Blissfully Informed Hippie Chick

Encouraging people to think critically about everything.

What is love? 

I have been experiencing an awakening of self, healing my past trauma and uncovering my authentic self. Part of my “becoming” has been realizing that I treated myself as if I were a servant, and was treated as one in return. I considered my own needs last, if at all. I was resentful of it, but I think I knew I was allowing it to continue, so I blamed myself. 
But it’s not my fault. Not entirely. My responsibility lies in healing that part of me, because I didn’t choose to be this way. I was taught this by the people when I was young who subjected me to emotional and physical trauma…”subjected” me…this word has deeper meaning to me now. “Subjected”…”subject”…a person under the rule of someone else. My parents, as most parents still do, treated me like a subject. A thing to be owned. 
“MY child”. 
The language that we use to describe the people in our lives is so possessive…”MY husband”, “MY mom”, “MY friend”. We treat them like possessions, too. “You can’t do that, you’re MINE!” We try to control them, and we say it’s out of love. And we do it to our kids most of all. It’s like we measure love in degrees of control. We’ve all seen that meme…

This is the perfect example of control being equated with love.  This is the stuff that the majority of parents cheer for! What’s interesting is that if you replace a few key words, it somehow becomes something that we readily recognize as terrifying, and not love at all…

I know, I know, “But that’s different! It’s two adults! Kids need to be controlled!” I would like to remind you real quick that it wasn’t even 100 years ago that men knew that women needed to be controlled. It wasn’t even 200 years ago that people knew that slaves needed to be controlled. We see these abuses for what they are now: terrible acts of violence and oppression, the theft of freedom and autonomy. Huge swaths of humanity branded “less than”, “unintelligent”, “subhuman”. That’s exactly what we’re still doing to our children, though. In every tiny little way, we are sending the message to our kids that they’re stupid, inexperienced, and incapable. “You don’t know what you want or need!” “You can’t do that.” “Let me do that for you.” This creates an endless loop of self-doubt and lack of confidence. Then we stack on top of that loop an endless barrage of commands: “Take out the trash, go get dressed, do your homework, go to school, walk the dog, come over here, listen to me, do what I say, don’t talk back, go to your room…” And we expect this to be done right now! If we’re met with resistance, we start to use biting sarcasm and insults, wrapped in absolutes: “Oh my God, just do the dishes! Can’t you see they need to be done? Why can you never just do them? It’s not that hard! You think I want to do the dishes?” To finish it off, we use blame and shame and try to convince them that they’re responsible for our emotions: “Fine, don’t do the dishes, I’ll do the dishes, just like always. I’m the only one who does anything around here. No one ever helps me. I guess you guys just don’t love me. You make me so angry and sad.” 


How do I know? Because I’m guilty of it, too. It was done to me, and I’ve been doing it to my kids. I have to stop. I know this because I can see now what it did to me. I feel responsible for everyone’s emotions. I run around trying to prevent anyone from ever needing anything. I just do everything myself. I wash everyone’s laundry, I cook everyone’s food, I wash everyone’s dishes, I pick up everyone’s trash and dirty dishes and toys and dirty clothes and I put them all away. All the time. I’m so burnt out. I had convinced myself for a long time that I loved this life. I wanted to love it, because I thought that if I didn’t keep everyone happy, they wouldn’t love me. Because growing up the way I did, with authoritarian parents, taught me that love is conditional. It also taught me that all self-interest is “bad”. I know now that true love doesn’t possess those qualities. 

A dear friend of mine has told me repeatedly, “Love is allowance.” Allowance is the opposite of control. In order to really love anyone else, though, we must first love ourselves. We must allow ourselves to BE. 
I’m learning to love myself. I’m learning that I have worth. I’m learning that subservience isn’t love. I’m learning that I’m not responsible for other’s happiness or anger or disappointment. I’m learning to respect myself. I’m learning to not take responsibility for things that aren’t mine. I’m learning to stand up for myself and say “no”. I’m learning that I don’t have to help everyone all the time. I’m learning that my needs and wants are no less valuable than anyone else’s. 
And so, this morning, as I began picking up my two older children’s trash from their snack last night, I stopped myself. I literally told myself, out loud, “No! Stop! What are you doing? You don’t have to do that! Put it back!” I listened to myself. I put everything back on the kitchen counter where it was, and I symbolically embraced myself. 

