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About fralala

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    Hive Mind Queen Bee

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  1. I read this expecting to become overwhelmed by sadness, but her account made me hopeful. What a beautiful, perceptive, wise person has emerged from such incredible ugly, hurtful experiences. One line from her account struck me: "He always promoted his philosophy, showcasing the family as the living proof of the validity of his methods and beliefs." A reminder to me not to trust the perceptions and judgments I might experience related to other parents and their children.
  2. I think there might really be something to the idea that this kid could use older male mentors to be accountable to rather than his mom right now. And I like that this idea might keep him out of a potentially lousy school environment. I'm not so sure about slightly older peers doing the job; as a former peer tutor, I can tell you that most of the kids I worked with spent a whole lot of time trying to coerce me to do their work for themin various ways. Like many things that happened in school, peer tutoring made those of us who were responsible already even more mature and responsible, but didn't necessarily have the same effect on the kids who were being tutored. So maybe the question I would have for this kid, or any unmotivated kid, is what responsibility could he take on that would help him build that maturity and sense of responsibility from within? Janeway, you mentioned that he transforms positively when he's not using screens. And you also mention that ballet is an extremely positive experience for him (one of the reasons I'd really hesitate to threaten him with the loss of this activity). If you're up for it, I wonder if it might be helpful to write out all the positive and wonderful traits of this kid, the times when you do see him taking initiative and acting with maturity, or doing something nice for his siblings, or responding to you positively. What if the weight of cultural and academic expectations were totally off you and him-- what would he look like? What would be best for him? (Not saying you have to do that, but maybe reflecting on that will help you make a decision? You're the only one here that knows that kid. And it would be a good thing if he knew himself as that person, too.)
  3. Is anyone arguing that babies should be present for long periods of time in most workplaces? I think it's reasonable for people who can't take maternity leave and work long or odd hours not to be prohibited from feeding their babies at work. This measure, like the one prohibiting laptops on the floor, seems specific to the unique conditions of this particular position. Childcare is very different in the countries I've lived/traveled in that are generally held up as examples of great attachment parenting-- yes, older siblings sometimes are expected to care for children, but also grandparents, aunts and uncles, fictive of the hard things about raising kids here in the U.S. is that so much of a burden is put on parents' shoulders, and especially mothers. I think it's a good point that some of the "mothers can do it all" messages have been more stressful than empowering, but I'm not sure I see that actually happening in this case (or think I can judge whether any other mother experiences the choices she is juggling as stressful). We all have different thresholds. But yes, helping parents out is about more than just giving them rights. It is about actually creating a culture that supports parents. And part of creating that culture might include having legislators who are going through the hard stages of parenthood themselves-- even that discovery of just how little one can accomplish while the baby is nursing night and day.
  4. I'm curious about this attitude, which seems not uncommon. If you were going to do it again, can you imagine conditions that would have made being a working mother better for you, your family, and your child? There is and was a huge price to pay for prioritizing family, for mothers AND fathers. But there is also a huge price to pay for NOT prioritizing family, and relationships, and I think we have all been paying it for too long. Children. Mothers. Fathers. (Under)paid caregivers. Life is often unfair as we perceive it, but we can imagine circumstances in which people are happier, healthier, and more balanced, or if we can't, we can try to create the conditions for people who might.
  5. That's terrible! As someone who had ppd and am in favor of more care for new mothers, I think it demonstrates an absolute ignorance about this condition and the role of well baby visits to report new mothers. This is why I don't like threats of punishment as a tool to prevent abuse in general. Not only is it ineffective-- most people don't think they'll get caught, and learn to become trickier and more deceptive, or else they think it's worth it to take the risk-- it also limits the possibility that good people who would seek outside help are afraid to, because they don't want to lose their children.
  6. Janeway, is the primary issue here one of balancing your children's academic needs or their emotional needs? (Obviously, they both matter. But what do you perceive as the thing that needs to be attended to first?) I am almost certain we could figure out a way for you to do the former, but I think many of us rely on a lot of outside support for the latter, especially if one or more of our kids is struggling. It's hard to gain insight on what is best for our children when we are constantly stressed out and barraged by their demands-- do you have nearby friends or family who can help provide some of that love and attention they need while you reflect upon what kind of resources you need in order to continue? I am not sure if this is right or wrong, but I have come to feel that-- in terms of providing academics and attention-- I must be absolutely certain not to abide by either "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" OR "the wheel that never squeaks gets all my attention because I don't like greasing wheels anyway!" Not only that, but if I think it's just my job to take care of the wheels and forget that I'm a wheel myself, things fall apart. OK, that metaphor probably went on a little too long. Hope you all had a wonderful field trip!
