"P" (Priscilla) has been a reader of EQI since around 2007. In 2009 we met and began working together. Now we are partners as well as working colleagues. Here are some things she has added to the site.
May 2013 Update
P has been living with her parents for a few months in England while she sees doctors and gets treatment for some medical problems. It seems she has a few different problems, like fibromyalgia and joint hyper elasticity syndrome.
Here are examples of P's portrait
drawings. - But because of
her medical problems, she can no longer draw.
Dec 2014 Update - P decided to break up with me in June of this year. I went to Europe to try to talk to her but she didn't have much time to talk. She was being controlled by a girl she got in a very unhealthy relationship with. As of this date they are still together, somewhere in the USA. We are still in touch and I am hoping she will change her mind one day and want to be part of my life again. Steve
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|October 14 2013
The other day P watched the video of Marshall Rosenberg giving his workshop in San Francisco. I will write more later but for now want to note that she didn't like how he says "no more wars" "no more punishment" as if he were Moses or some kind of god commanding things. I agree it is another sign that he has a big unmet need to feel important, powerful, in control and "godlike" or "guru-ish".
She also didn't like how he said "I sent my son to a jackal school." She said this was like a typical parent who just bosses a child or teen around. She said it was worse because he knows typical schools are emotionally abusive.
|Dec 12th, 2011
Priscilla's notes from her reading of Reflecting
and Problem Solving Around the Emotional Needs of
Disabled Children (0-13)
What? If behavior is to be viewed
as "communicative", then why punish a child for
communicating their feelings/needs? If they can say this
despite their insight into emotional needs,
it really says a lot about how prevalent the belief in
But if you know you are going to be punished for doing something, you are not being given a *real* choice... eg. "Either give me your money, or I'll shoot you. What's your choice?"
|Dec 13th, 2011
Video of suicidal boy who is getting bullied.. www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=TdkNn3Ei-Lg
Was googling "Hitler's emotional needs" today.
The results still had almost nothing useful, that I could see.
Anyhow, I found this...
It is ironic, because whoever wrote
it meant it be funny. ie a satire, not serious....
|Quotes from an abusive mother...
The more you talk about rules, the less you talk about feelings
The more you talk about rights, the less you talk about needs
The more you talk about chemical imbalances, the less you talk about abuse
The more you talk about anti depressants, the less you talk about changing society
The more you talk about distraction, the less you talk about solving problems
|Dec 22nd, 2011
Email from Tim:
|Dec 23rd , 2011
I have adapted a quiz about how to tell when it's time to quit your job, from www.fabjob.com/tips213.html (originally called Is It Time to Quit Your Job?)
I've been working on my painting again recently. I wanted to show a picture of it because I don't feel very optimistic I'll ever finish.
It's just taking me a very, very long time (I won't say how long because that would be embarrassing.) As you can see, I'm barely halfway through, but at least people will be able to see it now even if I don't finish, and maybe it will motivate me to do more.
|Jan 20th, 2012
Do schools kill creativity? video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY
|March 8th, 2012
My critcism of Nigel Latta's parenting article (unfinished):
If youre a parent, and youre actually present for any part of the day, then you will have strayed into that most dangerous of places: The point where you become so frustrated, angry, and generally exasperated that you actually feel like your head will explode. Not metaphorically explode, but actually explode in a shower of gore, teeth and bone. They never tell you about that place when you go to antenatal classes, or if they did you didnt listen, because its always a surprise when you actually get there...
I remember about a month ago I became so angry, so enraged at the ridiculousness of the latest dispute between my two boys that I actually had to go lie down. My head was pounding as I could feel the blood rushing about looking for somewhere to go. I could actually feel the arteries supplying vital parts of my brain creaking under the strain.
And what was it that caused all this? From memory it was a completely insane dispute over an empty cardboard box that had been lying around largely ignored for the last month. On that particular day though, it was the most valued, the most prized possession in the entire world, and they both wanted it with the self same passion that Gollum wanted the Ring. There was shrieking, and demanding, and pleading, and shoving, and the repeated blows thrown from one to the other. The utter rediculousness of it, combined with the both the length of time the whole thing went on, almost killed me.
