Sunday Specials: Parenting and Rules for Women

*Sunday Specials are a weekly round-up of happenings on the web-o-sphere. So enjoy your coffee (or late night beverage) while checking out what’s caught our attention. 

1st Day of Kindergarten by Becky Allender

We saw how our friends’ children needed help when divorce, alcoholism or addictions befell them and we offered our homes, our carpooling, babysitting, and our ears and hearts to listen to their desperation. We wondered why them and not us? We watched our children lose friends for insignificant reasons and we saw our children befriend others and start over again. We weathered daughters not getting asked to dances and sons being a foot shorter than his seventh grade date. We were humbled as our children didn’t always shine or failed or rebelled and experienced punishments or even arrests. We learned not to judge other’s as we were humbled in ways we never expected.

 6 Things White Parents Can Do to Raise Racially Conscious Children by Bree Ervin

Talking about race is challenging for many parents, especially White parents. There is a lot of fear and uncertainty about this topic – from worrying that by pointing out race we are contributing to racism, to believing that by ignoring race we are creating a “color-blind” and therefore more equal world; some simply don’t know how or where to start. And we need to get over it.

The List of Rules for Women

Feel free to share thoughts on any of these links as well as what caught your attention this week!


Sunday Specials: Feminism, Israel & Gaza, Marriage and Loss

*Sunday Specials are a weekly round-up of happenings on the web-o-sphere. So enjoy your coffee (or late night beverage) while checking out what’s caught our attention. 

These Sunday Special posts have become a part of my weekly rhythm. They provide the space for me to reflect on the week gone-by as I allow hope to build for newness in the week to come. Here’s what caught my thoughts this week:

We need feminism…by Rachel Held Evan

Because in the time it took you to take a selfie with a sign declaring that the world doesn’t need feminism (about four minutes) two more American women were sexually assaulted, nearly 100 American women were abused, four women worldwide died giving birth, eight little girls were trafficked for sexual exploitation, and 6,781,920 people looked at naked women online.

Israel, Gaza, Insanity and Sanity (Part 1) by Brian McLaren

This is not a post about who is right and wrong in Israel-Palestine. This is a post about how the rest of us talk about who is right and wrong in Israel-Palestine…

So Listen- It’s Not Religious Discrimination Just Because You Can’t Discriminate by Benjamin L. Corey

It’s not discrimination when we are prevented from doing the discriminating. It’s not persecution when we are prevented from doing the persecuting. It’s not bullying when we’re told that we can’t bully others. It’s not any of those things.In fact, we should actually be embarrassed that we even have to be told that it’s wrong to fire someone for these reasons. Your place of business is NOT the same thing as your church– if you want to accept government funds, you’ll have to play by a set of rules that keeps it fair for everyone. Both for you, andeveryone else.

3 Questions to Ask Before Your Wedding Day by Zach Brittle at Verily

In my experience, most couples who come in for help during the first three years of marriage should never have gotten married in the first place. That’s not always true, of course. Some couples are super mature and have a proactive approach to maintaining a healthy relationship. I actually encourage all of my pre-marital clients to commit to a full year of maintenance therapy in order to help mitigate the transition.

How We End Up Marrying the Wrong People by The Philosophers’ Mail

We recreate in adult relationships some of the feelings we knew in childhood. It was as children that we first came to know and understand what love meant. But unfortunately, the lessons we picked up may not have been straightforward. The love we knew as children may have come entwined with other, less pleasant dynamics: being controlled, feeling humiliated, being abandoned, never communicating, in short: suffering. As adults, we may then reject certain healthy candidates whom we encounter, not because they are wrong, but precisely because they are too well-balanced (too mature, too understanding, too reliable), and this rightness feels unfamiliar and alien, almost oppressive. We head instead to candidates whom our unconscious is drawn to, not because they will please us, but because they will frustrate us in familiar ways.

Hopeful Perspectives 1 Year After My Son’s Birth/Death by Chase Reeves

A year later I don’t know if we’re processing it all right or not. I don’t know if there are cracks in us right now that we’re not addressing. Cracks that will, like a windshield, slowly creep across our selves until we’re unsound. There is fear about tarnishing his memory, not holding him dearly enough, not feeling about him deeply enough. I still get like that, into a kind of anxious shame. ‘Am I fucking this up? Would I know it if I were?’


Sunday Specials: Bathsheba and Sex Trafficking

*Sunday Specials are a weekly round-up of happenings on the web-o-sphere. So enjoy your coffee (or late night beverage) while checking out what’s caught our attention. 

With Krista here for a visit on Colorado soil, your 3 therapists are about to have a day of exchanging many many words (people…you I wish I could have a word count on our conversations), creative ping-pong-like sessions, enjoying some scrumptious food and celebrating loving each other face to face. But before I head out for this day, a day I have been looking forward to for weeks, I wanted to share my Sunday Specials.  So without further ado, here’s what caught my attention this week:

Bathsheba and the Myth of Unconscious Seduction by Kate Schell

So King Peeping Tom summoned Bathsheba. This wasn’t considered criminal at the time, because the king had the legal right to claim any woman. But today, if Secret Service agents abduct a woman and take her to the White House for sex with the president, that’s called kidnapping and rape. Call in Liam Neeson, because she’s been taken. In this situation, Bathsheba could not say no and therefore, by definition, could not consent.

