How do you explain the world to kids?

The idea for this post started with my daughter coming home from the neighbor’s house and telling us that the little girl next door believes that the rain is Jesus’ tears. I was a little annoyed but at the same time, I giggled at the ridiculousness of that explanation. I left this one for my husband because he’s much more science-y than me. 

Parents Afraid of LGBTQ+ Issues

Then the idea for this post took a much more serious turn. Have you heard about the tuck-friendly bikini bottoms at Target? I’ve seen a million articles/posts about it to the point I didn’t think it was real. However, I went directly to the Target website and found the bikini bottoms for sale. They’re real and I think that’s awesome. 

But not everyone agrees with me. My husband tends to get in fights on Facebook and tucking bikini bottoms are the latest topic that has pissed off his friends. Some people commented, “How am I going to explain this to my kids?” My husband and I don’t understand the problem – you just explain it. 

Kids aren’t dumb and they certainly don’t carry as much judgment as adults. I don’t understand why parents/caregivers hold back. On the flip side, if someone has a problem with tuck-friendly bikini bottoms, you just know they’re going to unload their prejudice onto their kids.

Explaining the World to My Daughter

When I think about explaining things to my daughter, we mostly wait for her to ask questions, but I’m starting to think we need to be more proactive. We’ve touched on the birds and bees explaining a bit about where babies come from even though she hasn’t directly asked us. I just think it’s crucial that she gets this information from my husband and me first before anyone else gets to her.

When I was growing up, I remember feeling a lot of confusion. My parents didn’t talk to me about sex so everything I learned came from my older sister and other kids at school. Needless to say, there was a lot I didn’t know. 

The confusion wasn’t just about sex; it was about the world in general. I had serious mental health issues, lacked confidence, and knew absolutely nothing about money. I just feel my parents didn’t talk to me enough, and when I graduated high school, I was ill-prepared for adulthood. I don’t want my daughter to feel that way. 

Is there an appropriate age?

I am not an educator nor do I have a degree in child development so I’m a bit lost on this one. Are there certain ages appropriate for discussing different topics? Should you wait for children to ask questions? I personally feel that there’s not an appropriate age to explain things but there’s probably age-appropriate explanations. 

I don’t feel that it’s inappropriate that I’ve started talking to my seven-year-old daughter about sex. If I don’t talk to her now, others will beat me to it – it could come from something she sees online or other kids at school. I want her to be already somewhat knowledgeable before anyone else approaches her. If she knows what’s going on she will have a better chance of protecting herself.

Parents/caregivers/relatives – how do you explain things to your kids? Do you wait until they ask questions or do you approach them on certain topics? Kids are so innocent and new to the world that sometimes I wonder if my daughter even knows what questions to ask. Do you feel that way, too? What is your experience?

Body Acceptance, Positivity, and a Double Standard

My eating disorder damaged many aspects of my life, but they say when you’re in recovery, the body image issues are the last to go. At the moment, I am really exploring my feelings and beliefs about body acceptance. An eating disorder is made up of many different components, and this is an area I want to focus on. 

Here are a few thoughts on body acceptance and positivity.

Body Acceptance

Back in my heyday, I dated men of all different sizes, races, backgrounds, religions, etc. I was an equal-opportunity girlfriend and I learned from everyone. I came to a point where I decided I really like nerds and that was my only real preference.

Why is it that when I was younger and dating around, I didn’t really care about the shape or size of the men I was seeing, however, I was very concerned about my own shape and size? I’m sure many people probably feel the same way I did. Why do we hold ourselves to a different standard?

I am more accepting of my body now than I was when I was younger – even though I am much bigger now than I was back then. I can thank my therapist for that. She said I need to have radical acceptance – my body is what it is. I will never be thin – especially with my very necessary medications – and that’s not my fault. That sort of acceptance is a hard pill to swallow, but strangely, also a relief. 

A Double Standard?

I recently noticed something. With the body positivity movement we are seeing more representation of plus-sized women in the media and fashion, but why does it seem men in the media haven’t changed at all? As a woman, I am often given the message, “All shapes and sizes are beautiful”, but I never see that applied to men. Even the mannequins in Target display plus-sized clothing in the women’s section, but I’m not seeing the same across the aisle in the men’s section. 

