Apr 032014

I was pretty well-amused by this funny column: 10 Things to Never Say to Women Who Don’t Want Kids. Here’s the one that I’ve heard most often:

7. “You’ll change your mind.”

Maybe I will change my mind about having kids, but I’ll never change my mind about you being tacky as hell. If you find yourself about to say this to a childless woman, please punch yourself in the face and then go home and watch Gigli five times as punishment.

It’s wildly rude to second-guess people’s life-choices in this way… and just imagine the uproar if childless people said that — or worse: “you’ll regret that someday” — to people with kids.

Here’s my basic perspective on the decision to have kids or not:

Because Paul and I chose not to have kids, I’ve been able to do tons of awesome things that wouldn’t be possible with kids, including graduate school, my career, and riding horses seriously. However… if we’d had kids, I’d be doing tons of different but still awesome things that are only possible with kids, like homeschooling or teaching my kids to ride horses.

“Should we have kids or not?” is major fork in the road of life. You might have a strong preference one way or the other, but please, recognize that not everyone feels the same way — and that life offers all kinds of fabulous joys, whichever path a person takes!

Don’t Let the Kiddos Win Easy!

 Posted by on 20 January 2014 at 1:00 pm  Children, Competition, Ethics, Honesty, Parenting
Jan 202014

I hate the practice of allowing kids to win games, although I’ve never really considered the alternatives.

Two weeks ago, when Paul and I were in Los Angeles visiting his family, I played Connect Four with my five year old nephew, Jeremy, and I hit on a strategy that I really like.

Basically, I played all my best moves, but throughout the game, I gave him hints about his moves and strategy, as well as explained what I was doing and why. I enjoyed that, he enjoyed that, and he learned how to play better. That felt so much better — and more honest — than pretending to be slow and dumb.

As a result, I checkmated him in the first game, but then I lost the second game to him, because I got too excited about the move that I’d make next, and I forgot to block him. Doh!

Another option is to handicap games. That’s fair, since the adult knows so much more. The goal, after all, is to play an enjoyable and competitive game!

Good times!

Kid Shaming: Wrong, Wrong, and Wrong

 Posted by on 14 January 2014 at 10:00 am  Children, Ethics, Justice, Parenting
Jan 142014

Dog shaming is funny: it’s a harmless way for dog owners to amuse themselves (or blow off steam) about the naughty behavior of their dogs. It’s harmless because the dogs don’t know that they’re being publicly shamed and mocked. (They can’t read, after all.)

Kid shaming is another matter entirely. Here’s one example and here’s another. Such public shaming teaches the worst possible moral lessons — particularly that you can’t trust people who claim to love you and that life will be good so long as you conceal your mistakes and wrongs from the authorities. It’s a betrayal of a child’s trust in a parent, not to mention an unconscionable abuse of parental authority. To see how and why, read this article: Destroying Your Child’s Heart – One FB Picture At A Time.

Just imagine if your boss publicly shamed you at the office — or the whole wide world — for your mistakes and wrongs. Really, just imagine that for a moment. Think of your last screw-up, whether large or small. I bet that you’d learn one of the following lessons from the article, just like kids do:

  • Bully your kids and they will learn to fear you. As in be afraid of you. Cringing in your presence and hiding their lives from you.
  • Publicly shame your kids and they will learn the only important character development is to be found in a good public persona and the fool’s gold of value based solely upon outward perception and public approval
  • Mock your children as they struggle and they will learn to never share their struggles with you.
  • Share their weaknesses with the world and they will find the world to be cruel and will put you in the role of the cruelest of all.
  • They will think they are a joke, not to be taken seriously. Their pain the only commodity to sell.
  • They will treat you as you have treated them.

Parents, you can do better!

Embarrassed by Hollie McNish

 Posted by on 22 August 2013 at 10:00 am  Children, Culture, Parenting
Aug 222013

This is an amazingly powerful poem about the social shame imposed on women for public breastfeeding:

For what it’s worth, I answered a question about public breastfeeding on the 8 April 2012 episode of Philosophy in Action Radio. If you’ve not yet heard it, you can listen to or download the relevant segment of the podcast here:

For more details, check out the question’s archive page. The full episode – where I answered questions on cultivating good luck, public breastfeeding, national identification card, mulling over memories, and more – is available as a podcast too.