We all end up in that place sooner or later, and sadly most of us will make large numbers of return trips over the years. We all get angry at our kids, and sometimes the anger is so much we become slightly dizzy, and you hear a high pitched ringing in our ears. If you dont go there from time to time then youre probably not spending enough time with the kids.
Latta is trying to reassure himself and other parents that his situation is 'normal' and not related to his own unmet needs or parenting skills. I agree it is natural to feel angry sometimes, but saying that if you don't feel that way "you're probably not spending enough time with the kids" is misleading. It implies feeling angry with your children to such extent is just a natural byproduct of parenthood. But I imagine this kind of situation is more common for parents who use traditional, authoritarian parenting methods, and who have a bigger need to feel in control. It probably doesn't apply so much to parents who try to influence their kids respectuflly, without giving commands or threats of punishment.
Having said all that, its a dangerous place to be though, because if you stay there too long it will literally take years off your life. So here are my top three tips for trying to go there less, and get out quicker when you do:
Get a plan.
The big reason most parents feel enraged is because they feel powerless, because theyre at the end of their proverbial tether, because nothing theyve done has made any kind of difference up until that point.
We are not told what Latta was trying to do to stop the argument. He doesn't mention this, or the different outcomes of the many ways a parent could react in this situation. He assumes parents will get to the point where "nothing theyve done has made any kind of difference". However, I believe if a parent is a good listener and good at understanding and validating feelings, it is much less likely this will be true for them.
Despite omitting the details of how he tried and failed to stop the argument, I think it would be fair to say his kids probably weren't feeling very understood by him. Instead, judging by the words he used to describe their conflict -- "ridiculous" and "insane" -- he was probably feeling judgmental towards them. Based on that, I'd say it is also likely he was invalidating their feelings.
Most of us dont actually want to be angry, we just end up feeling that way because its the last refuge of a sane mind. The utter helplessness of being ignored by tiny little people is just inherently enraging.
Indirectly, Latta tells us that he was feeling helpless and ignored. Although he doesn't take much responsibility for those feelings. He states that being ignored by kids is "inherently" enraging, rather than acknowledging this is his own personal reaction.
So you need to get a plan.
The plan doesnt have to be complicated. In fact the best plans are the simplest ones. Just figure out where things start going pear shaped, figure out what the little person is getting out of behaving that way, and then figure out how you can make them think again.
I agree with his advice to "figure out what the little person is getting out of behaving that way", but I probably have a different interpretation than what Latta intended. I would say: figure out what unmet need the child is trying to fill by behaving that way, and then help him fill that need. (This would be similar to feeding a crying infant, instead of punishing him for crying).
But I don't think Latta is thinking about filling emotional needs here, otherwise he would not have added advice to "figure out how you can make them think again". It seems Latta just wants the child to stop whatever they're doing, period. This minimizes the importance of focusing on what the child is getting "out of" their behavior. Presumably, Latta, like many parents, believes the child is 'just trying to get his own way' (without any good reason), and therefore must be stopped and denied whatever they are trying to get.
Also, his advice for parents to "figure out how you can make them think again" sounds to me like an implied threat to the child if they don't change their behavior. I highly doubt Latta meant for parents to figure out how you can make them think of more constructive ways to express their needs. It sounds more like he is just encouraging parents to figure ways they can manipulate their child.
You might distract them, you might remind them that if they do what you want they get a sticker on their chart, you might tell them if they keep doing what theyre doing they will end up in time out, or any one of a number of things. Read back over your old issues of Littlies and youll find dozens and dozens of ideas for managing little peoples behaviour.
Distracting kids is not going to help meet any of their needs, so obviously he's not thinking along those lines. Then he gets pretty explicit and admits his goal is controlling the children's behavior and getting them to "do what you want". He suggests using rewards and threatening them with punishment, but he doesn't say to try to understand them. And he doesn't suggest the parent work on improving their conflict-resolution or listening skills either.
It doesnt necessarily matter what you do, as long as you do something.
This is potentially harmful and irresponsible parenting advice. If "it doesnt necessarily matter what you do, as long as you do something", why not just beat them with a hammer? Or lock them out of the house for the night? These things would qualify as 'doing something', and it would probably scare them into going along with whatever you want.
