Monday, November 5, 2012

Where has humanity gone?

Okay, this one may be a doozy of a rant when all's said and done, because I am writing out of frustration and sadness, and just want to yell at all of humanity right now.  Yeah...I'm pretty fired up!

Where has humanity gone?  What about grace, mercy, the benefit of the doubt, and regard for other people's feelings, and even their very lives?

What is spurring me on to write this?  The comments to this story that I read on Facebook.  A woman was drunk, hit-and-ran a pedestrian, then tried to cover it up.  She was sentenced to 6 years in prison.

Yes, I realize that is a horrible, horrific, tragic thing to do.  And I don't disagree that she should have to serve time for killing someone.  But the comments made by others are so harsh, so judgmental, and so...just flat out mean...that I am sitting her asking myself, "Where has humanity gone?"  With the exception of my comment and one other (out of 50), everyone posted to the effect of, "kill her, fry her, she should've gotten life, eye for an eye, no sympathy for her...."  All the posts show no mercy whatsoever!  That makes me so sad and angry!

I don't care who you are or what you believe, but if you don't have a law degree and/or weren't sitting in that courtroom, then you have no right whatsoever to say such things!  You don't know the whole story, you haven't reviewed all the evidence - let's face it, you don't know how judicial law works (neither do I, and I'm not claiming that I do) - and most importantly, you don't know this woman or what happened that night! Who are you to say she deserves to die?  Did you witness her crime with your very own eyes?  Are you a judge?  Are you a lawyer?  Are you the victim?  Are you God Himself?  What gives you the right, then, to play judge - or worse, play God - and say this woman should be shown no mercy?

But what bothers me even more is that I believe this is a good window into the souls of Americans.  And what's so haunting to me about that is, its clear that only 2 people out of 55 (so, less than 4% of the population) can think objectively and give someone the benefit of the doubt.  Less than 4% of people are willing to extend grace and mercy to another human being, no strings attached.

That scares me.  A lot.  To me, that speaks volumes of the hearts and humanity - or, rather, utter lack thereof - that exists in most people.

From a government standpoint, if we commit a crime, we are all afforded a trial in a court of law.  Thank God its not a court of public opinion, because our prison system would be one big revolving door of death!  Let's think really long and hard here....  Is that really what we want?  Do we really want a justice system that, essentially, reverts back to the days of witch trials?  The mentality I'm getting from what I read through is such that the justice system is wrong if the public doesn't like the outcome, and the perpetrator should be dragged out of jail into the streets and publicly guillotined because the general public is underwhelmed by the verdict.  No regard for real justice, and no regard for someone's freedom and/or life.  If we say we support our constitution, our American justice system, and a fair trial, then how can we also be so quick - in our own hearts and minds - to play judge, and "convict" someone and "sentence them to death" just because the little 2-minute news blurb we heard made it sound shocking?  (Newsflash: That is the media's job!  Read between the lines, people!)  If we say we support "innocent until proven guilty," then how can we turn around and "convict" someone without knowing all the evidence?  We can't.  So we shouldn't.

From a Christian standpoint, if you are a believer, then aren't you called to extend mercy and grace to all people?  Its not a pick and choose system.  Jesus called us to love the unlovable, and extend grace to the vile.  We aren't called to play judge.  And we certainly aren't called to wish death upon anyone else, no matter what they've done.  Justice and life/death decisions are for the court to sort out.  Let the court do what its designed to do.  We are called to extend grace and mercy to all people, regardless of who they are or what they've done.  That is what Christ has done for us, and if we profess to be believers - representatives of Him - then we'd best be doing that, too.

And just from a humanity standpoint, truly, what kind of people does it make us if we can't be merciful and peaceful?  As Ghandi said, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."  Without grace and mercy, we are not the advanced specie we claim to be.  We are savages, no more evolved than cavemen.

If this lack of grace and mercy, and utter disregard for others' feelings and lives continues, I fear for our future and our society.  I fear for our justice system, the hearts and motives of Christians, and the hearts and motives of humanity in general.

This probably made little to no sense to anyone out there, but I needed to get it off my chest.  And hopefully I've made someone think, because its clear to me that there's too much judging, and too little compassionate, critical thinking going on.  And if I am wrong, I hope your actions will prove me wrong, and I'll begin seeing a lot more compassion and a lot less cruel, heartless judging going on.

What do you think?  Am I just being a peace-loving, idealistic hippie again, or do I make a valid point?  Thoughts?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

(A Feeble Attempt At A) Survival Guide To A Bipartisan Marriage

Okay, to preface, my husband and I are not bipartisan in the split 2-party, one is a Democrat, the other is a Republican sense of the term.  My husband is a Republican and I am a Libertarian.  This brings a whole different level of difficult into the mix, because on some issues we are on the same page, and others, we're on polar opposite ends of the political spectrum.  I am not going to delve into where we stand on each and every little issue, policy, or politician, because that would take all day, and is completely irrelevant to the topic at hand anyway.

Over the years I have searched the 'net for articles, links, blog posts...something....anything....that was a good guide to go off of for how to navigate a bi-partisan marriage.  Everything I have found has been, in my opinion, not very thorough, and because its dealing with people who are on completely opposite ends of the spectrum and written by people who work for online magazines and have to keep it "fluffy," I feel like they aren't very "real."  They talk about spouses arguing about one particular candidate, or one specific issue, or one particular election.  But for my husband and I, our split views extend beyond any particular candidate, touch more than one issue, and once this upcoming election is over, regardless of who wins, our differences will remain.  Buttons will continue to get pushed, things will continue to ruffle our feathers, and we will have to continue to navigate our differing political opinions.

All of the articles I read had a nice "happy ending."  Sorry.  In the "real world," with someone who isn't getting paid thousands of dollars to sit down and write about this issue, you are going to hear the truth.  I have no agenda but to share my honest experiences and opinions, so I have nothing to lose if people don't want to hear the truth.

So here is my list - my "survival guide" - to managing my bipartisan marriage.  These are in no particular order other than the order they popped into my head.  No one point is any more or less important than any other on this list.  And this is by no means a conclusive list.  I am sure there are many other points, and I may add some to this blog in the future.  But here's what I have for now, and I think its a pretty good list.  At least for myself, if nobody else.  (I also think these principles can be applied to handling differing opinions with anyone close to you - parents, teen/grown children, siblings, friends, co-workers....)

