due to a hiccup in my current trauma recovery, but I am slowly learning what true love is.

In the movie, Frozen, Else has a special gift of being able to create ice and snow.  Unfortunately, while playing with her little sister, Anna, she accidentally hurt her with her special power.  From that day on, she was told to not show her power to anyone and it was treated like a curse.  She was separated from her sister and her little sister didn’t understand why due to the memory being erased.

Fear triggers Elise to create ice in a dangerous way.  But after she finally becomes free, she learns to use it for beauty and in the end, a single act of true love is the only thing that will undo Anna being frozen.

We want our children and the world to become kinder and more loving.  I believe that the only way to do this is to practice true love.  And to let the children be who they are as long as they are not hurting anyone.

Love and kindness cultivate a grateful heart whereas harshness and hate create anger and bitterness.  This Thanksgiving, and year round, let’s do our best to create love, kindness, and gratitude!

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Do You Resent Your Child?

I hear that being a parent is very hard work and I agree even though I am not a parent.  Most of my friends have children.  My husband has a son. Therefore, I see and hear about all the sacrifices that they have gladly made.  I get to witness some of these sacrifices my friends choose to make for their children.  It’s not always fun but they do it out of love.

Teachers also make sacrifices for the children in their classes.  I did.  I had to do my best to be at my best for the children I worked with.  Did I get exasperated when a toddler was high spirited or had behavioral problems and needed extra attention?  Yes!  Did I feel stressed out when I worked with infants and they all started crying at the same time with only my aide and me in the room?  Yes!

However, I never held it against them because I chose to be a teacher and I understood that they were just being themselves.  I understand how the child brain works so to hold that against them would have deeply hurt my connections with them.  Children are also very perceptive.  They can feel our stress and negative vibes.

I am severely physically disabled and I understand that I am a lot of work.  It must be even more difficult to parent a child with a disability because he/she requires even more care and can’t always do activities that typical children can, especially children with sensory issues such as aversion to loud noises.  Should it be held against a child if he/she gets overwhelmed by crowds or loud noises?  No, of course not, because it’s out of their control!

According to dictionary.com, the definition of resentment is:

noun

the feeling of displeasure or indignation at some act, remark, person,etc., regarded as causing injury or insult.”

So a person who feels resentment towards his/her children believes that the children have caused “injury or insult” to him/her and holds it against them.  These people are not able to let it go.  Let’s face it, children will hurt us sometimes but they usually don’t truly mean it.  And children are born with the ability to love unconditionally.

They didn’t ask to be conceived and born.  They didn’t ask to have an immature brain that doesn’t allow them to have total impulse control over their behaviors.  And children with disabilities didn’t ask for it either!

I know parents don’t ask for their children to be disabled or high spirited.  However, by choosing to become a parent, parents should be ready for anything even if this means asking for help when they are overwhelmed and don’t know what to do or are exhausted.  I understand that getting help and support isn’t always easy and our country has much work to do in supporting families of every type.  Organizations also need to step up the resources and support for families.  But help is out there.

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Your screaming baby isn’t screaming just to drive you to tears.  He/She needs you and may not be able to sleep.  It’s not the baby’s fault.  Your preschooler isn’t hitting you and having meltdowns just to embarrass you or make you crazy.  He/She just don’t have the ability to deal with big feelings without your help.  The child needs you to gently but firmly guide him/her through the process.  It’s not the child’s fault.  Your teenager isn’t saying mean things to you because he/she truly means it.  Teens still require help dealing with strong emotions and it’s not their fault. Children need discipline and care.

Your child with disabilities isn’t trying to hold you back because he/she requires your constant care.  The child needs you!  It’s not his/her fault!

Children learn a lot from the adults around them.  They must learn about empathy, grace, and unconditional love in order to give it back.  It’s true that parents will get angry, frustrated, and exasperated with their children.  They will need breaks and self care.  But parents have chosen to be the child’s parents, therefore, to hold everything against the child is not appropriate.  If a parent is feeling resentful of the children, then he/she must seek help from professionals.  If not, then the relationship with the children will be tainted and may even become abusive.

Parenting is the hardest job in the world.  Believe it or not, so is being a child trying to learn and navigate through this new world.  Respect the children and the children will respect their parents unless they have a mental illness that needs addressing. Respect begets respect.  Resentment begets broken relationships.

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