“Super Angry”

super angry
Why doesn’t anyone ever write these in reverse? Maybe something like this…

The next time your husband gets angry, drape a towel over his shoulders like a cape and exclaim, “Now you’re super angry!!”

Maybe he’ll laugh.
Maybe you’ll die.

Actually, I already know why they don’t. Because men’s anger is virtually always validated even when the man in question is wrong or lying. We need look no further than the recent example of Brett Kavanaugh.

Women’s anger, on the other hand, is either dismissed as “cute” (see every rom-com ever) or offensive (see Serena Williams).

It is actually scientifically proven that men’s anger makes them seem more believable where women’s anger makes them seem less believable. Men are allowed to express powerful emotions and are seen as passionate when women express themselves in a similar manner they are seen as overly emotional and not credible.

In a recent study using a lone holdout juror as the setup, researchers found

…that women’s anger worked against them, while men’s anger served as a “powerful” tool of persuasion. When the holdout was a male who expressed anger, participants significantly doubted their own opinion, even when they were in the majority. But if the holdout was a woman who expressed anger, she actually had less influence over participants — so much so that it was the only scenario in the study in which participants became more confident in their own opinion that opposed that of the woman.

The post-simulation perception surveys shed some light as to why they found this dynamic. The male and female holdouts used the same exact typed language, so participants couldn’t judge potential gender differences in communication style or facial expression. Even so, perception biases still cropped up. When the man was perceived as emotional, he was considered more credible for getting angry. But when the woman was perceived as emotional, participants became more sure of their own opinion, even if they considered the woman credible. As the researchers put it: “When a woman expresses anger, this does not just make her seem less credible, but seems to make assessing her credibility irrelevant.”

You can read more about this study here:

Why Angry Men Are More Influential Than Angry Women

The flip side of this is that often the only emotion many men and boys are allowed to express is anger. Most other emotions in men and boys are targeted as weakness and so often those emotions are exchanged for anger. The reality is that often the opposite is true; Frequently, anger is the sign of weakness and the honest expression of fear or sadness is actually the sign of strength and maturity. It turns out the way we are socializing our sons is as unfair and damaging to the boys themselves and the men they become as it is to the women and girls in their lives. In Psychology Today, Avrum Weiss, PhD writes:

There are a lot of social prohibitions against men expressing emotions other than anger, and a lot of social reinforcement for being angry. We think of men who are angry as powerful and more masculine, and men who express sadness or fear as weak and less masculine. Jackson Katz (2006), the author of The Macho Paradox, wrote that “Countless men deal with their vulnerability by transferring vulnerable feelings to feelings of anger. The anger then serves to ‘prove’ that they are not, in fact, vulnerable, which would imply they are not man enough to take the pressure.”

The other reason you don’t see it written with the sexes reversed is that “maybe he’ll laugh” just doesn’t ring true for most of us. Many men would, in fact, actually get “super angry”.  From the time we are little girls, women are taught to de-escalate and diffuse a man’s anger as a form of protection: we laugh, we demur, we distract. Men generally don’t need to de-escalate in these situations because they already hold a position of physical dominance so they don’t need to be afraid for their safety. Don’t get me wrong, men can also be victims of domestic violence and verbal abuse. It is always wrong.

I guess what it comes down to for me is that these types of jokes don’t do anything to make the world a better place. Belittling your spouse’s feelings, patronizing them, and infantilizing them isn’t loving and it isn’t funny.

I know some will say I am being too sensitive. But, if asking people to examine why they might be laughing (perhaps the joke hits too close to home) is being too sensitive, so be it.


A Poem for Dr. Ford



It is a dark day for America. Today I mourn with my sisters. I have not been inspired to write for a while but today I cannot and will not be silenced.


