Dear Jack: My Potentially Controversial Help on Your Columbus Day Homework

5 years, 11 months.Dear Jack: My Potentially Controversial Help on Your Columbus Day Homework

Dear Jack,

You had some weekend homework to do. So after I finished cleaning the bathrooms, hosing out your sandbox and putting it away in the garage, then sweeping out the dead spiders and dust from the garage, I sat down with you at the kitchen table to help you with your assignment on Christopher Columbus.

The instructions were to have a parent help you research the origin and history of Columbus Day, then determine for yourself in your own opinion, as a Kindergartner, whether you believe we should or should not celebrate Columbus Day.

With Mommy knowing I am a closet conspiracy theorist, she suggested I should be the parent to help you with your homework assignment. So you and I got to work, to verify what I already knew about Columbus Day.

After simply Googling “Columbus Day” on my own, only clicking on sites that ended in org., I read to you how Christopher Columbus landed in the Caribbean Islands, not the United States, while attempting to find a better route to Asia. I read to you how he and his men took back some of the native people and made them work for them, to understate it; and that Columbus’s men also took back some of the native’s riches to Europe, as well.

As I read this to you, I made a point not to add to the text, so that you could truly develop your own opinion.

I went on to read that Christopher Columbus supervised his men threatening the people of the “new land” with violence if they did not convert to Christianity.

Dear Jack: My Potentially Controversial Help on Your Columbus Day Homework

After reading those few excerpts from a few official resources online (all ending in .org), you quickly marked “should not” on your homework assignment.

Even if no one can know for certain the details, it seems that you perceive Christopher Columbus like a Marvel villain, not a superhero.

I then helped you spell the rest of the answers, which explained to your teacher and your classmates why you believe we should not celebrate Columbus Day.

Then, in your wisdom, you said to me (and Mommy, who was on the other side of the kitchen counter, finishing dinner), “Daddy, I think I’m going to be the only one in my class who says we shouldn’t celebrate Columbus Day.”

However, you said this in a tone that indicated confidence and determination, not fear or anxiety.

I responded, “You’re right. There’s a good chance of that. But I like your answer. You make a good point. Why should we celebrate a man who took other people away from their families and would possibly kill them if they didn’t start believing in God? And did he really discover new land if there were already people living there in the first place?”

As your answer explained, if you were Christopher Columbus, you wouldn’t have taken the people or their belongings back to Europe.

While I may not be the most popular parent, and while I may not be helping you to have the easy answer for your homework assignment, I believe what I am doing is helping you to truly think for yourself.

You will stand alone sometimes in your beliefs, throughout your entire life. But if your stance celebrates and honors what is morally right, even if it goes against mainstream tradition, you can stand up proud in your solitude.

Still though, you can know that I am standing up with you, even if I’m not physically there with you. Because I support my son who stands up for what is right, especially when it’s the unpopular thing to do.

Love,

Daddy

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3 Bits of Parenting Advice I Wish I Had Received Beforehand: Cry It Out Method, No Fruit Juice, Discipline without Spanking

Louis CK Spanking

When you are expecting your first child, by default you are bombarded by people giving you what they think is good advice, when in reality, it’s just nonsense:

“Make sure you get plenty of sleep now, because once the baby arrives,

you’ll be wishing you had more of it!”

Lame.

That doesn’t even make sense. Even if you sleep 12 hours every day leading up to when that baby arrives, that won’t change the fact you still will be deprived of sleep once the baby is born.

It’s not like the outdated concept of “rollover minutes” on your flip phone from 2003.

Now that my second child is due in April, I’m collecting my thoughts on how to prevent making the mistakes I did with my 1st child.

Last week one of my friends I grew up with, whose first child is due a week before my second child, asked me over Facebook if I had any tips for him.

And that, of course, inspired this blog post today.

I should give this disclaimer, though: All 3 of my tips today are unpopular with the majority.

However, I know that these three tips have led to me being a more efficient parent personally and have led to the making of a good kid.

Seriously, my 5 year-old soon is a good kid. He’s bright, he’s creative, he’s active, he’s funny, he’s well-behaved, and he’s healthy. And he doesn’t get in trouble at Pre-K.

I say those things not to brag, but to provide evidence that the parenting tips I am submitting today are personally effective; not just simply my opinion.

This blog post today is written for open-minded, soon-to-be first time parents, who I am grateful are taking the time to hear what I have to say, in an effort to proactively seek help.