#1 -- Come to terms with the fact that its going to be an ongoing issue.
Let's be honest.  You can't just get through one election or issue, and then....*poof!*....your political ideologies somehow magically align, and you never disagree again.  That's utterly ridiculous!  Its ridiculous, because you're dealing with deeply personal beliefs; beliefs that have formed out of decades of societal shaping and personal experiences.  No two peoples' upbringings, social circles, or life experiences are ever going to be exactly the same, so its naive to think that any two people will ever think completely alike on political matters....or anything, for that matter.  So to expect those beliefs to change, to just magically, suddenly gel with yours, is completely ridiculous!  You cannot undo in a day what has taken decades to form!  You know nobody could undo your belief system in a day, so to expect that of someone else is just as crazy.  How do I know this?  Because on the eve of the November 2008 election, as soon as the results were in that Obama had won, my husband and I had a huge blow-up over the results!  The results being in may have brought a "resolution" to the election, but it was far from bringing a resolution to our differing opinions.  In fact, if anything, it only threw a few thousands more logs on that fire!

#2 -- Quit thinking you can change your spouse's mind.
This is kind of an extension of the last one, but again, you can't undo in a day - or even a week, month, year, or decade - what has taken decades of life experiences to establish.  You just can't.  Furthermore, your spouse is who they are.  You love them for who they are, right?  Then you need to accept that they are a different person, with a different upbringing and different life experiences, and that has shaped their views.  If you don't accept it, then in essence, you aren't accepting your spouse for who they are, and it sends the message that you think everything they've experienced is "wrong," since you are treating their views as "wrong."  You don't have to agree with their views, but you do have to respect the fact that their views are just as sacred to them as yours are to you.  When you try and change your spouse's mind, then you aren't respecting them and the life experiences that have led them to hold the beliefs they hold.  Instead of expending so much energy pointing out every single way you think their thinking is wrong, why don't you take the time to listen (make sure to bite your tongue) and at least try and understand why they believe what they believe, and what has brought them to that belief.  You still don't have to agree, but at least you'll have some much-needed insight, and you won't leave your spouse feeling disrespected in the process.

#3 -- Don't talk politics at the dinner table.  (Especially if you have children!)
A few years ago, we had to implement a "no politics at the dinner table" rule.  We would talk politics at the table so often that we began to miss those sweet moments hearing about each other's day, and what was going on with our kids.  Instead, dinnertime was turned it into this heated, intense - and, for our children, awkward - part of the evening that would often end in raised voices, and sometimes full-on arguments.  I guess the deeper issue with this one is, don't let politics hijack more important moments on the home front.  If political debates (which often turn into arguments) are taking time and attention away from truly connecting with each other and your children, then it has crossed a line.  Set some boundaries and stick to them!

#4 -- Don't ambush each other.
This is similar to the one above, in that, its about setting parameters.  Probably the single most-likely-to-make-us-argue-about-politics-instead-of-discuss-it-civilly offense is what I call ambushing.  You know...  You read a politically-related article online (or talk to a friend, or read something on Facebook...) that really gets you fired up about something.  You know your spouse has a differing opinion, and this is "proof" of how wrong it is, so you just have to point it out to them, to "prove" to them that you are "right" and they are "wrong."  I guarantee - to the point I would put money on it, and I am not a betting person - that your spouse won't be responsive to your ambush!  Nobody likes waking up in the morning and immediately having their viewpoints attacked.  Nobody likes walking in the door after an exhausting day at work to this either.  Or listening to it while they're trying to fall asleep.  Its not at all pleasant, and let's be honest, you know its not going to be a productive conversation!  Rarely, if ever, is anyone swayed by you getting up in their face and questioning their beliefs when they least expect it.  Trust me, the only thing it ever produces in my house is an argument.  Save yourself and your spouse both the trouble - just don't even go there.

#5 -- Avoid the "hot buttons" like the plague.
I probably don't need to explain, but the "hot buttons" are the issues that you are most passionately polar opposite on.  For us, its anything and everything related to war and the Middle East.  Inevitably, if this topic comes up, it gets ugly.  Sure, it still gets brought up (by both of us) now and then, but we've both gotten better in the past 4-6 months at saying, "Okay, we aren't going to see eye to eye on this.  We're not discussing this further."  He can have his viewpoints and I can have mine.  Its clear neither of us are going to budge, we're just going to butt heads, raise our voices, get our feelings hurt (well, me at least), and end up mad at each other, so we need to just not even go there.  Its better to just avoid that topic, or shut it down when it comes up, than argue til we're blue in the face and end up mad at each other all day.

#6 -- Try not to sway your children.
This is probably the trickiest one for me.  My almost-11 year old son likes to talk politics with me, and so he has begun to form political opinions very much like my own.  Part of me wants to yell, "Woohoo!"  But part of me also feels like I have failed to teach him to think objectively.  I want him to hear and consider his dad's views as much as mine.  I don't want to sway him to only my way of thinking, because I know to my husband (and the outside world), it probably looks like I am telling him what to believe, and that only my way is "right."  Which is anything but my goal!  Ultimately, I want my kids to grow up to consider all sides of all the politicians and issues out there, and I don't want my husband (or anyone else) to think I am pitting his son against him politically.  I am working at trying to encourage my son to have these discussions with his dad, too.  Beyond that, I am still trying to work out the bugs on how to navigate this issue.  I just know that is isn't healthy to tell your kids to think, believe, and do exactly like you do.  I want my children to be open-minded and form their own, educated opinions for themselves.

#7 -- Avoid personal attacks.
This one is so "no duh," that I wondered if I even needed to include it.  But considering its one I struggle with a lot, I think that it needs to be in here.  I do think its the most obvious one on the list, but I also think its probably the toughest one to avoid when you are in the heat of the debate.  Its so easy to fall into saying things like, "You're wrong," "You're off-base."  "Where did you hear that fact?"  And so on and so forth.  Anything that insults your spouse is not okay.  To imply they aren't as informed as you are, or that they aren't as capable of forming intelligent opinions is over the line.  And I say this as a woman who is very guilty of doing this on multiple occasions.  It hurts your spouse, it hurts your marriage, it sets a bad example for your children, and after the whole issue has blown over, you end up feeling like a terrible person.  Trust me, its not worth it.  If you can't debate civilly, then keep your mouth shut.  If it starts to get ugly, walk away.  Don't stoop to personal attacks.  You will regret it.

Again, this is by no means a list that covers everything, but here it is.  My feeble attempt at a survival guide to bipartisan marriage.

