The 11 Life Lessons It Turns Out I’ve Taught My Six Kids

On my 46th birthday recently, my (mostly adult) kids wrote out a list of lessons I’d taught each of them in their lives so far. Each wrote their own list, and my wife Eva sweetly put them together in a notebook.

As I read through them, I felt like crying. It’s so incredibly touching that they appreciate what I’ve been trying to pass on to them, things I’ve been learning and want them to understand.

As a father, there are few things more meaningful than to see how you’ve helped your kids through your example and talks over the years. We have a mixed family of 6 kids, aging from 13 years old to 26 years, and all of them are wonderful human beings.

It turns out, there were some lessons that all or most of the kids put on their list, which I’m going to share with you here. These lessons they had in common made me wonder if these were the more powerful lessons, or if they were simply the ones I talked about the most. 🙂

So here they are, roughly ordered in how frequently they showed up on my kids’ lists:

  1. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and it’s okay to fail. This was tied (with the next one) as the most common lesson on their lists — it made all their lists, I think. I really love that this lesson hit home with them.
  2. Have empathy & try to see things from others’ perspectives. This was the other lesson on all their lists, and again, it’s beautiful that they all took this to heart. I’ve tried to show them this through my actions, though of course I’m not at all perfect.
  3. Push out of your comfort zone. This is another one I’ve tried to teach by example, from running several marathons and an ultramarathon to doing things that scare me, like speaking on stage or writing books. This lesson is so important to me that
  4. Don’t spend more than you have. This is such a simple idea, but one that is rarely followed. I’m glad my kids are starting out with this mindset — live within your means, save as much as you can.
  5. Appreciate what you have & enjoy where you are right now. I love this one. It’s something that I try to embody, but also remind them when they are thinking about what they don’t have. Each time we’re stuck in complaint, it’s an opportunity to wake up to the beauty that’s in front of us.
  6. Sadness is a part of life, and there’s nothing wrong with feeling it. Despite what I said in the previous item, it’s OK to feel sadness, pain, grief, frustration, anxiety, anger. In fact, most of us never want to feel those things, so we’ll do whatever we can to ignore them or get away from the feelings. Instead, I try to actually feel those things, as an experience. It teaches me about struggle — if we’re not willing to face our own struggles, how can we be there for others when they struggle?
  7. Don’t give up just because something gets hard. As new adults, our four oldest kids are facing various struggles in new ways. This is part of growth, of course, but struggles never feel good. My job as dad has been to encourage them not to give up just because it’s hard — to keep going, and to use the struggle to grow.
  8. But don’t overwork yourself. That said, I’m not a fan of overwork. I believe the brain doesn’t function well if you keep studying or working past the point of exhaustion, so I try to teach them about taking breaks, resting, going outside and moving.
  9. It’s okay to be weird in public. Have fun. I’m not sure why several of them had this on the list — they must have learned to be weird from someone else? OK, in truth, they might have gotten it from my tendency to dance and skip with them while we’re out walking around in a city, or to encourage us all to do weird things as a group, no matter what other people might think.
  10. Your reality is a reflection of the narrative you tell yourself.
  11. Make people laugh. It makes their day brighter.

I love my kids with all my heart, and it has been a privilege to be their dad. I take 10% of the credit and give the rest to their moms, grandparents, and themselves.

Btw, you can read Chloe’s full list in her blog post.