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Why Kicking My Kids Out of My Bedroom is Self – Love 

I have 4 kids. They have all slept with me, in my bed and/or my room, at one time or another. My younger 2 kids are about to turn 3 and 4 next month. The youngest, Bobby, has slept in our bed and room almost every single night of his life. I honestly loved it most of the time. I think bed sharing and co-sleeping are beautiful, natural things. It helped get me through having 2 kids less than a year apart, for sure! But recently, I’ve begun to realize, I want my room back. 

I devised a plan, set a timeline, they were excited! The first two nights went smoothly and it was amazing! And then…

Night 3…

Bobby decided he didn’t want to sleep without me. He said the futon isn’t comfy. 

I got desperate.  

I told him daddy could put the twin mattress on top of the futon and make a Super Bed!!!

They got excited for a few minutes, then Bobby went back to not wanting to sleep in the other room. 

I made a decision right then and there: there’s no going back. Sometimes, taking care of myself and my relationship with my husband is more important than my kids not wanting to do something. 

Mind you, I held Bobby. I sang to him, even an extra song. I rocked him for a long time. I assured him. I stayed next to him until he was asleep. He quit crying as soon as I started rocking him. He was fine. 

And guess what? He was all smiles as soon as he woke up and I picked him up this morning! 

Saying “no” to my kids is sometimes really hard. What I need to remind myself is that I’m not just saying “no”  to Bobby, I’m saying “yes” to me. “Yes” to my relationship with my husband. 

I have never been good at balance. I have recently realized that I’m either all-selfish or all-sacrificial. Usually the latter. 

I’ve got to stop. 

I don’t even know who I am, not fully. I’m getting there, but I still listen to the voice in my head that all-too-often tells me that I should worry about what other people think more than what I think. 

Bobby and Natalie sleeping in their own bed now isn’t just about them growing up. It’s not just about having sex in my own room, with the lights on, loudly (though that’s a huge bonus!). It’s about me saying, “I’ve given as much as I’m capable of giving in this area of my life. It’s my turn now. It’s time to take care of myself. It’s time to give myself what I need.”

I remember a magnet that my grandma had on her fridge when I was a kid. It said “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” I can see the truth in that now. Not just mama, but all the adults in the house, really. If one of us is in a bad mood, the kids behave accordingly. We are a highly connected species, we feed off the emotions of others around us, especially those we spend most of our time with. 

Happiness is a choice, yes; but it’s a hell of a lot easier to make that choice when I’m physically and mentally healthy. 

I have to take care of me. Not just because of the fact that, by taking care of me, I’m taking care of everyone else. No, I have to take care of me because I love myself and know that I deserve to be healthy in every way. 

Loving myself isn’t selfish. True love can’t be selfish. True love says, “I want what’s best for you.” Self-love recognizes that it’s up to me to get what’s best for myself. 

Kicking my kids out of my bedroom is the biggest act of self-love I could preform at this time in my life. ❤

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Yes, my house is dirty. 

You know why it’s so hard to keep a house clean when you have kids? It goes something like this…

I got the two littlest ones to play together nicely…which I knew would last about 2.3 minutes. So I walked into the kitchen, shook my head at the mess, then thought, “The counter! It’s almost cleared off right now… weird… but I’ll roll with it. I’ll clean it real quick!”

Then it began. 

I saw the spice rack, which has the missing spice jar, because it had to be washed. It was washed by my husband and dried and put away by my 11 year old, who doesn’t know where everything goes in our new kitchen yet, and who was involved in some sort of magnificent race with her father to see who could wash or dry faster. Anyway…

I thought, “Maybe the jar is in this cabinet…” I opened the cabinet and was met with complete chaos. Everything just kind of thrown in. So I started organizing containers and measuring cups. I heard the little ones start arguing and then I lost my focus completely. One of them came in to tell me their troubles and it was around that time when I couldn’t even remember why I was organizing the cabinet. I suddenly remembered, “Spice jar!”… but it wasn’t there…

“Probably up with the cups and shot glasses,” I thought to myself. Then…

I’m not actually sure what happened next… things happen in such rapid succession around here that I can sometimes not keep up! Something with the kids diverted my attention. 

I wound up in the bathroom, and began writing this. Because the toilet is the one place I might get some peace for a minute. With the door open, of course. I gave up on closed bathroom doors awhile ago. 

Then one child came in and asked about the picture I drew on the white board. I was hoping she would, because she is very interested in drawing. So I went and drew more and encouraged her to draw. She got frustrated and wanted her bottle. She went to try and find her bottle while I washed the other one’s cup. I got him a drink while the other called to me that she couldn’t find her bottle. 

