When a society loses its memory, it descends inevitably into dementia. Mark Steyn
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January 30, 2011

Music break: Love is Here to Stay

Very nice:


My favorite:


Wikipedia:

The song was the last composition George Gershwin completed. Ira Gershwin wrote the words after his brother's death, giving the song a special poignancy.

Originally titled "It's Here to Stay" and then "Our Love Is Here to Stay", the song was finally published as "Love Is Here to Stay".[1] Ira Gershwin has said that he wanted to change the song's name back to "Our Love Is Here to Stay" for years, but felt that it wouldn't be right since the song had already become a standard.[2] 
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January 24, 2011

More Gosnell victims come forward with horror stories

Posted without comment:

FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD Robyn Reid didn't want an abortion. But when her grandmother forcibly took her to an abortion clinic one wintry day in 1998, Reid figured she'd just tell the doctor her wishes and then sneak away.

Instead, Kermit Gosnell barked: "I don't have time for this!" He then ripped off her clothes, spanked her, wrestled her onto a dirty surgical stretcher, tied her flailing arms and legs down and pumped sedatives into her until she quit screaming and lost consciousness, she told the Daily News yesterday.

Nicole Gaither got an abortion from Gosnell in 2001. After four days, she said, the pain was so bad she could barely walk. She returned to the clinic, where, she said Gosnell blithely told her he'd left fetal remains in her.

"Stand up! It don't hurt that bad!" he yelled at her, she said, before suctioning - without any medication - her insides.

In 2001, Davida Johnson changed her mind about aborting her 6-month fetus after seeing Gosnell's dazed, bloodied patients in his recovery room, she said. But in the treatment room, Gosnell's staffers ignored her protests, smacked her, tied her arms down and sedated her into unconsciousness, she said. She awoke no longer pregnant.

Weeks later, she said, she was diagnosed with a venereal disease that she believes she contracted from unsterilized equipment Gosnell used. Now, she can't carry a baby to term and said she has miscarried four times since her abortion.
Read the rest. Also read Matthew Archbold's All Mass Murderers Are Not Created Equal. Excerpt:
In the wake of the mass murder of seven babies by a Philadelphia abortionist I have to ask where’s the Presidential press conference? Where’s the nationally televised memorial? Where are the t-shirts with the catchy slogan? Where’s the media blame game? Where’s the feature pieces in national magazines on the societal implications of the murders?

Seriously. I’m wondering why isn’t the murder of seven babies of similar national implications to the horrible murders in Tuscon?

There are currently 15,000 mentions of Jared Loughner in the news recently, according to Google. But as of Sunday night there are less than 1,400 mentions of Dr. Kermit Gosnell. That’s 10 percent. Truly, silence is the deadliest bias.

Shortly after the Tuscon murders journalists, talking heads, and several politicians wasted no time chatting up the far flung societal implications of the tragedy in Arizona mainly focusing the blame for the murders on the “violent” rhetoric of the right wing. But isn’t it a heck of a lot shorter logical leap to suggest that strong pro-abortion rhetoric contributed to an atmosphere that made the violence perpetrated by Gosnell a possibility? Seriously, does 30 years of calling babies “blobs of tissue” have no effect on the culture?
My emphasis. Read the rest.

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Davida Johnson claims Gosnell forced abortion on her

Via Pundit Press:

LaToya Ransome isn't the only one to begin speaking out. Davida Johnson "claims she was forced by the doctor to continue" an abortion after she asked him to stop the procedure. [. . .]

"I said, 'I don't want to do this,' and he smacked me. They tied my hands and arms down and gave me more medication,"

This so called doctor brutalized women in a primarily african american community in Philadelphia. Taking their money and treating them as if they were dogs. Margaret Sanger would be proud that her vision was working so efficiently.
The rest of Johnson's story:
When Davida Johnson walked into Dr. Kermit Gosnell's clinic to get an abortion in 2001, she saw what she described as dazed women sitting in dirty, bloodstained recliners. As the abortion got under way, she had a change of heart — but claims she was forced by the doctor to continue. [. . .]

Johnson, then 21, had a 3-year-old daughter when she became pregnant again. She said she first went to Planned Parenthood in downtown Philadelphia but was frightened away by protesters.

"The picketers out there, they just scared me half to death," Johnson, now 30, recalled this week.