If you have been following our posts on Facebook you may have noticed that I have been tracking with a team of four bloggers who recent returned from a trip with an organization called Exodus Road. I’ve selected a favorite post (out of what they’ve published thus far)  from each of them as they reflect on their experience:

A Million Ways to Say it Wrong by Jamie the Very Worst Missionary

This is the part where we each stare at a blank page on a computer screen for too many hours trying to find the right words to say all the things we want to say and share the things we want to share. This is the part where we desperately try to do justice in what we write to the things we’ve seen and the stories we’ve heard, for all the hands we held, and eyes we met, and the hearts and souls we felt keenly connected to over one week across the world. This is the part that means life or death for a blogger trip, yes, but far more important, this is part that can bring new life to victims of human trafficking and sex-slavery. Let me just say this out loud; No one wants the trip we “survived” to matter in tangible ways more than we do. No one wants to share about the things we witnessed while preserving the privacy and dignity of the victims we saw more than we do. No one wants to help you feel a deep connection to the good work happening in the world more than we do. And no one is more afraid of saying it all wrong than we are. No one.

Oh no, dooce found Jesus by Heather Armstrong

On the last day of our trip I was talking with the founder Matt Parker who articulated exactly what I had witnessed the previous four days. He said, ‘If you read the Bible, if you study the person that Jesus was when he walked the earth, you’d understand that there was never a trade or a cost for his service. He fed and he clothed and he healed because he loved. He didn’t require anyone to accept a message or make a promise before he administered any help. He served because that is what good humans do for other humans.’

 What I learned about sex trafficking from an evening with two prostitutes by Kristen Howerton

In that room, I think we all felt an overwhelming sense of empathy and connection. I fought the urge to try to fix things, and instead to just sit with them and empathize and listen. We reiterated that we felt it was not fair that such disparities exist based on where we were born. They seemed relieved to hear us acknowledge that. I think we all sat in that room feeling that we are so much alike. I couldn’t help thinking that it is women who really need to rise up and help one another. These girls are our sisters, born into different circumstances, and doing what they need to do to survive.

Delicate/Brutal by Roo at Semi Proper

I cried with a sex worker. I rode on the back of motorcycle taxis. I reviewed pedophile cases, and now I can’t get the images out of my head. I watched an undercover investigation happen from the back seat of an SUV and ducked every time I saw headlights. I questioned God. I met a baby elephant. I watched horrible things unfold but I sat on my hands and smiled – as instructed – so as not to cause suspicion. I met people who have devoted their lives to rescuing victims and prosecuting evil people. I laughed with my friends in the back of a pickup truck and rubbed at the pain under my sternum by myself in the shower. I danced on a rooftop. I visited a Buddhist temple. I sat and talked with girls identified by the number pinned to their bikini bottoms. I connected with them. I felt a deep love for them. I wanted to rescue them. I left them behind.


 *Please feel free to share any links to posts that caught your attention this week in the comments below!


Body Talk

My oldest daughter is on the verge of turning 14. Every now and then I have these moments where I wish I could crawl into her mind and reside there for a single day. I know this must sound Freaky Friday-ish, but I can assure you my motives are strictly maternal. You see, the two of us have survived most of the waves that typically come to shore with this transitional time in female development. As my daughter has been transforming from a little girl to a young woman, our relationship has remained relatively intact. We have even survived the ups and downs of middle school friendships and boy-ships. The only lingering concern of mine is the category of her relationship with her own body. I wonder if, in the midst of all that has changed in her physical appearance and in the social landscape of her world, whether or not she has been able to cling to the truth that her body is for her and not for the world around her.

As a therapist who works predominantly with adolescent girls and women, I am all too familiar with the shift that an individual’s relationship with her own body can take in those tumultuous and formative pubescent years. Seemingly strong and confident girls can become increasingly insecure and extremely body-conscious. I find it hard to believe that the female brain is uniquely wired with the likes of a ticking-time bomb set to ameliorate any semblance of the girl’s previous sense of selfhood once breasts begin to form and hips begin to expand. I realize that hormones are a powerful force, but I tend to believe they are a force meant for our evolutionary and individual good as opposed to our psychological destruction. Regardless of the purpose our hormones serve, the pervasiveness of this pattern of self-abnegation in female development is undeniable. As a mom to four girls, the fighter in me is determined to do everything in my power to help write a different story with my own daughters.

There is at least one problem with this maternal desire: I’m not entirely sure how to fight this fight. There is a large body of evidence pointing toward a culture that persistently sexually objectifies women and girls as the primary culprit or instigator of female body image issues. Without making media the sole villain in this predicament, it is worth noting that one need only glance at a nearby television screen to identify endless images and messages (both overt and subtle) portraying women as objects and men as subjects. It seems that media is more often than not simply a reflection of the dominant set of values and beliefs, at least among those privileged with the power to influence such messaging.