1) Use the “cry it out” method. I have now just revealed that I am not an “attachment parent” or a “helicopter parent”. Unfortunately, my wife and I didn’t learn this lesson until our son was 7 months old.

Your baby is depending on you to learn when night time is and when he or she should be asleep for several hours at a time. By answering your baby’s cries each time during the middle of the night, it is actually counter-productive as it prevents your baby from getting the necessary rest he or she needs; as well as yours and your spouse’s.

Yes, it can be psychologically challenging as the parent to apply the “cry it out” method, at first. It can difficult to choose efficiency over emotion, but my child is proof that this method is not damaging to the child’s psyche.

2) Fruit juice is not a healthy drink option. Yes, fruit juice contains vitamins and is hydrating. However, it doesn’t contain the fiber from the fruit needed for digestion and to balance out the sugar. So what happens is your child gets an unhealthy sugar dose (and possibly excessive gas.)

My son gets a skin rash anytime he drinks juice. That’s what fully convinced me it’s not good for him. Even my son’s dentist, Dr. Snodgrass, quickly agreed with me when I mentioned it to him during my son’s visit first. The dentist immediately acknowledged he can always tell when a child regularly drinks juice, because their teeth typically aren’t as healthy.

So with that being said, obviously sports drinks (like Gatorade) and soda are nothing less than taboo in our household.

Instead, your child can get vitamins from actual fruit and vegetables found in fruit packets; plus I highly recommend buying a Baby Bullet, to provide your child with the right nutrition.

3) Discipline your child without spanking them. Your job as the parent is to provide certain things for your child that, on their own, they are not capable of understanding they need in the moment. They are depending on your lead for these things.

They need to know when to eat (hungry), when to sleep (tired), when to play (bored), when to engage in conversation (lonely), or when they are physically incapable of feeling well (sick).

Unfortunately, it’s only natural as a parent to, in the moment, forget about these things and instead, assume your child is “misbehaving”.

Five years into this, I now know to go off the check list when I am tempted to think my son is “misbehaving”. Each and every time, he’s either hungry, tired, bored, lonely, or sick. (I invented that check list, by the way.)

My role is to proactively provide for his needs, not to physically strike him for seeking negative attention for those symptoms.

Additionally, here are my 5 alternatives to spanking that I learned from when I blogged for Parents.com:

Ignore attention-seeking behavior; pay attention to good behavior; redirect your child; teach consequences that make sense; and use time-outs for serious offenses.

Consider that professional psychologists who have actually studied spanking have come to the same conclusion: Spanking is actually less effective. Even if it was only equally effective, why physically strike your child if you don’t have to?

For me it’s all about efficiency as a parent. It’s about working smart, not necessarily hard.

No need to make yourself a martyr if you know what’s really going on in your child’s brain.

If you are open-minded to my personally effective methods I have shared today, please feel free to comment so I can get back to you.

At What Point Can I Admit My Kid Turned Out Fine, Having Never Been Spanked?

I’m used to being in the minority. I’ve typically always questioned what society’s acceptance and endorsement of what is deemed as normal and/or popular.

So it should be no surprise that I represent the minority percentage of American parents who does not spank my child.

Instead of spanking my 4 year-old son, I follow these simple guidelines I learned from back when I was Parents.com‘s official daddy blogger for those 3 years:

1. Ignore attention-seeking behavior.

2. Pay attention to good behavior.

3. Redirect your child.

4. Teach consequences that make sense.

5. Use time-outs for serious offenses.

I have no interest in trying to convert the majority, but I do believe it is relevant as a daddy blogger to show the other side of the story to those who are open-minded and/or curious.

Before I myself converted to the minority who doesn’t spank, I used to believe that “disciplining your child” and “spanking” had to be one in the same.

I feel that up until recently, there hasn’t been enough easily attainable, professional research on the subject.

So up until now, American tradition has overruled the possibility that not only is spanking less effective than “non-spanking child discipline”, but that spanking is indeed more likely to produce negative effects on the child. This is something I’ve covered before in “Is Spanking Actually More Effective Than The Alternative?“.

This point is also mentioned here below in this video featuring Robert Brooks, PhD Psychologist, featured on KidsInTheHouse.com (The World’s Largest Parenting Video Library)

With that being said, at what point can I admit my 4 year-old son turned out fine, having never been spanked?

As his dad, I am regularly told how well-behaved yet creative and full of joy my little boy is, by adults who teach him and watch him while I am not around.

He never gets in trouble at school. He’s a good kid. He’s intelligent. He’s not a brat.

