Haunted By Hostile Huffington Post Commenters

I’m not in the mood for a teachable moment right now, I thought as I sensed Sadie’s reluctance to get in the pool. I’d just spent $10.00 to park and dragged both her and Simon through a snowstorm for the lesson so there was no way I was backing down.  Plus, it took us five minutes to peel off our winter gear.  I needed a rest, and that’s what I planned to do during Sadie’s lesson.

“Let’s go meet the teacher,” I said.

Sadie grabbed my leg and wouldn’t let go, which didn’t feel restful at all.  I hobbled us over to the edge of the pool.  By the time I introduced myself to the instructor, Sadie was full-out bawling.  No words.  Just tears.

“Honey, it’s really important to learn how to swim.  And you’re good at it.  You’re already at level 3.  Let’s give it a try this morning.”

She was having none of it.  She was crying and shaking, her body rigid with resistance.  Somehow she got into the water and the instructor did a little jig with her, but then she was headed back toward the ladder.

I helped her out and weighed my options.  One: I could towel her off, and we could all go home.  Two: I could keep trying to sweet talk her into the pool with promises of improved self-esteem for having faced her fears.  Three: I could go the safety route, reminding her that being safe around water is very important.

As I held her shaking body, I thought of some d-bags I don’t even know.  I had the pleasure of their acquaintance almost a year ago when they deigned to comment on a piece I wrote at The Huffington Post.  Nothing like caustic comments to take the thrill out of publishing for a national, on-line magazine.  My piece there was about Sadie’s struggle a year ago during a dance recital—she’d been excited for the performance, but when it was curtain time, she froze and steadfastly refused to perform.  I didn’t force her; I felt proud that she was able to say No in the face of the pressure to perform.  I speculated that the No I saw in Sadie might one day keep her from turning to drugs because of peer pressure or dancing topless for a living or saying yes to sex with someone when really she wants to say No.

Some commenters saw it differently.  They saw in me a mother who let her daughter “cop out,” thereby depriving her of the chance to learn commitment.  According to their comments, I was a weak-willed sissy who was fostering the same defect of character in my daughter.

I didn’t know I carried those people with me still until I was poolside faced with another of Sadie’s refusals.

Would those commenters have me throw a shivering four-year old back into a pool against her will? Maybe.  Am I supposed to threaten and shame her into the pool?  We paid for these lessons!  Why are you being a crybaby about this?  I couldn’t imagine saying that to Sadie under any circumstances, much less in the face of her obvious terror.

The better question was: Why was I letting some anonymous strangers dictate my parenting?  Why do they get a say in this?

I wouldn’t call our exit from the natatorium victorious or triumphant.  But we weren’t defeated either.  We simply left, having agreed that we’ll take a break from swimming lessons for a little while.  I’m not sure if I taught Sadie anything that day, but I learned that my loyalty belongs to her, and not to Anonymous, whose pastimes include offering negative feedback to strangers on-line.


173 thoughts on “Haunted By Hostile Huffington Post Commenters

  1. Everybody has advice on how to raise everyone else’s kid. You know what? Kids are individuals and there’s something to be said for letting them speak their peace instead of being so harsh with them. I’ve taken to letting my kids express their opinions and try to work out their problems on their own. My 4 year old, for example, won’t eat a fruit or veggie. He won’t even put it in his mouth because he says he doesn’t like them. I think it’s a texture thing, but what are we gonna do? Force him to eat shit he doesn’t want? I won’t eat a mushroom or eggplant, even for a million dollars, so I get it. Well, maybe for a million, but I won’t chew it.

      • I just started reading a book about how to talk to kids so they’ll talk to you or something. It’s sort of interesting. Basically says to listen. If your kid says she’s afraid, then she’s legitimately afraid so don’t dismiss her feelings so fast. You know, psychobabble.

      • This is very good to read. You were strong not to let other people’s comments be your “jimmini crickets”. If your child is clearly unhappy, then, they are clearly unhappy and no parent can allow for that.

      • I don’t think forcing is ever the right way. What worked for us were – options. Since I’m sure you don’t want your kids to be obese and sick (‘cos I’m guessing they do love the taste and the texture of all kinds of sweets, cakes etc.), why don’t give them options. They need to eat some healthy foods, obviously, so they could make their own list. It’s like a contract, almost. Or you make a list of, for example, 15 veggies and 15 fruits, and they could choose 5 from each and write them on their own list of things they like and agree to eat without fussing. Of course, desserts are served not instead of the meal but as little sweet reward for eating the foods from the list nicely. Kids’ taste changes all the time and what is disgusting this year could be their favorite the next. No forcing, just options. We also have a rule that everything has to be at least once tasted before going “Uhg Yuck”. Sometimes getting the kids involved in the whole process, from food shopping (they can choose and pick things they like, from their own lists) to cooking, gives them a whole new perspective and sparkles a new interest in trying (new)things. Personally, I feel that forcing is out of the question, just as getting any fast food is, but I would try and do just about anything to get my kid to develop the love for good food and to eat well. After all, our children’s health and lives depend on it.

