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Passions in Poetry

What does 'family' mean?

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hush
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since 05-27-2001
Posts 1693
Ohio, USA


0 posted 11-11-2001 10:27 AM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

From the suicide thread:

'And what exactly is meant by the word 'family' here? What is a family, and what constitutes proper material for family viewing? I think that when the word itself ('family') is presumed to have inherently 'wholesome' (a relative term to which we will all apply our own biases and ideas) or positive connotations, when it is presumed to mean one thing to everyone we start making generalizations... and I guess I'm just curious about exactly what you mean.... '

This was in regards to suicidal poetry not being 'family fare'... and I disagreed, saying that suicide must be talked about, and suicidal feelings should be freely expressed, within a family- because to me, a family should be a group that feels comfortable sharing feelings, not just positive, and especially with children who may be wrestling with these issues and have no outlet because they just assume that their parents wouldn't understand, or have never had these feelings or doubts....

What do you guys think? Nan?

I eat only sleep and air -Nicole Blackman

Nan
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1 posted 11-11-2001 09:43 PM       View Profile for Nan   Email Nan   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Nan's Home Page   View IP for Nan

We have children under the age of 10 who are members of these forums, and who read the poetry posted herein.  The 'generalization' that we apply is simple.  Excepting privately passworded "Adult" posts (which I understand you aren't yet old enough to access), if a poem isn't suitable for anyone and/or everyone who is old enough to read, then it doesn't belong on this family-oriented site.

There are other places where such work can be posted.  This guideline is one of the very few non-negotiable parts of this great site.  It's not subject to change - now or ever.
hush
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since 05-27-2001
Posts 1693
Ohio, USA


2 posted 11-11-2001 11:28 PM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

I'm not arguing site policy. At all. I thought I made that clear in the other thread. I completely understand why the rule is there- I don't see why you are reading this as a challenge to that rule. Sorry if I wasn't clear. I was curious about what your input would be simply becaus you are the one who suggested I start this thread.

I also don't understand what my age has to do with anything?

I am not asking what the site guidelines are regarding family. I'm asking yours. Anyones. Personal ideas... not recited rules.

Now.... this forum aside... in your opinion, how old does a person have to be to read offensive materal? And what constitutes offensive? How old does a person need to be to be exposed to suicide.... especially considering the fact that, like I said before, suicide is the third leading killer of adolescents? Would you say this is because they are exposed to to much of it... or not exposed to enough of it, or not exposed to it properly (what I mean by that is, exposed only to the glamorizations, and never talked to about it)?

I eat only sleep and air -Nicole Blackman

nakdthoughts
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since 10-29-2000
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Between the Lines


3 posted 11-12-2001 11:48 AM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

the problem with suicide is..if someone  is talking about it for themselves..then they are in need of help..they say(specialists) that it is a cry for help  just to be speaking of it's possibility..and help  should come from someone within touching range..who can help in an emergency  not from a  computer discussion that  could possibly make someone feel worse....

And rather than talk about the reasons behind it why not discuss the way to make a person feel better about him/herself...I had a cousin who died years ago. He left a letter, and it explains  only those feelings of the last moments when all hope seems gone.  It never gives reasons, and there are many, both medical and psychological...
As far as family goes..on here it means all ages reading and posting and it's a place to  post feelings and  emotions...but  hopefully the others are here to support and catch someone from falling into a slump...which we all do from time to time. You don't have to mention death..to say you are feeling  bad and are so unhappy...and it's the reasons of unhappiness that can be discussed on here without mentioning suicide.

As far as a real family goes, it should be the same, parents, siblings  everyone caring about one another unconditionally, which doesn't always happen..I am lucky that I not only have that  but also that of my extended family relatives and friends...but it takes work and you have to give  as much of yourself if not more to receive the warmth and support in return. And again you don't have to  talk about  your own death to discuss  feelings..or negative thoughts..you have to discuss the reasons and ways to help and support not what might happen otherwise.

[This message has been edited by nakdthoughts (edited 11-12-2001).]

hush
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since 05-27-2001
Posts 1693
Ohio, USA


4 posted 11-13-2001 12:06 AM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

Nakdthoughts- I see where your coming from. But I think I disagree.

Should parents talk to their kids about drugs? Sex? Smoking? Peer pressure? Or should they just skirt the issue... discussing positive alternatives without ever discussing what they are alternatives to? You can't combat suicide without acknowledging it.

I guess it just bothers me... that people think 'family' is synonimous (I know I butchered that spelling... lol) with sheltered. It's not. At all. In some families, in some areas, perhaps... but that also all boils down to person definitions and ideas about sheltered, and where the line corsses to 'soiled' or 'harmed' by information or exposure to lewd/offensive materials.

