Saturday, March 23, 2013

Mourning

Writing about "how to mourn" is like writing about "how to garden".  Every situation is different.  But the foundational steps are universal.

The process of mourning resembles inhaling and exhaling.  The are four steps of withdrawing followed by four steps of expanding.

What have you been taught about mourning?  When you have lost a loved one, how much time was needed for each of these eight steps?

The Impact

When we receive the news it hits us as a personal loss.  We hurt!  Our lives are changed forever!

We withdraw from other circumstances of joy or sadness to focus on mourning intensely.

The Funeral

Funerals in different cultures can be quite different.  But the core purpose is universal: we must recognize that many people share in the loss.  So many lives have been disrupted.  So many other people are grieving.

We are reminded how a death hurts an entire community.

The Memorial

We gather with other people to share stories about the deceased.  We highlight his or her virtues.  We recall his or her favorite habits and prayers.

These stories help us to identify the "loose threads" hanging off the end of the tapestry of his or her life.

What good and worthwhile things were interrupted that we might be inspired to weave into our own lives?

(I have shared one example about my grandfather.)

The Isolation

We spend time alone, preferably without responsibilities.  Ideally we need not even worry about grooming or food preparation.  Thus we can really process our loss.  We need time to feel.  We need time to imagine how shattered pieces could be put together, albeit imperfectly.

People visit us to offer support, but do so in ways that respect our need for isolation.  They comfort us by covering our responsibilities (meals, child care, things at work).  They are quietly present because although we do not want to talk we also do not want to be alone.  If we ask them, they briefly share some of their memories of the deceased or pray with us.  They allow us to initiate any conversations.

In some cultures, mourners in this early stage need not even acknowledge their visitors, who need no affirmation to know their presence was helpful.

Resuming Worship

We are probably still angry at God.  Yet we force ourselves to participate in normal prayer times again.  This is a public recognition that our circumstances do not change who God is.  It also helps us come to terms with our anger and confusion.

Attending a worship service ends our isolation.  It brings us out of the home, but without any expectation of normal interactions among friends or participation in work or community.

Resuming Friendships

We are still grieving.  There are still times of extreme pain and loss.  But we start asking friends to be with us and help us endure.

We become ready to do more than receive care.  We resume personal and household responsibilities.  We start expressing thanks for what others have done.  When other people initiate conversations we will participate.

With friends, away from any judgmental or public eye, we start to "try on" the ideas we imagined about how to honor the deceased.  How are we inspired?  How might we weave into our lives certain "loose threads" from that interrupted tapestry we loved?  This happens with fear and trembling: we do not show off, but we no longer hide.

Resuming Work

We finally try to put into practice how old routines are enriched by how we remember and honor the deceased.  We resume all of our other responsibilities.  We go back to work.  We rejoin the community.

Resuming Celebration

The first time we attend a public celebration we proclaim that our time of mourning is complete.  Some sadness will always remain but we are no longer grieving.

Our lives have changed.  We can remember the deceased with a smile.   We habitually honor the deceased by continuing his or her virtues and good deeds.

We are ready to resume participation in life's normal waves of joy and sadness.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Why I Love My Wife - Reason 18

18.  We love each other.

So I have written two posts about how my wife and I treat each other respectfully.

I have also written about how we treat each other as desirable and romantic.

Next I need to write about how we treat each other as loveable.

Why? Because people have three metaphorical "water skins" that when filled cause full happiness and wholeness: to be respected, to be loved, and to be desired.

Between spouses, loveable mostly means deserves to be spoiled. Most of how my wife and I love each other—how we show the other that he or she is loveable—is by spoiling each other. We make each other laugh. We give each other our undivided attention. We encourage each other. We prepare yummy food for each other. We give each other surprise presents. We sometimes give each other expensive and ephemeral luxuries (she usually wants flowers, I prefer very dark chocolate). We serve each other with domestic tasks that reduce the other's menial laboring. We leave each other little notes expressing thanks and affection. We support each other's hobbies. We put up with each other's annoying habits. We give each other long backrubs in front of a warm fireplace.

