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Guest Post on Praying the Rosary

Woo hoo! I got to write a guest post for Carly Gelsinger‘s series From Grape Juice to Red Wine, stories of people shifting from mainstream, conservative, or fundamentalist evangelical to “high church” liturgical traditions.

I had the chance to meet Carly in person at the Faith & Culture Writers Conference a couple of weeks ago.  She’s really cool, the sort of person who makes you feel like you’ve known her forever even though it’s only been a single weekend.  She has a way of putting people at ease with her warmth. The coolest thing was finding someone else who shared my own experience–that of choosing (rather than having it forced on us) a conservative evangelical path before finding our way out again.

I’m excited to add my voice to the conversation, especially because it echoes my own journey so well.  Go check out my post, and while you’re at it, give Carly some bloggy love on her other writing.  Happy Friday!

On being “gifted”

Last night, I read Glennon Melton’s post about calling kids “gifted” and this response to her.  Today, I read Glennon’s response on Facebook.  Because I believe she truly does want to understand, here is my answer.

Dear Glennon,

You will probably never read this, but I’m going to write it anyway because I sense that you honestly do want to know why some of us felt a little (oh, fine, a lot) defensive about your post on giftedness.

I’m going to be honest–I didn’t actually read your blog before unless someone linked to it.  I admit that I always kind of felt a little judged by you.  That might have been because the specific posts I read were often passed along by people who actually were judging me, so please forgive me for that.  That said, I didn’t have an open mind when reading your post on the word “gifted.”

It made me angry at first.  I’m the mom of a gifted child (in the label sense).  My immediate reaction was, “Dang.  How did we become a culture of people getting all tied up in knots over a word?  Let go of your need to have your child be a special snowflake, people!”

So I did what comes naturally–I grouched about it on Facebook.  In the comments, a friend suggested I watch your TED Talk.  I rolled my eyes and replied that I would.  (Yeah, I’m not very nice sometimes; I’m not proud of that.)  And then I watched it.

Oh, my.

I cried.  I cried because I know intimately that feeling of wearing a cape and pretending.  I’ve done it my whole life too.  My cape is being angry and self-righteous.  I’ve mostly shed it, but it sometimes begs to be taken out and worn.  Kind of like how I reacted to your post about gifted children.

So I thought about it, and I decided I want to help you understand.  You can correct me if I’m wrong, but I wonder if you’re seeing the label of “gifted” as being a kind of cape–something to hide a child’s real self.  If that’s so, then I want to tell you that you have it backwards.  My son’s gifted label is not his cape; it’s his freedom.

For us–for my son and for me–being told that he is gifted and has ADHD gave him wings.  Suddenly, he didn’t have to try to be just like every other child.  He could have his needs met, just like the child who has a learning disability or autism or physical limitations.  He could be fully, completely himself.  No pretending.  No cape.

Sometimes, I envy my son.  He loves who he is: highly intelligent, creative, musical, energetic, sassy, cheerful, sensitive, friendly, confident.  Unlike me, he is entirely comfortable in his own skin.  Knowing there’s a name for some of the ways in which his brain works differently is an important part of understanding and feeling good about himself.

I know you believe the word “gifted” is a frustrating term.  Right now, it’s the best one we have.  It isn’t a descriptor of gifts, it’s about the overall way in which children like my son are unique, just like other labels for brain function.  It’s not a reference to specific talents, such as playing the piano or being particularly good at math or art or soccer.  One can be a gifted musician or a talented writer without being given the overall distinction of gifted.  They’re not synonymous.

Maybe someday, we will have a better word that explains the difference between a gift and being gifted.  Until then, children who are gifted should not be ashamed to be given that title, and parents should not be ashamed to use it to describe their children.  Nor should children be ashamed for not being labeled gifted, in the same way no one should be ashamed of not having ADHD.

I hope that helps bring understanding, and I hope I’ve said it in a way that is kind and not shaming or hurtful.  We’re all on this planet together, and we parents have the responsibility to our kids not to make it harder for them by arguing amongst ourselves, particularly over such small things as words.