    • To all those with morals and to all those who love all children, that this David J. Glass Esq. PhD would giggle & laugh at me while waiting to see the judge. Shortly after this attached letter dated 2-12-2012 was received by the community of Malibu, CA this David J. Glass Esq. PhD conspired to injure a 3rd party (myself) , suborned perjury and falsified evidence just before he closed down his practice and went to FMBK Law.The CA State Bar has just received a 2nd complaint regarding this matter.


      2-12-12 Mr. Graham J Miller


      To The Principals of Malibu Elementary Schools and To Whom it may concern within the LAUSD and SMMUSD administrations, Directors or other persons.
      Dear Sir Madam or MS,

      I am writing to you firstly as a parent. I have a child in a Malibu public school. I am also writing as a Citizen, and therefore concerned in a more global manner with issues that I personally find disturbing and relevant. I believe a possible failure to perform to ethical codes of several professions, let alone what any normal person may find to be reasonable is about to, and could in the future lead to embarrassment, public consternation and at best a complete lack of faith ,trust and confidence in the above agencies.

      I have recently been informed by my daughter Lily-Jane Faith Miller that her mother has taken her out of Callahan elementary (Northridge); and she is now at some school in Malibu district. (Grade 2)

      My reasons for my concern follow.

      Within the Malibu school district there is a teacher, (C Cullen) who has accused her ex-husband of two counts of sexual abuse of their son, and 5 other counts of abuse of their son (11). This alleged abuse according to Ms. Cullen and her Attorney took place over the past 5 years.

      I would like a notation in my daughter’s file that she is never to be placed in class with the above person as her “(my daughters)” teacher. I apologize in in that I amenable to provide more details on my daughter’s whereabouts (school) but her Mom has not provided that info. I’m sure Dr Jacob the principal at Callahan would be able to assist.

      In MS Cullen’s divorce and custody case she utilized the services of a Mr. D Glass Esq.(Attorney) Mr Glass is also a PhD in Psychology .Mr. Glass was also utilized by the mother of my daughter, Lily -Jane in my own divorce and custody matter. Mr. Glass a Psychologist/ Attorney and mandated reporter saw fit to bring allegations of sexual abuse of a child and 4 allegations of other forms of abuse of MS Cullen’s son Sammy before family court. These all were investigated by the Police DCFS, and the District Attorney. They were found to be without either Medical or Credentialed 3rd party verification and closed therefore as unsubstantiated. These allegations were brought by MS Cullen via the services of Mr. Glass and occurred regularly before the summer school break on a yearly basis. MS Cullen had also recently remarried a Mr Brian Winsick another Teacher and coach in the Conejo Valley. Their marriage took place just prior to the allegations beginning.

      I will now outline my concerns and reasons for the request of the notation in my daughters file.

      It is my belief that the relationship between this teacher Ms. Cullen and her attorney and my own ex-wife and the same attorney is cause for reasonable concern. That to avoid any unfortunate incident where god forbid I was to be accused by my daughter’s mother of something similar as MS Cullen accused her ex-husband of it is imperative no establish able link is in place as could lead to suspicion of collusion. The worst case scenario that Ms. Cullen at some time becomes my daughters teacher and subsequently claims are made that perhaps my daughter had inferred to MS Cullen that I had abused her ( Lily-Jane) and MS Cullen then could relate this to my daughters mother through their mutual attorney, or contact at school is beyond horrific. I feel the separation of my daughter and this teacher protects LAUSD/SMMUSD and my daughter and me.

      In a more global sense I am concerned that a teacher married to another teacher and coach and an attorney who is also licensed as a psychologist made no attempt to make aware the LAUSD or the SMUSD of their concerns. (Two allegations of Sexual abuse and five other allegations of abuse.) Surely some ethical codes of their respective professions would demand other relevant or parties who could be impacted be advised.

      When a teacher finds the resources to pay $500 an hour to a Beverly Hills Attorney for 5 years surely there is a need for verification that such allegations will bring in terms of the expenses the County and State will bear during the protracted conflict. Especially if the accused has been made indigent by the continued claims and has suffered stress or work issues stemming from such accusations and is no longer paying taxes.

      As a parent I certainly would be outraged if I knew my child’s teacher was aware of a legitimate abuse situation and if, as in this case it included Sexual Abuse allegations and that teacher did nothing to bring attention to it as could protect other children I would expect answers. Specifically why and how a person(s) (2 Teachers, (Coach), An Attorney/Psychologist) would go ahead and consciously disregard accusations of such a serious nature, and then they having brought these allegations before family court and the district attorney go ahead and let other parents arrange activities with the person they were accusing of abuse in a manner as would expose other children to the accused.