  7. That's incredible and wonderful. My inclination would be to change nothing (unless he's asking for more) as whatever you've been doing seems to be inspiring him quite a bit! Not to mention scribing is pretty much the most encouraging and positive thing you can do with a child this age to make them feel their compositions are worthwhile. Is he taking any kind of music lessons or does he have access to an instrument?
  8. I think we must begin by asking, where are the places we first encounter the people who will become abusers, and when do we encounter them? And then we work on making those places more humane and supportive of developing humans who are prized not just for their mental capabilities, or their compliance, but who are truly valued and listened to as individuals, and who are slowly-- slowly and patiently-- given the skills one needs to discern between right and wrong, and to act accordingly. I believe that humane institutions are infectious, and inhumane institutions are, too. Abusers are a sign of what is wrong with us all. Our culture is creating a lot of habits that lead to a lot of unhappiness, discontent, and cruelty. And some of us who resist easy solutions are not trying to protect abusers. We are trying to say these are not the kinds of problems that can be solved on an individual basis, by trying to nose out and detect individual bad guys and punish them. I hope kids who were homeschooled and suffered keep talking to us, the homeschooled community. I hope we can listen to them and learn from them. I hope they can find healing in their action, and it is certainly better than inaction. But treating and raising our own families with love and respect is not inaction. Being a caring adult who is active in one's community, who attempts to be a kind and present mentor to the children one knows-- homeschooled or not-- is not inaction. Listening to and supporting other parents (who may be one's own wise mentors, or who might be stressed and overwhelmed and at the breaking point themselves) with love, not judgment, is not inaction. We can keep our eyes, minds, and hearts open without legislating, although legislating may help us feel like we've washed our hands of a problem and are now unburdened from responsibility for the abuse that continues-- and it will, as long as we live in a culture that devalues children, parents, and relationships. (I should note that, coming from a very difficult home life, the greatest influence on me was a relative who homeschooled all of her children but still made room for me in her house. This probably leads to my own bias toward valuing the role one loving and non-judgmental adult can make in a child's life, and it certainly must have influenced me to homeschool my own children. We are all shaped by our experiences thus. If I had been homeschooled and had the home life I did, I would probably be arguing in favor of mandatory home visits and psychological assessments for parents!)
  9. I guess a problem for me is that public schools, in their efforts to be accountable, have actually undertaken measures that seem to be hurting many of the individuals whom these measures are supposed to serve. As a homeschooler, the measures I take to be accountable to the state actually have nothing to do with the care and education I provide my kids. I am fortunate that these things only waste about 5 hours of our lives per kid, per year. But given that most of the public school parents I know profess to love their kids' teachers and love the schools but complain incessantly about the amount of time their kids spend being tested, I think it's pretty normal that homeschooled parents would also be suspicious of the benefit these measures will provide vs. their costs. The schools' method of accountability happens at the wrong end of things and punishes the wrong people. It's one of the reasons so many of us homeschool. I live in a great school district. Turns out, when push comes to shove, that I'd rather my kids spend more than 10 minutes daily playing outside than get the top math scores in the state. I don't want to support the culture of testing. Tests replicate inequities. They don't resolve them.
  10. It is partially contingent, I think, or even entirely contingent, on that complex mixture of your child's personality and vocabulary. My kids like using children's dictionaries for games and such, but they never actually contain the words we are looking for and we always end up resorting to my dictionary. So if your son is struggling with the kinds of words that would be in the children's dictionary, and if he has the patience and fortitude to look up words, this would be an excellent way for him to develop independence and dictionary skills. But at 6, nope, this would never work with any of my kids. It requires too much independence, maturity, and patience, and would frustrate them. I would be surprised if any 6 year old were able to complete much schoolwork independently, or were eager to outsource mom's role as spelling guide to a dictionary. Asking how to spell a word is asking to learn more, and demonstrating interest in doing things the right way-- the nice thing about spelling words out for a kid is that you don't have to just sit there, and you don't even have to be in the same room!
