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Friday, August 29, 2014


I really love my life at the moment.  I have a great woman in my life who makes me incredibly happy.  I love her kids, and I love my kids.  We have a nice house in a rural setting, set far off the road and away from neighbors.  I work from home the majority of the time.

Sometimes, though, parenting challenges me, and I hate myself for failures in administering discipline and keeping calm.

Last night was an example.  My daughter, Caitlin, gets more and more frustrated when things don't go her way, then does things that are rude and inconsiderate--but doesn't realize that they are rude and inconsiderate.  The following sequence of events led to her melting down and screaming at the top of her lungs:

  • She requested that we call my mom, so after work, we called her.  We got her onto Skype.
  • Caitlin wanted my mom to take the computer into the kitchen.  My mom didn't feel like unhooking everything and taking the laptop into the kitchen, so she refused.  It's a valid response.  
  • Caitlin didn't want to see my mom anymore, because the view wasn't changing to the kitchen, where she would see the microwave, the oven, and the refrigerator.  She is obsessed with these appliances.
  • After she asked to see "grandma's flowers" (when my mom doesn't have the camera on, it's  a picture of flowers on Skype, Caitlin would not stop interrupting.  She became more frustrated the more I told her to "stop" and "wait".  I stopped the conversation with my mom.
  • I told Caitlin she was being rude, and she smacked the laptop.  I became angry and snapped at her, telling her that she is not to touch to laptop.  
  • She wanted me to do her "Knocking on ____, bye bye _____" game (e.g., knocking on yellow flute, bye bye striped flute), and I refused, telling her that she needed to listen to what I was saying.  She became more frustrated.
  • The more frustrated Caitlin became, the more violent she was.  She finally slammed the laptop closed, and I lost it.  I yelled at her to get into her room.  
  • She laid down and put the blanket on her, but she came back out of the room.  I yelled more and got her back into her room.  She became more agitated and belligerent.  I became more irritated and frustrated, which made me more angry.  
  • After she throw her Spongebob Squarepants keyboard at the door, I finally went into her room, put her on her bed, and held her down like they told us to do in a class I took in Michigan.  Supposedly, the child will eventually calm down.  Not Caitlin!  She screamed at the top of her lungs and cried. 

I finally gave up and got off the bed, repeated a few things, then turned of the light and closed the door.  She stayed in her room finally.  

Then I started hating myself for my actions.  

Yelling doesn't do a thing but make my daughter more irritated and frustrated.  Refusing to do that game she does to calm her does nothing but make her more frustrated and agitated, then violent.  Getting angry does nothing to resolve the issue.

So what should have I done?  How do I even discipline her?  Where do I go from here?

One approach would be to calm her down first, but instead of doing what she wants, take her into her room calmly and read to her, maybe with a little bit of her calming game on the way.  When she is calm, explain to her what she did and how she should behave.  Unfortunately, I have my doubts that she will recognize that she's done wrong and about whether or not she will understand my explanation.

Another approach, suggested by Jeanie, is to mentally prepare her for my mom's refusal to go to the kitchen.  Mental preparation seems to work with her more than most things, and we prevent the incident altogether.  This might work.

Still another thing I could do is print out a picture of my mom's kitchen to show her, rather than asking my mom to move into the kitchen for us.  

I know for certain that I have to take an alternative approach, because what I did last night didn't work.  All it caused was anger, frustration, and--for me--pain.  I have injuries that the activity aggravated.  We need to work on remaining calm, no matter what. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Why it's wrong to put an assault rifle into the hands of a 9-year-old

I can't believe I'm even having to write this article, but I live in 'Merica, so I shouldn't be surprised, I suppose.

A 9-year-old girl killed her instructor on the firing range with an Uzi in Arizona.  Later in the article, the revelation that this isn't the first accident involving a child and an Uzi; an 8-year-old in Massachusetts killed himself with one at a gun show.

I am not anti-gun.  I am not pro-gun.  I am fine with adults owning guns for protection (within reason), for firing on a range, and for hunting.  I am fine with older kids learning to hunt with rifles.  However, it's wrong to put an instrument of death into the hands of a young child.  A weapon designed only for killing is not something that should be included in childhood recreational activities.  I have several problems with this idea.

First, a child has not developed the judgment necessary to respect the danger guns represent.  How many children her age even have a grasp on the concept of death?  Why put a weapon designed for hitting multiple targets at once in a military situation into the hands of a person who isn't even allowed on a battlefield?

Secondly, a young child isn't going to be able to handle the recoil of an Uzi.  These are not toys, and should not be handled by non-military personnel.  A child doesn't have the strength to keep this gun stable.