Do you think I missed anything important?  How do you handle political discord with your spouse?  Any advice for me?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


This has been one of those weeks (or two or three...) that have really had me focused on the concept of "purpose."

I have been fortunate, in that, I have always felt that I have a purpose, and have always had a clear idea of what that is.  Like everyone, I have had my moments, days, weeks, and even months when I've thought, "Why am I here?  What am I supposed to be doing?  Am I doing the right things?  Is my life moving in the direction it should be?"  But I have always come back to a sense of peace about my choices, my life, and my reason for being.

I believe everyone has a purpose.  I don't believe there is a single person who's been put on this earth by accident.  Not for a second.  I do believe, though, that there are a lot of people who have never paused to reflect and figure out what it is.  I also think, based on my experiences with different people, that there are people out there who think we're all ordained for the same purpose.  My opinion is, we're not.

I can't define anyone else's purpose, and nobody else can define mine.  I don't think I can even fully define my own with words.  But I do think that at the heart of every life's purpose should be humanity and love for others, and making the world a better place.

purpose, in my opinion, isn't just self-serving.  Sure, we all love notoriety - that pat on the back when we win an award, or graduate college with honors, or earn a promotion - but if all we ever do and achieve in life is for ourselves, then I believe the true purpose has been missed.  Purpose has to be about making a difference.

I also believe that our purpose doesn't have to be outwardly grandiose.  I would love to do something outwardly grandiose, such as ministry and humanitarian aid in a war-torn, Muslim nation.  (Call me crazy, but I really, really would like to do that!)  But for me and my life, in there here and now, being a mother to 3 young kids, that's just not practical.  That's not the path that has been laid out for me 
(or at least not right now).  For me, in my life, right here and right now, I believe my purpose lies in raising kids that are kind-hearted, loving, caring individuals who will impact their world in a positive way, taking care of people in my own community, and being the most supportive mother, wife, sister, friend, and neighbor I can possibly be.  There's nothing about that, that is flashy or showy.  Nothing that makes me look good on paper.  No monetary gain, and usually nothing given in return.  Nothing that says, "Congratulations, Megan, you accomplished something great."

But you know what?  It fulfills me.  I wake up every morning happy to have the life I have, and happy to make the small differences I can.  I believe a smile to a stranger in a grocery store can be a powerful thing.  I believe giving a kid at the elementary school something to laugh about is important.  I believe raising my kids to unconditionally love and respect other people is the biggest gift I can give the world.  And so those are the things I do.

That is me, though.  I recognize that some people don't have kids, or don't enjoy being with them.  I understand that some people (including my better half) are painfully shy, and to them talking to and smiling at random strangers feels just plain weird and creepy.  And I know some people truly are destined to do the "big things"; to be the leaders, activists, lobbyists, missionaries, politicians....  So do it!  Whatever your calling in life is - whatever you feel you were put on this earth to do to make life better for others, be it grandiose or not - go do it!

When you start living with a sense of true, selfless purpose, you will feel more fulfilled yourself.  I know it sounds simple...or cliche...or...whatever....but I do believe that.  Perhaps the most "fulfilled" individuals I know aren't the ones with huge houses, the latest iPhones and whatnot, fancy cars, and lucrative jobs.  They are, instead, just regular, "average Joe" people who love life and love others and know passionately what they were put on this earth to do.  And some of the most "miserable" people I know are people who have lots of friends, money, and toys, but just float by day to day going through the motions.

I'm not saying we should blow off working, paying bills, and being responsible, or that we should sell off our "toys," move somewhere else, or...anything else.  We have to be realistic.  But within any life, underneath all the day-to-days, is something we are truly meant to do to make this world better.  And w
e don't always have to do it "right" - we just have to do it.  Because if we don't, then we sell ourselves and our world short of what only we can offer.  I can't do what you are meant to do, and you can't do what I am meant to do.  Only you have your specific talents, gifts, and unique personality traits that make you the perfect person to live out your specific purpose.

I'm not claiming to have all the answers to life's existential questions.  But I do know that being in touch with your true purpose and pursuing is passionately is the key thing to living a life that fulfills you (and others).  I work every day to strengthen my own sense of purpose and live for it.  Its not always fun, its not always easy, and it definitely can be monotonous (another episode of Blue's Clues, anyone?), but its worth it.  

How about you?  Do you know what your true purpose is?  Are you living it?  What changes do you need to make to take it to the next level?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Its people like you...

I had a run in with some rude people on the beach yesterday who decided to loudly vocalize their disapproval over the way I was handling a situation with my friend's daughter.  I'd like to tell you all I handled their outburst with class and grace, but that wouldn't exactly be the truth.  I didn't cuss the people out or anything, but I did at one point call them idiots (words I regretted as soon as they fell from my lips), and I just generally lost my cool.

I have been reflecting on the whole situation since it happened, and while I do take full responsibility for my own words and reactions, it has occurred to me that this happens frequently.  Not just to me, but also to a number of moms I know.  Good moms!  Moms like me.  And, I'd imagine, it probably happens to dads, too.

So here is the point I want to get across. When people butt into my business - or the business of other parents just like me - and tell me exactly what they (who don't even know me) think about how I handle my children and my business - and with a 10 second glimpse into my parenting life jump to the worst possible conclusion about me - well, they kind of create the moment for themselves.  So to those people, I would like to say this:

When you call me out, assuming I am being negligent, it takes my attention away from my kids, and does, in fact, make me negligent.  When I have to shift my focus off them and on to dealing with you, I am going to look like I am not in control of them.

When you taunt me and goad me into a war of words, it is going to make me look bad.  It is going to "prove" to you what a bad influence I am on my kids.  I am going to overreact and I am going to look stupid.  Ultimately my own fault, yes, but nevertheless...  If you want to see the worst in me, by all means, call my parenting into question.

When I hear your judging words and feel your judging eyes, it will make me flustered, and I am not going to handle a situation with the same cool, calm nature that I usually do.  When you make me feel like I am not doing things "right," then I will fumble, and I probably won't handle them "right."

When you make sarcastic remarks about what a "great parent" I am, I will feel the need to defend myself.  And when I get defensive, I usually say and do things I normally wouldn't.  The bad role model will come out.  Not that I want it to, but when I feel like you are backing me up against a wall, what else would anyone expect?

When you put the pressure on me, I am going to react.  And probably not well.


So, you see, its people like you that make me - and other great parents like me - act that way.  Its people like you that make it so much harder to be a parent in the first place.  Its comments and actions like yours that make me involuntarily flip the "bad mommy" switch.  Its people like you that bring out the worst in my behavior and make me a bad role model.

