Kintsukori – by Cedar Sanderson

*Two days ago I was talking to a friend about how we’re better off despite/because of horrible experiences, and remembered this post of Cedar’s from her blog.  She very kindly gave me permission to reproduce it here. – SAH*

Kintsukori – by Cedar Sanderson

I often touch on social issues, and occasionaly very personal ones, on this blog. Earlier today I did this, writing not only on behalf of my children, but of every child of a disrupted family that has ever overheard adults dismissing them as worthless and hopelessly damaged because of it.

My dears, it simply isn’t true. Disruptions can come in many forms, whether they be the death of a parent, the deployment or other long-term job assignment of a parent, and of course, divorce. But hear me, children. You are not broken beyond repair.

When a potter is creating a bowl, he may drop it and break it. If it is unfired, the clay is put in a vessel of water, mashed up, and remade. This can’t be a comfortable process, if you are the clay, but healing is possible.

There may be scars, and a case of utter abandonment by a parent is doubtless a pain that will never entirely vanish. However, there are also many families that are re-shaped larger, odder, and with perhaps three or four loving parents rather than just two.

However,the children need support, not snide sniping at those parents who are trying to make the best of the situation as it is. There are few ideal outcomes in this world. As someone said to me recently “I realized that twenty years of bad marriage was doing more harm than cutting loose.” Sometimes life takes a left turn, and a family has to talk, try to keep communications open, and they will heal.

There is no broken beyond repair. I know I am defying some accepted truths: that a person cannot change. I do believe it is possible. I think that trust can be re-formed, and extended perhaps into something that is even more beautiful than the orginal, as the Japanese art of kintsukuroi shows. When a broken pot, which would would ordinarily be discarded as hopeless, is healed with gold to create a work of art.

We are art forged in the fires of pain. It is our choice to take that pain and create something beautiful with it, or something ugly and vindictive that wants to create an unending cycle. Just because your background was unpleasant, is no need to apply that to everything you see around you.

Dream, my children, and fly on mended wings. You are kintusukuroi, and you are loved by many.

By Ruthann Hurwitz – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,


111 thoughts on “Kintsukori – by Cedar Sanderson

  1. There is no broken beyond repair. I know I am defying some accepted truths: that a person cannot change.

    There is at least one major Faith which doesn’t share that view; interesting that it is no longer a widely accepted Truth.

      1. I’m not sure, but I think you’re misreading RES. I read him as saying there is at least one major faith that doesn’t believe that people cannot change, i.e. it believes that people CAN change. I thought he was talking about Christianity, which teaches that we go through a major change when we become Christians. (Jesus described it as being “born again”). From what I’ve read on your blog, I don’t think your “screw those guys” reaction is directed towards Christianity, but rather towards Islam. If I’m right about that, then I think you and RES are in violent agreement here. 🙂

        1. Extremely violent agreement. Anybody whose religion says people can’t change, or once damaged are irredeemable, that guy needs to get a new religion. Or at the very, very least, keep it the hell off my lawn.

          Stuff like that makes me cranky. 😡

          1. Giggled when I figured this out after bedtime last night.

            As a person of Scottish ancestry, your very blood compels you to be Presbyterian. And the Presbyterians/Church of Scotland are a Reformed Church.

            I’m so ignorant of Calvinist theology that I can only remember the t in tulip. Much less recall which doctrines the Presbyterians actually signed up for.

            This random ignorant internet troll asserts that your red hairs force you to believe in the Election which occurred at Creation. XD

            Totes for sure.

            1. I’m not really up on my theology, I’m a Taoist Presbyterian. You know the Taoist saying “shit happens”? The Taoist Presbyterian says “when shit happens you were probably asking for it.” The motto of the First Taoist Presbyterian Church is “Don’t be an asshole.”

              I have a pretty big problem with the “know your place and stay in it” people too. Some fucker comes along and says “know your place” I’m not having it, I don’t care what religion he’s from. Machines have a place and a function, humans don’t.

              People change. They do it all the time. Ask somebody with kids if they changed when the first kid came along.

        2. I would not presume to speak for Der Fantom, but I’ve been told that through Somebody all is possible … and that choosing to follow Him is a guarantee of changing, whether you want to or not.

          1. The possibility of redemption is the crowning achievement and best part of Christianity. Yes you can get worse, but you can also turn it around and get better.

  2. I know I am defying some accepted truths: that a person cannot change.

    Of course people can change, else the sniping parents couldn’t have damaged (a kind of change) the children.
    What is more true is that one cannot change another person. They have to do it themselves. You can give them support and reasons for them to want to change themselves, but in the end they must do it – or not.

    1. I swear I posted this before!

      I think one of the big problems today is that a person cannot change if he (she) isn’t told they need to. We tolerate entirely too much in the name of ‘acceptance’, to the point where acceptance becomes as toxic as bigotry.