I personally think it's important that children are exposed to these things. No, not excessively- they're just kids, they need to have fun, and be happy- but that happiness shouldn't be based in a glass house that one stone of bad experience can shatter forever. And when one stone shatters the house... the shards come raining down... and to a child who hasn't been exposed to these negative aspects of life... a big shard called suicide can look pretty tempting. I don't think kids should be kept in pretty little snow-globes of board games and candy... they need to be familiarized to tragedy and its repercussions and the fact that no matter how severe, no matter how devastating the repercussions, there is hope. That's my opinion, at least.

"this is not who I meant to be
this is not how I meant to feel" -Ani DiFranco

Ron
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5 posted 11-13-2001 02:45 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

While I essentially agree with much of what you're saying, hush, I think it needs to be carried much farther to reach anything approaching full agreement.

Let me prelude this, however, by saying I don't think there is anything that can't be discussed with children. Kids are just little people, albeit with less experience, and not necessarily stupid. They are smart enough to understand complicated issues, smarter indeed than many adults, because they will usually see through euphemisms and pat answers in a heart beat. If there's a problem at all, it's not that kids can't understand - it's that too many adults don't really understand what it is they're trying to explain. Most try to do their explaining from the gut, instead of doing a bit of real research to find real answers.

However, we're really talking about a number of different issues when we talk about a nebulous "family" orientation. Some of those are cultural and revolve around privacy issues. As a teen, I dated a girl whose family had moved to America from the Netherlands when she was nine. At 16, Bridget thought nothing of walking through her house naked, in front of parents and a 14-year-old brother, because nudity simply wasn't part of the privacy paradigm under which she'd been raised. In some cultures that would be "wrong," and in virtually every culture there are at least some privacy taboos even within the family. That a mother and father make love is a given, but they don't usually do it in the living room while their ten-year-old is watching television. So, when we talk about family suitability, we're often talking about privacy issues and matters of personal taste.

Here's another way of saying the same thing. What's suitable within the family isn't necessarily suitable FOR the family.

Let me quickly add that most of those privacy issues have very little to do with age. If I walked in on my forty year old sister, whether with her husband, in the shower, or whatever, it wouldn't offend me in any way, but it would certainly make me uncomfortable. Each of us has our own levels of comfort, which is why we have an Adult forum, but just about every one of us will react similarly when our concepts of privacy are exceeded. I guess that's why mankind first invented doors.

Another very real issue when discussing family suitability is respect for the rights of the parents.

A candid birds-and-bees discussion with your eight-year-old son or daughter is not only admirable, but I think absolutely necessary (and, yea, I really feel it should done that early, before puberty confuses the issues). But I think most of us would agree - if that discussion was conducted by the grizzled wino hanging out near the local liquor store, we'd probably look at it in an entirely different light. That's two extremes of the spectrum, but few of us will agree where the midpoint exists. Should your children learn about sex from a favorite aunt or uncles? From the doctor? From a pastor or rabbi? From a teacher at school? From the other neighborhood kids?

Most of us will have different answers, but that's not really the issue. The issue, rather, is whether we have the right as parents to make the decisions. Personally, I think most parents do a lousy job with those decisions. I also think most Americans do a lousy job at the voting booth. But if I want to protect those rights for myself (and I do), then I have to be ready to protect the rights for everyone. I will decide when and how my children learn about sex, about drugs, about religion, about a whole slew of what I consider important issues. I don't want society making those decisions, I don't want the schools doing it, and I sure as hell don't want a web site doing it.

Again, what's suitable within the family isn't necessarily suitable for the family. And that's a decision that can only be made by the individual family.

Essentially, that answers your last paragraph. You personally think children should be exposed to more reality, and that's your decision to make - with YOUR children. If you feel strongly enough about it, you can try to educate other parents to your way of thinking, just as you might argue for your candidate in a political race. But, when someone is going to cast a vote you think is wrong, you can't take away their right to vote. And you can't take away a person's right to raise their kids the way they think is right, either. Because if you do, somewhere down the road, someone else is going to be able to do the same to you.

We walk something of a line at Passions, because it's virtually impossible to both fulfill our mandate and still fully protect the rights of the family. The best we can ever do is keep the precepts foremost in our minds and abide by the spirit of protection. Usually, that just means approaching ANY theme with a healthy measure of responsibility.

I have yet to find any subject that can't be explored in these forums, either in poetry or discussion. I have, however, found a few that require ground rules. About a year ago, a thread about teen sex arose and I offered to open an Adult forum for the teens. The only stipulation was that the parents of each teen entering the forum had to agree, because again, it is their decision to make.

Contrary to what many believe, there is no rule against exploring suicide and depression - except that it has to be done responsibly and realistically. Most threads about suicide get pulled because those posting have no idea what they're talking about, throwing out gut reactions instead of relevant data. The most recent thread, by the way, is no exception to that history, and when opinions perpetuate myths that ultimately hurt so many they inevitably lose our tacit support. You can't yell Fire in a crowded theatre and, in a responsible forum, you can't promote half-truths that kill people.