If you want to see a parent at their worst, then publicly call their parenting into question.  You will create your own "reality"; a 60-second highlight reel of all my poor behaviors rolled into one messy little mommy meltdown.  Forget about the other 86,340 seconds of my day when I am actually on good behavior, diligently watching my kids, treating them with love and concern, and setting a good example of how to be a kind, compassionate, tolerant, model citizen.  ....But no.  You don't want to see that.  You want to put the spotlight on what you perceive as my parental imperfections, and miss all the good that is me as a mom, choosing instead to provoke the "bad mommy" in me.

So yeah...  You get what you ask for.  You want to see a mom on bad behavior?  Then state your opinion.  Loudly.  And publicly.  Question me.  Taunt me.  Throw judgmental, sarcastic remarks my way.

But if you want to see a real, good, loving, carefree, and wonderful mommy, then keep your mouth shut!  Let me do what I do, sit back, and enjoy the show.

How about you?  How do you handle it when people judge and question you about your parenting (or anything, really)?  How would you have handled this type of situation?

Monday, September 17, 2012

"Because _____ told me so."

I would like to address something that is hard to address.  Its a mentality.  What it is, is this.  Far too many people think, feel, vote, believe, and value as those around them think, feel, vote, believe and value.  They never stop and question for themselves.  They never take that step back and ask the simple, but tough, question, "Why?"  Or, if pressed to answer that question, repond with a pat answer, such as, "because that's what my religion says," or, "because I'm a Republican," or, "because that's the way I was raised."

Listen up, folks.  You aren't your religion, you aren't your political party, you aren't your church, your friends, or your parents.  They are all parts of you, but they aren't you.  You have to be you, and think for yourself.

A year or so ago, I was watching a show on Netflix.  There was a woman on there who was opposing the right for gay people to adopt children.  When pressed by two gay men with children as to her reasoning (which they asked quite nicely), her only response was, "Well, my religion says its wrong."  I kept waiting for her to come up with her own, personal reason, but she kept going to the pat answer of, "because my religion says its wrong."

Being an election year, I keep hearing all sorts of arguments people are making for/against a political candidate, based on what the media/their particular political camp is feeding them.  False, or at best, twisted, information which is clearly (to me) a regurgitation of something they heard somewhere.  I'm sorry.  If the best argument you can give me as to why not to vote for Obama is because someone in Romney's camp told you that Obama is a horrible guy, then forgive me for ignoring you.  If the best you've got is not coming out of your own brain and mouth, then I probably won't consider the point you're trying to make.

Before I start sounding all self-righteous or whatever, as many people who know me personally, or have read my blog extensively, know, I once fell into that thinking.  For years, I ran in circles where I was taught that it was dangerous to question things.  Having lived both in, and now out of, those circles, I would say that's completely untrue.  It is far more dangerous not to question things.  I have told people numerous times (in this blog, in fact, if I'm not mistaken) that I believe in order to establish what you do believe, you have to also understand what you don't believe, and the only way to do that is to ask questions, of both your innermost self, and your world.

In my early days as a Christian, I believed every word that proceeded from the pulpit - or any Christian's mouth, really - as God-honest, gospel truth.  Political statements from the pulpit, I didn't question.  Stances on social issues, I didn't question.  I lapped it up like honey, even if it didn't "taste just right."  I adopted the political party I was fed (Republican).  I adopted views and behaviors that I didn't want to own, but was convinced I had to.

But somewhere inside, fortunately, the free thinker was still there.  I finally "woke up" and realized I had to have my own beliefs.  (God bless my parents, because they raised me that way!)  I had to question, I had to know, and I had to drop the "because _____ told me so" answer to everything.

My beliefs are mine now.  If you ask me a question - political, religious, moral, ethical, or otherwise - I will have an answer for you.  My own answer.  Not an answer based on how I was raised (I differ both religiously and politically from my parents), my church's doctrine, a book I read, what a friend told me....or anything else.

Okay, maybe this will sound harsh, but what those pat answers tell me is that a person is too apathetic to do their own thinking and introspecting.  Yes, it is hard to do that work.  Yes, it can be scary to ask questions or go against the grain.  But it is necessary!

I think this mentality bothers me more than ever now that we are 7 short weeks out from an election.  I would have to say that the people I have talked politics with are 50/50 when it comes to what they believe and why.  50% know what they believe on every issue and why.  They make no excuses or apologies for their beliefs.  Even though I disagree with most on one issue or another, I respect them a lot for having a well thought out, personal perspective.  The other 50%, I get the impression, are only voting the way they are voting because of their spouse, their religious affiliation, the way they were raised (how their parents have always voted), what the media is feeding them, or because they belong to one political party or another.  They don't own their own choices.

I guess that's what I'm getting at - people need to own their opinions.  If you are voting how a political party tells you to vote, then that party owns your vote.  If you are voting based on the attitudes of your church, then the church owns your vote.  If you are voting the way your parents raised you to vote, then your parents own that vote.  You need to have ownership over your own thoughts and beliefs!  Otherwise, let's be real, you aren't voting with your own convictions, you are voting with what others have told you your convictions should be, according to them.

This same principle goes for religion, morals, ethics, etc.  You are living your life - own it!  Know your beliefs, and know why you believe them.  "Because ____ told me so" isn't good enough.

So I urge you, readers, to ask yourself the hard questions.  Ask yourself why you believe what you believe about politics.  If its "because ____ told me so," then I think some re-evaluation is in order.  Be true to yourself!  Ask yourself why you believe what you believe religiously.  If your answer is simply, "it was how I was raised," or, "because the Bible (or any other religious writing) tells me so," then that's not good enough.  How is it personal to you?  Ask yourself why you believe what you believe, come to your own conclusions, and own it.  Make no apologies for it, and make no excuses why you can't or won't.  Its important.  More important than you can imagine!

I fully recognize I may get some backlash for writing this, but I felt it needed to be said.  I lived too many years of my life piggy-backing off the beliefs of other people, and I paid for it.  I don't want others to wake up one day and realize others have ownership over their beliefs - its not worth it.

What about you?  Can you say with 100% certainty that you own your own beliefs?  Do you agree with what I've written here, or disagree?  What are your thoughts?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Granola Girl marries Country Boy....and then they have children

Suffice it to say, my husband and I are very different people.  Very different.  Somehow, in spite of it all, our marriage works, but it is difficult at times to have very different beliefs on pretty major things.