      What is more disturbing and I expect the press will find disturbing is that repeated allegations of this nature are often utilized in family conflicts and that this is acceptable is in fact a failure of morality within our society. I believe this failure may have had a profound societal impact.

      That the failure of an application of evidentiary standards as are normally applied in criminal matters may have allowed credentialed persons possibly with questionable motive to use family court in a manipulative and deceitful way to achieve their own ends appears to me to be worthy of consideration.

      This epidemic of claims of abuse of children caught in such situations, (family breakups) versus children, who suffer actual abuse , desensitizes the general public and governmental agencies and allows real and dangerous criminals to hide and operate with virtual impunity in our society. It is beyond Peter and the Wolf it is an ongoing crime against humanity. To falsely perpetrate something that I believe leads to what we are now facing in the LAUSD and SMMUSD and may have exacerbated, perpetuated and indeed by lack of action condoned events and actions that possibly has led to emotional; mental and even physical harm to any child is heinous.

      I believe because of the actions as I have described many prior red flags have been ignored in many abuse situations and much suffering and harm and expense could have been avoided if a less commonplace attitude of children was the norm.

      Indeed in the immediate situation with (C Cullen, B Winsick )either the allegations were scurrilous and a product of vitriol, and an attorney(PhD Psych) with who knows what motivation (7 Claims) and that these claims were worthy of public expense .Or these persons were aware the claims they were bringing were false and therefore not worthy of reporting to LAUISD/SMUSD or other parents.? The alternative is an admission of negligent lack of reasonable due diligence and surely a great lack of concern for the school both pupils and other teachers and parents has been flagrantly displayed in total disregard for the safety and welfare of minors. Whether this is or should be a concern for the bond holders of these persons I do not know. Mr. Glass, Glass family Law and former associate of (Kolodny & Anteau) One of the most respected family law firms in the United States (Mel Gibson Getty, etc.) has been investigated by the CA Bar already in this matter and while the complaint was not upheld a letter suggesting the possibility of civil redress was issued by them.

      The APA also found he did no wrong apparently within their own ethics code.

      The fact remains an Attorney/Psychologist and a Teacher and a Teacher/Coach surely have some duty to the community. The positions of trust and respect they are afforded should allow the general public a reasonableness within their expectation of propriety and protection of the innocent by such credentialed persons.

      Perhaps the LAUSD/SMUSD could incorporate or suggest to the CA Bar a cooperative relationship of a professional nature that would allow this protection to be afforded our children as well as draft a code for the LAUSD/SMUSD’s own employees in such situations.

      Certainly recent events could lead one to surmise that a better clarified way of maintaining the safety and welfare of our children, from both bonifide and false claims of abuse would be helpful. The harm that both real and imagined events can bring to families, as well as collateral persons and an institution such as children’s learning environment should be minimalized at all times.

      Sincerely Yours,

      Graham J Miller.

      885 Avenue of the Americas

      Penthouse 1A

      New York. NY. 10001

  2. Do not listen to those crazy commenters, you are doing the right thing. I think the issue of learning “commitment” comes later when a child is older. A preschool aged child is not going to learn anything from being forced to “perform” IMHO. Now, my older daughter, who’s in 3rd grade, is learning lots of lessons about committing to teams, activities, etc., and following through b/c she is old enough to get it. With the little ones, you just have to do what you can to get through the day 🙂 That’s my two cents…

  3. Isn’t it insane that anonymous commenters can get in your head like that? I had that issue, too. You think writing for such a big outlet will be nothing but roses, but then the anonymous a-hole commenters creep in…

  4. Oh, how I know THOSE comments, having received some just this week. I relish them now. They stir up conversations. I’ve realized that when I get those comments, I’ve made people think and some people don’t like it when they have to think. It makes them cranky and then they leave ugly misspelled comments. Keep making people think Christie!

    • Well, that’s a tall order but of course you are right. They belong to me and I am the final authority. I wish my husband agreed with that part! Ha!

      On Tue, Dec 17, 2013 at 10:20 AM, Outlaw Mama

  5. When you discuss your parenting online, you’re essentially inviting strangers to pass judgement, but that doesn’t mean anyone has the right to be hostile. The civility and discretion that are normally present in face-to-face interactions often melts away in an online exchange, even when the parties are not anonymous. Not being able to look the other person in the eye robs us of the ability to gage someone else’s emotions and mood and allows to ascribe the worst possible motives to another’s behavior. That’s why I’ve started making frequent use of the Unfriend Button on Facebook.