In truth, the few Guidelines we have are less family-oriented than they are humanity-oriented. It doesn't matter whether you're part of a traditional family, a commune, or sitting in a dorm, encouraging hate or promoting harm to others simply doesn't make a lot of sense. We discourage titillation, in graphical sex or violence, not so much to protect youngsters but because we want Members - of every age - who enjoy balanced truths instead of attention-getting stimulation. We frown on swearing because we know many people find it offensive (not everyone in the world habitually talks that way), AND because it's usually an unnecessary impediment to communication. Those who can't make their point without four letter words should stop pretending to be writers. (And, yes, there are exceptions. Indeed, there are exceptions to everything I've said. Our Moderators make allowances for those exceptions every day.)

In short, I think any definition of family has less to do with values than with rights and choices. When we call Passions a family-oriented site, what we're really saying is that we try to make those choices possible. We're not always successful, and sometimes I feel like we're not even very close. But we keep trying.

hush
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since 05-27-2001
Posts 1693
Ohio, USA


6 posted 11-13-2001 10:25 PM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

Thanks Ron, for the extensive response. Just a comment:

'I will decide when and how my children learn about sex, about drugs, about religion, about a whole slew of what I consider important issues. I don't want society making those decisions, I don't want the schools doing it, and I sure as hell don't want a web site doing it.'

I think that parents eventually lose their ability to control the information their kids get... asnd if parents wait too long to discuss these issues with their kids, society, schools, and internet will be their information sources. So more than just a personal preference... it really doesn't make sense to shelter your kids... they'll just get information (or possibly misinformation) somewhere else.

I really hope nobody thinks I am trying to say that this website should be responsible for educating about issues. I'm not. I was really just interested in the idea behind a 'family-oriented' idealogy- and I really appreciate the time you put into your response. I found it very informative and interesting.

"this is not who I meant to be
this is not how I meant to feel" -Ani DiFranco

Ron
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7 posted 11-14-2001 06:56 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
they'll just get information (or possibly misinformation) somewhere else.


I think most of what we teach our children, especially involving the "important" issues, is first taught nonverbally. They learn by example. That's both inevitable and probably good. We run into problems, though, when what we later tell them isn't consistent with what we've shown them. That happens, I think, more often then we would like to believe.

Here's just one example, one that would probably be more at home in Philosophy.

Should you teach your child to lie? And before you throw out a pat answer, consider for a moment the ramifications of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy.

Information (or misinformation) is less important than consistency, honesty, and teaching a kid to THINK instead of just accept. That sounds really cool, even self-evident, but it's a whole lot tougher than many realize. Early on, the most important thing for a child is stability and assurances, and we very much need to shield them from the realities that would disrupt that need to feel safe. At some point, though, a point that is different for every child, we need to teach them to question and then how to find answers to their questions.

Fortunately, teaching a kid to question isn't tough; their curiosity grows much faster than their bones and muscles. "Why is the sky blue?" isn't just an idle question, but is rather a doorway that will only be open a short time. What a parent does with that door will determine the kid's entire future. Too many parents immediately shut the door, and most of the others will be content to yell through it.

Personally, I think there are only two ways to answer that and similar questions. How would YOU answer it?
dreamer1 12 5 24
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since 12-11-2000
Posts 172
crossing between


8 posted 11-15-2001 12:25 AM       View Profile for dreamer1 12 5 24   Email dreamer1 12 5 24   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for dreamer1 12 5 24

I would have to agree with Ron and hush. Children should be taught about what's out there.

I am 14 years old. I'm in grade 10. Two years ago, I moved up to grade 8; high school. I was a very sheltered kid. I really didn't know anything about life.

I met a girl in grade 8 who changed my life. Why? Because I was sheltered. If I had known more about life I would have been fine, I would have been an average kid when I came out of grade 8. Unfortunatly, I didn't know much. I learned everything I know about suicide as a result of my friendship with this person in grade 8. I also learned many things I wish I could forget.

Another result of my friendship with this person, was that I became severely depressed. I was depressed constantly. I did some pretty stupid things because of it. All of which, would have been avoided if I had been told more about suicide, and other topics from my parents.

Now let me make this clear. I have nothing against my parents. I don't hold this against them. In fact, sometimes I wonder if they are just as sheltered as I was. I really can't expect them to teach me things they've never learned, or don't think have an impact on their children.

So, really what I'm trying to say is that the more truly informed kids are on issues in our society, the better they can deal with them.

Oi...