I walked into the bedroom to find that she had not even turned on the light to look. I turned on the light, found the bottle, took it to the kitchen, washed it, filled it. Drank the other one’s juice left in his cup, rinsed it, filled it with milk. 

… sometime in there, I started heating up chicken strips…

And now, the chicken is done, the little ones are playing quietly, and I’m standing here in front of the counter that never got washed and the spice rack with a  still-missing jar. 

Yeah…a typical 45 minutes at my house. 

*Update*

The spice jar was found and filled with paprika and the counter was cleaned. Then I made the mistake of opening the fridge to put a bottle away while holding a wet washcloth…I ended up wiping the fridge down. Just the visible parts, though. And not that one spot of stuck on, blueberry yogurt. I don’t have time to scrub it all off…

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Taking Back My Power 

My #1 greatest challenge in my journey toward being a peaceful person: 

Yelling.  

I have always yelled. My mom was a yeller. I learned from a young age that yelling is power. When I was yelled at, I felt powerless. I felt small and weak and out of control. I felt shameful and bad. 

I learned to yell back at her in an attempt to take back my power. I yelled and screamed, I slammed doors and threw things. But I didn’t like it; I hated what I was doing. I would inevitably get sent to my room, where I would rage until I dissolved into a puddle of tears. I never “won”. I never succeeded in taking my power back. It was incredibly depressing. This is the point at which my thoughts would eventually turn to suicide. If my memory is correct, I had my first suicidal thought at just 11 years old. Suicide seemed to be the ultimate take-back of power in my life that I so desperately longed for. 

I struggled with this feeling of powerlessness even into adulthood, because power to me meant controlling others. I could never seem to succeed at grasping that power, though; no matter how much I yelled and raged, no matter how much I tried to control others. What took me a long time to realize was that being powerful as an individual doesn’t equate control of others; being powerful as an individual happens when I have full control of myself. 

Self-control. 

It’s what I sought as a child and what I never learned. It’s what I’m learning now. I can’t control my children, or anyone else around me. I can only control myself and my own reactions. 
When situations arise that trigger my feelings of helplessness, of powerlessness, my default response is anger. This really has nothing to do with my children or my husband or anyone else, but it has everything to do with my unhealed emotional trauma. It’s a signal in my brain that the wiring it received when I was young was unhealthy. 

Healing that trauma is the biggest step toward being able to respond differently to those around me in the future. As I continually work on that healing, as situations arise that trigger that trauma, what helps me the most is to begin by taking a deep breath (or maybe a few) and stepping outside myself and into my child’s perspective (or whomever else is triggering my response). I ask myself, “What is their intent here?” and I verbalize to them, “What are you doing here, what are you trying to achieve?” What usually looks like a big mess or chaos to me has a greater purpose to my children. What others do that may be initially incomprehensible to me has great meaning and purpose to them. Once the intent of my children has been established, I can move into my ideal parenting role of teaching and guiding, rather than controlling and dominating. Once the perspective of others is understood, I can move into a place of compassion and commonality rather than rightness and division. I find that once the initial urge to yell and rage has subsided, the remainder of the interaction becomes easy, and even enjoyable. 

Peace. 

Peace begins within. I can’t be a peaceful in my interactions with others when my inner self is in turmoil. 

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  – Mahatma  Gandhi  

I used to misunderstand this quote. I thought that “being the change” was how I could change the world. I was wrong. The only person I can control is me. The change I wish to see in the world? I should try to live it; not for the sake of changing others, but for the sake of being the person I would like to be. 

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A Journey of a Million Tiny Steps

My nearly 3 year old, Natalie came to me a little bit ago and said “Na-Na hair cut” while holding her hair. (“Na-Na” is her name for herself.) After a few questions, I confirmed that she wants her hair cut to her shoulders. I told her that she should think about it some more and talk to daddy about it later. I explained we that once it’s cut, we can’t put it back on, but that it will grow back slowly. I told her that after she thought about it more, if she still wants it cut, I’ll do it. I feel that it’s important to respect her wishes, especially because this is about the age when our older two girls cut their own hair without my knowledge.

I love that my toddler came to me with her desire instead of trying to do it secretly. It makes me feel really good about the trust she has in me, the depth of our connection.

Autonomy over one’s hair is such a non-issue compared to important things like physical safety. I was so upset when my older girls cut their hair. And now, I can’t tell you how often I feel like going back in time and shaking myself by the shoulders and telling myself to wake up and stop stressing over such petty things!

Sometimes, looking back at my old Facebook posts is really painful. Seeing my statuses about spanking the older girls for the stupidest things. Being so exasperated at what I now know is normal child behavior. It makes me cringe.