Are people now more accepting of larger women than larger men?

I brought this to my husband’s attention and he said men don’t care that much about how their bodies look. Is that true? I know men – loved ones – who were bullied as kids for being fat so you can’t tell me it doesn’t matter.

Obviously, women feel a lot of pressure about their looks, more so than men, but is it possible that the body positivity movement is leaving people out? Seeing women my size in the media really does help me. I think everyone deserves that representation.

My husband and I have ongoing conversations about body image and he always knows what to say to not only challenge me but also encourage me. At least I’m not on this journey alone.

I know this is a really personal question, but how do you feel about your body? Do you care what others think? What was it like when you were young? Does acceptance get easier with age? 

Trusting Others: Gut Feelings, Logical Thinking, and Wishful Thinking

I am currently healing from broken trust which has left me thinking about what trust is and how it works. I have a lot of questions for you and I am eager to read your responses.

I often get gut feelings about people – both good and bad – but I try not to let them interfere with a budding relationship or friendship. My gut feeling is sometimes right, but often wrong. Should a person really trust their gut? I’ve always felt like I need more information – even if it leaves me guarded. I try to push through it – especially if it’s someone I can’t avoid. Are gut feelings irrational, biased, or even an innate instinct? 

Do you trust your gut? Does it tell you the truth?

While I sometimes ignore gut feelings, logical thinking takes over. I can keep a mental tally of the good and the bad and weigh my options. But the worst part is when wishful thinking steps in – when I want someone to be a good person so badly that I will look past numerous red flags. That’s when you get burned.

When I ignore red flags it’s often to keep the peace. I know there’s no formula for trust, but how many chances should you give someone? Where do you draw the line? What’s a forgivable mistake vs. blatant disrespect?

I am a trusting person and I usually give people a chance, but I feel it is much easier to see when someone breaks your trust than when they gain it. Gaining trust takes time while losing trust can happen in an instant.

If you’re trusting, open, and vulnerable – if you’re willing to let people in – does that make you prey? Will you become a victim? How do you protect yourself?

When a loved one trusts someone they shouldn’t – do you say something or step away?

On the flip side, am I trustworthy? How do I show someone that I’m trustworthy? I feel being honest and open has helped me in relationships. I’m often willing to share my story and hope others will reciprocate. Keep promises. Be reliable and available. 

Are people giving me a fair chance? On occasion, I doubt it because of the stigma surrounding my mental illness, but I try so hard to prove myself. Regardless, I have a lot of good people in my life.

Do you have to know someone on a somewhat personal level to trust them? Does personality play a role? Do any personal prejudices become a factor? Does the way a person looks make them more or less trustworthy? Unfortunately, I’m going to say yes to all of those. I see it in my own life. Deep down, I know it should be a person’s words and actions that make them trustworthy, but sometimes that’s just not the case. Sometimes you have to work really hard to look past irrelevant factors.

Here’s a touchy subject – how do you know if you can trust someone with your children? The list of people I’ll let watch my daughter is pretty short. Trusting people with children gives me a lot of anxiety. Do you have criteria for trusting a person with your child? My daughter plays with the girl next door a lot, and even her going over to the neighbor’s house makes me nervous. Sure, my husband and I talk to our neighbors here and there, but do we really know them? I feel like every time I take my daughter somewhere I am taking a chance with the people around us. When do you let go?

How do you know you can trust your children with different responsibilities or even with being left home alone? I learned a couple of weeks ago in a training given by our local children’s services that there is no set age to legally leave a child home alone in our state. It is completely at the discretion of the caregiver regarding the maturity of the child. I remember being home alone a lot when I was younger, but that was in a rural area in the nineties – it was more accepted to leave your children home alone at a younger age. My daughter’s daycare accepts children up to twelve years old. I certainly didn’t go to daycare that long but my daughter most likely will. 

And of course, the one that always pisses me off – why do people assume that because they’re Christian people should view them as trustworthy? Honestly, anymore it just makes me run in the opposite direction. I once had an auto mechanic tell me that he was a “god-fearing” man just before he really screwed me over. I’m sure we all have stories like that.