I am a tofu-lovin' vegetarian, and he is a meat-and-potatoes man through-and-through.

I am a Libertarian, and he's a hard-core Republican.  (So, some things we agree on, but most things, not at all!  I'm not going to get into where we stand on every single issue because you'd be here a while.  But if you want to know where I stand, read through my political blogs.)

I'm musical and artsy, and my husband is more mechanical.

He loves guns, and I want them as far away from me as possible.

He loves to hunt, and I think its disgusting.

He wants a motorcycle, and I think they're dangerous.

He loves country and 80's rock, and I think they're awful.  Likewise, I love reggae and opera and they make him want to wear ear plugs.

And the list goes on and on....

Having dated and gotten married so young, in the beginning it was all love and sunshine and roses, and the differences didn't really factor in a whole lot.  We certainly never argued about politics, or guns in the house, or what dinner was comprised of.  Or, at least, if we did, I don't remember it.

For a while, I conformed myself to my husband's ways of thinking, believing that was the appropriate thing to do for a "harmonious Christian marriage."  And for a long time, it worked.  Sort of.  We had a "harmonious Christian marriage," we didn't argue over fundamental beliefs.  How can you, when you think exactly the same way as your spouse on every level?  But eventually that stopped working.  Through a series of personal events and introspection, I decided that I was going to accept myself as an intelligent woman with a brain independent of my husband, embrace my own ideas, and stick to my guns, regardless of whether that was well-received or not.

The marital frustrations it causes aside, in its own unique way, I think it has actually given us an edge in the parenting arena.  Rather than being spoon-fed a set of "family rules" for beliefs and values, our kids are actually going to have to think and come to their own conclusions about life and their own preferences and beliefs.  And personally, I think that is far healthier than "hand me down" beliefs; the beliefs that are your beliefs because your parents drilled them into your head and you've never bothered to question for yourself.  Our kids are going to have to form their own opinions, and I think that's a good thing.

At age (almost) 8, my daughter has already decided that she would like to be a vegetarian.  She hasn't gone cold turkey, but is slowly phasing the meat out.  I have never pushed her to be a vegetarian, she just prefers my tofu and veggie burgers over her dad's steaks and cheeseburgers.  My 10 year old son, on the other hand, hates tofu with a passion and would take a juicy burger over just about anything.

So far, my son leans more toward my political views than his dad's, but he's only 10 and that may very well change.  And if it does, that's fine. Heck, even if he goes a different route than mine or my husband's, as long as I am fairly confident he made his decisions thoughtfully I'll be proud of him and respect his views.

Musically, both my older kids are pretty eclectic.  My son likes pop, his dad's 80's music, and my reggae.  My daughter likes pop and my indie stuff.

My son wants to shoot guns and hunt.  I fear for his life (though I wholeheartedly trust my husband to keep him safe), but if that's what he wants to do, then great.

My point is, our kids will have to be free thinkers.  We'll tell them what we (individually) believe and why, but in having our own differing opinions, there is no way we can make their minds up for them.  In getting multiple viewpoints in their own home, they will have to come to their own conclusions.  It means our kids will have to be more intelligent and more in tune with themselves and their world.  It means the foundation of their beliefs will have to be more solid and independent.  It means they'll have to research and try things out for themselves.  It means they'll be more well-rounded, having been been exposed to and having experienced more.  And I hope and pray all of those things will make them more tolerant of other people, ideas, and situations.

It will be interesting to watch them come into their own beliefs, and I am excited to watch it all unfold.  They'll be their own people, and I couldn't hope for anything different.  I don't want my kids to be clones.  I want them to be....them.

Do you and your spouse differ on any big issues?  How do you navigate it with eachother?  How do you navigate it with your kids?  Any thoughts?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Going viral

I just have to say, having one of my posts go viral was a very humbling experience for me.  Its made me think a lot about what is in my heart, what I want to share with the world, and how I am going to convey it.

I need to give credit where credit is due.  My good friend, Logan, is responsible for getting my post so many views.  He read what I'd written, and decided it was an important enough message to share with others, so he submitted it to a larger blog with lots of traffic.  He didn't even expect them to post my link!  And of all the submissions that blog gets everyday, we were both totally shocked when we realized the owner of the larger site had seen some value in the content I'd written and decided it was worth giving a broader audience.

I have been blogging for years, and have always hoped something would touch a large number of people in a big way.  But let's face it.  There are probably hundreds of millions of bloggers around the world, the odds of that ever happening were slim to none, and more likely none.  So I changed my philosophy pretty early on.  I decided that it was okay if only a few people ever read my words, as long as whatever I wrote was straight from my heart, and (hopefully) made people think about their world, their views, and the way they treat others.  I wasn't out to try and change anyone's mind, I just wanted to make people think.

I think what was most humbling of all had nothing to do with sheer numbers.  It was that someone believed in me and thought what I had to say was so valuable that others needed to read it, too.  There is something very beautiful in that; having someone believe in you that much.  And it was so validating to know that others actually wanted to hear what I had to say.

That particular post was written out of a place of maternal frustration, pain, and heartache.  I didn't ever fathom it would touch people who weren't parents, much less have them identify with it in such a way that they did.  I guess I didn't give myself - or my readers - enough credit on that one.  But it made me realize that I do have the ability to touch others with what I have to say, and that people are able to make of it what their minds and hearts need.

Out of that post, I have heard stories of others' heartaches with bullying, the dark places they've been, the resulting "phoenix experiences" from the hardships, and just the challenges of being "different."  I don't know if it was healing for others to know that others have been there, too, but it was very healing for me, both as a mother, and as a "different person" myself.  It was good for me to know that I am not alone, and never have been.  And I hope that others knowing they aren't alone was healing for them as well.

I know most of those who read that post will never lay eyes on my blog again.  I'm not going to lie, there is a part of me that is bummed out about that.  I enjoyed my "15 minutes."  (I'm a Type A personality, what can I say?)  But overall, I am satisfied and at peace, knowing that something, at some point, spoke to so many people.  I will continue with the same mindset I began blogging with four years ago, of not of writing for the masses, but writing what matters.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Principles or people?

This post is a long time in the making, though its taken me a while (months) to actually get my thoughts together enough to put it down in writing.  The subject matter of this post comes from a place of hurt, frustration, sadness, resentment, and bitterness, but I have come far enough in my own healing process that I feel like I can finally tackle it.  And I feel it needs to be said, because I know far too many people out there who, though circumstances may differ, have been through similar experiences and had to grapple with the same pain I have had to endure.