It breaks my heart when I see other parents locked in power struggles and screaming matches with their kids. For more reasons than one. Now, I understand how badly those parents are hurting. How frustrated and confused they are. How badly they want their kids to grow up to be responsible, kind adults, but how clueless they are as to how to encourage those traits. And how most parents are actually doing better with their kids than was done to them, so I see how much pain they’re carrying around that they may not even realize they have.

But how do you kindly and gently tell people to look in the mirror and change themselves when they ask in desperation how to get their kids to “obey”? How do you even begin to explain to them that obedience isn’t the goal of parenting? How do you get them to admit that their parents did the best they could with what they knew, but obviously what they knew wasn’t good enough?

I’m at a loss of how to simplify the last 5 years of my life, my journey from authoritarianism to peacefulness. Because that’s what it’s been. A journey of a million tiny steps that have led me to where I am now.

I think the only way to show others is to invite them into my world, into my home, and show them what parent-child relationships can be like. How family time can be peaceful. How chores don’t have to be a struggle. And then wait for them to ask, “How do you do that?” And then explain that I can only truly control me, I can only change me. And once I began to change myself, my relationships were changed in the process.

I guess the problem is that everyone is unique, so what needs to change, and in what order, will be different for everyone. I suppose the bottom line is letting go of controlling others and beginning to control myself. I guess if I had to simplify it, that’s what I’d say.

I’m not perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination. But I’m trying. I’m growing. I’m learning. I can look back over the last 5 years and see the incredible strides I’ve made. My journey is mine alone, it won’t look exactly like anyone else’s. But maybe my mistakes and realizations can help others in their own journeys. At the very least, maybe my admissions can help others not feel so alone in their transformation.

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“Mind your manners!”

As a peaceful parent, is it OK to expect my kids to say “please” or “thank you” or anything else, for that matter? I believe that the answer is no.

I don’t force my kids to say anything to anyone. I would rather teach them values, rather than “rules”… societal or otherwise. Teaching kids rules says “this is what we do, period”, peacefully teaching kids values says “this is why I do this, this is how other people do it, this is the line of thinking behind it, etc”. Rules are arbitrary, and usually followed by a condition: “you must say thank you or else…”. Values are meaningful, but should be presented as an option: “I like to say thank you when I receive something because…”. I believe that forcing a child (or anyone) to do something that you value is wrong, because force is wrong. I don’t expect my kids to automatically accept all my values, because they are individuals. Their reality is not mine. I’m here to pass on the knowledge, wisdom, and experience I’ve accumulated in my time here on Earth. What they do with that information is up to them.

When we place our expectations on our kids, there is a chance those expectations won’t be met. So what happens when our kids fail to live up to our expectations? In this case, what happens if your kids refuse to say the words you expect them to say? Even if you don’t overtly punish your children for this failure to meet your expectations, you will still be disappointed. If you are using your disappointment as a coercive tool to convince your children to meet your expectations, you are using force; albeit in a more subtle way, but it is force nonetheless. Not only is force the opposite of peacefulness, but it typically doesn’t produce the desired results in the long-term, because force is extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation fails because once the external source is removed, if there has been no intrinsic motivation instilled, there will be no reason to continue the behavior that has been forced upon the child. 
This is a rather lengthy article that talks about character education in schools, but it is relevant to this topic, because parents often attempt to modify their children’s behavior in much the same way.

Here is an excerpt:

The techniques of character education may succeed in temporarily buying a particular behavior. But they are unlikely to leave children with a commitment to that behavior, a reason to continue acting that way in the future. You can turn out automatons who utter the desired words or maybe even “emit” (to use the curious verb favored by behaviorists) the desired actions. But the words and actions are unlikely to continue — much less transfer to new situations — because the child has not been invited to integrate them into his or her value structure. As Dewey observed, “The required beliefs cannot be hammered in; the needed attitudes cannot be plastered on.”[44] Yet watch a character education lesson in any part of the country and you will almost surely be observing a strenuous exercise in hammering and plastering.