Once again
I mourn for my sisters
I mourn for our daughters
I mourn for our Foremothers
I mourn for those women
Who don’t even know they are oppressed
I mourn for our voices
I mourn for our equality
Our lost innocence
Our expected attentions
Our testimony is once again not to be believed.
Our existence must be corroborated.
Our work must be unequal
Both at home
And in the public sphere
Our sexuality is at once locked away
Because it is “precious”
And because it is a weapon.
We are held responsible for whatever happens to us
And then amid the laughter
We are not believed
Our testimony is still
Why are you angry?
Why aren’t you angry?
He was young.
He was white.
He was rich.
Why do you want to ruin his life?
He is young.
He is white.
He is rich.
He can put points on the board.
Why do you want to ruin his life?
What did YOU do?
What didn’t YOU do?
Man…or Boy’s
Bad behavior?
For goodness sake
She isn’t even hot enough to be raped.
Why didn’t you come forward?
Why would we?
When we are quiet.
When we only tell people who we
We can trust.
Our pain is at least honored
Our testimony is believed
If only by ourselves
If only by our sisters
If only by the
Maybe someday
Someone will believe them.

-Michelle Morr Krabill

1 + 1 = 3: A road trip with Bruce Springsteen

A while back I went on a road trip with Bruce Springsteen. That’s right, just me and the Boss, rolling down the open road, just how we like it. I was headed to Houston and I had just downloaded Born to Run on Audible. So with Bruce riding shotgun, we rolled out.

As I listened, Bruce unfolded the map of his life, as he alone can do, the stories stretching out like the interstate. The further I drove the more melancholy, the more joyous, the more introspective I became. If you are a Springsteen fan, you already know that he is a magician with words. If you are not, I dare you to see him live or read Born to Run and disagree with me. In many ways, he is America’s Rock & Roll Poet Laureate.

That brings me to this past Sunday. Kent & I were lucky enough to win the ticket lottery and be given the opportunity to see Bruce perform on Broadway. Many of you have been asking for my thoughts about the experience and up until now, I have not been able to come up with anything more than it was transcendent and a once in a lifetime experience. I will attempt to do more than that here.

Back to the open road: Me, Bruce, and Born to Run. Just like his one-man show, the hours I spent listening to Bruce opine were like therapy; helping me to examine my own life and find just a little more meaning. At some point on the ride, I paused the book and began to use the talk to text feature on my phone to dictate what follows. When I got home, I neglected to share it with you. And honestly? I am glad I saved it until now. When I read it to Kent after the show we both cried. Again.

Here it goes. I think it is the best way for you to feel what I was feeling Sunday.

In the process of wearing my many hats, I have not become excellent at any one thing. Politician, poet, motivational speaker, theologian, psychiatrist, nail technician, editor, bartender, party planner, tutor, and short order cook. I can cook but I’m no great chef. I could clean, and I have, but now I am able to pay someone else to do it. I like to build things, but I will never build a great cathedral or be Frank Lloyd Wright. I enjoy writing but will likely never win a Pulitzer or report to you from some faraway land. I may spend time finding one or dong my best to play one to my family, but I’ll never be a doctor. I love to sing, but I will never be Nate Ruess, Springsteen, or even a member of the Go-Go’s. I am an artist but I’m no Van Gogh. I am not a copywriter or designer on Madison Avenue. You won’t hear my jingles or sales pitches and sing them to yourself years from now. I may never again act on the stage and I may never act in a movie – but some days I do feel like somebody just pretending to be who they are.

In the end – I have more job titles than I can name – taxi driver, IT professional, an amateur psychiatrist. My life has not been what I expected it to be, but it is been So. Much. More. I am not excellent at any of the hats that I wear but the symphony of all of them coming together makes me who I am. And I am amazing. Nobody gets to be all the things that I get to be. And I think maybe as time goes on I’ll also be an agent and manager, a driver and a personal assistant, a confidant, cheerleader, coach, and a mom. And I’ll be damned if I won’t use all of these things and everything else in my power to see the dreams of the people I love come true.