As can be deciphered from reading a lot of my former posts, I had a former church experience that left me feeling battered, bruised, and knocked down.  I never walked away from my faith, but I did eventually walk away from that environment, and I feel no regret for doing so.  The healing process has been long and difficult, but I'm getting there.  My wonderful current pastor said that I needed to look at it for what it was - a traumatic experience - and deal with it and go through the same healing process as anyone else who's gone through any other traumatic experience.  Something about looking at it that way has helped me put everything into perspective and deal with it in a more healing manner, and less in a "stuck in pain" manner.  I feel I am finally moving forward, finally unafraid, and that feels fantastic!

The biggest source of bitterness I've had to overcome is something I have coined "principles over people."  The root of everything I dealt with is that people chose their own principles over me as a person.  I was going through a "perfect storm" of personal crisis - the worse depressive episode of my life, and the height of my sister's addiction - and the people I turned to for help had nothing positive or uplifting to say.  Instead, they bagged on the 12-step program from the pulpit and to my face.  They relentlessly threw the Bible at me, telling me I shouldn't be on antidepressants; that doing so, essentially, made me a Christian of "weak faith."  My parenting was questioned.  My every thought, feeling, and action were picked apart bit by bit til I was completely raw and broken.

Having gone through the pain of all that, I will never understand how people can choose their principles over the well-being of another person.  I just don't get it.  In my experience, that is the coldest, most cruel attitude anyone can possibly have toward another human being!  That is the most harmful, abusive attitude , in my opinion, that anyone can possess.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I am all for having principles.  I'm a Christian and strive to live a godly life.  But the difference is, my goal is always to choose people first.  Which is a very godly principle in and of itself.  Jesus was asked by His disciples:

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."  (Matthew 22:36-40)

All the Law hang on these two commandments!  Basically, the rest of your principles are all well and good, but the basis of everything should be love!  Its not about what you do or don't do, or what you do or don't believe, its about operating in love and respect in everything you do.  Everything else is kind of irrelevant.

Now, I'm not saying that we have to agree with everything or tolerate everything others do, but we do still have to operate in love, respect, kindness, and tolerance for others, regardless of our own feelings.  And no, that's not easy.

And I believe these are truths that extend far beyond church pews, because the bottom line is, everyone would like to be - and should be - treated with the same level of respect.  Period.  Whether you believe in the principles of the Bible, or just the "Golden Rule," I think we can all agree that at the core of every heart, all anyone wants is love and respect.  And if that's the deepest need of your own heart, then chances are, its the deepest need of your friends, neighbors, co-workers, acquaintances, strangers in the grocery store, and even people you have very different views from.  Everyone deserves to be treated as a worthwhile, wonderful human being!

I think the most heartbreaking "principles over people" situations comes from parents.  Parents, these are your children!  You were put on this earth for the sole purpose of loving them, nurturing them, and caring for them!  Your principles are fine and dandy, but if your children don't have your unconditional love, regardless of who they are or what they do, then who/what do they have?  Consider all the alternatives you can think of...  Its a scary thought.

It breaks my heart when I hear of teens that get pregnant because they're too afraid to talk to their parents about their desire to have sex, for fear that their parents will choose their principles over their own child.  A good portion of the girls who got pregnant when I was in high school came from very strict, legalistic Christian homes, and I can't help but wonder if it was because they were too scared to talk to their parents about it.  I pray that my children wait til marriage to have sex - that is the godly expectation I hope and pray they live up to - but I would rather my kids come and talk to me and let me help them - free of any judgment, and acting purely in my love for them - than be blindsided with an out-of-the-blue announcement that my child is going to be a teen parent.

I also know people who've stayed "in the closet" for fear of their parents' rejection.  I know of people who've been completely ostracized, or even banished, from their family because of their sexual orientation.  Regardless of how I or anyone else feels about homosexuality, I cannot even begin to wrap my brain around rejecting your own child!  No, having a gay child wouldn't be easy, but its still your child, and your job will always be to love them no matter what!

No matter who you are or what you believe, though, the message remains the same.  We were put on this earth to care for one another, to lighten each others' loads, to extend help, smiles, and kind words of encouragement.  We weren't put on this earth to judge, cast out, or hurt each other.  At the core of our every action taken or word spoken toward another human being, should be love.  We don't have to agree with someone - we can still think they're completely off their rocker - but we do have to operate out of respect and kindness toward them, regardless of who they are, how they live, the choices they make, the religion they adhere to, the part of the world they come from, the beliefs they hold...  Its not an easy thing to do, but its crucial that we at least try.

Have you ever been treated as less than a person due to someone else's principles?  How did you respond?  Any other thoughts?  I'd love your feedback!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Public schooling doesn't make me a bad parent!

Okay, I just have to address this, because, well, I do. I am hoping this doesn't come off as a terrible rant or offend people, but I feel like I need to be the voice for many a public schooling Christian parent.

 Public schooling doesn't make me a bad parent!

Just so we're clear, nobody has ever directly accused me of this, but there are undertones I hear in others' conversations; condescending tones, indirect jabs, sarcastic remarks, questioning of the morals of parents who subject their children to "the horrors of the secular world"... It gets old, and its hurtful. There. I said it.

I also need to point out that, prior to my son turning 5 and having to actually make tangible decisions about the schooling of my children, I, too, was on that bandwagon. The attitudes of the majority of Christians I knew was that homeschooling was the "right" - dare I say, the "godly" - thing to do, and public schooling was "wrong," and practically neglectful parenting. There was a clear notion that only "bad" or "lazy" parents who didn't really care about their kids' education and spiritual well-being public schooled their kids. And I bought it. I truly began to believe that I had to homeschool if I was a "good" Christian parent.

Then reality set in. Private Christian school is outrageously expensive and would've been a good half-hour drive each way from where we were living when my son started kindergarten (and we only live 5 minutes closer now).  I'm a stay-at-home mom, I could handle driving him back and forth, but that would take a lot of time out of my day.

Homeschooling, I then decided, was also out of the question.  Observing my son at preschool, I realized that he did better when he spent some time each day away from me, and likewise, I spent time away from him.  We both love each other immeasurably, but having our own time and space on a daily basis seemed to be very good for our mother-son relationship.  Another factor is that I am a very undisciplined person, and I run on a very "organic" schedule.  I worried that the lack of structure wouldn't produce a lot of "school time."  And, like private school, homeschooling costs money we just didn't have for the supplies and curriculum.  It just didn't seem like the right fit for us, either.