  6. The worst part is I have trouble distinguishing the comments from my own voices. Or maybe that’s because the comments that stay with me are the ones that sound the same as my own harsh critic. It’s time we put both of them to bed…

  7. Here’s a perfect example, when kid 1 was born you put them on there stomach (yes I am aging myself), when kid 2 was born, your put them on their back, when kid 3 was born you put them on their side when kid 4 was born – guess what I forgot? He got thrown in his crib with the baby monitor on and the door shut. He’s 10 and he’s probably the best one. Well kid 2 is doing pretty good too, point is every one has an opinion it’s the parent who has to decide what’s right for THIS particular kid. I’ve read books too, one says be your kids friend, one says be a drill sgt. It’s what the the trend is at the moment. Helicopter parent or free range parent. You have to be the kind of parent you are – yourself.

  8. Swimming is tricky. I think that forcing a kid to get into the water when she is really scared of it might ultimately do more harm then good. It could make her more afraid when the goal is to teach her to be comfortable and safe around the water. I think you made the right choice. The older she gets, the less fear there will be.

  9. I’m definitely in the “you wanted these lessons and we paid a lot of money for them and you’ll love it” camp. I’m such a tyrant that it works in most cases, and then they’re happy. Is it worth it? No idea — but that’s my parenting style. Just mine. Other people should do what works for them.

      • What makes things REALLY interesting is when you start seeing 4 children from the same 2 parents, raised pretty much the same way all react COMPLETELY differently to the parenting style!

        24 years into this thing and I’ve been done with “10 Steps to -” whatever, “they” say (who are they, anyway?), and I’ve finally started to learn there is no “right” way to do this thing called parenting. Hardest and most rewarding job I’ll ever have – and I’ll take all the joy and guilt that comes with it. 🙂

        Great post – thanks for sharing!

      • Actually, I was referring to my family of origin. I’m just now starting to see the differences in my 3 kids (24, 22, 14), but it’s hard to make determinations like that until folks actually grow up! lol There were 4 kids in my family and I’m the baby. Easy for me to analyze… hehe

  10. Obligatory Penny Arcade webcomic (warning, 4-letter bombs):

    As much as I want to believe that individuals grow up and mature with age– nope, I am disappointed. Grown adults can act just as snotwadded on the Internet as children learning to trash-talk. Besides Facebook, these “adults” tend to spew on news sites like the Huffington Post. Unlike the kids, they are usually much more aware of the impact of their words (they want you to feel bad). Don’t get me wrong, though. If I had an article published, I’d be bothered, too.

    And then… well, some people are a little too free with their parenting advice offline. *sigh* Whatever. They usually don’t know all the context before flapping their lips.

  11. I was mean mom. Weekly swimming was mandatory for my kids, year round from age 3 until they could swim two laps of every stroke (in my oldest’s case. my youngest is still swimming: checking out competitive). I had a few weeks of crying with the oldest. But all of our vacations were around water, so I held firm. I let them quit other sports or activities if they wanted. Just not swimming.

    But, it rubs me that anyone would try to tell you what’s right for you. We all have different parenting styles. And it’s all fine as long as the kids are loved and safe.

  12. I lean toward being a “tough love” mom, but even I pick moments that require tenderness. Yes, they need to learn to swim, but they can’t become afraid of the water. I longed for mine to stick with lessons so they could eventually lifeguard. They can both swim such that I can read a book at the pool, but I’ve given up on lessons (and plenty of other stuff!).

  13. I’m glad you didn’t listen to the commenters in your head. I don’t know what is wrong with people that they feel they can be so critical of others just because you’re not face to face with them.

  14. Important stuff here. I always try to remember – you can’t please everyone so you have to please yourself. Or, in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt – do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway.

  15. call me weak-willed whatever, i’m not into forcing my kid to do something they obviously don’t want to do – especially at 4 – and i’m okay with that. and i’ll take the mushroom eggplant casserole. sounds yum.

  16. I firmly believe that all of the very worst parenting decisions I ever made (and there were lots) happened when I stopped listening to my gut and tried doing what I thought I was “supposed to” do. There’s a wonderful children’s book called Heckety Peg in which the mother saves her children from a witch’s spell because she knows exactly what each child needs most.

  17. For me, as a mom it can sometimes feel like a fine line between “indulging” and “allowing.” Each kid is different, each situation is different, and only you, as her parent, can make the call for that moment. You are the one who can best relate and identify with that part of her that is genuine, certainly not some naysayer on the HuffPost sidelines. Good call.

    • That’s right. I didn’t feel like walking that line between enabling her fears to take over her and indulging them and teaching her that she might have fun where she least expects it. I hate those lessons.

  18. No unsolicited parenting advice here. No negative judgmental comments, either. It sounds to me like you are doing okay parenting. I made a report card for you.

    Taking a child to swim lessons to learn water safety: A+.
    Listening to your child, so she knows she was being heard: A+.
    Developing trust: A+.
    (see below)

    If you ask me (I know you didn’t), Sadie learned she could trust you, when you responded to what sounds like a moment when she was experiencing some fear (for whatever reason). She has also learned she needs to be safe around water (lesson: A+).

    Sounds like you made the Honor Roll!