      1. Well, yes. There are times when giving people reasons to want to change should be reinforced by imposing consequences for failing to change, either socially or through the justice system, depending on how much the behavior affects others.
        But you’ll notice that there are many for whom even incarceration isn’t sufficient to induce them to change.

        1. Nothing an electric collar can’t fix.

          Tho there we’re getting into physical conditioning, teaching the body that the brain is stupid and we’re not going.

      2. You can tell someone they need to change until you’re blue in the face, it won’t work until they are ready to change. And far too often people have to practically die before they recognize the need.

        1. True. But if nobody ever tells them, the odds they will ever tell themselves drop a lot.

          And without the recognition that change is needed, the person won’t.

          1. Just as an example;

            I have no problem with a person being Gay. But a person who celebrates his Gayness by also celebrating, in public, his sexual kinks by, say, dressing in bondage gear and a dog collar is not saying ‘I’m Queer and I’m here!’, at least not primarily. What he is primarily saying is ‘look at me look at me look at ME!’, which translates to ‘Hey, I’m an arrested adolescent with poor impulse control!’.

            Now, there’s a time and place for playing adolescent ‘look at ME!’ games. But I think it’s counterproductive at a Pride event.

            1. The purpose of Pride events is to shock the straights. Lately they’ve been having to work really hard at it, because the straights don’t care. Being gay is no longer a big deal, everybody says so.

              1. As a practical matter what is done between consenting adults in private is no concern of mine. I don’t even expect you to hide your orientation, so long as you act like a decent human being. However, if you feel the need to flaunt your perversions in public I think you deserve nothing less than to be made to dance the gallows jig.

  3. I have had issue with minor items and there, BUT they are, I realize, MINOR items. And others obsessing over minor items.. is irksome. There are (now ever fewer) those with crude numbers tattooed upon their arms. Perhaps some might have more (legitimate) claim to bitterness than they, but mighty few. And yet… what records there of those.. generally show a spirit I can only but consider breathtaking in the sheer audacity to live through Hell, and come out not merely surviving, but thriving.

  4. “…every child of a disrupted family that has ever overheard adults dismissing them as worthless and hopelessly damaged because of it.”

    For all of y’all Odds out there who were told you were never going to amount to anything, let me assure you that success is the best revenge.

    And by success I do not necessarily mean money. Money is always good of course, it makes things a lot easier and people respect it, if not you. But if you’ve got your bases covered, and you manage daily life just fine, and your kids are happy and running around playing like monkeys, then YOU WIN.

    Congratulations on your victory, weird people. ~:D

  5. I fear that to some degree, I must beg to differ.

    Some people come through fire and flame, and are annealed by the experience–“That which doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger…”. Others, and in my experience, they are the majority, are weakened by the experience. They may survive the heating and the cooling, but the crystalline structures of “self” are not strengthened by the process; indeed, they are critically weakened, instead.

    I think I’ve said it before, on here, that my opinion is that many of the factors which go into PTSD problems for military personnel are both knowable, and linked to the stress they’ve already had in their lives–Or, more likely, it’s a chicken-and-egg thing, in that unsound people tend to create many of their own problems along the way, through their poor decisions, lifestyle choices, and those created by their family backgrounds. Some manage to overcome that sort of thing, but I think it’s a serious disservice to put them into roles and places where they’re going to be stretched past their breaking points by the events and things they’re almost certain to experience there.

    I think that there’s a certain amount of mistaking correlation for cause with a lot of this stuff–“Oh, Fred… Man, he overcame some sh*t in his life; he’s a rock… The things he went through? Wow… That’s what made him…”.

    And, OK, yeah… Maybe dealing with that “sh*t is what gave Fred his ability to cope, maybe that is what “made him the man he is”. I’d propose an alternative explanation, namely that Fred is notable mostly because he was already the sort of person who could cope with the load of feces that life handed him, and that we’ve mistakenly ignored the 90 other people who went through similar such sh*t, and broke utterly.

    It has been my experience that if you take a person who’s already dealing with a bunch of stuff in their lives, broken families, beaten addictions, and whatever else you want to name, and with which they are “dealing”… Well, you don’t want to go adding even more stress to their “Bucket o’ Issues”. Find someone else who isn’t already standing atop a desperately contrived ladder up out of the muck; Fred may already be barely coping with his life as it is.

    I’m saying this not so much to disagree or contradict Cedar, but to point out that there is generally only so much ruin in a man, and that when one encounters a human Kintsugi piece, perhaps your first instinct should be to appreciate that person for what they’ve accomplished, and not assume that they’re suitable targets for even more in the way of burdens.

    I’ve seen more than a few damn good men who were overloaded donkeys in life; a mule or a llama will tell you when you’ve put too much into the panniers–A donkey or cart horse will willingly try to carry far more than they actually can, and even kill themselves trying to do what you’re asking. Make sure you’re not that overweight tourist on Santorini, as you go through life–That’s all I’m saying. Adjust your expectations, and do not demand that the “rocks” in your lifespace carry more just because they appear to be rocks–They may already be near their fracture points. The straw you drop on that back may not be what breaks them, but it sure as hell doesn’t help matters.