For traditional moralists, the constructivist approach is a waste of time. If values and traditions and the stories that embody them already exist, then surely “we don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” remarks Bennett.[45] Likewise an exasperated Wynne: “Must each generation try to completely reinvent society?”[46] The answer is no – and yes. It is not as though everything that now exists must be discarded and entirely new values fashioned from scratch. But the process of learning does indeed require that meaning, ethical or otherwise, be actively invented and reinvented, from the inside out. It requires that children be given the opportunity to make sense of such concepts as fairness or courage, regardless of how long the concepts themselves have been around. Children must be invited to reflect on complex issues, to recast them in light of their own experiences and questions, to figure out for themselves — and with one another — what kind of person one ought to be, which traditions are worth keeping, and how to proceed when two basic values seem to be in conflict.[47]

In this sense, reinvention is necessary if we want to help children become moral people, as opposed to people who merely do what they are told — or reflexively rebel against what they are told. In fact, as Rheta DeVries and Betty Zan add (in a recent book that offers a useful antidote to traditional character education), “If we want children to resist [peer pressure] and not be victims of others’ ideas, we have to educate children to think for themselves about all ideas, including those of adults.”[48]…

To say that students must construct meaning around moral concepts is not to deny that adults have a crucial role to play. The romantic view that children can basically educate themselves so long as grownups don’t interfere is not taken seriously by any constructivists I know of – certainly not by Dewey, Piaget, Kohlberg, or their followers. Rather, like Values Clarification, this view seems to exist principally as a straw man in the arguments of conservatives. Let there be no question, then: educators, parents, and other adults are desperately needed to offer guidance, to act as models (we hope), to pose challenges that promote moral growth, and to help children understand the effects of their actions on other people, thereby tapping and nurturing a concern for others that is present in children from a very young age.[53]

Forcing a child to say certain words, through whatever coercion we use (even our “disappointment”), might result in the child parroting the desired words, but those words are unlikely to have genuine empathy behind them. Here is an example:

If we want our child to express an honest apology, we must be patient and not push. ‘Hi’, ‘goodbye’, ‘share!’ and ‘thank you’ are all loaded words for toddlers when parents demand them, but ‘I’m sorry’ takes the cake when it comes to parental expectations. Since our goal is for our child to make amends for his misdeeds because he genuinely regrets them, we must trust him to find the words in time.

We are powerful examples for our children of all that is human. We teach “I’m sorry” best by modeling it. Children need to hear us apologize to others, and also to them. They need to know that human beings are not perfect. When we say to our child, “I’m sorry, I made a mistake,” we give the child permission to make mistakes too.

(source)

Here is a further explanation of how forcing a child to apologize actually creates dishonesty and impedes the development of empathy:

Why does empathy matter when it comes to saying “sorry”? Because it implies that the child feels bad for what they have done, and in order to feel bad they have to understand how they have made another feel. For instance, if a toddler hits or bites another toddler at a playgroup, saying “sorry” would imply that they understood that the other child is in pain. Secondly it implies that they regret hurting the other child and wish to make them feel better. If they have poor empathy skills (as is normal for this age) they will not have such a train of thought. In fact, if they bit or hit another child in order to get hold of a toy that they wanted they may in fact believe that the injured child feels happy, as they themselves are happy now that they have the toy. Forcing the child to apologise in this instance doesn’t make the child sorry, in fact all it does is force them to lie.

You may ask “so what? They have to learn”, but do you really want your child to learn to lie? How do you feel about teaching your child to lie because they know if they say “sorry” (when they are not) that they get out of trouble? In the toddler and preschooler years you may not see the implications of this, but visit any school playground and you will hear an echo of “sorry” around the playground. The chances are most of these are empty and hollow. The children aren’t genuinely sorry, they have learnt that saying it gets them out of trouble. Most apologies in this instance sound incredibly insincere, that’s because they are. A child fights with another in the school playground. The midday assistant steps in and tells the attacker to “say sorry”, the child parrot fashions “sorry” and they are let off. The chances of the child actually being sorry are quite low, they have learnt that lying gets them out of trouble. Would you prefer your child to act in the same manner (to lie to get out of trouble) or actually say “sorry” when they really meant it?

So, if you don’t make your child say “sorry”, does that mean that you are totally permissive and let the little darling ‘get away with everything’? Surely that will raise an even less empathic child? Absolutely! The alternative isn’t to just ignore everything, but to approach it from a position that raises empathy without lying. For instance if you are at a playgroup and your child shoves another and makes them cry, the first thing you would do as a parent is to apologise to the child and the child’s parent, because the chances are you are genuinely sorry. This is a great role model to your own child. Next, it’s time to speak to your own child in a quiet area where you explain, simply, that the other child was crying because it hurt when they were shoved. This is a great way to help develop your child’s empathy skills. You can reiterate that they “shouldn’t shove but use their voice”  if they are upset next time. The chances are they will still shove the next time though, because that’s what two and three year olds do, but if you keep repeating this process each time you have a much greater chance of raising a truly empathic child, who sincerely means it when they say “sorry” when they are older. Isn’t that what all parents would really prefer?