I believe what you do in situations like these does matter, and can have a huge impact on everything from your relationship with your child, to their mental health, to the way they will parent their own children in the future. The fact Latta doesn't think it matters how you get your child to 'behave', as long as you get them to do it, seems very short-sighted.
If you have a plan youll feel like youre in charge, and that will have magical calming qualities. If you dont have a plan youll just react, and generally when we just react to stuff we react emotionally, and generally that emotion is anger.
The goal of his "plan" is to help the parent feel more in control ("feel like you're in charge"), but he doesn't seem to be considering the child's needs.
Keep it all in context
Sometimes its very easy to begin to believe that your children actually want to kill you. It can be deceptively easy to give in to those dark thoughts and start believing they spend their days and nights scheming ways to drive you insane, and thereby kill you from sheer exasperation, but this is hardly ever the case.
Again, he makes it sound like all parents are not very far removed from having these 'dark thoughts'. But that's probably not the case if you understand that "bad" behavior is caused by some kind of unmet need. A parent who understands this is far less likely to take things personally.
In fact, in all the years Ive been doing this stuff Ive never come across a toddler who wanted to kill his or her mum or dad. The problem is that children have an exasperating tendency to act like well children. You have to keep reminding yourself that theyve been on the planet for less years than you have fingers on one hand, and they have an enormous amount to learn. Just getting their heads around walking, talking and bowel control is quite a lot to do before youre five, let alone sort out the pros and cons of good behaviour, and learning how to be responsible members of the household. Some adults are still struggling with that stuff.
So always keep in mind that they havent been here very long, and that their little brains are only just beginning to wrap themselves around the world. You cant really expect them to show a huge amount of maturity and wisdom. If you expect pettiness and silliness youll be far less disappointed. To remind myself of this very important point I have a conversation I often revisit with my boys when I feel in danger of forgetting it:
Why do you always act like a six year old? I say to my youngest.
Because I am six, he replies, slightly indignant.
I agree with the underlying idea of accepting your kids as they are, and not just how you expect them be.
But he sounds too much like he's saying that, just as kids don't have much practice walking and talking, they haven't had much training in how to behave according to what the parent and society wants. And therefore, parents should be lenient towards kids -- since they are, after all, only kids -- but at the same time, it is ok for parents to continue controlling and manipulating them to teach them how to 'behave' (ie. obey).
He talks about kids sorting out "good behavior", but it is usually the parent who defines what "good behavior" is. So a needy parent can be expected to define "good behavior" as anything that helps meet the parent's needs. For example, in the above situation, Latta was feeling powerless to stop his kids' argument, so the solution was designed to fill his need to feel powerful at the expense of the children's needs.
He would probably say the kids were being 'well behaved' if they went along with what he wanted them to do. This is the same as labeling children as "good" if they obey their parents unquestioningly. In other words, the term "good behavior" can easily be used by parents as another way to manipulate kids into doing what they want. (Think of an example where a slave-owner is praising his slave for "good behavior" when the slave does a lot of work without complaining. Yet we know this is not healthy for the slave.)
Also, notice how he mentions that children are still learning to "sort out the pros and cons" of good behavior. I believe what he actually means is children are being manipulated by rewards (pros) and punishment (cons), to do whatever the parent considers "good behavior".
I wonder what Latta would say about a situation where a child helps someone else simply because they feel good about doing so. I doubt a child would have to stop and think about the "pros and cons" of doing something nice, if they weren't being manipulated in any way. It would just be their natural instict to do so.
|March 11th 2012,
Note to self... maybe something to add to this page on Religion News...
Iraq militia stone youths to death for "emo" style
From Yahoo news: http://news.yahoo.com/iraq-militia-stone-youths-death-emo-style-171115804.html
At least 14 youths have been stoned to death in Baghdad in the past three weeks in what appears to be a campaign by Shi'ite militants against youths wearing Western-style "emo" clothes and haircuts, security and hospital sources say.
Militants in Shi'ite neighborhoods where the stonings have taken place circulated lists on Saturday naming more youths targeted to be killed if they do not change the way they dress.
