three popular children’s books that shouldn’t be read to children

There are three popular children’s books I found traumatizing as a kid even though my parents loved them and read to me despite my protests. While I couldn’t put words to my objections at the time, as an adult I can see that they send negative messages to children and have sold so many copies merely because of the positively feelings they give parents – not by popularity with children.
3. Love You Foreverloveyou
Synopsis: A book about a son who grows up and a mother who ages. Throughout their lives they communicate their love for each other by saying, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll love you for always, as long as you’re living my baby(or, mother) you’ll be.”
Why this book sucks for a kid:
When the kid becomes a teenager he acts ungrateful to his mother and ignores her, while trashing the house, be she still loves him. Since the book is putting the kid listening into the place of the kid in the book, it sounds like the parent reading the book is saying you’re going to be ungrateful someday but I’ll love you anyway – feels condescending and perhaps even somewhat accusatory.
Then the mom gets old and hunched over and the kid finally says this saying to her. My mother always choked up when she read this bit. I was traumatized by the idea that my mom was going to become this feeble, hunched over old woman, and the book did not address the possibility of these feelings.
Why parents love it:
Perhaps it was subconscious on the part of the author, but this book helps adults cope with their fears of aging and of being ignored by their children as they get older.
The book addresses issues parents deal with, not issues children deal with. However, it is adults who generally buy the books for this age range, not children, so writing your book for the enjoyment of adults is smart business sense and it makes sense that the books that do, sell the most copies.
Don’t buy this book to read to your children. Buy this book to put in the drawer of your bedside table and read when you are feeling ignored by your kids or are worried about a wrinkle you saw in the mirror.
2. The Giving Treegiving
Synopsis: A nice tree loves a boy. So he give the boy his apples, his shade, his branches, and then eventually his trunk. Now he’s a stump. The boy returns as an old man, and the tree says, ‘I have nothing left to give you.’ But the old man say, ‘I need a place to sit and rest’ and sits on his trunk.
Why this book sucks for a kid:
Maybe this book send the message to some kids that their parents will give them everything, and thus is comforting. But the message I, and I am guessing many others, got, is that our parents are currently giving us everything, to the point of destroying themselves. I didn’t want my parents to be chopped down until they were a tiny stump. The kid in the book was very selfish and never gave anything back. I didn’t like the implication that I was like that. I was sensitive (I believed) to the feelings of other people and wouldn’t take something even if they wanted to give it to me, if I could see it would be to their own detriment. I also didn’t want my mom to become a stump, so the metaphorical image of it traumatized me.
Why parents love it: They feel touched by thinking about how selflessly sacrificial they are to their kids? They feel good thinking about what amazing parents they are to their thankless children? They want to passive-aggressively communicate to their children that their children are selfish and thankless and should ask for less?
Assessment: The entire plot of this book is co-dependence.
If you associate yourself with this tree, learn some self-care and go to therapy for co-dependency. Your kids need you to work through those issues so you can be a better parent to them and help them develop into psychologically balanced children.
1. The Runaway Bunnyrunaway
Synopsis: A baby bunny plans to run away. The mother bunny describes how she will find and catch the baby bunny and bring it home, no matter how cleverly the baby runs away. Finally, the baby bunny gives up and doesn’t run away.
Why this book sucks for a kid:
While the illustrations are beautiful and fascinating, this entire book is about how the baby bunny lacks autonomy and is powerless to gain it. She is not free to make her own choices or do what she thinks she needs to do to improve her life. The moral of this book is to give up and stop trying.
I knew that I couldn’t escape the abuse and neglect, as a kid. I knew that if I ran away, even as a teenager, the police would bring me back home. That trying to escape was useless. That feeling was terrible. But even as a little kid before the abuse got serious, this book gave me terrible feelings of being controlled and powerless, even though I couldn’t explain them. It bothered me that my mother liked the story so much. I enjoyed looking at the pictures, but that was it.
Why parents love this book:
Perhaps they want to remind their kids not to try running away. Perhaps they confuse being controlling with love, so the mother bunny’s controlling behavior is misunderstood as extremely loving behavior. Maybe they feel good about themselves thinking about how far they are willing to go for their kid. Or maybe they just love the pictures.
Recommendation: Buy books that empower your kids, not tell them not even to try to do something they want to do.
I’m sure there are some people out there who loved these books as kids. I’d love to hear why you like them and what you thought (and think) about the issues I’ve raised here.