    1. I have a shirt with an image of “Red Shetland” going full-out berserker at some.. (soon to be very much) former creature.. with the caption, “What doesn’t kill you… maims you.”

      1. I am, and ever shall remain so, highly dubious of this entire proposition that “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. I will buy into the idea that “What doesn’t kill you leaves you with a lot of unhealthy coping mechanisms and a dark sense of humor…”. Right with that, I’m going to venture the outrageous thought that perhaps, just perhaps, we’d be better off not putting people through that sort of thing, if it is avoidable.

        I’ve got this distant relative of mine, who I knew as a child. She was, looking back, probably at least somewhat mildly autistic. Poor kid was ever so trusting and naive, people-blind to other kids making her the butt of practical jokes and all that other sort of cruel kid behavior. She really was a sweet person, just a little too trusting and credulous. Despite the constant low-grade trauma, she really did think the best of other people. She was, I’ll admit, very annoying, but not in a way that I thought justified everyone in her circle abusing her the way they did. I just thought they were mean assh*oles.

        Due to moves, we didn’t see each other for years and years. We were both in our late twenties, early thirties before we happened to reconnect. It was an interesting contrast, between the “her” of childhood, and the adult. She’d quite had her innocence worn away, and while she was a reasonably functional adult, she was not the person I think she would have been , had she not been that “bottom chicken in the flock’s pecking order” that attracted everyone’s abuse from her circle. She’d pretty much kept that status all through her life, and had developed a lot of trust and confidence issues in her personal life, which she didn’t really have. Some of the stuff she described from her teenage years with her sisters was borderline Stephen King “Carrie”, if you catch my drift. A lot more than just the normal joking around between siblings…

        Her older siblings liked to say that they’d “toughened her up”, but my personal perspective was that they’d ruined her. Talking to her, she opened up a bit to me about what she’d had to put up with, and I have to say that a lot of it struck me as outright abusive, the sort of thing that gets people put into jail. Weirdly, she didn’t hold any of it against her siblings and their/her friends–She just thought “That’s the way it is, when it’s me…”, and accepted it, laughing about it with them.

        Reality is that those little weasels took a lovely human being, and turned her life onto a far different path than she’d have likely taken of her own accord. And, they did it unconsciously and without real remorse, ignorant of the damage they’d wrought, making her over into this cynical, fundamentally untrusting and very lonely person who was unable to form good relationships with anyone.

        It’s interesting that this went on in a “very nice family”, as well. The parents in question here? Oblivious. It was all sibling dynamics and birth order. If she’d been born first, with the personality traits and such that she had, I doubt she’d have turned out the way she did. Because of her siblings, the age differences, and the order of birth? The outcome was a horribly warped, and decidedly unhappy person.

        So… Yeah. I don’t think that bad things happening to you can somehow be transmuted into a good thing. Some stress probably needs to come into everyone’s life, to one degree or another, in order for them to develop proper coping mechanisms and as “character-building” events, but the whole idea that stress automatically begets strength or virtue is flawed; it’s like when you go to temper a blade: Every piece needs to be done just right, for its peculiarities. Make a mistake, and you ruin the blade for its intended purpose…

        1. Looking for positive effects of a bad experience can be a coping mechanism.

          “I choose to take these bits as what I’ve gained” a way to take control.

          Objectively true is not the same as psychologically useful. Though short term psychologically useful and long term psychologically useful can be very different things.

          1. When you’re the victim of the “bad experience”…? Certainly.

            As a justification, when you are, instead, the perpetrator?

            Not hardly. And, far too many of the perpetrator class like to use this excuse for their conduct, which society tends to support tacitly. Hell, in some cases, we even do it out in the open.

            1. Kirk? Who in hell is justifying it as the perpetrator? (rolls eyes.)
              What I’m saying (and trust me, you don’t want my list of experiences) is STAYING BROKEN IS A CHOICE.
              Yeah, there are fatal blows. Losing one of the boys might leave me permanently maimed. But still, staying in the fetal position whimpering instead of going forth and making the best of things?
              ALSO do trust me, humans who are mollycoddled become emotional bubble-children.
              I’ll take Heinlein’s “Man is meant to strive” over your boliviations, thank you so much.

              1. “STAYING BROKEN IS A CHOICE.”

                There are two kinds of people with serious injuries. One kind, they stop trying. They give up and live short, miserable lives.

                The other kind, they fight. Sometimes they still die, but they fight.

                This is a choice. The ones that stop, they know that they’ve given up. When you ask them about it, they usually agree. They don’t care. They quit, they’re not going to do a goddamn thing to improve their life, they are waiting to die.

                The other ones choose to fight. They choose it newly EVERY FREAKING MORNING when they wake up and remember their body is busted.