Also … from them, I’ve learned some lessons that are just as important:

  • Kids deserve to be heard, to be listened to, to be respected. I started out as a dad with the idea that what I say goes, and they just need to listen to me! But over the years, I’ve learned to listen to them, and treat them as I’d want to be treated.
  • Kids have tender hearts that hurt when you aren’t kind to them. As a young dad, my frustrations and insecurities led me to angry bursts of scolding, yelling, spanking. I’ve grown since then, but more importantly, I’ve learned to see the tenderness of their hearts, and how it hurts to be yelled at by someone they trust and love so much. I am much more gentle with those hearts these days.
  • I should relax and not take myself so seriously. Whenever I think too much of myself, my kids humble me. Whenever I get too serious, my kids laugh at me. I love that playful reminder to loosen up.
  • Dads are goofy, dorky, uncool. And that’s how we should be. I sometimes harbor the notion that I can be a “cool” dad. When I try to break out newish slang or reference a meme, my kids will tease me about it. When I break out a joke or pun that I think is hilarious, they’ll laugh while rolling my eyes and calling it a “dad joke.” So I’ve learned just to embrace my uncoolness, and be myself with them.
  • All they need is love. There are lots of things to stress out about as parents, and nowadays we tend to obsess about getting everything right with our kids. But really, we’re stressing about it too much. All the details are just details — there’s only one thing that really matters. They want you to love them. And to receive their love. That’s all. Feed them, clothe them, shelter them, educate them, sure … but beyond that, they just want you to love them. Drop everything that gets in the way of that and let it come out as simply and clearly as you can.

Thank you, my loves.

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On Euphemism

One of the most unfortunate components of language is euphemism. The creation and use of euphemism seems mostly a dastardly act, to fool others into agreeing with something which should be held in contempt. George Orwell called it “newspeak” in his book, 1984. Inflicting pain through violence on children is morally outrageous, but “spanking” is not. Devaluing people’s hard-earned savings through counterfeiting is scandalous, but “central banking” is not. Others assuming coercive power to decide the course of your life and property offends the sensibilities of civilized people, but “democracy” does not. Lying is shameful, but using euphemisms is the mark of social grace. I can’t recall who said it, but I agree: the first step toward wisdom is destroying euphemism. Have you been fooled? And that’s today’s two cents.

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On Spanking II

Aside from the fact that spanking is abuse, it’s also unintelligent, lazy and selfish, and unnecessary. Spanking is unintelligent because it doesn’t require any rational thinking about the needs of the child. Rather than using the uniquely intelligent mass of neurons, dendrites, and axons between your ears to figure out what need of the child is not being met, you opt to use stupid brute force. Spanking is lazy and selfish because its seemingly a quick fix or simple life hack to make your child comply with your preferences. Obviously, their preferences are less important, and may be forcefully discarded. Spanking is unnecessary because no matter what the issue is that your child is experiencing, there are other tools to help them with it. I outline several in my book, No Hitting. Of course, those tools require a parent to value intelligence, patience and compassion. Fundamentally, what makes these tools difficult to wield is the fact that a parent were themselves an abused and traumatized child who became a broken adult. Perhaps that should be fixed before one decides to raise children. And that’s today’s two cents.

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The Voluntaryist Premise

January 2019: I read this essay and added commentary for Episode 274 of the Everything Voluntary podcast.

Discovering voluntaryism usually happens after a long road through other intermediate political philosophies. It’s not an ideology on the forefront of political thought, that’s for certain. Step by step a person has reached conclusions that aggression and coercion are bad in various ways and circumstances. At last they’ve decided that aggression and coercion should always be avoided, but just as importantly, they’ve come to the realization that aggression and coercion are not only common place in many different types of relationships, but in some, they are foundational.

Once a person adopts the label of voluntaryist (or the like) for their political identity, they assume, with good reason, the following premise: human suffering is terrible and should be prevented; aggression and coercion necessarily create human suffering. This premise leads the voluntaryist to hold a number of hypotheses with varying degrees of accuracy in some form or fashion within their minds at all times. Here are several of those hypotheses (in italics and prefaced).

Political aggression occurs when the production of law and order is coercively monopolized by a single person or single group of people (an institution, corporation, or firm in a given area which adopts the moniker of “government”). Monopoly incentivizes bad behavior and disincentivizes good behavior, leading ultimately to human suffering.