And so now as I continue to listen to Bruce describe the magic that he does and the uncertainty and the questioning that go into his trick of making one plus one equal three, I realize that in some way that is exactly what I get to do. Just like Bruce, I make the magic happen in our house. When the chips are down and things need to go our way people look to me to make sure that 1+1 = 3. Sometimes I’m not the greatest mathematician. In fact, you don’t want me keeping your books necessarily or paying your bills. But if you want one plus one to equal three – sometimes when everything is just right –

I’m your girl.

I may cry too much, feel too much, talk too much, be too loud, and be too opinionated. And every now and then I’m going get mired down in the negativity of life but I will never ever give up.

Bruce says at one point in the book that no matter how real the concerts are, no matter how transcendent he makes them, no matter how connected it feels, in the end, – it’s fiction – it’s theater – In reality, life always trumps art. In that way, I have the advantage. I get to wear all these hats and be all these people and in the end for me, it isn’t fiction it is fact. It’s reality. It is life and it is hard but it is also beautiful.

We only get one life. And mine is pretty fucking fantastic.

If you are wanting a set list or to have a blow by blow review, you can find that here. 


It is all America.


Over the last several hours I have seen this posted by several friends on my Facebook feed. And as much as I would love it if this were true, it just isn’t. Let’s be clear:


It is more important to recognize this fact now more than ever. Yes, the image at the top is beautiful and yes, people of all races, religions, and political persuasions are putting aside their differences to help each other during the crisis unfolding in south Texas. But make no mistake, the events of Charlottesville, Boston, and Berkley from the last couple weeks, as well as Ferguson, Baltimore, and countless others over the last several years, are America too. Unfortunately, our racial divide will not be washed away when the floodwaters subside.

Pretending it will at this point is willful blindness.

Indeed, much like the rebuilding of the great city of Houston, it will take years (not days) of effort, of coming together, of setting aside our pride and really listening to the people who are most affected to see restoration and to make this meme the truth. May we be successful on both counts.

To donate to the Red Cross Houston relief efforts click here.

To donate to the Southern Poverty Law Center click here.

Bruce, Inspiration, and The Wall

As you may have noticed, it has been eerily quiet here on the blog. I have been adrift without inspiration for a spell. And unlike others who push themselves to write until inspiration comes, I can only wait like a traveler on the platform who just missed the last train home. So I waited.

The election came and went and my elusive inspiration was replaced with simmering disillusionment. The past 8 years I have not agreed with everything the Obama administration has done, but overall I felt hope that we were moving in the right direction.
The economy was beginning to turn around, more and more people had health care, my LGBTQ brothers and sisters were free to marry if they chose to and barriers were being broken down for women in many areas.

And then we elected Trump. My inspiration to write seemed to be drowned in an overwhelming sense that if I just ignored it and tried to move on I would wake up and it would be a dream. I mean, hopefully, Trump would move to the middle now that he had been elected like everyone was saying. Surely, he didn’t really mean all those things he said.  Hey, a girl can dream.

Then came the inauguration and the women’s march. I thought I would find inspiration somewhere marching with my daughter and friends among the banners, camaraderie, and history of it all. Nope. Still waiting.

And then it happened. Road trip. Where all the best inspiration happens. (At least for me). There just seems to be something about the open road, a cold drink, a snack and hundreds of miles of asphalt that just seems to hold a bit of magic.

On this trip, I took along a companion. Bruce Springsteen personally read me his new book Born to Run. [So it was on Audible. Let me pretend, okay?]

Listen, I don’t care if you are a fan of Bruce or not, this book is one of the best I have read. It is raw and honest, transcendent and earthy all at the same time. But don’t take my word of it. Download it and let the Boss show you the light. After that get yourself to one of his live shows. He has made more than one convert at his live shows.

So here I am, with Bruce headed south toward Galveston and out of nowhere like a lightning storm in the desert– inspiration!

Bruce. Motherhood. Dreams. Walls.


In the book, he talks about the first time he and the E Street Band played in Berlin and saw the wall. He talked about how it was an affront to humanity and how it changed them forever. The next time they went back was 1988. In his article When Bruce Springsteen Helped Destroy the Berlin Wall, Greg Mitchell writes:

More than 200,000 showed up, twice what Dylan had attracted. Springsteen opened, pointedly, with “Badlands,” but the indisputable highlight was his cover of “Chimes of Freedom,” a Dylan tune that Dylan himself had overlooked. The show, which in typical Springsteen style lasted nearly four hours, was beamed to millions of East Germans via state television. Many middle-aged Germans I interviewed for my book fondly recalled attending the performance or watching it on TV. “It was a nail in the coffin for East Germany,” one fan told theGuardian years later.

In Born to Run, Springsteen recounts a previous visit to East Berlin with bandmate Steve Van Zandt. “You could feel the boot,” he recalls. The wall, in Springsteen’s view, seemed almost “pornographic.” The experience helped shock the then-apolitical Van Zandt into decades of activism. “The power of the wall that split the world in two, its blunt, ugly, mesmerizing realness, couldn’t be underestimated,” Springsteen writes. “It was an offense to humanity.”

Bruce goes on to say in the book that some even came with hand-made American flags. America and our music represented all that was beautiful–freedom, and acceptance, and room for all.

Right then I turned off the book and I cried. I cried and  I yelled. At Trump. All alone in my car. Damn you. Damn you and your hate. Damn you and your wall. How could you turn my country — a beacon of hope to the world into such a small and ugly place?  I realized that we have become, this week, the builders of the next fucking wall.

We are the ones who keep people out. We are now the ones who build the walls. The ones who revoke the green cards. The ones who in the name of freedom curtail liberty.The ones who punish the innocent in the name of safety. I am ashamed.

Fuck that. Fuck that wall and all it stands for.

Bring back my country. Bring back the people we used to be who stood behind Reagan and said, “tear down this wall”. And then they did. And then we all did.

Years from now, if we actually build this affront to humanity, people will tell stories like Springsteen’s about US. How incredibly, indescribably sad.

How incredibly, indescribably sad.

Ex-Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev: ‘World Is Preparing for War’

Bruce Springsteen Helped Breach Berlin Wall

Dear Mr. Trump from a Grown-Up Theater Kid


Dear Mr. Trump,

As every theater kid knows, the theater is a safe and special place. It is probably one of the safest and most accepting places I have ever experienced.

But there is one thing every theater kid knows: we stick up for each other. We are a safe space for the underdog, the awkward kid, the gay kid, the jock who wants to sing and dance and anyone and everyone who will accept us as we are.

But there is a time when we are not a safe space. We are not a safe space for bigotry. We are not a safe space for sexism. We are not a safe space for racism. We are not a safe space for those who want to divide us.

Once the theater helped us find our voices we can no longer be silent. We will use our voices to challenge, to encourage and to expand the hearts and minds of the people.

After all, there is a reason fascists and dictators shut down or seek to control movies and theater when they are in power.

We the theater kids will not sit down and shut up. We will not be silent in the face of the normalization of everything we stand against.

Mr. Trump (and you too Mr. Pence) we theater kids learned a lesson in empathy that you were denied somewhere along the way. But hear us now, even still, we would be happy to share that lesson with you if you are willing to learn.

The theater is big enough for us ALL.


A grown-up theater kid


Clinton, Dole the myth of the perfect female candidate.



This whole election cycle people have been telling themselves and others that they would love to see a woman become President — just not THAT woman.

I would love to believe that, but I just don’t.

Would you like to know why?

Elizabeth Dole. That’s why.

Back in 2000 I was a Republican (I know, you’re shocked). In fact up until Obama’s Second term and an ill-advised vote for Ross Perot I always voted straight Republican ticket. Anyways, in 2000 Elizabeth Dole was running for the Republican nomination. She had a very impressive resume:

Duke Undergrad
Oxford Post Graduate studies
Harvard Law

United States Senator
from North Carolina
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2009
20th United States Secretary of Labor
In office
January 25, 1989 – November 23, 1990
8th United States Secretary of Transportation
In office
February 7, 1983 – September 30, 1987
Director of the Office of Public Liaison
In office
January 20, 1981 – February 7, 1983
Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission
In office
December 4, 1973 – March 9, 1979

Ultimately Sen. Dole dropped out of the primaries and the nominee was the much less qualified George W. Bush.

I can still remember people saying that they wouldn’t mind voting for a female candidate, just not this particular female candidate. Ironically people were simultaneously saying the same thing about Hillary Clinton who was running for Senator in New York.

In 1999, when rumors had Dole preparing for a run at the White House and Clinton for Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s Senate Seat, Margaret Talbot, then a senior fellow at the New American Foundation, wrote in the New York Times Magazine: “Remember the Year of the Woman? Well, it’s beginning to look like 2000 might be the year of the wife.”

Labeling both these female candidacies – one from the right and one from the center — a symptom of political “dynasticism… in which a woman’s own political career is an outgrowth of her husband’s,” Talbot then warned in a burst of regional stereotyping that Dole’s “sugary southern charm will only carry her only so far; who wants a magnolia, even a steel magnolia, for President?”[2] The nation proceeded to elect (or not, depending on which hanging chad you look at) a male southerner, and a dynastic candidate with a far shorter resume and fewer intellectual accomplishments than Dole, George W. Bush.


Dole herself said,“Women in the Republican Party do not show enough support for a woman candidate. It’s much tougher than being a Democratic female candidate.”

Don’t tell that to Hillary Clinton. As it turns out, people were prepared to elect a woman Senator, even one with a prominent political husband. However, as we saw again last night, not enough were or are prepared to elect a female President no matter how qualified.

Many many years ago, Kent asked me who would becomePresident first, a black man or a white woman? I did not hesitate to say a black male. Because women of all races are still seen as less competent for leadership than men — sadly by both men AND women.

Apparently, we are still not ready. Even though Hillary received a majority of the popular vote, it was not by enough to propel her to an electoral college victory. Say whatever you want about Hillary, make whatever excuses about why you want a woman,“just not THAT woman”. But The United States of America just said they prefer a man with ZERO experience in government and ZERO foreign policy experience,  who sexually assaults and degrades women, publically mocks the disabled, will not disclose his taxes, and has 5 children with 3 women, diminished the sacrifice of a POW and a gold star family, and is currently involved in a fraud lawsuit and 3500 other lawsuits over an eminently qualified woman candidate.

As Joy Bahar said this morning, “You know what I learned? I learned that, as usual men can get away with anything and women can get away with nothing. That’s what I learned.”

I will leave you with this from the onion:
WASHINGTON—Political experts are hailing Donald Trump’s historic presidential victory early Wednesday as a resounding declaration that the nation is finally ready to cast off the tyrannical yoke of moderate respect for women that has suffocated the citizens of this country for generations. “Under Trump’s presidency, we can now look ahead to a bold new era in America in which we will no longer suffer under a repressive ideology that demands basic decency and relatively equal treatment toward half the nation’s population,” said Harvard political science professor Gregory Nagle, adding that citizens could now live free from the fear that they would never again be lightly chastised for making derogatory comments about a woman’s appearance or implying that women are less capable or intelligent than men. “For far too long, Americans have been at the mercy of an authoritarian belief system that sometimes presses employers to consider hiring women for high-level positions and, under certain circumstances, allows women to have control over their own bodies. And faced with the unsavory prospect of women receiving fair pay or having their sexual assault claims taken seriously, Americans went to the polls today and made their voices heard loud and clear. This is a bright new day for America.” In a similar finding, political scientists asserted that Trump’s election also represented a decisive move by the people of this country to shake off the brutal fetters of half-hearted attempts at racial tolerance.

P.S. You think it was bad for Dole and Clinton? Have you seen what they have said about Michelle Obama? And she hasn’t even run for office yet.

Racism Didn’t Exist Before Obama: Exercises in Blaming the Victim


I have heard more than one person say recently that racism didn’t exist before Obama. Yes, you read that right.

At the risk of speaking in a space where there are PoC whose voices should be heard, I will listen to Awesomely Luvvie and do my part to bring equality, reconciliation, education, and justice where I can.

The way I see it is this …

This country was built in large part on the backs of slave labor.

When slaves spoke up/rose up slave owners said, things like this: “Never before has the black race of Central Africa, from the dawn of history to the present day, attained a condition so civilized and so improved, not only physically, but morally and intellectually. –John C. Calhoun” They denied there was a problem. They blamed the slaves for causing the problem. 

Racism didn’t exist before them.

Eventually, the abolitionists and slaves were able to win but only after 620,000 people were killed in the Civil War.

When the practice of slavery was finally abolished and slaves were given their freedom and subsequently black men were given the vote in 1872, white folks congratulated themselves on how far they had come and the sacrifices they had made. And when black folks complained about the laws and practices put in place to make it virtually impossible for them to exercise that vote — THEY were blamed for being the ones causing problems.

Racism didn’t exist before them.

After the Reconstruction, we entered the Jim Crow era. Black citizens had more freedom, more access to education and services, and more rights than ever before. But guess what? Still FAR from equal. Separate and NOT EVEN CLOSE to equal. And guess what? When people like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, the young men from the Woolworth counter, and countless others had the nerve to say “It isn’t enough, we are still not equal”, THEY BLAMED THEM for being the troublemakers.

Racism didn’t exist before them.

Eventually, schools were integrated, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed, Affirmative Action was put in place to help correct injustices in hiring and college admission, etc. But guess what? There are still racial inequalities and racial injustice. Is it better than it was? Of course. Are we done? Not even close. And when the oppressed stand up (or sit down, or take a knee) who gets blamed for the racism? THEM.

Racism didn’t exist before them.

Enter Barak Obama, our nation’s first black President. This advance of culture and equality as the many before it causes the latent racism present in our society to bubble to the surface. Because where there is racism, there is fear. Fear of the other and fear of losing privilege. As Reza Aslan said so eloquently when I heard him speak a few weeks ago, if all you know about black people is what you hear on Fox News, of course you’re scared. He also said “fear is impervious to data”, which explains why some people are so deep in their fear that they cannot see the forest for the trees. But go ahead, bring up biased policing or the school to prison pipeline, or the inequities in arrests and sentencing of minorities, or any other racial injustice and watch how quickly you are branded “troublemaker”, “part of the problem”, or “race baiter”. YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.

Racism didn’t exist before Obama.

Racism didn’t exist before YOU.

Lies. That is all lies. Racism has always existed and likely always will – at least in some dark corners. But what I see here is a pattern of HOPE if we don’t give up. IF we keep speaking, and sitting, and standing, and kneeling, and singing, and legislating, and educating, and marching, and LOVING — if we keep doing these things the world will continue to change for the better. More freedom will come. More equality will come. More love and acceptance and reconciliation will come. That is the legacy of all those who have gone before us. That is what we owe them. That is what we owe our children. That is THE Dream.

Racism existed BEFORE you but it doesn’t have to exist IN you.



What are the Odds?


This was the comment I posted with an article from AwesomelyLuvvie on Facebook.  This morning in the stark light of day we find ourselves with not one, but two more dead black men who should still be alive. Rather than write my own post about it, I would like you to read Luvvie’s post.

White people. Yes, you. Even you nice ones. These things that are happening? These horrifying things that are happening to my people? They are because people who look like you, have set up a system of supremacy that flourishes. It is one that says people who look like me are violent, threats. It doesn’t matter if they’re holding books, wallets, bags of skittles. It is one that allows people to be killed by cops while sitting in their cars. It allows people to be killed while they lay on the ground with their hands showing. It allows people to be killed while walking away.

Is she mad? Does she use some strong language? You bet she does and she is. SOmetimes strong language is needed.

If you want to know what you can do, start here:

If you want something else to read, start here:

White America, It’s Time to Take a Knee

Now for some talk about refugees and the odds you will be killed by one.


If you like Donald Trump Jr. are afraid of refugees and terrorists I would like you to consider this…

These are the odds these things will happen to you in your lifetime:

Killed by a terrorist:     1 in 20,000,000

Being shot to death:    1 in 300

Being raped:                   1 in 5 for women, 1 in 71 for men

It is funny how Republicans and specifically Trump want us to be much more scared of the terrorists (and our Muslim neighbors) than we are of the Brock Turners of this country (and the Judges who slap them on the wrist) and the NRA which are both MUCH more dangerous.

Finally to tie these two issues together and drive home the point…

In The United States of America, you are 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist.

I am not saying this because I believe all police officers to be worse than terrorists (on the contrary, I believe most officers to be people who really just want to protect, serve, and go home to their families). I am simply saying it is much more logical for one to be scared of being shot by a police officer, a toddler, or a licensed gun owner than by a terrorist.

[A parting gift: Last week I went to a lecture by Reza Aslan where he talked about bigotry. He made an excellent point that bigotry is not actually rooted in ignorance (we all know some really intelligent bigots) but rather rooted in FEAR. Fear of the other. Fear of progress. Fear of losing privilege. Fear of _______. Then he dropped this truth bomb, “Fear is impervious to data”. All our talking and posting is good, but what really changes things is the hard work of relationship. Opening oneself up to loving people different from ourselves. To see that we are all connected. That what affects our neighbor whether black, brown, white, Asian, hispanic, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, gay, straight, trans, bi or any other distiction effects us ALL. We are all in this together. We should be about the business of “walking each other home”.]

I Spanked My Kids and It Is the Greatest Regret of My Life.


Not so long ago, but in a paradigm far far away I was a part of a faith tradition that glorified many types of violence including corporal punishment. Not only was corporal punishment taught and encouraged, my husband and I were told that if we were to withhold “The Rod™” we were, in fact disobeying God himself (I am purposely using only the male pronoun on purpose because at the time that was the only acceptable one).

Buying into this lie is one of the great regrets of my life. The idea that I ever embraced the doctrine of spanking my children when they disobeyed me now turns my stomach. Thankfully, I could never bring myself to doing it with the regularity or gusto that many people I knew did, but I did do it. Far. Too. Often.

And right here, right now, on the biggest forum I personally have, I am ready to go on the record.

I repent. I was wrong. 

Recently a study from The University of Texas at Austin and University of Michigan has come out on the effects of spanking. And guess what? Spanking does not produce the fruit that the proponents of it would have you believe. Violence is definitely one way to get someone to comply with your wishes, especially if you are bigger, stronger, smarter and in control of pretty much every aspect of that person’s life (i.e. your child). It is NOT the best way. Not by a long shot.

The UT/UofM study spanned a period of 50 years, followed over 160,000 children, and was published in the Journal of Family Psychology.  Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin stated, “We found that spanking was associated with unintended detrimental outcomes and was not associated with more immediate or long-term compliance, which are parents’ intended outcomes when they discipline their children.” SURPRISE. #science

From the UT News article, Risks of Harm from Spanking Confirmed by Analysis of Five Decades of Research:

“The upshot of the study is that spanking increases the likelihood of a wide variety of undesired outcomes for children. Spanking thus does the opposite of what parents usually want it to do,” Grogan-Kaylor says.

Gershoff and Grogan-Kaylor tested for some long-term effects among adults who were spanked as children. The more they were spanked, the more likely they were to exhibit anti-social behavior and to experience mental health problems. They were also more likely to support physical punishment for their own children, which highlights one of the key ways that attitudes toward physical punishment are passed from generation to generation.

The researchers looked at a wide range of studies and noted that spanking was associated with negative outcomes consistently and across all types of studies, including those using the strongest methodologies such as longitudinal or experimental designs. As many as 80 percent of parents around the world spank their children, according to a 2014 UNICEF report. Gershoff notes that this persistence of spanking is in spite of the fact that there is no clear evidence of positive effects from spanking and ample evidence that it poses a risk of harm to children’s behavior and development.