Psychologists have long believed that we have a propensity as human beings to internalize the messages we are repeatedly told, especially during early stages of development and throughout childhood. Rather than this psychological tenet sending me on a cynical and disempowered downward spiral into a puddle of helplessness against this great and powerful cultural monster, it actually opens up my capacity to hope for change. I know that I am only one voice, albeit a rather significant voice, in the lives of my daughters, but nonetheless I do have the power to deliver a counter-cultural message. I can speak a different message to my girls, but I can also choose to model what it looks like to cling tightly to the truth that my body is for me and not for the world around me. I can learn how to reclaim my agency and reject the invitation to live into being an object of pleasure for others.

In recent years I have become increasingly encouraged by the peppering of some new messaging emerging in media, literature and film. The popularity of children’s movies like Brave, Tangled and Frozen as well as the young adult genre with books being made into films like The Hunger Games and Divergent, is reflective of a broader acceptance of female subjectivity and agency. Not only are there female protaganists present in each of these films, but the characters exude an ownership of their own lives as opposed to the narrative simply happening to them. Could this shift be the rippling effect of third-wave feminism? I certainly hope so because that would reaffirm that this fight extends beyond the walls of my own household.

In theory, all of this sounds doable. In the day-to-day, however, I am painfully aware of how difficult it is to live counter-culturally. Excavating the messages that I have internalized is at the center of this battle. When I hesitate to leave my house without makeup, I am reminded of the deeply embedded message that my beauty is dependent upon wearing a mask. When I read the story of a woman who recently underwent a preemptive double mastectomy and I automatically presume she’ll undergo reconstructive surgery, I am reminded of the deeply embedded message that our breasts are one of our greatest physical attributes. When I opt out of jumping in the pool to play with my clan of all girls because a swimsuit reveals the ways my body has been impacted by the birthing and nursing of the ones I’m lucky enough to call my children, I am reminded of the deeply embedded message that my worth is defined by my culturally-deemed desirability. These are the messages I am working so hard to unlearn and push against. Perhaps if I do enough excavating, my daughter’s will have a chance at internallizing an entirely different set of messages.


Sunday Specials: #WorldCup and Women

*Sunday Specials are a weekly round-up of happenings on the web-o-sphere. So enjoy your coffee (or late night beverage) while checking out what’s caught our attention. 

I’m not sure about you folks, but I am still recovering from the intensity of the USA vs. Portugal game this evening. And I’m still shaking my head and repeating #FrigginRonaldo over and over again. So I guess I’ll still be carrying around the combination of anxiety and excitement that makes my belly feel all aflutter until Thursday. And no, I am not talking about the butterflies so many women are giddy about on social media. Don’t get me wrong, I can certainly appreciate the ridiculousness of their talent, the capacity of their bodies and the beauty of these so-called men (though I think they deserve their own separate category). But I am blushing at half the posts I’ve been reading all week and I’m horrified at the reverse objectification evident in the other half of the posts. And most of the comments are by 40+ year old women. Geez. I think this cultural phenomenon is in need of some serious analysis…but I’ll save that for someone else to do. In an effort to prove that I am not a complete prude on the matter, I should mention that I did find a Post by Momastery to be rather funny. 

On a slightly more serious note, I actually find women to be rather fascinating creatures (even though I’m poking fun at their fainting at the sight of Ronaldo’s abs). Historically, our differences from men (whether essential or constructed) were viewed as dysfunctional or inferior at the very least. In many ways, modern day gender dynamics continue to reveal the impact of such thinking upon our culture. I think that is why I am so drawn to some of the feminist thinkers of our time – so many women trying to sort out how to reclaim equal footing, not just in rights, but in how we view and feel about being female. I was so pleased to read The Gift of PMS by a fellow graduate from The Seattle School this past week as it is a fantastic example of the small ways we can shift our thinking about our own bodies.

So many women I know, including myself, are ashamed of their PMS symptoms. Even in San Francisco, the most liberal city, women come into therapy and sheepishly confess ‘I get really bad PMS,’ as if it’s a sin or a personal flaw. They want to know how to manage it, how to be less volatile to the people around them. Sometimes PMS is the one Octopus leg that they can’t wrestle down, and they think the problem is that they’re not wrestling enough. Our embarrassment comes out of what’s called ‘Masculine Normativity’— the cultural belief that normal is male, and what deviates from ‘male’ is abnormal and inferior. Masculine normativity dictates that women should not have fluctuating moods (as if men don’t!), that we should remain roughly the same temperament week to week, month to month. Western patriarchy adds to the shaming by insisting that there is a state called ‘rational’ or ‘intellectual’ that is somehow separate from ’emotional’ and ’embodied.’

*Please feel free to share any links to posts that caught your attention this week in the comments below!