                I’m not about to sit in judgement on either choice. I don’t know what they went through, and its not like I haven’t given up on things in life before. But I will say that its a lot easier to work with the fighters. They’re pissy, angry, impatient and often scathingly abusive. But by God, you show them a thing to help them get better and they are all over it.

                  1. Maybe, but I haven’t seen that. They choose to stop, in my experience. Even people that are profoundly depressed and brain injured keep putting one foot in front of the other. Or they don’t, and the end comes soon after.

                    This is people that are conscious and not demented, obviously. There has to be somebody home in there to make a choice.

                  2. It’s still a choice. I’ve been dealing with this for a year. At some point damage starts to heal. You’re human. Your choice then is to push toward that or to go “Fuck it, I’m done.”

              2. but there are times and ways people can be so fundamentally broken , that there is no ‘choice’ involved in staying broken.

                1. Well, Phantom is obviously speaking from his background as a /physical/ therapist. I won’t say that field covers the easiest class of maladies, but I suspect it tends to undersample some of the seriously difficult stuff in medicine. I find some of the organic problems with nervous systems fairly scary.

                  That said, there are almost certainly unrealized possible coping strategies for those. Even if entropy does not run in reverse.

                2. I’m not saying they always get better, Draven. Clearly that doesn’t always happen. I’m saying they -fight- to get better. Something like MS, even slowing it down is a major victory.

        2. So… Yeah. I don’t think that bad things happening to you can somehow be transmuted into a good thing. Some stress probably needs to come into everyone’s life, to one degree or another, in order for them to develop proper coping mechanisms and as “character-building” events, but the whole idea that stress automatically begets strength or virtue is flawed; it’s like when you go to temper a blade: Every piece needs to be done just right, for its peculiarities. Make a mistake, and you ruin the blade for its intended purpose…

          When exercising you produce thousands of micro-tears in the muscle fibers. Over the next few days those tears then heal, and since the body knows that it has been stressed it builds them stronger. Mentally the person learns that they will not in fact die from putting in a little effort and sweating and being sore. Overdo it and the needed rest period results in less total exercising happening. There is a happy medium to be followed.

          But if someone (extremely) over-stresses their body during exercise something else entirely will happen. The muscles are damaged enough that they start taking “real damage”, not just the microscopic tears. If this is bad enough the person’s bloodstream will be flooded by broken muscle tissue which gets filtered by the kidneys. Unfortunately kidneys are not designed to filter objects that large, so this destroys the kidneys as well, crippling the person for life.

          And since this topic was about childhood abuse…… There are children who have died from this. They were unlucky enough to be born to parents who were worshippers of one of the spanking-uber-alles doctrines (I mean that specifically: if anyone objects that spanking doesn’t ever do lasting damage they haven’t encountered one of these nutjobs). It turns out that when you beat the ever loving s*** out of someone it can produce exactly the same sort of catastrophic muscle trauma as extreme over-exercise. One wonders how many people are going to have mysterious kidney diseases over the next few decades from that…

          1. Not as many as are going to be ruined by “Swatting your child is child abuse.”
            We are great apes, all great apes spank.
            Spanking is NOT beating your child into the ground.
            If there are “cults” for this, it’s a new one on me.
            I wonder how much harder people can be beaten than in grandma’s childhood, when parents routinely used saplings to do the beating… And note grandma’s generation lived much longer than mine seems to be.
            NOTE I did not beat my children into the ground. Normal parents DON’T. I wonder if those cults exist how much they’re a reaction to “never hit a child. Never, ever, ever” and the monsters (no exaggeration) that produces. Not to mention the monsters the parents become when they have to live GLUED to their kids who have no self discipline to prevent them doing something stupid.
            If the state got its nose out of how people raise their kids, perhaps the extremes wouldn’t rule. Also perhaps we wouldn’t have now going on two generations of savages running around controlled by their undisciplined Id

            1. I know it’s a standard for “I once was lost, but now I’m found” type motivational speakers that the first time they got effective push-back was after they got out of high school and did the same junk they’d been doing since they were toddlers– and got their teeth handed to them.

              Especially if they got a judge who looked at their records, and knew about their unrecorded behavior, and came down like a ton of bricks.


              The scary thing I’m seeing?
              Yelling is getting rolled into the “automatically child abuse” thing.

              SCOLDING is.

              Holy mother of crud, this is going to end VERY POORLY.

                1. Yeah — but to do that you’ve got to be self-disciplined and grown up, and where’s the fun in that?

            2. Which is why I made clear that I wasn’t talking about standard issue spanking. I honestly don’t know where I stand on that: far too many people on all sides are either actively lying, or are so caught up in their ideology that they are simply not capable of telling the truth regardless of their intentions.

              I wonder if those cults exist how much they’re a reaction to “never hit a child. Never, ever, ever” and the monsters (no exaggeration) that produces.

