Response to “spare the rod” post at PBB….

What  sobering posts over on the “Parenting Beyond Belief” blog  – called spare the rod (and spare me the rest)“, and responses to “spare the rod”.  He talks about how many people, like James Dobson with Focus on the Family, use the bible to support spanking and different views on this.  As I recently mentioned, I can’t stand Dobson or FOF. I worry about messages being spread still today, and that good Christian people (like my friend who is a new mom) might buy into because they do like FOF and Dobson. 

My parents didn’t agree on much… but, they did both believe in spanking.  I have to say that my brothers got it worse than I did… but none of us ever got it that bad.  I wouldn’t say either my mother or father was “abusive” in their spanking methods, but I realize that’s a relative statement and matter of opinion. 

I do have vivid memories of my father threatening “the belt”, although, he never used it.  He DID spank with an open hand, though… not very often… but, enough that we believed we would “get it” if he threatened it. Usually, he only had to threaten it, and not do it, but we knew he WOULD if we didn’t listen.  My mother was more sporadic.  She’d whack ya with anything in her hand, usually a wooden spoon, if you weren’t listening. But, she must not have hit us very often or hard, because we were not as afraid of her.  She’d save the important spankings for my father to dish out.   They both believed that was part of his fatherly duties.  The old, “wait until your father gets home!” thing. 

One of the more common threats that my Dad use to say was “I’m going to rip your arm off and beat you over the head with the bloody end of it!”.  Ironically, this was NOT something scary, but rather something my brothers and I found humorous.  We knew he meant it sarcastically.  He had a bit of a warped sense of humor (as do I).  This saying did, however, use to scare our friends when they heard him say it.  But, my brothers and I would just laugh and say, “aww… he’s only kidding…. he always says that… and look – we still have 2 arms”.  No, we were more afraid of “the look”, or the threat of “you’re gonna get it!”. 

I do remember witnessing my brothers getting spanked… never with a belt… and never bare bottomed…  but always dramatic.  Often, if one of us got in trouble, we all did.  And, usually he started with my oldest brother.   I was usually hysterical just from watching my brothers get spanked while waiting for my turn…  and, probably because of that, and the facts that I was younger and a girl, my dad would barely swat me, if at all.  This is something my brothers still like to throw in my face about what a faker I was to get off of spankings LOL.  But, I really wasn’t faking.  It really was traumatic just to watch and wait.  

My oldest brother would always try to act tough, and to not cry…  and so, he’d get spanked the hardest I think…  until he DID cry.  Spanking is all about breaking that will and humiliation, isn’t it?  So, ironic… now that I think about it, being taught NOT to cry… and then punished harder for NOT crying.   ??  (I never really thought about that before now… but, wow… that’s pretty screwed up! ? ?)

My other brother, would go the dramatic route.  Running around screaming and yelling “no no no!”… until my father could wrestle him over or force him to come and get it.  Because he was already screaming and crying (moreso out of anger and frustration and for the pure drama effect, I think), he didn’t get spanked as hard.  Except for the time he put a book down his pants… and when my Dad hit that with his hand, he was really mad.

Then there was me.  Watching and waiting… trying not to cry, but failing miserably at times like this…  obediently going over when called without trying to run… and, I must have looked so pitiful, that my dad couldn’t/didn’t really spank me most of the time.  A couple times, he shut the door so my mom and brothers couldn’t see, and he whacked the bed or himself instead of me for sound effects… and told me to not tell (my mother) that he didn’t spank me. 

This leads me to believe that he didn’t always want to be “the enforcer”, but did feel like it was his job… and like he needed to do it to make my mom happy sometimes.  Which also leaves me feeling a bit bitter and resentful…

Looking back, I can not think of a time that I feel these spankings were really beneficial.  I have a hard time remembering what any of them were even for??  All of the memories that I DO have of important life lessons, or times I DO think I learned something good – had absolutely nothing to do with being spanked. 