That’s not to brag; instead, I’m saying that to demonstrate that my method of disciplining my son has been successful, and my method has never included spanking.

What age must he be before my method of discipline is accepted by mainstream America as effective? Do I have to wait until he’s a preteen or a teenager? Or should I wait until he’s lived a long life without a criminal record?

Is my son an exception to the rule? Or he is “just a good kid”? Or perhaps does my method of child discipline have something to do with him “just being a good kid”?

Must I proof that not spanking is effective by having more kids who all turn out to be good kids too? How many kids? At what point is my point legitimate?

As a parent, I am interested in using the most effective method out there; not necessarily the one that is most popular by tradition. For me, the evidence is right there in front of me every day when I see my son.

I would like to close with comedian Louis C.K.’s words on the matter.

Originally, I featured this in “I Find Louis C.K.’s Bit On Child Discipline Hard To Argue With“. Here’s a selection from his special, Hilarious:

“And stop hitting me, you’re huge. How could you hit me?! That’s crazy. You’re a giant, and I can’t defend myself.”I really think it’s crazy that we hit our kids. It really is–here’s the crazy part about it. Kids are the only people in the world that you’re allowed to hit. Do you realize that? They’re the most vulnerable, and they’re the most destroyed by being hit. But it’s totally okay to hit them. And they’re the only ones! If you hit a dog they… will put you in jail for that… You can’t hit a person unless you can prove that they were trying to kill you. But a little tiny person with a head this big who trusts you implicitly, f(orget) ‘em. Who (cares)? Just… hit–let’s all hit them! People want you to hit your kid. If your kid’s making noise in public, “Hit him, hit him! Hit him! Grrr, hit him!” We’re proud of it! “I hit my kids. You’re… right I hit my kids.” Why did you hit them? “‘Cause they were doing a thing I didn’t like at the moment. And so I hit them, and guess what? They didn’t do it after that.” Well, that wouldn’t be taking the… easy way out, would it?”

No matter what other parents choose for their own children, I can feel fully confident in my personal decision on not spanking. Thank you for your open-mindedness in reading my (unpopular) opinion on this much controversial topic.

At What Point Can I Admit My Kid Turned Out Fine, Having Never Been Spanked?

Questioning “I Was Spanked As A Child And I Turned Out Just Fine!” Infographic

I have to again immediately point out that I recognize I am of the small majority of American parents who does not spank my child; nor have I ever.

This is something I’ve addressed before in both I Find Louis C.K.’s Bit On Child Discipline Hard To Argue With, as well as, Is Spanking Actually More Effective Than The Alternative?

image

Whether or not other parents spank their children is none of my interest, but I do believe it’s important to help explain some of my reasoning; if nothing else, for those who are curious.

Typically, pro-spanking parents are quick to say, “Well, I was spanked as a child and I turned out just fine!”

The term “just fine” is difficult to qualify, but typically the person will follow up by saying they’ve never been to prison or killed anyone.

Following this logic, that means most prisoners, former prisoners, and ex-cons were not spanked as children. Conversely, that also implies that most children who are spanked stay out of prison.

Ultimately, since most, 80%, of American children are spanked, that means in theory that at least 80% of current prisoners and ex-cons were spanked.

In other words, I’m having difficulty seeing the validity in that spanking children keeps them from growing up to be adults who end up in prison.

During the 3 year span I was the official daddy blogger of Parents.com, I learned a lot from Richard Rende, PhD, who is an associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown Medical School. He had this to say in his article, Spanking Doesn’t Work:

 ”Let’s keep in mind here the argument for spanking – it’s purported to improve children’s behavior. Studies continue to demonstrate that it does not do this, and in fact often predicts worse behavior. So despite the personal stories and folklore about how a good spanking can change a kid, each empirical study that comes out suggests that it changes a kid for the worse, not better.

If these stories ring true, why don’t we see huge positive effects of spanking when we study kids over time?”

I think it’s easy for non-spanking parents to assume that children who are not spanked (like mine) are brats; especially if they are an only child… again, like mine.

Of course, if you personally knew my son, you would know he’s never been in any trouble at school. Actually, in public, he’s a fairly reserved little boy. So is my son just the exception?

Or would have spanking my son this whole time made him a better behaved child? I wonder what that would look like?

So instead of spanking him, I follow these simple guidelines:

1. Ignore attention-seeking behavior.

2. Pay attention to good behavior.

3. Redirect your child.

4. Teach consequences that make sense.

5. Use time-outs for serious offenses.

The one of these I find most effective is to redirect his attention. And I’ve learned not to punish him for being tired or hungry, because I have more control over his food and sleep than he does. He’s not himself when he’s tired or hungry.