Economic aggression occurs when markets, the array of economic exchanges between people, are coercively interfered with by “government”. Political interference (or intervention) in markets skews or disables economic signals (prices, supply and demand), to the benefit of one group at one time, and the detriment of other groups at the same time or other times, leading ultimately to human suffering.

Parental aggression occurs when parents use the tools of coercion (punishments like spanking and time-outs) to correct what they identify as “misbehavior” on the part of their children. Punishment used to discipline is both a failure to understand a child’s real needs and produces trauma in childhood, leading ultimately to human suffering.

Educational aggression occurs when parents and teachers use the tools of coercion (punishments, rewards, curriculum) in the attempt to impart knowledge and skills onto children that they, the parents and teachers, deem necessary and important toward becoming an adult in society. Coercion based learning ignores the interests and passions of students and their evolutionarily programmed needs to inquire, be curious, to move constantly, be loud, and to play, leading ultimately to human suffering.

Not every hypothesis described above undergirds the premise that each person who has adopted the label of voluntaryist holds as true. Many voluntaryists haven’t even considered the effects of coercion in parenting and education, for example. But the premise as laid out above is typically held by those who identify as a voluntaryist.

The voluntary principle, the foundation of voluntaryism, states that “all human relations should happen voluntarily, or not at all.” It’s easier to understand the “should” in that sentence once you understand the voluntaryist premise. You may not value or desire the reduction and prevention of human suffering, in which case you are unlikely to identify as a voluntaryist. However if you do, then I recommend taking a hard look at the premises you accept as true, and how realistic are the hypotheses thereon based that you rely on for the attainment of this desire.

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Josh and Eve’s Journey & Homeschooling (1h2m) – Episode 109

Episode 109 welcomes Josh and Eve LeVeque to the podcast for a chat with Skyler. Topics include: their separate journey’s to libertarian thinking; the value of discussion groups; each of their police and state court experiences; crimes verse torts; authority verse loyalty; Thomas Jefferson Education (TJEd) and homeschooling; phases of learning; having kids; marijuana; their new short term rental business; peaceful parenting and spanking; and more.

Listen to Episode 109 (1h2m, mp3, 64kbps)

Show Notes

Josh LeVeque, Facebook Profile
Eve LeVeque, Facebook Profile
Lysander Spooner, “Vices aren’t Crimes
Skyler J. Collins, “Rulers vs. Leaders
Thomas Jefferson Education, Website
Skyler J. Collins, No Hitting!

Subscribe via RSS here, or in any podcast app by searching for “everything voluntary”.

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Band-Aid Solutions Are Lame and Nature is the Answer

#metoo, #toxicmasculinity, #rapeculture, #violenceagainstwomen, #patriarchy, et cetera…

These topics are everywhere right now, we almost can’t avoid it. I see solutions being thrown out all the time:

Fire the men, hold them accountable, take away all the guns, mental healthcare reform, call the person out on social media, make the work place safe, march your heart out, et cetera, ad infinitum.

The problem with these solutions is that they simply offer a band-aid rather than getting at the root or the heart of where these problems originate. Which is basically how we do everything is our society, yea? We give out band-aid solutions because if we were to actually address the root cause of the issue, we would have to take a deep, hard look at the way we choose to live, how our culture operates, our beliefs we cling to, and ultimately we would have to change on a fundamental, collective, and individual level.

And change is terrifying to many people. It is nothing short of life or death to them. It is a complete disintegration of their ego. This life, this person, the circumstances and choices they so heavily identify with would have to be examined to the point of breakdown, and therefore, radically change.

The solutions and change I am suggesting would require us to look at how all the ways we deviate from our true nature are harming us on a cellular, physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual level.

Healing (true healing) requires we go back to living in accordance to our biology, and comprehend the laws of nature. I know that statement is triggering, given all the ways we so desperately want to outsmart and override our biology these days. But we simply can’t any longer if we want to heal as individuals and as a culture.