Loveable also means deserves to be appreciated. We validate each other's concerns and needs. We compliment each other's accomplishments. We appreciate each other's presence. We are very grateful when the other cares for us when hurting or weak. We trust each other with our vulnerabilities.

Finally, loveable for spouses is also about sexual intimacy. There is a reason people call it "making love" and not just "having sex" when done properly.


Tangentially, all that is why most books about improving marriages are half-baked. Those books tend to focus on showing love and say very little about showing respect and desire. (Also, I just listed a lot more than five "love languages"!)

Similarly, most advice about making a positive first impression is half-baked. You need not say the right words: any words will do. You need not "be yourself" (whatever that means): it is not about you. You need not worry about whether you will succeed: you cannot fail if you make someone feel respectable, loveable, and desirable.  (But do minimize the desirable unless you intend to initiate a romantic relationship.  Between friends just a single handshake or shoulder touch that communicates "you are not too icky to touch" is quite sufficient.)

UPDATE: I checked an in the previous seventeen parts of this series I never once mention loving my wife.  That probably seemed very odd to a reader that did not know I was "saving up" the issue of love for its very own essay.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Body Language Videos

Peter Collett is famous for his Book of Tells, a fascinating handbook on interpreting body language.  It is my current bathroom reading book.

He made a television summary in 2004.  Someone has put both parts on YouTube.

Episode One: Power and Honesty
Episode Two: Attraction and Flirtation

Fascinating!


Noticing how people's internal states are revealed by their body language is fun.  Even more fascinating is what I recently learned about the work done by Amy Cuddy about the opposite dynamic: how our posture effects our hormones and feelings.

Her most famous research measures how holding a "power pose" for two minutes changes your hormones: testosterone (causes confidence) goes up by about 15% and cortisol (causes stress) goes down by about 15%.

One aspect of her work seems incomplete.  I know from reading Joe Navarro's book on body language that asymmetrical postures seem especially confident because they demonstrate a level of relaxation usually shown only by confident people.  Consider three examples of how to improve her sample power postures.

First, the posture of standing like Wonder Woman.  Keep one side of the body with hand on hip (thumb back) and foot facing forward.  On the other side, hook one thumb into your pants pocket and point the foot away at a 45 degree angle.  Your sternum will rotate slightly towards the angled foot.  Ta da!  Now you look relaxed and slight pensive, instead of stern and about to clobber someone.

Second, the posture of the businessperson faking relaxation: leaning back in a chair, hands behind the head, legs crossed at the ankles with the feet on a table or desk.  But instead of crossing the legs at the ankles, rest one ankle on the other knee (so the legs make a "4" shape).  Now you look genuinely relaxed, not faking it.

Third, the posture of the person sitting while trying to take up space: elbows up on the chair as high as the shoulders, legs out, knees bent and apart.  Make this asymmetrical by keeping one leg straight and the other knee bent, and resting one hand/forearm on your leg to keep your shoulders slightly slanted.

UPDATE: At the local library I discovered a third body language book by Alan and Barbara Pease.   Its prose is less readable than Navarro's, but it has many more helpful pictures.  (Collett's book is miserable to read: the prose is dry and overly focused on terminology, and the book has very few pictures.)

UPDATE: National Geographic has a fun video about similarities in dominant body language between humans and gorillas/chimpanzees.

Why I Love My Wife - Reason 17

17. We respect each other's space and give each other room to grow.

I already wrote about how we show each other respect.  That was an easy place to start, unfortunately, because modern society talks so little about demonstrations of respect that these become one way our marriage stands out.

Yet there is more to respect than demonstrations of respect.  There are also all the ways we respectfully give each other space—often by doing nothing when words or actions would be disrespectful.

We both have hobbies and respect the other person’s hobbies.  We give each other time for our hobbies.  We allow each other places in the home dedicated to the hobbies.  We appreciate what the other person crafts and creates.