  19. oh sweet Sadie. I could FEEL her fear in this piece and am so glad you could too. I know it’s great to teach lessons and all that jazz, but she’s four. Can’t it be okay to give her some extra loving if she needs it, too? Sheesh, I hate the internets some times.

  20. I think the hostile comments are what drives me away from ever submitting to a large site like HuffPo… I don’t trust myself to follow the advice of “Don’t read the comments!”

  21. All parents should be able to do what they feel is right for their children. There are always people who think they know better. It’s a shame that the minority like to put doubts and negativity into the minds of others. Parenting is hard enough without all that rubbish too. Good on you for doing what you thought was right for your child.

  22. I read this artical and then, ironicly had a talk with my step mom, who is the topic of this comment.

    When i was 10 when my brother was born. Perfect little angel (he couldn’t walk, so that made him perfect). Then, when he was 2, he was forced to do things. So what did he do when he didnt want to do something? Well what do we do when he does something we dont want him to? We give him little hits or small slaps, nothing to hurt him, just to shock him. But what did he start doing? Hit. Punch. Kick. Scratch. Pinch. Even rarely, bite. I still have scares. Basicly: Trying to teach a child too early can REALY take a tole on both them AND you; Mentally AND physically.

    My brother (his name is Mason), still kicks and hits (thank god he stopped bitting) but now its out of random and for no reason! The outbursts have gone down in the past year, but every now and then, once or twice a month, ill be sitting down, mi ding my own business when out of nowhere…

    BAM! Im knocked over. I feel little hits in my leg. When i look up, i see him digging his scull into my thigh. It doesnt stop untill ive got his head between my knees and hes yelling: “Stop sissy! Stop! Please!”

  23. Reading this I was rooting hard for you two to get the hell out of there. Glad you did. You daughter WILL swim eventually. In the meantime… it’s a bit chilly for boating, anyway. Made me wonder about my own “anonymous” judgements of other parents. Clearly, you and I are on the same page regarding what really matters in this situation. But when I see a four year old who has mastered any number of video games on a iPad, I’m totally judge-y– not in a I’m going to post mean things about it on line way, but internally totally judge-y. I should probably stop that.

    (My kid didn’t swim until he was 7. Didn’t ride a bike without a spotter until 3rd grade. He was scared. I didn’t insist. And the world kept turning.)

    You’re super fun and now I need to read more more more of your stuff. xoxo

  24. When my son was around 4 years old he was deathly afraid of the water. He had one lesson and I had to put and end to any future lessons. He just wouldn’t cooperate with the instructor, and held on fearfully. So I told him when he was older I would teach him how to swim in the creek behind the house. He doesn’t really swim much nowadays. We only taught him the puppy dog paddle, swimming underwater and swimming on his back.

  25. “According to their comments, I was a weak-willed sissy who was fostering the same defect of character in my daughter.” Fuckery! It’s those same people that would be the first to say shit like, “You’ve got to be your own man. Don’t listen to other people tell you how to live, live your own life.” And yet, when you try to imbue your daughter with some autonomy of her own, you get scalded. Follow your own inner-voice… but only if it suits what I tell you to do. Yeah, great advice, proverbial douche-brick person. You are you, your daughter is her. Not that my opinion means cheese balls, cause it doesn’t, but leaving space for kids to grow, on their own accord, is the best thing that a parent can do for her child. Be sun. Be water. Be darkness. And let the seed grow. Huzzah for you, random lady person.

  26. It has been my experience that adults without children always seem to have ‘advice’ on how one should raise a child. The favourite expression starts with “If that was my kid . . .” and is usually followed by some advice gleaned from a psychology text, written by middle class psychology professors about they hoped to raise their own kids. (Do you think any self respecting parent would let a stranger conduct experiments on their kids? Certainly not!)

    Given the limited sample size, I would venture that these psychological theories only work if you are a child of middle class psychology professor. The rest of us parents know everyone else is excluded.

  27. Every child is different and every situation is too. Sometimes you have to pick the battles and let the others go. I would want my children to enjoy swimming so I would not force it myself.

  28. I have to say this has given me a new perspective on my own mother. How she must have felt when I wanted to quit something. She let me quit anything I wanted. And I learned early that when things got scary I could stop but it wasn’t until my later 20’s that I had to teach myself to be a “finisher”…. Although I enjoyed the security of being able to back out of things, I think it hindered me a lot in the long run. I guess it’s all about balance. My household didn’t have much of that. And screw the haters!

  29. I’m afraid I only made it halfway through the comments, but I wanna say I support you totally. I’m just plain, anti-force and especially anti-punishment. I don’t agree with all the “individual approaches for individual kids” stuff, I think there’s a right way and a wrong way to parent, and force and punishments are always the wrong way, while love, patience, and communication are always the right way. It’s all I blog about. Punishment is abuse, Abuse with an Excuse. Keep up the good fight.