Much love on this parenting journey,

Amy

Notable News: Week of August 10-16, 2013

It’s been hard staying in a rhythm over the summer, with both kids and my husband home.  I’ve also had twice as many editing/proofreading projects as last summer, so that’s left me little time to keep up on my blog.  Along with that, we’ve had several unexpected things happen, including sending my faithful Nissan Altima to the Great Body Shop in the Sky.  I’m now the proud owner of an SUV.  I never thought I would say that–it really does make me feel like such a suburban mom.  Anyway, I may not have been writing much, but I’ve definitely been reading.  This week’s list is a bit short, due to my own limited time, but here are some of the things I really liked this week.

1. Penal Substitution

Anyone who’s been reading my stuff for a while probably knows (or has at least guessed) that I’m no fan of the penal substitution view of salvation.  This Naked Pastor cartoon nearly made me snort my coffee out my nose.

2. Too many to list separately

Registered Runaway is my go-to blogger when I feel like I’m just done being harsh and frustrated.  I have a pretty forceful personality, and that’s not going to change, but the gentle people in this world are a good balance and keep me from toppling over the edge into cyclical rage.  I couldn’t pick just one of his posts this week, so I’m just linking the blog and you can read them all.

3. Well, all righty then.

Simon Chan wrote this.  It made me wish I’d had time this week to write something scathing and witty in response, but buying a new car broke my sarcasm function.  Fortunately, there are other good writers on the Internet.  Check out these excellent responses: Women Are People, Too: A Conservative Baptist Take On Inclusive Language and Why We Call God Father: a response to Simon Chan.

4. Today’s short story

I just posted this on my fiction blog.  Haven’t put anything up there in a long time, so it feels good to add a new story.

I’m not sure how the next week will go.  I’m volunteering every morning at a summer camp, so it will be sporadic.  I’ll do my best to keep up, though.  Have a great weekend, everyone!

Notable News: Week of April 6-12, 2013

Here we are, the end of another week.  I don’t know what the weather is like where you are, but here it’s rainy and cold.  I’d like to spend my day curled up with a mug of hot tea and a good book. Sadly, it’s not to be.  I hope you all are more successful in your plans for today.  Meanwhile, here’s what’s going on:

1. About that song…

By now I’m sure many of you have heard the Brad Paisley/LL Cool J song “Accidental Racist,” or at least heard of it.  I’m sure lots of you thought, “Wow! That’s very cool that they’re addressing modern racism.”  Yeah, not so much.  Go listen to the song (if you can stomach it), then read this post over at Shakesville.  This about sums it up:

What’s being described in the song is a White man wearing a t-shirt with a Lynyrd Skynyrd logo, which features the Confederate flag, and expecting Black people to understand it only means what he wants it to mean. That is neither unintentional nor accidental. That is obliging marginalized people to center privileged people’s rewriting of a history to salve their own discomfort with that history.

2. Hope for the future

This post, An Open Letter to The Church from My Generation, has gotten quite a lot of attention.  (This is one where I think you should just avoid the comments.  Not worth the headache.)  She suggests that the real reason young people are leaving the Church (and even their faith) is the Church’s reluctance to accept its position on the wrong side of history.  It’s an eloquent plea for the Church to stop fighting change and instead grab a cup of coffee and sit down for a chat.  Sounds just about right to me.

But my generation, the generation that can smell bullshit, especially holy bullshit, from a mile away, will not stick around to see the church fight gay marriage against our better judgment.

3. About a body

I love this wonderful post by Andi Cumbo.  I think I’ve linked it everywhere except this blog (and now I’ve remedied that).  She puts words to exactly what I want to do–create safe space for my kids to ask questions.  As a child, I knew the hard, cold facts.  But questions were often off-limits because they were strange or embarrassing or “rude.”  Yes, it’s uncomfortable, at least in part because of this generational failure to be open.  It’s necessary, though, if we want our children to grow up with healthier views than we did.

I heard lots of conversations – a friend losing her virginity in a shower, another wearing a “promise” ring, boys and whispers about boobs and third base.  I heard lots of lectures, too – wait until you’re married, God made sex for marriage, women were made to be the helpmeet to men.

But no one talked to me about my body or about sex. No one answered my questions. No one asked if I even had any.

