Saturday, December 28, 2013

Did You Ask Your Child to Join Your Family Today?

I'm tired of hearing it from all sides. Whether people promote big families or warn against them, they all seem to agree on conditional living and deprivation as a necessary part of expanding the family.

It's frustrating to hear attachment parents. Often the scene is set, consisting of a new mom with one infant who is zealous about jumping at her every infant's cry and sure that the vague but exciting sound of non-punitive parenting is the right way to live.

She is quite sure, having just completed a few weeks out of a journey that lasts past 18 years (yes, Hon, 18 years is not the finish line, it's the marker for 1 part of a triathlon) that no one can have more than one child. Or at least, the children must be 3-5 years apart, minimum, to ensure each child is properly cared for and bonded.

In her whirlwind world filled with the contradictory pattern of parenting, of complete boredom overlain with streaks of anxiety and rushing, she can't possibly imagine another parent being attached to more than one. Secretly, some days, she worries she's not attached to the only one she has now!

It gets worse. Along come the moms with many. And for the purpose of this post, I won't define how many is many. It's dependent more on your culture than an actual number. For example, having grown up in a natural/homeschooling/Christian community, I don't think families are large until they reach 8 kids. Maybe 6 with multiples. My own brood of 4 is quite small in my mind. I have some large-family mom friends who are dancing because they only have 6 kids LEFT in the nest. But I digress.

Along come the moms of many. They've had a long trip. Most of them are first generation, meaning they've learned about healthy living and holistic parenting as they went along, changing things with each child and praying for forgiveness. With that comes the tough duty of breaking old habits and replacing ingrained conditioning. They are the ones who dug lines in the sand and then swept over them, life carrying them along, making concessions as they kept their heads above water. Attachment parenting? Bah, that's not only not for large families, that's detrimental!

Why, a kid needs to get roughed up, pushed out of place and reminded not to be selfish! As each of their children slid into the home run as a newborn, knocking the other children out of the limelight, cast to the side, quietly tucked into bed by someone else or maybe not at all, these mothers did what they could. Oh, yes, they did what they could and they did it with all the pounding, overflowing love a mother feels for her children. But they dare not consider it wasn't enough. So in their minds, it became beneficial.

Should you have another child? Should you add to your family? I don't know. I can't say I even care as I disagree with the question itself. We don't control the destiny of another person. Anyone who has fought infertility, loss, IVF failure etc for years can tell you this. Out of all the questions you ask about family size, do you ever turn to the darkness in the middle of the night and whisper, "Would you like to join our family?"

Little Person out you want to be part of our family?
Little Person, are you waiting?
Little Person, is that your voice in my heart?
Little Person, who are you?

In the family size and parenting method debate, everyone misses the truth about big families who parent intuitively. It's not about the parents. It's not about what we want. It's not about how good we are or how much money we make or how well researched we are on the method. A mom who asks what her children can do for her or if she has "enough" for her children has placed human limits on her family, limits that are felt in that family bond. A limit implies that only a measured amount of love is available.

Can she stretch that conditional love over 3 kids? What about 4? Maybe they can bring 5 kids in if they knock a few kids off the pedestal? It's good for them, after all.

Hey, I know! Bring in another child because you can use hand me downs. Have another child because you can make them take care of each other. Or alternatively, refuse to bring another child into your family because you can't give them new clothes. Restrict your family size because you want to care for each child one at a time. Whichever one floats your boat, you have to realize that they are two sides of the same coin.

No. To find out if another person is ready to be in your family, look instead to the unconditional love. Look instead to the cessation of limits. Feel good when your child is beautiful and smiling and the sun is casting a glow over the yard and your heart swells. But know the truth when the days are long and cold and your child is unlovable but you sweep her up and love her more.

Bask in the happiness of posting sweet newborn photos, of doing the right thing in a parenting topic, of cleaning and baking and playing house competently. Then know the truth when those things look dull and you turn instead to jumping in leaves and making fairy houses late into the night.

Look to when your heart fills, then overflows. Look for when you love, and then you groan that long, deep sound from within, like a woman at her birth, fully intent on her task, every cell in her body moving towards one directive. Do you hear that sound, when you reach your end but find one more unit of love, and then you dig and you dig and you realize there is no end to that unit and it's all flowing into one?

There is your next child.

No matter the number of children, let your heart overflow.

Jewish Professor: A Jew Argues for Child Rights Over Religious Circumcision

A Jew Argues for Child Rights Over Religious Circumcision
By Dr. Rebecca Steinfeld  

Censuring circumcision in Europe is about child protection, not anti-Semitism.

(TEL AVIV) - Circumcision without consent violates a person’s right to bodily integrity, a cornerstone of post-Holocaust human rights law.

Two years ago, in response to an article I wrote questioning circumcision, the British historian Geoffrey Alderman dedicated his column to my character assassination, describing me as “a leading anti-Jewish Jew of the younger generation.” Though I appreciated the attention, I was disappointed – why not “the” leading anti-Jewish Jew? It would have brought my parents such nachas.

