Susan Radzilowski: Practical Strategies for Peaceful Parenting (1h7m)

This episode features a parenting workshop by social worker Susan Radzilowski from 2016. This workshop views behavior through the lens of positive parenting. A guiding principle of this framework is to remember that all behavior has meaning. Using positive discipline strategies when your child’s behavior is a concern can help to transform problem behaviors into teachable moments. Purchase books on peaceful parenting through the EVC Recommended Links page here.

Listen To This Episode (1h7m, mp3, 64kbps)

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The Best Things to Learn about Raising Children (37m) – Episode 275

Episode 275 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following topics: using an essay by Leo Babauta of ZenHabits.net, he looks at 18 of the best things to learn about raising children; loving your children unconditionally; helicopter parenting; the harmful effects of harsh discipline; self-directed education; learning independence; democratic family decision-making; leading your children by example; parental contrition; shielding children from sex, drugs, and technology; giving children space; recognizing that your children should be allowed to become their own person; and more.

Listen to Episode 275 (37m, mp3, 64kbps)

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Quarter-Life Crises Are Good For You

“So teach us to count our days
    that we may gain a wise heart.” – Psalm 90:12

I’m about to turn 23, and I’m feeling the pinch of time. It really does pick up speed.

By 23, I expected I would have my own business, a published book, a trusty old horse, the looks of Indiana Jones, a Batcave, and a sidekick. I’m sure you had similar high ambitions when you were 17 or so: maybe you were going to travel, read all the great books, or invest and become financially independent at an early age.

I’m not saying I’m having a quarter-life crisis. But I am saying I understand the people who do.

Around the time life speeds up, it can be very easy to start forgetting and neglecting all the things you said you were going to do. By the time you reach the quarter-century mark of our lives, you realize you’ve either over-shot our goals or under-budgeted time and effort for your achievements.

I’ve done a lot of cool things in 23 year of life – things I never expected I would do. But I also see all the ways I shirked from my goals, wasted my time, wasted good wealth, and stayed comfortable when I should have been bold and wise.

Here are a few things I wish I had known coming out of my teens into my twenties:

1. Always be cultivating and protecting your independence. Breaking out of the gravitational pull of the life model set by your parents and your peers is harder than you thing. It’s not a once and done thing – as I assumed somewhat. You must constantly review your lifestyle and resist the subconscious pull of imitating others. You must be capable of repeating all of the hard decisions and hard conversations and hard sacrifices of your “coming of age” in new forms.

2 Things come in cycles – so prepare for a marathon, not a sprint. Each moral dilemma, expense, setback, challenge, duty will feel new, like a one-time challenge that can be forgotten and then left behind. But you will realize slowly that these things come in cycles – and that you have to budget for them in terms of time, energy and resources. Too many times I’ve thrown everything I have at a problem or desire, only for it to come back again to find me unprepared. I should have

3. Time dilates. Again, that old thing about time running faster? It’s entirely true. Once you get into work, you’ll find all of that youthful free time shrinking and shrinking. It’s easy to be lulled into thinking that just working a job well is progress. It isn’t – not if you want your own Batcave or cruise ship (insert wildly big goal here). You will have to notice how the weeks and months blend together – and learn from that flow how precious your time is. To manage to reach your goals as your time shrinks, you will have to be increasingly disciplined and intentional about how you use your time.

4. You aren’t special. Around my age, you start losing all of that “special snowflake” status you may have had when you were college-aged. You no longer get to compare yourself to college students. You finally have to compare yourself to what you thought your adult self would be life. And you probably will be disappointed. But that’s a good thing. You should be competing against and aspiring to the kind of lives led by the best men and women in history. And to even start on that path, you have to realize how far off the track and how unexceptional you currently are.

5. Progress and regress both compound quickly. Most if not all progress works on the principle of compound interest. And with time going by faster and faster, you can either see progress or regress compound faster and faster. Every year passing by puts you further behind or further ahead – there is no standing still. Small habits started young will snowball (particularly where character is concerned). I’ve gone from running a mile to running a half-marathon in a year of progress on one metric. I’ve also seen myself spend more and more of my money (money I should be investing) from a habit of trading money for convenience. Not good. I’ve also wasted this effect by spreading myself too thin on things to learn or do.

The reason I’m *not* having a quarter-life crisis? Because now I know these things. And I know it’s half-time for my youth. In the words of Clint Eastwood (just replace “America” with “me”)

“All that matters now is what’s ahead. How do we come from behind? How do we come together? And, how do we win? Detroit’s showing us it can be done. And, what’s true about them is true about all of us. This country can’t be knocked out with one punch. We get right back up again and when we do the world is going to hear the roar of our engines. Yeah, it’s halftime America. And, our second half is about to begin.”

