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Archive for April, 2009

Skeptical Parent Crossing

Parents Teaching Each Other

Skeptical Parent Xing

Skeptical Parent Xing

I have hosted many blogging carnivals, but this is the first time that I have hosted a parent’s carnival.  I am a divorced dad, with three kids (one of whom is about to make me a grandfather.  Yes, I am happy about it.)  One thing about this carnival that bothers me is the amount of irrelevant content that was submitted through the carnival submission process.  It seems that the whole concept of using social networks to enhance one’s exposure (or to drum up business) is catching on.

What I mean is this; there was more than one post submitted that shilled a product or a website.  I don’t think that this is appropriate for a carnival because as a skeptical parent I don’t like reading posts that are poorly-concealed advertisements.  What I am looking for is good discussion on how to raise children with an ability to discern between crap and fact.  It’s more than just a game, it teaches them how to approach life.  Which things will help them make better decisions?  Which things will help them lead more fulfilled lives?  Which things will teach them how to have good fun?

If your submission didn’t make it, this was the reason.  I had one submission that was merely a linkfest for Christian families, including a link to the Quiverfull movement.  Did they not even notice that this is a Skeptical Parent’s Carnival?  I don’t mean to say that religious people can’t have some skeptical approach to rasing their children, but a post that focuses on religious resources just doesn’t fit the purpose of this carnival.  Another submission was a post in which the writer explained the differences between why men cheat and why women cheat, using some sort of faux-phsychology based on our caveman/cavewoman roots.  Please, please study a little anthropology prior to sending dreck like that to a Skeptical Parents’ Crossing.

Now, before I come off too strongly as an elitist bastard (which is a different carnival altogether,) I want to say that I appreciate the bloggers who sent in these posts with some original thought based on some original experience or research.  Thank you, and without further ado, I present the carnival!

So let us begin with this contribution from Detentionslip.org. We want to know why there are still schools whose administrators and teachers rely on corporal punishment.  It has not been proven to alter behavior.  It teaches fear, and not respect.  There is a difference.  Even the Catholic Church has come out against the practice. WTF is up with hitting kids?

So why then, do educators hit? We spoke with Dr. Kenneth Adams, Dean of the School of Education at Edinboro University of PA, and he told us:

“It appears that those who were on the receiving end of corporal punishment are more likely to endorse its use. Managing a school and leading change requires approaches that embrace actual research as opposed to seat of the pants ‘it was good enough for me’ philosophy. When I encounter someone who says that beatings actually helped make them the person they are today, I ask…’can you imagine how much better a person you would be if you weren’t beaten?'”

Let’s be clear, if you have to resort to hitting a child to correct their behavior – you aren’t capable of being a teacher / principal. The truth is, there are other school districts tougher than yours, with kids from worse families, where they are having better success than your school without hitting the kids. Join the good fight, and help end corporal punishment!


Miss Kim Dance Blog wonders why there is now so little play time involved with kindergarten and early childhood education. This damn “No Child Left Behind” is pushing schools away from teaching and into testing. Kids learn by playing.

When I walk in my son’s playschool class I am not worried about what he knows but rather can he share, take turns, interact with others, listen and follow directions, and is he getting to just play. When I saw this article I thought to myself…..this is something I want all parents to read and think about. I know from experience that all that “knowledge” that some parents drill into their children is just memorization. They will get it later anyway. I am not saying that you should not work with your preschooler if they show an interest. Great, if they want to read, write, count, then let them go for it.

When you read this next post, you should know that the acronym “CIO’ refers to “Cry it Out.”  It is a means of teaching kids how to sleep through the night. I include it because it discusses the issue of approaching a sleep-teaching technique by examining the evidence that has been studied in relation to CIO. If you are familiar with the jargon and acronyms, it is likely quite meaningful but I was lost in reading it because there were no definitions for the reader first coming into the controversy. I agree that Observational data is far from worthless, courtesy of Mainstream Parenting Resources.