We both allow the other to have time away from the house with friends.  I play Pathfinder with a group of guys.  She goes on a long walk to chat with her best friend.

When we delegate household chores we never micromanage each other's share.

We encourage each other to follow genuinely self-directed efforts at self-improvement.  We do not try to add a spouse’s agenda for "self"-improvement.

Finally, we do not create "negative space" for each other.  We bring complaints to each other promptly to avoid holding secret grudges.  We never demean the other in public.  We realize that "choosing our battles" means postponing a request for a few hours or days because people can only deal with so much at once (instead of allowing "choosing our battles" to mean we must give up on something ever happening and thus becoming resentful).

Local Wood, Revised 2013

We needed a new source of firewood for this Winter.  Our old sources had vanished.

We found a great new source of firewood: Web and Myrtle Griffith, a retired couple who lives in Curtain.  They sell two-year-old seasoned Maple at a great price.  If you need local firewood, try calling them at (541) 942-1204.

They were trying Craigslist for the first time.  We were their first customers to connect that way.  They are kind and professional folk.

Why I Love My Wife - Reason 16

16. We cooperatively track expenses, follow a budget, and use money charitably.

(Note: this blog post contains frequent parenthetical comments, both family stories and details of personal financial habits.)

I grew up learning conflicting financial advice from family members.

My grandfather had lived through the Great Depression. For him, debt was always bad. "Avoid debt!" he would teach me. "Earn and save you that you can be generous."

(My grandfather even paid off his home mortgage sooner than economically sensible. He intellectually knew that his refinancing to a low interest rate and annual tax deductions made that debt a wise choice because the money with which he might pay it off would be more significant elsewhere. But emotionally he was so allergic to debt that he paid off the mortgage as soon as practical.)

My father's family were ranchers. They grew oranges and avocados, and raised cattle. For them, debt was good because of leverage. Why save $100 when you could use it as the down-payment for a new tractor or field, which would increase your ability to earn by much more than $100?

(My father's career is a consulting actuary. Since graduating college, his understanding of leverage, risk, and other economic principles is among the best, and is still for hire. Yet in the late 1980s my mother still would not let him put on his car a bumper sticker that read "Actuaries do it with captives".)

So by the time I was college-aged I knew a lot about budgeting, saving, and investing. I did not expect to marry someone with an equally sound financial habits or knowledge.

I met my wife at UCSB when we were both students there. She was working at a campus computer lab to pay for her own tuition. She could make and follow a budget, and would be graduating college without any debt. Points in her favor!

My wife and I have been very careful with expense tracking since we married. All of our receipts go in a bowl whenever we get home. Once a month (or so) we enter them into a spreadsheet with expense categories. If we notice that we are spending more than our wages we change our spending habits. If we notice we are spending more than usual in any category we make changes.

(A modified version of this spreadsheet is towards the back of this Math 25 file.)

(Not every spike in spending is alarming. There are exceptions. A very few home improvements, such as granite counter tops, basically transfer part of your wealth from the "cash cushion" that normally sits unused in your savings account to your home value; those we do not count as "spending" since we postpone them until they do not wipe out our cash cushion. Then there are the types of unavoidable and unusual expenses that are supposed to hit your cash cushion: vacations to a family reunion, unexpected home maintenance, etc. So not every spending spike causes changes in spending habits.)

(Also, during the two years when our two boys were born we did spend more than our wages because my wife worked much less. But we also cut back expenses, so we did not overspend by much. Another appropriate use of our cash cushion.)

Johnny Cash famously said, "Success is having to worry about every damn thing in the world, except money." By that standard my wife and I have always been successful.  We avoid most money worries by being content with what we have and by spending less than we earn.   Gifts from family meant we started our marriage with as much cash cushion as a couple living in an apartment need.