All of these perceived problems are actually a divine intelligence that is sending us messages in many forms that something is off and something isn’t right. The only thing “wrong” is that we have forgotten how to listen. These problems are the alarm bells of our bodies and souls that are telling us that something else is desperately needed and that we have deviated too far from who we are.

The violations that plague us don’t come out of thin air one day. It is the result of the culmination of traumas inflicted onto us from day one (and actually before, while we are still in the womb) of entering into a world that profits and runs off of others people’s trauma. We literally live and operate in a place that is rooted in trauma and carries out traumatizing rituals on its most vulnerable people. So long as we passively accept these cultural narratives and practices, we cannot and should not expect better from our society.

It starts from the beginning of life and it starts with us.

So… what do we need?

Physiological Birth

Somehow, somewhere we were sold the idea that birth is a medical event. Today, 90 something percent of women are abandoning their nature and undergoing a medicalized birth, leaving thousands and thousands (millions!) of women and babies traumatized every year. This is where it begins.

Medicalized birthing practices and the allopathic birthing system is the epitome of #patriarchy and subtle (but increasingly not so subtle) violence against women. It is internalized misogyny at its core.

It begins with a violent, forceful, against the will of the child, entrance into the world (artificial induction of labor), a body filled with synthetic drugs and hormones that interrupt the hormonal blueprint of birth and bonding that nature provides for mother and baby (epidurals, pitocin, etc), followed by the swift severance of the cord that connected them for 9 months that is still pulsating blood into the child’s body so that baby and mom can immediately be separated for further examination of the child. To name a few devastating events…

Throw in a woman submitting her birth experience to a man (or a system created and run by men), lying on her back, a hand up her vagina, unable to move, and being poked, prodded, fingered, and cut against her will and you have the biggest scam and act of daily, habitual violence against women ever committed in the history of humanity.

There’s a cultural function to essentially traumatizing the participants of birth, (both mother and baby) and that is to initiate the child and the mother into patriarchy, preparing them to take their place within a technocratic, capitalistic culture of dependency and consumption. -Yolande Clark

They told you your body couldn’t give birth? Well they fucking lied.

Breastfeeding

At 6 months of age, only about 40% of babies are being exclusively breastfed in America, and the numbers significantly decrease after 6 months, and even more drastically by one year. The world average weaning age is 4-6 years old.

As mammals, we come into this world expecting our biological needs to be met, and breastfeeding is one of them. A big one of them. Not a small one where we can simply just see if breastfeeding happens or not, and then move on. It’s something we should be fighting for, because the health and lives of our children depends on it. Over 800,000 lives could be saved every year if everyone (or most women) breastfed.

Breastfeeding contains antibodies that intelligently help fight viruses and bacteria, it lowers your baby’s risk of things like asthma and allergies, all the way to some cancers and common diseases we chronically see today. There are too many benefits of breastfeeding to name here. It absolutely cannot be replicated.

When a biological need isn’t met, the human will go into survival mode and fight for that need to be met. This is going to manifest and look differently for everyone, but sometimes violence is the extreme end of the spectrum when a human carries so much pain as a result of severance of their human bonding experience. Depression, anxiety, mental health problems are other possibilities. Sometimes, survival mode looks like shutting down and suppressing emotions. We live in a world full of humans carrying out these defense mechanisms.

We can no longer tout things like “fed is best” in order to keep peace and claim we have to support all women for all choices they make no matter what. Breastfeeding, like natural birth, is the biological norm, and all of our promotion and encouragement that deviates from the biological norm is actually disempowering women and a violation on humanity.

Whole, Intact Genitals

In America, when the majority of babies boys are born, one of their first experiences of life outside the womb is wrought with trauma, pain, violence, and sexual abuse. And then we are confounded when men express anger, violence, and inflict this same trauma and assault onto others.