4. Beautiful honesty in struggle

These two posts–about expectations within marriage and about living with rapid-cycling bipolar–are both achingly honest and brutally lovely.  Everyone has challenges, and it helps to know we’re not alone.  Whatever you’re struggling with today, I hope that you find comfort and hope in these women’s words, even in the midst of difficulty.  Today, find a friend or be a friend, and open your heart to listen.

Airing out our unmet expectations didn’t magically transform our despair into joy and contentment . . . But it did allow us to evolve with one another, to reevaluate what our marriage would look like as Christians and feminists… [from Unmet Expectations in a Feminist Christian Marriage]

When depression comes. It’s a black numb night with no stars. Everything becomes about me: about how God is taking special notice of my situation and punishing me. How nobody likes me. How every movement of the world is designed for my special torture.

Mania is all about the stars. Or, rather, the star: Me. Because when I’m manic, you’d be a fool not to notice me, want me, befriend me, sit in the sheer awe of magnificence.[from I is for Me]

5. Christian identity

This fantastic post by Tina Francis about identifying as a Christian and being ourselves was one of the best things I’ve read this week.  The cultural differences are fascinating to me.  One of the things I took away from this post is that the way we come across may not be read the way we want it to when it comes to people who didn’t grow up in our western culture.  That understanding about what Christian discourse looks like makes me think that we Christians need to do a lot more listening and a lot less talking.

Because I did not grow up in the West,  I sometimes find it tough to follow social discourse. This is especially true for the plot lines (read: battle-lines) in the Christian Blogosphere. It’s like watching a game of tennis, with words instead of balls. My head bobs from side to side as I try to understand what each person is grunting about. You say, “Penal Substitutionary Atonement Theory”; I hear, “Pee Pee Glibitty Glob.” I find myself lost because I haven’t read the right books, listened to the right music, or watched the right movies. So I don’t always get the references.

6. Naked Pastor takes one for the team

Because David so kindly tackled this, I didn’t have to.  Many thanks!  (And have I mentioned how much I love when men get all feminist?  Remind me to link to some other good ones sometime.)  Anyway, Lee Grady used some loaded terms in his post Six Women Leaders to Avoid.  Go read it if you want some deep feminist rage.  Instead of pointing out traits to avoid in any leader, he used words associated almost exclusively with things many people dislike about women.  Fortunately, David drew a great cartoon and offered a well-written commentary in response.  (Also, when you read the last part about traits to avoid in any leader, guess which well-known preacher came immediately to my mind?)

It’s that old fallacy that men allow women to do what men do but under certain restrictions and expectations. Our club has been dominated by men for centuries but we’re going to now allow women to join. Now these are the rules.

7. Your humor for the day

It is entirely possible that I know and am related to the author of this blog.  Maybe.  I might also be a little bit proud of the person for creating it.  I hope you enjoy the blogger’s take on Hilarious Lambs, More Hilarious Lambs, Even More Hilarious Lambs, and my personal favorite, Too Many Hilarious Lambs.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone! Back on Monday for [DUN DUN DUN] 50 Shades of Lambs.

Notable News: Week of March 16-22, 2013

It’s been quite a week.  The big things have been the Steubenville case in the news and Spiritual Abuse Awareness Week on the blogs.  There’s been lots of other good stuff as well.  Here are some highlights:

1. On Steubenville

I don’t think I need to rehash the verdict.  What had me ready to reach through my computer screen and throttle people was the horrifying response.  First, the judge warned the teens about the use of social media.  Really? Social media is at fault here?  And also, nothing about “how you treat women who can’t consent to sex with you” was apparently not something he felt he needed to address; too busy admonishing them for their use of social media, I suppose.

When he sentenced the boys, Judge Thomas Lipps urged all those who had followed the case “to have discussions about how you talk to your friends, how you record things on the social media so prevalent today and how you conduct yourself when drinking is put upon you by your friends.”

Meanwhile, news outlets were also active in their campaign for worst response.  Fox, MSNBC, and CNN all ran the name of the victim.  I think CNN wins this round, though, for lamenting that the rapists’ lives were ruined by the guilty verdict:

“What’s the lasting effect though on two young men being found guilty juvenile court of rape essentially?” Crowley wondered.