Still, I was luckier than the Council of Europe: After it passed a motion declaring the circumcision of young boys for religious reasons “a violation of the physical integrity of children,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry accused it of fostering “hate and racist trends in Europe.” With accusations flying, the Council’s special rapporteur, Marlene Rupprecht, countered that the “vote does not intend to stigmatize any religious community or its practices,” but to reach “a wide consensus on the rights of children.”

So, who’s right? Those who say censuring circumcision is a manifestation of anti-Semitism, or those who say it’s a necessary step in child protection?

I think the latter are right, but I also understand why some think it’s anti-Semitic: Circumcision is a profoundly meaningful Jewish practice imbued with great cultural value. Consequently, attempts to limit it have sometimes been part of broader efforts to suppress Jewish practice. Antiochus Epiphanes, the draconian ruler of Judea in the second century B.C.E., imposed severe penalties on circumcision as part of his attack on Judaism. The Spanish Inquisition and Nazism were both accompanied by restrictions on circumcision. In 2011, an attempt to ban infant circumcision in San Francisco coincided with the publication of a cartoon called Foreskin Man, replete with anti-Semitic imagery.

Understandably, this has left its imprint on Jews’ collective memory. It makes sense that the journalist Tanya Gold asked whether the recent motion is “an attempt to achieve with paper what other methods could not – the removal of Jews from Europe?”

These are grave concerns. But do they stand up to scrutiny? It seems ethnocentric given that two thirds of the world’s circumcised males are actually Muslims and only 0.8 percent are Jewish. If anything, in Europe, hostility toward Muslims is a more likely motivator, as the anti-circumcision bill recently introduced by the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party could suggest.

Rather than prejudice against religion, I think it makes more sense to interpret criticism of circumcision as the consistent application of human rights to both boys and girls. This is clear in the special rapporteur’s Explanatory Memorandum. Concern about the genital cutting of children is best understood within the context of Europe’s, especially Germany’s, focus on human rights and medical ethics following the atrocities of the Holocaust.

Hard though it may be to hear, irreversibly removing a healthy body part – in this case, part of a boy’s genitals – without consent, violates a person’s right to bodily integrity, a cornerstone of post-Holocaust human rights law. It also undermines that child’s right to an open future, since a boy who has been circumcised must live forever with his parents’ choice.

Supporters of circumcision counter that parents’ rights to religious freedom, and the significant cultural value they ascribe to the practice, must take priority. They argue that even if the intention behind those censuring circumcision in Europe is not to harm Jews, harm to Jewish life and traditions will be the outcome.
It’s true that censuring circumcision could curtail the expression of an until-now definitional Jewish practice. But the right to manifest one’s religion is not absolute – it is limited by the harm caused to others. In 2011, 11 boys under the age of one were treated for life-threatening hemorrhage, shock or sepsis relating to circumcision in Birmingham Children’s Hospital in the United Kingdom. In the United States, it’sestimated that 100 boys die as a result of circumcisions every year. Can religion per se justify this?

Supporters of circumcision also say it’s an ancient, meaningful practice. But neither longevity nor meaning is usually accepted as sufficient moral justification to override individual rights. As one Orthodox Jewish father, Elie Jesner, puts it, “Mankind has been doing horrendous things for thousands of years: slavery, capital punishment, condemning homosexuals, oppressing women. That is not a club of actions I want to be part of.”
From a Jewish perspective, there are other issues. First, circumcision does not confer Jewish status. As Shaye Cohen, professor of Hebrew literature and philosophy at Harvard University, explains, “Male and female offspring of a Jewish mother are Jewish by birth under Jewish law; the male offspring are Jewish by birth even if they are left uncircumcised.” Second, biblical circumcision was not as extensive as today’s variant, which is actually an innovation of rabbis in the Hellenic period trying to stop Jewish men from restoring their foreskins. Evidently, definitional Jewish practices can and have evolved.

Given all of this, it’s not surprising that some Jews are questioning the practice. A 2006 online survey reported in Haaretz found that nearly a third of parents of boys would prefer to forgo circumcision, but have it done primarily for social reasons. Israel is now home to the intact support group Kahal, while in the United States, Beyond the Bris and Jews Against Circumcision have sprung up.

Jews who question circumcision from the point of view of human rights and medical ethics should be respected, not demonized. But all critics of circumcision must be vigilant about the company they keep, distancing themselves from anyone not exclusively motivated by child protection. There is no place for anti-Semitic arguments or imagery.

Equally, well-intentioned Jews who continue to circumcise their sons should not be maligned. The significant religious and cultural value they ascribe to circumcision must be appreciated and understood. But reconsidering the practice in light of its human rights and ethical implications should be encouraged, as should non-surgical rituals, such as brit shalom.

I know this isn’t easy – the weight of God, history and human rights hangs in the balance – but what we need in Jewish communities is debate, not denunciations.
Meanwhile, the Council of Europe should stand firm. If it backs down and denies some children their rights because their parents adhere to the Jewish tradition, it would single out only those children for lack of protection. Now that really would be anti-Semitic.

Dr Rebecca Steinfeld is a political scientist at SOAS, University of London. She tweets @beccasteinfeld

Jewish Intactivism - A Male Human Rights Movement!