Someone sent her to Gosnell's West Philadelphia clinic, at the Women's Medical Society, saying anti-abortion protesters wouldn't be a problem there. She said she paid him $400 cash. 
The report doesn't tell us who sent her to Gosnell, but we can be sure it wasn't one of the pro-life picketers who had frightened her over at Planned Parenthood. Whatever she feared couldn't possibly have been worse than what ultimately happened to her and her child.

Anti-abortion protesters did picket and pray outside Gosnell's "clinic" over the years. Unfortunately, they weren't there the day Davida Johnson showed up. If they had been, things may have gone quite differently for Johnson and the baby she wasn't sure she wanted.
A few months after the abortion, she began to have gynecological problems. An examination revealed venereal disease. She blames Gosnell, 69, for the lifelong illness, which she declined to identify, and for the four miscarriages she has subsequently suffered.

Johnson learned last week that Philadelphia prosecutors believe Gosnell frequently delivered late-term babies alive at his clinic, then severed their spines with scissors, and often stored the fetal bodies — along with staff lunches — in refrigerators at the squalid facility. Tiny baby feet, prosecutors said, were discovered in specimen jars, lined up in a macabre collection.

"Did he do that to mine? Did he stab him in the neck?" Johnson asked at her North Philadelphia home. "Because I was out of it. I don't know what he did to my baby."

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January 23, 2011

For the record: IL State Senator Obama on the fate of aborted-alive babies

We've referred to this many times since 2008 but in light of the Gosnell serial infanticide case, let's take another look at IL State Senator Barack Obama's statements on why we shouldn't let aborted-alive babies live:

"TEMPORARILY ALIVE"

SENATOR OBAMA: This bill was fairly extensively debated in the Judiciary Committee, and so I won’t belabor the issue. I do want to just make sure that everybody in the Senate knows what this bill is about, as I understand it. Senator O’Malley, the testimony during the committee indicated that one of the key concerns was — is that there was a method of abortion, an induced abortion, where the — the fetus or child, as — as some might describe it, is still temporarily alive outside the womb. And one of the concerns that came out in the testimony was the fact that they were not being properly cared for during that brief period of time that they were still living. Is that correct? Is that an accurate sort of description of one of the key concerns in the bill?
And more on p. 86 of the transcript:

Well, it turned out — that during the testimony a number of members who are typically in favor of a woman’s right to choose an abortion were actually sympathetic to some of the concerns that your — you raised and that were raised by witnesses in the testimony. And there was some suggestion that we might be able to craft something that might meet constitutional muster with respect to caring for fetuses or children who were delivered in this fashion. Unfortunately, this bill goes a little bit further, and so I just want to suggest, not that I think it’ll make too much difference with respect to how we vote, that this is probably not going to survive constitutional scrutiny. Number one, whenever we define a previable fetus as a person that is protected by the equal protection clause or the other elements in the Constitution, what we’re really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a — a child, a nine-month-old — child that was delivered to term. That determination then, essentially, if it was accepted by a court, would forbid abortions to take place. I mean, it — it would essentially bar abortions, because the equal protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an antiabortion statute. For that purpose, I think it would probably be found unconstitutional. The second reason that it would probably be found unconstitutional is that this essentially says that a doctor is required to provide treatment to a previable child, or fetus, however way you want to describe it. Viability is the line that has been drawn by the Supreme Court to determine whether or not an abortion can or cannot take place. And if we’re placing a burden on the doctor that says you have to keep alive even a previable child as long as possible and give them as much medical attention as — as is necessary to try to keep that child alive, then we’re probably crossing the line in terms of unconstitutionality. Now, as I said before, this probably won’t make any difference. I recall the last time we had a debate about abortion, we passed a bill out of here. I suggested to Members of the Judiciary Committee that it was unconstitutional and it would be struck down by the Seventh Circuit. It was. I recognize this is a passionate issue, and so I — I won’t, as I said, belabor the point. I think it’s important to recognize though that this is an area where potentially we might have compromised and — and arrived at a bill that dealt with the narrow concerns about how a — a previable fetus or child was treated by a hospital. We decided not to do that. We’re going much further than that in this bill. As a consequence, I think that we will probably end up in court once again, as we often do, on this issue. And as a consequence, I’ll be voting Present.
"LIMP AND DEAD":
As I understand it, this puts the burden on the attending physician who has determined, since they were performing this procedure, that, in fact, this is a nonviable fetus; that if that fetus, or child - however way you want to describe it - is now outside the mother's womb and the doctor continues to think that it's nonviable but there's, let's say, movement or some indication that, in fact, they're not just coming out limp and dead, that, in fact, they would then have to call a second physician to monitor and check off and make sure that this is not a live child that could be saved. [p. 32 of transcript]
Some of Obama's language is straightforward. He actually uttered the blunt phrase, "to kill a child," and nothing could be clearer than his chilling "limp and dead." But mostly he goes for the euphemisms: "temporarily alive," "previable," and "nonviable fetus."