The killings have taken place since Iraq's interior ministry drew attention to the "emo" subculture last month, labeling it "Satanism" and ordering a community police force to stamp it out.
"Emo" is a form of punk music developed in the United States. Fans are known for their distinctive dress, often including tight jeans, T-shirts with logos and distinctive long or spiky haircuts.
At least 14 bodies of youths have
been brought to three hospitals in eastern Baghdad
bearing signs of having been beaten to death with rocks
or bricks, security and hospital sources told Reuters
under condition they not be identified because they were
not authorized to speak to the media.
Six other young people, including two girls, were wounded in beatings intended as warnings, the security sources said.
"Last week I signed the death
certificates of three of those young people, and the
reason for death I wrote in my own hand was severe skull
fractures," a doctor at al-Kindi hospital told
Reuters. "A very powerful blow to the head caused
these fractures which totally smashed the skull of the
"We strongly warn you, to all the obscene males and females, if you will not leave this filthy work within four days the punishment of God will descend upon you at the hand of the Mujahideen," the leaflet said.
Another leaflet in Sadr City bore 20 names. "We are the Brigades of Anger. We warn you, if you do not get back to sanity and the right path, you will be killed," it said.
In a statement last month the interior ministry said it was monitoring "the 'emo' phenomenon, or Satanism" which it said was spreading through schools, particularly among teenage girls.
"They wear tight clothes that bear paintings of skulls, they use school implements with skulls and wear rings in their noses and tongues as well as other weird appearances," it said.
After reports of the stonings circulated on Iraqi media, the interior ministry said this week that no murders on its files could be blamed on the reaction to "emo".
"Many media have reported fabricated news reports about the so-called 'emo' phenomenon - stories about tens of young people killed in various ways, including stoning," the ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
"No murder case has been recorded with the interior ministry on so-called 'emo' grounds. All cases of murder recorded were for revenge, social and common criminal reasons."
CLERICS DENOUNCE KILLINGS
Iraq's leading Shi'ite clerics have condemned the stonings.
Abdul-Raheem al-Rikabi, Baghdad
representative for Iraq's most influential Shi'ite
cleric, Ali al-Sistani, called the killings
In a response to questions on his website on Saturday, Moqtada al-Sadr, a Shi'ite cleric whose followers dominate Sadr City, described "emo" youths as "crazy and fools", but said they should be dealt with only through the law.
"They are a plague on Muslim society, and those responsible should eliminate them through legal means," he said.
Abu Ali al-Rubaie, a leading Sadr aide in Sadr City, said the cleric's followers had nothing to do with the killings.
"In this issue and in all such problems we always use peaceful and educational methods to correct any wrongdoings. We are not connected in any way to those groups allegedly responsibility for killing those young people."
In the years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, most of Baghdad's neighborhoods were under the firm grip of Sunni and Shi'ite religious militias which enforced strict dress codes.
Today, the militias have largely disappeared, Baghdad is far more peaceful and many youths experiment with Western styles, although much of Iraqi society remains conservative.
On the streets of Baghdad, people said they had heard of the killings through the media. Many expressed disapproval of the "emo" style, but said murder was no way to respond.
"I saw them a couple weeks ago ... a bunch of girls, high-school aged, walking together, dressed in black. They had long black eye makeup and bracelets with skulls and chains on their handbags with skulls," said Abdullah, 31.
"If they are close friends who have something in common, that's all right. If other things we hear about them are true, like sucking each other's blood or worshipping the devil, that is not accepted in our society. But I think this is just a trend to imitate the West."
|March 30th 2012,
|May 1st, 2012
Some quotes I liked from an article called "10 Things Your commencement Speaker Won't Tell You", by Charles Wheelan:
"...I've spent most of my
career teaching economics and public policy. In
particular, I've studied happiness and well-being, about
which we now know a great deal. And I've found that the
saccharine and over-optimistic words of the typical
commencement address hold few of the lessons young people
really need to hear about what lies ahead."
|May 2nd, 2012
I found some interesting quotes today by an author called Chris Hedges.