I admit to having spanked my first child a couple times… which was more like a swat on a padded butt…  and nothing like the “proper spankings” described in the post at PBB. Each time I did, I immediately felt guilty and regretted it.  Each time I did, I was completely frustrated, upset, and/or scared when I did it.  Like, when my son was at the defiant 2 year old age and liked to  say “no” and run away as most 2 year olds do.  One day, though, he almost ran in to oncoming traffic as I called him and chased after him.  When I caught him, I was both relieved and upset, and it was almost a reflexive swat that I gave him. Part of me thought it was just the normal and right response.  Like it was something I ‘should’ do, or ‘had’ to do… “for his own good” (ugg… I am wincing at that saying as a I type it).  Once I calmed down, a bigger part of me just felt it was wrong. 

I am glad that I felt that way, and that I did not continue to use spanking as a form of punishment.  I realized there were other ways….  better communication, and if necessary threats and punishments (time outs, no more TV or Computer, no treats, etc.) that I could follow thru on more easily, that were also more effective and obviously the better choice.

It’s funny, we do not spank our boys now (ages 5 and 10) and we do not go to church.  My boys are also probably more concerned with doing the “right” thing , and “being nice” than most of our friends kids that go to church every Sunday.   I’m not just bragging here, and I know I’m bias – but, I can’t think of ANY kids we know that have better behavior or attitudes than our boys.  Sure, our boys and aren’t perfect angels – but, I tell you what… they are genuinely GOOD kids.  You might not believe me, but, this is not just my opinion.  We constantly have have friends and family tell us how they are impressed by how well behaved our boys are. 

~smj

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My teen life in a musical youtube nutshell…

I was mulling over my last post…. and, my teenage years in my head. 

My teen years marked the beginning of my dual lifestyle…

One one hand…  I was starting to doubt and reject a lot of what I was being taught by mom and church in general.. but, I was still going to church 2-5 times a week and singing in the choir, where I’d basically be partaking in a lof of this:


(“Because He Lives I Can Face Tomorrow” )

Then, on the days I wasn’t playing the part of the good little Christian girl, I was skipping school, jumping out my window, and staying over my heathen friends houses a lot in order to sneak to rock concerts and parties, and banging my head to the likes of this:

(“Running with the Devil” – VanHalen)

Explains a lot, doesn’t it???

=)
~smj

I’ve been on a Mission (not from God)

I’ve been on a mission.

And, now, I have a reeeeeeally strong desire to now say, “We’re on a mission from God”, but I won’t because it is totally off base here… It’s just that I love that line from one of the all time best comedy movies – the Blues Brothers. (See bottom of my post for details =)

But, no… my mission was definitely not “from God”… and, it was also pretty futile anyway. I found myself in an all out email war with a good friend of mine. A friend I grew up with… and we are still friends… remarkably… because we have almost nothing in common. This has always been true, but has been amplified the last couple years. Read the rest of this entry »

“Surrendered” Wives ??

While visiting the blog “The Journey Out“, I happened to come across this disturbing article posted in “Feministing.Com” on a book called, “The Surrendered Wife”. 
Here’s the opening on it:

Remember that book, The Surrendered Wife, that came out a while ago and got all sorts of press because it basically told women that the key to happiness in marriage was to shut-the-fuck-up?Well it seems that some folks are taking it wa-ay seriously.

This is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about in my last post – about growing up with double standards that were reinforced by my father, my mother, and the church. 

Another really sad thing is, I think this is the book a few of my close girlfriends (who fairly recently became serious Christians) were reading and getting in to.  They didn’t discuss it too much with me, because they knew I wasn’t into religion and thought I would “poo poo” it.  Man, were THEY right! 

What little I just did learn about it was appauling!   I can’t believe this book would be so popular today, and feel sorry for all the young girls who will be taught their place in society by their own parents and church with the assistance of it. 