Kermit Gosnell had his own special terms for what went on in his slaughterhouse. A baby's movements were "reflexes." A breath was a "respiratory excursion." A heartbeat was "pulsation." A baby wasn't born; he "precipitated." (Not inaccurate: many of the children literally fell out of their mothers' birth canals. See p. 33 of report.) And Gosnell didn't kill the babies: he "ensured fetal demise." (Even when they were no longer fetuses.)

Kevin McCullough comments:
The issue was a debate over whether or not Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois (a hospital operated by the denomination of Obama's church) could continue a practice in which a woman's labor could be induced weeks ahead of delivery. Roughly 75% of the children would die in the process, leaving roughly 25% who survived.

Instead of snipping spinal cords, the hospital would leave the children in the now infamous "soiled utility closet" to perish from exposure and neglect. Sometimes these children would expire in 45 minutes. Many times the children would struggle for life for the full 8 hours of a nurse's shift. And on multiple occasions the children would live for nearly a day.

Jill Stanek, one of the pediatric nurses who worked in the department while this practice was on going later testified before Obama's committee.

Obama's response? (According to Stanek?)

Roughly paraphrased: If a woman entered the hospital with the intent of seeking an abortion, then it was the woman's choice to allow that child to live or die. (Should it survive the induced labor.)
(H/t: Ed Morrissey)

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Music break: Song of Bernadette




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January 22, 2011

The brief, painful lives of Baby Boy A, Baby C, and Baby X

Please read the biographies of three babies who lived and died at the Women's Medical Society of Philadelphia. It won't take long.

Baby Boy A:

After an ultrasound was performed on Sue, Gosnell told the aunt that the girl’s pregnancy was further along than she had originally told him, and that, therefore, the procedure would cost more than the $1,500 that had been agreed upon; it would now cost $2,500. (Gosnell normally charged $1,625 for 23-24 week abortions.) The aunt paid Gosnell in cash at the Delaware clinic. He inserted laminaria, gave Sue pills to begin labor, and instructed her to be at the Women’s Medical Center in Philadelphia at 9:00 the next morning.

Sue arrived with her aunt at 9:00 a.m. and did not leave the clinic until almost 11:00 that night. An ultrasound conducted by Kareema Cross recorded a gestational age of 29.4 weeks. Cross testified that the girl appeared to be seven or eight months pregnant. Cross said that, during 13-plus hours, the girl was given a large amount of Cytotec to induce labor and delivery. Sue complained of pain and was heavily sedated. According to Cross, the girl was left to labor for hours and hours. Eventually, she gave birth to a large baby boy. Cross estimated that the baby was 18 to 19 inches long. She said he was nearly the size of her own six pound, six ounce, newborn daughter.

After the baby was expelled, Cross noticed that he was breathing, though not for long. After about 10 to 20 seconds, while the mother was asleep, “the doctor just slit the neck,” said Cross. Gosnell put the boy’s body in a shoebox. Cross described the baby as so big that his feet and arms hung out over the sides of the container. Cross said that she saw the baby move after his neck was cut, and after the doctor placed it in the shoebox. Gosnell told her, “it’s the baby’s reflexes. It’s not really moving.”

The neonatologist testified that what Gosnell told his people was absolutely false. If a baby moves, it is alive. Equally troubling, it feels a “tremendous amount of pain” when its spinal cord is severed. So, the fact that Baby Boy A. continued to move after his spinal cord was cut with scissors means that he did not die instantly. Maybe the cord was not completely severed. In any case, his few moments of life were spent in excruciating pain.