This isn’t excusing men of their behavior, but we can no longer ignore the double standard and scratch our head in confusion of where this violence, entitlement and anger is rooted.

Men’s autonomy and full spectrum/functionality of their sexuality is violated and annihilated upon entering the world. It is not uncommon to act out what was done to us. (Whether it is conscious or not. We remember it on a cellular level.) If we want men to respect the bodies, sexuality and autonomy of women, then one big way we ensure that, is by giving them the same respect and opportunity. And we do that by not mutilating their genitals.

Establish and Maintain and Revere Bonding for All Humans

The biggest reflection of “profits over people” is evident by our lack of honor and understanding for the relationships being established when new life enters the world. We expect fathers to go back to work immediately, or never take off (cue the absent father epidemic), and mothers are expected to return to work shortly after, usually within 3 weeks to 3 months. Having a new baby and staying home to establish the bond with that baby doesn’t really do much for capitalism and the economy.

But not doing so is inflicting so much harm…

Capitalism (as we know it today) at its essence must ensure the separation of families and communities. It wouldn’t function with the daily maintenance of those relationships and lifestyles.

The separation of women from their babies to return to work isn’t liberating women. It’s an interruption and severance of a physiological bond and symbiotic relationship that is required for humans to thrive. It increases risk for postpartum depression and makes breastfeeding extremely difficult, if not impossible. It can be traumatizing for both mother and child, and our trauma wounds is where all this violence stems from. We cannot ignore our biology in favor of playing into the patriarchal, capitalistic agenda.

To Love Children, Not Hit Them

I am not going to go into too much detail here, because if this is not painfully and clearly obvious to you at this point, then I have little hope.

Hit people hit people. Hurt people hurt people. Violence begets violence. Children live what they learn. How you respond is how they respond. This isn’t rocket science, and in fact, the science is very clear that hitting (or “spanking” as we like to euphemize it) produces the same and similar outcomes in humans as physical violence; because it is, in fact, physical violence in every sense of the word.

If you wouldn’t hit your spouse, friend or dog, please, for the love of humanity, question why it is okay to hit a child. Look at the world, and tell me if more hitting and hurting one another is what we need.

Teach Girls about Their Bodies and How to Track Their Cycles

In a study done where young teen girls were taught fertility awareness and how to know their monthly cycles and stages, it showed that when women have this knowledge and power over their own body, they are more proactive in their health care, and less likely to oblige to peer pressure.

It unquestionably showed that these teen girls were more self-directed, confident and less depressed than those who took the pill and/or were not taught about their cycles, and menstruation.

The moral of this is, that when women hold this deep sense of knowing in their bodies and control of their fertility, they lead with more power and maturity, making them far less susceptible to outside influences and a false sense of outside authority figures around their health and sexuality.

Which leads me to…

Break Up with Allopathic Medicine

The revolution will not be pathologized. Like I mentioned above, healing cannot happen without comprehending and honoring the laws of nature. It’s a system fine for critical care, but fails in every way to maintain the vitality and spirit of our truest nature as human beings. It has successfully stripped medicine women and witches (all of us) of our intuition and self capable abilities to heal ourselves and our families.

We have been indoctrinated into the religion of western medicine. We must turn back to the plants, living food and water sources, and sunlight nature provided for us to thrive, as to not perpetuate our hostile, pained, depressed, ill, neurotic attitudes and behaviors that stem from being slighted by our given society.

We must recognize the cause of all disease (toxicity, inflammation, acidosis, trauma/emotional blocks), and seek holistic care for our bodies and souls. Which ultimately requires an unshakable trust in nature. Which is an unshakable trust in yourself. A trust that this system we currently live under actively attempts to break down by instilling a lot of fear.

Taking this back from the ultimate patriarchal authority, is the ultimate reclamation of our autonomy and control over our own being. It is the deepest display of personal integrity.

“WHEN YOU EDUCATE THE MOTHER YOU EDUCATE THE NATION.”

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