(source)

This all relates to forcing manners in a very similar way:

If telling a child to say “thank you” (and other manner words and actions) does not teach her/him to authentically feel and express gratitude – what does it teach?

A few possible things:

1) The child learns that telling others what to say or do is “good manners”. The content of the “talk” is practically lost, as the child is mostly aware of the fact that someone is telling her what to do.

2) A less obvious message is the one: “I cannot trust myself to know what to say or do; I should rely on adults (authority) and obey instruction” (dependency, being a follower).

3) Linked to the previous one is “I cannot know on my own what to say or do, therefore I am not good enough” (low self-esteem and feeling inadequate and incapable).

4) A similar feeling of inadequacy can spring out of self-doubt: “Why don’t I feel like saying ‘thank you’? Something must be wrong with me”.

5) A child learns to be phony and even simply to lie: “I don’t really feel like saying anything, (sharing, helping…), I guess I am supposed to lie, pretend, or put on a show that does not reflect my real inner experience”.

6) The child learns to hate sharing or saying “please” and “thank you”, as his formative memory of doing so is that of resentment, being controlled, and being unreal. In doing something while not wanting to do it, he is learning to hate the expression of being grateful (sharing etc.) and the natural authentic development of his manners can be delayed….

As a mother I have discovered that my child’s manners are not about me impressing anyone. My child deserves my full respect to be at the stage of awareness, confidence, and of acquisition of manners that he is. It is not easy to feel comfortable when our child doesn’t fit society’s expectations – but knowing that these very expectations don’t fit the child, helps me remember whose well-being I stand for. Maybe we are still dependent on the approval of others as we were in our childhood, when we were told to say “thank you” and did so just to please our parents. We need to build our own self-esteem, so we are less dependent on approval of our children’s ways of being for enhancing our feelings of self-worth.

Making a good impression on friends, relatives, or strangers, becomes clearly unimportant next to the welfare of my child. Yet, I can still impress these friends and relatives. What I will impress them with, is not my compliance to their standards of behavior with children. Instead I will demonstrate to them my respect to my child, and my strength in following my own heart and my child’s needs.

How then will they learn manners?

How then will a child learn social manners? Can we trust the child to develop and mature in her own time, the way we trusted her to learn to walk and to talk? Why are we in a rush to have children behave like adults before they are adults?

When lovingly and respectfully treated, children will learn manners on their own simply because they want to live happily in this society. We can ensure this development by the following three approaches:

1) To “teach” a child to be grateful, express your gratitude for her contribution to your life: “It is such a joy to spend the afternoon with you”. It is how you treat your child that teaches her how to be. Telling a child what to say is not respectful. It is not the kind of manners you want her to learn. Thanking her for her help and being kind and generous toward her are really at the heart of your teaching tools.

2) We can provide examples in our interactions with others by expressing gratitude, sharing generously, and treating others kindly. Our children will assimilate what they see, hear and experience around them.

3) For your child to learn manners with pleasure, and enjoy behaving in pleasing ways, she needs to see you enjoying yourself through these expressions. She needs to see you being real, authentic, and fully present when you express gratitude and treat people kindly.

4) We can provide ample freedom and opportunity to express painful feelings. Children, like adults, can best experience kind and giving feelings when they are not preoccupied with upsetting experiences. When a child tells me “I hate my sister”, I validate his feelings and accept his emotional outburst – only then he can be free to love his sister. If hurtful and angry feelings are numbed, the loving and kind ones fall asleep with them. It’s a package deal.

(source)

I think that this whole discussion could be reduced to one simple question: “Is it OK to force a fellow adult to say or do things that I think are desirable?” I believe the answer to that question should always be “no”. Force is not peace. Force undermines freedom to individuality. (That’s not to say that you shouldn’t protect yourself from harm, but I think that’s another discussion entirely.) And I believe that children are deserving of the same rights as adults. Human rights shouldn’t be conditional. They shouldn’t be based upon gender, beliefs, color of skin, age, or any other factor. Human rights belong to all humans.

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Whom do you trust?

The debate on whether or not vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary is really a debate about trust. Their safety is touted by governments, scientists, doctors, and, most of all, the companies that manufacture them. On the other hand, more and more doctors and scientists are speaking out against their safety, efficacy, and necessity. So whom do you trust? While those who speak out against vaccines have little or nothing to gain from that stance, those on the other side have much to profit from. Here are some important questions that I feel should be answered by individuals before deciding whether or not to inject themselves and/or their children with these chemical cocktails:

1) Do you trust a company like Merck, when lawyers prove in court that they sold a painkiller for years, knowing full well that their own researchers had concerns regarding it’s safety?