Cross was not the only one startled by the size and maturity of Baby Boy A. Adrienne Moton and Ashley Baldwin, along with Cross, took photographs because they knew this was a baby that could and should have lived. Cross explained:

Q. Why did you all take a photograph of this baby?
A. Because it was big and it was wrong and we knew it. We knew something was wrong.
* * *
I’m not sure who took the picture first, but when we seen this baby, it was – it was a shock to us because I never seen a baby that big that he had done. So it was – I knew something was wrong because everything, like you can see everything, the hair, eyes, everything. And I never seen for any other procedure that he did, I never seen any like that. [. . .]

Gosnell simply noted the baby boy’s size by joking, as he often did after delivering a large baby. According to Cross, the doctor said: “This baby is big enough to walk around with me or walk me to the bus stop.” (p. 103-5)
Baby Boy A's only portrait can be found on p. 105.

Baby C:
When Massof left the clinic in 2008, Lynda Williams took over the job of cutting baby’s necks when Gosnell was not there. Cross saw Williams slit the neck of a baby (“Baby C”) who had been moving and breathing for approximately twenty minutes. Gosnell had delivered the baby and put it on a counter while he suctioned the placenta from the mother. Williams called Cross over to look at the baby because it was breathing and moving its arms when Williams pulled on them. After playing with the baby, Williams slit its neck.
Lynda Williams
When asked why Williams had killed the baby, Cross answered:
Because the baby, I guess, because the baby was moving and breathing. And she see Dr. Gosnell do it so many times, I guess she felt, you know, she can do it. It’s okay. (p. 107)
This baby doesn't even have a letter. Let's call him Baby X:
Adrienne Moton also killed at least one baby by cutting its spinal cord. Cross testified that a woman had delivered a large baby into the toilet before Gosnell arrived at work for the night. Cross said that the baby was moving and looked like it was swimming. Moton reached into the toilet, got the baby out and cut its neck. (p. 107)
Adrienne Moton

(Page numbers refer to the PDF document page numbers, not those typed on the report.)

Cross-posted in the Green Room.

***This version has been slightly edited from the original.

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The other Chinese mother

Not Amy Chua, who has so successfully stirred up controversy and interest in her new book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, with her provocative WSJ piece of last week, Why Chinese Mothers are Superior. With Chinese President Hu Jintao coming to the US this week to meet with President Obama and enjoy a state dinner in his honor, another kind of Chinese mother demands our attention.

Though I take issue with almost everything Chua advocates, from her ends to her means to her ends-justify-the-means philosophy, I have to say this in her defense: She may have occasionally called her daughters "garbage" but she never actually threw them away.

That has been the exact fate of countless female babies born in China. Xinran's Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother documents the horrors of the Chinese culture of death, in which not only the state but sometimes even parents see their babies as offal to be literally thrown to the dogs. Jonathan Mirsky wrote about the book last year:

I know a British couple with a Chinese daughter, pretty and fluent in English. Of course the little girl was adopted. It is necessary to steel one’s self against three agonising thoughts: how did such children come to be here, why does one never meet an adopted Chinese boy, and what does one reply when the adopted Chinese child asks, ‘Why did my real mother let me go?’

There is already substantial information on this subject, including television documentaries, none of it mentioned by Xinran. No one has exposed the scandal of Chinese orphanages, the starting point for the traffic in babies to foreigners — there are now well over 120,000 such children living abroad — better than the Scottish academic and journalist Robin Munro and it would make this troubling book even better had his exposés been noted by Xinran.

But never mind. No bleaker picture exists of the fate of Chinese female infants, whether murdered at birth or abandoned, than Messages from an Unknown Chinese Mother. One woman’s story reveals this black mark in Chinese culture, both traditional and contemporary. She had lived and worked almost her entire life in orphanages, and told Xinran that little girls sometimes arrived there with scars between their legs. Oil lamps or candles had burned them.

The first thing the village midwives did when the baby was born was not to clear its airway but to check [by the light of the lamp or candle] whether it was a boy or girl, because that was what the family wanted to hear. Some of the burns were on the baby’s private parts … 
[. . .]

