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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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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Should We Take The Bible Literally?

 

Once again I found myself dealing with a Christian pro-spanker that insists that the “rod verses” in the book of Proverbs must be taken literally.  Yet, when I asked the following questions, the pro-spanker couldn’t answer:

*If we must spank/hit our children then shouldn’t we also stone people, cut off body parts, pluck eyes out?

*And what about slavery?  Shouldn’t we continue to keep slaves?

*Shouldn’t we also sacrifice animals for our sins?

People pick and choose what to take literally. It makes no sense to take a few verses literally to justify spanking/hitting children but not other harsh verses.

The Bible was written for us, not to us. As I have said many times, we must seek to understand the historical and cultural context of Scripture.  We must also study the original languages of the Bible to truly understand what it’s saying and how to apply it to us.

Not every Scripture is meant to be directly applied to us!  We are to learn from all Scripture, but because of what Jesus did on the cross, we do not need to directly apply every single Scripture to our lives.  To do so is to downplay what Jesus did for all of humanity on the cross!

“For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14, NASB).

After a while, the pro-spanker tried to answer the questions above by saying that we no longer live under the Law, but rather, we live under grace.

Exactly!  And this grace applies to children as well.  Jesus freed us from the Law.

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18).

When we spank, we are parenting under the Law. We are not accepting the grace, mercy, and forgiveness of Jesus. Jesus died for us. He was beaten to a bloody pulp for us. Why do we feel we must beat, spank, and hit our young children who do not understand sin nor physical punishment?

“In regard to evil be infants” (1 Corinthians 14:20b).

If we are to interpret all of the “rod” verses that appear to advocate spanking/hitting children with a large weapon with spikes on it literally, then we must take all of the other harsh verses in the Bible literally.  Who are we to apply only a handful of verses to inflict pain on children but not do everything else in the Bible?

After all, the Bible also says:

“Stripes that wound scour away evil, And strokes reach the innermost parts” (Proverbs 20:30, NASB).

I truly do not believe that God wanted us to take the entire Bible literally.  Rather, we are to see how God redeemed His people.  The Bible is meant to be read in a redemption manner.

For more information about how to interpret the “rod verses” in Proverbs, please click here.

Finally, as Christ-followers should easily realize that all the verses telling us to be kind, merciful, graceful, gentle, peaceful, loving, forgiving, and patient with one another apply to children too. Jesus is our example!

In fact, Ephesians 5:1-2 says,

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”

So to imitate God is to walk in love, not hurt each other. And the fruit of the Spirit is:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, *gentleness,* self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

I will end with two final verses.

For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).

God favors mercy over judgement.

“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).

It’s His kindness that leads us to repentance, not fear and pain.  This is what we should take literally!

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Respecting The Body And Teaching Consent

For Valentine’s Day I surprised my husband with a beautiful tattoo that symbolizes our love and our Christ centered marriage.  I got this tattoo on my lower left arm.  This was my first arm tattoo, so I was a bit nervous about how it would go with my spasms due to my severe cerebral palsy.

If you have been following me for a while, you know that this is my fourth tattoo.  My mom was here again but after she helped us figure out how to strap my arm down tightly, she was able to enjoy watching her daughter get another detailed tattoo.

I feel like I need to write about my tattoo experiences because I know I went searching for other people with severe cerebral palsy who had successfully gotten tattooed when I first made up my mind that I was going to do it.  I needed to know that others like me were able to do this.  So I am putting my experiences out there for anyone else that is like me and wants tattoos.

Plus, there’s always an element of getting a tattoo that relates to parenting and respecting children which is something I am obviously very passionate about.

To read about my first three tattoo experiences and how they relate to parenting, click here, here, and here.

For this tattoo, I took the same medications as always for my spasms and we strapped my arm down to my arm rest of my wheelchair in two different places.  Then my husband held my hand down quite tightly.  My tattoo artist is a miracle worker and did an excellent job!  While there was slightly more movement with my arm than my legs, within twenty minutes my body stopped reacting so much to the needles and I was fine.

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My beautiful tattoo for my husband symbolizing our love and Christ centered marriage. The lettering is our special way of saying “I love you!”