“There’s always that moment of just — lives are destroyed,” Callan remarked. “But in terms of what happens now, the most severe thing with these young men is being labeled as registered sex offenders. That label is now placed on them by Ohio law.”

“That will haunt them for the rest of their lives.”

As well it should, Candy Crowley.  As well it should.

Be sure to check out this excellent response from Christianity Today on rape and human dignity.

2. On spiritual abuse

The Spiritual Abuse Awareness Week link-up has been going on this week.  You can read everyone’s stories at the following pages:

Day 1: Hosted by Hannah Chellase at Wine and Marble

Day 2: Hosted by Joy Bennett at Joy in this Journey

Day 3: Hosted by Shaney Irene at Faith-Filled Thoughts from the Front Porch

If you can only read one of these, make it Shaney’s from today.  The topic is why we need to care about spiritual abuse.

Simultaneously, Elora Nicole has been posting about abuse all week, and Rachel Held Evans has been hosting a week-long series of guest posts and interviews about different kinds of abuse (and frequently the way they intersect).

If you have been spiritually abused and need a safe place to find hope and healing, I urge you to check out this web site.

3. On homophobia and progressive Christianity

One of the reasons that I identify as a progressive Christian but refuse to identify with the progressive Christian movement is that I don’t always find myself in alignment with other “progressives” in areas of importance to me–chiefly, feminism and LGBT issues–and how churches need to grow on those points.  (For example, I don’t think it’s right for old, white, heterosexual cis-men to sit around thinking up ways to “make room” at their table for people who are not old, white, heterosexual cis-men.)  I also find that progressives have this strange attitude that refusing to tolerate bigotry is somehow not in line with the goal of tolerance.

Anyway, for all of those reasons I was very interested in what Kristin Rawls, a fellow writer I follow on Twitter, had to say about her interview with folk singer Michelle Shocked.  It’s quite a read; I suggest you click the links in the article for some background on the situation.

Since the news of her antigay rant went viral, Shocked has issued a public mea culpa of sorts. It’s probably significant to note that 10 of 11 of the shows on her tour have been cancelled since. I read it as an unprincipled attempt to placate LGBT people -– note that she says she supports tolerance, not acceptance, and that she’s calling for LGBT people to tolerate the people who trample on our rights. Anyone acquainted with post-evangelical faux-progressive Christianity
has heard it all before.

4. On having fun with my words

A couple of weeks ago, I was tweeting about an evangelical novel I was reading that had some…interesting views on spiritual warfare.  One of my followers made an off-hand comment about the “royal family of Hell,” and it sparked something in me.  This week’s fiction on my other blog was inspired by that tweet.

The real reason for Lucifer’s disquiet was the fact that his daughter refused to tell him which demon she had ensnared. She had remained silent, and no amount of demanding, pleading, or wheedling would draw it out of her. It was both maddening and worrisome.

He suspected she had gotten herself involved with a junior demon far below her station as Princess of Hell and was appropriately ashamed to admit it.

Have a great weekend, folks!

 

Notable News: Week of February 23-March 1, 2013

What a great week it’s been.  I have been honored and thrilled to participate in the feminisms link-up and be included with some of my favorite bloggers.  Today I’m highlighting the best of what I’ve seen this week.

1. On the Body and Blood

There’s a lot of my spiritual past I still have to sort through, even as it relates to women in the Church. It’s not all so tidy, but it does mean that when I approached the rail for the first time to receive the Eucharist, it was the most unconsciously natural thing for there to be a woman with the Body and Blood in her hands, just as a woman held the Body and Blood two thousand years ago.  ["feminism & me, whether i knew it or not," Antonia Terrazas]

2. On (literal) bra-burning

Those scraps of fabric finally started burning well, the polyester fibers casting out light and all of our bold pronouncements at the injustice of the world. We stared for a brief moment at our success.

The flames blossomed.

“Oh my gosh!” someone shrieked. “THE TRASH CAN IS ON FIRE!”  ["The Fires of Feminism," Emily Maynard]

3. On not being half

I was angriest that day because a boy had said out loud what I’m always afraid men are thinking.