I also found this article on it by Leanne Bell.  I am not familiar with who she is, but, I liked her article on this book .  The following is an excerpt from it:

It’s a shame Mrs. Doyle thinks women can’t balance a chequebook and be great lovers too. It’s a shame that she believes holding an opinion and voicing it will ruin her marriage. It’s even sadder to think that she believes going back to the fifties when women had to work too hard for too little respect is the answer.

The answer is not to surrender to anything. The answer is to fortify yourself. Be the strongest, most vibrant invidual you can be. Embrace your sexuality and enjoy it, don’t consider for a second abdicating the wealth of your personality and the value of your character in order to maintain a facade of a marriage to a man who doesn’t appreciate what he has. And don’t dare teach your daughters to grow up with such low expectations, such little self-esteem, such dismal hopes for happiness in marriage.

Mrs. Doyle doesn’t understand that surrendering your body amounts to prostitution, that surrendering your autonomy is as good a being in prison, and that surrendering your mind is slow, sure, mental death.

Amen Sister!

~smj

My Dad – Con’t (not an atheist saint after-all)

Ok – So, when I looked back at my last post… I realized I left out a few things about my Dad. I did mention a lot of  really good things about him… and whille yes – I really really loved and respected my father a lot, I failed to mention that he wasn’t’ a saint.
(As IF an atheist could be a Saint, right?!)

So, yes..  my dad certainly wasn’t perfect.  He was a tough old goat, really,  He was pretty strict… and fairly controlling. He was the boss. You know the old “When I say JUMP! You say, How high?!” mentality.  He was very stubborn, old fashioned, and he also had double standards when it came to my brother’s and I – which was a pretty sore subject with me.

I was the youngest and the only girl… and spent a good deal of time trying to keep up with my brothers and prove I could do anything they could do.  I felt like I had a double whammy of chauvinism from my parents. I even use to call my Mom a “male chauvinist pig”.  Not only was my dad very over-protective of me and telling me I couldn’t do things because I was a girl – but, my mother agreed. She thought the wife should be subservient to the husband. Even though she thought my Dad was the devil himself, and bad mouthed him constantly, she still believed she needed to let him be “the boss”, and ultimately that she should “obey”.

The churches we attended reinforced this mentality. When I was teen, we were going to a church where all the women wore these doily things on their heads – especially for prayer time. It was to symbolize that they recognized that they needed something between them and God – something to do with the original sin of Eve. The men didn’t need to wear them. You can imagine how well this went over with a teenage girl who was trying to prove she was just as good as her brothers. I refused to wear one.  Because I was not yet a “woman” – the church didn’t make a big deal out of it. 

My mom did all the housework… well, she and *I* did all the housework. My brother’s never had to learn how to cook or clean. On the same token, I never learned how to start a lawn mower until I was an adult with my own home either.

Every Saturday when we were kids, I had to clean the house with my mom… help prepare the meals… do laundry. While my brothers got to go outside and help in the yard. This didn’t seem fair to me at all. I would have much preferred to have been outside in the sunshine picking up sticks and playing on the riding lawn mower.

By 11 years old, I had to do all my own laundry and ironing…. Start dinner every day after school. My brothers had no clue how do those things and weren’t expected to. Every once in a while, I got even by making them pay me to iron one of their shirts if my mother wasn’t around.

My mother also thought everything was bad… or evil… so, she didn’t like me to do much of anything except go to church. My Dad didn’t care if I went to church or not, but he was very overprotective and strict with me. He wanted to know where I was all the time and I was not allowed to do things that he let my brothers do when they were my age.  Again, this didn’t go over well with me.  I had no intention or desire to be the “perfect little girl”.   I wanted to be one of the boys, dammit! 

When I asked why, or complained… I was told – from my mother, “This is what women do. Get used to it”. And from my father, “because you’re a girl. It’s just different. Some day you’ll understand”. 

