Friday, February 17, 2012

Parenting Fail

Ok. This has gone viral and DH forced me to watch it at gunpoint just before he shot up my laptop.

DH was curious about what I thought of it.  After watching all 8 minutes and 23 seconds, my only reply was, "He's a jerk. No wonder his kid wrote all of that stuff about him."

That is apparently the opposite reaction that most people have had to the video. The majority of comments seem to egg him on and describe what he did as "tough love" and standing up to teenagers.

I don't get that reaction at all. From my perspective, it seems like an immature attempt at one-upmanship aimed at publicly humiliating his daughter for having normal, teenage feelings.

Think about what happened.  A 15 year-old girl ranted about her parents and chores, not publicly, but privately to her friends.

What a shocker. Next thing you know she'll be talking about boys, and sex, and growing up and moving out, and how out-of-touch teachers are, and how boring church and school are, and how when she grows up she'll never be like so and so....etc. etc.

This is why parents should never go snooping through children's diaries/journals.  You'll most likely find some unpleasant things written about you in there.  That's what diaries and journals and stupid posts to your friends on facebook are for. If a person really wanted to humiliate and hurt you, they would say those things to your face, not in a private venue that you were never meant to see.

Sometimes, I think about how I thought about my parents growing up, especially during my teenage and young adult years. I always loved them because they were my parents, but I frequently did not like them and said things about them that I'm sure they would have found hurtful.  I was always honest and direct with them when I was upset with them, specifically my mother. She always knew how I felt, even though I didn't purposely try to be hurtful in the way I expressed my frustration with her.

Still, I remember things I said, or thought, about her that were much more extreme than what I actually said to her in person because even though she upset me, I wouldn't purposely want to humiliate her.

I soberly consider that as I watch my children grow, knowing that at some point they might be writing snide facebook comments about me, or rolling their eyes to their friends while I am talking to them on the phone, or complaining about rules, standards, expectations that I have and how I "just don't get it".

And even though that will assuredly happen, just as surely as the sun will rise each morning, I will remember being a teenager and hopefully cut them some slack, even as I will probably be inwardly hurt.

That's is what being a mature, adult parent is about. Attempting to understand and communicate with your children, rather than trying to bully them with snide comments, sarcastic tones, and over-the-top punishments is probably more effective.

In general, I think that parents can be too hard on themselves, expecting more than is humanly possible, regretting every little mistake.

On the other hand, I see what this father has done, in a very self-satisfied manner, as one of those parenting mistakes that is going to have a very long life in this girl's memory, and not in a positive way.  She's learned, not that she should never say anything bad about her parents, but that if she does something her father doesn't like, there will be retribution.  That he will react on the basis of his own feelings of being hurt rather than on the basis of what would be good for a healthy relationship with his daughter.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Random Book Recommendation

I am thoroughly enjoying Peter S. Beagle's collection of short stories, We Never Talk About My Brother.

I picked it up on a lark at the library, unfamiliar with his work, and found a nice gem.  I'm halfway through it and every story so far has been wonderfully written, engaging and satisfying.

If you're looking for pure enjoyability, in a mild sci-fi/fantasy vein, try it out.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Intuitive was one of two children to advance from his school's science fair, in the 4th grade, to the regional county science fair.  We spent one day this week among a display of at least 1,000 science projects. The Intuitive had to stand alone in a sea of cardboard displays with only fellow participants for company as the science fair judges made their way to each display and had the students present their project and answer questions.  No teachers or parents allowed.

We sat in bleachers with hundreds, maybe thousands of other parents waiting until his grade and science category were officially dismissed for the day. We saw him making his way to us in a crowd of other dressed-up fourth graders and joined him halfway down the aisle.

"How did it go?"

"OK, I guess. I probably won't win anything. The judges only spoke to me once."

"Well, you never know.  At least you did your best.  Did you stand up when they approached you?"

"Yes, mom."

"Did you answer all of their questions?"

"Yes, mom."

"Were you friendly?"

"Yes, mom."

I had to pester him. It is my motherly duty, after all.