(We also did what I once mentioned before: we waited until our monthly household profit would cover a mortgage and property tax before buying a home, and waited again until our monthly profit would cover the cost of children before having kids.  During those years of wait we put most of our monthly profits into savings, rather than chasing the latest technological gadgets or going on vacations whose absence would one day make us less content.  I still use this phone instead of a smart phone.  Friends we help teach budgeting to are always amazed how much we save by having only one car that gets good gas mileage, by heating the house with firewood, by buying food in bulk, and by not eating out too much.)

Moreover, my wife and I agree about how to be charitable with money.  We tithe locally.  We support well-rated micro-finance and aid organizations such as Finca and Heifer Project.  We use our liquidity to obey scripture by offering interest free-loans to friends in need and friends who are small business owners.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Skateboard Update 2013

I first skateboarded in June of 2006.  I have done very little skateboarding since Smiley was born.  After seven years of owning a skateboard, I still can't ollie.

Smiley and Gallant love to ride in front of my on my skateboard.  One at a time.  At the speeds we go together, if the skateboard hits something and stops I can always avoid a fall with a few controlled running steps.  So I hold a boy's hands, and this is enough to keep hims from falling if we "crash".

Today I splurged and bought a longboard.  Now our ride is much more stable and smooth.

One street near our house is perfect for our needs: long, straight, only slightly steep, and recently repaved.  I had the boys take turns riding on the skateboard as we walked up the street.  For the downhill ride Gallant rode in the ergo and Smiley rode on the skateboard.  Very fun!

As a holiday present I got softrucks.  Maybe this year I will finally learn to ollie.

Zany Zoo

Smiley and Gallant have been spending more time at Zany Zoo, which I have not mentioned in many months.



It is a very fun pet store.  In the afternoons, the owner's two young kids are there, who like showing off their pet ball pythons to other kids.



Instead of dogs or cats they sell maras, which act a bit like both a dog and cat.



Gallant likes looking at other guinea pigs.  He calls them all Boo since that is the name of our guinea pig.



Smiley has lots of questions.  What is that behind him?  (A coati.)

Gallant's Lower Canines

Gallant finally has all his teeth!

(He has no two-year molars yet.  Assuming he get to enjoy a break from teething, he is temporarily done until those arrive within the next year.)

His lower canines have come through during the last two weeks.

On Thursday of last week (March 7th) his lower left canine arrived.

Four days later, the lower right canine followed (last Monday).

He is sleeping through the night much more regularly now.  Hooray!

LCC Math Student Success Rates

Yesterday I received through my work e-mail a report about the success rates of Lane Community College students who take math, starting at the lowest remedial class the college offers.

Here is a graphic that someone prepared, which I cleaned up a little and enhanced to emphasize with is most relevant to my Math 20 students.  Most of my students next take Math 60, and notice how very few students get "stuck" not able to pass Math 60.


It is almost certain that anyone who passes Math 20 can also pass Math 60, assuming their other real life obligations do not change (so they can continue to study well).

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Public School and Boys

Yesterday I wrote What Boys Hear Growing Up.  In its preface I mentioned that how true all those messages was not the point.

But because I am a math teacher one detail deserves some follow-up on my blog.

Is it true that public school is somehow harder for or unfair to boys?

Yes and no.  That is unintentionally a somewhat misleading question.

Back in 2000 an important article was written entitled The War Against Boys.  In many ways it should have been entitled Public School Teaches to the Middle.  Here is a very important quotation:
Scores on almost any intelligence or achievement test are more spread out for boys than for girls—boys include more prodigies and more students of marginal ability. Or, as the political scientist James Q. Wilson once put it, "There are more male geniuses and more male idiots."

Boys also dominate dropout lists, failure lists, and learning-disability lists. Students in these groups rarely take college-admissions tests. On the other hand, the exceptional boys who take school seriously show up in disproportionately high numbers for standardized tests. Gender-equity activists like Sadker ought to apply their logic consistently: if the shortage of girls at the high end of the ability distribution is evidence of unfairness to girls, then the excess of boys at the low end should be deemed evidence of unfairness to boys.
A lot has changed since 2000.  It remains true that boys still disproportionately populate the bottom and top of the curve, and girls tend to cluster in the middle of the curve.