              Most of the homeschooling movement of the late 80s and 90s was a JATO assisted pendulum response to the insanity of pop-child-rearing advice. The ones who turned into cults merely took it a bit farther. Damaged people who regret their youth, have no clue how to handle children, are terrified of certain failure modes, and then are given a perfect solution in a box that accounts for all possibilities…… Well they tend to have problems.

              Feed someone like that certain ideas (not all same source, so no these are not consistent):

              * The child will simply not remember any of the beatings, only that they did something wrong.
              * This is the Biblicaly proscribed Way. Therefore it is magically impossible for any sort of injury whatsoever to happen, no matter how far you take it.
              * “The parent should be worrying the next day that the child will need to go to the hospital”
              * From the moment they come out of the womb the child spends 100% of their time scheming how best to torment the parent.
              * Children are so stupid that spanking (beating) them with an object will result in them never thinking the parent is doing it. This is why you should always use an implement and never your hand.
              * Obsession with looking for something that will inflict maximum pain while not leaving any sort of mark. Because internal damage simply doesn’t exist.

              Just to be clear: I wasn’t in the deeper levels of this crap. “Should worry about the hospital” is the only one I have personal experience with. But this list is just the stuff I can remember off the top of my head.

              The guilt is as much upon the school system / CPS, as it is the parents and the monstrous teachers. They created the conditions that resulted in inevitable disaster whether people stuck with the schools, or left.

              Which ties in to your frequent warnings that a Civil War 2 will not be a wonderland of perfect restoration.

              1. I ALWAYS used my hand. With younger son, you needed a couple of swats across the butt to GET HIS ATTENTION.
                I hardly ever raised my hand to him after five. It wasn’t needed.
                I don’t know if I actually hit him with a shoe when he was 10 (and my height, for image. And heavier than I.)
                I did chase him from the kitchen with my shoe in hand, because he came in telling me I was cooking all wrong, and would NOT leave me alone.
                … I don’t think I actually hit him. If I did it was a glancing blow to the behind. But I did panic him. That was the last time I EVEN THREATENED violence.
                …. other than mock violence, which he knows it’s mock. (both of them do.) For status: they tower over me. When they’re teasing me, I’ll mock-gibbs-slap them (Exaggerated motion, barely touching.) OR I’ll say “Come closer” in an evil tone.
                They’re both okay. See where they spend half their lives teasing me, when they don’t come and stand by my writing chair going “You look like you need a hug.”
                I tried VERY hard not to BEAT them as children. The two times I would have (older son had once almost killed me, and once almost killed his brother. Both accident, but both doing things he SHOULDN’T have done.) I knew if I started hitting him I wouldn’t be able to stop. So instead I told him “Go to your room, and stay there till your father gets home. I don’t want to hear a peep out of you.” (This wasn’t a “your father will beat you.” We never did that. It was “your father will be cooler and will talk to you, and impose punishment” (which he did. a week without power cord for his computer.))
                I was so pale and controlledly ANGRY those times that older son says the memory still terrifies him.

                    1. That does touch on the gun control question though. The controllers are of the universal opinion that nobody can rein in their temper, therefore all firearms should be confiscated before someone gets mad. And in people who have been insufficiently raised/tamed/socialized/encultured, that might be true. However, most people in the U.S. do have the proper upbringing necessary to have that kind of control to NOT shoot someone without good cause, even when they are white with rage.

                    2. I’ve seen parents who not only didn’t discipline a child acting out in public, they were actively *encouraging* it. Turned out that “let it all out and it will be better” was a thing, at least for a while.

                      Self-control? What’s that?

                      So, yeah, they live in the now, and act on whimsy, and if they had a gun, of *course* they’d shoot that snotty waiter in the face… the idea of *not* going off a-viking doesn’t occur to them.

                      I was chatting with an anti-gun type who was going on about how if people could carry guns there would be blood running in the streets. I pointed out that one in thirteen people in this state are licensed to carry… and by that number, there were probably half a dozen licensees in the immediate vicinity. (*) I didn’t bring up that with Constitutional carry we don’t actually *need* licenses any more, which might have caused their head to explode.

                      (*) given how few people continue to carry after the new wears off, I might have been the only one within several hundred yards. but no need to bring that up…

                    3. In our county, the take rate on concealed carry is about 1 in 3 adults. There are problems in the area, but off hand, I think the last drive by shooting was the fifth of Neveruary. (Dead drugdealers, a few, yep, but the gangbangers seem to be afraid of the area. Go figure.)

            3. Cult in question would likely be Michael and Debbie Pearl and their imitators. From my reading, they’re very much of the humans-as-widgets mindset: “Apply input X to baby human Y to get result Z”.

