Post #13 A    Authoritarian Parenting Style

Post #13 A    AUTHORITARIAN PARENTING STYLE

I think we managed ‘happy families’ (Vera Stanhope gave me that one) for about as long as our parental leave lasted (3 days) or maybe until we signed Yasik up for school – roughly 3 weeks.  The journal says Week 3 was ‘one heavy duty week’. Yasik was, in parenting jargon, ‘testing boundaries’ in ways I have read are not unusual for institutionalized adoptees, or, for that matter, children from a great variety of family settings. His arsenal, sans effective verbal skills at the time, was physical: kicking, slapping, pinching, punching when we frustrated his desires with a “No”.   Surprised that the little cutie wasn’t seeing things our way, and having not prepared ourselves for that possibility, we went full ‘do what our parents did’; I shut down and Dave threatened torture like loss of TV privileges and hug loss, much the same as how we dealt at the time with disagreements between ourselves. And then, we spanked Yasik.  In our defense the journal testifies, only one smack to his bottom. Yasik cried but the smack quieted him, so I guess it slipped under the wire for not being abuse. Perhaps the crying though shook us up because we did some serious weighing of the pros and cons. We knew we were not comfortable talking about our autopilot choice to spank with anyone else, at all. Is spanking just politically incorrect or emotionally damaging? Is it faster and tidier? Does it teach him to hit to make a point?  But he needs to pay attention to our authority. He can’t be hitting back or talking smart we felt. But then again, we have to watch the expectations we have that set him off.  Right from the start, putting him in kindergarten, I  was rushing him and we were regularly late to school, igniting volcanoes of frustration between us.

Dave and I were a couple born in the traditional parenting era, and now in our own middle years, we were coping with a daily experience more often the purview of a young couple (a common experience for adoptors), and parenting a child with limited communication experience in English and very new to developing a sense of secure attachment to parents.  This is not a ‘poor-us’ plea. We simply knew we had to begin the process people in Recovery refer to as Live Life on Life’s Terms.  We were going try something more appropriate, wanting to do the ‘right thing’, again based on what we had picked up around us about disciplining.

My only spanking experience up to this time had come when I was in my mid-twenties, still unquestioningly believing in “Spare the rod, Spoil the child”. I was babysitting for a couple who were raised, like me, in a traditional and religious society and who regularly turned to spanking to rein in their active adoptee. Being left with the responsibility to ensure that this four or five year old child was not ruined while the couple were out of town, I kept the lid on anything I understood to be an infraction  according to the couple’s set of unacceptable behaviours. And I spanked away each of these misbehaviours as heartily as they did.  One such infraction unfortunately, in the short term, but rewarding in the long-term for me, occurred one morning when friends were visiting.  The child misbehaved; I carried him into the bedroom and between whacks, screaming and crying filled the household. After all was returned to quiet and smiles, the woman visiting commented either directly to me or to another friend, “It seems to me that people are harder on children who are not their own.” That observation struck hard against a firmly unquestioned belief.

Sensitivity to the comment was still there twenty years later to rattle our current disciplining.  ‘Time Outs’ seemed to be bandied about among knowing parents we were in touch with as the ‘done thing’. Dave said that was how Dennis the Menace was disciplined, sounded like a good recommendation I guess. We embraced it as a discipline we could admit to among our circle of friends and anyway we had a child’s wooden chair as yet unfulfilled in its destiny.  One afternoon in our couple-only period we spent an afternoon shopping antique shops on Main Street.  We bought the little chair for family who were expecting, not thinking it might be a hassle to carry home on a plane.  They side stepped the gift and now we had a reason of our own to use it.  We swung it into a corner of the hallway, getting into position to do battle.  I remember experiencing less emotion or stress with the smack. Now we were starting the disciplining process with a tussle to get him on the chair as he and we were still amped up. Next was the stand on guard to keep him on the chair. Dave would very firmly place him on the chair and I would smack his bottom when I couldn’t get him to stay on the chair. Once he even said, “Ouch”.  At least once each we let him knock himself over in his fight to resist the chair. But he did acquiesce, even if at times with tight-lipped giving in that could be read as ‘I will bid my time until I am bigger’. Other times it was hard to keep a straight face. When once he had to give in, he would turn to us to humbly plea, “No look,” before he stood up and went off to do what we ask. There was also the time I held him in my lap until he gave in and sat on the chair quietly and then slipped over to me and we kissed and hugged. Wish I’d done it that way more often.

In fact, most of the time he responded well to this discipline and moved on, affirms the journal.

And miracle of miracles, in short order just the threat of the chair was enough to get compliance.

Check that method off and move on.  It seems we still were not giving discipline a meta perspective.  A couple of cases in point: one evening after work, I was tired, impatient and would not wait for him to play in the tub.

Yasik was finding endless wonders in the tub.  I wanted the bed time routine over so I could turn off and tune out.

“Come on Yasik, bath time is over. Now get out of the tub and come into the bedroom to get you pajamas on.”

Playing sounded like it was slowing down, and silence was taking over. Yasik had shown shyness about being naked, suggesting the way things might have been handled in the orphanage. But I was not trying to understand his no show in the bedroom.

“Come on Yasik, get in here.”

And now there was a wail. Yasik was sitting in the tub, alone and crying in real anger.

Sighing in self-pity, I was about to drag myself off his bed and into the bathroom to scoop him out of the tub.  That self-pitying tiredness now curling at the edges with anger.

Yasik did not want to run naked from the tub to the bedroom, a stretch of maybe 10 feet.

Dave must have been hovering near by, for he magically appeared at the bedroom door.

“Don’t!”, with a warning eyeball.  Getting a 5-year-old to sprint naked from the bathroom to the bedroom was what we expected. We were not going to cave. He was going to obey. He was going to sprint naked from the bathroom to the bedroom.

Yelling, “No look!” Yasik snuck to the door to see if I was looking before running to the bed.

Again it was hopeless not to see the funny. I popped out a “Boo!” and we both laughed.

Another time, when he was a bit older, Yasik and the other two in his bestie triad had been to Roger’s Arena to watch moto-cross races. The races were exciting, the treats soaked in sugar and the night hours sleep-deprived. By the time he was dropped off mid-morning, still high from the fun, he was likely more spent than he knew. The interaction may have gone something close to the following, though when I read it to Yasik he was a tad scornful, couldn’t buy that he would have talked like that.

So while Yasik was still wrapped in the high of his overnight, Dave and I were not finishing off a fun night but rather into the demands of our day.

Yasik came in the back door and dropped his bag.

No give him a moment to slump on a chair.  No “Hey kid did you have fun? What did you do?” Instead, we turned from doing the dishes to offer a smile, “Hi.” We are after all trained in the graces to some extent.

Yasik didn’t smile back. “I’m hungry. Is there anything to eat?”

Tuned to a different wave length than he, we dismissed this.

“Just put your bag away.  It’s too close to lunch anyway.”

“I’m not showering. I gotta eat.”

“Uh, uh….  No, get cleaned up.  Then I think you still have homework. And you definitely have piano practice.”

“Aaaggh. Noooo. That’s all I ever do. Piano, piano, piano. Homework, homework, homework.”

“Yasik. Just do it and get it over with. You have to do it before you can be on the computer anyway.”

Yasik was downright snarky the journal says.   What did we expect?

Had we become complacent or tired of what corporeal punishment or its more politically correct cousin, ‘Time Out’ demanded? Or did we honestly think that having experienced spanking and the chair that Yasik was only needing the reminder of such consequences or some threat to the things he loved? Whatever our awareness, we now slipped into threat mode at signs of eruption.  Predictably I suppose, if we had not taken the time to think through what we were hoping for or how best to get there.  It could backfire.

One morning as usual we running late to drop Yasik off at his school. Checking for lunch box and bag, I noticed he hadn’t quite finished his homework. That was a BIG no-no to a couple, one teaching high school with the expectation of homework, the other finally getting a chance at higher-ed and both wanting to keep up appearance as parents who have their parenting together. With minutes to spare before we really, really had to go, we went into threat mode: “You won’t be going to T-ball tomorrow if you don’t hurry up and just do this last page!”

The wail seemed to deflate his entire body.  Taking the high ground against this outburst, we brooked no argument, “Yasik, you gotta do your homework.”

“Whhhhy? NOBODY in my class has to do homework?”

(True enough, being second language, or whatever the current term is, and struggling with reading, Yasik did have a heavier homework burden than his classmates.)

Nonetheless, in my best no-nonsense voice, I carefully enunciated: “You. Won’t. Be. Going. To. T-Ball. Tomorrow. if you don’t get it done.”  Dave backed me up with a ‘No debate’ nod.

He failed to do so. Following through on our threat is always considered admirable. We didn’t take him to the game. He felt the pain for disobedience all right.

Thing was, we had the date wrong.  It was two days away and he got to go because he’d already gone through the wailing and missing-the-game pain the day before.

I kind of think he could hardly wait to get home that evening to say, “Hey you guys, the game is tomorrow night, James said.”

I looked at Dave. Dave looked at me. “What can we do? We got the days screwed up and he got the punishment.”

Yasik also got the last big grin.

And so the first couple of years went; learning effective anything takes a while I would observe at this juncture. Yasik’s school had a huge park across the street but had no indoor gym; it was a little community school going off to another school for indoor physical activities. Two years into our parenting, encouraged by school staff, one morning, I went with Yasik on the school bus to help him get involved in gym as through the first year, he’d merely been watching rather than taking part. We chose not to push him to join in gym play the first year as most days there were so many other firsts in his life. Now just like deciding to take the worn training wheels off his bike and pushing him to try biking without that support, we decided to push him to join in the activities in the gym period.

We stepped into the gym, kids running ahead of us, teachers taking charge, me thinking I must look in charge too. It is what competent mothers exude, right? Slipping into this vibe, I tried to get him to do things just because magically I was along.  But my presence did not hold the weight I was assuming. He wouldn’t budge from his chosen place near the door. We were in a room full of kids he played with at the park, teachers who assured us he was doing well. Translation: I can’t have anyone thinking something might not be working as it should appear but neither could I take any action that would look or sound out of control. That is a possible beauty of threats. They can be whispered with what appears like a calm/repressed anger interaction.  So I start to whisper threats. “Get out there and play right now or there goes today’s computer and TV.”  I gave a hint that if he waits any longer, tomorrow’s TV is going too.

And then what Gail?  But I persisted and he adamantly refused.  A teacher thoughtfully slipped over to suggest that I and Yasik go to the trampoline because they tell us being on the boy’s team with Yasik’s more confident counterparts, may be too hard for him. He may feel safer playing with the girls and they are on the trampoline.  He wants to but won’t.  Was he embarrassed about being relegated to the girl’s team, as well?

I continued to cajole and threat.  Finally, I promised a prize, ergo bribe, and he got on for the first time, smiling in shyness, still uncertain, because it was great.

Inevitably a few bounces in he fell and wanted down in a bit and then he wouldn’t go again.  This was a 6-year-old boy who was struggling with processing failure. I was responding by telling him I was proud of him and a prize was coming his way. But that fall overwhelmed him. When it came around for his next turn, he refused to climb back up on the trampoline.  I who had not thought that perhaps let it be was enough, or perhaps there was a private trampoline somewhere that he could test out before the next gym outing, threw out the bribes and went back to dire threats of returning to spanking.  And I could have managed that because there was a convenient bathroom off the gym.

And in the moment I won. Yasik gave in and got on the trampoline. I saw a mix of shy enjoyment and a struggle with fear for between the 1st and 2nd attempt there were tears on my neck and as I watched him get up and try the trampoline again in front of peers who baby him still, I had to fight tears too. Yet he conquered the worst of it.  He was on his way. I was proud of him and of his stubborn refusals too.  He wasn’t going to follow blindly, I note in the journal.  But the question remains about how I handled my role in his struggle. I hope I at least followed through on the prize.

Dave too holds memories of times he is concerned about how he shepherded. As I have mentioned several times, not only did Dave look forward to sharing his own love of the computer with Yasik as we prepared to adopt him, but in a very short while, after we returned from Russia, Dave and Yasik were poking the keyboard, learning that Yasik believed he had come from the moon and seeing that very quickly and steadily Yasik was becoming proficient at working his way around the internet.  An excitement at a son’s quickness gradually U-turned into a concern about what his child might become exposed to.  To ward off danger, Dave secretly set in a path from which he would maintain control. Of course, sensible parents applaud, but Dave voiced concern over his handling of his control, secretively rather than in open discussion with his son.

Yasik is visiting this weekend. In preparation I have written down a couple questions on my clipboard to tease out some input from him that might be triggered by the the definition of Authoritarian parenting style.  He hasn’t yet come up with specific examples but he said he definitely remembers times with I handled interactions with “Because I said so” or “Don’t ask questions, just do it!” expectations.  I hope I tried for slightly more subtle language.  Yasik also remembers discovering Dave’s computer controls and working around them, but without any discussion on either side.

Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to place a check next to the following characteristics you identified in the narrative. Check the boxes which apply.

Δ   Cold: low responsiveness, aloof and distant, affection is given sparingly, if at all; boundaries are maintained between parent and child.

Δ      Demanding/Unbending: strict, making non-negotiable rules, not considering the child’s needs or desires, “My way or the highway”, accompanied by harsh criticisms on making mistakes, or the more PC, emotional manipulation.  The child’s strong will must be broken.

Δ     Control: to foster obedience and implement discipline.  Parents monitor child’s behaviour, activities inside and outside the house.

Δ     Punitive discipline/highly negative consequences often justified as “tough love”: threatening, beating, spanking, thrashing, pulling, pricking, kicking, punching, and emotional punishment like neglect, yelling, scolding for not doing things “right”, silent treatment, stonewalling.

Sites referred to for the definitions:

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/parenting/a26987389/types-of-parenting-styles/

https://jessup.edu/blog/academic-success/the-psychology-behind-different-types-of-parenting-styles/

https://www.parentingforbrain.com/4-baumrind-parenting-styles/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK568743/

 

What do my collection of the experts say?

We may have begun to parent a child already brewed in Authoritarian parenting. We do not know what Authoritarian parenting meant on a daily basis for Yasik but the article I include in Post 13 Intro suggests it is possible Yasik was being nurtured with “toughened attachment” which seems another label for Authoritarian parenting style. We do know that when meeting us for the first time in the little waiting room of the Yaroslavl orphanage became too stressful for Yasik, he turned to the sweet doctor and folded himself in her arms, arms that willingly accepted him, letting him sob into her neck. But did that moment speak to the orphanage’s daily parenting style? Did Yasik know it was safe to turn into the little doctor’s shoulder as a security he knew he could trust or was the moment meeting us so overwhelming he took the first outlet available. Certainly the woman at the desk and the woman who brought Yasik into the room were not stepping in: out of shyness, uncertainty or the expectations of ‘toughened attachment’?

Whatever parenting he experienced, he would have learned ways to respond. If his early experiences of parenting were traumatic or at least authoritarian, then the way he expressed his frustrations to our discipline may have been techniques he had learned to defend himself when receiving ‘toughened attachment’. Or maybe his responses were defenses against what his imagination understood about having a mama and papa.  He was told that evening after meeting us that now he had a mama and papa.  Did that mean to him that life would be different from life in the orphanage; he need not suffer discipline and insecurity anymore. Yet, as the honeymoon period receded into the hurley-burley of everyday life, did some of our parenting seem to him just like ‘toughened attachment’?

Russia at the time argued for this style of parenting because in the shifting time of the 90s it was the more well known, and therefore, more dependable style for orphans. The Soviets/Socialists were working on making a ‘new man/human’, answerable to society, not encouraged to be independent, the Soviet way or the highway.  Religions have been trying to do the same for a very long time, operating from the stance that people are sinners and needing harsh redemption via authoritarian leadership, Hobbesian style. And we, even in the West, do not remain immune from it.  Traditional parenting or ‘Trad parents’ check off authoritarian definition boxes above.  It starts with the assumption that small children are capable of manipulating their parents – a sign, I guess of the evil that resides within – and that effective disciplining must incorporate some pain. https://generationcedar.com/2024/03/05/gentle-parenting-vs-traditional-parenting-a-word-to-todays-young-mother/   or  https://iastate.pressbooks.pub/parentingfamilydiversity/chapter/overindulgent-helicopter-styles/

To quote a response to that one: “The truth is that children aren’t capable of manipulation until adolescence, because to be able to manipulate, you need a more developed prefrontal cortex.”  The adoptive Parents’ handbook: a guide to healing trauma and thriving with your foster or adopted child, Barbara Cummins Tantrum, 2020, P. 105

It is also seen as a wise choice among working class parents who know that to be good employees, children need to know how to be obedient and develop a strong work ethic.  Some also see that at times Authoritarian parenting helps when children are falling into bad company and making choices that will hurt their future.  It might also be an interventionist tool when a child veers off course, choosing friends that take the child on a path away from education and healthy lifestyle choices. But studies have shown that a meta view of the outcomes of authoritarian parenting produce children with low self-esteem and self-doubt, turning to peers for guidance and sometimes acting out behind their parents’ backs or struggling to take on adulthood’s need for internal direction. https://openpress.usask.ca/lifespandevelopment/chapter/parenting-styles/

A voice that seems to support Authoritarian parenting, Dr. Gordon Neufeld and Dr. Gabor Mate say in Hold on to your kids: why parents need to matter more than peers, P. 60,

The first business of attachment is to arrange adults and children in a hierarchical order.  When humans enter a relationship, their attachment brain automatically ranks the participants in order of dominance…. that divide roughly into dominant and dependent, care-giving and care-seeking, the one who provides and the one who receives.

But, of course, having read the entire book, I know that he brings this aspect of authority in as opposed to the empty and often disastrous peer-oriented authority.

A voice that seems to questions Authoritarian parenting, Born for Love: why empathy is essential—and endangered by Maia Szalavitz and Bruce Perry, P. 313 says,

Needless to say, spanking or any other form of harsh discipline does not and cannot encourage empathy: empathy is learned by having the experience of being treated kindly, not by being made to suffer…. most bullies do have the experience of being victimized – and it makes them want to get even, not help others….

Research shows that children who receive corporal punishment are more aggressive, more likely to be antisocial as teenagers …. Ninety percent of the research on spanking shows negative effects.

A voice that finds a middling spot on the spectrum of parenting is Jean Mercer in her book, Thinking Critically about Child Development: examining myths & misunderstandings P.206 Research has shown her that spanking (“as properly defined, not to blows with a paddle or other physical punishments”) is not ineffective in the short term but “questions remain about its long-term effect.

Some explanation is offered in Great Myths of Child Development put together by Stephen Hupp and Jeremy Jewell to those who believe God has endorsed physical punishment as a loving thing to do. My father certainly believed ‘Spare the Rod, spoil the child’ was a direct message from God to guide his parenting. Taking us to the bathroom, sitting himself down on the edge of the tub, “Spare the rod, spoil the child” was Dad’s invocation, followed by a confusing excuse, “This hurts me more than you” to set our bare bums on alert as we lay across Dad’s lap. According to Hupp and Jewell, modern translations of the proverb say the ‘rod’ was more likely the symbolic shepherd’s staff for guiding, as a shepherd guides a sheep (Myth #40).  Relying on older translations, some leaders of the church, supported its message of the pain route to obedience. https://iastate.pressbooks.pub/parentingfamilydiversity/chapter/overindulgent-helicopter-styles/

Myth #41, also in Great Myths of Child Development addresses ‘Time-outs’ showing that brief time-outs are usually too weak to help decrease real behavior problems and may also teach children what not to do but without positive ‘Time-in’ does not teach the child what to do.

They also tackle the gender question of parental discipline. Data shows that mothers use corporeal punishment or spanking as often as fathers (Myth #47). And they visit the argument for letting babies ‘cry it out’ when being put to bed (Myth # 13). Reviewing the various arguments for and against, they conclude “… so long as the child is over 5 or 6 months old, safe and well-cared for, it’s reasonable to stop responding to cries to be held or rocked during the night, allowing the child to develop self-soothing skills’.

Others’ parenting experiences, speaking to at least some aspects of the Authoritarian parenting style

  • The book, Hunt, Gather Parent: what ancient cultures can teach us about the lost art of raising happy, helpful little humans by Michaeleen Doucleff
  • Mom Feels Like A ‘Failure’ After Spanking Her Daughter By Nia Tipton Feb 04, 2024

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#label/Adoption/QgrcJHsbjqQRXVnvxkVDmrnJnrfqsrflcMl

She has never spanked her daughter before and feels guilty that she let her emotions get the better of her.

A mom has admitted to feeling incredibly guilty about the way she handled her unruly daughter and is seeking advice on how to not react the same way in the future…. the young mother explained that she had been cleaning the bathtub when her 3-year-old daughter wandered in. Concerned for her safety, she calmly told her daughter to either leave the bathroom or stand by the door since she was using bleach and their bathroom was quite small.

“She sat right up next to the tub. I asked her if she wanted to leave by herself or if she wanted me to pick her up. She didn’t reply and continued jumping on the toilet,” she wrote. With her daughter continuing to not listen, she picked her up and began carrying her out of the bathroom herself.

However, while carrying her daughter, the little girl began throwing a tantrum. She was hitting her mother in the stomach and chest, and screaming in her face. At this point, she immediately put her daughter in a time-out, sitting her on a chair in the corner of the room.

The time-out didn’t work though, and her daughter began to run around the room. Fed up with her daughter’s behavior, she grabbed her and spanked her. As soon as she did it, the young mom admitted to feeling incredibly “low” and a “failure” as a parent.