  30. Swimming lessons on a winter day :-). That may not be the reason your daughter did not want to go into the water, in any case I think it is great you went home. There will be plenty of time for swimming lessons, the important lesson for you daughter that day: she matters and you listen to her and not to certain people who feel the need to voice their opinion and hand out advice.

  31. “Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.” – Thomas Edison (I think he was generous, quite honestly.)

    Outlaw Mama – I feel your pain. You have nothing over which to be ashamed. Good work!

  32. From North Sweden on a cold December evening…the hapless browsing led me to this blog. Now I am breathless and happy and wish I could sit down and have coffee with all of you, talking about how little it matters when other folks try to tell about what to do with the kids.
    I have done everything in my parenthood exactly opposite to how my parents did because I hated my childhood. I turned out okay for some reason, and so did my kids.
    All love to you from a very wintry little house in the woods and


  33. Ugh, so many judgmental haters out there on the internet! Someone people forget to put themselves in another’s shoes, and to THINK before they type. Super dangerous. I’m not surprised they stayed with you for years, I’ve had a similar experience that I will not soon forget! But good for you for doing what’s best for you and your child. It’s not anyone else’s place.

  34. Pingback: Sad To Hear Hate On My Kids’ Lips | Outlaw Mama

  35. You know… you pick your battles with kids. Sometimes a toe in at a time makes things more comfortable in the beginning and eventually the toe becomes both feet. I think you made the right decision choosing your daughter over some d-bags who have been rattling around quietly in your head for a year. You know your kids best and know what response they will have and whether it is right for them or not. Good on ya @outlawmama!

  36. You did make the most of a teachable moment. You taught her that she can trust you, and that’s an enormous achievement. Screw the people who know all. Kudos to you!!

  37. P.S. Congrats on being freshly pressed! My previous comment was mostly about struggling with kids who won’t eat veg and fruit etc., but I forgot to mention that, of course, you did the right thing not forcing your terrified child to do what scared her the most at that moment. I just wish you wouldn’t pay so much attention to those anonymous commentators. On the other hand, if it wasn’t for them, you probably wouldn’t have written this great article 🙂

  38. P.S. Congrats on being freshly pressed! My previous comment was mostly about struggling with kids who won’t eat veg and fruit etc., but I forgot to mention that, of course, you did the right thing not forcing your terrified child to do what scared her the most at that moment. I just wish you wouldn’t pay so much attention to those anonymous commentators. On the other hand, if it wasn’t for them, you probably wouldn’t have written this great article 🙂

  39. There’s definitely irony here. These nasty commenters could be behaving the way they do, because some years ago, when these commenters were kids themselves, their parents may have been too permissive in allowing mean behavior toward others from their offsprings.

    I do agree with not forcing your daughter to swim. I think the best way is to take her places where she would see kids playing in the water and having fun and keep telling her she needs to learn how to swim before she can participate; eventually she’ll beg you to give her swimming lessons 🙂

  40. I just stumbled on to your blog and I have to say this was an awesome first post to read by you. You are a fantastic writer and a great parent, bravo! Can’t wait to read more!

  41. Bravo for you. You are raising your kids with love and that’s all that matters. My daughter is the shyest person I’ve ever met and she backs out of some things that she looks forward to, because of that. I was shy too as a kid; I hid behind a towel that was hanging on the pool fence during my first ever swim lesson. Now I’m no longer shy, just stuck-up. 😉 I think shy kids should be allowed to be that way. I think speech class, required speech class, that is, any time before college, amounts to child abuse. Yeah, call me crazy, I don’t care. What I mean to say is that I enjoyed this blogpost, and obviously you are doing the right thing.

  42. My daughter is 2 and I have to learn to block everyone’s “opinions” out especially those in my family who are the worst offenders. It is sad really, I think most people have good intentions, but then their are just the straight up haters! I wish people would stop judging, but I am afraid it is just the dark side of human nature : (

  43. You are a wonderful parent. So in tune with the greater essence of you child. I, too, remember as a child being forced into the pool against my panic and trembling fear. But for me (my parents never knew) it was about the instructor, not the water. I hope Sadie one day learns to swim, in the pool and out. But be absolutely sure you know why she was afraid.

  44. Don’t you just love how people are so judgmental and forthright with their opinions when it comes to parenting? Many parents feel as if they are on show when they are out with their children and they often feel they are being judged for everything. Everyone has an opinion, probably because parenting is a fairly universal experience. But I’m learning not to worry what others think. Easier said than done sometimes.

  45. My eldest is a cautious guy. A watcher. Always has been. First year of swim lessons he refused to get in the pool. We went to every class, dressed, and say watching. Second year he got in but refused to participate. Third year he did a little. Fourth year he swam like a fish.

    I started him early for safety reasons but never pushed because there is just no reason to play the “I’m big so you have to” game with preschoolers. And he swam when he was ready.

