Blissfully Informed Hippie Chick

Encouraging people to think critically about everything.

What are we really thankful for?

There are volumes and volumes of dissertations written on this information listed above and it is difficult to condense it to less than a couple thousand words. In reading through the horrors, atrocities, genocide, and institutionalized racism presented against the indigenous people it is quite clear that the label of savages is on the wrong end.

Our practice of “might is right”, consumerism, competition, separation, and judgmental society is the opposite of how humans were designed to live. We were meant to live in harmony with each other and respect our fellow man. These ideas and values had already been in place for many years, but have been since removed by an advanced military, but a primitive spiritual sense.

Primitive spirituality and savagery genocidal practices over the past four-hundred years have resulted in 100-million deaths of indigenous people – making the Europeans the true primitive savages.

But, one day out of the year, we are able to give thanks and show gratitude as part of the traditional celebration to honor a bloody massacre.

I urge you to read the rest of the harsh truth of “Thanksgiving” here.

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News Flash!

To the people of the United States of America:

I’ve been seeing an alarming trend on Facebook in the days since the terrorist attacks in Paris, France. There is a prevailing thought that allowing Syrian refugees to seek asylum in this country is akin to welcoming terrorists into our homes. There is such a pervasive fear of Muslims those people and their ideas. The fact that a tiny fraction of those people belong to extremist sects means nothing to the American public at large.

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Even if all of the refugees aren’t already terrorists, there’s this assumption that they’re somehow at a greater risk of becoming one. The notion is that the saying, “It only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch.” applies to people. I disagree. If that were true, then the members of the Ku Klux Klan and Westboro Baptist Church (among others) would “spoil” all those who call themselves Christians in this country. Which no one is thinking to be true. So why the double standard? Do we also condemn all Catholic priests because some sexually abuse little boys? I could go on, but I digress.

This way of thinking leads us to be suspicious and fearful of everyone, everywhere. Terrified, even. Terror… terrorism… Hmmm, it appears they’ve won the war.

I very much prefer to look at this situation through the eyes of Gandhi:

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Back to those apples…

It’s true that one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. It’s also possible to pluck that apple out of the box and toss it into a compost heap; and then use that rotten apple, along with some dog shit and decomposing leaves, to make fertilizer. Then we can use that fertilizer to grow… an apple tree.

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Brie and Jelly Croissants

We were given a bunch of brie last week. Having no experience with brie (call me sheltered), I turned to Pinterest for inspiration. I found a recipe that I simplified. I don’t normally like to use packaged, preserved foods, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Especially when you have two toddlers!

The recipe is so simple…

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Before going in the oven.

Place a piece or two of brie on a piece of croissant dough, place about a teaspoon of jelly on top of the cheese, roll up the dough around the cheese and jelly, making sure to press the seams together to prevent leaking, then bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

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After being taken out of the oven.

Yum! Maybe you can make these for a holiday party! We used 3 packages of croissant dough, which made 24 of these, and we made half with strawberry jelly and half with blackberry.

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Finished product... on a plastic baby plate... so chic!

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‘Kids these days’ is a matter of perception.

Maybe if we all start parenting more peacefully, our kids will remember the shenanigans more, because will have grown up without fearing us.

“People will tell you kids these days get away with much more than they did. That is simply not true. Looking back on my childhood and teen years I got away with quite a bit, as did all of my peers. No worse than today’s youth. Forgotten are the all your childhood shenanigans in favor of the times you were reprimanded. Why? Fear has a stronger tie to memory. It’s a basic built in survival trait. We avoid fear. Things that hurt.”

The Peaceful Papa

Kids These DaysI took my son to the park tonight. It was dusk as we rounded the corner to the play structure. There we saw a band of 10-12 year old boys. They looked like the kind of kids most would consider rebellious and disrespectful. Their attire was suspect; all had black hoodies, baggy pants, crazy hair, a demeanor yet to be determined. Their bikes tangled in a heap next to the swings. They were standing on the swings, climbing up the slides and being wild. What I saw in them was me. When I was young. When I was given the freedom to be out with friends without supervision.

