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Abortion is The Evil of our generation

So yesterday I came across a rather  appalling article  that tried to make it sound like states having increased abortion restrictions were ...

Friday, November 15, 2013

Observations in dealing with a strong willed child, year 1

The beginning of this year God gave me a truly remarkable gift:  an amazing, loving woman.  Just recently I married her.  In addition to having such a wonderful woman, a spirited, cute two year old girl was also brought into my life.  I love her like she was my own.  Though, like every child, she was different from my other three.  Quite different.  None of my other children were quite as strong willed as she's been.  Of course, this is not a bad thing by any means.  There's a lot of good qualities in being strong willed.  But, like any child, a parent needs to encourage the positive qualities while discouraging the negative.  Now I also know that being a stepfather coming in at age 2 that I had a lot of ground to make up.  However, despite that, this last year has been educational and joyful despite frustrations.  So below is a quick list of things that I'd like to share.  Most of this stuff isn't just limited to dealing with a willful child nor are these really any new revelations by any means, but I've found them key...

Be mindful of what you tell them to do
A strong willed child will challenge you quite often.  This can be outright defiance to simply ignoring what you told them.  Therefore if you say things you want them to do or not do haphazardly, you're setting up potentially unnecessary conflicts or easy chances for them to defy you unchallenged.  

You must stick to you word
For bad or good, you must stick to what you said you would do.  If you tell them they will lose TV privileges if they don't finish their dinner, then you have to follow through if they don't.  If you don't, they will remember.  Even if the consequences for them defying you isn't immediate, they still need to be carried.  Never forget how smart children really are.  They pick up on your behavior as much, or more so, than you do theirs.  So if they see that they escaped punishment because it too long afterward, you can expect them to hope for delayed discipline in the future.  This also works on the flip side.  If you say that if they do a certain thing, that you'll do this for them, you MUST do it. Because if you don't stick to your word, they'll lose respect for you, which will encourage them to challenge your authority as a parent.

Only give discipline warnings that you're willing to do
While it might be tempting to throw out a very stiff punishment right away when a child is defying you, you will paint yourself into a corner if you're not truly willing to do what you said.  And if you think a strong willed child won't call your bluff, you'll be in for a rude awakening.  They will, constantly.  And if you don't to your guns, as mentioned above, you will have undermined your own authority.  

Find what can be used as leverage
I know that may sound manipulative or horrible, but in any relationship where one wields authority and the other is supposed to yield to that authority, the person in charge needs to have leverage of some sort.  An employer has leverage over their employees since they can choose to terminate an employee who's insubordinate.  It's the same thing with children, especially a strong willed child who will challenge your authority constantly.  You need to know what things they'll find important enough so that they'll think twice about their behavior if access to those things is put into jeopardy.  

Full disclosure:  I support spanking (when done right,of course).  The threat of force, while perhaps distasteful from an adult social perspective, is a very instinctive, visceral feeling that children will want to avoid. (This doesn't mean I advocate beating one's children, but spanking can be done effectively without causing any psychological damage).  However, spanking is also leverage that you won't be able to use all the time.  You definitely will want other avenues of leverage.  For example, my stepdaughter loves her television shows.  Promising to take that privilege away when she misbehaves has proven quite effective at times.  

Now some may also encourage positive reinforcement over negative reinforcement.  I would encourage caution in this realm because if a child is misbehaving, you should not offer something positive for them to stop the behavior as all this will do is encourage them to misbehave if they know they will get something nice out of it.  Positive reinforcement should be used proactively to encourage new or better behavior, but never to stop bad behavior.  Doing so will not only undermine your authority, but your smart strong willed child will figure out that they have leverage on you since you'll give them whatever they want (or close to it) when they misbehave.  

Your authority is earned, not automatic
A strong willed child, just by their nature, is challenging your authority.  And ultimately that means someone will win: either you or them.  Therefore, if you want to maintain your authority, you have to earn it in their eyes.  Look at this way, there's place of authority and someone has to fill it.  If you don't fill it, the strong willed child will in your place.  

Every conflict will gain or lose you respect
This doesn't mean the child is going to like you.  That's different.  But every conflict, even the small ones, will either increase or decrease their respect for you.  Letting the child continue their behavior unchallenged will lose you respect.  Establishing, and administering, what is acceptable and what isn't will actually gain you respect.  

The more respect you've earned, the easier it can be
As you gain respect, a strong willed child will be more inclined to listen because you've "earned" it from them, so to speak.  Of course, that can always be dashed if you don't stick to your guns.  But, from what I've experience, it does indeed get better.

Overall, it's been a pleasure taking part in raising my stepdaughter this past year.  And I look forward to the gift in her God has given me in allowing me to shape her life to walk in Him.  