Links related to Judaism and Israeli IntactivismIsraeli Intactivist Groups (Mostly in Hebrew)
The Israeli Association Against Circumcision / Intact Son
Protect the Child
Kahal (Group for Israeli Parents of Intact Sons)
Intactivism Spreads in Israel. This Time by Jews.

Jewish Intactivist Resources and Groups
Cut: A Movie by an Orthodox Intactivist.
Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective By Ron Goldman, Ph.D.
Beyond the Bris by Rebecca Wald.
Jews Against Circumcision

Peaceful Covenant Texts for Jewish Parents.
What is a Jewish Brit Shalom (Covenant Without Cutting)? A 'Bloodless Bris' is Becoming Popular Among American Jews
HowJudaic is the circumcision?
 An Israeli Hebrew scholar on Biblical intactivism.
100+ Rabbis who lead covenant without cutting ceremonies worldwide.
Song for an Intact Jewish Boy’s Welcoming.
Brit B'lee Milah Ceremony
A Brit Shalom Ceremony

Judaism, the Foreskin and Human Rights.
Rabbis on a Covenant without Circumcision
Humanistic Judaism is Increasingly Intactivist
Jewish Ethics, the Foreskin, and Human Rights | Part 1.
Jewish Ethics, the Foreskin, and Human Rights | Part 2.
Jewish Ethics, the Foreskin, and Human Rights | Part 3.

Jewish Intactivist Families: Jewish Parents' Experiences Keeping their Sons Intact. 
Jewish Family in Canada Opts for a Brit Shalom
Following Our Hearts: A Jewish Father's Brit Shalom Journey 
Laura Shanley: A Jewish Woman Denounces Circumcision
Moshe Rothenberg: Ending Circumcision in the Jewish Community?
Michael Kimmel: The Kindest Un-Cut: Feminism, Judaism, and My Son's Foreskin | Published in Tikkun.
Circumcision Questions (letter from an intact Jew). | Published in the Northern California Jewish Bulletin.
Outlawing Circumcision: Good for the Jews? By Eli Ungar-Sargon. Published in the Jewish Daily Forward.
Dear Elijah: A Conservative Jewish Father's Letter to His Intact Son | Published on Peaceful Parenting.
Stacey Greenberg: My Son: The Little Jew with a Foreskin | Published in Mothering Magazine.

See Zon Run (A look at Child-Led Learning)

How has unschooling been for us in the early stages? DD is now 5 years old and has not been forced to do lessons, flash cards or other structured schooling methods. What does this look like in our home, and how is she learning?

DD needs me to wait for her cue. She does not like to be interrupted or directed in her learning. She wants to explore and think about things on her own, only coming to me for minor assistance. "How do you spell this word, Mama?" "Why does this letter make more than one sound?"  "Alright, Mama, go away!"

I receive a tolerant smile before she goes back to carefully storing
her treasure: her first microscope!
She's growing in leaps and bounds right now, sounding out words left and right, making up rhymes on her own and writing everything down on her doodle board and notebooks. I picked up an entire box of notebooks from after-school clearance at Target so she can write to her heart's content.

She has received actual workbooks from traditional homeschooling friends and she does like them. But I have not drilled her. I have not prodded her. I have not made her sit down for lessons or made her fill out the workbooks. Her work and progress are hers alone, from her own motivation and her own dedication to learning. She seems especially predisposed towards math and started completing equations before she was verbally able to process terms such as subtraction and multiplication.

Maybe that explains why she loves baking??
Art of course is a given and must come from DH's side of the family because I can't draw or craft for my life lol. I remember as a toddler, if she wasn't holding a drawing apparatus, her fingers would still begin to wiggle uncontrollably and she would trace her fingers on the ground, walls, seat, anything!

What five year old begs to go to the art museum
to see Giovanni Paolo? This one!
It's interesting to watch her growth spurts in reading, music, language, math, etc. Because this is how she has been with other things since birth. For example, one day she decided to walk. No amount of coaching or guiding would have helped, and she was offended by offers to help.

Or another example, around age 3, I bought her a 2 wheel bike and encouraged her to ride it without training wheels. She was capable, but unwilling. I waited. I backed away. Sure enough, one night she took her bike out of storage and began balancing on it in her bedroom, then demanded to ride it outside. Off she went as if she had been riding it the entire time!

Even at her birth, she taught me the same lesson of letting go and trusting. Wait, wait, wait, Mom. Give me space, Mom! She has a plan and she's going to stick to it!

Medical Studies Show Chickenpox Vaccine Causes Disease, Shingles, Death

The studies below are provided for your reading convenience regarding chickenpox vaccination and resulting disease, shingles disease, death, sepsis and other issues.

Journal of Clinical Virology. 2013 Nov 1. pii: S1386-6532(13)00475-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2013.10.027. [Epub ahead of print]
Disseminated vaccine-strain varicella as initial presentation of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome: A case report and review of the literature.

"We describe a man with previously-undiagnosed human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection who received VZV vaccination and subsequently presented to a combat hospital in Afghanistan with disseminated varicella, respiratory failure, and sepsis. The patient recovered with ventilator and hemodynamic support, intravenous acyclovir, and empiric antibiotic therapy. DNA sequencing detected Oka strain virus from patient blood specimens." 