Unsurprisingly, a public school system whose content focuses on average children does not do well educating the bottom of the curve.  This disproportionately hurts boys, but the only alternative is to change the entire system away from classrooms segregated by age with a factory-like pedagogy.

Public schools are actually doing pretty well.  Do we really want to scrap a working system?  Do we really think a new system will somehow not create its own type of least-served student—who would probably still be the lowest performing boys?

The obvious follow-up question is why the students at the bottom of the curve are stuck there.  Perhaps we can help them?

I cannot find any answers involving very recent research.  Please help me if you can!  I know that No Child Left Behind has changed public schools drastically, and created many new attempts to help the children at the bottom of the curve.

Teachers do appear to have a small grading bias against boys, but this would not push students way down to the bottom of the curve.  It is wrong and needs fixing, but is a comparatively minor problem.

Much more significant is how some boys simply disqualify themselves.  Page 21 of this 2006 study concludes that:
Boys have a much higher incidence than do girls of school disciplinary and behavior problems, and spend far fewer hours doing homework (Jacob, 2002). Controlling for these noncognitive behavioral factors can explain virtually the entire female advantage in college attendance for the high school graduating class of 1992, after adjusting for family background, test scores, and high school achievement. Similarly, our own analysis of the 1979 and 1997 NLSY samples shows that teenage boys, both in the early 1980s and late 1990s, had a higher (self-reported) incidence of arrests and school suspension than teenage girls and that controls for such measures of behavioral problems significantly attenuate the female college advantage. Boys have two to three times the rate of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) than girls and much higher rates of criminal activity (Cuffe, Moore, and McKeown, 2003; Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2004). Boys are also much more likely than girls to be placed in special education programs.12 The source of boys' higher incidence of behavioral problems is an area of active research and could be due to their later maturation as well as their higher rates of impatience (Silverman, 2003).
Another unsurprising result: public schools do not do well educating students who ignore homework, are suspended, or are arrested.  To me this seems a parenting problem, not an educational problem.  Many studies have shown that the increase in single-parent families is especially problematic to boys for these very reasons.

Here is an interesting pair of contrasting opinions about single-sex classrooms in public schools.  I think both authors are partially correct.  For most children there is no need to have different classrooms for boys and girls.  But for the boys at the bottom of the curve this is probably the simplest and most effective fix for a school district to attempt.

The other side of the coin is to avoid the message that because girls cluster in the middle of the curve being "like a girl" is the way for boys to be normal.

Friday, March 01, 2013

No More Videos on Blip.tv

My family movies are currently hosted for free on blip.tv but this is about to end.  The account will be deleted very soon.

I do not expect any problems: I have not had time to edit and update videos in many months, and the family who wants to own copies has already done their downloading.

The e-mail I received was impersonal but polite.  Home movies violate that website's terms of service.  I am not sure if I did not notice this back in 2008 when I carefully read their information before starting to use their hosting or if they changed their rules.

I am grateful for a free service that has been of help to friends and family.

What Boys Hear Growing Up

(Note that this essay describes what boys hear.  I am not concerned with what is true.  Indeed, most of these societal proclamations are clearly unscriptural.)

You Are Thanklessly Disposable

Men are disposable and women are protected, even when a society no longer faces dangers large enough to possibly require repopulating after a catastrophe. Men are drafted, women are not. Men drown, women get lifeboats. Even young boys are expected to sacrifice themselves to protect a woman.

You are less likely to graduate high school, go to college, earn a degree, find a desirable and willing spouse, and die of old age. No one is working to fix these things, even though society was willing to radically change when women suffered them.

Very few people in a man's life care what he is going through: men who cry in public are ignored or shunned, whereas women are afforded support that men will never know.  The default male-male relationship is competitive (for resources or female attention) unlike how women give each other preferential treatment.

Violence against men is undervalued and not discussed.

