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If You Love Your Kids, Kill That Elf on the Shelf

Friday, December 19th, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson

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I’m not opposed to lying to very young children. In fact, my family considers it one of the finer points of good parenting. The art of storytelling, when done appropriately, can soften a harsh reality and bring it into an easy-to-swallow, child-sized bite. In “6 Lies You Should Tell Your Kids“ I shared a few of our family secrets for doing just that. The Elf on the Shelf, however, is a Christmas tale with a dark side that could produce some unintended character flaws that could show up later as adults. Adults, no doubt, that will be living in a very different world.

Before you dismiss the whole idea as harmless fun, it’s important to understand two basic truths that Christmas traditions, as with all family traditions, are vitally important to children. You are always teaching your child–intentionally, or unintentionally.

The Elf on the Shelf is a cheap looking stuffed doll that looks like it came from a dollar store in China. The elf itself is not what has made it a multi-million dollar success. It’s the story behind it.

That’s where we get into some real life issues.

This elf is placed somewhere in the house to observe the children’s behavior. Apparently, this generation’s Santa can’t really see who’s naughty and nice. He needs surveillance elves. The elf is adopted into a family or classroom, given a name and perched somewhere to observe the children’s behavior. Then he receives his magic. Each night the little snitch flies back to the North Pole to let Santa know if the kid being watching is good or bad.

There are two rules, one for the elf and one for the kid: The elf cannot be touched. If he is, he loses his magic and can’t fly back to the North Pole (hence, no Christmas for the kid, and they’re stuck with just the elf). The elf’s rule is that it can’t say anything– only watch and listen carefully. Not a problem for a stuffed doll, even a cheesy one.

This type of tradition fits this generation of parents well. We all know the NSA is listening in, and it produces some great Instagram shots. By the looks of what a simple #elfonshelf search will uncover, naughty and nice parents are having as much fun with it, if not more than their kids.

So what could go wrong with an Elf on the Shelf?

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Are You Too Selfish to Raise Children?

Monday, December 15th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Daily Question

From the Daily Mail, and don’t you just love those headlines?:

‘I don’t like [the pressure] that people put on me, on women, that you’ve failed yourself as a female because you haven’t procreated,’ she said.

Denial: The actress was forced to deny she was pregnant after being pictured on the red carpet in August, appearing to show a bump

‘I don’t think it’s fair. You may not have a child come out of your vagina, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t mothering – dogs, friends, friends, children.’

Since her split with husband Brad Pitt in 2005 Anniston has been the focus of intense media scrutiny in the U.S.

Almost every month a celebrity magazine in the US speculates that she is pregnant, getting married or engaged in a row with Angelina Jolie who recently married her ex-husband and has six children.

In August she was forced to issue a denial that she was pregnant after photos of her on the red carpet appeared to show a slight bulge in her dress.

What do you think? Does a career as a celebrated actress equal the life of a parent? Can’t one do both?

Bonus question: what is your favorite Jennifer Aniston movie?

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Handcuffed or Spanked?

Monday, December 15th, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson

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The obvious answer is “neither.” Who wants their child, at any age, handcuffed by police – let alone at age 6? Sorry if I misled you with the title; you don’t have the option between spanking and handcuffs. Children are not being spanked in school and obviously not at home. That would be just wrong, right?

Handcuffed for bad behavior? Yeah, that’s happening today.

As the wife of a retired police officer, I have some very strong opinions about the role of the police. This, however, is an entirely different matter. A police officer in an elementary school is not the same as an officer on the street. This isn’t about police. It’s about developmental behavior, abdicating responsibility, and the natural consequences of cultural Marxism.

It’s a given that one or two instances doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s commonplace, although it is an issue that is occurring more often than most of us realize. I defy you to find one story of this happening even in the turbulent years of the ’60s and ’70s.

Believe me, it would have made the news. But back then we had segregated classrooms–average children were in one room, obnoxious kids in the hallway, and autism was one in 2000 students. Most schools never saw one autistic child.

There’s a lot of blame to go around here, so I’m going to narrow it down to a cultural issue that parents need to recognize embedded in how we view the family.

Before I explain that statement, let’s take a look at a couple cases at hand.

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5 Ways to Avoid Christma-fying Your Hanukkah

Monday, December 15th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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It’s fairly obvious that we Jews just don’t get Christmas. Don’t believe me? Check out BuzzFeed’s attempt to get Jews to decorate Christmas trees. (“Who’s Noel?” “Is that like, ‘grassy knoll’?”) Yet, every year we Jewish Americans wrestle as a people over whether or not to incorporate Christmas traditions into our own Hanukkah celebrations. It’s tacky. It’s trite. And it’s really, really lame. Here are five Hanukkah/Christmas hybrids that all Jews need to avoid this holiday season.

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9 Ways Pop Culture Gets Childbirth Wrong

Friday, December 12th, 2014 - by Bethany Mandel

There’s no shortage of media representations of childbirth, between television and movies. The scene, which has played out for as long as babies have been “born” on television, is fairly cookie cutter: the woman’s water breaks and there’s a mad dash to the hospital — otherwise the baby will be born in a stalled elevator. The woman screams in pain, begging for drugs, and then out comes a beautiful, usually clean baby who cries immediately before being wrapped and placed in mom’s arms.

As with all mainstream media representations of real-life events, writers and producers take a lot of liberties with the scene and how it plays out in real life. Since having a child myself, I often wonder if anyone on the writing or producing staff has ever been present for the birth of a child, given how diametrically different these moments are in real life.

The way childbirth is portrayed isn’t just inaccurate, but also fuels a false perception in our society of childbirth as scary, dangerous, and often negative. Several aspects of how childbirth plays out on screen also affect how real life couples may process their own experience in the moment. So what can a couple expect out of the birth of their child? What does the media get wrong? This list is just a start:

1. Babies come out pink 

One of the scariest moments for any parent who has seen enough babies being born on television is the color their child comes out. While some people may be ready for the goop and slime that coat a baby’s skin, the color of their skin usually comes as a total shock, even if intellectually one has been made aware that often babies don’t come out flesh-colored or pink right out of the womb.

On the series Parenthood, which, unsurprisingly, has seen quite a few births over the course of the last six seasons, the youngest son of the clan, Crosby Braverman, had a daughter with his wife Jasmine. She came out looking like this:

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The very first moments a baby comes into the world, before they’ve had an opportunity to get oxygen into their bodies, a baby’s skin tone, regardless of race, is often a deep shade of purple, which can be petrifying if unprepared, which most parents are. Those first fleeting moments are usually forgotten in the haze of new parenthood, but it’s a shame that most first-time parents find themselves scared for their child’s safety and well-being before the cord has even been cut. Better images would go a long way in changing our image of brand new human beings, highlighting what can be normal in healthy childbirth.

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Why Is Prohibiting Adultery Essential To Building Civilization?

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Daily Question

See the eighth commandment here.

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What Is the Difference Between Honoring and Loving Your Parents?

Sunday, December 7th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Daily Question

Click here for Prager’s explanation of the sixth commandment.

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Medical Child Abuse or Medical Kidnapping?

Saturday, December 6th, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson

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“The due process clause of the fourteenth amendment guarantees, protects the rights of parents but the fact is that we have to put it in law. You wouldn’t think we have to go here. What we’re seeing in our country today leads us to believe that if we don’t put this stuff into law then we are behind the eight ball and we find ourselves with these kinds of situations. I’m just afraid, down the road, we’re going to see more and more cases like [the Isaiah Rider case].” — Ken Wilson (R-MO)

We’re farther “down the road” than most dare to imagine.

The bill Rep. Wilson introduced states that a parent cannot be charged with medical child abuse for disagreeing with medical advice and choosing treatment of another doctor. Yeah. We’re there.

You might remember the well-publicized ordeal of Justina Pelletier. It seemed like a fluke of injustice, an isolated case. So beyond right, it was easy to assume there’s more to the story. In the Pelletier case, rather than receiving discharge papers, parents were charged with “medical child abuse,” the new term that has replaced Munchausen by proxy (MSbP). Mr. Pelletier was surrounded by agents of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) and hospital security and ushered off the premises. Justina became a ward of the state for 16 months and her health deteriorated.

In a press conference, Reverend Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition in Washington, D.C., and spokesperson for the Pelletier family, made a remarkable statement that became a mirror reflecting an unsettling image of a dangerous mindset:

“t’s easier for us to want to believe, or wrap our brains around the fact that a family is mistreating their child, than the alternative to that, and the alternative to that, is what happened in this case and that is, with impunity government agencies and courts have removed a child from the loving care of their parents—and so that’s that obstacle that no one wants to believe that reality.

That reality” is the last thing parents think of when they have a chronically ill child or have taken a holistic path to health.

Michelle Rider, the 34-year-old registered nurse and single mother of Isaiah Rider, the boy in the above video, told PJ Lifestyle just why we have a hard time accepting this is happening:

We are taught that hospitals are safe, that doctors are safe, and DCFS intervenes when intervention is needed. So when we accept the fact that this is really happening– we are accepting that we are not safe, and our children are not safe.

While President Barack Obama asks the nation if we will accept the “cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms,” it’s blatantly apparent to parents like Michelle that he isn’t talking about sick children like Isaiah. Agents of the state — with calculated impunity — take their children.

On the very day a law was introduced in his name, his worst fears came true.

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12 Steps for a Perfect Pop Culture Christmas

Friday, November 28th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Sometimes it takes an outsider to notice the confusion laced within a holiday message. When it comes to Christmas, the confusion is on overload. Somewhere along the way a religious message got smacked with a load of pop culture overtones to create a holiday lush with semiotic excess, too much for the brain or heart to process. So, allow me from my seat on the sidelines to create the How To guide so you can enjoy the perfect pop culture Christmas.

12. Shop early and shop often for things you’ll never need that are on sale at bargain basement prices.

Christmas really begins on Black Friday, or 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, whichever you prefer. The holiday is about buying to your heart’s content and making sure everything you and your children have ever dreamed of is stacked up under that decorated tree. The bruises and broken limbs you get in pursuit of those awesome sale prices will be well worth it. Who needs teeth when they can have stuff?

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A National Call for Gratitude this Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Lately my editor, David Swindle, has been encouraging me to develop a series describing my own out-of-the-box Jewish faith. It’s this mish-mosh of biblical proverbs, Torah adages, stories and songs tightly woven together by my American colonial heritage and intense Zionist pride. There is no one perfect word to describe my Jewishness beyond biblical in nature. Orthodox, Conservative, even Reform I am not. Reconstructionist or Renewal? Forget it. But I find commentary from all denominations (“streams” we call them in Judaism) interesting and acceptable in a “with malice towards none, with charity towards all” kind of way that gives me the liberty to define my Judaism in a way most of my compatriots are simply afraid to do. Which is probably why David finds my approach so fascinating. It’s rare to find a Jew who isn’t somehow fettered by the chains of guilt.

So I begin at the beginning, with Thanksgiving, the quintessential Jewish and American holiday. Traditionally Jews celebrate the idea roughly 1-2 months earlier during Sukkot, a festive fall harvest holiday in which we humble ourselves before the God who brought us out of bondage, not because we are perfect, but because He loves us and wanted to dwell with us. (Sukkahs, as in “tabernacles,” as in “the Lord tabernacles with us.”) When you understand the story of God and Israel as a passionate love story, the struggles are contextualized as are the prophecies, into tough tales with happy endings. When you understand the metaphor of God and Israel as a greater metaphor of God’s love for humanity (we’re just the physical reminders) you open your heart to the immense, overwhelming love of God. And there is nothing more you can do as a human being than reflect on that truth with awe-filled gratitude.

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The Key to a Woman’s Sexual Power

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Editor’s Note: See the first two parts in Susan L.M. Goldberg’s series exploring ABC’s Scandal through the lens of Biblical feminism: “What’s Evil Got to Do with It?,” ”Women and the Scandal of Doing It All Alone.” Also check out an introduction to her work and collection of 194 articles and blog posts here.

The husband/wife relationship is central to feminism. Historical, first-wave feminism studied matrimony in terms of legal rights. Contemporary, second-wave feminism approaches marriage in terms of sexual and economic power. Biblical feminism seeks to understand the spiritual relationship between a husband and wife, and how that spiritual relationship manifests into physical action. To do so, we must begin at the beginning, with Genesis 3:16:

To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

“Rule over you” is a phrase that sends chills down any feminist’s spine. But, what does it truly mean? A study of the original Hebrew text provides radical insight into one of the most abused verses of Torah:

This brings us to perhaps the most difficult verse in the Hebrew Bible for people concerned with human equality. Gen 3:16 seems to give men the right to dominate women. Feminists have grappled with this text in a variety of ways. One possibility is to recognize that the traditional translations have distorted its meaning and that it is best read against its social background of agrarian life. Instead of the familiar “I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing,” the verse should begin “I will greatly increase your work and your pregnancies.” The word for “work,” izavon, is the same word used in God’s statement to the man; the usual translation (“pangs” or “pain”) is far less accurate. In addition, the woman will experience more pregnancies; the Hebrew word is pregnancy, not childbearing, as the NRSV and other versions have it. Women, in other words, must have large families and also work hard, which is what the next clause also proclaims. The verse is a mandate for intense productive and reproductive roles for women; it sanctions what life meant for Israelite women.

In light of this, the notion of general male dominance in the second half of the verse is a distortion. More likely, the idea of male “rule” is related to the multiple pregnancies mentioned in the first half of the verse. Women might resist repeated pregnancies because of the dangers of death in childbirth, but because of their sexual passion (“desire,” 3:16) they accede to their husbands’ sexuality. Male rule in this verse is narrowly drawn, relating only to sexuality; male interpretive traditions have extended that idea by claiming that it means general male dominance.

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Save ‘The Duggars’ from Transsexual Bullies

Thursday, November 20th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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The invaluable LifeSiteNews has launched a petition drive to counter yet another example of transsexual activist bullying:

In the past few days, liberal extremists have launched a full-scale attack on the Duggars, demanding that The Learning Channel cancel the Duggars’ popular reality TV show.

Their reason? Michelle Duggar openly opposed an extreme ‘transgender’ bill in Fayetteville. The bill would have given biological males who say they are women the right to use women’s bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, and other female-only facilities!

As of this writing, that petition has over 80,000 signatures, and is growing fast, with media like the Huffington Post leading the charge! We need to launch a counter-attack, letting TLC know that the American people stand by the Duggars and their defense of traditional family values.

Rather than being extreme, the Duggars represent the majority of people in state after state who have stood up for the traditional family.

The real extremists are those who are demanding that a TV network penalize America’s beloved family because they support the truth about family, which they have always expressed in a loving, compassionate fashion.

I haven’t watched 19 Kids and Counting in years. It just fell out of my usual television viewing rotation. That doesn’t mean I want to see it become the next victim of toxic progressive pitchforking.

The next target may be your favorite show.

LifeSiteNews’ counter-petition has just under 20,000 signatures as I write this.

You can read it here and sign it if you agree.

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Women and the Scandal of Doing It All Alone

Sunday, November 16th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Editor’s Note: See Part 1 of Susan’s ongoing series analyzing the connections between ABC’s Scandal, current events, and Western values: “What’s Evil Got to Do with It?

Women are fixers. It should come as no surprise to anyone with an understanding of the sexes that the leading female figure on primetime television is none other than a fixer named Olivia Pope. Fifty years ago women primarily played the role of mother on screen and, in doing so, they fixed things and life was pretty darn perfect. But perfect doesn’t fly on network television any longer. Today it’s all about drama, and drama is conflict. So, we get Olivia Pope: beautiful, intelligent, who fantasizes about marrying an already married man, having his children and fixing a nice little life in the Vermont countryside for them, but is too embroiled in fixing her own life and the lives of those she loves to ever quite reach her American nirvana.

Like Israel’s matriarchs, Olivia Pope has a vision of justice, of order, of the way things should be. The wearer of the “white hat,” she wrestles between good and evil in her many attempts to manifest this divine sense that has been humanized as her “gut” instinct. Watch her and you’ll see the woman in white when she pursues truth, the woman in black when she has given over to evil, and the woman in gray when she questions everything she knows. Being a fixer is a woman’s inherent power and inevitable struggle. It isn’t that we want to “do it all” because doing it isn’t as hard as taking responsibility for it, for the lives under our care. Olivia Pope cares for everyone, wants to save everyone, wants to repair everyone and make everything all better. Her struggle, like that of the matriarchs, is in placing the sole burden of responsibility on her own shoulders. But, the greatest lesson of God-given responsibility is that you are not expected to carry it all alone.

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Why Kelly Ripa Doesn’t Care That Her Daughter Doesn’t Like Her

Friday, November 7th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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According to “Live with Kelly and Michael” co-host Kelly Ripa, her 13-year-old daughter Lola isn’t her biggest fan. Yahoo News reports:

“I don’t think she likes me, but I don’t care. I’m like, ‘I’m not your friend, I’m your mom,’” Ripa told Wendy Williams. “I just feel an obligation as her mom to keep her living in the real world. I don’t care who you are or what you do, if you’re a mom, you’re a mom.”

Ripa, 44, explained that not only is she a source of embarrassment for her teen, but recently, she and her husband, Mark Consuelos, were forced to punish their daughter. Ripa said she revoked their daughter’s phone and Internet privileges because she was using her phone when she was supposed to be studying Spanish.

It’s an interesting insight into the private life of a very public figure. As if parenting isn’t fraught with enough perils and pressures, Ripa and her husband, Mark Consuelos, are raising kids in the spotlight — where they’re expected to smile for the cameras and perform anytime they’re in public. Their children are privileged — one percenters by almost any standards — so raising children who are not spoiled brats (see: the debacle they call the Kardashian family) increases the degree of parenting difficulty exponentially.

Kids need to learn early on that the world doesn’t revolve around them and they’re not the center of the universe — they shouldn’t be permitted demand to worship and adoration (things that should be reserved for God). All things considered, Ripa seems to be trying to keep her kids grounded and as she said, “living in the real world,” which is rather refreshing in a culture where discipline and accountability are increasingly out of fashion and parents want their kids to be their BFFs.

But about Ripa’s comment that she doesn’t care if her daughter likes her. Should she care? Should you care if your kids (in particular, kids of the teenage variety) don’t like you? Should your popularity with your kids guide how you respond to them and make decisions about parenting? Or is it better to plow ahead with your decisions, ignoring how your kids feel about you?

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The United States of Candy Land

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014 - by Leslie Loftis

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Sally was right when she complained in the Peanuts Thanksgiving special that it was too soon to learn about another holiday because she wasn’t even through with her Halloween candy yet. And she couldn’t have had that much candy as she’d spent Halloween in a pumpkin patch with Linus, and her brother came home with a bag of rocks. 

With Halloween, the US candy calendar begins. Now, I’m not a strict candy limits mom. When my eldest was three years old, we hit about half a dozen houses. This was in Eaton Square, an area of London that was just coming up to speed with American traditions for All Hallows Eve, so we aren’t talking about a ton of candy. I let him eat to his heart’s content. My mother did not approve, but as she cautioned me, Patrick got about half way through his bucket, then stopped and asked for water and if he could have the rest tomorrow. His tummy didn’t like all the candy, he told us. I beamed, of course, and let him watch The Great Pumpkin before bed. (He slept fine, by the way.)

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Is Marriage Worth Saving?

Saturday, November 1st, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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The American Enterprise Institute has a new study that looks at the benefits of marriage:

This study documents five key findings about the relationships between family patterns and economic well-being in America.

The retreat from marriage—a retreat that has been concentrated among lower-income Americans—plays a key role in the changing economic fortunes of American family life. We estimate that the growth in median income of families with children would be 44 percent higher if the United States enjoyed 1980 levels of married parenthood today. Further, at least 32 percent of the growth in family-income inequality since 1979 among families with children and 37 percent of the decline in men’s employment rates during that time can be linked to the decreasing number of Americans who form and maintain stable, married families.

Growing up with both parents (in an intact family) is strongly associated with more education, work, and income among today’s young men and women. Young men and women from intact families enjoy an annual “intact-family premium” that amounts to $6,500 and $4,700, respectively, over the incomes of their peers from single-parent families.

Men obtain a substantial “marriage premium” and women bear no marriage penalty in their individual incomes, and both men and women enjoy substantially higher family incomes, compared to peers with otherwise similar characteristics. For instance, men enjoy a marriage premium of at least $15,900 per year in their individual income compared to their single peers.

The study announces some public policy changes to encourage marriage, such as launching a national campaign to pursue school, work, marriage and parenthood, in that order; doing away with the marriage penalty; adding childcare credits; improving vocational programs; and expanding the maximum earned income tax credit for single, childless adults to $1,000, increasing their marriageability.

The study seems to miss the point: marriage is a liability for men (and for some women, though the law is on their side). The extra income might be nice, but when it gets you stuck with extra child support, alimony or just plain half your stuff taken away, what’s the point of making the extra dough?

Public policy should include making the marriage arena a more fair and equitable place for men. How about doing away with or reducing alimony, giving more equal access to children, making more fair domestic violence laws, doing away with jail time in child support cases and making them more fair, and providing at least some civic education for men and boys on their limited rights so they can make an informed decision?

But the real question is, is marriage worth saving?

More from Dr. Helen: 

On Men and Catcalling

*****

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen, image illustration via shutterstock / alphaspirit

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Feminists Don’t Want Privacy, They Want Approval

Saturday, November 1st, 2014 - by Leslie Loftis

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Much will be written on Katha Pollitt’s “abortion is normal” movement. I’m sure I will write more on it later after I at least read some of the book. But for the moment, here’s one thing that caught my eye in her introductory article in The Nation:

Roe v. Wade gave women a kind of existential freedom that is not always welcome—indeed, is sometimes quite painful—but that has become part of what women are.

One thing Roe v. Wade didn’t do, though, was make abortion private.

…Justice Harry Blackmun’s majority opinion in Roe v. Wade was all about privacy, but the most private parts of a woman’s body and the most private decisions she will ever make have never been more public.

And why is that? She seems to blame terrible conservatives and their abortion-clinic regulations, which is a tenuous claim. Why wouldn’t those like Pollitt who want abortion accessible for women to be able to use as they see fit prioritize safe clinics? The regulations are about safety, which of course restricts access. Even if abortion is completely normalized, it’s not as simple as, for instance, trips to the health spa.

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8 Reasons Why Jews & Christians Should Re-Think Celebrating Halloween

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Halloween was always a point of contention in our house growing up. Naturally theatrical, I loved dressing up and relished in making my own costumes. And what kid turns down free candy? Sure, Jewish kids have Purim for these things and more, but when you’re in a mainly gentile neck of the woods, it’s a struggle not to be allowed to join in the party. As I grew into adulthood and took a deeper look at Halloween, however, I began to understand my parents’ objections quite clearly. There are definite reasons why Jews and Christians who base their faith in the Bible should re-think introducing and encouraging their child’s participation in this, the most pagan of American holidays.

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The Feminist Lesson in Mom’s Night Out

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Twenty-four percent of married couple families with children under 15 have a stay-at-home mom. Ninety-nine percent of stay-at-home moms in the movies get a really bad rap. Search “Best Movie Moms” and you’ll get lists that include Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment, Sigourney Weaver in Aliens, Shelly Duvall in The Shining, and more than a few mentions of Psycho. The majority of movie mothers are either widowed or divorced, careerists or working class, alcoholics or impregnated by UFOs. The closest you’ll get to a stay-at-home mom in post-1940s cinema is Kathleen Turner playing the psychotic Serial Mom or Michael Keaton taking on the role so his wife can pursue her career in Mr. Mom.

In fact, outside of Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side there hasn’t been a truly admirable middle-class, white, stay-at-home mother on the silver screen in over 50 years. Which is probably why Mom’s Night Out received such a negative critical reception when it premiered last spring. We have been acculturated out of believing in the power and purpose of stay-at-home moms. Yet, the criticisms leveled at Mom’s Night Out for its “depressingly regressive” spirit and “archaic notions of gender roles” were not applied to a similar film about a stay-at-home mom released only two years prior. This Is 40 received mixed reviews, but praise for yielding “…some of [Judd] Apatow’s most personal observations yet on the feelings for husbands, wives, parents, and children that we categorize as love.”

So, what made This Is 40 palatable in a way that Mom’s Night Out wasn’t? Is there, perhaps, a culturally acceptable way to be a stay-at-home mom?

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10 Ways Homeschooling Makes Great Families

Monday, October 27th, 2014 - by Karina Fabian

Most of us parents are well into the school-year routine of getting up early to take kids to the bus or school and coming home to do chores before having to watch over the homework situation – and maybe having to do some intervention about something a kid or teacher said or did. Now, imagine spending the day in your pajamas discussing ancient Greece with your kids before sending them to do 20 minutes of math on the computer before getting ready to meet friends at the park — and all as part of their education. Homeschooling is a growing trend in the United States, and in addition to giving their kids a good education without the stress of an institutionalized setting, parents say one of the best advantages is that it makes for closer families. Here are ten reasons why homeschooling brings families closer.

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How to Win (and Lose) on the Life Issue

Saturday, October 25th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard
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In his endorsement interview with the Plain Dealer, Ohio Governor John Kasich joined Democrat Ed FitzGerald, and Green Party candidate Anita Rios (who decided to run after she lost her job at an abortion clinic) to discuss issues relevant to the campaign, including abortion, with the newspaper’s editorial board.

Kasich, said to be considering a bid for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, says he is pro-life and has taken some steps since he became governor to regulate abortion in the state. He has closed unsafe abortion clinics, beefed up health code regulations for all abortion clinics, and directed state funding to crisis pregnancy centers. Critics complain that he has ignored the “heartbeat bill” that would ban abortions in the state once a baby’s heartbeat can be detected by ultrasound. They also say the governor hasn’t taken any other steps in the direction of actually banning abortion rather than just regulating it.

All of the political maneuvering and legislative issues aside, I think it’s important to consider how we talk about the issue of abortion, whether it’s on the campaign trail or in our in our daily lives among our friends whom we wish to convince that unborn children deserve to be protected and valued.

Earlier this year I wrote “How Republicans Should Talk About Women’s Issues for Ohio Conservative Review. This advice is not exclusive to Republicans, but applies to anyone who wants to effectively communicate the importance of the life issue:

When accused of denying women “reproductive services” we must reframe that issue to express our alarm that a baby is being denied life. While there is a certain radical segment of the population that will continue to oppose us, the tide is turning in the direction of the right to life for the unborn. A recent Quinnipiac poll found most Americans support some restrictions on abortion. A total of 55 percent want a 20-week limit on the procedure and only 23% of women believe abortion should be legal in all cases. When a candidate is asked why he wants to deny a woman the right to “control her body,” he should passionately advocate for the right of a baby to live — citing scientific facts about heartbeats and fingernails and brain waves. He should pull a 3-D ultrasound picture of his child or grandchild out of his suit pocket and ask how a compassionate, just society could tolerate destroying tiny people with little arms and legs. Refuse to accept the narrative that this is only about the rights of the woman. Unapologetically defend the personhood, and therefore the liberty, of unborn children. The truth of the humanity of the unborn is so inconvenient that many will cease asking about the issue if we insist on discussing the personhood of those babies and the tragedy of their deaths.

This should be a no-brainer for candidates who say they are pro-life. The science is settled, as they say, that those flailing arms and legs we peer at on the ultrasound monitor belong to a living human being. No sane, cognizant person can look at a 3-D ultrasound picture and say, “That’s just a blob of tissue” and deny the reality of the life contained within the mother’s womb.

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10 Ways to Avoid Regretting Your Wedding

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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The average wedding in America costs roughly $30,000. Egged on by countless wedding TV shows, magazines, and websites, people throw what appear to be pseudo star-studded events that aim to rival the kind of blow-out parties you only see in movies. In the end you wind up with one night of clouded memories, a ton of photos, and a group of hungover people hovering over breakfast in the hotel lobby the next day. The bills may last you months, even upwards of a year. And for what? To make your grandmother happy? Because you really liked that episode of My Fair WeddingYou can have a great, regret-free wedding without sacrificing yourself to the Wedding Idol. Here’s how.

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What 2 Retired Whores Can Teach Slut-Walk Feminists

Monday, October 20th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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A story about two old Jewish ladies is making the rounds in the Jewish press, but not for the reasons you may think. Sure, they’re bubbes. They’re children of a Holocaust survivor to boot. But the real reason they’re attracting so much attention is that they happen to be retired professional whores.

Dutch twins Louise and Martine Fokkens (probably not their real last name, since “Fokken” is a Dutch term for “old whore”) have become international celebrities since the 2011 release of their biographical documentary Meet the Fokkens. Women’s magazines like Cosmo picked up on their story shortly after the film’s release, publishing quick little details like:

Louise and Martine (mothers of four and three respectively) became prostitutes before the age of 20 in order to escape violent relationships.

It’s an interpretation that, at best, qualifies as a half-truth. Louise was forced into the sex trade by an abusive husband. Martine, however, became a prostitute out of spite:

Martine followed her sister into the trade, working first as a cleaning lady at brothels before she began turning tricks herself. “I was angry at how everybody around us shunned Louise,” Martine said. “I did it out of spite, really.”

Both women eventually divorced their husbands, whom they now describe as “a couple of pimps.” But they continued working in the district “because that had become our lives,” Louise said.

“Our life in the business became a source of pride, a sport of sorts,” Louise added.

In retrospect, both women say they regret becoming prostitutes.

Reading their story, one can’t help but wonder if mainstream feminist advocates for slut walks and “Yes Means Yes” legislation would condemn the pair for regretting the life they chose. After all, their body, their choice, right? They took control of their bad marriages, divorced the husbands they referred to as “pimps” and chose, fully of their own volition, to remain in the sex trade after their exes were fully out of the picture. Martine and Louise, it would seem, are the originators of the Slut Walk.

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These 150 Paula Bolyard Articles & Blog Posts Will Inspire You

Saturday, October 18th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

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So far in this ongoing series compiling and organizing the best work from PJ Lifestyle’s contributors I’ve focused on critics and analysts of popular culture from all over the place. To the north in Canada, the punk rock capitalist canadian: “136 Kathy Shaidle Articles That Expand Your Appreciation of Life and Culture.” To the South, guaranteed smiles from a gifted Georgia writer: “116 Articles Exploring American Culture by Chris Queen.” And to the East Coast, in the wilderness of New Jersey, taking back feminism: “194 Articles and Blog Posts Showcasing Susan L.M. Goldberg’s Compelling Culture Commentaries

Also check out these shorter collections from two newer contributors, focusing on war and comic books: “Don’t Miss These 20 James Jay Carafano Articles Exploring War’s Impact on Pop Culture” and “15 Great Lists Debating Comic Books and Pop Culture by Pierre Comtois.”

Today I highlight two more PJ Lifestyle writers who lead the way in other important fronts in the culture wars. What more appropriate way to promote the section’s family themes than to showcase the diverse perspectives from a mom and a dad? Paula Bolyard and Walter Hudson have both been inspirations to edit, learn from, and befriend over the past few years. They’ve both helped to shape my thinking for the day when I become a parent. Take a look at some of their articles and you’ll see why I’m so optimistic about the impact they can both have on the culture…

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Paula is tremendously persuasive and compelling in her journalism exploring the world of home schooling. Her critiques of public school education and teachers unions have also shaped my perspective. When I have children someday they’ll be homeschooled. That’s Paula. She’ll change your mind too.

But Paula illuminates on a whole swath of issues. Our collaborations began when PJ was looking for an Ohio contributor in 2012. Paula provided very insightful, accessible coverage then and has returned to covering her home states’s news political controversies, and culture. Post-election I was eager to see Paula explore other topics. She’s had many successful articles on everything from parenting advice to religious commentaries to life reflections to goofy nostalgia pieces. Her pro-life articles are some of the best I’ve ever read — models of how to articulate values and win over fence-sitters.

After you check out a few of Paula’s articles please get in touch with us and let us know what kinds of ideas you’d like to see her explore in the future. Please leave your comments or hit us up on Twitter: @Pbolyard and @DaveSwindle

And now also check out today: “125 Articles and Blog Posts Showcasing the Wit & Wisdom of Walter Hudson.”

 

Education

  1. When Teachers Act Like Thugs ‘for the Children!’
  2. A Parent Guide to Teachers’ Unions
  3. Has a Century of Progressive Education Turned Us into Obedient Sheep?
  4. Should Parents Take Over Failing Schools?
  5. When Radical Teachers Occupy the Department of Education
  6. Can the Left and Right Find Common Ground on Common Core and High-Stakes Testing?
  7. Arming Teachers in Schools
  8. What is the Cultural Profile for the Class of 2017?
  9. Shelter-in-Place: This Generation’s Duck-and-Cover
  10. Weeping, Confession, and Hugs Replace Reading, Writing, and Math at School
  11. 10 Terrible Common Core Homework Assignments
  12. Should Colleges Have Parent-Teacher Conferences?
  13. Are We Getting Carried Away With Common Core Curriculum Phobia?
  14. 10 Things Your Kids May Never Read Because Common Core Neglects Cursive
  15. How Parents Are Winning the Common Core Debate
  16. Common Core: As Untested as the U.S. Speed Skating Suits
  17. How Can Parents Fight Back Against Federal Bleacher Bullies?
  18. Ohio Lawmakers Hold Common Core Repeal Hearings
  19. Terrorist-Supporting Kent State Professor’s Incendiary, Anti-Semitic Facebook Posts
  20. More Outrage at Kent State About a Sweatshirt Than a Terrorist Sympathizing Professor

Homeschooling

  1. Think You Could Never Homeschool?
  2. Ohio Gives Homeschoolers Equal Access to Sports and Other Activities
  3. Will Your Kids Grow Up to Be Weird if You Homeschool Them?
  4. What If All the Homeschoolers Suddenly Enrolled in Public School?
  5. 7 Objections to Homeschooling Teens
  6. How Common Core is Coming to Homeschoolers
  7. Are Elite Colleges and Universities Discriminating Against Homeschoolers?
  8. 4 Secrets from the Hidden World of Homeschoolers
  9. Does Homeschooling Reduce Opportunities for Women in the Workplace?
  10. An Open Letter to Grandparents of Homeschooled Kids
  11. Ohio Lawmakers Want Social Workers to Have Veto Power Over Decision to Homeschool
  12. UPDATE: Controversial Ohio Homeschool Bill Withdrawn After Grassroots Tsunami Opposes
  13. German Homeschooling Family Can Stay in U.S.
  14. Do Homeschoolers ‘Rob’ Public Schools of Tax Dollars?
  15. Strong Religious Beliefs Can Shape How Women View Homeschooling
  16. 5 Pro Tips for Homeschoolers
  17. The Top 10 Reasons to Join a Homeschool Co-op
  18. The Top 10 Reasons to Avoid a Homeschool Co-Op
  19. Homeschooling Family Ordered to Follow Common Core Curriculum

Family and Parenting

  1. 4 Benefits of Marrying Young
  2. What to Expect When You’re Expecting (Your College Kid Home for Christmas)
  3. Raising Boys Who Grow Up to Be Men Who Go to Combat With Women
  4. 5 Busybodies Who Want to Parent Your Kids
  5. Stay-at-Home Moms: Will Your Kids Judge You for Choosing Them Over a Career?
  6. Small-Town Values and Two-Parent Families
  7. 7 Quick Tips for Parents of New College Students
  8. The 5 Best American Historical Fiction Books to Read Aloud to Your Kids
  9. What We Taught Our Boys About Girls Like Miley Cyrus
  10. Was Bad Parenting to Blame for the Sandy Hook Massacre?
  11. Is Your Child a Stealth Dyslexic?
  12. I Agree With Camille Paglia on This Kind of Family Planning for Teens
  13. Implementing Andrew McCarthy’s Proposed Compromise on the Marriage Question
  14. How Do You Survive When Your World Shatters?
  15. How Did We Survive Childhood Before the ’90s Safety Nannies Came Along?

Guns

  1. How I Evolved on Guns During the #BostonPoliceScanner Manhunt
  2. Evolving on Guns: Considering the Morality of Gun Ownership Now That I Refuse to Be a Victim
  3. Evolving on Guns: My First Foray into Gun Culture

Ohio

  1. How to Commit Voter Fraud in Ohio
  2. It’s the Gas Prices, Stupid
  3. Will We See a Florida Recount Rematch in Ohio?
  4. Does Obama Have the Stronger Ground Game in Ohio?
  5. Ohio: Somali Voters, ACORN Tactics, and Voter Fraud Allegations
  6. Ohio Post-Mortem: Glitz, Gimmicks, Sleight-of-Hand, and Witnessing Fraud
  7. Is Ohio Governor John Kasich the Chris Christie of the Midwest?
  8. Cleveland House of Horrors: Should Somebody Have Done Something?
  9. Cleveland Kidnapper Ariel Castro Sentenced to 1000 Years, Blames Victims
  10. Cleveland House of Horrors Demolished
  11. Ohio’s Ashland University Slashes Tuition by $10,000
  12. Ohio Paper Can’t Find a Single Person to Argue Against Legalizing Pot… Really??
  13. The Top 10 Things to Do in Cleveland
  14. Ohio Gubernatorial Candidate Proposes ‘Win Tax’ for Cleveland Sports Teams
  15. Federal Judge Orders Ohio to Restore Early Voting on 3 Days Before Election Day
  16. Conflicted About LeBron’s Return to Cleveland
  17. Ohio Teachers Threaten to Strike Over Being Forced into Obamacare Exchanges
  18. Cleveland School Dumps FLOTUS Lunches for Chipotle-Style Burritos and Clam Chowder
  19. Cleveland VA Still Mired in Huge Backlogs

Nostalgia

  1. Hundreds of Drive-In Theaters May Close Permanently at End of Season
  2. The 1970s Culture Clash in 2 Songs
  3. 10 Modern Technologies We Lived Without in Primitive, Pre-Millennial America
  4. 5 Memories That Will Make You Nostalgic for the 1970s
  5. The 10 Most Terrifying Public Service Announcements from the 1970s
  6. The 10 Most Essential Women’s Shoes in the 1970s
  7. Whatever Happened to Our Top 10 Favorite Tiger Beat Cover Boys From the 1970s?
  8. 10 Comic Book Ads That Destroyed Your Faith in Humanity Before You Hit Puberty

Life Advice and Reflections

  1. Baseball: The Last Refuge from What Divides Us
  2. On September 11, Another Pilot Died in His Seat
  3. 9/11 as the Chilling Details Unfolded Online
  4. Things We Take for Granted
  5. Get Off the Phone!
  6. 5 Reasons To Remain Optimistic That We Haven’t Lost America Yet
  7. 5 Things to Grab When You Hear the Tornado Sirens
  8. The Sacrifice of One
  9. 10 Surprisingly Unconventional Uses for Your Crock-Pot

Religion

  1. Christian Churches Occupied, Shia Mosques Destroyed, Nuns and Orphans Kidnapped in Iraq
  2. Marco Rubio and the Progressive Atheist Orthodoxy
  3. Dear Sister Wives Star Kody Brown: Love Should Be Exclusive, not Divided
  4. The (g)odless Inaugural Prayer
  5. Is a Spiritual Revolution the Missing Link in Our Quest for a Political Revolution?
  6. New Great Awakening: Should Pastors and Churches Be Involved in Politics?
  7. New Great Awakening: America Is Not a Christian Nation
  8. New Great Awakening: Does God Promise to Heal Our Land If We Pray?
  9. New Great Awakening: When Politicians Speak for God
  10. The Atheist Who Silenced the Astronaut
  11. What Would Dietrich Bonhoeffer Say to Anthony Weiner?
  12. Fal$e Teacher$ — Christian Rapper Shames Prosperity Preachers
  13. Is Your Church Too Old — Or Too Young?
  14. Why Liberals Hate Tim Tebow
  15. Should Christian Parents Send their Children to Public Schools?
  16. Will the Tolerance Agenda Destroy Christian Higher Education?
  17. A Model of Interfaith Dialogue: A Southern Baptist at Brigham Young University
  18. How about Celebrating Reformation Day instead of Halloween?
  19. At Least We Don’t Have Marauding Hippos in the Streets of America
  20. Right This Very Minute Someone Is Being Tortured
  21. Peace with God Amid Christmas Chaos
  22. Thanks to Our Atheist, Agnostic, and Liberal Friends for Their Help in the Liberty Wars
  23. Does God Care Who Wins the Super Bowl?
  24. The Resurgence of God in Academia
  25. Will Christianity Survive the Sexual Revolution?
  26. Is Heaven Is for Real… Real?
  27. British PM David Cameron Emphasizes the Importance of Christianity in Society
  28. Where Was Jesus on Saturday Between His Death and Resurrection?
  29. Have You Done Enough for God This Easter?
  30. A Moment of Prayer on the Campaign Trail
  31. Sarah Palin: ‘Waterboarding Is How We Baptize Terrorists’
  32. 10 Quotes on Faith and Freedom from Eric Metaxas’ Hillsdale Commencement Address
  33. The Left’s Anti-Christian Bigotry Strategy 2.0
  34. Jesuit Priest Abducted in Afghanistan

Pro-Life

  1. Extreme Makeover: Planned Parenthood Edition
  2. 5 Things Planned Parenthood Doesn’t Want You to Know About Pregnancy Resource Centers
  3. Can This Powerful Song Change the Hearts of Abortion Supporters?
  4. Blood on Humanitarian Icon Mandela’s Hands
  5. The 3 Deadliest Words in the World: ‘It’s a Girl’
  6. What Happens to America’s Aborted Babies?
  7. Is It True That 50 Years Ago Christians Didn’t Care About Abortion?
  8. Obama’s America: Abortion Deserts Across the Country
  9. Ohio Cracks Down on Unsafe Abortion Clinics

TV

  1. 5 Covert Conservative Lessons in Downton Abbey
  2. Best Moments from the Season Premier of Duck Dynasty
  3. Who Are You to Judge Duck Dynasty‘s Phil Robertson?
  4. The Touching Asperger’s Storyline on Parenthood
  5. Why We Will Miss Downton Abbey

Humor

  1. 10 Ladies’ Room Rules That Will Keep Other Women from Hating You
  2. The 10 Dumbest Fireworks Fails
  3. The 10 Most Amazing Pet Home Birth Videos
  4. 11 Curious Spurious Correlations

Activism and Ideology

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