Since I had to be strapped down and held down again for the tattoo, it got me thinking about respecting children’s bodies and teaching children consent from birth.  We’ve all seen it and maybe even have done it.  You see a cute baby and just have to touch him/her.  But what if the baby really doesn’t want to be touched?  This is especially true if you’re a stranger.

Let’s face it. We don’t respect children’s bodies.

Even before they are born, many people think its okay to dismember the baby’s body if the mother doesn’t want the child.

Then after birth, infants are touched, poked, tickled, squeezed, scooped up, gently pinched against their wills.

Then there’s the issue of corporal punishment.  Sadly, many pro-spanking advocates tell parents to even sit on the child to spank/hit him/her.  Even when children submit to spankings, they are being forced to do so out of fear, guilt, not wanting multiple spankings, and needing acceptance from their parents again.  But they really don’t have a choice as they learn that their parents will make them submit.

Even older children are touched by complete, albeit well-meaning, strangers against their wishes.

Here’s a recent story from my dear friend, Meagan Longest, about an experience with her daughter at a store:

“An old man patted Wynnie at the grocery store today. She was holding onto the side of the cart. She looks up at him, almost cries and then runs to me at the back of the cart.
Wynnie: He touch me mom. Whyyyyy?
Me: I know, honey. That’s not okay.
Wynnie: That’s MY body, mommy.
Me: You’re right. It’s your body and no one should touch it without YOUR permission (While giving an evil eye to the old man and his daughter who was starting to get pissed).
I almost lost it.
Moral of the story- start teaching consent at birth. And don’t effing touch a child without their permission.”

Sure, that old man probably didn’t mean any harm, but in today’s world, we just never know.  And how would you feel if a stranger patted you out of nowhere?

I guess I understand this more than some people do because well-meaning people get in my personal space and touch me without my consent.  Due to my very slurred speech, I can’t just say, “Please don’t hug me.”  “Please move out of my face a bit.”  It’s very uncomfortable and I just sit there and deal with it so I don’t hurt people’s feelings.

The reality is that we all have the right not to have our personal spaces invaded by anyone without giving our consent.  We need to respect each other’s bodies!

You may be asking, “What about needing to restrain children for care and/or medical procedures?”  When a child is given shots, I strongly believe that they should be held in their parents’ laps.  There’s never a reason to hold a child down on a table for shots.  If your pediatrician doesn’t encourage you to hold your children on your lap for shots and even other simple procedures, then please find another doctor.

As far as giving care, if you must hold them against their wills, always talk to them about what you’re doing and why.  Validate their feelings.  Say, for example, “Oh I know you don’t like me holding you right now but we have to get your diaper changed.  Can you help me by lifting your bottom?”

It helps to try and make sure the child is ready for the transition into care. It also helps to be playful about it when you know your child may resist.  The key is teaching children that you respect them and always try to wait for their consent before moving forward. Even for newborns, this can be done by telling them before you pick them up and waiting for some clue that they are ready to be picked up. Moving slowly with infants also helps to teach them consent and that we respect them.  Please see this post for more information about respecting infants.

As children grow, it’s so important to teach children that no one should ever touch them without their ok.  Even people they know should always ask before touching them.  It’s just basic respect.  We invite people in and out by our body language most of the time, but children are not skilled at this and many adults ignore them anyway, so allowing children to say, “No!” is very, very important!

Also, teaching children to respect others is equally important.  Teaching them to not touch someone that doesn’t want to be touched helps them to respect others.

The majority of sexual abuse and assault cases happen with people that children know!  This is extremely scary!  If children are taught to obey their elders no matter what, it’s really setting them up for potential sexual abuse and assault.  We can’t allow this!

If people don’t understand why you are allowing your children to give or not give consent, just explain that you want them to have control over their own bodies.  Tell them that you don’t just let people touch you, so why should children have to allow people to touch them when they don’t want anyone to touch them?

Children are human beings and deserve respect.  I consented to being strapped down for tattoos, children should have the power to consent to being touched.  It’s about respecting each other’s bodies and personal space no matter what the age is.

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Peace On Earth

The following commercial from Pampers diapers always makes me cry every year at Christmas time.

These precious, innocent babies are the pinnacle of God’s creation and I always wonder how anyone in their right mind could believe that they are “sinful” or “manipulative.” 