              1. Blink. Glad I never ran into it.

                Even my two boys: same mother, same father, same home. Different as day and night.
                I think younger son was spanked a grand total of twice in his life. You could ACTUALLY redirect him. Also, touch him in anger, and you’d crush him. What worked for him? Take his computer cord away. Redirect him. Tell him you’re profoundly disappointed.
                His brother? Those only worked after he was 5 or so.
                While we joke that before five you needed a sledgehammer to get his attention, you actually needed a LOUD smack. Noise, and mild pain input. Loud being the point. The most effective were hand on diapered butt. Cushioned, and I suspect not really painful, but it made a SOUND.
                After that, yelling “STOP” really loud while smacking butt very lightly (for the sake of your hand. HARDEST butt in creation) would work.
                And before you say “Why?”
                This was the kid whose favorite trick was undressing and running out the front door. At night. We lived in a high traffic street! Also, downtown, urban street with usual “fauna”.
                Other things he tried to do first, thank heavens before he started. We just saw the look in his eye and the implement in his hand. He remembers this and swears he thought cat was a robot:
                Disassemble cat with screw driver.
                Melt a box of crayons on heater.
                Play with gas stove buttons.
                He was very bright, very inquisitive, very creative. Most of the stuff he did was completely inoffensive and adorable. But kids don’t know how the world really works, and you need to discourage the dangerous stuff so they don’t try it again when your back is turned.

                1. *Shudder*

                  The Baron decided that if we said not to touch the stove, and put all these defenses around it, it must be REALLY FUN. And he dodged AROUND several adults who tried to physically stop him.

                  Thank God mom had emergency burn ointment (it’s a long standing family terror) and we got it covered inside of 30 seconds, there isn’t even any scarring on his hand now.

                2. Blink. Glad I never ran into it.

                  Agreed. The results I’ve heard from people who grew up under those monster’s system are not pretty.

                  A good example of the Pearl’s Wisdom is the starting point of “training”.

                  While the child is still an infant they are placed on a blanket. I think toys may even been placed outside of the blanket as temptation, can’t remember. If the infant moves off of the blanket they are disciplined (I don’t remember the exact level at this age, something inappropriate can be assumed). The child is to stay within its assigned area, quietly, and not bother anyone.

                  At all ages conditions are to be regularly engineered to gave the child an opportunity to be evil (where evil is defined as mildly inconveniencing the shortest tempered human that ever lived), and then ruthlessly punished. At younger ages if the child doesn’t do something bad then the parent is to make them do something bad so they can be punished.

                  In fact there was a specific example: teaching a toddler to stay away from water. The child was placed near a stream, but he didn’t get in it, so was given a small push to cause him to fall in (face first, because that isn’t dangerous at all), cue punishment.

                  This is merely the tip of the insanity, and the Pearls were just one of the sources. I spent a lot of time looking into this stuff a number of years ago…. had to get away from it because the whole topic is so soul destroying.

                  Actually calling these things a “cult” isn’t quite right; too decentralized. Therein lies the major difference between left and right (using the broad popular definitions). It isn’t that one side gets monstrous and the other doesn’t. But when the Right gets monstrous it destroys individual families, who signed up for it (even when the number of individual families may be high). When the Left gets monstrous it destroys entire civilizations.

                    1. Because you stand about a 50 percent chance of creating a meek, obedient-seeming adolescent that you can show off. Because your social circle is recommending it as a way to keep your children physically and spiritually safe. Because there’s lots of overlapping…sects? Denominations?…that consider it to be the bee’s knees.

                      My high school bestie’s family was deep into Bill Gothard, who while not as poisonous as the Pearls was nobody whose advice I’d take, even BEFORE the ineveitable sex scandal(s) broke. I’m a Christian, if an obstinate one, and can sympathize with believers who see some wise-seeming lunatic going “God SAYS that if you do X, you get Y. You don’t doubt GOD, do you??”

                    2. I doubt my *own* interpretation of God. 🙂 Know He’s out there, but I’m never sure how accurate my sensors are.

                    3. SSS’s first paragraph covers it pretty well. He or she also knows of Gothard so definitely has relevant experience.

                      A common form is that most of the children are broken or at least good at hiding. Nearly all of them are good at outward projection when other people around (they have to be: doing otherwise gets you whipped (as the opening act)). But internally they are constantly in trouble…. the parents who would beat their children for accidental untruths are actively lying about their “perfect” children who they think are monsters. “Monsters” for no other reason than that they cannot keep up with an inhuman ideal on par with Communism.

                      Except of course for the occasional black sheep child who is publicly known to be rebellious. They get extra hell. And their very existence violates the Grand Promise of these ideas: the removal of rebellion.

                      Remember that in all of this you are dealing with broken people from the beginning: parents who were often sexually or otherwise wild as teenagers and are horrified by what they did. A huge part of the homeschooling movement is about rejecting the entire category of “teenager” and everything that goes with it. Part of that is correct, we have a lot of insanity in the culture, but part of it demands that you reject little things like basic biology to make the ideas work.

                      “Teenage rebellion”, once you strip out the cultural elements that celebrate it and make it worse than it has to be is a necessary stage in forming a person rather than a pseudopod. These people utterly reject that. They pretty much literally see the way things should be as God’s boot on the Fath-, er, Patriarch’s face, his boot on the Mother’s face, and both parent’s boots on the children’s faces. Often they establish a pecking order for the children as well, with the older siblings beating the younger ones.

                      And when I say “literally”: there is a chart from Gothardism that shows a hammer, chisel, and diamond as the ideal model for a family. The hammer is the father, the chisel is the mother, the diamond is the child.

                    4. **“Teenage rebellion”, once you strip out the cultural elements that celebrate it and make it worse than it has to be is a necessary stage in forming a person rather than a pseudopod. These people utterly reject that**

                      Never understood that personally. If my kid was the way he is now at 30 as a teen, maybe I wouldn’t have been ready for him to go off to college and do what he needed to do to grow up. Isn’t that the reason for teen years, so that we are willing to let them go?

                    5. Lost in the nesting replies here, but I’ve pretty much been on the fringes of Quiverfull stuff all my life (it’s the grace of God that neither of my parents ever took the bait). Lots of Bill Gothard and Bob Jones shilling, though the Pearls didn’t come to prominence until well after I was an adult.

                      I have Opinions. Many of them. 🙂

                    6. My mom went to homeschooling after being disenchanted with the utility of the public schools. I saw a good cross section of public school programs before then.

                      My disenchantment with public schools is more or less threefold. Politics, quality, and safety. 1) My final district was in a state that had some Jim Crow. To include massacre. I had the intelligence and historical orientation to notice careful silences in the material, and then to work out that the state Democrats the teachers were and are sucking up to overlapped with the state Democrats who were at least complicit. 2) There were teachers that did a lot for me. I’m arrogant and perhaps a wee bit overconfident. 3) This is part quality, but sixth grade sex ed? I intuited the statistics to understand that for imperfect contraception, as trial increase, so does chance of pregnancy. The true minimization is in minimizing trials. I can’t help but feel that those teachers were stupid or malicious, and gave me no value. I was in a classroom where kids were hurt, and might’ve been one of them if I hadn’t developed in a paranoid way. As best as I can understand the effects of being hurt that way, my life would have been a great deal more difficult, perhaps easily offsetting any possible benefit of formal schooling. My kids in school, in special ed? Targets. I can’t even provide them the defensive mindset I had, because they would not have my personality, and I damaged myself figuring out some of the things I figured out when I did. Recent politics has radicalized me further.

                      I think I would have to be stupid to trust my hypothetical children to anyone with a education degree or teaching certificate. Yeah, homeschooling is a lot of parental investment. If you are thinking rationally about investment, it doesn’t make since not to spend time and energy on your kids even if you are using public school.

                      Lessee. When I was a teen, I thought the teenage rebellion thing was stupid, and I was not going to have it. A decade or two later…

                      Other anecdotes… My mom mentioned Skinner psychologists as folks who often screw up their kids by practicing on them. I recall her also discussing folks who like to do childrearing by training in obedience at an early age. Again, not favorably.

                      So my guesses about society and homeschooling would naturally tend to be different from yours.

                    7. Bob — this is not about homeschooling, which is only reasonable way to raise kids these days.
                      I was talking of the “quiverfull” and extreme discipline parents.
                      I only sent younger kid back to school because son wanted to go to duel college program. Which did work for him.

                  1. Oh Hekate’s Horrible Hand-grenade. This is the cr-p I was reading about in the Polish psychologist’s book about cargo-cult science. (Among other things). *shudder* There were psychologists encouraging this for severely retarded children, or those with major emotional development problems. The author comes down on them hard.

      2. That which does not kill you makes you stranger. If you start out as Odd in the first place…

      1. That’s one of his I haven’t run into, mostly having read the early Kipling. Publication date of 1935, and knowing the details of his life… It’s pretty obvious that is not the same man who wrote the earlier stuff. The death of his son John in 1915 probably informs more of this poem than the casual reader would pick up on–I read through it, and the first thing that popped into my mind was “This is from after John died in WWI…”, and as soon as I looked at the date…? Yeah.

        1. I first encountered it in song format on a fairly famous filk compilation (as famous as filk ever gets, of course.) It was supposed to have been a charity compilation, so there’s a lot of fame on there (including the classic “Never Set the Cat on Fire”), but it got recopied and passed around way too much, and nobody got paid.

          I once used it as a proof of “there are songs about everything.” The person I said this to said “Engineering?” and I started singing that to him…

  6. I’ve always wondered if I’d lack the dark, very nasty and cold streak in my character if I hadn’t spent the better part of four years being the target of choice. It was probably there from earlier, but would it have been cleaned out and have faded if I’d had a more positive teenaged experience? I’ll never know, but trying to turn that into something good, or at least keep it properly directed has taken me in some interesting directions.

    1. Amen.

      I can be paranoid about other people thanks to dealing with bullying jerks when I was younger.

      But I work at being less paranoid when it’s not necessary to be paranoid.