Both spanking and physical abuse were associated with the same detrimental child outcomes in the same direction and nearly the same strength.

“We as a society think of spanking and physical abuse as distinct behaviors,” she says. “Yet our research shows that spanking is linked with the same negative child outcomes as abuse, just to a slightly lesser degree.”

Did you catch that? BOTH spanking and PHYSICAL ABUSE were associated with the SAME detrimental outcomes in the SAME direction and NEARLY THE SAME strength.

Currently, in the U.S. 65% of percent of people approve of spanking and 50% of parents say they at least sometimes spank their kids. As succinctly put by The Economist, “In America Republicans spank more than Democrats; southerners more than north-easterners; blacks more than whites; and born-again Christians more than everyone else.” You can find the numbers to back that up here. I was a “born-again Christian”. I currently call myself a follower of Jesus. I disagree with way too much of my old system’s doctrine and practice to identify myself that way anymore.

Do you want to know why born-again Christian parents spank more than anyone else? Because their God demands it. They are, by and large, loving parents who want to do what is best for their kids. They love their kids. They spank because they have been taught that in order to truly love their children that they must. How sad.

There is at least one more study I think you will find important to our discussion. It is a 2008 study by Dr. Martin Teicher, a neuroscientist at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Teicher studied the consequences of corporal punishment on brain scans. I read an article yesterday called, Is Being Pro-Spanking A Sign of Brain Damage (You can see the scans on the link). It said:

In 2008, he and his team completed a five-year neuroimaging study of the impact of corporal punishment on the brain. He scanned the brains of 46 mainly middle-class, well-educated subjects, half who had been corporally punished and half who had not. “All the subjects that we looked at were hit at least once a month, through several years of childhood,” he said.

The consequences are not abstract or only visible on the brain scan. His work and that of other researchers shows that spanking is associated with aggression, delinquency, low IQ, mental-health problems, and drug and alcohol abuse.

I have spoken to my now teenage kids. I told them I was wrong. I asked them to forgive me. I am sharing this with you now in the hope that it is not too late for some of you and by extension for your children. Please join me in saving our kids from “love” that does not look or feel like love.

[Want to know something scary/sad/screwed up? I learned a little speech in a Christian parenting book that I used to use before I spanked my kids. First I would talk to them calmly about what they had done. Then I would ask them to tell me why they were being punished. Then I would explain that God expected me to train them in how to obey me so that they could obey him. Next, I would tell them I AM SPANKING YOU BECAUSE I LOVE YOU. Then I would spank them. Then I would hug them and hold them while they cried (often crying myself) and tell them I loved them. How screwed up is that? I actually taught my kids that this was love. Being hit by the person who loves you the most. Hitting someone to help them obey is actually loving. WTF? As Lord Davos said to Melisande in Game of Thrones, “If your Lord commands you to burn [hit] children, your Lord is evil.” I no longer believe in a God who drowned almost the entire human race, demanded genocide or commands us to hit our children to prove we love them. That god is an asshole and a monster. I believe in the God who is love; The God who commands us to love each other; The God who contains no darkness; The God who forgives; The God who restores; The God who makes all things new. I reject any teaching or practice that affirms a God whose love demands pain and suffering to be satisfied.]

One of my favorite people in the world introduced me to something called Conscious Discipline. I only wish I would have known about it when my children were young. On their website they describe it this way:

Defines discipline not as something you do to children, but something you develop within them.

Teaches new skills to the adult first and the children second, empowering you to become the mindful parent you want to be.

With Conscious Discipline, we can learn to discipline differently than we were disciplined, break the cycle of “do as I say, not as I do,” and discipline our children without permissiveness, aggression or guilt.

There are of course other options out there for parents who are ready to stop spanking, or even better, to never start. I don’t care which one you choose, any of them will be an improvement over striking your child with the arms you should only use to love them.