Mother love is supposed to be such a great thing, but so many babies are abandoned, and it’s their mothers who do it. They’re ignorant. They feel differently about emotions from the way you do. Where I come from, people talk about smothering a baby girl or just throwing it[!]into a stream … to be eaten by dogs, as if it were a joke. How much do you think these women loved their babies?
Other mothers suffer endlessly at the loss of their daughters
Whether as a consequence of the single-child policy, destructive age-old traditions or hideous economic necessity... these women had to give up their daughters for adoption, others were forced to abandon them -- on city streets, outside hospitals, orphanages or on station platforms -- and others even had to watch their baby daughters being taken away at birth, and drowned.
Mark Steyn noted:
When state-of-the-art totalitarianism meets primitive village culture, the result is industrial-scale depravity. 
A variety of human rights advocates plan to protest Chinese president Hu's visit to Washington this week:
Also at the press conference will be Chai Ling, a student leader in the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square that were met with a violent government crackdown. She now runs a nonprofit called All Girls Allowed that battles the one-child policy in China, which has resulted in many parents selectively choosing a male child, and draws awareness to forced abortions that ensure compliance with the policy.
The fleshed-out truth behind "selective choosing" and forced abortions is a nightmare that's impossible for most Americans to comprehend.


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January 21, 2011

Baby Boy A: So big he could "walk me to the bus stop"

Today's must read: Michelle Malkin's report on mass-murderer Kermit Gosnell and the mass cover-up that allowed it to continue for decades:

In the City of Brotherly Love, hundreds of babies were murdered by a scissors-wielding monster over four decades. Whistleblowers informed public officials at all levels of the wanton killings of innocent life. But a parade of government health bureaucrats and advocates protecting the abortion racket looked the other way – until, that is, a Philadelphia grand jury finally exposed the infanticide factory run by abortionist Kermit B. Gosnell, M.D., and a crew of unlicensed, untrained butchers masquerading as noble providers of women’s “choice.” Prosecutors charged Gosnell and his death squad with multiple counts of murder, infanticide, conspiracy, abuse of corpse, theft, and other offenses.
The full, detailed grand jury report is here. How much of a monster is Gosnell?
[Baby Boy A] was breathing and moving when Dr. Gosnell severed his spine and put the body in a plastic shoebox for disposal. The doctor joked that this baby was so big he could "walk me to the bus stop." [Page 8]*
It goes on and on and on, all a natural result of the culture of death ushered in with the legalization of abortion.

***

*Update: I found the full quote on p. 105 of the indictment:
Gosnell simply noted the baby boy's size by joking, as he often did after delivering a large baby. According to Cross, the doctor said: "This baby is big enough to walk around with me, or walk me to the bus stop.
**Update: This isn't the worst joke Gosnell made about the babies he killed. See p.  117 if you can take it. Pure evil.

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January 20, 2011

Parenting wars: The case for unconditional love

Amy Chua's WSJ piece on "Chinese mothers" has stirred up a hornet's nest among parents and I've been wanting to say my piece about it. But let's start with Ben Stein, who says much of it for me:

[Chua's essay] was answered with many letters to the editor pro and con. Then it was answered by an essay from a Jewish mother with the interesting name of Ayelet Waldman. She alleged herself to be indulgent and accommodating, but she also admitted belittling and needling her daughter to tears because the daughter did not get all A's.

Possibly, Ms. Waldman thought she was being cute and funny in saying that she only restrained herself from screaming at the daughter because of her husband's admonitions.

Frankly, I don't think any of this is funny. Screaming at children over their grades, especially to the point of the child's tears, is child abuse, pure and simple. It's not funny and it's not good parenting. It is a crushing, scarring, disastrous experience for the child. It isn't the least bit funny. People who do it belong in prison, not lauded as supermoms.

Nor does it work. I never saw a child who could be tortured into doing better work in school. If such children exist, and maybe they do, they are far more to be pitied for the lifelong scars their confused mothers have inflicted than envied.

Interestingly enough, I will add another caveat: I have never seen a wildly successful adult who got there because his mother made him cry over his grades. Men and women succeed because they find a field of endeavor that matches their interests and abilities. It's that simple. They then motivate themselves and achieve.

I'll go even further. I don't believe the most successful people are the ones who got the best grades, got into the best schools, or made the most money. The most successful ones are those who find peace of mind. If they can do it with mothers who manufacture self-loathing the way Ms. Chua or Ms. Waldman do, it's despite those Moms and not because of them. This whole idea that there is something noble about browbeating your own children is just plain sick.
Amen to that.

It continues to surprise me that liberals and conservatives, Christians and secularists, and everyone in between have so fully bought into behavior modification as their primary parenting philosophy. Christians and conservatives may emphasize the stick, and liberals may give more freely of the carrots, but all are dependent on the use of "reinforcement" to prod, "motivate," and micromanage their kids' behavior.