Parental rights or parental roles?

Parents cannot be unrestricted in the choice they make for and about their dependents because, contrary to one popular belief system, 18 years old is not a magical age when a person suddenly goes from complete incompetence to being able to make mature decisions. If it were, parents would be unnecessary: as soon as a children are potty trained we could put them each in a cell with a toilet, internet equipped computer, and hatch to push in food, then open the door when they hit 18 and out would walk out a well-developed, contributing citizen. There is a whole realm of social interactions and increasing responsibilities a child needs to develop into a mature adult, and parents exist to provide access to those opportunities and provide appropriate guidance and encouragement to their children as they wrestle with those opportunities. If a person hits 18 and is no more prepared for the world than if they had grown up in the aforementioned cell, then if the word ‘parent’ means anything more than ‘the person with the legal right to exploit this other person’s labor’, they were bad parents, in the sense that they have failed at being anything more than a jailer.

It’s time for our medical community to focus on catching women’s cardiology up to men’s.*

Did you know that cardiological disease is the leading cause of death of women and “the lifetime risk of heart failure is approximately 15 % for women and 11 % for men”? Neither did I until I read the introduction to Aug 2015’s issue of “Cardiovascular Drugs and Therapy”.

I got turned onto this topic via “Moving Into the Future With New Dimensions and Strategies: A Vision for 2020 for Women’s Health Research”, a 2010 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, Office of Research on Women’s Health. Did you know that research on cardiovascular anatomy, physiology, health, and medicine has to this point been done almost exclusively using male animal models and humans? And it turns out that the cardiovascular system is actually very different in women versus men. ‘Cardiology’ as we know it in hospitals, clinics, and medical schools is really Male Cardiology.

There is also a well researched lay article on women’s cardiology, titled “Is Medicine’s Gender Bias Killing Young Women?” published in the Pacific Standard this March.

I’m still reeling from learning these things. I knew gender equality still had a long way to go, but I didn’t realize it had quite this far.

*Per racial issues – There has also been a lack of research when it comes non-white human males in cardiology and other areas of health. The problem is compounded in the case of black women. So it’s really time for our medical community to focus on catching up women’s and minority cardiology. It feels seriously problematic that the majority of research continues to be focused on the white male model.

What you take for granted about Actual School

I think people who go to schools take these things for granted:

  • Observing multiple adult role models
  • Observing different peer personalities, behaviors, and interrelationships
  • Moving freely among peers in a school hallway and/or playground and/or cafeteria at least once per day
  • If you’re noticeably sick, there’s a school nurse that will probably end up evaluating you
  • Some level of opportunity for physical activity

I went to kindergarten and first grade at a local good public school and was bullied in first grade, so I was excited about home ‘school’ at first. Incidentally, the school also had a plan for addressing my educational and social issues, that I believe would have actually done so, in a developmentally appropriate way.

All the things that I’ve listed above I would have gotten in even ‘bad’ public schools but didn’t get in home ‘school’. Each of these things listed above would have made a huge difference in my development. Some parents may provide these things to children they’ve taken out of school, but it’s something you can’t take for granted once a kid has been taken out of school.

Other things that you can take for granted in school but not home ‘schools’:

  • Meals for children who don’t get enough at home
  • Some level of discussion about the human body – how it should function, what healthy bodies are like, healthy things to do to care for your body
  • Someone notices if you disappear for weeks
  • Someone notices if you’re locked in a cage or closet 24/7/365 because then you don’t show up at school
  • Someone notices if you way half the weight you’re supposed to at your age, or if you’re half the height you’re supposed to be
  • Someone notices if you can’t talk or can’t read

People who talk about how they went to a ‘bad’ school take these things so much for granted that they don’t realize that while a ‘bad’ school might be abusive, violent, have bullying – a bad home ‘school’ can have all of the same, plus some very significant (lack of) things that amplify the effects of abuse. If you think all parents who remove their kids from school provide these things you take for granted in schools, you can be disabused of that inaccurate assumption by these stories.