(Oka strain is from the vaccine, showing that patients with undiagnosed conditions can experience infection and complications after vaccination.)


Herpes zoster after varicella-zoster vaccination

"A five-year-old girl, vaccinated against varicella-zoster virus (VZV) presented with clinical symptoms of herpes zoster in the 6th cervical dermatome. A VZV direct immune-fluorescence assay was negative three times but additional genotypical analysis showed a VZV strain genotype 2 (Oka vaccine strain). Therefore the diagnosis of a breakthrough varicella disease with the vaccine strain was established. An immunodeficiency was ruled out and the patient responded well to the initiated therapy." 

(Shows that shingles can occur despite vaccination, that it can happen in a healthy child and that tests can be falsely negative.)

Human Vaccine Immunotherapy. 2013 Aug 27;10(1). [Epub ahead of print]
Fatal varicella due to the vaccine-strain varicella-zoster virus.

"The patient developed severe respiratory complications that worsened with each new crop of varicella lesions; vaccine-strain VZV was detected in the bronchial lavage specimen. Sepsis and multi-organ failure led to death...Providers should monitor for adverse reactions after varicella vaccination." 

(Shows that severe infection and complication can occur after vaccination and that infants should be tested for immune health before vaccinating.)


J Clin Virol. 2003 Jul;27(2):190-9.
Molecular diagnosis of zoster post varicella vaccination.

"VZV was isolated from zoster occurring 16 months after varicella vaccination in a 2-year-old infant. Including VZV wild-type and different Oka strains as controls, viral DNA fragments located in the open reading frames (ORF) 38, 54, 62 and the R5 variable repeat region were characterized by amplification and restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLP) analysis.
VZV vaccine strain Oka was definitely proven to be the causative virus in this case of zoster post vaccination."

(Shows that shingles in a toddler after vaccination was caused by the vaccine strain.)


Eur J Pediatr. 2002 Aug;161(8):442-4. Epub 2002 Jun 25.
Herpes zoster by reactivated vaccine varicella zoster virus in a healthy child.

"We report a healthy 2-year-old girl who developed an impressive herpes zoster infection 16 months after vaccination... As causative virus, VZV vaccine strain was identified...
Vaccine varicella zoster virus can occasionally reactivate in healthy children and present as herpes zoster. Virus characterisation is necessary to identify the strain and provide information on the incidence of occurrence."

(Shows that the vaccine can cause shingles in healthy patients after vaccination, and that specific viral testing is required to prove the strain and determine how often this happens.) 

Herpes zoster due to Oka vaccine strain of varicella zoster virus in an immunosuppressed child post cord blood transplant.

"A 5-year-old boy was vaccinated with the Oka strain of varicella zoster virus vaccine before cord blood transplant for chronic granulomatous disease in 2005. In 2006, he developed herpes zoster on his left arm. DNA from the vesicular rash confirmed the Oka vaccine strain of varicella zoster virus caused this complication."


Ann Emerg Med. 2009 Jun;53(6):792-5. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2008.10.023. Epub 2008 Nov 22.
Herpes zoster and meningitis resulting from reactivation of varicella vaccine virus in an immunocompetent child.

"We present one of the first cases of aseptic meningitis after herpes zoster caused by reactivation of vaccine-type varicella-zoster virus in an immunocompetent child. We also highlight the increasing role of both wild-type and vaccine strains of varicella-zoster virus as a cause of viral meningoencephalitis..."


Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2011 Mar;30(3):266-8. doi: 10.1097/INF.0b013e3181f63cf9.
Herpes zoster and meningitis due to reactivation of varicella vaccine virus in an immunocompetent child.

"In this article, we describe a previously immunized child who developed herpes zoster with meningitis. Vaccine strain of VZV was recovered from a skin swab and the cerebrospinal fluid. Reactivation of the vaccine strain of VZV should be recognized as a potential cause of meningitis in children."


Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2008 Sep;27(9):847-8. doi: 10.1097/INF.0b013e318170af75.
Vaccine-strain varicella zoster virus causing recurrent herpes zoster in an immunocompetent 2-year-old.

"We report a case of recurrent vaccine-strain herpes zoster in an immunocompetent 2-year-old child. Vaccine-strain VZV was identified through polymerase chain reaction"

(Shows that a sickly toddler had frequent cases of shingles caused by the vaccine strain.)


J Clin Microbiol. 2004 Dec;42(12):5604-8.
Genetic profile of an Oka varicella vaccine virus variant isolated from an infant with zoster.

"Varicella virus vaccine strain Oka (V-Oka) has in rare cases caused zoster in vaccinated people. Despite broad usage of V-Oka, little is known about varicella-zoster virus genomic sequence variation of strains in vaccine and isolates from patients with vaccine adverse events....Further studies will be needed to identify potential virulence factors in variant vaccine strains."

(Shows that they do not know enough about the vaccine viruses to find out how many people are being hurt by vaccination strains.)


Herpes zoster in childhood.