We approached the structure with caution and looked for an opening to climb up to the tier where the slide entrances were. I walked in front one of the boys standing at the monkey bars. As I passed the boy swung out, unaware…

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Rebellion and Peaceful Parenting

A mom in the group I created has posed a very important concern. She is concerned about her 20-month-old toddler getting into things, even in spite of being told “no”. The mom is concerned that this is rebellious behavior and needs to be stopped. My response to her is too lengthy to post as a comment here; and I feel this is a very important topic anyway. So I’ve decided to post here instead…

Why do children “rebel”? People (children included) do things for two reasons; either because they feel inside that it’s the right thing to do, or because they are afraid of a consequence if they don’t. If I behave in a certain way because of my own feelings, beliefs, morals, etc, I’m acting on intrinsic motivation… intrinsic, like internal. If I behave in a certain way because I fear a consequence that will occur, I’m acting on extrinsic motivation… extrinsic, like external. Let me give an example…

Let’s say I’m driving down the road. I notice that the road is curvy, it’s dark outside, and I don’t know the road well. I feel it’s unsafe to drive at a high rate of speed. In that instance, I’m acting on intrinsic motivation. Another day, I’m driving on a clear sunny day, on a long flat stretch of highway with no houses or people around. I feel I could safely drive very fast. But there is a posted speed limit. Now I have a choice. I know that if I drive faster than the posted speed limit, I may get a speeding ticket and have to pay a fine. If I drive more than 20mph over the speed limit, I might have my license revoked or even go to jail. If I choose to act upon this extrinsic motivation, I will drive the posted speed, even though my intrinsic motivation says I should be able to drive faster. This means that the extrinsic motivator (the threat of a fine or worse) is greater than the intrinsic motivator (my knowledge and beliefs and my confidence in them). But what happens if I happen to know, without a doubt, that there are no police around? Without the extrinsic motivation, I will act intrinsically and do what I feel is right; in this case, speeding. Because in the absence of an extrinsic motivator, we all act intrinsically.

This is why corporal punishment and authoritarian parenting seem to work, but also why it actually doesn’t. If you tell your child not to do something, they want to know why. This is a huge trigger for most parents, especially if they themselves were raised in an authoritarian household; because the common belief is that children should do what they’re told, without question. But this is a misplaced belief. In fact, the reason that every child starts asking “why?” at about 2-3 years old is because it is human nature to do so. It’s how we learn. Our job as parents isn’t to train our children to do as they’re told without question. Our job as parents is to teach our children how to make good decisions based on logic and moral reasoning. Authoritarian parents say “do as I say, because I’m the parent!” But as in my example above, if the child doesn’t understand the “why” behind the rule, or doesn’t think it’s a good enough reason, they will do what they feel is right (what we call “rebellion”). This is why authoritarian parenting has to utilize corporal punishment. Without a big enough threat, and without a reason behind the rule, a child will simply do as they feel is right. So parents then say “if you don’t do as I say, you’ll be spanked/put in time out/have your favorite toy taken away/grounded/etc”. Now the child must choose between doing what they feel is right while risking the punishment, or complying with the parent’s demands. Let me be clear: they must choose between blind obedience based upon fear of punishment, or doing what they feel is right. When we think about it that way, we can see why authoritarian parenting and corporal punishment doesn’t work in the long term, and why it’s not actually what we want for our kids after all.

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Why do teenagers rebel? Because they don’t understand the reasons behind any of the rules that have been beaten into them (literally and figuratively) by their parents. So they must now go and test these rules to find out if they are right or wrong. They must go acquire intrinsic motivation via experience, because they have not been given a good enough reason not to. Corporal punishment only works so long as the threat is great enough to deter the action. This is why it creates children who lie, because all they have to do is circumvent the discovery of their actions to avoid the punishment.