Next, there is no reason to teach a child how to "safely" use a sub-machine gun  In what situation would a 9-year-old actually use an Uzi?  Do the parents think their child will fight in the upcoming revolution or something?

Finally, a child should be shooting squirt guns, Nerf darts, or, at most, an air rifle.  A paint gun might be within reason.  It is not reasonable to have a nine-year-old firing real guns, unless it's for hunting with family or something along those lines.

I'm truly angry at this incident.  The parents, the instructor, and the owners of the gun range are all responsible for this senseless death.  I hope some rules change at the range over this horrible tragedy.  I call it a tragedy only because of the scars it will leave on the child's mind; the adults in this situation should have known better.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Irresponsible Autism Story at Good Morning America

This story really pisses me off. I'd love to think that my child can get to the point where she doesn't need an IEP. Here are the problems with it:
  • These boys received upwards of 48 hours of therapy PER WEEK in their home. Anyone who has gotten therapy for their children knows how expensive that can be. How on Earth do I pay for that? I can't.
  • The one mother said that they told her she should institutionalize her child and have another baby. I call bullshit. That kid wasn't born in the 1950s. He was born in the late 1990s. They weren't going to institutionalize her child in the late 1990s.
  • The story starts out by talking about new research suggesting that children can be moved off the spectrum, then you get an expert saying "There's no magic bullet; no secret sauce. More research is needed." That statement sums up the difference between media hype and actual science. The media seize on a story about two boys--TWO--who APPEAR to have moved "off the spectrum" (when they probably had high-functioning Aspbergers in the first place, and just had therapy to get around the behaviors associated with it), and they run with it as hope to all parents that they can move their kids off the spectrum.
  • They bring in another expert who says that it puts pressure on parents to say that they can move their kids off the spectrum. He suggests that early therapy can get kids to reach their potential, WHATEVER THAT IS. The experts in this program in no way suggested that ALL children can be moved off the spectrum. Good Morning America is irresponsible for showing this story and hyping it to be hope for all kids to "move off the spectrum." Recent research has demonstrated that there are physiological differences in the brain in people with autism. You don't get off the spectrum; you get around the symptoms of the disorder.
Here's the link to the story:

Monday, June 23, 2014

Is this rape?

*I apologize for the grammatical errors.  I did not write this scenario; it's an image.

The above scenario appeared in a group I frequent on Facebook, and I found that I read it wrong at first, then got something else wrong when I re-read it.  I wanted to separate it from the group and parse it for clarity, although there is one thing I got right about the scenario off the bat: it is definitely rape.  You can disagree with me, but consent was withdrawn.  When consent is withdrawn, it's a full stop.  You do not keep going.  If you do, you are committing the crime of rape.  

This might not be a necessary exercise for everyone, but since people had all sorts of things to add and all sorts of questions to ask, it might be good for other folks as well.  That's why I'm doing it here, and not simply in a Notepad document for myself.  It's important, because there seems to be question about consent where none should exist. 

This couple was having consensual sex...

So, consent was there initially.  So far, so good.

...she reached her climax before him...

When I first read this part, my tired mind (I've slept about three hours in the past 48) inserted a "because" in front.  I realized my error after I re-read it.  Because of the initial misunderstanding, I interpreted her action as selfish, but there is no actual evidence of selfishness on her part in this scenario.

 ...and wanted him to stop thereafter.

Someone questioned this part of it.  Did she actually communicate her desire for him to stop explicitly?  When I went back and re-read it after that question was asked, I didn't re-read it all the way, so I said that assuming it was communicated at all, he should have stopped.  It didn't have to be assumed, as we will see later.

 He didn't stop right away because he also wanted his orgasm...

Now here, we see evidence of selfishness.  He wanted to get off, so he kept going, even though she said to stop.  Why did she want him to stop? Obviously, he was not sensitive enough to her needs, emotional or physical, to find out.  He just wanted his orgasm.  She wanted him to stop, but he didn't.  Rape.  Clear-cut.  Consent withdrawn.

...she later reported him for rape, claiming that he didn't stop after she said, "Stop."  

The only problem she's going to have is that it's her word against his...sadly.  If she did say, "Stop," she meant for him to stop.  Whatever her reason, he should not have continued.  There's no other way to interpret this scenario, based on the information given.  It is rape, and he should not have raped her.  He should have at least stopped to find out why she wanted to stop, and shouldn't have continued without her consent in any event.  She might have had to urinate, might have a medical concern, might feel nauseous all of a sudden, might have a doesn't matter.  It's a full stop scenario. That's it.

What's your take on this?  Was she raped?

Yes.  Yes, she was.  He ignored her when she communicated that she wanted him to stop.  There is no scenario where it's okay to continue after she withdraws consent.

