Saving Them the Pain of a Later Circumcision

Photo by Aesop

When it comes to the topic of circumcision, an argument often touted is that the parent wants to save the child from the pain of a possible circumcision later on in life. They then follow this by the fact that they know someone who had to have a circumcision as an adult. They just want to save their child that pain. The logic of that makes me want to scream.

Let’s assume that they actually do know of a person (maybe even two) who did legitimately need a circumcision as an adult, despite the fact that medical evidence shows that circumcisions, except in extremely rare cases, are not done for legitimate medical reasons – i.e. a medical community pushing circumcisions due to lack of knowledge. What about the hundreds of men they know who did not need to be circumcised? Why base a decision on something that happened to such a small group?

Back to the assumption that the person’s son might actually need the procedure sometime later in life, having it done now isn’t saving your child from any pain. In fact, it is causing more pain. An adult male who makes the decision to be circumcised has access to adequate pain medication, which can be altered if he deems that it is not working well enough. An adult male’s foreskin is not still attached to the glans of his penis, unlike an infant’s, which must be ripped away from the glans. An adult male is not sitting in a diaper with urine and feces next to his open wound, increasing chances of infection and pain. And then, of course, is the fact that more children die from complications of circumcision than from either SIDS or car accidents.

Circumcising an infant child does not save him from pain. Will he remember having the procedure done as an infant? Probably not, but that doesn’t lessen the pain any. Given that logic, should we also remove our daughters’ mammary cells as infants to prevent them the memory of a possible mastectomy? Should we surgically remove all appendixes at birth?

Balance

Photo by Murray Barnes

Balance is a continual process. In order to stay balanced, we must be constantly shifting and adapting to even small changes in the environment or situation. When something changes, we must also change in order to maintain our balance. If we don’t, then not only do we lose our previous balance, but we tend to topple down the other side. This is true not only in regard to our activities and the busyness of our lives but with our relationships, including those relationships with our children. When our children are out of balance, we need to step over and help regain that balance rather than spiralling down, out of control.

Free Range Learning

Free Range Learning: How Home-Schooling Changes Everything by Laura Grace Weldon: Book Cover

If I could only recommend one book about homeschooling to someone, it would be Laura Grace Weldon’s Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything. There is something for everyone in this book, whether a homeschooling veteran or someone who is contemplating whether or not to homeschool their children. While the book is unschooling-lite, families of all styles will find value in the book. Free Range Learning is not merely about homeschooling; it’s about the way people learn and interact with others, about what we take from life, and about what we make of life.

Weldon’s eloquent writing is backed by numerous studies and research. The book is not a fluff read. Readers will want to take their time, pondering and digesting the information, whether the information presented is new to them or something they have long believed. With numerous personal anecdotes from homeschooling families of all styles and experiences allowing glimpses into the lives of homeschoolers, the bulk of the book relies on sound research. While I would reccomend the book to anyone with even a passing interest in homeschooling, I would not reccomend it to anyone not open to homeschooling unless they are willing to challenge their current assumptions.

Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything promises to be a valuable research for new homeschoolers everywhere for many years to come.

Disclaimer: A copy of the book was provided by the author.

Band-Aids: Badges of Honor

Photo by Benjamin Gray

There is something magical about band-aids, as any parent can tell you. When our children cut or scrape themselves, a band-aid seems to make it all feel better. It’s not really the bandage, of course. The fact that we take the time to listen to our child’s woes is what really matters.

It’s easy to brush off the little things, but when we take the time to show our children compassion by treating their hurts, visible or not, with  with love and tenderness, we let them know that we are there for them. At the same time, we model compassion, and they, in turn, act compassionately towards others.

The small price of a band-aid, even when it isn’t truly needed to protect a wound, seems inconsequential in comparison. Some day their pains will be bigger and more complicated, but we will have set up the trust for them to come to us with open honesty by showing that compassion now. Band-aids are badges of honor for us – honoring the love and compassion we wish to share with our children.

Good Morning

Photo by Paul Aloe

With each new sunrise, we are given a fresh new day. With this renewal comes fresh opportunities to savor ourselves, our loved ones, and the world around house.

Morning is a sacred time, as we awaken and ground ourselves in the new day. As such, we can set the tone for the day, holding on to grudges and hurt feelings of the day before or by embracing the new day and all that it represents.
So, as I drag myself out of bed in the morning, I embrace the possibilities. I wish my children a “Good Morning” and kiss each one of them as they get up for the day. I hold them tight and remind myself that I can help us all to embrace the beauty of life.