You Are Thanklessly Servile

Masculinity is defined by how well men accommodate women. A man is a good husband if his wife is happy; a woman can be a good wife even if her husband is unhappy. In a family where both parents work, the husband is financially successful when he provides well for his family; the wife is financially successful merely by seeming strong and independent. When both spouses work at fixing a troubled marriage, society expects the wife to give the husband a grade of pass or fail.

Men are expected to serve women unconditionally and without expecting reciprocity. Women are excused from serving men they do not respect, and are not even required to express thanks for male service. A husband is expected to demonstrate respect and servility whether or not his wife has earned it ("Yes, dear"); a wife is excused from serving her husband if he has not earned her respect.

Boys are taught to sacrifice any career or lifestyle ambitions that would not lead to supporting a woman. Single men are encouraged to "settle" for a spouse; single women are fed fantasies about finding Mister Right. Single men in their thirties are discouraged (by women their age and older) from marrying women ten years younger despite some obvious advantages for both spouses. Single men over forty are expected to risk much by marrying women their age; single women over forty are allowed to ignore it when they bring nothing to the legal marriage contract and risk nothing.

Men are taught that women inherently deserve respect, compliments, aid, provision, and protection—even women who can provide for themselves, protect themselves and/or have proven themselves unrespectable. Men do not inherent deserve any of these things.

Your boyhood natural learning style that included moving, touching things, and sometimes being loud while learning is an inconvenience your female teachers do not understand or empathize with; it annoys them and so it will be suppressed.  There is almost no research about how to make the classroom more appropriate for you.  In contrast, feminine learning styles such as collaboration, essay questions, and prioritizing interpretation over facts are well-researched and increasingly prevalent at every grade level.

Girls get priority.  They get served food first.  They get seated first.  They sometimes get to go first in line.  When you take turns playing with a toy, your turn is shortened more by a girl's impatience than the impatience of another boy.  When you are smart you may not enjoy using your learning competitively or take pride in your knowledge because that threatens girls: your teachers train you to hide your knowledge when it might hurt a girl's self-esteem.

A "Men’s Project" is something done by yourself and never fun, such as changing a tire. A "Women’s Project" is something fun to do in a room full of people, such as making jam.

A woman's expectations about a future spouse are more esteemed: a man is less masculine for complaining that has difficulty finding a "Quality Woman", but a woman is justified when she bemoans there are no "Real Men" anymore.

You Are Thanklessly Accountable

Men are accountable for their own choices and those of women around them; women can often avoid responsibility even for their own choices. If a career man and housewife have spoiled children this reflects on him, but if a career man and housewife are not earning enough money this does not reflect on her. If a man overcommits he should have known better and is blamed for each failure; if a woman overcommits she is excused as still learning to multitask well and as being too empathetic to wisely say "no" to more requests for her time and and energy.

Uniquely masculine efforts are not appreciated by society and thus cannot be empathically appreciated by women. Men are simply expected to control their tempers, be faithful to a spouse, at work emphasize teamwork and process instead of the goal, etc. Men must apologize for their male desires. Yet uniquely feminine efforts are praised by society, and female desires are praised ("you go, girl!") or excused ("women get to change their mind", "women are mysterious", "women are like that").

Men are inescapably under the motto "produce more than you personally need or perish". Women can escape that burden by having a child, whether or not they love or properly care for the child.

Your entire life the people you care most about pleasing (women) teach you a lie about what they want (being comforting is your only goal, even though being comforting stunts and hides the playfully aggressive self-confidence that both genders find attractive): when you obey their teachings they lose respect for you, shun you, give themselves to people other than you, withhold from you, and divorce you.

You Are Immoral

Feminine virtues (being softly nurturing, empathically compassionate, sweetly considerate, etc.) are extolled. Masculine virtues (stoic independence, aggressive self-confidence, rugged individualism, heroic risk taking, rational problem-solving, focused pursuit of goals, curiosity leading to innovation, thirst for knowledge, insatiable need to create things, attractive physical strength, ambition harmonizing with contentedness with what you have, etc.) are watered down sufficiently for average women to qualify and reframed as gender-neutral virtues. Masculinity is maligned as chauvinism. Suggesting that men may be more naturally capable at some virtues is offensive, even with obviously true examples such as innovation without personal application. 