So what were we left with?  Public school.  I was wary at first, but I knew both the kindergarten teachers, so that helped.  Then I began to see my son blossom as a student.  He began to read and write, learn his addition, create art, enjoy music, make friends, and generally enjoy going to school.  And it was then that I knew we'd made the right choice.

I'm not going to pretend like public school is all sunshine and roses.  Its not.  We've had a number of situations arise throughout the years that we've had to deal with and been utterly unprepared for.  Curse words, lewd jokes and ditties he'd come home with, unkindness from peers, struggles with math, and a whole slew of other situations.  But you know, while most parents would look at those situations as purely bad things, I see the good in them.

Say what?!?

I see those instances as teaching moments.  When one of my kids come home with ditties or jokes with lewd innuendos (that they don't even catch, fortunately), I gently and appropriately explain what the content means (within reason), and explain how its offensive and inappropriate and should not be repeated.  In peer situations, we remind them that its okay to speak up, but to always do so in a kind manner.

In teachings that don't align with our beliefs, we explain what we do believe, how it differs, and why we believe what we believe and don't believe what we don't believe.  We do not, however, freak out about all the things "out there" that our kids are learning.  We don't believe in macroevolution (the "big bang" and all that), for example, but we don't make a scene about it.  We just explain what we believe, how it differs, why we believe it, and leave it at that.  We don't live in fear that what our children learn at school will taint their understanding of their world or their faith.  In fact, I believe that to fully understand what you do believe, you have to have a comprehension of what you don't believe.  So, I don't mind if they learn that the theory of evolution exists, as long as they understand that we believe in a Creator and not a "big bang."  And I think both my school-age kids have a pretty good grasp of that.

I am not opposed to homeschooling or private schooling, if that is what others believe is best for their own child(ren).  What I take issue with is the notion that every child should be schooled the same way, or that I'm a "less than" Christian parent because I choose to public school my kids.  Every parent has their own priorities when it comes to the education of their children, and I totally understand and respect that.

For me, school isn't about "churchin'."  Its about reading, writing, math, science, music, history, social sciences, peer relations, etc.  My kids get plenty of Christian teaching on Sunday mornings, and throughout our weekly discussions here at home.  For some parents, that's not enough, and that's fine.  But personally, I don't feel like my kids need to be immersed in Christian teachings 24/7 to excel in life or have a solid relationship with Christ.  In fact, I feel like the teaching moments that public school provides will make them more solid in their faith than kids that are immersed in it 24/7, because it makes them have to really dig deep and think through their beliefs, actions, and words regarding their faith.

So here is what it boils down to for me...

Before I even had kids, I always wanted to afford them the best education I was able to give them.  Around here, I truly believe that is through public school.  We're fortunate to live within the boundaries of one of the best school districts in the entire state, so for educational purposes, its a no-brainer for me.  While the idea of a Christian school is great, due to separation of church and state (which I do believe in, by the way), religious schools don't have to hire licensed, accredited teachers.  Now, I don't put all my stock in college degrees, licensure, and accreditation.  And I do believe there are some really lousy licensed teachers, and really incredible unlicensed, teachers out there.  But, right or wrong, I just can't accept that the quality of education at a private school with unlicensed teachers is going to be at the same educational level as our cream-of-the-crop local public school.  Right or wrong, that's how I feel.

Regardless of how you choose to school your kids, make sure you weigh all the options and make your choice for the right reasons.  I think its crucial that we go purely on what's educationally best for our kids, and not on fear or our own emotions.

I know a lot of parents who homeschool to "protect their kids from the outside world."  That's noble and everything, but I feel like that is a fear-based decision, and not an education-based one.  If you aren't equipped to give your child a homeschooling education better than a public or private school option, then I don't think you should homeschool.  If you don't know how to teach your child upper-level math or proper spelling, capitalization, sentence structure, and grammar, then leave it to someone who does know and can effectively teach your child to the highest standard you can provide them.

Likewise, if a private school can't provide the same quality of education as a public school or homeschooling, and you're just doing it so that your kid can get more "churchin'," then I question those motives, too.  I'm all for nurturing the budding faith of our kids, but I don't think the quality of their education should be compromised for it.

And if you live in an area with really crummy public education, then I urge you to consider alternatives such as homeschooling or private school.  Again, its not worth selling your kids short just to do what's cheaper and easier.

The bottom line is, I chose public schooling because I feel its best for my kids.  I am fulfilling the promise I made to them before they were even conceived that I would give them the best education I could possibly provide them.  And, for us, the best education comes in the form of public school.  So its hard for me to see public school-bashing posts on Facebook, or hear snooty comments here and there out in the Christian community that imply that us public schooling parents are "lazy" or "uncaring" about the education of our children.  I can't speak for every Christian public schooling parent, only for myself, but that is anything but the truth!

I will end this post much in the same way I end many of my parenting-related posts:  You do you, I'll do me. You parent how you see fit, and I'll parent how I see fit.  And let's leave it at that and not judge eachother for our different choices.

What about you?  What is your take on this issue?  Is this something you've witnessed or experienced as a parent?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Why *can't* my child be different?

Quite possibly the biggest heartache in parenting is when people don't treat your child with respect. And right now my heart is quite achy.

Without going into great detail, my son is being picked on by some of his peers. And I'm pretty sure know why.

Its because he's different.

 We live in a community that, like most communities, values sports as the pinnacle of....well, pretty much everything. However, my son isn't athletic. None of us in this family are. We don't like to kick soccer balls or throw footballs. We just don't. We lack both the desire and the coordination. (Save my 7 year old daughter who is involved in dance and practices her little butt off.) We'll occasionally go swimming or hiking in the summer, but organized sports just aren't our thing.

 My son prefers to draw, write, read, act, play the drums, sing, and create. My son has a boundless imagination! Just about every year he gets cast as the main role in their class play(s) because he can act out just about anything with confidence, enthusiasm, and ease. He got chosen for honor choir because he can sing. He got chosen to play the drums by his music teacher because he has a God-given gift for it. (Trust me, that's what it is, because I've been musical my whole life but I stink at playing the drums!) My kid is very talented! Just not in the way society deems "normal" or "cool" for a 10 year old boy.

I was also watching an episode of Dance Moms Miami earlier today . (Yes, I know its totally trashy TV, but being a dance mom myself - though not a psycho one, thankfully - I am really sucked in to it.) There is a little boy on there who is a phenomenal dancer, yet gets picked on by other kids at school, being teased and called gay. Since when did dancing "make" a young boy gay? That kid is going to go far in dance and in life, that is evident. Just not to his more "normal" classmates. And that's sad.