The School Bus Comes Early

Photo by Laurel Russwurm

The school bus comes early. At 6:30 AM, my children and I waved to the kids as they rode away on the bus. The buses began driving past our house again last week, and while we usually aren’t up to watch the early buses, we were today because we wanted to watch the sunrise and listen to the quiet of the day. Last week we were out at 11:30 PM to watch the stars.

Our schedule, or more appropriately pattern, usually isn’t quite so varied in such a short time. We typically fall into patterns, just as many families do. We encourage our children to listen to their bodies, which tend to get tired around the same time of day for a while before shifting to a new pattern. However, as unschoolers, we reserve a flexibility to our days that many families are not allotted. We can stay up late or get up early as we choose. And while we aren’t totally without any schedule, having appointments or attending field trips or activities which interest our family, for the most part, we are able to choose when we do those things and if it fits our needs.

And here I hear the cry from parents claiming  that we are setting our children up for failure when they are grown. Someday, our children will have to follow a schedule, get up at the same time everyday, and trudge to work like the rest of America. If it was mandated that adults be at jobs at a certain time, with no choice in the matter, they might have a point. However, I would argue that just because a person may have to be at work at 8 AM 15 years from now, it’s no reason to impose that schedule on a 5 year old.

There is no guarantee what hours my children might keep as adults. Perhaps they will choose to work a late shift, and yet no one claims that I should keep them up all night in order to acclimate them to such a schedule. Chances are that the position they choose will have some flexibility. Homeschoolers are more likely to be their own bosses, are more likely to go on to higher education and receive advanced degrees, and are more likely to be self-guided in these efforts.

As a mother staying with my children, my schedule does not dictate an adherence to a rigid schedule. My schedule prior to having children, working in a university setting, allowed flexibility with my hours, as does the job my husband currently has. Regardless, our choice of vocations is intrinsically tied to our hours, and we can therefore choose whether a position fits or not. It’s a choice not given to children on the way to school, whose waking and sleeping hours are not a reflection of what their bodies are telling them or what they are learning, but are dictated by a government based solely upon their age.

So, we wave to the kids on the bus and wish them a wonderful day, as we go on about our lives on our own schedule, whatever that may be to fit our needs. While those parents advocating strict adherence to schedules shake their heads at my apparent lack of structure, I smile, knowing my children, in their earnest quest for learning, are doing, and will do, quite fine in life.

I’m Not Raising Corporate America

Photo by Justin Lowery

I’ve often heard parents rationalizing punishments and rewards by citing the real world. When the kids grow up, they’ll be in the real world. In the real world, they’ll have to get a job and then, they had better be prepared. Punishments and rewards are everywhere, in the real world.

This misses a key point. I’m not raising Corporate America. I’m raising my children. So, while some day they may find themselves in a corporate position faced with a choice to make, right now they are children living their lives. I don’t run my family by Corporate America’s values – to gain as much money (i.e. reward) as possible, often at the expense of others. And frankly, if my children are ever in such a position, I hope they look beyond the immediate reward and follow what they know in their hearts is the right thing to do – not because of someone else’s beliefs or because of some extrinsic reward – but because they are following what they believe.
In Corporate America, a person can make the choice to walk away and leave. They voluntarily choose to be in that position to earn a wage with whatever consequences go with their choices. Except in rare occassions, children do not have the choice to leave their parents and family of origins in order to find a more suitable position should they deem it necessary. Arbitrary punishments and rewards only exacerbate that parental power. If you want to compare punitive parenting with the work force, a more likely comparison would be with slavery. There is no chance of leaving besides running away with the hope of not being found.
Most of us look for jobs that are rewarding. However, that reward generally isn’t the almighty dollar. The most rewarding jobs are the ones where people are doing what they enjoy intrinsically. A few companies recognize this. Google is a prime example of this, despite its huge size. Employees at Google have a voice in matters. Recognizing that happy workers are more productive workers, Google strives to provide an enjoyable work environment rather than trying to control its employees.
At the end of the day, however, work isn’t all there is to life, and most people would say that their relationships are what really matter to them. Rather than trying to control our children with punishments or rewards, we talk to them – like the people they are. Sure, some of the people in our family are smaller and younger, but these are still relationships. And the last time I checked, we are living in the real world.