Men are not shown leniency for masculine vices the way women are shown leniency for feminine vices. Pretending to enjoy masculine vices is seen as immoral (playing violent sports and video games, dreaming up immense building projects, mentioning lustful desires while people-watching women). Men are even shamed for having the mere capacity to display masculine vices.

All-male spaces are now allowed; all-women spaces are valued as needed refuges. Old Boy’s Clubs are justly seen as sexist because they are so liable to view feminine behavior as "rocking the boat" even though the same is true for the much more numerous Old Girl’s Clubs.

Male leadership is inherently suspect, if not evil.

Women are "the fair sex", "your better half", "more spiritual", and sometimes even "innately good". Men are the opposite.

Male sexuality is dangerous and evil.  Young men are never encouraged to explore their sexuality; young women are.  While dating even mild physical intimacy with a girl is taking advantage of her.  Husbands who enjoy sex more than their wives for purely biological reasons are still doing something wrong.

Male successes are unfairly won, so their property should be redistributed.  Male innate immorality hinders a masculine man's betters (women and feminine men) from building a better society.

What You Produce Is Not Yours

Your money is not yours. Alimony was once a sensible solution to repay a divorced woman for giving her most energetic and physically attractive years to her husband and family, but it now applies to women who marry older.

Your marriage is not yours. It is still properly viewed as legitimate grounds for divorce if a married man has a purely physical affair with a prostitute he never sees again even when this has no impact on his children or wife; yet it is becoming socially acceptable for a married woman who finds a more attractive man to have an purely emotional affair, divorce, and after remarrying include physical intimacy.

Your children are not yours.  Whether children you conceive will be born is only the mother's choice.  Whether you get to see any children you have is only the mother's choice.  Yet you must be prepared to financially support all children you conceive even accidentally.  If you have children while married and then divorce, your wife will get the children. If she cuckolds you then you will probably pay for those kids either while married or after divorce through child support. Any enemy can file a false claim of witnessing abuse and have your children removed at least temporarily.

Your creations are not yours. We are taught that society was created by everyone, but how many things in your home were not either invented or built by a man?

Your career is not yours. Any woman can use a claim of sexual harassment to destroy your job.

Your years are not yours. Any woman can use a false claim of rape to put you in jail.


I write the above because I am raising two boys.  I am responsible for teaching my boys how to deal with the burden of What Boys Hear Growing Up.

If you are the parent of a boy you are also responsible for teaching your boy how to manage this oppression.  (Oppression, you ask?  Yes, even though it is apples and oranges compared to discrimination.)

I have faced discrimination as the token white person teaching in an inner-city elementary school, the token male teaching at a preschool, and as a Jew expelled from the Jewish community for believing what Yeshua claimed about himself.  In discriminatory situations the pain is lessened fourfold: (1) the problems are caused by individuals, so the victim knows with whom he or she was dealing; (2) the discrimination comes as a series of actions so the victim can see what to respond to; (3) the victim knows peers like himself or herself who provide understanding, encouragement, and advice as the victim struggles with the troubles and develops self-identity and self-confidence; (4) the victim has memories of how overcoming prior discrimination helped him or her grow, which provides a trust that overcoming the current problem will also make him or her stronger.

The oppression of What Boys Hear Growing Up has a very different flavor.  There was no one person who puts this psychological burden on boys.  It did not appear suddenly as individual actions than can bravely fought and with overcoming cause growth and strength. Instead, it is a weight of things claimed to be wrong with you that no one (even boys or men) understands or offers help managing.

I am sure a mother could compose an equivalent essay about What Girls Hear Growing Up.  I would love to read that.

How do we help our boys deal with What Boys Hear Growing Up?  I can think of four helps.