How do you see the good in people while still being cautious? That’s the question I want to be answered more than any of the others. Each time someone breaks your trust it knocks you down a notch making it harder to trust others in the future. However, if I don’t give people a chance I will miss out on relationships, opportunities, and experiences. What am I teaching my daughter at that point?

I am so curious to read your thoughts on trust. What does trust look like to you?

If psychic powers were a thing, would you want them?

This is just a silly thought that popped into my mind today.

This morning I was laying in bed thinking about my paintings. I currently have seventeen paintings for sale at a local consignment shop and many more stored at home. I got a little flutter in my belly wondering if any of them have sold. I’m a very nervous and impatient person and I can’t stand not knowing. I have to pick up any unsold paintings on June sixth.

I wish I had the ability to know how my paintings will do, but if I did, would that have prevented me from showing the shop owner my paintings in the first place?

Would I want psychic powers? Maybe. 

Writing submissions feel the same as selling my artwork. I hate waiting. I just want to know. If I knew, I could focus my efforts on submissions where I know I’ll be successful.

I think there would be a downside to psychic powers. Late last year my family was at my husband’s grandpa’s house. His grandpa was in his nineties and usually very quiet, but at this visit, he was very talkative. He told us all about his experience in the Korean War. He was passionate and I felt closer to him for sharing.

After we left, I told my husband I was worried about his grandpa. Both of my grandpas were in World War II and it felt like they relived the war right before they died. They were willing to share things they weren’t before – just like my husband’s grandpa. 

I really didn’t know what was going to happen, but his grandpa died shortly after. I don’t know if anyone was freaked out by what I said, but I definitely felt shitty for saying it.

In that example, I would definitely not want psychic powers. What I said about my husband’s grandpa was not from a psychic ability – it was simply from past experience. Either way, it definitely felt like a punch in the gut.

Would you want to know how and when you’ll die? For me, no way. I’ll just say surprise me on that one.

So what do you think? Would you want psychic powers? How would you use them? Would you find a way to help others or would you keep your abilities to yourself?

Mo Money Mo Problems

My husband and I are used to struggling. We’ve never truly been what many consider “comfortable”. But I recently noticed something.

When our daughter was born, we barely had anything. We worked hard, but my husband and I were both making only twelve dollars an hour. But here’s what’s interesting – we made it work. 

Fast forward to today. My daughter is now seven and we make quite a bit more than twelve dollars an hour, but we’re barely scraping by. This past year we have felt more pressure and desperation than we ever have. 

If at one time we made twelve dollars an hour work, why are we broke now?

I feel our life was simpler when we were younger. We have less stuff. Now we have more subscriptions, bills, expenses, etc. 

Kinda weird, but I also think we didn’t realize how expensive having eight cats would be. One of our cats was recently injured and while we would do anything for our kitties, that 700-dollar vet bill hurt. 

Things are even shittier in the US right now, and I’m sure that contributes to why we are broke. 

This is a short post, but I’m curious if any of you can relate. Have you made your life work for less money than you have now? Did your life get more complicated when you made more money?

When did body parts become offensive?

Of course, this post came to mind after hearing about the Statue of David controversy in Florida, but I have a more personal example.

I live in a small, three-bedroom house with one tiny bathroom to share with my husband and daughter. We always leave the bathroom door open so if someone’s showering, the toilet is available, etc. It’s no big deal to us because we’re family.

Last weekend I was unaware that the neighbor girl was over at our house because I was in the shower – with the door open. I didn’t hear her come in. I get out of the shower, dry off, and walk completely naked to our bedroom across the hall (like I always do), but when I get in the hall, I see the neighbor girl. I run to the bedroom and slam the door. I was so pissed at my husband for not letting me know that someone else was in the house that I yelled at him – so much so that I scared my daughter and the neighbor girl away. Turns out my husband was sitting on the couch with no pants on – just a t-shirt and boxers – and didn’t want to get up. The neighbor girl sometimes lets herself in so I guess this was bound to happen sooner or later. My family is hardly ever fully dressed when we’re hanging out at home.