The next day we attended the awards ceremony, not knowing what to expect.  When the announcers got  to The Intuitive's category he was thrilled to hear that he qualified for an "Excellent" award, which seemed to be somewhere between the Outstanding category and Superior, with Superior being the highest. They give out many of these 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards because the sheer volume of participants makes it difficult to have just one 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winner, but not everyone gets them, so The Intuitive was happy to get another nod for his project.

He went to the ceremony expecting a mere participation ribbon and came home with a medal. He was positively radiant with happiness, especially because he was utterly taken by surprise when he had simply won at his school's science fair to begin with.

I was happy for him in the way that parents are happy when they see their kids feel affirmed and valued and content with themselves after working hard on something.

Santorum Word Salad

What the hell is Santorum talking about?

What are these mysterious emotions that he's talking about?  At first it seemed like he was implying that women might be too scared or emotional to carry out a mission, but then he starts talking about men and camaraderie and these things already happening and I was thrown off.  Usually the things coming into the spotlight regarding men and camaraderie in the face of war revolve around groups of soldiers doing bad things together, like urinating on bodies, or taking trophies of the war, or being overly aggressive and killing non-combatants.

I think he is trying so hard not to say what he really thinks, that women are not fit for combat, that he is wandering all over the place spewing non-sensical word salad.

A Santorum candidacy would push me even further away from the Republican party.  He is a culture warrior through and through.  There isn't a single issue that he speaks about that isn't directly tied to a religious position he has or is influenced by.

No objectivity. No openness to any area of policy that doesn't already line up with his predetermined view of the world.


 Santorum clarified his remarks about women in combat, saying that he was referring to the emotions that men would have while working with women:
“I was talking about men’s emotional issues; not women. I mean, there’s a lot of issues. That’s just one of them. So my concern is being in combat in that situation instead of being focused on the mission, they may be more concerned with protecting someone who may be in a vulnerable position, a woman in a vulnerable position.”
Well, it wasn't just my imagination that Santorum wasn't making much sense. Apparently, he was wandering all over the place in that first clip.

The problem with what Santorum says here is that it is based in his own view of gender roles.  He naturally assumes that because he believes women need to be protected, and that men are responsible for protecting them, that every other man feels the same way.

It is self-evidently obvious to him.

Personally, I think it's bunk. If you're in the middle of an intense battle, you're not going to be thinking about gender roles.  You're going to be thinking about survival, plain and simple. And...soldiers are already trained to look out for each other and work as a team, "protecting" each other.

The women who choose to enlist and want to be closer to combat are women who are probably naturally inclined to do just that.  They aren't garden-party, creative-memory-making, trophy wife women who are being forced into a life they aren't suited for and don't want.  They don't need to be protected any more than any soldier needs to be protected.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Withholding Approval and Same Sex Marriage

I've been over at AVI's commenting on a post of his about Same Sex Marriage.

A couple of people made the point that SSM is about the gay community wanting validation and affirmation more than it is about obtaining specific marital rights.

I don't think that's a necessarily incorrect assessment. And, I think withholding that validation is a serious motive for opponents to gay marriage, who are comfortable tolerating gay people and acknowledging their existence, but don't want to be required to put their stamp of approval on gay relationships, elevating the status of gay relationships to those of heterosexual relationships.

Full disclosure. I don't know how comfortable I am, personally, with Same Sex Marriage. That's to say, while I don't harbor ill will towards homosexuals, I can also say that I have a hard time understanding homosexuality simply because I can't identify with it personally. I don't know or understand what it would be like to be attracted to the same sex, and because of that I can't un-self-consciously accept it in the same way that I would any other straight relationship. I actually have to consciously work on not making value judgements.

Those statements are not meant to be used as ammunition against me.  I am merely trying to be honest about the thought process I have. Because I don't identify with or understand homosexuality in the same way that I understand heterosexuality....I am limited in my abilities to be as instinctively OK with it as I would be with other relationships. As such, I have to take what gay people say about themselves and their relationships at face value to some extent. If most of them feel as if this is something they were born with or something they have no power to change, then I have to accept that.

I have no basis to argue otherwise.

