Friday, April 30, 2010

SpankOut Day: Hitting doesn't help

Gentle Parent - art by Erika Hastings at Carnival of Gentle Discipline at The Baby Dust Diaries is wrapping up today. You can see the full list of published essays at the end of my submission:

Assuming the best intentions

Paige at The Baby Dust Diaries has also put up a poll in her sidebar where you can vote on your favorite post of the week. Not saying you have to vote for me, but if you want to … . The winner receives a $25 gift certificate to Wild Mother Arts. Plus, you know, acclaim.

It's been a phenomenal carnival, offering practical alternatives to punishment, primers on what gentle discipline is, and philosophical looks at why and how we practice this method of parenting.

National Spank Out Day USA April 30 2010Since April 30 is SpankOut Day USA, I thought I'd also put in another plea to end the practice of spanking and other forms of child hitting.

If you're someone who has used spanking and other physical punishment, SpankOut Day is a day to try a different method. Remember to stop and breathe before responding to your children's behavior today, and try to figure out the reasons behind their actions. You might Parent With Gentle Love -- My World Edenwildtry Naomi Aldort's SALVE technique as you practice Silent self-inquiry before you react, shift your Attention to your child to understand your child's perspective, Listen to what your child is saying and then listen some more, Validate your child's feelings by repeating them back without dramatizing, and then Empower your child to resolve the situation by showing your trust.

If you are genuinely upset by your children's behavior today, try showing your frustration without blaming your children. Let them know that you're feeling bad about the situation, and work with them to resolve it.

Finally, try a time-in instead of a time-out. If you're having a particularly hard time today with your child, try scooping your child up and snuggling together in a comfy chair. Take the time to reconnect and show that your love continues, despite the circumstances. When you're both feeling calmer, then it's time to talk through the situation.

Remember, just because you were spanked as a child or just because you've used spanking on your children in the past doesn't mean you have to continue the tradition. Today is your chance to try something new and find a way of disciplining that honors both you and your children.

If you are someone who agrees that spanking should not be used on children, take this SpankOut Day as a call to action. Start a conversation about spanking with friends, post a link to SpankOut Day on Facebook, recommend some positive discipline books on your church's message board (done that!), or write to your legislators to encourage strengthening of child-abuse laws. The fact that acceptance levels of corporal punishment have changed so much over time (via Authentic Parenting) gives me hope that we can continue pushing the trend toward no physical punishment of children. Lend your voice to protect those who are vulnerable.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ponyo the goldfish encounters breastfeeding

Sam checked out the movie Ponyo from the library. We were really excited to see it, because another Miyazaki film, Spirited Away, is one of our favorites for giving a balanced and realistic view of what childhood is like, or can be (granted, within a completely fantastical environment). One thing I appreciate in Hayao Miyazaki's cartoons is that he shows children as capable and inventive but flawed and open to learning, and his "villain" characters are nuanced and revealed to be not villains after all.

So...we were pleasantly enchanted with Ponyo. It's a story loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid that follows a goldfish (Ponyo) who becomes human after befriending a boy on land.

One thing we were surprised by was that Mikko was just as transfixed as we were, when usually he can't watch a movie through. In fact, he wanted to watch nothing but Ponyo for the next few days! He just made us fast forward through any scenes with Ponyo's ocean-dwelling father, particularly the one where he tries to prevent her from growing and leaving by squishing her down into a bubble. No matter how many times we tried to convince Mikko that Ponyo wasn't being hurt, he would get very upset by that interaction. (Remind me not to try to stop Mikko from growing...)

Anyway, there was one interaction in the movie that seriously made me gasp. I had to rewind it and try to write it down to share with you, because it was too wonderful. I might not have transcribed it verbatim, but here's the gist as far as my shorthand would allow.

Ponyo and the boy, Sōsuke, are out on a boat to look for Sōsuke's mother, who went to help out at the senior home during a big storm and flooding the night before. They come across another boat with a young family — a mother, father, and infant baby.

Ponyo is taken with the baby and offers some soup in a cup.

"Oh is that for us?" says the mother. "... Well, thank you. It smells good." She tastes it. "Wow, that's good soup. Thanks!"

Sōsuke cuts in to say, "My mom made it from scratch."

But Ponyo's annoyed. She points to the baby. "The soup's for him," she says.

The baby's mother says, "Oh, I'm sorry. He's a little too young. He can only eat milk at this age." She smiles reassuringly at Ponyo. "But I can eat the soup, and it will help me make milk for him."

Sōsuke chimes in cheerfully, "Yeah, my mom made me milk, too."

Ponyo considers this as they begin to boat away. She gets a pile of sandwiches out of their supplies.

"Here, have some milk," she says, shoving them into the mother's face. "It's for milk!" she calls.

Seriously, how adorable is that? I love that it's positive and matter of fact, and that kids watching will hear a factual and affirming message about breastfeeding. Notice that the only character in Ponyo by Miyazakithe conversation who is befuddled by breastfeeding is a goldfish-turned-human, who can be forgiven for being confused by our mammalian ways!

Incidentally, according to the IMDB message boards, the original Japanese term translated with "making milk" in the English version was more like "giving him boobies." I wish I knew how the whole conversation went in a literal translation! I think the way they ended up translating it for English audiences, though, was perfect. Just completely normal and natural.

If you know of any other instances of breastfeeding in children's films or books, please share so I can increase my library!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: General adorableness

toddler holding dolls

toddler with finger to lips

toddler eyelashes

toddler smiling

toddler grinning

He's ready for his head shot.

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