But why was this such a big deal to me – why did I have to yell? Considering my history of eating disorders, I’m not exactly comfortable with my body, but still, the neighbor girl is only five – what does she care about the shape of my body? 

Of course, in the back of my mind, I thought if a child other than my own sees me naked, could it be misconstrued as something sexual? It’s a scary thought and I certainly don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable.

If this were to happen again, I would try to be calmer. It’s probably not as big of a deal as I made it.

But really, who told us to cover up? Why can’t kids see the Statue of David? Why are body parts offensive?

Does this have to do with religion? Is this a Puritan thing?

What do you think and how would you have responded to my neighbor girl situation?

Am I indoctrinating my daughter?

I’m sure all families indoctrinate their children to a degree – even if it’s not religious.

My daughter recently had a birthday, and one of her friends gave her a Claire’s gift card. The only Claire’s near us is in the mall, so we went to the mall for the first time in years. We were there for about an hour before I got freaked out at the number of people there. I didn’t think people shopped at malls anymore, but I was definitely wrong. Old people, young people – everybody was there.

We stopped at the food court for lunch and there happens to be a Chic-fil-A in our mall. Of course, it was closed because it was Sunday, but my daughter points at it and says, “That’s the restaurant we hate.” I giggled because it was cute as hell, but maybe I shouldn’t have.

My work often has Chic-fil-A cater our meetings and trainings, and I always go home and bitch about it to my husband. I’m sure that’s where my daughter is getting this from. But I realized, I’ve never actually sat down and explained to my daughter why I don’t like Chic-fil-A. She’s just repeating what she hears.

Is that wrong? My daughter now hates a restaurant that she knows nothing about and has never eaten at. 

Maybe this is just a small example but is it really that different than religious families?

I really want to raise my daughter in a way that she learns to question everything and think for herself – even if she ends up believing something other than what my husband and I believe. I want her to feel independent and free to explore whatever she wants.

So what about your family – do you feel you have indoctrinated your children even if you aren’t religious? Is that good or bad? Do you catch yourself doing it?

Mandated Reporting and Our Local Clergy

I work for an arts program in a mental health organization, and since I sometimes work with kids, I am a mandated reporter. Last Monday, a social worker from our local children’s services gave a presentation on mandated reporting. I’m not going to lie – I thought it was going to be boring, but to my surprise, I actually learned quite a bit. It helped that the presenter coupled the information with interesting local stories. 

Several thoughts came up as I sat and listened to the presentation. 

First, I found the definitions and descriptions of the different kinds of abuse very helpful. I honestly didn’t know what constitutes emotional abuse. We were given a booklet on abuse and reporting and here’s how it defines emotional abuse:

“Repeated threats or insults to scare or embarrass a child, or to crush a child’s self-esteem. It can also include withholding affection and attention from a child.”

Second thought – is indoctrination considered emotional abuse? You got to admit, some of that definition touches on aspects of indoctrination. 

Third thought (which didn’t surprise me) – clergy is also mandated reporters in my state, but the presenter said that they are the worst group for compliance. Not only do they not report suspected abuse, they often blame the children. She even gave us plenty of local examples. Even some of my coworkers chimed in and gave examples. I was shocked because they acted like abuse in local churches is common knowledge among parishioners, but no one is doing anything about it.

Apparently, if you are a mandated reporter in my state and don’t report abuse, you can be given a six-month jail sentence. If they know the clergy isn’t complying, I’m wondering if they are following through with justice.

Here’s the really bizarre part – after telling us all this about local clergy and churches, the presenter invited us to a “faith-based celebration luncheon” to recruit foster and adoptive families. 

What?? I really feel they’re looking in the wrong place. 

I really don’t know how to help in this situation. I was born and raised in this area. I know what it’s like here, and yet when I heard about local clergy and churches along with a faith-based foster and adoption recruitment event, my gut just sank.

Surprisingly, I don’t have many questions in this post. I just wanted to share my story so you could join in my disgust. Can anyone relate? Do you have a similar story? Is indoctrination really abuse? What can be done about all this?