Yeah- ummm…  I’m still waiting for that day to come…

So, I complained… a lot. I could get away with arguing with my Dad. He didn’t like it… and he didn’t usually give in… but, he also would tolerate my hormonal outbursts. He would never hit me… because I was a girl, of course. He would, however, whack my brothers if they talked back. At last.. an advantage to being a girl!

So, I learned the rules and played the game…
and I learned how to cheat at the game.

I quickly figured out (with a little help from my one brother), that it was easier to lie in order to do what I wanted – than it was to reason with my parents.  So, I hit a point where I didn’t even argue or ask to do things I knew they wouldn’t want me to do. I just did them behind their back… and then some.

I became quite rebellious in a very sneaky way. I was quite the good liar… and thought nothing of lying to my parents.. or anyone in authority really. I thought it was the only way to survive… and, I was pretty good at it too. I could come up with an excuse on the spot, and make anyone believe just about anything. 

By the ripe old age of 11 or so, I was well into my “double life”. I skipped school… a lot… and, went in late to school all the time… I forged notes and report cards… I cheated on tests and homework. I jumped out my window… lied and said I was babysitting when I wasn’t so that I could stay out late.. or I stayed overnight at my friend’s homes whenever I wanted to do something I knew my parents wouldn’t let me do…. I went to rock concerts and drank… and partied…. All unbeknownst to my parents.

My parents had no clue. They thought I was some perfect little angel. And it wasn’t easy keeping up the charade and not getting caught. I was always covering my tracks.  Anticipating what could possibly go wrong… 

I also continued to go to church with my mom and one brother, 1-4 times a week.  Every Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and sometimes Saturday night. (Hell, most of those church kids were the biggest partiers of all!!!)

My friend’s parents, and neighbors, church leaders, and school teachers all liked me… because in front of them, I was well behaved and quiet. I did all my make up work for school, and I got good grades. So,  most grown ups didn’t pay much notice to my missing from class half the time or whatever.  I hid my bloodshot eyes (Visine was a staple)… and, I didn’t get caught (much), or get in trouble (much).  And the few times I did get caught – I lied lied lied so that I didn’t get caught compeltely. (“Yes yes!  I swear to God it’s the first time I ever jumped out my window, Dad!” – when I finally got caught after 2 years of hiding that darn ladder. LOL). 

I always pushed the limits… but, I really didn’t go THAT far. Well, I suppose that is a relative statement. I mean, I wasn’t as bad as a lot of other kids I knew. I never failed a class… or hurt anyone. I never ran away or got myself in too much of a bind. (Again, I realize that is a relative statement!).   I was weary of strangers and didn’t trust people so was always on the look out and protective of my friends.  I was the one suggesting we do something stupid.. but, them making sure nobody got hurt in the process.  LOL

I tried a lot of things…. including drinking and smoking pot.. and a few various other drugs… but, I was always afraid to get addicted to anything… or NEED to do drugs to have fun… or have a bad experience. I always kept myself in check.

I also wasn’t screwing around with boys.  One of my best friends got pregnant and had an abortion when we were 14 yrs old.  That blew me away.  And, a different friend went from one jerky boyfriend to the next… and, I learned from their mistakes. I also was afraid my mother and father would kill me… but, mostly, I just didn’t want to be hurt or anyone’s fool.

Sure, I had lots of crushes on boys, and I had a couple not-so-serious boyfriends.. but, when my mother found and read my diary when I was 17.   I sure was glad I hadn’t had sex yet. Not that it mattered to her – she acted like I had done the whole football team and was the biggest drug addict in town. I wrote about that in my “Sometimes you just gotta laugh” post (https://savemenot.wordpress.com/2007/03/12/quick-laugh-because-sometimes-you-just-have-to-laugh/ ).

Am I blaming my Dad (or my Mom for that matter) for my being so rebellious and sneaky when I was a kid? I dunno?? Maybe a little. Ok, yeah.. I am. They MADE me that way! LOL But, maybe part of it was just in my nature too.. and I might have been like that anyway. Who knows?