First, discipleship.  If we are disciples of Yeshua and learn to see the world as he does then we will have proper understandings of ourselves and other people. If boys learn to live as Yeshua did, they will develop the proper and timeless masculine-appropriate behaviors. Having Yeshua's worldview nullifies the psychological burden of What Boys Hear Growing Up.

Second, training in social skills.  Scripture does not teach the social skills specific to a day or culture and we often have trouble learning these from the Holy Spirit. So attentiveness to them helps.  Parents should teach their sons how to be have enough aggressive self-confidence to be attractive without being pushy or rude, how to be focused on a goal while leading proper teamwork among group members, etc.

Third, exposure to appropriate masculine role models for their age.

Fourth, the kind of cooperative development and responsible wielding of aggressive self-confidence learned at places of mild ritual violence: the martial arts dojo, the military academy, the physically demanding team sport.  There they learn about many dynamics of all-male groups: group members being aware of each other's strengths and weaknesses, leadership based on merit, recognition fairly awarded to all group members, repeatedly overcoming obstacles for personal growth, etc.

UPDATE: On a somewhat related note, I came across an interesting study in which researches discovered the prevalence of single women in management created a hiring bias favoring attractive men and women whose appearance is unknown during hiring, and a bias against unattractive men and attractive women.  At least according to that study (which, atypically, involved real job applications instead of simulations, and did not focus on academia) the crux was not gender of job applicant but whether the woman doing the hiring saw the job applicant as a potential spouse or as competition.

Having It All

My wife and I, during a long car trip, discussed three ways for a young woman to "have it all" with a successful career and family.

The first way is simple: the househusband.  Obviously, a woman can have a successful career and family if her husband takes on primary responsibility for the children.  This is how my wife has it all.  Of course there are details for how to make this work well.  I should write about those some time.

The second way can be exhausting to do, but is theoretically simple: get married and have kids during college, when you are younger and have the most energy.  A truth no one wants to mention is that a woman in her twenties can do this much more easily by marrying a man in his thirties.

(Any newlyweds in their twenties husbands the same age, please indulge me: imagine the man you married as himself ten years older.  He is more responsible and mature.  His career has advanced so he can pay for your college education.  His looks have finally peaked and will now decline in step with yours instead of ten years later.  Being single those ten years, he has had time to keep in shape so his energy level has barely diminished.  Sounds nice, right?)

The third way is through careful planning.  With the help of parents and other reliable older people formulate a wise plan for education and starting a career.  Follow it faithfully.  You will have no time for dithering at college with undecided majors, or pursuing tangential hobbies.  Before college develop foundational financial habits of budgeting, expense tracking, paying off debt, and saving.  Maintain sound financial habits all your life.  Find consumable luxuries that are meaningful yet affordable (chocolate, tea, and games work better than cars, electronics, and Hawaiian vacations).  The career you pick needs three qualities: it must earn enough to pay for child care; it must be low enough stress that it does not doom your exercise or sex life; and it must allow you to establish yourself in five to seven years so you can subsequently take years off to be home with young children and then return to the career.  As soon as you can, marry a husband who wholeheartedly supports your plan.  (Look for a lack of drama and grief with his in-laws, and if you two are standing together against other people's meddling and concern-trolling.)  Use those five to seven childless married years to build income, become debt-free, and establish an emergency cash cushion.  Once your monthly household profit would cover child care, start having kids.  Once your monthly household profit would cover a mortgage and property tax, change from renting to home ownership.  Because of your habits of saving money and affordable luxuries you will not suffer the regret many women do when money they once falsely saw as "disposable income" must go to child care or mortgage.

In conversation, someone suggested a fourth way: wait to start your career until after the children are school age.  This certainly can lead to a happy and fulfilled life.  But unlike the previous three options it does not feel like "having it all" during those early years of housewifery.

One important factor in all these ways to "have it all" is that motherhood cannot be treated as a Plan B to prepare for in the distant future.  If you are devoting your life to schooling and career preparation with no visible sign of learning to manage a home and care for children then you are deceiving yourself.  How can you succeed with both halves of "having it all" if you have only prepared yourself for one half?