Toddlers and teenagers actually have something in common. Their brains are creating new neural pathways at an increased rate. Toddlers are forming these pathways for the first time. Teenagers are reevaluating all these pathways and deciding if they should be kept or severed. If they are severed, new ones are formed in their place. What we’re talking about here is the foundational pattern for their thoughts and behavior that will be with them for life. Once those pathways are solidified in the teenage years, it will become very difficult to change them later.

Now to go back to the concern about the 20-month old. This toddler did the exact opposite of what she was told to do. Was she being defiant because she is just a “bad kid”? No, she acted defiantly because she lacked the intrinsic motivation to stop. She had no reason to. And at that age, she also has little impulse control. She literally cannot help but do what she feels like doing. The way toddlers learn is by doing. They are hard-wired to experiment. She was doing what she was told not to in order to find out why her mother said not to. She cannot possibly understand the reason of “because I don’t want you to waste my time and money by smearing diaper rash cream all over everything”. She has no concept of time or money. She simply sees something interesting that her parent uses and she wants to use it also, because that’s how toddlers learn to be adults… by doing what adults do. Because she lacks the reasoning skills necessary to understand why she shouldn’t smear diaper rash cream on everything, she will do it anyway. An authoritarian parent would then say (or yell) “I said no!” and enact a punishment. The punishment would not magically make the child understand, it would simply instill fear into them and foster a mistrust of the parent. A peaceful, gentle parent would take the opportunity to communicate a reason to the toddler “no, we don’t play with diaper rash cream, it’s not a toy.” and then place it out of reach, knowing that the toddler still doesn’t understand the reason, and knowing that she will still try to play with it. This is when a distraction can be helpful, because the toddler is bound to feel frustrated that they can’t have what they want. If you can offer something similar, the distraction will work even better to ease the frustration and deter future attempts to get the diaper rash cream. “We don’t play with diaper rash cream, but we can smear finger paint on this paper! How fun!” This interaction will build trust, because the toddler learns that there are certain things they’re not supposed to play with, but that mom cares about their frustration and desires and will come up with a solution that is enjoyable.

These little interactions are a set-up for the years to come. Soon, the toddler becomes a preschooler and begins asking “why?”, has a much larger ability to comprehend language, and will more readily accept verbal explanations if they already trust their parents. Once they become teenagers, they will gain adult-like reasoning skills and can begin to understand a far wider range of “why” scenarios. Not just ones with immediate,  tangible consequences (like “we don’t tip our cup because the liquid will spill, and then we have to clean it up”), but ones with more intangible, long-term consequences (like “we don’t steal from stores because you could go to jail if you’re caught, and it’s also harmful to the store owner because of the loss of profit, and would cause them mental upset…”etc etc). But if the teenager doesn’t already have a deep connection with and trust in their parent, they are unlikely to listen to their reasons and will choose to go find the answers for themselves, which we call “rebellion”.

It’s far more time-consuming to parent without demanding blind obedience. But parenting is a long-term commitment. You are helping your toddler become an adult. My rule for myself, now that I have two new toddlers whom I’m choosing to parent peacefully, is to ask myself “why not?” If there is no good reason for me to prevent them from doing something, I let them do it. If there is a good reason (safety, loss of money, etc), I either remove the option (placing things out of reach, using a baby gate, etc), offer a brief explanation and alternative (“you can’t color on the wall, but here’s some paper!”) or use a distraction (“no, you can’t go outside to play when it’s dark. How about we read a book instead?”).

I think a good first step in changing our mindset from authoritarian to peaceful parenting is realizing that the goal is to raise our kids to make good decisions, not to be obedient.

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Myth 21: Carseats are safer than seatbelts for ages 2+.

An understanding of statistics is severely lacking amongst the general population, so it’s always nice to find someone who can decipher them with the help of a little critical thinking.

