Sunday, October 31, 2010

Introvertedly Extrovert



I am an oddity.  I am an introverted extrovert.

I can say for certain that most people think I am totally EXTROVERT.  Confident.  Out spoken.  I place my attention on others.  My energy is focused outward. One who enjoys human interaction.  Enthusiastic, talkative, gregarious, taking pleasure in social gatherings.

And these descripters are true.  All except for one.
At times, I have no idea where my confidence goes!  And when it happens, all of the extroverted behavior that I exhibit makes me feel very insecure!  I feel negativity from people instead of encouragement.
It's happening now.
I am hating it.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sibling Rivalry and Homeschooling




SIBLING RIVALRY
Every parent on the planet who has two or more children know this word well.  Most of us can recall our own brushes with sibling rivalry from when we were children.  Children who function in close proximity to one another find themselves wrapped in competition.  I wonder how this trait developed in our species.  Surely I’m not dealing with this one because the ancestors of our species feared that moment when a predator was out for a meal and a mammalian parent had to choose which offspring to protect?!
Suffice it to say that this rivalry is absolutely normal.  Even the intensively competitive feelings that an older toddler can experience when a new baby comes in to the family.  Parents of new infants can be shocked when their older, loving, confident child begins to exhibit wild jealousy and competition with the younger usurper.  Life in these newly growing families can be very untidy, beginning with these young lives causing such difficulty to one another.  Parents watch in shocked wonder when their older children begin exhibiting those rivalry tendencies towards the new little one.

We recently uncovered a VHS movie taken when my youngest was about two and my oldest was about five.  It was amazing to watch the jealousy in my older, previously totally confident daughter!  I wanted to just hold that little one again and remind her that my love is always with her!   And parents can do many things to help sooth some of the pain of that little one going through such large and new feelings.  Eventually, families begin to find their way through these years…

Homeschooling adds some special issues to sibling rivalry.  Children homeschooled together tend to have very close bonds but that doesn’t preclude the rivalry issue.  My own children tend to move through phases of rivalry.  For the most part they get along well, respect one another’s differences, support each other, and recognize their differing personalities and traits.  Usually.

Maybe it is because we don’t have public school peers to encourage distance between the ages and the genders.  I could be wrong about that, but I remember many instances when my peers undermined my close relationships with my little sisters when we were kids!  Maybe it is because homeschooling in our family fosters clear communication, responsibility, and individuality.  Something happens that makes these difficult periods of very short duration and intensity.  I am fairly certain that my EXPECTATIONS of little rivalry has something to do with it.  The kids know that they are expected to respect one another and that they will be respected in turn.

It is our attitude, my husband and I, that I believe is the strongest influence on the kids’ ability to navigate their sibling rivalry as well as they do.  We try to be fair, we acknowledge that one has a right to their own feelings and those feelings are honored, we give them room to deal with their strong feelings and with one another on their own, we make ourselves available for assistance if requested, and we live under the assumption that children will treat one another with respect.

Learning how to deal with conflict, how to maintain dignity, how to express one’s self clearly, how to respect differences in one another, and how to find forgiveness and acceptance and peace again are ongoing lessons in our family.  We talk about peacekeeping often and point out moments of excellence in communication.  We’re not perfect, any of us, but I’m convinced that our focus on positive character traits is preparing the kids to be peacekeepers, confident adults, and loving human beings.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Egg on my Facebook

 

I have some interesting ideas I want to share...but then I chicken out. The fact that some of my friends and acquaintances who are people of faith are actually reading my stuff on Facebook has come to my attention. Out of fear of offending I feel like I'm walking on eggshells. Mincing words. Biting my tongue.

Facebook is the community site.  I mean EVERYBODY is there reading what EVERYBODY ELSE is writing.  I often find great links, great sites, great quotes that I want to post on my Facebook page, but I don't.
I chicken out.

I SAY that I am "out" as an atheist, but when I think about what I do and do not post on Facebook, I realize that I am NOT out.  And I'm bummed about this.

I have many friends and family on Facebook that happily post "Messages from God", "Let's pray for our pets today", and other nonsense and I don't have the courage to post my stuff.
It's embarrassing.

What, exactly, am I fearful of?  My real friends and my family are completely aware that I am an atheist AND being an atheist is something that I am quite proud to be.  (I mean, it was a long road getting here!)  So what is it that stops me?
For one thing, Facebook is totally open.  I find the posting of other people so annoying at times.  Am I fearful of annoying people?  No.  Not really.  I don't post Mafia Wars or that Farm game.  I don't post quizzes.  I seldom repost/share from others.  I'm a pretty innocuous poster.
Anonymity?    Yes, I think this is it.  I have a small business that is frequented by Christians and I fear losing their business...

Well, given that reason, it's fairly understandable.  Right?

Are You Fully ENGAGED?




I've been online for awhile now reading atheist blogs and I'm discouraged.  There are so many ANGRY ATHEISTS.
On one hand, I can totally understand the Christopher Hitchens in many of us.  That vitriolic anger, that refusal to sit back quietly and bite my tongue, that decision to finally let the sarcasm run rampant, the eye roll that has been waiting to happen.

The public debates of religion and other belief systems has reached an all-time high.  I am certain that there has never been such a storm of opinions out there.  The WWW has made it possible for each of us to sit with our selves and to post our deepest beliefs out there in the ether.

For better or worse, we are embroiled in a debate that is unprecedented.
At the same time, I know many atheists who are sitting quietly in their closet, in their cars, at their dinner table, at their desks, quietly being skeptical.  And no wonder.  Posting opinions online is a bit like mooning the world from a passing train...you never know who has your picture or when or where it will show up again.  And it will show up again... 

Does this flurry of verbosity require that we are all fully engaged in the discussion?  Can we sit quietly with the knowledge that we are atheists? 
Must we "come out"?

It's a good question, really.  Because each time we don't speak up to the vocal fundamentalist or to the "Bless You" or to the majority prayer/sermon/message, we are giving our tacit approval, we are allowing the word "Christian" to mean "Good Person".  We are allowing that moment to go by where we might open the door a bit.


I am certain that most atheists are entirely in the closet.  Because "coming out" means facing the furious debate.  It means identifying with that angry atheist out there who is speaking the words we feel but not living in our skin.  It is hard!  It can mean that WE become the face of ATHEIST to someone out there.


I have found that I MUST be "out".  I must be true and honest and proud of the label "ATHEIST".  *I* am the definition of that word for many people and it is important to me to represent that as naturally, comfortably, positively, and joyfully as I can.

Occasionally the stigma is there.  But I can handle it.  Because it is my way to live with integrity.