I often come upon AP/NPers responding to stuff that I’ve written which is referenced online. Most of it is an embarrassing demonstration of their lack of reading comprehension (and indeed, it’s quite obvious this poster did not initially read the links provided), but this case refers to something slightly different which, I think, could use a bit of elaboration, as it reveals a bias and error of thought common in AP/NP philosophy.

Here’s a question that it worth answering. “Is our culture too overprotective of our children?Principled Discovery is frustrated by the lack of details in a news story of a child left in charge of siblings. A fire breaks out, and the reporter possibly rushes to judgment on whether or not the parents were in the wrong. There are questions left unanswered:

I’ll play that “reasonable person,” but there are too many other questions in my mind that would need to be answered before I could definitively say that this thirteen year old lacked the judgment and maturity to be put into this situation.

I wondered about including this one, because it is more about dogs as pets than it is about parenting. The story does include a subtext of teaching the daughter in the family the responsibility of owning a business. I am sharing it in this carnival because, well, I love dogs too. I am happy to see that there are families like the one at Cute Dogs and Puppy Pictures. Why I love my dog:

With our new dog, we were lucky because my daughter has a small neighborhood business of caring for pets. Because either my wife or myself is always reminding my daughter to walk or feed the dog or cat, this has become somewhat of a family enterprise.

It’s gotten so we often take in the dogs we dog sit. We are lucky with this kid’s business. Our daughter has gradually learned to take more responsibility, and we have had some really terrific dogs to care for. They each are very different in size and personality. Every one of the dogs is very friendly. In fact, it is through our daughter’s business that we got our new dog.

Shen-Li’s son is a picky eater, to the point that he was becoming undernourished. She and her mother-in-law were puzzled. Shen-Li tested out a pro-biotic food supplement to see how that works. Babylicious presents Fussy Eaters, probiotics and pediasure:

Ever since he was little, Gavin has been selective about food. That said, it wasn’t that he didn’t eat, he would only eat the foods that he liked. And if he liked it, he would eat a lot. If he didn’t like it, he wouldn’t go near it with a ten-foot pole. Thought frustrating at times, I have come to accept the fact that this is my retribution for all those times I was difficult with food as a child. For my MIL who has always been around children who love to eat, I guess this perturbs her far too much for her to accept it for what it is.

I would like to revisit the practice of spanking. Coincidental with revelations of the torture memos, the question of the efficacy of physical punishment is raised again. Is it more about hurting someone that makes you angry? With spanking, kids may stop what they are doing right now, but what do they learn in the long run? Are advocates of torture grownups who had been spanked as children? The Fat One in The Middle talks about Spanking, but not the good kind. (Caution, some may not want their kids to see the video in the post.)

When your child goes into the “real” world, they will not be allowed to hit the people they disagree with, nor will they have someone there to “whack” them when they make a mistake. The purpose of parenting is to raise children who can make decisions in a critical manner with rational thought.

Violence as a behavior modification system is neither rational nor ethical. I truly believe that people spank because it makes you feel good to hit something that pisses you off, bottom line.

I don’t have a recent post of my own regarding skeptical parenting. I will end the carnival with my own thoughts on raising children. As parents we need to remember that we don’t “own” them. We are responsible for taking care of them, for teaching them how to grow up to be independent adults (even if they have a disability that prevents them from being free of some sort of assisted-living arrangements.) We need them to be open to, yet wary of, the world.

There are a great many problems in the world that can be solved with proper parenting. We can teach them the difference between vengeance and justice, between forgiveness and surrender. We can teach them how to be responsible for their own actions while empathetic towards those who need help in life. We can teach them how to make their own decisions.

We may not agree with the choices they make as they become adults, either. Children of atheists can end up religious, and the opposite can also happen. It doesn’t mean that we have failed if our children leave our religion. What we can do is show them that we respect them, and then we have to be able to trust them.

The next edition of Skeptical Parents’ Crossing will be at Babylicious. Submit your posts through the Blog Carnival Submission process. Please, mind the theme of the Carnival. Respect the host, okay? If it doesn’t relate to skeptical parenting, don’t submit it. Unless it is about dogs.

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