  11. Agree that it's not a moral failing. But I don't think the point is that it doesn't matter and one shouldn't care. People care about different things and are bothered by different things. I think about it this way. Our kids often have concerns and get extremely upset about things that we, honestly, cannot get. Things bother them that seem silly and inconsequential to us. And truthfully, we don't have to agree. We don't have to say, "You're right, it is absolutely a violation and terrible that your brother made a face at you." Likewise, however, it is unhelpful to say, "That's a stupid thing to get upset about. You need to learn to get over it." I think when I ask my kids to help me clean up they feel kind of like I do when they're complaining about someone making a face at them, or using their favorite pen. Like, seriously, you're getting all worked up about that? And inconveniencing me by seeking my help? It's not a moral failing that they don't do it without asking, but as long as there's someone in the house who doesn't like trash on the floor, you see a piece of trash and think, "Hey, that bothers Mom." And you pick it up. In return, I will help build a cereal box wall when your brother is making faces. Because I know. Averting your eyes only goes so far.
  12. Aw, it almost sounds like you're trying to take on too much right now. And I don't mean in terms of schoolwork (although my K-er definitely does way less than 1 hour). If I thought it was part of my job description to always know what came next for my kids, or to keep them entertained, I'd have gone crazy long ago. And while I don't like tantrums, sometimes immature people struggle with strong feelings. Siblings are constantly studying the fine art of getting along as well, and it's not always enjoyable for us parents, but better to do this all while you're young, right? I am not anti-screentime in general and understand desperate times/desperate measures, but I have gone through periods with certain kids when it was quite clear that even the possibility of screentime worsened their behavior and was detrimental to their ability to self-entertain, especially if they started getting the message that complaining about boredom or driving me crazy would be rewarded that way. Do you have a backyard? Or, like, a room where the kids can just bounce off the walls a little? (I think your kindergartener sounds pretty awesome with her talk about airplanes. Sometimes we're too busy to appreciate our own kids' coolness, especially when we crave silence, but being a chatterbox is usually a sign of joyfulness, so that is very sweet. Maybe get some big boxes and duct tape and let her build her own plane?)
  13. There is plenty of hope for your young children! I'm not so sure about your husband. Sorry, I need some emoticons here. I'm sure he's a nice guy and wants to help you out here, not blame you. But especially as it appears you have 3 sons, I would merely ask what kind of role modeling they see in their father. What does he do when he walks by a cracker or a piece of paper? Is there an attitude of, "Hey, it's our job to keep our house clean! We all help out! I am going to bend down and pick this up. I don't care who dropped it, I don't care who walked by it, I'm a man, and a father, and it's my responsibility to keep this place looking great." Or is an attitude of "Picking up stuff is a HORRIBLE BURDEN, no way am I going to pick up someone else's mess?" It's also pretty hard to teach the lesson about valuing stuff to people who have lots of stuff and are regularly adding more. One thing I do is gradually prune. If they miss something and are looking for it, it returns, but otherwise things go into the back of the car and are donated. I don't think kids need to always know we're teaching them a lesson, and it doesn't have to be done in a mean-spirited way. One potential result of always being on top of your kids to do things is that they will rebel once they are adults and have a little freedom to live in a pigsty. Another is that they will only be able to do things when reminded several times. Another is that they will develop relationships with partners who replicate the dynamic of constantly being on top of them to do things. The people whom I know who are most successful with eliciting cooperation from their kids w/ chores seem to be the families where both parents pitch in with good attitudes. My husband and I have a long way to go on the good attitudes thing, but we notice the more that we work on it, the better things get.
  14. Origami, tangrams, drawing and coloring tesselations on graph paper? I also like MFA Boston's geometry in art resources, although they're aimed at older kids.
  15. That's really rough. Those meds sound like they need adjustment, at the very least. While I agree with all the information about possible causes and the encouragement to see a doctor again, since you stated that she doesn't want you butting in with suggestions, I'm wondering what you can do to help motivate her without making her stop talking to you. In truth, whether she's depressed or has another medical condition, I'd say it's probably best with a young adult to follow your instincts and keep finding ways to show you care about her and are there for her without nagging-- sending care packages, writing letters, calling her just to say hi and ask how she's doing, etc. IOW, all the things you are obviously already doing since she is willing to talk to you about this. All the I want to help/how can I help? stuff that a mother does when we can't control the rest. (And my opinion is that even when everything else is horrible, there is a light in having a mother who loves you and is always there; and there is a light as a parent in keeping the lines of communication open.)
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