Merck withdrew Vioxx from the market in September 2004, after a clinical trial proved that it increased the risks of heart attacks and strokes. But internal company documents showed that Merck’s scientists were concerned about the risks of Vioxx several years earlier. And a large clinical trial that ended in 2000 also showed that Vioxx was much riskier than naproxen, an older painkiller sold under the name Aleve.

(source)

2) Do you trust this company, knowing that they’ve spent $1.2 billion defending the drug they knew had potentially lethal side effects?

3) Do you trust this company, knowing that they spent $5.17 billion last year to advertise the safety and efficacy of their products?

Direct to consumer ad expenditure for US prescription pharmaceuticals came close to record levels in 2015, according to estimates from Nielsen, reported by industry blog DTC Perspectives. Total spend reached $5.17bn last year, capping three years of gains since 2012’s low of $3.4bn.

(source)

4) Do you trust this company, knowing that they manufacture (and advertise and safety and efficacy of) this list of vaccines?:

– COMVAX® [Haemophilus b Conjugate (Meningococcal Protein Conjugate) and Hepatitis B (Recombinant) Vaccine]

– GARDASIL®9 (Human Papillomavirus 9-valent Vaccine, Recombinant)

– GARDASIL® [Human Papillomavirus Quadrivalent (Types 6, 11, 16, and 18) Vaccine, Recombinant]

– M-M-R®II (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Virus Vaccine Live)

– PedvaxHIB® [Haemophilus b Conjugate Vaccine (Meningococcal Protein Conjugate)]

– PNEUMOVAX®23 (Pneumococcal Vaccine Polyvalent)

– ProQuad® (Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Varicella Virus
Vaccine Live)

– RECOMBIVAX HB® [Hepatitis B Vaccine (Recombinant)]

– RotaTeq® (Rotavirus Vaccine, Live, Oral, Pentavalent)VAQTA® (Hepatitis A Vaccine, Inactivated)

– VARIVAX® (Varicella Virus Vaccine Live)

– ZOSTAVAX® (Zoster Vaccine Live)

(source)

5) Do you trust the company that manufacturers and promotes a vaccine that causes such widespread and serious side effects that it has been removed from other countries’ vaccination recommendations due to concerns of it’s safety?

Around 2,000 reported side effects after using Gardasil cervical cancer vaccine have determined Japanese government officials to withdraw Gardasil from the market in 2013, despite the vaccine being highly promoted in the United States and now approved by the European Union.

“Japanese health officials have recorded nearly 2,000 adverse reactions – hundreds of them serious,” reported Judicial Watch, the Washington-based corruption watchdog that has been monitoring the effects – and health costs – of the drug’s use in the United States for years.

“The alarming reports have led Japan’s government to take action, suspending recommendation for the controversial vaccine which is billed as a miracle shot that can prevent certain strains of cervical cancer caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV).”

“The U.S. government has taken the opposite approach amid equally alarming cases of serious side effects. Not only does the Obama administration continue recommending the vaccine (Gardasil), it spends large sums of taxpayer dollars promoting it and works hard to keep details involving its dangers secret.”

The side effects of using Gardasil include seizures, brain damage, blindness, paralysis, speech problems, pancreatitis and short-term memory loss, while other patients have died after taking the vaccine.

(source)

6) Do you trust this same company that released a “hit list” of doctors who criticized the drug (Vioxx) which they knew had serious side effects, in order to discredit them?

Merck made a “hit list” of doctors who criticized Vioxx, according to testimony in a Vioxx class action case in Australia. The list, emailed between Merck employees, contained doctors’ names with the labels “neutralise,” “neutralised” or “discredit” next to them.

According to The Australian, Merck emails from 1999 showed company execs complaining about doctors who disliked using Vioxx. One email said:
“We may need to seek them out and destroy them where they live …”

The plaintiffs’ lawyer gave this assessment:
“It gives you the dark side of the use of key opinion leaders and thought leaders … if (they) say things you don’t like to hear, you have to neutralise them … It does suggest a certain culture within the organisation about how to deal with your opponents and those who disagree with you.”

(source)

7) Do you really think this company would do any different for doctors or scientists who dare to speak out against the safety, efficacy, or necessity of the long list of vaccinations they profit from?

8) Finally, do you trust the government officials who are responsible for the list of mandated vaccinations, who also financially profit from the very companies who manufacture those vaccines?

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a group of individuals hand-picked by members of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommends which vaccines are administered to American children. Working mainly in secret, ACIP members frequently have financial links to vaccine manufacturers. Dependent on federal CDC funding, administrators of state vaccination programs follow CDC directives by influencing state legislators to mandate new vaccines. Federal vaccine funds can be denied to states that do not “vigorously enforce” mandatory vaccination laws.
Conversely, the CDC offers financial bounties to state departments of health for each “fully vaccinated” child. In a recent year, the Ohio Department of Health received $1 million in such CDC bonus payments.
At CDC national immunization conferences, Merck and other vaccine manufacturers wine and dine thousands of attendees who make their living promoting and administering vaccines.

Are physicians beholden?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a major supporter of mandatory chicken pox and other vaccine mandates across the country, shares incestuous financial ties with Merck. When constructing its new headquarters in suburban Chicago, the AAP solicited funds from Merck, and received $100,000 for its building campaign.
Vaccines represent an economic boon for pediatricians. Profitable well-baby visits are timed to coincide with vaccination schedules established by the AAP and the CDC.

(source)

I think that these are valid questions that deserve consideration, before we allow our government to take away our right to choose whom to trust.

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I’m sorry…

When life gets messy…

When my body hurts…

When my surroundings aren’t as I want them to be…

When the knowledge of what I need to do to bring peace back into my surroundings feels like an insurmountable task…

When my expectations of help aren’t met…

When I feel like if everyone would just do what I tell them needs to be done, the goal wouldn’t seem so out of reach…

When I feel like simply hiding in bed and sleeping the day away, but there are people who rely on me…

When I feel like nothing is going my way and everything is spiraling out of control…

…that’s when I lose it. Whatever “it” is. I yell, I scream, I rage at whoever is in closest proximity. I channel all my frustrations, my pain, my anger at people who aren’t really the source of those feelings. Their actions or inaction merely spark the cascade of emotion that has built up inside me.

The worst part is, I can’t take it back. I can’t undo what has happened. The best I can do is apologize, let them know it isn’t their fault, explain my feelings, and then try again next time to release the building pressure in a healthy way instead of hurting the innocent bystanders that I love the most…my children.

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Imagine Peace

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Morality doesn’t need to be legislated. Humans don’t need other humans to tell them to do good things. Contrary to popular belief (which is based largely upon religious texts), humans are inherently good. Children aren’t evil little sinners who need to be tamed through authoritarian means. And in fact, authoritarianism is what leads to self-centered children and adults!

This is a wonderful thing for those with all the power in this world…get people to believe in a religion that teaches the inherent evil of humans, which leads to authoritarian parenting, which leads to self-centered adults, which keeps the focus on what’s good for *me* right now and never what’s good for anyone else, and which ultimately leads to adherence to a government that promises to act on *your* best interests but really just keeps you under their control.

But the people are waking up. Many are realizing, through science, experience, and history, that authoritarian parenting works the opposite of how we’re told it will. People are realizing that obedience shouldn’t be a goal of parenting. And once they realize this, I believe it’s only a matter of time before they realize that all governments are merely authoritarian parents on steroids. Ruling others simply isn’t healthy for humanity and doesn’t work anyway.

But just as everything within an anarchist society must be done voluntarily, anarchism itself must be voluntary. It must be peaceful. Because only peace can beget peace. The revolution cannot be violent, the revolution must be one of ideas and of actions that represent the peaceful society we wish to have. Humans have the ability to create what they imagine. So to achieve peace, we must imagine peace…

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

– John Lennon, “Imagine”

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Loving My Dirty Dishes

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This sink full (always full) of dirty dishes would normally make me sigh a sigh of discontent. I would look at it and see imperfection, failure, and work.

Today, this sink makes me happy. Today, I look at these dishes and know what they represent…

They are the food I cook for my family daily.

They are my four children, unschooled and here all day most days.

They are the time I spend with my husband and children after dinner; not standing at a sink, but talking and playing games and watching our favorite shows.

They are the cookies I bake with my toddlers.

They are the time I spent crocheting rather than doing housework.

They are the peaceful, non-coercive relationship I strive to have with my children.

One day, I will have a clean, empty sink. One day, I’ll do dishes before heading to bed. One day, my sink won’t be piled with brightly-colored plastic plates and bowls. One day, every single fork and spoon won’t be dirty. One day, my children will be the ones with toddlers running amok and full sinks.

So today, I choose to smile at these dishes. Today, these dishes represent love.

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