    Never, never read the comments at HuffPo. Have someone email you only the useful comments.

  46. I came across your blog on Freshly Pressed and I gotta follow now. My oldest HATED the pool until my sister got in the pool and taught her how to swim at 3.5. I did the Mommy and Me class a couple times, but she was so terrified that I couldn’t continue. With the pool, I wanted her to have a healthy respect for water and that meant me respecting her fear. My second was a fish from birth. Lol The struggle with her was to keep her from letting go of me until she was capable of swimming alone. My oldest is now a fish and loves to swim. She also has a healthy fear. As for the commentators… I wouldn’t go up to a stranger with my judgemental comments and nasty remarks because you chose to go to a public place with your child. So why do people think it’s ok to do so online because you choose to write about your parenting experiences? (There was a comment above basically saying you brought the comments on yourself.) Even in public, I’m anonymous to you the same as you are to me. It baffles me how nasty some people can be, especially when talking about someone else’s parenting. I loved your report card commenter! Keep on writing! At least you are parenting with an awareness of why you’re choosing to do XYZ instead of pareting because so and so did and so and so’s kid turned out ok. 😉

  47. A few years ago, my step-daughter would refuse to go to swim lessons but didn’t mind playing in the pool as long as her head stayed above water. I bought one of those $200 pools from Wal-mart so we could spend time in it. When she was comfortable in the pool in the yard, I asked her why she didn’t want to go to swim lessons. She said someone (probably someone in an older generation) told her they would just throw her in the water and let her figure out how to swim. I’m sure you’ve heard the old phrase. It took all of a weekend for me to convince her they wouldn’t do that and to show her how the same program taught me how to swim. Finally, she went home that week and told her mom she was ready for swim lessons. Waiting until she is calm and asking her what is causing the fear hasn’t solved all of her fears, but it has helped a lot of them. Just sharing our story. You were absolutely right in both instances you described in your story. I’m sure she’ll outgrow fears like that as the ideas are re-introduced.

  48. Great story. Sadly, there are people in this world who don’t feel like they make a difference in the world. If they did, they wouldn’t use their words to hurt other people. They would use their words to make the world a better place by making people feel more confident and loved and accepted. Like you did with your daughter. Thank you for making the world a better place!

  49. It is crazy what we hold onto without realizing it. I’ve suffered the same phenomena of having a random persons comment (people so unimportant to me I can’t conjure a face or name) pop into my head when struggling with a decision or response. The way we handle and raise our children is especially sensitive to this. Will this be something we always struggle with? I only hope that, like you, I won’t allow them to hijack my decisions. This is just one of those life skills we have to develop I suppose…

  50. I was so glad to see you didn’t force her to get back in. Although next time you do swimming lessons, see if the coach will let you join in the pool. Maybe having a familiar comforting person beside her will help ease her mind. I had to take baths with my son for a year before he would sit in the tub alone… I’m glad you listened to your child’s needs. It’s sad that more people don’t do that. But they expect others to listen to them and care about their feelings. Doesn’t make sense. Kids are human beings to. They are just smaller, innocent, and more fragile.