Friday, November 1, 2013

Conservative House Cleaning: Simple things to do to help your message and the conservative movement

While it's no secret that I stand behind Christian and conservative values and I will until God has decided it's my time, I some times feel a bit of frustration not from the liberal side, but from my own conservative side, when I see how they respond to liberal nonsense.   And while I may agree that perhaps the liberal that's talking sounds like they're lacking in intelligence, I cringe when someone actually responds openly that way, especially in a brusque manner.  Furthermore, it's quite hypocritical to call those on the left the nastiest people on earth (which I agree with), but then turn around and be nasty ourselves.  

So, below are some guide lines I'd like to share when it comes engaging in political disagreements.  In a number of ways they're similar to my Keys to Repeating the Truth post.  Overall though, if you follow these guidelines, you will not only be more engaging to that liberal you're responding to, but it will overall portray correctly that conservatives do know what they want and aren't just a bunch of hate filled dung throwers.

The overall theme to remember is that you want the person you're responding to take you seriously to actually take what you're saying to heart.  Yes, I'm aware there are trolls.  Yes, I'm aware that there are some arrogant know it alls that won't listen no matter you seem to say.  However, not only is no one ever going to respond positively to negative nastiness, those people will use that nastiness to strengthen their notion about conservatives being dumb and hate filled. 

No Name Calling

This is a big one.  In reading articles in places like Breitbart, Truth Revolt, and The Blaze, I'll comments where they call Obama things like Obozo and Obummer.  Comments by liberals, trolls or otherwise, are met with your standard range of pejoratives like idiot, moron, libtard, etc.   even when the liberal is actually trying to make a point in a somewhat civilized manner.  This has got to stop.  

Let me ask:  Do you mind being called stupid? Or idiot?  If someone were to call you an idiot, would you even be listening to anything else they had to say? Probably not.  

Name calling shuts down any hopes of reaching that other person.  It is disrespectful.  On top of that, it reinforces the negative prejudices liberals have been projecting onto conservatives for years.  Yes, that person may be saying some pretty unfounded, dumb stuff.  But if you call them dumb, that's all they're going to hear and just get mad no matter how right your following argument may be.  Yes, they be disrespectful to you first.  But are you going to sink to their level by not respecting them or are you going to show that you're the better person by showing them that you at least respect them enough to not call them names?

Never start with "You're wrong"
Just like the name calling thing, you start with "you're wrong" and you've immediately lowered the other person's ability to listen and reason out your response because after hearing "you're wrong", they're too busy figuring out other ways to express their perspective to show you that it's right.  It can also incense someone to anger and increase their reluctance in listening to your points.

Always counter with conservative principles
It's not enough to point out the flaws in a liberal's argument.  We all know may know them quite well.  But keep in mind that a classic liberal retort to conservative criticism is "well at least we're doing something about it! All you do is criticize!"  If you don't present the conservative solution in your rebuttal, it's easy for a liberal to apply the obstructionist label: "You don't want to help anyone, all you do is keep us from helping!"  Instead, if you point out their flaws and then supplement it with the conservative solution to the problem, it transforms your "obstructionist" stance to one of advocating a different policy.

Always make the moral argument
While numbers are important and they should be minded, they unfortunately are a hard sell because numbers alone are never going to trump someone's emotions.  People will care more about doing the right thing than they will about how much money something costs.  Consequently, by making only the money argument, you can be seen as "caring more about money and profits than about actual people", a common liberal trope against conservatives.  

This can be a tough one to overcome because we're admittedly at an immediate disadvantage.   The very basis of liberalism is that government "takes care and helps people", therefore their intentions, regardless of the disastrous results, already make a strong moral argument: we want to help people!  So naturally, anyone opposing that is seen as evil and nasty.  Therefore, when we oppose one of these "help people!" initiatives, we have to make sure to point out not only the morality of being fiscally conservative, but also the far greater good that can come from fiscal liberty.  

In either case, it's not enough to point out the failures.  It must be coupled with an argument that makes the conservative solution sound like the right thing to do.  

Ask questions
Believe it or not, many liberals do not seem to know much beyond what they're told on TV by the mainstream media, even those that like to claim the intellectual high ground.  If you're good at asking the right pointed questions, it's possible to lead them to the right conclusion.  By steering them via questions, it will also open up more holes in their argument on which to counter (in civility, of course).   

Know your stuff
The converse of the above.  If you make an opinion about something, make sure you have at least some rudimentary facts to back up your assertions since you might be challenged.  If you want to blame our sluggish economy on Obamacare, then you should understand what about Obamacare is hurting the economy.  You don't have to be a policy wonk or watch/read politics non stop to stay up on stuff, but you should understand at least why you believe the things you do.  

Lastly though, these guidelines are not only limited to conservatives despite them being my focus.  Christians can also apply these in their lives and pretty much anyone else with any belief system can.  However, when it comes conservatives and Christians, we're held to a higher standard by not only the left's own double standards, but our own principles'.   So take to heart and remember that if you want to truly have someone understand, you need to be willing to do what it takes to keep the communication bridge open.