I still can’t get over how Louis CK put it in his special, Hilarious:

“And stop hitting me, you’re huge. How could you hit me?! That’s crazy. You’re a giant, and I can’t defend myself.”I really think it’s crazy that we hit our kids. It really is–here’s the crazy part about it. Kids are the only people in the world that you’re allowed to hit. Do you realize that? They’re the most vulnerable, and they’re the most destroyed by being hit. But it’s totally okay to hit them. And they’re the only ones! If you hit a dog they… will put you in jail for that… You can’t hit a person unless you can prove that they were trying to kill you. But a little tiny person with a head this big who trusts you implicitly, f(orget) ‘em. Who (cares)? Just… hit–let’s all hit them! People want you to hit your kid. If your kid’s making noise in public, “Hit him, hit him! Hit him! Grrr, hit him!” We’re proud of it! “I hit my kids. You’re… right I hit my kids.” Why did you hit them? “‘Cause they were doing a thing I didn’t like at the moment. And so I hit them, and guess what? They didn’t do it after that.” Well, that wouldn’t be taking the… easy way out, would it?”

Ultimately, actual research has shown that spanking has been shown to not only be less effective, but also more detrimental to the child, as seen in the infographic below.

So while I don’t at all look down on parents who spank their children, because let’s be honest, that would mean I look down on most parents if I did, with me being the minority…

I instead can be confident in knowing the reasoning behind why I am so strange to believe that for my child, spanking is not an option.

SpareTheRoadInfographic_MSTServices

I Find Louis C.K.’s Bit On Child Discipline Hard To Argue With

With the Adrian Peterson story making unignorable headlines right now…

I Find Louis C.K.'s Bit On Child Discipline Hard To Argue With

I’m noticing that readership of my “spanking children” posts is rising:

Is Spanking Actually More Effective Than The Alternative?

I Never Saw Myself As A Non-Spanking Parent, But…

4 Out Of 5 Parents Spank Their Kids

A Slap In The Face: Child Abuse Or Discipline?

Parents And Politics: Delaware’s New “Spanking Ban”

Advice For “Granny,” Whose Grandchild Is Slapped In The Face

I realize that I’m in the minority on this one. I represent the 20% of the population who doesn’t spank (or physically discipline in any way) my child.

Simply put, the overwhelmingly majority of the American population (and likely the faithful people who read my blog) disagree with my view on spanking. Which is no problem. “To spank or not to spank” is up to the individual parent for their own child; I don’t make that decision for anyone but my own child.

It's Hard To Disagree With Louis C.K. On "Hitting Children"

So I promise I’m not trying to convert anyone here. But I do think Louis C.K., who is currently my favorite comedian, makes some very valid points. Personally, I think his statements are hard to argue with.:

“And stop hitting me, you’re huge. How could you hit me?! That’s crazy. You’re a giant, and I can’t defend myself.”I really think it’s crazy that we hit our kids. It really is–here’s the crazy part about it. Kids are the only people in the world that you’re allowed to hit. Do you realize that? They’re the most vulnerable, and they’re the most destroyed by being hit. But it’s totally okay to hit them. And they’re the only ones! If you hit a dog they… will put you in jail for that… You can’t hit a person unless you can prove that they were trying to kill you. But a little tiny person with a head this big who trusts you implicitly, f(orget) ’em. Who (cares)? Just… hit–let’s all hit them! People want you to hit your kid. If your kid’s making noise in public, “Hit him, hit him! Hit him! Grrr, hit him!” We’re proud of it! “I hit my kids. You’re… right I hit my kids.” Why did you hit them? “‘Cause they were doing a thing I didn’t like at the moment. And so I hit them, and guess what? They didn’t do it after that.” Well, that wouldn’t be taking the… easy way out would it? “

For the full, uncensored, un-family friendly version of this bit, check out Louis C.K.’s special available on Netflix, Hilarious.

I Find Louis C.K.'s Bit On Child Discipline Hard To Argue With

Again, a warning: It’s not at all family friendly; but for me, it reinforced and summarized my beliefs on child discipline better than I’ve heard anyone else ever do it.

New Infographic: Where We Donate Vs. Diseases That Kill Us

I can’t tell you in confidence that it’s socially accectable to be disinterested in participating in the phenomenon of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. But I am willing to admit, when something is that amazingly popular, I’m the guy who asks questions.

