A humble little blog about books, information, and other things that are good to know.

Posts tagged ‘parenting’

Childism

Title: Childism: Confronting Prejudice Against Children

Author: Elisabeth Young-Bruehl

Year of Publication: 2012

Genre Keywords: abuse, children, child abuse, child protection, domestic violence, emotional abuse, narcissism, neglect, non-fiction, parenting, prejudice, psychology, sexual abuse, sociology, violence, witch hunts.

Summary: In our culture, adults tend to understand children as the property of their parents, wild and uncivilized creatures who must be made to submit to authority rather than nurtured to fulfill some innate potential. The essential thesis of the book is that child abuse is a symptom of these larger prejudices, which are one point on the continuum that leads from responsible caregiving into abusive behaviour. The author, a trained and certified psychoanalyst, uses her observations of real abuse victims and of well-known studies in Child Abuse and Neglect to make the case that protecting children from abuse requires us to consider and challenge our beliefs about the nature of the child.

Who’ll Love It: Anybody who cares deeply about children will want to at least consider the idea that we interact with them more as possessions to be shown off, pets to be trained, than as real human beings. (Sure, they’re works in progress, but aren’t we all?) Fans of psychoanalytic theory and of topics in Prejudice Studies (like racism and sexism) will definitely appreciate Young-Bruehl’s approach. If your first reaction, however, was “Well, kids are wild animals who require strict discipline to become grown-up people”, you might want to start off with books on child development, investigating the educational and emotional needs of children as they grow. I also recommend How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish; I consider it the definitive guide to treating children with respect while still providing appropriate guidance and boundaries. I basically have it memorized.

Reality Check: Young-Bruehl definitely makes a point of restricting the scope of her book; she discusses childism primarily in the concept of child abuse and its psychological ramifications. But there are so many different places to apply the theory of childism. Consider child beauty pageants, where children are dressed up and made to perform like show dogs, and the related phenomenon of “stage parents“. How about the controversy over prescribing medication to make children more manageable in the classroom? Or the juvenile detention laws in your jurisdiction? These are just a few examples, but the exploration can go on in countless directions anywhere you find children. What examples of childism do you see around you?

Want a first taste of Elisabeth Young-Bruehl’s ideas about our social prejudices against children? This interview makes a great introduction to her writings on childism and its relationship to child abuse.

A Kidnapped Mind

A Kidnapped Mind: A Mother's Heartbreaking Story of Parental Alienation Syndrome

Image via the Canadian Children's Rights Council

Title: A Kidnapped Mind: A Mother’s Heartbreaking Story of Parental Alienation Syndrome

Author: Pamela Richardson

Year of Publication: 2006

Genre Keywords: abnormal psychology, child psychology, co-parenting, corruption, courtroom drama, divorce, memoir, parental alienation syndrome, parenting, psychology, suicide.

Summary: When Pamela and Peter divorced and she chose to remarry, she never guessed how deep her first husband’s hatred would run. Once Peter became their son Dash’s custodial parent, he launched a campaign to manipulate the boy into believing that the only way he could show love and loyalty to his father was by utterly rejecting his mother. Pamela tried every way she could to repair her relationship with her saddened and heartbroken son and to rescue him from an environment characterized by brainwashing, alcoholism, and neglect. But the courts worked against her at every turn, and before long, she and her son were stuck in a nightmare of Peter’s making . . . a nightmare with a desperately unhappy ending.

Who’ll Love It: Those with an interest in psychology – particularly the manipulation and brainwashing you see in cults – will love Richardson’s in-depth account of what it’s like for a family to live with the effects of PAS. Be warned, though: it’s a dark and depressing story, and it ends with a lesson learned the hard way. It doesn’t make for cheerful reading, but I think it conveys an important message with a very personal touch. It’s important reading for anybody who’s involved in the family court system or even for parents who are divorcing, to reinforce a clear understanding about why putting the child in the middle of a battle for loyalty can be a devastating mistake.

In Memoriam: In addition to writing the book, author Pamela Richardson has done a lot to keep Dash’s memory alive. She created The Dash Foundation to raise awareness about parental alienation and domestic abuse, particularly within Canada’s family law framework. She also keeps a blog about PAS and provides other resources for interested readers at her A Kidnapped Mind website. “If my book, A Kidnapped Mind, can save even one child from what Dash went through,” she says, “then my family’s struggle will not have been in vain.” God bless Pamela Richardson for choosing to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness.

Good Night, Sweet Angel

Cover art for Good Night, Sweet Angel by Clare McNally

Image via Amazon.

Title: Good Night, Sweet Angel

Author: Clare McNally

Year of Publication: 1996

Genre Keywords: afterlife, child in danger, ghosts, haunting, murder, parenting, possession, psychological thriller, supernatural, suspense, thriller.

Summary: After her abusive ex-husband dies trying to get revenge on her and her daughter, all Jenn Galbraith wants is a new start. But that won’t be so easy. Evan’s angry spirit is searching for them from beyond the grave, wanting above all to get revenge on Emily for telling the truth about her father’s abuse. Emily has one ally in this supernatural battle – a ghost-child called Tara. But Tara isn’t always a nice friend; she can be capricious and mean-spirited, and she’s causing Emily some trouble. But surely it can’t be greater than the trouble Emily would be in if her father got to her . . .

Who’ll Love It: Anybody who likes a genuinely creepy ghost story will be enthralled by this one. Tara’s ghost leaves nobody at peace; even minor characters feel her wrath in the form of strange hauntings during a Thanksgiving visit. And don’t forget to look out for strange side characters like Laura, the fifties-throwback housewife, her creepy fieldhand, and her troubled son. It left me inspired by its perfect blend of paranormal phenomena and real-world creepiness.

A Touch of Romance: Most of the book’s emphasis is on the fear factor of a malevolent haunting, but even that leaves time for a single mother to find love. What’s noteworthy is how   lovable her beau really is! Nick Hasken is an all-around sweetheart, a science professor with a love of karate, ballroom dancing, and really nerdy ties and T-shirts. Even more refreshing, he’s not your average bodice-ripping muscleman from the cover of a Harlequin romance. He has a bit of a belly, an awkward sense of fashion, and ever-present chemical stains on his skin from the science lab. But I’ve rarely found a love interest so endearing in any book I’ve read! (To carry the point forward, the evil ex-husband is repeatedly described as “handsome”. Looks really aren’t everything here!)

Why TV Doesn’t Teach

They're here! DVDs and television programming for infants.

Image courtesy of Hello Beautiful. (Click the pics throughout this post for more on how TV exposure affects early childhood learning.)

Friends of mine know that DVDs for infants are a real hot-button for me. Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby are the most notable examples, but I’m opposed to any DVD that claims it will aid infant development. That includes Galloping Minds, Baby Bumblebee, Your Baby Can Read, and a host of other DVDs marketed to infants with a claim that a DVD learning program can give your child a developmental edge.

Let me repeat that: the brand of baby DVD makes no difference. All DVDs will harm baby more than help. A DVD cannot give your child an intellectual edge.

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