That, as a woman in the church, I am by very nature a HALF.

Half a heart. Half a body. Half a purpose.  ["today i embark on an expedition to take back my personhood," Jesus Gypsy]

4. On needing femimism

This is how I feel. When someone asks me why I believe inequality exists, I want to scream, “Why do I believe you exist? You’re standing right in front of me!”

So actually, Christian church, you need feminism like the dying need a tourniquet. But I need your attitude like a fish needs a bicycle.  ["What I Learned: Like a fish needs a bicycle," Emily Joy Allison]

5. On being a feminist for our sons, too

I’m a feminist because I want my son to see all people as valuable human beings, created in God’s image. I want him to reject culturally constructed ideas about what it means to be “masculine” or “feminine” and to embrace biblical truth about what it means to be human, male and female, created in teh image of a loving God.  ["for my son," Amy at Making All Things New]

6. On the control of women’s bodies

everything about my mother’s experience tells me a story about someone else deciding what women should do with their bodies. It tells me about dangerous assumptions and naive women and sickness being passed from one generation to the next, daughters without mothers and mothers without daughters.  ["FemFest : My Daughter’s Body," Bethany Suckrow]

7. On love and justice

But I agree with hooks that there can be no love without justice. Where unfairness, inequality, abuse, disrespect, victim-blaming, and rape exist, there is no love.

And feminism is one movement that fights for justice for women.  ["Feminisms Fest: I need feminism because there is no love without justice," Sarah Moon]

8. On taking ownership of misogyny and healing the hidden wound

We hear sermons telling women their only place in this world is the home. We buy toys that are deliberately designated for either boys or girls. We see movies that portray women as one-dimensional manic pixie dream girls who’s only mission in life is to rescue “sensitive” moody guys from their self pity.  ["FemFest: The Other Hidden Wound," Travis Mamone]

9. On speaking blessings over the feminist women and men of faith

So, I’m bending the rules a little bit. Next week I’ll probably do my own wrap-up, as well as a list of contributions that I thought were particularly helpful or well-done. In the meantime, I’m going to write something that’s on my heart: I want to speak a blessing over everyone who has participated this week. ["People of Valor," Shaney Irene]

10. On places where you can read more

Guest Post: Decisions, Not Resolutions

Today’s guest post is brought to you by the letters Ad and Vil and the number 200(mg).  Thanks to my kids, I have a cold with a scratchy throat and sinus headache.  Thanks to James Prescott, you all get a fantastic blog post anyway.  Enjoy!

Patrick Mackie [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Why I’ve made decisions for 2013, not resolutions

Many of us make new year’s resolutions. But usually, even by now, they are a thing of the past.

If we’re honest, resolutions never last do they?

Why?

Because we haven’t changed. We’ve not made a decision. We’ve not committed to anything. We’ve simply elected to stop doing something we were doing, or start doing something differently.

All of us, whether we know it or not, want to grow. To change. This is the impulse which drives new years resolutions. But simply resolving to change won’t make any difference.

If we really want to change this year, we need to get back to our core values. Those ideals which guide us. And we need to make decisions based on those values. Not set goals, but make decisions based on values.

For example, we could have a value of looking after our bodies, being healthy. So instead of just resolving to lose weight and eat healthier – which we all know is going to fall apart within a week or two – we make a decision, a commitment to regular exercise and healthy eating.

Instead of some vague promise or resolution, we’ve made a commitment.

We’ve made a decision.

And we must get accountability with close friends – the kind who will tell us what we need to hear, not what we want to hear – to ensure we keep to those commitments.

We may begin slowly, but because we’ve made a commitment, we are more likely to stick to it. Because we are changing a value, not simply making a resolution, we are more likely to change in ourselves.

This is how we can affect positive change in our lives this year. For example, here are the values/decision commitments I’ve made going into this year.