These babies are beautiful human beings; people think it’s perfectly fine, and even “godly,” to treat them harshly in order to “train” them to be peaceful, godly people.  It breaks my heart every time, especially this time of year when we are celebrating God coming down as a baby to save us all!  Check out this post about God being a baby.

Jesus lifted children’s status in the world, and called us to be more like them and treat them with respect and kindness.  And yet, “Christians” still advocate for letting them cry-it-out, for spanking/hitting them, and for using other harsh punishment on them.  But that isn’t how Jesus was when He came to Earth.  He brought real peace.

He treated everyone with love and discipled them.  He corrected people through His Words, not through violence.  Then when it was time, He died a violent death for all of us!

Even with satan, He used His Word to stop him.  In the Temple when He got angry at the people taking advantage of the poor in His Father’s House, He did not hit anyone with the whip.  He simply wanted them out immediately.

We want peace on Earth but we are not willing to follow after Jesus’s example.  Jesus would never leave a baby to cry-it-out, spank/hit a child, or send a child away to “think” about what he/she has done.  

No, Jesus would comfort, disciple, love, guide, protect, teach, correct, forgive, and offer mercy and grace to the little ones.  After all, the Kingdom of God belongs to the little ones.

“But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Luke 18:16, NASB).

And here is what the prophet Isaiah called Jesus:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6, KJV).

If we truly want peace on Earth this Christmas, may we strive to parent our beautiful children the way the Prince of Peace, Our AWESOME Lord and Savior would parent them.

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:8-14, KJV).

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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.

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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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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Relationships Matter. God Is A Relational God.

As I have been corresponding with people who are on the fence about gentle discipline, it hit me that God is a relational God.  Everything He does is to get us to become closer to Him.  That’s why it makes me sad that so many Christians believe that He does bad things “for our good.”  That doesn’t make us feel closer to Him unless we have some sadomachistic tendencies going on in us.

When it comes to disciplining our children, I find myself covering the same issues with punitive parents who just don’t understand what discipline really is.  So I am going to cover it again here.

Discipline looks at the whole child instead of focusing on behavior. When you understand the child and where he/she is in his/her development, you can set appropriate limits and figure out the whys behind behavior. Children are so much more than a set of behaviors or “sins.”  They are complicated, competent human beings that need our guidance.  They are new to this world and have immature brains and bodies.  This should not be used against them, but it often is.

Going from using external control such as spankings, time-outs, and taking away privileges in an arbitrary way to using internal motivation by meeting needs, setting limits, allowing natural consequences of choices to happen, validating feelings, allowing appropriate choices, giving alternative appropriate behavior and/or ways of expressing feelings, using time-in to settle down with the children and connect instead of isolating them is tough. It takes a lot of work and patience.

We use the Fruit of the Spirit A LOT when we choose to discipline rather than punish. But this is true discipline.  To grow heathy fruit, we must cultivate it, water it, and give it plenty of sunshine.  We must also do our best to protect it from the enemy, usually bugs and other animals.  We don’t beat the sprouts and fruit as that would ruin it.  So why do it to our children by beating them?

God is a relational God, so using discipline is focusing on keeping our relationships intact with our children. You may think that your relationship with your children is fine despite using punishment, but it isn’t what it could be as all children want to please their parents. They may behave out of fear instead of out of respect.  We want our children to behave because it is the right thing to do!  We want our children to have healthy relationships with others and with God.  Only true respect can teach children respect.  We must model respect to our children by respecting them and other people!  They are learning from our actions more than our words

Also, I am sure I have covered this in other posts, but I know people learn through repetition too so I will cover this again.   Fear and respect mean two totally different things.

The definition of fear is “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.”

The definition of respect is “esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability.”

Notice fear contains the word “evil” in its definition but respect doesn’t. And throughout the Bible God tells us to NOT be afraid. Therefore, to be reverent means to respect, not afraid.

Since God is a relational God, shouldn’t we do everything in our power to treat our children in a manner that produces a healthy relationship with us? We work hard to have good marriages by treating our spouses with love and respect.  Why should it be any different with our children?  God is over us and yet He calls us His friends (John 15:15, James 2:23, Romans 5:10).  May we treat our children how God treats us.

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