When did organized sports become the end-all-be-all compass by which kids judge eachother's talent and worth? Talent and worth extend far beyond a football field! Not everyone is wired the same way, and that's the way God made us and intended us to be! When was it decided, and by whom, that being different is bad or wrong? So what if my kid wants to play the drums? Or sing. Or act. Or dance. Or....anything! Who cares what my kid does? He's really talented, just not in the things that our society places worth on. And again, that's sad.

 It just burns me up as a parent that these stupid judgments and intolerances continue to be passed down from generation to generation to generation to generation to... You get my point. We speak of this "tolerant day and age" we live in, but let's face it, we're no more evolved in our thinking than our great-grands were! In order to have tolerance and respect, parents have to teach it to their kids.

 I think part of the problem is that our society still has a "macheesmo complex" when it comes to boys. Girls are allowed by society to get their hands dirty, work on machinery, change the oil in a car, clean a carburetor... But a boy taking dance classes? Ohhhh no....that's not happening!


 Put the stinkin' macheesmo aside and let your boy take dance classes! What is the harm? Really, truly, what is the harm? I highly doubt anyone can give me a good answer to that question.

 I'd also like to point out that the people who are most remembered throughout history are not the sports heroes (in fact, not a single name popped up in my google search for pre-1800's athletes) - they're the artsy-fartsy "weirdos!" The people who've left a big impression on this world have been the creative types, the innovators, the artists, the scientists, the dancers, the singers, the composers, the authors, the poets, the actors... Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Claude Monet, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Norman Rockwell, Andy Warhol, George Friedrich Handel, Beethoven, Shakespeare, Tchaikovsy, Mozart, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Steve Jobs, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, George Orwell, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway.... To name a few of thousands.

 So, why can't my child be different? Why can't he just be who he is, with his own, unique talents, strengths, and interests, and be respected for it? Why does he have to fit the "norm?" Who decided that not being part of the "norm" makes him less worthy of their friendship and respect?

 Fellow parents, would it kill you to teach your kids to respect others? Would it kill you to teach your kids that differences are to be celebrated and not ridiculed? Would it kill you to teach your kids that there's a reason we've all been created differently? Would it kill you to teach your kids that interests other than their own are still important, valuable, and interesting?

 I respect you and your kid(s), so respect me and mine, and teach your kids to do so as well. That's all I ask.

What makes *you* different an unique?  How have you handled the societal fall-out?  I'd love to know!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I submit to you, my child

We've all heard it said that in parenthood you have to pick your battles. This has never been more true than with my youngest child. See, my youngest has a lot shall I put it?...personality...than her older siblings. She's far more opinionated and strong-willed than they ever were. (My middle child can be extremely stubborn at times, but is usually pretty easy-going.) So the things I have always been accustomed to doing, believing, and "forcing upon" my older kids I haven't exactly been able to do with my youngest child. Which can be maddening, to say the least.

I had a bit of an epiphany about that today. I've primarily viewed my power struggles with my youngest as a a negative thing. I've primarily had the attitude that its my job to get my child to submit to whatever I view as "right." If I say you are wearing the white socks, then you're wearing the white socks, end of story. Or so has been my thinking.

But I think, amongst all the frustration that power struggles can be, there is a wise lesson to be learned, and with the right perspective, can be a very positive, and even healthy, thing for a parent, if they're willing to let it be.

I finally gave up the battle over matching socks a few months ago. The little one has decided that mismatched socks are much more awesome than matching socks, much to my chagrin. I used to fight her on it, worried what other people would think about it. I am not very self-conscious about my parenting, but I do like my kids' appearances to reflect the fact that I do care how they look, and I want them to look presentable. After many months of knock-down-drag-out wrestling matches every single day to try and get her to "submit" to wearing matching socks, I finally decided that my own discomfort about the situation was a better solution than both of us being frustrated about the matching socks, so I finally gave in. It was just the better solution. Lesser of two evils, is the way I have to view it.

Today, she wanted to brush my hair. If you've ever had your hair brushed by a three year old, you know that its not the most enjoyable experience. She was trying really hard to be gentle, but her definition of gentle is a lot rougher than my definition. At first, I started to pull my head away and ask her to stop. Very sweetly she'd say, "But I'm being really gentle." It was endearing, but I still didn't want my head repeatedly swatted with a hair brush, no matter how sweet the intent behind it. Eventually, her tenacity reigned and I just let her brush my hair, figuring she'd get tired of it after a few minutes and move on to something else. I just sucked it up and let her play and be happy, even at the expense of my own slight discomfort. She was happy, I was annoyed, but it was better than me fighting her on it and both of us ending up in frustration.

I am starting to realize that maybe parenting isn't all about me forcing them to submit to my own ways. Lest that be misinterpreted, it is my job to teach them morals, values, and social graces, and those aren't things I will ever budge on. I also don't mean giving into their every want and desire. Its not about yielding to their greed or selfishness. (I know that sounds mean, but let's face it, kids can be pretty self-centered because they haven't learned yet that the world doesn't revolve around them. Child development. Proven fact.)

But socks? Brushing my hair? Do those things really impact me or the world around them in a negative manner?

So today I realized, part of parenting is learning to occasionally submit to my children. To always expect them to yield to me, without any give and take, is just plain unfair. It makes us bossy, and maybe even bully, parents. If we want to teach our kids trust and respect, then we need to show them that we do trust and respect them, even in just small little ways.

And I think its healthy for us to hand that control over now and then. I think its healthy to have to squirm, be uncomfortable, and actually learn a thing or two about ourselves now and then. Just because we're the parent now doesn't mean that we can't still learn and grow. And we should at least try. Its kind of arrogant to assume that just because we're the adult we know everything and don't need to make any changes; that its not all about our own comfort level all the time, and that we need to be open to letting them take the reins and teach us once in a while. We ask them in so many ways every day to submit to another person's (our) point of view, and that's how they learn. Why don't we try to do the same now and then?

So, I'm going to let my little girl wear mismatched socks when she wants to, and brush my hair now and then. I may not enjoy it, but I think its healthy for me to just live and let live and let her be happy with her own (often ridiculous, in my opinion) choices once in a while.

Maybe I should try wearing mismatched socks now and then, too...

What about you? In what little ways do you think you need to let go and "submit" to your own child(ren)? Do you think it'll challenge you as a parent?