To be honest, I highly considered just quietly publishing this without promoting it on Facebook. I figured it might be a fairly dangerous thing for a guy like me to do… to express any doubts about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Yes, it does appear that most of your friends, as well as relevant celebrities, are all particating. It’s dominating your Facebook feed.

As for me, I’ve simply been a spectator. And until now, I’m given no personal opinion on the subject.

But for years now, I have publically questioned where all the money really goes and what good it’s really doing when it’s donated to breast cancer research.

 

Turns out, I wasn’t the only one wondering this. They made a documentary called Pink Ribbons, Inc. that does a great job of asking and attempting to answer those same questions.

Could it be that we tend to donate more money to the causes that are killing us the least? Or that we’re donating money to the causes that have less of a global impact, but more of a regional one?

Could it be that perhaps the #1 disease in America is fairly preventable through proper exercise and diet? And if it wasn’t, shouldn’t we be donating the most money to that cause?

Let me direct your attention to an article by Julia Belluz, featuring on Vox: The Truth About The Ice Bucket Challenge: Viral Memes Shouldn’t Dictate Our Charitable Giving.

I highly recommend reading it. The article contains this eye-opening infographic, which I believe, clearly speaks for itself.

Sure, I’m sincerely happy for charities getting money donated to them. I wouldn’t want to get in the way. But I do think it’s important to see this infographic with an open mind. So here it is, for better or worse:

New Infographic: Differences Between Diseases We Donate To, And The Diseases That Kill Us

 

I Haven’t Said Anything Controversial In A While…

March 6, 2014 at 9:33 pm , by 

3 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack,

Last week at work, I had a conversation with a co-worker named Matt, who has two small kids.

I was telling him how, the longer I’m a parent, the mellower of a person I am becoming. In other words, stuff is just bothering me less compared to the way it used to.

To my surprise, he agreed- he can also personally relate. We acknowledged that whether it’s gaining more patience, or a greater ability to not allow annoying things to bother us, the journey of being parents has broken us in, for the better.

Over three years ago, when I become a parent, I was a much more out-spoken, polarizing person; especially in regards to the world of social media… especially in relation to politics and religion.

Well, that has definitely gradually changed over the past couple of years.

For example, I no longer care to publically share my political affiliation (or disassociation). I feel that public political conversations divide people; causing them to believe that by putting blind faith into a certain political party, that there’s hope that “the other side” will be converted into an opposing belief system; therefore “getting America back on track.”

I’m so over that. I can’t change people’s political beliefs. Plus, I don’t want to be labeled (and limited) to just one side.

All I can do is hope to change the world through my behavior, which (hopefully) proves the validity of my beliefs in the first place.

Having learned that, I’ve realized that same concept applies to parenting issues which I had previously debated with other parents about.

Like the “cry it out” method, attachment parenting, and circumcision…

I used to be so quick to allow myself to get involved in public online debates over those issues. These days, I strive to not take, or present, the bait.

And really, I haven’t said anything controversial in a while…

Granted, I’m still constantly thinking out of the box, and open-minded to concepts that many people might question.

But now, I’m handling these situations differently than I would have six months or even a year ago:

Has anyone else seen the documentary “911: In Plane Site” on Netflix (will be removed on March 15) or on YouTube in its entirety? If so, will you send me a private message including your thoughts on it? I am asking for a private message response (not a comment) because I am attempting to avoid starting a comments war on my wall, in which I appear as a divisive host or commentator, or am labelled as a conspiracy theorist. I am not seeking controversy; only private answers to help sort out some confusion I’m having. Thanks.

I still like to engage people, and learn from others, but not at the risk of being polarizing. So I’m more discreet and more private about my questions and concerns regarding the world and the people who live in it.

It’s my opinion that the chaotic process of parenthood has forced me to focus on what really matters.

I have gotten to the point where I don’t feel the need to have to explain myself to other people if they find out my point of view and disagree with it. What’s the point in defending your beliefs to someone who is not open-minded to hearing them anyway?

Instead of controversy, I’m seeking the collaboration of ideas with other people.

I seek truth, not simply believing I’m right.

Being a parent has peripherally taught me to focus more on how I can become a better person withthe help of other people; not how I can try to make other people better against their will or conviction.

It’s trained me to not let things bother me like they used to. I don’t know if this necessarily makes sense to other parents, but it’s definitely how I feel.

Parenthood is a humbling process.

 

Love,

Daddy