Experienced parents, if they are honest, will testify to the limited usefulness of positive and negative reinforcement. But they rarely give up on it, so brainwashed are they that their children will never do anything worthwhile if left to their own devices. Parents just keep tweaking the "motivators": Be more consistent, they're advised; try more appealing carrots, or heavier sticks. When, as often happens, parents run out of leverage and hit an immoveable wall, some wish they had based their relationship with their kids on something other than manipulation and power.

Does anyone, particularly Christians and conservatives, ever stop to think about the importance of free will? How about unconditional love?

Allow me to paste in what I wrote a while back at RightNetwork:
Josh grumbles and dawdles when he's told to pick up his toys or do his homework. He has a habit of mistreating his little brother. Jenna can't seem to get herself out of bed on time or keep her room tidy. By the age of twelve the eye-rolling is well underway. At fourteen she barely gives her mother the time of day.

Mainstream parenting books suggest that when the going gets tough, the tough offer carrots and sticks. And if the method fails it's because it hasn't been properly applied. Perhaps Josh acts out because Mom and Dad haven't "motivated" the little guy with a tempting-enough incentive, or hit him hard enough with the stick of "logical consequences."

Though these parenting books don't come right out and say so, their methods are based on behavior modification. The key to getting a child to comply, they say, is the use of positive or negative reinforcement, as if he were a lab rat or a pigeon. I don't know quite how it happened, but sometime in the last forty years or so, B. F. Skinner and his ilk became the go-to guys for parenting advice. Problem is, Skinner's experiments were all done on animals, not human beings. And a child is nothing like a pigeon.

Positive and negative reinforcement as a parenting tool has so thoroughly pervaded our thinking and practice that it's difficult to imagine raising children without it. In the eyes of too many teachers, coaches, and parents, kids are sluggards who would never do a single constructive thing but for the chorus of hollow praise, bribes, and threats running continuously in the background. (If you doubt this, attend a U-10 soccer game this weekend. The "positive reinforcement" is urgent and unremitting.)

There's a dirty little secret veteran parents have discovered: Behavior-mod tricks don't really work very well. When they do work, say, to help a child develop the habit of making his bed every morning, the success achieved extends just as far as the child is willing to acquire the habit, and no further.

Sometimes a reward works well at first. But then the appeal wanes and a new kind of carrot must be offered. Jenna gets a kick out of affixing a smiley sticker to that cheery chart on the fridge after doing her daily chore, but that only lasts a few days. Likewise with negative reinforcement; the parent of an unyielding child may find himself forced to up the ante, successively removing more and more privileges from Josh's life to the point where there's nothing left to take away except things, like playing outside or reading comic books.

Time-outs, a surprisingly ineffective tactic given its near-universal use, will get longer or more frequent when the child isn't compliant. And if Josh's parents believe he's spending his alone time deeply regretting that whack he gave his brother, and making a firm purpose of amendment for the future, well, it's possible, I suppose. But a likelier scenario is that he's stewing in his resentment toward those who have, in his eyes, wronged him. Under different circumstances he might have arrived at some contrition on his own. As it is, he may now see himself as a victim and dwell on ways to get even. Ironically, his time in solitary is teaching him a lesson which is the polar opposite of the one his parents had in mind: the importance of personal responsibility and the golden rule.

Carrot-and-stick parenting takes an external view of the child, focusing too much on his behavior and not enough on his motives or intentions. And it shows little respect for his free will, which is treated as an obstacle to be worked around, subverted or coerced into line, rather than what it really is: a gift that separates human beings from Skinner's pigeons and aligns us with the angels, enabling us to choose virtue over vice, or not. A parent who overrides a child's will to prevent him from choosing vice prevents him from choosing virtue as well.

Parents who see their role as helping their children grow in virtue might want to think twice about the carrot-and-stick approach. But what can they put in its place? The long answer won't fit in this space, but a short one was simply expressed by an unnamed headmaster, commenting on the best way to teach the young: "There is only one system of education, through love and one's own example."
What I was hinting at with that quotation is that the foundation, the bedrock of successful parenting, is the child's certainty that he is loved and accepted no matter what. The child who knows his parents love him for himself alone is one who will be open to the essential guidance he needs from his parents. He will naturally want to please his parents and comply with their wishes. He will accept their values, and their authority, rather than rebel against them. Conversely, the insecure child will often flee or withdraw from the parent, cutting himself off from just the things he needs to grow into maturity: his parents' love, guidance, and discipline.