  1. Have the value of respecting and loving myself – So many others respect me, value me and my gifts. I have a responsibility to look after myself, mind, body and soul. So this year I will take more care of my body by eating better, doing more exercise, and getting more good rest. I will take more care of my mind by reading more and studying the Bible more. I will take more care of my soul by spending more time with God.
  2. Committing to honour the gifts God has given me – Steward my writing gift well by producing great work, by writing regularly, by investing in growing my writing gift and by shipping, putting work out there for others to be blessed
  3. Deciding to respond to differently to temptation – when I am tempted to get angry unnecessarily, give into old/bad habits, comfort eat or be lazy, I will learn how to spot those moments and figure out how I can respond differently. How I can respond in a way which shows value and respect for myself and others, honours the gifts I have and honours God.
  4. Learn the value of self-discipline and hard work – don’t become a workaholic or disciplinarian, but do choose to work hard, be professional and also exercise self-discipline in diet, exercise, writing, work and dealing with temptation.
  5. Value others first & Choose to serve – I will choose to put others first, commit to learn to find joy in serving and preferring others, in listening and in giving.

I might not keep 100% to these. In fact, I probably won’t.

But because I’ve made a commitment to changing my values and decisions drawn from this commitment, I’m more likely to achieve real transformation.

I may slip up along the way, but unlike when we fail resolutions – where the first slip up means total defeat – I can pick myself up and learn from the mistakes. I still have those values and those decisions which I’ve committed to.

So how about this year, instead of resolutions, you go back to your values. Make a decision what values you want to live out in 2013, and make some decisions related to those.

Then by the time 2014 rolls around, you might find you’ve undergone some real change.

Are you ready to begin?

James Prescott is a writer & creative exploring how we find divine hope in the messiness of life. He blogs regularly at James Prescott.co.uk & is a regular guest blogger for several sites. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Notable News: Week of December 15-21, 2012

Well, the world didn’t end.  Given that we’re all still standing and Christmas is in just a few days, I thought I would share some hope with you today.  I’m featuring the blog posts I read this week that filled me with a sense that there is still light in this world.  I’ll also share with you my two recent guest posts.  After this, I’m taking a much-needed break until after Christmas.  I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday.

1. On believing in love

Sarah Moon echoes what I think a lot of us feel at one time or another in her excellent post, When I don’t want to be a Christian anymore, I just believe in love.  I’ll let her words speak for themselves.

2. On working toward inclusion

Registered Runaway has some great advice for how churches can stop looking for ways to “reach out” to LGBT people and start seeing them in their midst.  This is especially relevant now, when so many church leaders want to know how to attract different segments of the population.

3. On youth empowerment

One of the privileges I have as a writer is to introduce you to people you may not know.  The author of this post is someone I know in real life.  Today’s youth give me great hope that our world is in better hands than perhaps we realize.

4. On using our senses

Until recently, I had never given much thought to how we use our senses in praise and worship.  These are my musings, posted over at Provoketive.

5. On Christmas gifts

Andrea Ward was gracious enough to allow me to write a guest post on her blog.  This is the story of my first Christmas as a Christian.

6. On why we celebrate

The excellent John Shore shared this video the other day, so I’m passing it along to you.  Merry Christmas, everyone.

 

No one else’s mother

By Richard Masoner (Light bedtime reading) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Warnings: This post mentions last Friday’s tragedy; mental illness; parenting; and that horrible article, “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother.”  It’s also very long.  You might need some popcorn and a Coke.

Disclaimer: I have my son’s express permission to discuss his ADHD and our relationship.  I don’t have my daughter’s permission to write about her, though.  Her exact words: “I don’t want you to talk about me.  But if you’re talking about Jack, make sure you tell them he has a sister.”  I love that girl.

As a parent of a child with a diagnosed disorder, Liza Long does not speak for me.  She doesn’t speak for Adam Lanza’s dead mother either, although she seems to think she’s entitled to do so.

I’m not quite sure where to begin.  There is so much wrong with that blog post (which I will not be linking to; you’ve all seen it on Facebook and Twitter already, and I refuse to give her more traffic).  When I first read it, I was confused.  Then I started thinking about it and reading what others were saying, and I grew more and more upset.

Before I begin, I need to clear something up.  I keep seeing people

who are (rightly) upset over the article saying that those of us who are caregivers for people with diagnoses have no right to have feelings about it.  I’m sorry they believe that, because unfortunately, that attitude is what keeps caregivers from seeking help themselves before they break down from exhaustion.  Yes, we who live with people whose brains are wired differently have the right (and responsibility) to feel things about our roles and to learn how to deal with those feelings.