"Because varicella vaccine is a live attenuated virus, herpes zoster can develop in a vaccine recipient. ...The most common complications are secondary bacterial infection, depigmentation, and scarring...viral DNA analysis of the lesion by polymerase chain reaction or restriction fragment length polymorphism is necessary to differentiate wild from vaccine-type viruses."

(Shows that the vaccine can cause disease and that DNA testing is required to differentiate between natural strains and vaccine strains.)

Primary versus secondary failure after varicella vaccination: implications for interval between 2 doses.


"Literature to date indicates a relatively high rate of primary vaccine failure and limited evidence of secondary vaccine failure among 1-dose varicella vaccine recipients, suggesting that a short interval between 2 doses might be preferable in countries considering implementation of universal varicella vaccination to reduce breakthrough varicella."

Adenosine deaminase deficiency associated severe combined immunodeficiency with disseminated varicella infection after vaccination: a case report


"The patient had the condition with failure to thrive. The main complaint was more than three weeks of fever and rash. He had received the live attenuated Oka strain varicella vaccination approximately two weeks before the onset of rash. ...Live vaccine administration should be avoided in patients with immunodeficiency."

Primary vaccine failure after 1 dose of varicella vaccine in healthy children.


"Although vaccine effectiveness has usually been 85%, rates as low as 44% have been observed. Whether this is from primary or secondary vaccine failure-or both-is unclear...Our data contrast with reported seroconversion rates of 86%-96% by other VZV antibody tests and suggest that many cases of varicella in immunized children are due to primary vaccine failure. A second dose of varicella vaccine is expected to increase seroconversion rates and vaccine effectiveness."

(Translation: the original vaccine protocol failed so we recommend more vaccines.)

For more information on chickenpox and shingles see:

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Parenting Diet: A New Year's Project for Family Wellness

"I love your post about grooming techniques however as a child of this I have a really hard time getting away from it in my parenting. I do a lot of the "if you don't do this we can't do that" sort of thing and yet I struggle to find other ways to get my needs completed while not using threats or bribery... I'd love a post on some suggestions to get out of this cycle if you are up to it! Thanks!"

This is a good catch. The way we parent our children will develop a foundation of interacting with other people. Conditional behaviors, whether negative or positive, teach our children that relationships are based on payments given and services rendered. Some people might desire to live this way, but blindly teaching a child to accept this as normal opens up the door to grooming.

What is grooming? It's a technique, a method that mixes positive manipulation (bribery, praise, gifts) with negative control (threats, deprivation, pain) that slowly, over time, breaks down the child's autonomy or blurs boundaries. This can be done deliberately so that the child is trapped into an abusive relationship, such as for sexual molestation.

But it can also be done unintentionally by passing on a cycle of learned behavior, and this is where parenting method comes into play. Parenting with punishment, threats, deprivation and bribery, even while avoiding physical punishment, can still weaken self-will and blur boundaries. (Read about praise and rewards here.)

This is, incidentally, why I have cautioned about using praise to manipulate or win the affection of children. Often, people mistake this warning to mean we are never to appreciate or uplift our children. I'm speaking to the way we use our naturally higher status as parents and the child's natural propensity to want to please us to then control the child for an outcome we desire.

That higher status is built into the relationship. We are the older, wiser, stronger, larger, smarter, richer people in the relationship. The other person (the child) has to do everything first- learn a language, learn how to walk, heck even learn how to use the toilet. Children are completely dependent on us for survival and for fulfillment of basic emotional needs.

It is extraordinarily simple, then, to use our higher status and the child's dependency to manipulate situations so we can get what we want (and as parents raising children, usually what we think is needed.) If we can give everything to the child, we can take everything away. If we can light up our child's day, perhaps we should demand something in return, right?

Despite how tempting this is, this way of conditional living stunts us. Not only the children, but ourselves as well. No one wins when a relationship is one sided or when one person is being tricked/manipulated/threatened to do what the other person wants. It also preps our children to take their new role in adult relationships, whether victim or perpetrator, the cycle will be repeated.

Ok, so you're reading this and nodding your head. It all makes sense. The real nitty gritty here is: how in the world do we implement an unconditional way of living with infants, toddlers and beyond? How does anyone do that? Stages are tough, time is pressed, patience is short.

It's a tall order, especially if we have a lot to sort out from our own childhood. Breaking old habits and ingrained behavior is one of the most difficult things to do, but for our children and our own ongoing wellbeing, it is well worth it. So even if you worry that you aren't sticking to it 100%, or maybe 10%, every effort is worth it and every time you practice, things get easier.

Stage 1: Detox

The first stage is the hardest. As with a dietary detox, it is painful and can be wrongly identified as an illness. Have you ever done a detox or elimination diet? As you shed the harmful things in your diet, you feel ill. You feel achy, have migraines, random rashes, even a fever, vomiting and more. Someone not aware of how a detox works can be spotted easily. "Oh, I tried that new health diet but 3 days into it, I got horribly sick! I guess I need my grains more than I thought!" or "That herbal liver support gave me a migraine and a rash. Must be junk!"