When you think about home ‘schools’, please remember these facts to supplement the photos of happy children filling out workbooks at the kitchen table.

There is a reason people choose to be fundamentalists. They aren’t so different from the rest of us.

From Micah Murray’s blog:

Do you ever miss it? … There were years when I had all the answers. There was a time when there were no decisions to be made, no opinions to be formed, no choices to agonize over. There was a time when every next step was set out for me, when my reactions and responses followed a blueprint that was exact in its plans for my life.”

An article very worth reading. I’ll wait. Come back after you read it.🙂

There is a reason people choose to be fundamentalists. The security is complete. You know that you won’t accidentally do the wrong thing thinking it is the right thing. You know that you won’t accidentally be wrong about anything. You know that if you follow this list, your actions will be successful, you will only help and not harm anyone, and you will be blessed. Everything that happens to you is happening for your good. If you see anything bad happen to anyone, you can rest easy knowing that God is using it for their good – and possibly also to provide an opportunity for you to act in faith. Depending.

Similar to the author of this incredibly articulate and beautiful article, the choice to be a fundamentalist was forever revoked from me when I followed all the rules – in a selfless act of love – and instead of being successful, it failed, and instead of helping, it seriously harmed those I loved. I was faced with irrevocable, unforgettable, unignorable evidence that the rules, even when followed with complete devotion to God and love, didn’t always bring success and didn’t always bless. My security was shattered forever. If the reality I completely believed in was false, what was real? If what I believed was absolute good, harmed, it could not be good – so what is? I had been wrong about how I was called to act – so how should I act?

It was a pivotal moment in my life. I didn’t want to harm anyone else by trying to do good. I needed to know what was real, what was good, what was my role in the world.

Now I know that necessarily, we all are mostly wrong about most things, and I always will be. I’ve made peace with that – I’m secure in that insecurity – through the commitment that I will always continue to try to be less wrong than I was the day before, so I can do less wrong – less harm.

Burrowing into reality has brought me to a place where people I know and have known, say I’m radical. It’s strange. One, because I actually have a conservative temperament – I hate change and I hate being wrong, and that’s actually what drives my transformation – by learning the truth better, I can be less wrong and do less wrong, act on less wrong beliefs. Two, because I am driven by the same core values as conservative Christianity, the Tea Party, Ron Paul, moderates, liberals, and Bernie Sanders progressives: compassion, love, and anti-violence.

What is different about these groups is not their core values, but what they believe is real – because core values lead to different actions depending on the reality they operate within. I once believed that the most loving thing we could do to a homosexual or a rebellious adult child was to execute them, because it was the only and best shot to possibly bring them to repentance and save their soul from eternal, infinite torment.

There are not words to express how glad I am that I no longer believe in that reality – because I know how precarious my escape was. I know that some people I love, people who share my core values of compassion, love, and anti-violence, are still stuck within that cage of false reality, effecting hate and destruction and violence out of their desire and efforts to love and heal. I know that I did that. I will always know that I did that. That I was young doesn’t change the fact that I know that I am capable of that, and I know the truth about people who do that: a few truly are as evil as the John Olivers and r/atheisms of the world portray, but the fundamentalist masses – just like you and me, they care, they love, they want and try to help the best they can.

So I am a ‘radical’ because I have the same values, but based on the evidence I have explored, have come to believe in a dramatically different reality.

For anyone who wants to ensure for themselves that they really do fulfill the values they hold: go observe people who are not like you. Listen to their stories. Go see situations and environments that are not like yours. Read about them and try to imagine being those people. Test the things you believe about reality – find the strongest arguments against them, and explore whether your beliefs can hold up to those. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 “Test each of your beliefs; retain what passes the test.”