I’m very anti-spanking, in my house. I’ve never hit my daughter and I’m always good about talking to her when she does something wrong. I believe strongly in natural consequence,” she added….

“What could I have done differently in this situation? I couldn’t leave her in the bathroom to calm down because I had chemicals in the tub. Maybe the best solution is not doing things that she can’t help with when she’s awake, I guess.”

[Readers responded] “Give yourself some grace. Try hard not [to] do it again,”….

“Also, try to lower your expectations just a little bit. She’s a kid …. it won’t turn her into a monster. Pick your battles.”

Another user added, “… You didn’t beat her or anything. You spanked her.”

…. At the end of the day, no parent is perfect, and there are moments throughout child rearing when certain things don’t go to plan.

  • The Atlantic, July/August issue 2022 P. 87-89 speaks to fathers and the liminal space they find themselves in as fathers today, once filling the understood role of administrator of discipline was theirs, still confronted by children acting out of control, and no longer sure how to proceed. What checks the boxes for the definition of Authoritarian both in the article and in the book I have not yet read, Keith Gessen’s book, Raising Raffi: the first five years?
  • Mierau, Maurice. Detachment: an adoption memoir   152-4

Peter who is 8 and Bohdan who is 7 had been adopted by Maurice and Betsy Mierau three years earlier.  The Mireau’s were well into their own parenting style with the boys.  One winter afternoon, Mierau takes the boys sledding, armed with hot chocolate. Because of copyright protection you will need to read the story for yourself, an incident that checks the boxes for Authoritarian, although overall, the memoir shows that this couple work hard at being warm and supportive Authoritative parents.

  • Lesbian and Gay Foster Care and Adoption by Stephen Hicks and Janet McDermott, P. 216, 230 recount an interview with a counselor and social worker couple, both working with children and families. At the time of the interview for the book they had been adoptors for 12 years. The children were a brother and sister whose early life was traumatic, and before being adopted, the children had been in a “difficult” foster situation. This is how they end their interview:

We’ve ended up being much stricter parents than I ever expected we would be, which has been a bit of a downside in some ways. I end up being somebody I almost don’t know, as a parent of adopted children. You don’t recognize yourself. If somebody had told me this was the kind of parent I’d be I’d have said: “Don’t be ridiculous. I’m not going to be like that, I’m going to be my liberal, fun self.”

But that had to change. I think all parents probably have that fantasy. I remember my dad saying he couldn’t believe how I was with the children – my sister called me Attila the Hun! But after a while my dad said I had been right to be tough. But it didn’t come easily to either of us.

  • I have just started listening to the audio book, I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy. Seconds into the book, I am hearing notes of Authoritarian parenting though, checking out a summary of the book, I already know that this memoir is about much more than parenting style, still … it checks off some of the boxes, even if the control is more often achieved with PC emotional manipulation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Gail Vincent

It pissed me off that the prevailing attitude toward adoption issues was "Well, it's in the blood". This irritation has led me to an interest in imparting what I am learning from the study of Nature and Nurture: its competition and teamwork as it applies to adoption. Granted, I am a 2/3rdser, physically, emotionally, intellectually, socially, spiritually. I never quite fully get where I am expected to go or personally choose to go. It is evident in this blog set up to examine such a life. Still, hopefully, a bit of self-awareness energizes the need to keep seeking for I want to understand our family's story. It is an adaptation of James Michener's, Go after your dreams [and nightmares] to know your dreams [and nightmares] for what they are (The Drifters,p.768). Three things: 1. I am not a researcher but rather a student of others’ ideas and I am old. 2. I was first an evangelical missionary, a career I told the god-I-choose-to-believe-in that I couldn't live with anymore, so got an education and moved on to a career as a high school English teacher. The one skill learned and practiced in both careers was to take an understanding to be imparted – whether of the evangelical mission’s doctrine or the education ministry’s curriculum – and apply reductionist principles necessary to be able to present the teaching to what I understood the given audience needed. 3. I have found a viable reason for dead trees still standing in a forest. They can be hazardous fuel for forest fires, yes, but I have also noticed they are riddled with holes made by birds wanting to harvest the bugs within or they become the ground from which young trees can sprout. It put me in mind of the myth of the old man who built on ruins in order to see better and farther. Perhaps age has this to offer: we may use the ruins and remains to see farther or gain some sustenance for the journey ahead.

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