I hope this helps more people to understand the scenario and understand that consent can be withdrawn for any reason at any time.

Monday, June 9, 2014

On marriage and important considerations for men

Today, a group where I'm a member was discussing marriage, and one member brought up some objections to the practice, making some claims that I would like to address.  He said, "Marriage is for girls," going on to say, "Guys get married for only a few reasons: they are 'godly', they have control issues of some sort, they are insecure at some level, they just want to make their woman happy...or they're gay."  Someone also added "Hence why marriage is gay," at one point, which I will get back to later, because I think it's important to address the other points first.

Marriage is for girls?

In American culture, at least, marriage seems slanted toward women, because all of the marketing appears to be for the bride.  Engagement rings still appear mostly on women's fingers, not men's (although men's engagement rings appear here and there, and may become a trend).  A vast amount of money goes into the wedding gown, bridesmaids' dresses, the engagement ring (which is what began the discussion in the first place), and the bands.  The man's band typically is plain and less costly.  Men wear tuxes, traditionally, and those are usually rentals.  Unless he and his groomsmen are difficult to fit, they're pretty simple and much less costly, because wedding gowns and bridesmaids' dresses are not typically rentals.

Most websites geared toward what I will term "marriage marketing" focus on the bride.  I'm gotten emails from them, having signed up for the lists and for contests/sweepstakes, and they tend to address the bride only.

I think the slant has two major causes: one is tradition.  The other is the market.  The market perpetuates the tradition and feeds into it.  It sets up expectations for generations who grow up with marriage being marketed in traditional ways.  In capitalist society, the market will change if entrepreneurs perceive a demand and meet it with a supply, so unless there's a market for things men will wear, use, or consume at a wedding, there won't be equality in this regard--unless women stop buying into it.

So far, I've only really been talking about the wedding, and how it's marketed.  That's not marriage, though.  Marriage is the commitment, and it takes two.  So, do men really get married for the reasons this member claimed?  I haven't conducted a study, but I will go through the claims and speak for myself.  Other men can speak up if they want--and they should.  You really should think about why you're getting married, because I did it once already, said I wasn't going to do it again, and here I am, engaged.  Why would I do that?  It's because there are still plenty of good reasons, and I know what to look for and what to avoid now, from my failed marriage and from relationships prior to it.

Men get married because they are "godly"?

This claim certainly doesn't apply to me.  I'm an atheist, and have been for twenty-three years.  I gave up religion when I was nineteen.

Men get married because they have control issues?

I'm not getting married to control my wife-to-be.  In fact, with the way divorces work, marriage gives the woman more power than she would have otherwise in the relationship.  With no kids involved, I could abandon a woman with whom I've been living (since many states have given up common law marriage), leave her completely destitute, and she'd have no recourse in divorce, because there wouldn't be one.  If you're getting married in 2014 because you think you're going to be able to control a woman, you're pretty ignorant of marriage/divorce law.

Men get married because they are insecure on some level?

If was insecure, I would never have talked to my fiancee in the first place.  If wasn't confident in myself, I wouldn't have attracted her, given her past relationships.  I'm not marrying her to bind her to me so no one else can have her; that would be insane, given the fact that marriage doesn't stop infidelity.  I don't understand this argument on any level, unless someone believed that if he didn't marry his significant other, he'd lose her to someone who would, and that possibility is laughable in my case.  She wouldn't want anyone else.  I am completely confident in that...for reasons that are personal, private, and between us.

Men get married because they want to make their women happy?

Yes, I want to make her happy, but I'm not marrying her to make her happy.  I make her happy without the legal binding.  I'm doing it because I want to.

So...why am I getting married?

Marriage gives couples certain legal protections they can't get otherwise, or have to jump through many legal hoops to have.  Some of these legal hoops involve expense that would be unnecessary if you're married.

Your tax status changes when you're married.  It's a lot more difficult to claim someone as a dependent when they're not married to you, if you've supported that person.

She can easily do business in my name while I'm working.  She can use my credit card at the store, if necessary.  I don't have to jump through hoops to get her onto the medical benefits I have through work.  She can advocate for my daughter when I'm not around if she shares my last name and my daughter's.

There are around 250 legal protections for married couples, and I won't list them all here.  Conversely, there are reasons marriage carries risk.  You are married to a person's credit.  It isn't easy to get divorced, and your assets might have to be divided (if a prenuptial agreement isn't in place, that is) if you split up.  If your spouse gets pregnant by another man, some states consider the resulting child a product of your marriage (this is not a concern in the case of my current engagement, but it did become a concern in my first marriage).