Well, this is how it works when flushing your parenting method, and you will have similar complaints and be at risk of making a similar yet wrong conclusion. As you detox the threats, bribery, deprivations, time outs, false praise, emotional attacks and more, you will see all of the harm come out of your child. Your child will act out to put it simply. There will be screaming, crying and testing. All of the hurt, fear and yes, anger, will come out. All of the things your child has wanted to say will come out. As the detox continues, your child might test you fiercely, trying to find out if you are going to stay with this or fall back into punitive parenting.

Don't make the mistake of quitting a few days or a few weeks into this detox period and saying that unconditional parenting was to blame. Take the opportunity of a detox to forge new, stronger bonds with your children and to heal from any past hurts.

Parental detoxes are best started when you have the most ability to be successful. Avoid parental detoxes around holidays, heavy work/school schedules, recent sickness/death, pregnancy/adoption or other big life events. Choose the most laidback time of the year. One rule of thumb: when is it easiest for you to potty train? That's probably the right time for detoxing.

Unless your children are very young, begin with a family meeting. Directly address the family dynamic and discuss how things are changing. Encourage participation and ideas. Shape this into what works best for your family. Some might make charts, others might make a family mission statement and sign it. This is a great New Year's project. Keep it stress free and don't pressure the children, as some might already start displaying confusion or negative feelings.

Following the process of dietary detox, go slow. Let me say that again. Go slow. This isn't a movie and you won't turn into a champion boxer or fall in love in a 30 second scene. Introduce one unconditional concept and then work on it for a few weeks. Don't try ten at the same time. Don't think you will completely change your life overnight. That is a set up for feeling guilty and breeding confusion. Just as you would eliminate dairy and wait 6 weeks, so should you eliminate threats and wait 6 weeks. Then move onto another one.

Pick out the most likely culprit. Do you yell all day? Start on that one. Are you always telling your child to go sit in the corner? Tape off the corner. Is it a constant fight over how many minutes the child gets to watch tv/play videogames? Work on deprivation. Whatever one it is for you, pick one and expect to work on it for a long time. You and your children deserve a long term investment, not a quick fix that exhausts everyone and fails.

Stage 2: Nourish

Going back to our analogy about detoxing the body, it's not enough to merely remove the harmful food from our diets. We need to replace the harmful food with something nourishing. Say, for example, that grains were harming your gut so you removed them. You need to replace them with bountiful amounts of foods that nourish you. A "glutened gut" is painful, but feeling fatigued, faint, dizzy and depressed due to not eating nourishing food is also painful and can set you up for yo yo eating.

Watch out for yo yo parenting. If you find yourself resorting to original parenting methods, it's a sign that your toolbox is light and your fuel gauge is on empty. Spend time researching your one chosen problem area (threats, bribery, manipulative praise, yelling, etc). Find out what can replace these behaviors. Figure out the underlying problem and then look for different ways to resolve it.

At this point, parents tend to have a revelation. There isn't a behavior problem. They realize there's a relationship problem.

Example: All that bribery might have been necessary because the child feels he is asked to do more than his siblings and has grown resentful. He feels used, so he aims to use his parents by encouraging a cycle of bribery. Instead of continuing in this cycle, the parents have detoxed, listened to his complaints and acting out, and are ready to provide solutions. What could they do? They could set out a structured chore plan so that the other siblings don't shirk. They could make a commitment to stop "leaning on" him, and set firm boundaries to ensure he isn't expected to cover everyone else. They could fill up his "emotional bank" with deposits merely out of love and not with strings attached.

Example: A mother who feels she can't get her child to do anything without a threat realizes that her life is moving quickly. When asked what her most commonly used parenting phrase is, she says without hesitation, "Hurry up!" Hurry, c'mon, let's go, over here, get moving, what's taking so long, where are you...Do you hear these words a lot in your home? It could mean restructuring is in order. A child being obstinate in this situation, especially a toddler, most likely indicates emotions such as confusion, stress and being overwhelmed. The mother started to think her toddler was being defiant and making her late. After working to restructure her day and work in much longer prep times, she realized her child was stressed out and hurting. (Read The Day I Stopped Saying "Hurry Up" for inspiration).

Example: It's not always about the children, either! A mother who feels that she yells all the time realized she was burned out and depressed. Her yelling was a last resort that became an all-the-time resort. She felt she didn't have the mental or physical stamina to guide her children all day long. Soon enough, she was "couch parenting" and yelling to get results. Of course, the hard thing about yelling is that children grow accustomed to it, requiring more yelling. As the mother began her detox, she started to notice it stemmed from other relationships and not the parent/child relationship at all.

Her marriage was rocky and her mom had moved in and was very overbearing, causing a ton of stress. Instead of addressing those relationships, she had subconsciously burdened her parenting relationship. What could she do? Awareness is a huge step in these scenarios. Just being aware of WHO or WHAT is truly causing the stress can do wonders for letting go of it or keeping it away from the children. Implementing strict self care is helpful, such as absolutely committing to one hour of exercise a day, or a daily shower, or a weekly meeting for a hobby (painting, music, dance, etc). Actually taking that leap and working on a tough marriage or unresolved parental baggage can be amazingly freeing and energize you enough to break the yelling habit. (Join the Yell Free Year Challenge.)

Some ideas on nourishing 

Commit to a family activity together. Even if it's a walk around the block every night after dinner, it's still nourishing. Just as that one apple is only one apple, but it's a healthy one for you, so is every little step you take in this department.

Relieve pressure or stress wherever possible. Pick your fights, or in this case, pick your stress. Create bubbles throughout the day or week where things can be laidback. This lets children continue the detox process and reconnect with you. Leave space after dinner for hanging out together. Go on a vacation if you can but make it a relaxing one without a schedule.

Promote self-care and boundaries. Ensure each child has personal property, personal space and personal time with the parent. Ensure YOU are caring for yourself daily. Yes, daily. You must be actively working on your health if you want your children to be heart, mind and body.

Bring in the big guns. If things are really out of sorts or you feel you learn better with direct interaction, seek out a therapist or teacher. Attend a seminar. Go to a parenting meeting or group. Often, parents use certain methods because that's all they've seen, and they have no other reference point.

Committing to a change in your parenting is a journey that takes time and baby steps. Again, don't add too many new ideas and don't go too fast. Give yourself a wide buffer for forgiveness and change. Expect things to get crazy before they get better. Dedicate time to caring for yourself and resolving stresses in other areas of your life or from your childhood so that you can break the cycle and provide new skills to your children. This is a hard process and can be unpleasant at times, but as you begin to heal together as a family, it will be well worth it.

Related blog posts:

Protecting children from abuse:

The problem with gentle parenting:

You aren't enough:

The house can wait:

Related parenting resources:

Knost is raising 6 children with gentle parenting and has released 3 books on the topic:

Laura has a HUGE treasure of articles on gentle parenting:

A super inspirational mom stops yelling:

This place is great for asking advice and developing a community:

Dulce and Samuel bring charity back into faith:

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

ISRAEL: Jewish Mom Makes Case for Intactivism Intactivist Movement Develops in the Holy Land

Jewish mother and Israeli Intactivist Elinor holds a sign that reads "The right of the human over his own body”

“Help! I’m asking for the help of the public! I am a mother to a baby. The Rabbinical Court is forcing me to cut my year old son against my will (circumcise him) while subjecting me to heavy financial sanctions daily!

After my exposure to the information regarding circumcision, I refuse to mutilate my baby. I don’t have the right and I do not agree! He was born whole and he will stay whole! His integrity is his full right! The Religious Court has no right to do that! No one in the whole world is authorized to force me to mutilate my son, to cut his penis!

What kind of a state is this?! What is this? Where do we live? Could the Religious Court force upon me anything during the divorce? In particular, religious oppression, unnecessary cutting of the penis of a helpless baby? A non-reversible surgical operation! A foreskin does not renew itself!
The baby can not express his own will. The right to decide is his alone. It is his body! The right, is not mine, nor anyone else’s in the entire world, but his own only!

I am pleading for help! I love my son very much! I do not want to hurt him! Please pass this message on to anyone possible so it won’t be a precedent for future divorce cases in the Rabbinical Court which authorizes itself to force religious oppression upon a nonreligious divorcing person! Why does the religious court take advantage of its monopoly on marriage?! It’s a degrading abuse of power, used for religious oppression! Religion has to be voluntary from the heart, not by force and financial penalties!

Where do we live? Where is the supervision? Where is the government?! I am crying for help! Unfortunately, here, in the state of Israel!”

- Elinor

You can support Elinor here: and here:

Links related to Judaism and Israeli Intactivism
Israeli Intactivist Groups (Mostly in Hebrew)
The Israeli Association Against Circumcision / Intact Son
Protect the Child
Kahal (Group for Israeli Parents of Intact Sons)
Intactivism Spreads in Israel. This Time by Jews.

Jewish Intactivist Resources and Groups
Cut: A Movie by an Orthodox Intactivist.
Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective By Ron Goldman, Ph.D.
Beyond the Bris by Rebecca Wald.
Jews Against Circumcision

Peaceful Covenant Texts for Jewish Parents.
What is a Jewish Brit Shalom (Covenant Without Cutting)? A 'Bloodless Bris' is Becoming Popular Among American Jews
HowJudaic is the circumcision?
 An Israeli Hebrew scholar on Biblical intactivism.
100+ Rabbis who lead covenant without cutting ceremonies worldwide. 
Song for an Intact Jewish Boy’s Welcoming.
Brit B'lee Milah Ceremony
A Brit Shalom Ceremony

Judaism, the Foreskin and Human Rights.
Rabbis on a Covenant without Circumcision
Humanistic Judaism is Increasingly Intactivist
Jewish Religion, the Foreskin, & Human Rights | Part 1.
Jewish Religion, the Foreskin, & Human Rights | Part 2.
Jewish Religion, the Foreskin, & Human Rights | Part 3.