"We've bought into the idea that education is about training and 'success', definied monetarily, rather than learning to think critically and to challenge. We should not forget that the true purpose of education is to make minds, not careers. A cultre that does not grasp the vital interplay between morality and power, which mistakes management techniques for wisdom, which fails to understand that the measure of a civilization is its compassion, not its speed or ablitity to consume, codemns itself to death."
Those who fail to exhibit
positive attitudes, no matter the external reality, are
seen as maladjusted and in need of assistance. Their
attitudes need correction. Once we adopt an upbeat vision
of reality, positive things will happen. This belief
encourages us to flee from reality when reality does not
elicit positive feelings. These specialists in
'happiness' have formulated something they call the 'Law
of Attraction.' It argues that we attract those things in
life, whether it is money, relationships or employment,
which we focus on. Suddenly, abused and battered wives or
children, the unemployed, the depressed and mentally ill,
the illiterate, the lonely, those grieving for lost loved
ones, those crushed by poverty, the terminally ill, those
fighting with addictions, those suffering from trauma,
those trapped in menial and poorly paid jobs, those whose
homes are in foreclosure or who are filing for bankruptcy
because they cannot pay their medical bills, are to blame
for their negativity. The ideology justifies the cruelty
of unfettered capitalism, shifting the blame from the
power elite to those they oppress. And many of us have
internalized this pernicious message, which in times of
difficulty leads to personal despair, passivity and
|May 4th, 2012,
Today's Yahoo News articles had this one among them...
It has pretty good suggestions about what not to say to kids. For example:
What's discouraging and frustrating is how many parents on the comments wrote about the emotionally abusive things they said to their own kids, apparently feeling amused and proud of themselves for what they did. Some adults also told stories of similar things their parents said to them when they were kids, but they too seemed unaware of how dysfunctional it was.
My first thought was that these parents are taking advantage of their young children's natural fear of abandonment (and dependency on them). The comments also remind me of the things that suicidal teenagers who write to us have told us their parents do to them.
I imagine a child who had something like this done to them would feel deeply rejected, hurt, uncared about, unwanted, disliked, not taken seriously, mocked, scared, abandoned, humilliated, unloved... and probably many other negative feelings. This is even more harmful given that the children were evidently already in so much pain, that they felt a need to run away. So I could easily understand why a child who grows up in such a family would end up feeling depressed and suicidal.
Notice how the comments implicitly justify the parent's actions by saying it stopped the kids from ever trying to run away again. But it is very clear that they are not taking their kids' feelings into consideriation -- or the emotional impact of their actions -- at all. In other words, the goal is simply to force the behavior at the expense of the feelings. So this is a good example of how something can be 'effective', but still not take account (or even acknowledge) how someone is feeling or why.
There were some encouraging comments though, like this next one, even if it was rated down so many times that it was "hidden due to low rating"...
This one too had a low rating:
(I'm not sure I would say the kid is wrong, since that is too much like saying the kid's feelings are wrong, which suggests there is no valid reason why the kid feels uncared about, ie. that it's all in his mind and not worthy of being taken seriously. But other than that, I agree with the comment.)
Another encouraging comment...
|Jan 17th, 2012
We found an interesting discussion on "pseudo-choices" when googling the term the other day:
Not one mother has thought about the fact that their child will feel threatened. The word "threatened" is not found on the page.
And not one mother has thought about asking artheir child "how would you feel about doing so and so?"
As far as we can see, no mother actually said how they feel when they say things like that to their kids.
Here is one of the posts
Thanks so much for this thread, I
really would like to hear opinions on this. For those who
did not read the other thread, the pseudo choice idea is
from the Unconditional Parenting book by Alfie Kohn.
Basically, a pseudo choice is a disguise for punishment.
Like "Would you prefer to walk in the store or sit
in the cart?". The idea, obviously, being: "If
you run in the shop I will put you in the cart" Now,
the horrible thing is that I am quoting this dialogue
(almost word by word) from a cartoon in the "Talk so
that kids will listen and listen so that kids will
talk" book, which I thought was a bible for GD and I
used for a long while before the Unconditional Parenting.
This technique never seemed to work with dc, and I just
could not figure out why. Now I do!