How valuable is this validation of SSM and what do opponents gain by not giving it?

For the gay population, I think the validation is extremely valuable. Having governmental recognition of  SSM would allow them to feel accepted and as if their relationships were equal to heterosexual marriages and all that it entails. Living in a society that doesn't purposely and consciously exclude you and that doesn't merely tolerate you is definitely more appealing and freeing than living in a society in which you feel slighted.

Is it the government's responsibility to make sure that everyone feel more accepted and free? Is the government supposed to make us feel warm and fuzzy about all of our choices? Is the government supposed to be a hippie love-in organization making sure that everyone gets a hug and a flower in their hair?

Well....not exactly. However, the government isn't a separate entity that operates outside and independent of society. It is a representation of society and serves to enact laws that society considers just and good. Those laws are adjusted and added to as society adjusts and adds to its conception of "just" and "good".

Validating SSM is a way of declaring that society thinks it is more just and good to honor consensual, binding, relational agreements between two gay people than it is to not honor those agreements. While it is about making homosexuals feel openly accepted and equal, it is also about honoring the wills of individuals to live peacefully, according to their own consciences, without government impediments, a principle which is entirely American.

Very conservative Christians will never accept homosexuals in any way. The only option in their eyes is a fundamental denial of same sex attraction. Homosexuals are expected to repent and live as heterosexuals. The problem is that after many years of this approach, it doesn't seem widely viable or workable. Some of the founders of various ex-gay movements, after many years of working in those movements, have given up on the idea of thinking it's even possible to be "ex-gay".

Conservative Christians will characterize these people as giving up on God, or the faith, or surrendering to the devil and their lusts.

On the other hand, if someone so desperately wants not to be gay, founds an organization for ex-gays, and dedicates themselves to that movement for many years, and after all that discovers that their life's work hasn't been very effective and openly admits it...then I think Christians need to listen to what they have to say.

The average evangelical christian has historically taken the path of "loving the sinner, hating the sin" when it comes to homosexuality. I once thought this was a workable spiritual solution; tell homosexuals that we love them and think God loves them, but that their actions are not pleasing to God and we can't condone their behavior. In theory, the idea is that acting on homosexual desires is equivalent to acting on heterosexual desires outside of marriage. People make mistakes. God offers forgiveness. We simply can't condone the mistakes.

The problem is that it never really works that way in evangelical churches. No matter how open and loving an evangelical church can be, or how insistent that homosexuals are welcome to attend, they are not treated in the same way that heterosexuals are because an attraction to the same sex is not viewed equivalently to an attraction to the opposite sex, in the eyes of the church. Attraction to the opposite sex is seen as inherently natural and if heterosexuals stray then it is a matter of right desire, wrong timing or wrong relationship. With homosexuals there is never a right time, place, or relationship to express their sexual orientation.

What remains is the option of lifelong celibacy in an evangelical church. However, even if an openly gay person chooses to be celibate, there is always a lingering suspicion towards them and they will most likely not be given any visible leadership positions within the church.

Withholding approval/validation effectively keeps acknowledged homosexuals out of evangelical churches. It's not hard to see why. If desires that you have always had, desires that you can't get rid of, and desires that are an integral part of the framework of your self-conception are considered twisted and unnatural, even if you don't act on them, it would be difficult to feel loved, accepted and part of that community.

When a person latches onto the idea of withholding validation or approval from someone as a means of influencing them, they are operating on several assumptions.

Assumption #1 --They are in a superior position.  Validation is theirs to give or withhold by fiat and natural authority.

Assumption #2--Their purposeful withholding of validation will influence the subject of it to submit and agree to the authority's position and discourage them from the subject's own position

Assumption #3--Giving validation to someone who lives and believes differently than they do is as bad as living and believing in the same way as that person. Validation=participation.

#1 is hard for anyone to prove.  Justifying hierarchies and inherent authority is incredibly difficult when people begin to critically examine that hierarchy and the basis for the authority given to it.

#2 isn't effective.  When you don't validate people they typically don't change, they simply continue being the way they are in a different location.

#3 Validation is not equal to participation.

I may write more about this when time permits.