Jewish Intactivist Families: Jewish Parents' Experiences Keeping their Sons Intact. 
Jewish Family in Canada Opts for a Brit Shalom
Following Our Hearts: A Jewish Father's Brit Shalom Journey 
Laura Shanley: A Jewish Woman Denounces Circumcision
Moshe Rothenberg: Ending Circumcision in the Jewish Community?
Michael Kimmel: The Kindest Un-Cut: Feminism, Judaism, and My Son's Foreskin | Published in Tikkun.
Circumcision Questions (letter from an intact Jew). | Published in the Northern California Jewish Bulletin.
Outlawing Circumcision: Good for the Jews? By Eli Ungar-Sargon. Published in the Jewish Daily Forward.
Dear Elijah: A Conservative Jewish Father's Letter to His Intact Son | Published on Peaceful Parenting.
Stacey Greenberg: My Son: The Little Jew with a Foreskin | Published in Mothering Magazine.

Jewish Intactivism

Friday, December 6, 2013

Is Your Child Being Groomed? Watch out!

Watch out when other people condone grooming techniques and even use them on your children.

When I say grooming technique, I'm not referring to personal hygiene. I'm referring to the behaviors used by people (either repeating what they learned or for malicious intent) to break down your child's natural boundaries and gain control.

All people need to become aware of this ingrained behavior and work to eradicate it to protect children against abuse. Grooming techniques are not fair transactions. They aren't innocent. They aren't funny. Grooming confuses and stresses children, breaking down normal protective barriers and making them vulnerable to abuse.

Even if the person grooming your child claims an innocent-sounding reason, the grooming still makes your child vulnerable to other predators. So for example, even if innocent Grandma is grooming your children because she has outdated parenting ideas or is eager to be adored by her grandchildren, the patterns she sets in motion can make your children a target for predators.

Resist any attempts from the groomer to dismiss your concerns or make you the bad guy. Stand firmly against any grooming. Interfere. Restrict access to your child. Remind your child that any gift offered can be given freely, without strings attached. Remind your child that any threat is false and that you are here to help.

Grooming techniques are not special. Many behaviors that are otherwise normal can become part of the grooming situation. Grooming can include:

Offering gifts, candy, special privileges
Praising, especially manipulative forms that prey on weaknesses
Increasing the child’s status or favor among peers
Tickling, chasing, tagging, wrestling, which are used to break down the child’s will or establish non-verbal authority
Emotional sharing, the act of involving a child in adult or inappropriate emotional intimacy, making the child feel burdened or trapped
Threats to take away privileges, status or goods
Threats to physical, mental and emotional well being
Isolation and extended time together or reasons for one on one interaction

Grooming behaviors are used by anyone, of any sex, at any age. Children and teens can display grooming techniques if they were exposed to them. Peer on peer grooming can occur!

Listen carefully. You will hear grooming right in front of you. The groomer will do this in front of you because he or she needs to test the waters to see how well the parent is guarding the child. Here are some red flags:

”Hey, if you want me to get you a drink, you have to give Grandpa a hug!”
”No, no, let me hold you. Here, play on my phone while I’m carrying you.”
”I don’t know why she’s crying! It was just a tickling game!”
”Oh, stop whining. I’m your cousin, I deserve a hug!”
”Don’t run away now. I can catch you, I’m bigger!”
”Stop saying no to me or I’ll tell your mom here that you’re disobeying.”

In fact, groomers will often try to involve you in the situation. This is a silent show of power to the child. It sends many messages to the child. Involving the parent can make the child trust the groomer. It can make the child think the parent knows what is happening and agrees with it. It can make the child feel as if he has to obey the groomer. It can make the child give up any resistance, thinking if the parent is won over or oblivious, no one will care. Etc etc. Groomers like to use their behavior to send different messages to each person involved. Pay attention and you might find the way someone is acting around your child has more meaning.

Watch your child’s face. Any expression of stress or anger means you should immediately interfere and reaffirm the child’s boundaries. Any cry for help, any crying, whining, any “no” or “stop” must be heeded immediately. If the other person will not listen to your child or tries to tell you to go along with it, put that person on your warning list. You are not a bad parent. Your child is not undisciplined or too sensitive.

Reaffirm your child. Acknowledge whatever they are saying at the moment. "You said no." "You want to stop." "You're upset." "That scared you." Then point out what the child can do, which affirms autonomy and alters the power balance. "You can tell Uncle Jimmy no thank you." "You can always shout no." "You don't have to sit there." "It's ok to stop playing the game." Model and guide until the situation is resolved.

Practice with your child. Take every day opportunities to strengthen your child's boundaries and sense of self. Tickling, wrestling and chasing can all be used to reinforce boundaries and to emphasize "NO" and "STOP." Physical affection and intrapersonal interactions can all be used to model effective ways of communicating and interacting with other people without ignoring inner instinct.

If wrestling lasts a second too long, if tickling happens too frequently, if the child is lifted up and tries to get down but is prevented, if chasing games are encouraged where the adult wins…BEWARE. You cannot take this too seriously…again, even if the person doing this has no intent to abuse, these scripts are preparing your child for a future predator!

A good catch on film showing a child who is not comfortable with his position. 
After I took the photo and noticed his expression, I asked him if he wanted down, 
then set him down quickly. This shows that even when the situation is unintended 
you can still turn it into an opportunity to reaffirm the child's boundaries.


Protecting your child from sexual abuse:

Boundaries for survivors:

Protect your child's no:

More on tickling as abuse:

More on grooming:

Want to join the discussion? Here is the original thread!