Additionally, I know that ADHD is “mild” compared to, say, a major psychosis.  However, ADHD comes with its own set of associated issues, including (in some children) violent outbursts and difficulty in controlling anger.  While my son doesn’t generally have violent tendencies, he is extremely impulsive and sometimes has trouble managing his temper.  This results in screaming, crying, and lashing out at us.  What the blogger describes is similar to behavior we’ve seen in our son.

That said, here is my take on that article:

She uses the tragedy to vent her feelings about her own child.

I understand needing to talk about the frustrations of being a parent.  It’s tough on a good day with children who have never received any kind of diagnosis.  It’s even harder when you have a child whose needs are different from your other children.  But the problem here is that this woman used the shooting as a platform for her own family issues.  I don’t know what she was intending to get out of it, but I didn’t see anything remotely resembling compassion for the families who lost their children.

She posted under her real name.

If one is going to write about personal things, it ought to be do

ne under a pseudonym.  Even though she changed her son’s name, it would be possible to find out who he is.  This is one reason I don’t discuss my kids’ personal problems without their permission.  They are old enough to decide if they really want Mom blogging about them (see my disclaimer above).  I think there is value in expressing ourselves and learning from each other.  Both those with diagnoses and their caregivers need to connect with others who have been in the same position.  But it really should be anonymous or used by permission; otherwise, you’re telling someone else’s story and not your own.

Her child is a problem to be solved, not a person.

Speaking from experience, it’s not easy to live with someone with different hardwiring.  Is it frustrating when it takes him 45 minutes to complete a 10-minute task?  Yes.  Does his impulsivity frighten me at times?  Yes.  Do I think twice before taking him to the grocery store, because I know he’s going to insist on pushing the cart and try to ride it, nearly knocking into other shoppers?  Yes.  But those are behaviors, not who my son is.  We work on specific things, not on changing his personality.  We sit with him for homework and offer incentives so that it takes less time.  We set

things up to keep him safe when he’s active and rein him in when he’s impulsive.  I take him to the store only for short trips where I don’t need a cart and give him specific jobs to do.  But I don’t try to make him less distracted, impulsive, and active.

Seeking help for her son seems to be for the purpose of getting relief.

I know it’s hard to parent kids who behave in atypical ways.  When we decided to have our son evaluated, it wasn’t so we could fix him and get on with our real lives.  We wanted to accomplish two things: Make sure his needs were met and learn how to help him.  Having a diagnosis of ADHD wasn’t so that we could go, “Aha!” as though it explained everything in a nice, neat package tied with a bow.  In fact, it made things more complex.  That’s a good thing.  Sure, having the right tools in our box helps us to feel more relaxed as parents.  But part of that is having a kid who now understands himself and his needs better.  The whole point here is for us to become more loving and better at caring for him, not to have some way to make him be

a better boy.

There’s no evidence this woman’s son will become a killer.

Her willingness to easily equate her son’s behavior with that of a man who murdered children is quite strange.  Perhaps the trouble is that we don’t know him personally, but the examples she shared sound pretty much like what we deal with in our house (minus the threats of self-harm).  My son has lashed out at us physically, and he’s had unreasonable meltdowns about things like clothing.  Her reactions seem over-the-top and her fears about what her son will be like as an adult appear unfounded.  I find it appalling that a parent could look at her child and think, “He could be a mass-murderer one day.”  If the problems are really that bad, then they’re evident to people other than herself.  I have never heard of a situation where a child was out of control in which the school didn’t see the same behaviors and take steps to help.

Does she really want to destigmatize mental ill

ness?

There are several things wrong here:

  1. The conflation of mentally ill and violent crime
  2. The lumping of all mental illnesses into one broad category
  3. The inclusion of autism with mental illness

There is no existing link between mass shootings and mental illness.  In fact, it’s just the opposite.  People who are mentally ill are far more likely to be victimized than to be perpetrators.  It doesn’t help remove the stigma of mental illness if one continues to reinforce it.

What is “better” care?