  51. 3-13-13
    Child abuse by design
    Dear Ken ,

    It’s been more than a year since the letter of 2/12/12 and the apparent subsequent closing shortly thereafter of Glass Family Law. I understand he is now not promoting himself as uniquely blended in Psychology and Law but is at another firm doing probate work. Interestingly enough his resume at FMBK Law has claims of credentials I understand you believe are false based upon you direct written response from organizations Mr. Glass claims to be a member or associated with. Who does that reflect upon him or the diligence and propriety of the firm which now employs him?
    It occurred to me that the complete contrast in our cases is almost deafening in the way it shouts hypocrisy, maleficent practices, and flat out perjuries within statements written under penalty of perjury and oral statements within hearings and written statements within submitted briefs screams of the manipulation of parents. This IMHO by attorney’s, the bench and minor’s councils within the family court system in CA at least. Given I was asked to waive my Fifth Amendment Rights in family court? And did so .The issuance of restraining orders on both of us within 3 weeks of my letter of the 12 of February under quote Justice Convey in your instance (“by the slimmest of margins”)one has to wonder at the coincidence…Right? Of course I was judged as having stalked by proxy because I hired a PI to prove my daughter was being housed with a felon (cultivating under a Federal Indictment),,, and the mother knew it.
    Indeed in your instance you were falsely accused of molestation by the mother of your son seven ( 7) times and then of stalking (8th)when the child was too old to falsely accuse the father of abuse .I note your minors council never interviewed your child even though Sammy was ten (10) . In your case no abuse took place yet you were put on monitored visitation and visitation reduced to police station pick-ups permanently. It would seem logical Ken that at some time you become a safe parent. When is that after your four (4th) parenting class? Or after the third 3rd interview with the District Attorney’s Office. How about after the 8th sheriff or 13th DCFS investigations. What grade gives you a pass? Or is it like our friend who ponied up a Million dollars.
    In my case I alleged that the mother was negligent or deliberately sub parenting in a manner as was provocative .Lj was taken to UCLA med center at three & half (3 ½) .and on morphine and intravenous feeding for 6 weeks after the neighbors call the police because they could hear her screaming. I had previously stated the mother did not have the skills or empathy and may have been suffering some mental distress.
    Then two (2) years later numerous blood noses (daddy don’t put sunscreen on …its very sore) and Minors counsel accused me of overreacting etc. Yet my daughter now is showing a scar across her nose as her face has grown. Also when the symptoms that caused the first hospitalization reoccurred I took Lj to the Doctor without custodial privileges and was again accused of being alarmist yet the child’s diet was immediately changed by the mother and things improved.
    Not forgetting being accused of 10K in support arrears that the judge threw out as falsified spreadsheet CSSD said I never owed anything. As well as the LCSW saying the Mothers accusation I yelled at our daughter and threw a phone at her was a work of fiction. Perhaps that is why we have a letter from the Bar suggesting we pursue “civil action”.
    Given all this I am the one who is separated and monitored.
    My point is you are not a molester as the DA stated yet you are punished and to the opposite I can prove the mother has been ,may still be or is a least using sub care of my child in a provocative manner where my child may be suffering yet I am punished,. Quote (LCFS,,‘ The Mother is not currently negligent”)
    Finally we have our friend who only after paying a million dollars was taken of monitoring, all accusations and interference stopped and can see his children when he wants.
    Here is the situation Given the violence in society killings in families, how much damage has been done to children and women, mothers Fathers parents and extended family by the propagation of this kind of duplicitous behavior within what seems to be a culture of deceit built around self-aggrandizing and financial self-serving that in fact amounts to fiscal abuse of children. What training skills and so on are lost in funneling the parent’s income to third party leeches using false or manipulated circumstances to serve their own interests?
    In my case I spent more than $ 47,072 seeing my daughter for twelve ( 12) hours each month for the last year.
    I kept my second residence in California, (rent) paid child support, Airfare from NY once a month air fare for a weekend from oversees and monitor costs including the monitors meals , go-cart rides, Taxis/transportation , lunches, entertainment, getting around, clothes, toys, books & games and adventures that I as her father are able to spend upon the daughter that I have raised!
    What type of enhanced opportunities could a different approach have made?
    If fathers are the enemy what will mothers become once a more robotic agenda is achieved .They will be phased out as well. Women should consider the short amount of time science is giving them to make the correct adjustments to this situation and police their own ranks from peers lawyers and malevolent individuals who care little for children, and will eventually throw mothers to the wayside in preference of the state. I mean do little girls really need to be born with a womb anymore?
    The societal cost of the emotional and mental anguish to children and subsequent family killings from person caught up in this situations is surely not worth the salaries of a the firms and government agencies who benefit from this culture…>All mothers, children and Fathers are at risk and more so daily as those uneducated to the manner they will be manipulated and have their conflict orchestrated to the fiscal advantage of others.

    My being asked to waive my 5th in family court because a stated somebody was a dead man walking, professionally speaking .It would seem I know what I’m doing as David J. Glass Ph.D. is now hobbled from abusing any more families and a judge who asks me if I wished merry Christmas to a Jewish Lawyer as a hateful gesture seems to be setting me up for something, especially since you had received notices mailed to your residence disclosing that David Glass would be on vacation during the “Christmas holidays”.
    Yet you Ken are a longtime Jewish friend and my father spent weeks in a cattle car on his way to Stalag IVIII in Poland.
    Was it not the Nazis who first separated children from parents?
    And then when I request the transcript from that hearing, I pay for it I and then get not the original but a copy and my money order is handed back to me and no one will say who was given the original?
    Lj says to me at age of 6 when I tell her mom loves her and will always be in her life
    She state’s to me …“She’s going to live a lot; she’s never going to die?”
    What is this child going to hold her mother responsible for and by what means will she do so?
    The enabling of conflict by those who seek to gain financially is simply evil and no different from an arms dealer who supplies both sides .The killing of life be it on an emotional ,intellectual, financial, mental, spiritual and /a or physical level is a death and no different from actually using a mechanical device. Too knowingly do so to children whose spirit is pure is inherently foul.
    To surmise IMHO the individuals and associated firms in our cases are only the tip of the iceberg.
    Michael J Kretzmer. David J.Glass Ph.d, Lori A Darakjian, Elise Greenberg , Psychologist Angus Strachan Ph.d of Lund & Strachan ,FMBK Law , Kolodny & Anteau represent a blight upon what was once a noble profession .
    Please get back to me with your thoughts, I am thinking about copying this letter and the letter of 2-12-2012 to the California Attorney General.
    Ps I’ll be in LA for visitation. It snowed in NY this week.

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