Following are some explanations and examples of unconditional love. Apologies to regular readers who may recognize much of this from previous posts, but these excerpts speak volumes. First, a critical point from my favorite parenting book, Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate, MD:
Children do not experience our intentions, no matter how heartfelt. They experience what we manifest in tone and behavior. We cannot assume that children will know what our priorities our: we must live our priorities. Many a child for whom the parents feel unconditional love receives the message that this love is very conditional indeed. . . . Unconditional acceptance is the most difficult convey exactly when it is most needed: when our children have disappointed us, violated our values, or made themselves odious to us. . . . (p. 196-7)

An instance of unconditional love from a father:
At some point, the computer froze and I had to shut it down and then it hit me. I realized what a jerk I was. Well, that's not true. I know what a jerk I am. But I realized what a jerk I was today. My seven year old wasn't upset because she got five wrong. She was scared of telling me she got five wrong. I hadn't even taken the time to notice that my seven year old had been circling me the entire afternoon and early evening. Looking to me...for something. And then quickly looking away. Even while cleaning the dishes I noticed her looking at me out of the corner of her eye. I noticed it but I didn't see it, if you know what I mean. She'd been waiting for me to say what I should've said the moment she walked out of school. That no matter what happened I love her. That no matter what happened I'm proud of her. And no matter what happened I think she's the most special seven year old in the world.

This little girl. My little girl. She was waiting for her dopey father to tell her he loved her all day and that it was just a math test. Instead he told her to circle subtraction signs.

I had to face it. I did a lot worse on my test than she did on hers. Sometimes you just think that children know how much we love them. But the harsh words we say I think somehow stick with them longer than many of our kindnesses. Our little cruelties are like splinters. They go in easily, cause pain, and they're very difficult to get out. [emphasis added]
Archbold's complete post here.


Our essential need for unconditional love, from Pope Benedict XVI:
We can love ourselves only if we have first been loved by someone else. The life a mother gives to her child is not just physical life; she gives total life when she takes the child’s tears and turns them into smiles. It is only when life has been accepted and is perceived as accepted that it becomes also acceptable. Man is that strange creature that needs not just physical birth but also appreciation if he is to subsist . . . If an individual is to accept himself, someone must say to him: “It is good that you exist” – must say it, not with words, but with that act of the entire being that we call love. For it is the way of love to will the other’s existence and, at the same time, to bring that existence forth again.

The power of mother-love, from a tribute to the life of the late Christopher Nolan:
He published his first book at 15, a collection of poems appropriately titled “Dam-burst of Dreams.” His second book won Britain’s prestigious “Whitbread Book of the Year:” in 1988. It was called “Under the Eye of the Clock,” a biographical work in which he refers to himself as Joseph Meehan. At one point in the book Nolan writes of crying upon the realization that he is not like other children:

"Looking through his tears he saw [his mother] bent low in order to look into his eyes. `... Listen here Joseph, you can see, you can hear, you can think, you can understand everything you hear. You like your food, you like nice clothes, you are loved by me and Dad. We love you just as you are.' Pussing still, sniveling still, he was listening to his mother's voice. She spoke sort of matter-of-factly but he blubbered moaning sounds. His mother said her say and that was that. She got on with her work while he got on with his crying.

"The decision arrived at that day, was burnt forever in his mind. He was only three years in age but he was now fanning the only spark he saw, his being alive and more immediate, his being wanted just as he was...."
That day looked out through his eyes for the rest of his life. Comfort came in child-like notions, his clumsy body was his, but molested by mother-love he looked lollying looks at his limbs, and liked Joseph Meehan."
Read the rest of Raymond Arroyo's post on Nolan.


A common defense of harsh parenting goes like this: "My parents treated me that way and I turned out just fine." An adult who belittles or bullies his own child might want to re-examine that belief.

Another one: "But kids are so resilient." Well, some are and some aren't. The most resilient kids, who can grow from adversity, are those who feel secure in their parents' love, no matter what. Insecure kids can adapt, too, but the adaptations they make will not always be good for them or society.

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