“How can you be sure that child safety seats are safer for children 2 and older than factory-installed lap and shoulder belts? Well, it’s obvious they are safer. They are big, fancy, expensive, and professionally designed to be safe. Plus, hundreds of industry sponsored studies prove that they are safer. But what does the data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS) say about improved safety through safety seats? FARS reports data on all fatal traffic crashes occurring on public roads throughout the United States, D.C. and Puerto Rico. Their purpose is to provide an objective basis to evaluate the effectiveness of motor vehicle safety standards and highway safety programs. FARS data reveals that there has been no change in the safety rate of children in safety seats versus children in lap and shoulder belts in the period ranging from 1975 to 2003.”

Mommy Myth Buster

23273103thbEvery child who is 1 year old and weighs 20 lbs. is allowed to ride in a front facing car seat (if only because they get too huge to fit rear-facing anymore) and at age 4 and 40 lbs they can graduate to a car booster seat until they turn 8 or until they are 4 ft. 9 inches tall. Endless studies show that carseats and booster seats are safer, safer, safer. But safer than what? And under what circumstances are they safer? Are parents even qualified to install the carseats they buy? Certified child passenger safety seat installers and Highway Patrol officers are required to complete a 4-day course on carseat installation. Do carseats and booster seats for children age 2 to 8 actually make your child safer or are you being bullied by carseat companies into spending $300,000,000 per year on complicated safety devices that have no more…

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Smart Phones are the Devil!

“As I sat quietly in the corner of the room I tallied how many times they looked at me for various reasons: to see if I saw their cool tricks, to seek approval or disapproval for what they were doing, and to watch my reactions,” she wrote. “I couldn’t help but wonder if I was on some sort of technology what message would I have been sending?”

(source)

Here’s the thing…

What if I’m holding a book in front of me? A newspaper? A scientific journal? What if I’m writing a letter with a pen and paper? Crocheting a scarf? Drawing a picture? Writing checks to pay bills?

Adults have never been immune from distractions. So why is it that the smart phone or tablet are so demonized and not all these other things?

What do I do on my phone? I pay bills, look at my checking account balance, use my calculator, check the weather, make a menu and shopping list, find recipes and craft ideas, buy birthday presents, research products, read the news, read about specific topics of interest, talk to my friends and family members, take pictures, edit pictures, share pictures, order prints, “color” pictures to relax, write a blog (modern-day journal), read reviews, look up phone numbers, get directions, read about illnesses, listen to music…

And so, so much more!

A smart phone is a tool; it is not inherently good or evil. It is not just for taking selfies and reading through a news feed on Facebook where you have 500 “friends”. Maybe the people who take advice to set down their phone to heart are the ones who feel guilty because they’re using a several hundred dollar handheld computer as a time-waster. Personally, I don’t feel guilty about my use of my phone. I know that I’m using this tool responsibly. I know that I have balance. I have no trouble setting it down at a moment’s notice and leaving it there for as long as it needs to be ignored.

Blaming a smart phone for your being distracted from your kids is no better than blaming a gun for killing someone. You are responsible for your choices, not some inanimate object. Technology is not to blame for a lack of connection between parent and child; your choices are to blame. It’s a lot easier to sidestep the guilt of owning your actions and blame something else, isn’t it? But placing blame extrinsically is a great disservice to yourself. Swallow your pride, admit your faults, and decide to change.

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Postpartum depression is a Dad Thing Too

I think it’s very important for everyone to realize that dads can get postpartum depression, too.

Uncommon Sense

OK. So it’s my first Uncommon Sense blog post in over a year.  In case anybody wonders about my absence, I’ve been blogging for other people, particularly Dad Central Ontario.

My most recent blog for DCO was about postpartum depression in fathers. And we really wanted to get a discussion going on this important topic.  So I’m posting the same blog here as well.  I’d be really interested in comments.  I know that most of my followers are women. I’d be grateful if you shared this blog post with men who might be interested.

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When we hear the words postpartum depression (PPD), we usually think of mothers. But fathers get it too; maybe not as often as moms, but it happens. Some experts estimate that up to 10% of men experience some level of depression after the birth of a child. And sometimes maternal and paternal PPD are…

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