The fact is, I love my fiancee.  I love her more than I've loved anyone.  I have a high degree of compatibility with her.  She shows me affection on a level I've never received.  She works with me, supports me, encourages me, and cares for me.  She's loyal, honest, intimate, and diligent.  She's an advocate for her children, and has become an advocate for mine.  She's attractive, too--bonus!  I am committing to her on the level of being legally bound because I fully understand both the benefits and consequences, and have certainty that we have something that will last.  Other examples of happily married couples who have lasted for decades look a lot like what we have now.

Marriage is gay?

I think calling anything "gay" speaks of insensitivity and intellectual vacuousness.  People who say that things are "gay" usually aren't thinking about how their words might disparage gay people, but worse, it typically isn't what they mean.   They mean that they don't like whatever it is, or that it's lame...which gives "gay" negative connotations.  I think people in the LGBT community can speak to this one better than I can, but as an ally, it didn't sit well with me at all.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Marriage Equality Church: Important For Nonreligious People, Too

Religious activists appear everywhere in our society.  They believe their religion is above the law, and if the law conflicts with their beliefs, they simply ignore it.  We hear about violations of separation of state and church in schools all the time.  The cases sometimes go the way they should, as with the Dover, PA incident, where a religious principal brought a creationist text, Of Pandas and People, into the science classrooms.  We hear about mandated prayer at assemblies.  We hear about school boards, packed with religious activists, who change the science standards to water down or eliminate evolution.  Legislation constantly appears at the state level, sometimes at the federal, to attempt to grant special rights to religious people, change science standards, and generally entangle religion and government.  One example of special rights is the effort to give pharmacists the ability to refrain from providing medication based on their religious objections.  There is another effort to give employers the ability to not offer certain insurance coverage based on the same thing.

What about religion and marriage?  In addition to the Defense of Marriage Act, defining "traditional" marriage as being between one man and one woman, there are incidents like the recent one in Virginia, where a court-appointed officiant refused to marry a couple because they were atheists. When I was married, the judge decided it would be prudent to add, " the eyes of God" to the end of her closing statement, after our vows.  My ex-wife and I are both atheists.  We tried to find a nonreligious officiant back then, but we had difficulty--everyone we called wanted to include some kind of spiritual language into the ceremony.  We figured we were safe with a judge, who is supposed to be impartial when it comes to religion.  We were wrong.  Did it hurt us?  Not physically, and it's not like we're emotionally scarred, but think about how people are about their weddings, and how upset they get when anything goes wrong. It's not like it was an honest mistake; this was a judge who thought including religion in a secular ceremony was something we would want.  It was a little jarring, and it punctuated the presence of people who couldn't care less that atheists exist in the world.

I want to have a safe place for people who want to get married to come and have their ceremony, without hassle and without objections from people who don't know them and aren't a part of their lives.  It wasn't the business of the court-appointed officiant that the couple in Virginia didn't believe in gods, and it wasn't the judge's place to insert " the eyes of God" into our ceremony on our wedding day.  If you're getting married in front of a church congregation, it is up to that church whether or not you should be married there, but no church or religious individual should be able to stop you from marrying in a secular ceremony, and no one should force religion into that secular ceremony.

Please help me start setting up safe places for people to go and marry without hassle.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Marriage Equality Church: Core Values

This post represents the values of the Marriage Equality Church.  If you would like to show your support and become a member, please email me at or go to here to join the Facebook group. 

1. We value romantic love between consenting adults, in every form it takes.   Love is the happiness people share with each other, the intimacy, the laughs, the companionship, the solidarity in good times and bad, the support they have for each other, and the high degree of compatibility they share.  

2.  We think values based on empathy are worth more than values based on faith.  Knowing how another person thinks and feels and acting accordingly yields better results than treating people according to belief in arbitrary rules and ancient texts.  

3.  We strongly assert that love between couples of the same-sex is every bit as valid and sincere as love between members of the opposite sex, and it's only right that same-sex couples enjoy the same rights and benefits as everyone else.

4.  We think that altruism helps not only marriages, but society in general.   The only way to make the future better for the planet is to act selflessly.  At the same time, we think that acting selflessly yields its own reward; when a person makes other people feel better or plans on making the world a more habitable place for future generations, it creates a positive feeling of accomplishment.

5.  Human effort solves problems, not prayer and reflection.  When someone falls on hard times or disaster strikes, the solution involves humans acting to make things better.  

6.  This organization creates an environment where people with common values can come together; it is not a political organization.  It will not lobby or be used as a vehicle to influence the voting of its members.  

7.  We think that commitments involving the legal binding of marriage should be based on a solid foundation.  We therefore encourage marriage education and support, as well as counseling, when needed.