Enjoying life and planning for a bright future

My kids are already fine human beings

Many parents have the goals of guiding their children to be happy and productive adults. Those are my goals too, though I think that we shouldn’t parent only for the future, but also for the present. Children are not people in training; they are people right here, right now.

My children are happy and productive kids, who are free to be themselves and free to express themselves, right now. What we do right now affects the future in very large ways. Respecting the kids I have now, and not only the adults they will one day be, is the most important long-term parenting goal I can have.

Critical thinking, acknowledging one’s intuition, caring more about personal safety than being rude, and following one’s heart –those are the values that I care most about instilling in my kids. But as a parent, it is important to me to realize children are not playdough for us to mold, but people with personalities and opinions who need our help to navigate the world and to learn about its joys and evils.

My kids amaze me every day, but never in ways that I expected. Just like they have so much to learn about the world, I have so much to learn from them. My children deserve to remain the happy, free, and thriving people that they currently are. Which brings me to the biggest puzzle I have the task of solving this year.

Meeting educational needs

This year, my task is figuring out the best educational solution for my children, since my firstborn will reach the age at which education becomes compulsory next year. School starts later in our country of residence than it does in many countries, so we have been homeschooling in accordance with the kids’ abilities and interests. My daughter is thriving and, unlike mom, is a math whiz.

Homeschooling is working for us. I want to keep it up. The alternative is entering into a poor educational system, with the very real prospect of discrimination on ethnic grounds and because I am a single parent. But homeschooling is, in fact, illegal where we live. I certainly have the duty to meet my kids’ educational needs, but I want to continue homeschooling while also not breaking the law. Tricky stuff!

Besides the appallingly bad school options here, there is this other thing. I am twice exceptional, which refers to being both gifted and having a special need. I have known about the special need – in my case dyscalculia, which is numerical dyslexia – for longer than I have known about my IQ.

I was tested for a job many years ago, but only in the past year (more specifically since finding this wonderful organization, SENG – Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) that I realized that being gifted has affected my life profoundly.

Giftedness is a word that really doesn’t do people who have this “problem” any justice – it sounds all braggy, right? Being gifted affects so much more than achievements in the academic sphere, and it is a whole-person phenomenon that changes the way a person fits into society. 

As a child, I received many labels that made me feel worthless and that were in hindsight related to giftedness. They included odd, possibly autistic, possibly crazy, lazy, a trouble maker, and someone with social problems (After all, wanting to hang out with adults to talk about politics as a kid is not normal! Well, actually, it is, when those people are at your intellectual level.)

Being more aware of what giftedness entails now, I am determined to help my children avoid the hurt and rejection that accompanied a high IQ for me. They have not been tested, but I know both are gited. Yes, “coming out” as gifted is tricky, and applying the label to one’s children perhaps even more so. I do think we have the right to acknowledge who we are. It doesn’t mean we think we’re superior; just that the gifted do not need to feel inferior.

Helping my children remain the unique, wonderful human beings that they are involves much more than parenting skills, unfortunately. It also involves making the right decisions in terms of where we live while they are children. During childhood, we help our kids create the basis which they will build on for the rest of their lives. The culture by which we are surrounded daily matters. The education they receivematters. The way we feel while we are children matters. Unfortunately, the ideal solutions are not always available to us.

Making peace with this country, and opening up opportunities where they don’t yet exist in terms of homeschooling, or moving away – those are the questions we’ll deal with this year. It will be an important year that will shape the rest of our lives.

Parents matter!

I’ve put my traumas in the closet for a little too long, thinking denying their existence would make them go away. But the year behind me has been one of healing from past trauma and learning to accept myself. That overdue journey resulted in positive changes in my family, and since I started to heal, I realized thathappy and emotionally healthy parents are the basis for emotionally healthy and happy children.

Just like one in three other women, I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I also have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from work-related trauma. And now, I am able to write this down and publish it on the web and not feel ashamed in the least. Being raped was not my fault, and I can now finally feel that.

Trauma has affected my parenting in many ways – in ways that I can See only now that I am beginning to acknowledge what happened and to accept myself. Only now that I feel so much better about myself can I truly be a present and active parent, who is genuinely and emotionally involved in my children, rather than doing everything on autopilot.

Now that I can feel joy, true joy, I feel my children’s smiles instead of just seeing them. Now that I canfeel, period, I am better equipped to deal with my children’s joy, anger, sadness… I am no longer a “natural parenting” robot, doing all the “right” things, like babywearing constantly, nursing on demand, and responding to their every cry promptly. Now, when I respond to my children’s cries (now that they’re older, those most happen when they are fighting over toys!), I actually feel something.

It is amazing! I hope that the kids have not suffered much from being parented by my trauma-denial self, who needed to lock away those darn feelings just to be able to get through the day. Back when my daughter was born, I just wasn’t ready to deal with it all. After starting my healing journey, I am thankful to be truly present as a parent to my children, a friend to my friends, and a human being, now, even though being able to experience feelings again obviously opened the door to feeling pain and sorrow too.