My Dad and I talked about things a lot when I was an adult. For the most part – we laughed our asses off remembering funny stories from my childhood. But we talked about the difficult times and arguments we had too. I think he regretted some of the things he’d done and said… but, he wasn’t one to apologize much.

I figure, he did the best he could with what he knew… and I know he was they way he was with me because he loved me so much. There were quite a few times when I was really mad at him for not letting me do something… and then, I realized he was right. Teenage guys are jerks. LOL All in all – like my first “Dad” post said, I’m very thankful he was my dad and was the way he was.

So – there you have another big chunk of why I am the way I am… whatever way that is.

=)
smj

doomed to a humble life of agnostic grey area

I was thinking this morning…. 

I know what I feel… and what I think when it comes to religion…  but I very rarely voice it because most people are religious and I don’t want to freak them out, make them mad, worry them, argue with them, scare them, confuse them, or insult them. 

Besides,  I seriously am not 100% sure I AM right. 
I mean, who am *I* to say that I know it all, or have all the answers??  I don’t think anyone does.  Least of all me.   I frequently tell people that they should “feel free to ignore me”.  =)

I do know that I don’t believe a lot of the bible lessons I was taught… and that I don’t believe in any one religion.  I don’t believe that one religion is “right”, and the rest of the world is going to hell. I don’t believe going to church makes you a better person.  I don’t believe anyone has the right to use religion as an excuse to judge others, let alone kill them.  I know what I don’t believe.  

And, yet, I would never say that I am absolutely, positively 100% RIGHT in most of my beliefs.  Not only because of the above reasons… but, also because there are a lot of very intelligent and good people out there… who are very religious and DO believe things I just can’t believe.  I feel very outnumbered.  And, I know that all these other people can’t all be stupid – but, that doesn’t mean to me that they are necessarily right either. 

But, just because I don’t agree with their belief’s doesn’t mean I don’t believe THEY are intelligent or good people.  I would never tell them that they are “stupid” or “bad” for believing what they believe.  I wouldn’t even tell them that I am certain that they are wrong.  Maybe their not!  What do I know?  I certainly wouldn’t tell them they were going to hell and doomed to an eternity of fire and torment!  Especially, if they are just going about their business, living their lives, and trying to be good people.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with them…  just that they see things differently than I do. 

I don’t claim to know it all.  I only know how I feel, and what makes sense  (or doesn’t make sense) to me.  I have tried, and still try, very hard to see their side… and when I can’t, I still respect their opinions and feelings. 

So, why then.. is it so hard… for religious friends and family of mine to give me that same courtesy?  What makes them so damn sure that they are so right that they have the right to judge and condemn and think there must be something wrong with anyone who doesn’t believe the same things they do???   

 I don’t get it.

Maybe I do.

Maybe these people aren’t 100% positive about anything either.  At least not initially in their faith.  But, religion tells them it’s wrong to have doubt and that you should just have faith.  They have to say they are positive, even when they are not.    Talk the talk… and then after a while they probably do believe it… and can walk the walk. 

They also are taught to feel like it’s their DUTY to God to “spread the word”, and save as many others as they can.  I know how they feel, because I once felt the same way.  It’s hard to really be considerate and respectful of others beliefs (or disbelief)  and do that at the same time.  So, they get to climb up on that soap-box… feel sorry for anyone else who doesn’t believe what they do…. and feel better about themselves in the process.  

Sometimes they are so wraped up in “being a good christian.. and a good person”, that they are pretty rude and inconsiderate in the process.   I guess all is fair in love and conversion!

Sometimes, I wish I could be a believer again… 
I’d like to feel like I was 100% RIGHT about ANY thing again. Even, if it was just ONE thing like “yes, there is a God”.  Sort of like wishing I still believed in Santa clause… or like when I was a teenager and thought that *I* would never do some of the things that the adult me has inevitably done. 

But, no…  I am doomed to a humble life of agnostic grey area, and not for nothing… but, I like it a lot better than the black and white.

~smj