We need a good hard slap in this day and age to remind ourselves that life is short. We need a good reminder that life is passing us by and life will pass us by – comfortably – if we don’t do anything about it.

Let’s use our birthdays (and quarter-life crises) to remember that.

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How People Become Experts

I have a friend who is a computer science expert of sorts. But he wasn’t always that way.

When he was young, the people around him threw up their hands when they encountered computer problems. They looked for someone to fix them.

At 11 years old, my friend was not a computer expert. He was just curious enough to want to try to fiddle around with computers. Over time, he became the go-to guy for anyone with computer problems at his school (including, I would assume, administrators).

He filled this de facto role enough and for long enough that he came into a career in computer science, in which he does this kind of work full time.

What I love about his story is that it illustrates how experts are often made.

They may not even start out with a goal of becoming experts. But they do repeatedly choose curiosity over passivity. Instead of throwing up their hands in the face of problems, they see those problems as invitations to exploration. When some people take course A, they take course B.

If they’re going to be experts, they’ll keep taking course B at every fork in the road. They gain experience, discipline, and reputation. Eventually they look up and they’re experts.

Depending on how many times you choose curiosity in any given track – computers, hardware, building, gardening, painting, etc – you can either become an expert or become someone who relies on experts. There’s no shame in either, but think about how you’re reacting to problems. Your curiosity or passivity now will shape your future.

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Discipline, Homeschooling Intolerance, Politics and Development (23m) – Editor’s Break 091

Editor’s Break 091 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following topics: what it means to discipline a child and whether he’d be okay with other people disciplining his children; what to do about your anger or prejudice toward a loved one who has decided to keep their children home from school; how politics, the use of violence in society, can affect societal and economic development; and more.

Listen to Editor’s Break 091 (23m, mp3, 64kbps)

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A Critique and a Defense of Mythologizing the Past

Was Abraham Lincoln really a moral leader who saved the United States and ended slavery? Did George Washington really save the Continental Army and win the American revolution? Was Thomas Jefferson really a forward-thinking liberalizer?

Alluring Myth vs. Disappointing Fact

The stories of men like these are quintessential examples of how many people mythologize the past. Many of the historical characters, stories, and happenings we learn in popular culture are similar: simplified, idealized, and moralized to convince us of our congenital greatness or persuade us to some perceived virtue.

But as with many core “events” of our American past, a study of real history tells us things are a bit more complicated than what our favorite histories convey. Lincoln suspended many civil rights of his own people and supported slavery-protective plans like the Crittendon Compromise. Jefferson had sex with (which amounts to “raped”) his slaves. Washington was widely criticized for his conduct as a general and took questionably British actions as president (including armed suppression of tax resistance – sound familiar?)

At worst, mythologization can have tremendous destructive impact. When people begin to believe myths about their people’s great collective past, for instance, they might end up with something like Nazi Germany or imperial Britain/America/Japan, etc.. But on most days, mythologization just creates distorted images of real people and real events that can have more subtle consequences on thinking about policy and political philosophy. Because Franklin Delano Roosevelt is mythologized as the man who led the US out of the Great Depression (highly questionable), many people still adopt and use Keynesian economic policy in times of economic downturn.

A Brief Defense of Mythologizing the Past

So far, mythologization doesn’t have a whole lot going for it. But I do think there is room for mythology – albeit of a limited form. For all our faults as humans, if we cannot look back on our predecessors and see some actions or persons worth emulating, we’re hopelessly screwed. We need to know that virtue is not just a floating concept but something someone has actually done.

Done right, mythologization is an artful way to highlight and bring into focus the *actual* heroic actions of people from the past. It consciously sets out to show us not “everything that happened” but “something that happened that matters.” That something shows us how to act in the here and now.

Consider the famous HBO show Band of Brothers.It is a selective, mythologized retelling, with heroic music in the background and a Hollywood budget to make it look good. It is no propaganda piece – it’s honest about the horrors the men of the 101st Airborne faced and the horrors they inflicted in World War 2. But the story itself is also primarily concerned with the heroism of many of EZ Company’s members. And much of it is set to heroic music for extra effect.

But if we can’t learn the exact history of Operation Overlord or Operation Market Garden from these men or from their mythologization in Band of Brothers, we can learn how to be bold and disciplined and brave and loyal to comrades and faithful to a mission. That to me makes mythologization worth it in any case. What effect does the mythologization have?  Does it mislead people about cause and effect? It might be harmful. Does it encourage people to new levels of self-leadership? It might be good.

Yes, even the actions of men like Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson can teach us, and should (I loved the recent movie Lincoln despite my qualms with Lincoln). To let their faults ruin the perfectly good stories of their goodness would be a waste. There is a room for both iconoclasm and mythologization in history. In fact, as history is so full of complexity, it may be necessary to have a dialogue between both in order to have an accurate and useful view into the past.

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