This entry was posted in Family.

Spanking kids is not a good education

Anyone who is a parent is familiar with the ongoing debate about the merits of spanking children and the damage it can cause, and most people who are not parents know all about this too. The debate is especially relevant where we live because a new law is about to be passed to prevent parents from spanking their children. of course, the traditional family crowd is up in arms about it. Here are my views about spanking children.

I do not particularly support the new law that would ban spanking, because I don’t think our country of residence is in any place to enforce it and I think that focusing on establishing civil liberties rather than taking away one of the few that exists – even if I don’t agree with it – is much more important. Besides, education will help a great deal more than a law to prevent parents from spanking. Having said that, an email being circulated by the pro-spanking lobby is making me sick. The points being made in the email are relevant for all parents, not just those in a country where spanking is about to be banned.

The pro-spanking crowd set out to debunk 10 “myths” about spanking, and to show why spanking is acceptable. I will now debunk the debunking :).

1. “Every spanking, even the most gentle one, leaves long-term negative consequences in children. That is why every physical punishment is abuse.”

No. Not every spanking leaves long-term consequences, as the pro-spankers set out to prove in their rant. But hey, pro-spankers, just because not every spanking leaves marks on a child’s body, that doesn’t mean there are no consequences. Spanking doesn’t have to be traumatic but it can be, and when is not traumatic that doesn’t make it ideal.  This “myth” about spanking, like most of the others still to come, is an extreme view expressed by some. The fact that some hold extreme anti-spanking views doesn’t make the other extreme the correct view.

2. “Violence creates violence. Children who are spanked become violent people.”

No, people who were spanked as children may not turn into people who go about the street killing people with an axe. They are, however, more likely to also spank their own kids.

3. “Rationally induced physical punishment is a stepping stone to out of control physical violence towards a child.”

I don’t think that is true, but that doesn’t make spanking the right choice.

4. “Physical punishments harm a child’s right to bodily integrity.”

WTF? The pro-spanking lobby writes that this is not so: “In difference to physical abuse, physical punishment does not injure a child and does not harm their bodily integrity. Parents punish a child so that they won’t repeat dangerous or aggressive behaviors in the future, so it is for the child’s good. The assumption is that that parents are adults who are informed and able to make decisions, so they know better what is in the child’s best interest than the child does.”

OK, claim the right to want to spank your child because you know better than them. But let’s not kid ourselves, spanking is one of the very definitions of robbing a child of bodily integrity. Do you want to spank? If you are that informed, responsible adult, go on and take full responsibility for it instead of making up excuses.

5. “All civilized countries have laws that ban spanking.”

Indeed, that statement is false. So what? Does that give you the right to spank?

6. “It is always possible to discipline children in ways other than spanking.” 

They say that this is not true. Perhaps they are right. Disciplining in other ways than spanking may not be possible if the parent has lost control (to my shame, I admit that this has happened to me before). It may not be possible if a parent learned nothing but spanking as a disciplinary method in childhood as well. However, I dispute the notion that some behaviors must be handled through spanking. Discipling children depends not on the child’s behavior, but the tools in a parents tool box. Regardless of the behavior.

7. “There is a need for equality between parents and children.”

Here, the pro-spankers pull out the “parents are more experienced in life” card. This is true, but more experience does not mean more rights. Equal rights do not equal letting your child make all the decisions. This is where I differ from most people in this country – I do see my children as equals. Yes, I do have more experience in life and more information and knowledge. I do not have more feelings, needs, and wants. I do not have a bigger right to be treated as a human than they do. More experience means that, unlike my two year-old, who is prone to resolving conflicts with his sister by hitting her, I have other tools.

Children are completely dependent on us, their parents, especially during the early years. Raising children is a privilege, and one that will not last long. Let’s not abuse that privilege by pretending they are lower down the hierarchical ladder than we are, and that we are therefore allowed to do anything we choose to them.

8. “Parents who spank show their powerlessness.”

As in, they come from a place of not knowing what else to do. I agree.  The spankers, on the other hand, say: “Absolutely incorrect. Endless explanations show a lack of power, while spanking shows power. For a child to be polite and socialized, parents need to show their power.”

Come on, now! All parents make their children do stuff they don’t like sometimes. Like, washing hair and going to bed at a reasonable hour, for instance. There are so many other ways to deal with that than spanking. Spanking shows powerlessness, as well as a total lack of creativity.

9. “Parents who spank are sadists taking it out on those who are physically weaker.”

No, says the spanker, when logical arguments don’t work, the parent must show who is boss by spanking. Let me give you a tip, spanker: besides spanking, you can physically remove your child from a situation, use logical consequences, or even use that time-out that most attachment parents disagree with. All are better than spanking.

Perhaps the majority of parents who spank are not sadists at all, but some sure are. And yes, spanking children means taking it out on the physically weaker.

10. “They won’t less us in the European Union unless we pass the anti-spanking law.”

Not true. One point for the spankers. Does that mean spanking is totally acceptable? I didn’t think so, either!

This entry was posted in Family.