There isn’t one kind of thing that will work to treat (not “fix” or “cure”) every person.  Even for people with the same diagnosis there can be vastly different experiences among people, and the same person can have varying degrees of appropriate care over a lifetime.  By saying we need better care and more access to care for the mentally ill, she isn’t being specific enough about what is needed.  Not only that, she only talks about getting help for people in the context of preventing crime.  She says nothing about getting help so that people have better quality of life.

She’s only her own kid’s mother.

I don’t even want another parent of a kid with ADHD speaking for me and claiming, “I am Jack’s mother.”  No, you’re not.  This woman is not Adam Lanza’s mother.  She doesn’t know what it wa

s like in his household or how he behaved as a child.  She doesn’t know that about the other boys she claims, either.  She doesn’t know what those mothers would or would not say about their children, or what their experiences were.  She is appropriating someone else’s life for her own purposes.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

It hasn’t been an easy road with our son; he was intense from minute one.  Yet we’ve discovered that having a brain that works a little differently is a good thing.  Out of stubbornness comes tenacity; out of drive comes perseverance; out of energy comes stamina; out of impulsivity comes creativity; out of distraction comes multi-tasking.  We love our son exactly the way he is.  I would never wish that ADHD didn’t exist or that he didn’t have it.  More importantly, Jack likes who he is and looks forward to each day in his own body and with his own brain

.

I know that those who pass that blog post on mean well.  The conversations about how we treat mental illness are important.  But in this case, it’s not helpful.  It does nothing to reduce the stigma if we continue to act as though children with behavioral problems all have the potential to be killers and the mentally ill are responsible for the senseless shootings and other violent crimes.  Please stop spreading these lies by passing on a blog post that does nothing to help and only serves to hurt those who need help.  If you really want to help, then please find a way to do it that doesn’t reinforce stereotypes or appropriate other people’s experiences.

For another great post on this, read You Are Not Adam Lanza’s Mother.

Notable News: Week of December 8-14, 2012

Whew!  It’s Friday at last.  I don’t know about you, but it’s been a busy week here in the Mitchell household.  My nine-year-old had strep throat (again!).  I had a big mom FAIL moment on Tuesday when I sent him to school.  He’d had a fever over the weekend, but when he went to the doctor, the quick strep test was negative.  I kept him home Monday, with no call from the doctor.  The fever had broken by then, although he was still saying his throat was scratchy and his nose was sniffly.  I sent him back to school the next day, since he seemed better.  Sure enough, the doctor called at noon on Tuesday to say it was strep!  Naturally, I picked him up from school, but not before he possibly contaminated his whole class.  Fortunately, he seems to be doing better now, though he doesn’t have his usual stamina back yet.

Anyway, we’re hours from the weekend and I’m ready to roll out this week’s best blog posts.  Enjoy!

1. My second guest post on Soul Munchies

This time out, I wrote about beauty.  Please also check out the posts by other bloggers participating in this project:

Rachel S. on obedience

MamaMely on valor

chickpastor on modesty

2. Two great posts from Dianna Anderson

Have I mentioned how much I like her writing?  First, she speaks to the damage modesty culture does to men by inducing shame, guilt and fear.  I find myself yet again reminded that patriarchy is bad for men, too.  In the second post, Dianna deftly skewers the Good Men Project and their sympathy for rapists.  I don’t doubt that there are some actual good men writing on that site, but the site itself needs to die a long, painful death.

3. A rape awareness campaign I can endorse

On the flip side, not everyone gets it wrong.  Most “rape awareness” is targeted at women on how not to get raped.  (This is a common theme with aggression; anti-bullying campaigns usually focus on how not to be a victim as well.)  This ad is exactly the kind of thing we need.  It gets at the root of the problem, which is not “women need to stop leading men on/putting themselves in compromising situations” but “people who have uninvited sex with others are rapists.”

4. A sad, sweet, beautiful Christmas short fiction

I like to feature the work of my fellow writers, whether it be social commentary, news, or original fiction.  This story, written as a guest post by Christine Royse Niles on The Daily Gallen, will ring true for many people.  The imagery is vivid and the emotions are genuine.

Have a great weekend, everyone!