The day is brighter, but the dawn is sweetest.

hush
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since 05-27-2001
Posts 1693
Ohio, USA


9 posted 11-17-2001 01:02 AM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

Ron, what do you think the two answers are?

I'd answer "I don't know". And I don't... I've got some homework to do before I have kids. But even if I did know all the specifics of atmospheric conditions that cause the color blue, I would probably still say "I don't know" and maybe suggest a trip to the library.... it's up to my kids whose idea to accept about blue skies.

'. Early on, the most important thing for a child is stability and assurances, and we very much need to shield them from the realities that would disrupt that need to feel safe.'

I disagree. Yes, children need assurances... but why assure them of something that isn't true? It's just going to fall through eventually- shouldn't we just do our best to give assurance that while bad things do happen, there are always solutions and we can learn from the mistakes and plights of others?

"this is not who I meant to be
this is not how I meant to feel" -Ani DiFranco

Ron
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10 posted 11-17-2001 08:23 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

The two ways of answering a child's questions are a couple thousand years old (at least), and I always think of them as Aristotle and Socrates.

Aristotle equates to going to the library as you suggested (or logging on to the Internet these days) and doing the necessary research. At first, the parent has to do all the hunting, reading, explaining, and simplifying. But that's okay. Just seeing the parent do it is the important thing for the child. As the child grows, they'll take a more active part. And at some point, your research together will uncover conflicting answers and the opportunity for the child to learn to make choices. All of these are "good things."

BTW, studies going back nearly four decades suggests that kids do NOT learn to appreciate books in school. While there are always exceptions, people who love books typically come from families where at least one parent was seen reading. Education starts a lot earlier than kindergarten.

Some questions don't lend themselves to research as much as they do to asking leading questions - the Socratic method. I always found this to be particularly useful when the question centered around humans. "Why doesn't Johnny want to play with me?" The danger with Socrates is the natural tendency to force the conclusion to where you want it to go; you can lead, but you shouldn't push too hard. The important thing is for the child to reach their own conclusions. They're learning how to think and mistakes are okay. A side benefit, I think, is that you not only teach your child to think for themselves, but you can also teach them something of empathy. "How do you think Johnny feels when you won't let him play with your toys?"

As to protecting a young child from harsh realities, I'm sure we could spend thousands of words discussing why it's true. Certainly, kids have a different sense of time and can't readily understand "future" solutions and the possible benefits of bad things happening. They always live in the Now. Maybe a young child's brain just isn't' big enough yet to hold simultaneous bad and good? Perhaps it just boils down to a desperate need to trust the adult, without reservation, and without fear.

Whatever the reason, the empirical and clinical evidence is virtually impossible to dismiss. Excessive uncertainties and feelings of danger before the age of about two will invariably lead to a neurotic and dysfunctional adult. If those conditions prevail between the ages of two and six, the results are less conclusive, but the danger is still very real. Kids first need love. Then they need to feel safe. (And those are definitely NOT the same, as any abused child would tell you.)

When you pick up a two-year-old, you don't tell them you might drop them on their head, even though you might. When you drive a five-year-old to preschool, you don't graphically remind them what can happen in a car accident. Placing that seed of fear over and over isn't doing them any favors, isn't helping to prepare them for reality. It's just undermining their trust.

That's not to suggest that bad things can't be discussed honestly. If I was driving a five-year-old to preschool and we saw a bad accident, AND the child asked probing questions, I wouldn't try to gloss over the incident. How honest (and brutal) I was would depend on the kid. If they already have a strong wall of security built, they can handle a lot. I can guarantee you, though, if it was a three-year-old, my answers would be greatly different, with the emphasis almost entirely on assurances instead of solutions and learning from mistakes. (BTW, my own reaction to the accident would have a more profound impact than anything I might verbalize.)

Coping with stress isn't like the urge to suck. It has to be learned. All the evidence I've ever seen strongly suggests it can NOT be adequately learned before about the age of two, and can be pretty iffy up until about six. A large part of our job, as parents, is to provide an environment that feels safe, secure, and filled with love.

Reality will come knocking soon enough.
hush
Senior Member
since 05-27-2001
Posts 1693
Ohio, USA


11 posted 11-18-2001 12:39 AM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

When I talk about exposure to bad events... I don't mean undue exposure or reminders about the possibility of bad happenning- that kind of mindset isn't healthy for anyone, especially a child. I wouldn't take my kids to an execution to show them what happens, or to a race riot to witness the violence. But, if a race riot occured outside my house, I would do my best to epxlain what is happening in terms the child can understand. A five year old knows more words than a three year old, and for that reason could probably be told more... a five year old has also been exposed to rmeo concepts by virtue of age alone... but if I had two children, a five and a three year old, and had to explain the incident to both, I wouldn't seperate them for the talk.

"this is not who I meant to be
this is not how I meant to feel" -Ani DiFranco

 
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