Further Comments on Disabled Kids

 Posted by on 18 June 2013 at 10:00 am  Children, Disability, Ethics, Family
Jun 182013

On the May 19th episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered a question on whether disabled kids should be kept out of the public eye. (My answer was, in essence, HELL NO.)

Shortly thereafter, I received this message in email:

It has been a while since I’ve checked in with you, but I wanted to reach out to tell you that I greatly appreciate your podcast segment on the visibility of disabled children. I have personal stakes in this — my younger brother has down syndrome, and my daughter was recently diagnosed with cerebral palsy — but I’d like to think that even without these intimate experiences, I would never had supported any idea that such people should be kept hidden, or out of the view of others. My brother and daughter have enriched the lives of many, and will continue to do so, for those people around them that are open enough to treat them as individuals. And I am grateful that you have taken the time to speak, in part, on their behalf.

Indeed — and thank you!

On the plane back from ATLOSCon, a young woman with Down’s Syndrome was on the train with me in the airport, then across the aisle from me in the plane. Not only was she not any kind of trouble, but I could tell that her family members enjoyed her company. At one point, I noticed that she seemed to be teaching sign language with the person next to her, and she was quite adept. As I watched her, I was so glad that her family didn’t think themselves obliged to cloister her; given her capacities, that would have been a loss for her and them.

So… if you’ve not yet heard that episode, you can listen to or download the relevant segment of the podcast here:

For more details, check out the question’s archive page. The full episode – where I also answered questions on individualism versus anti-social atomism, poor communication from the boss, arranged marriages, and more – is available as a podcast too.

Mr. T for Mother’s Day

 Posted by on 12 May 2013 at 2:00 pm  Children, Funny, Parenting
May 122013

Mr. T explains how and why to treat your mother right:

Happy Mother’s Day!

Maternal Affection by Hugues Merle

 Posted by on 12 May 2013 at 10:00 am  Art, Children, Painting, Parenting
May 122013

Happy Mother’s Day!

Hugues Merle (French painter) 1823 – 1881
Maternal Affection, 1867
oil on canvas
39 3/4 x 32 in. (100.9 x 81.2 cm.)
signed Hugues Merle and dated 1867 (upper right)
private collection

Catalogue Note

After studying with Léon Cogniet, Hugues Merle became a regular contributor to the Salon between 1847 and 1880, up until the last year of his life, receiving medals for his entries in 1861 and 1863. His themes of maternal love found a ready audience with newly affluent art patrons in America. In fact, by 1878-9, in his Art Treasures of America, Edward Strahan could cite as many as 52 works by Merle in American collections. His reputation was equally great at home in France, where he enjoyed the patronage of the Duc de Morny and also enjoyed the support of Adolphe Goupil, the most prestigious art dealer in Paris whose other leading artists included William Bouguereau and Jean-Léon Gèrôme.

Merle was most often associated with his friend and rival, Bouguereau, not only because they depicted similar subjects but also employed a high finish and naturalistic technique. Merle was just two years older than Bouguereau, and their thematic and artistic similarities begged comparison from critics and collectors alike.

Apr 182013

Chris Mortensen — the director of the excellent documentary Ayn Rand and the Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged — is raising money for a new documentary on the disaster of government schooling today and what can be done to fix it.

Check out the project on KickStarter… and contribute sometime in the next 57 days if you want it to happen!

Here’s the teaser video from the KickStarter page… which looks awesome. (After watching the video, I contributed!)

I hope to have more on this new project later. But for now, I wanted to post a quick announcement.

Also, if you’ve not yet seen Ayn Rand and the Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged, check out the documentary on NetFlix (streaming and DVD) and Amazon (streaming and DVD). Also, the book of full interviews is available in paperback and kindle.

As you might recall, I interviewed Chris about Ayn Rand and the Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged back in February on Philosophy in Action Radio. It was a great interview — and such a delight for me! So if you’ve not yet heard it, you can listen to or download the podcast here:

For more details, check out the episode’s archive page.

Cavebaby Cora Eats Ribs

 Posted by on 6 April 2013 at 10:00 am  Children, Food
Apr 062013


Cora puts everything in her mouth… and she looks so delighted to discover something tasty. (I’m such a proud honorary auntie!)

Mar 012013

Forbes published my latest OpEd, “Freedom, Not Fertility, Is The Key To A Thriving Economy” (2/27/2013).

I respond to some conservatives fretting about America’s low birth rate, and discuss why it’s not the government’s job to promote any specific lifestyle (e.g., single vs married or childless vs. multiple-child marriage).

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha