Useless opinions.

Understanding Children

Carolyn 1950

Me, age 2.

When a child is born, it has no language, thoughts or intentions. It is a small, totally dependent being whose needs are simple. The child needs to be held, fed, changed, kept warm. The child needs love. Children in orphanages who were fed and clothed and changed, but not held, died.

     For the first two years, the child is developing its ability to control its body, to speak and to relate to people. The small child who is not yet speaking has no intentionality beyond its need to develop. The progress and stages of the development of a child are pretty much the same for every child, except in cases of physical or mental handicap. For details on that, see “Piaget’s theory of cognitive and affective development.”

     If you impute intentionality to a young child, you are ascribing to the child intentions that do not exist. You are projecting on the child your view of the world and of the child. A young child is totally loving, curious, trusting, open, honest and self expressed. Any behavior in a young child that is not consistent with the above is caused by the actions of an adult with that child.

     As a child acquires language and develops mentally and physically, it begins to form its self-view, its view of other people and its world view. The first time something upsetting happens to the child after he or she acquires language, the child makes a meaning about it, and that meaning becomes the theme of the child’s life. The purpose of the meaning the child makes up is to make sense of the world and protect itself from any future threatening occurrences. It makes up a meaning about itself, about other people, and about life. It also makes up a strategy to cope with that kind of occurrence.

     These things form the child’s personality and identity. The child may decide that he or she is “not good enough,” or “bad,” or “unlovable,” or “not doing it right,” or “worthless,” or any of a myriad of things. It may decide that other people are untrustworthy, or dangerous, or mean, or undependable, or uncaring, etc. It may decide that life or the world is dangerous, or uncaring, or unfair and so on. The child develops a strategy to survive. It may choose a strategy of compliance, or hiding, or fighting, or not caring, or being good, and so on.

      In the case of the child who decides to be good, it may say something to itself like: If I be very good, then Mommy (and people) will love me. The child may decide that people are untrustworthy or undependable. The child may decide that he or she will depend only on him or herself. His strategy will be to not trust people and to be self-reliant. If the child decides that it must fight to protect itself, this mode of adaptation will show up whenever the child feels threatened. The child will fight with others frequently.

     When the child’s basic trust has been damaged or destroyed, it will act out as it tries to protect itself. It will fight, or hide, or run, or manipulate, or lie, or cry and so on, to avoid what it is afraid of. None of these behaviors means that the child is bad. The child is just a very young human being trying to figure out how to protect itself in a situation that it sees as dangerous. If the child’s trust has been badly damaged, it will take a long time and a lot of patience and persistence to restore the child’s trust. Very likely, the person who caused the child’s loss of trust is not the person to restore it.

     So what does a child need? Between birth and about a year and a half, the child needs to be fed when it’s hungry, covered when it’s cold, changed when it urinates or defecates, and held when it is distressed. The child needs to be held most of the time in the beginning, and it’s need to be held gradually tapers off as it grows. At two, the child will come to the parent when it wants to be held. Eventually, around 10 or so, depending on the family, the child will stop asking to be held. The family that continues to hug are happier families. It is the parents who set the tone.

     Very young children are sensitive to the emotions and energy of the people around them. The child feels if the person who is holding it is happy or sad, contented or angry, and it responds to that energy. If the child is crying and a person who picks it up is happy and loving, the child stops crying. It is comforted. If the child is contented and someone who is angry or sad picks it up, the child will cry, and try to get away if it can.

     Children are capable of communicating their needs and feelings, if the adults take the time to listen, and if they can listen without judging or trying to turn it into a teaching moment. Like everyone else, the child just wants to know that it is heard. If you listen to the child and communicate to it that what it said has been heard and understood, whatever is bothering the child will disappear. The conversation will be something like this: The child is crying, you say, “What’s the matter Mary?” “I’m sad.” “What are you sad about?” “I’m sad because Johnny took my toy” “You’re sad because Johnny took your toy?” Yes, and I’m mad too.” “You’re mad too.” “Yeah, I’m mad. I’m very, very mad at Johnny.” “You’re very, very mad at Johnny.” As the conversation continues, the child will be less and less upset, until it is clear that the child’s upset is gone. There is nothing else to do.

     Whatever the child does, it is not because the child is bad. It is out of the child’s needs. Needs for love, food, self-expression, safety, need to explore, need to learn, need to move. The children need correction. The child doesn’t know what is acceptable behavior until someone teaches it. The child doesn’t know that picking his nose and wiping it on the wall is not acceptable until someone tells him. The child doesn’t know that grabbing a toy from another child is not acceptable until you tell him. He is not bad, he just doesn’t know.

The reasons for the rules should be explained to the child. “I don’t want you to run into the street because you could get hit by a car and hurt badly or killed.” “It is wrong to grab a toy because it makes the other child sad, and the child won’t want to play with you.” “You must go to bed now because you have to get up early tomorrow, and if you don’t get enough sleep you will be tired and grumpy and you might fall asleep in class.” Sometimes, “Because I say so.” is a legitimate reason.

Children are a delight to be with. They are open, honest, direct, loving, accepting, inquisitive, curious, affectionate and kind. If you find them otherwise, take a look at yourself. What stories are you telling yourself about what the child should be, or what the child’s behavior means. That is what needs to be corrected, not the child. So, if you find being with children a delight, you are a natural at the mentoring and care of children. If you find them annoying, you have the wrong attitude. Do yourself and the kids a favor and stay away from them



Citizen: “I want to report a break-in”

Officer: “Are you sure it was a break-in, and not morning after regret”?

Citizen: “What are you talking about, you can see the damage the burglar did”?

Officer: “This place is pretty attractive, with the nicely mowed lawn, and the flowers, and the well maintained building, maybe you

were asking for it.”

Citizen: “Are you crazy? What does how attractive my house is have to do with anything?

Officer: “Well, you know if you make your house too attractive, it would be hard for a burglar to resist the temptation.”

Citizen: “I know who it was, I saw him as he was running away. He was here one day last week to do some work.”

Officer: “Oh, so you invited him in before? So naturally he assumed he had the right to come in again. How many other people have you invited into your house?”

Citizen: “Whose side are you on? I have a right to be secure in my house and my person, and nobody has the right to enter my house without my invitation.”

Officer: “Well now, if you get a reputation for letting people into your house, people will think of you are easy and available to anyone.”

Citizen: (Speechless)

Officer: “Are you sure to want to make a report? Why don’t you just chalk it up to experience, and be more careful from now on?” “You know if it gets out that your house was broken into, the community will see your house as less valuable. You’ll get a reputation, and a lot of people will say you are lying.”

Obviously, this kind of conversation doesn’t happen when someone reports a burglary, but it does when someone reports a rape. There is no justification for blaming the victim and defending the criminal.

There is no justification for rape. There is nothing a woman, child or man can do that can force a perpetrator to commit rape. It is a voluntary act, committed intentionally by a man who disregards the rights of his victim, with confidence that he will get away with it, and all too often, he does.

And when a woman reports the rape, It’s she who has to defend herself from accusations of lying, or being complicit in her victimization; by the police or the university and the community. She is the one attacked by members of the community, not for what she did, but for telling on the one who did it to her.

Rapists are not excoriated for what they did, they are not shunned. They don’t have to move away to escape the condemnation of their community. They get a pat on the back and a “boys will be boys” from their friends and their community.

It is a twisted logic that turns the victim into the perpetrator and the perpetrator into the victim.

Being attractive or sexy is not an invitation. No means no. Being drunk or on drugs is not permission. A rapist is a rapist, and a woman who says she was raped should be believed.




To start with, to be a good wife, you need to choose a good husband. 

A good husband loves his wife and kids, supports them, spends time with them and does not have any major vices, like drugs, drinking, gambling, womanizing, violence, criminal activity, or the like.  He is not perfect, but he does his best. 

A good wife is emotionally supportive of her husband. She encourages him to pursue the career that he is passionate about, even if it means doing without while he is building his career. She also does not have any major vices like the ones I listed above. 

A good marriage results from honest communication and a willingness to listen. A good spouse wants their partner to be happy, and is a sympathetic listener when their partner is upset or depressed. 

It also takes a willingness to forgive your spouse if she or he gives in to human weakness, understanding that trust once lost is difficult to get back. 

One of the most important components of a good marriage is integrity. This means doing what you say you will do, when you say you will do it, or letting them know you can’t do it, in a timely manner, and re-promising. Broken promises lead to loss of credibility, and loss of credibility leads to cynicism and resignation, and often, divorce. 

A good spouse is not one who fails to speak up when their partner has disappointed them, for fear of confrontation. That’s being a door-mat. 

A good spouse is honest about what they want and need, without being stuck on how it should look to get it. 

Sometimes negotiation is required, if the two of you want things that seem to be at odds. Compromise by both parties may be needed.  You are in a partnership, and both of you need to be considering the happiness of the other as well as yourself. 

The one thing I have done that has resulted in a happy marriage with my husband of over 20 years, is the Landmark Forum, and other Landmark courses. I highly recommend them. 

So much to do

I don’t have a wage-earning job. I am home most days all day. I also have a long list of things to do. When I look at this long list, I find that I don’t know how to choose one to work on. I don’t seem to be able to determine which one is most important.

Here is the list, with only the headings:

1. Seminar homework (The Landmark Money Seminar)

2. Make a promised baby blanket (For a great-grandchild on the way).

3. Make a promised knitted cap (For cancer patients)

4. Work on getting my textile arts business started. (12 items).

5. Work on weaving a baby blanket for other great grandchild on the way.

6. Scan my deceased mother’s diaries and letters, so I can make them available to my nine siblings.

7. Routine housework.

8. Home improvement and repair to our 114-year-old, eight bedroom house to get it ready to sell. Inside: 15 items. and Outside: 8 items. (With Hubby.)

9. Finish organizing stuff being stored in guest room, and set up a bed. (see number 6)

10. Personal health: exercise, diet (nutrition), meditate, yoga.

11. Update family website.

12. Get my book published.

13 . Babysit the two great grand-children who live with us.

14. With Hubby, manage finances.

So. It’s a pretty long list. Some of the items are things I enjoy doing. Some of them feel like things I should do. Some are things I have to do if I don’t want my life to spin out of control.

I haven’t included the two things I end up spending the most time on: The computer/internet and TV.

My grand-daughter is expecting a baby within the next two weeks, so if she’s not feeling well and her Mom is not available, I babysit. That’s a pretty high priority. And that makes it hard to do most of the other things on the list.

Another thing I didn’t list is this blog.  I would like to post something at least once a week.

I am planning on taking a “Design to Win” Workshop. I will get some structure and guidance in managing my projects there. It’s in April.

If you are better than me at managing multiple projects, I would be happy to hear about it.



Have you ever noticed in the movies when the hero says to the damsel in distress, “don’t look down” she always does?

There is a reason when you say “don’t” it doesn’t work.

The function of the conscious mind is to make decisions. The function of the subconscious mind is to carry out those decisions. The most important decisions we make in life are often decisions we don’t remember making. They are the decisions about who we are going to be, about what strategies we will use to win in life, and how we will avoid repeating bad experiences.

We make them when we are young, and our subconscious minds make sure that whatever we decided about who we are, what we are capable or not capable of, and how we will relate to people, will be carried out.

It’s as if the conscious mind is the programmer, and the subconscious mind is the part being programmed.

Hypnotists understand this, and know that it is the subconscious mind that they must address to be effective at planting suggestions that the subject will carry out when he is conscious, and he is often not aware he is doing it, or does not understanding why he is doing it.

There are ways of getting at those hidden decisions, bringing them into the light, and addressing them. Hypnotism is one, but you are putting your subconscious programming into the hands of someone else. Do you really want to trust something so important to someone else, especially if he or she is a stranger?

Another is to find a competent Dianetic auditor. Good luck with that, without getting involved with the C of S. (You know who I mean). I don’t recommend that path.

The last one is to register in the Landmark Forum. This is an education that helps you uncover your hidden decisions and create new possibilities for being that are empowering.

Back to the original point of this article. Why you should not use the word “don’t.

The subconscious mind does not comprehend negatives. No, not, don’t, won’t, can’t, etc. get translated into the positive form, especially “don’t.” So if you say, “I won’t forget my keys.” You are sure to forget your keys, because your subconscious mind translates it into “I will forget my keys.” Then it carries out the order.

So, whether you are talking to yourself, your spouse, your child, or anyone, say it in positive terms: “I will remember my keys.” “Be careful.” (not, “don’t hurt yourself”), “I am healthy and strong.” instead of “I hope I don’t get sick.” “I hope I succeed,” instead of “I hope I don’t screw up.” To a child; “Be good.” instead of “Don’t be bad.”

You get the idea.

Another place to be very careful about how you talk to yourself or your child is in the careless use of language relating to the body. For example, if you are in the habit of saying something like “It’s a pain in the ass,” or “you’re giving me a headache.” or “oh my aching back!” to describe frustration, annoyance, or some other negative emotional state, you are creating a state of physical illness in your body.

That’s because your subconscious mind and your body will carry out your commands.

My husband had a friend from college. He lost track of her, but a few years ago he got back in communication with her. She was very ill and soon after died from colon cancer. All her life she was in the habit of saying “it’s a pain in the ass” to describe any situation she was unhappy with.

If you’re annoyed, angry, sad, or irritated, say that, don’t say something about the condition of your body. It’s ok to say “I’ve got a knot in my stomach right now,” as a means of communicating how you are feeling about a particular situation, but don’t say “you make me sick.”

I first came across this idea in an article in Co-Evolution Quarterly magazine, which I subscribed to in the 70’s and 80’s. The article in titled, “Language, Thought and Disease” by W.C. Ellerbroek, M.D. The article is available to read on the internet. The issue is number 17, Spring 1978.

So, “Live long and prosper” my friends and fans, and treat yourself and your body like the precious things they are.

What is the value of me?


It occurred to me while reading an inspiring story about the spiritual role of pets in our lives ( that my self-esteem issues are unworthy of the respect that my higher spiritual self merits.

By entertaining stories in my head about my unworthiness, I am forgetting that I am a spiritual being, a child of God.

I am one of those people who is really reliable for other people. If I say I will do something, I’m very good at doing it when I say I will do it, or if I find that I can’t do it when I say I will, I let the person know, and make a new promise.

But when I put something in my calendar where I am answerable only to myself, my track record is lousy.

What I saw about that, thanks to the Landmark work I’m doing, is that I am reliable for others because having people like and approve of me is one of my strong suits. That means my inner child has it that my survival depends on it. On the other hand, I don’t take the promises I make to myself seriously, because my inner child also has it that I’m not important.

So, in the context of “I am a spirit which inhabits a body.” I am creating a possibility of being: “A child of God, whose needs, wants, desires and aspirations are important.”


All it takes is a cursory review of news items on the internet about how Cops and Judges handle complaints or charges of rape to see that their sympathies go to the perpetrators of these crimes, rather than the victims of them.

Why is that, I wonder? Could it be that they are sympathetic to rapists because they are rapists, or consider themselves capable of rape?

Could it be because they see women and girls as objects to be used, rather that human beings with feelings and rights?

What could possibly be the motivation of a judge who gives a man, over forty and a teacher, 30 days in jail for raping a 14 year old student? Could it be that he isn’t capable of looking beyond the fact that the rapist looks like himself, and the victim doesn’t?

What reason could there be for police officers to discourage a woman from reporting or pressing charges when she has been raped? Would they support a law that would make it legal for men to rape women?

What’s behind the notion that how a woman is dressed or whether she has been drinking or whether she is a virgin has any bearing on the culpability of the rapist?

If male law professionals saw women as people with the right to choose whether they have sex with a man, or be safe in her person, in her home or on the streets, these questions would have no relevance.

Also behind that notion is the assumption that men are not capable of controlling themselves, that seeing an attractive and vulnerable woman makes them lose all control of themselves, and that they should not be held responsible or liable for what they do.

I propose we take the stand that anyone who takes the side of a rapist against his victim is as guilty of the crime as he is.

All of the above applies to any and all men in positions of authority who do anything less than vigorously act to protect the safety of the women and children in their community.

There are some communities that do the right thing when dealing with the crime of rape, and they are to be commended. The rest of them need to get with it.

Just a note: If I receive any hate mail about this post, I will repost it to Facebook.