      Of course, listening to some “Liberal” jerks tells me that it can be necessary to be slightly paranoid about them. 😈

      1. I don’t think the Left understands this at all. They keep making the kind of mistake that leads anyone who pays any attention to doubt every word out of their mouths.

        Take Global Warming (please); Early on it was shown that a lot of their lead material, such as the ‘hockey stick’ graph was codswallop. Then it gradually came out that the majority of the temperature data they refer to has been ‘adjusted’. So, by this time, it would take a known Climate Skeptic reversing field and saying ‘there’s something here after all’ for me to even bother listening.

        Or take ‘Hate Crimes’; there have been so many frauds by attention seeking Lefties that any announced Hate Crime that targets a Preferred Left Group, I automatically assume is pigswill.

        They use up all the oxygen in the room with lies, and then have the nerve to be surprised that people are ignoring them.

        1. Glenn Reynolds has commented that his first take on an alleged hate crime is to presume it’s fake until proven otherwise. I haven’t seen much to disabuse me of that approach.

          On Gorebull Climate Change, it seems the alarmists are:
          a) Trying to make a buck or get more power (grants, Al Gore’s Carbon Indulgences, Occasional Cortex and the GND)
          b) “I’ve got mine, Jack, and how dare you try to get to my status level (see British Royals and the Gulfstream Alarmists as tarnished examples.)
          c) The sheep
          This is a non-exclusive list,

          1. That has become my reaction, too. Which is too bad, because it will eventually provide cover for when the backlash starts.

            Or, to look at another issue, over-the-top hyping of environmental issues and ‘solutions’ distracts from useful progress. Banning ‘single use’ plastics in the West accomplishes little of use; the vast majority of plastic trash in the oceans comes from Africa and Asia. But the bans make the people who are concerned fell that ‘something is being done’, and don’t address the real problem.

            Battery powered cars don’t have the range and general usefulness that many people seriously need. Hydrogen powered cars might. But all the attention is going to spreading electric cars that are, no matter what every enthusiast claims, subsidized toys for the wealthy, abd a burden (through taxes) on the less well off. Sure, there are problems with hydrogen powered cars. But they MIGHT be made to work with the technology we already have. Battery cars won’t.

            BTW, does anyone know how much the process of refining oil can be adjusted to favor uses other than gasoline? If large amounts of gasoline are an inevitable byproduct of making plastics, maybe we need uses for gasoline. Like cars.

            1. I don’t know about gasoline vs plastics, but with fuel hydrocarbons, there’s some room for maneuvering.

              Back in the early 1900s, gasoline (approximately 60 octane) was a not-terribly-useful byproduct of kerosene refining. From what little I know of refining, the longer chain molecules have to be split (“cracked”) to yield heptane and octane. Not sure how they the even lighter hydrocarbons from crude.

              Again, going from memory, it depends on the chemical makeup of the source crude. Some run to heavier molecules than others.

              1. what goes into plastics etc is a different portion of crude than gasoline. Also, what refined product comes out of a barrel of crude (42 gallons iirc) is more than the barrel (45-50 gallons out depending on what splits are done and what the crude is like)
                gasoline is coming out to get to the heavier stuff or it is going to be waste if only the light stuff is used. Crude like tar sands or Venezuela’s slightly less nasty stuff would stop being at all viable, Mexico’s would be marginal, and Sweet Texas style crude would be about the only thing worth while if fuels were no longer a price driver . . . refining costs would still be up there without that fuel carrying it, and all manner of stuff (medicines to fire extinguishing) would climb in cost.
                There are some alternative for some of the chemicals other than crude (coal has some), but it is more cost effective to use fossil petroleum. Most Methanol (Wood Alcohol) is made from natural gas cracking instead of being distilled from biomass, because it is easier and cheaper. Though even that could be done without gas, a cheap way to get hydrogen and CO2 for the process and power to do it is needed. The modern way the greenies all hate is cheaper, more efficient, and cleaner.

      2. Its not paranoia. Its healthy caution in a proven dangerous environment.

        Always suspect trouble when somebody leaves a wooden horse outside your castle.

            1. I stole it so long ago, I couldn’t tell you. There’s an infinitesimally small chance I did it myself, but if necessary, I’ll take the credit. 🙂

    1. Thank you. This came from a place of frustration that took years to play out… and it is still not done. Might never be. But i can see the beauty in my children.

  7. More a reply to some of the topics brought up in comments than one directed at the article itself:

    My father beat me (unfairly; I don’t count the many ones I deserved) as a child, until I was big enough to fight back with enough strength to come out on top. That time, Mom had to talk me out of turning a shotgun on him. Despite all that, my absolute worst day ever growing up was when she almost took us and left him. Many years later, when she did leave him, I was on deployment. It was like a punch in the gut. Far as I knew, they’d patched things up. Last time I’d been home on leave they both looked the best they had in years, and I didn’t hear an argument the whole time I was home. (According to my brother the behaving nicely part was put on for my benefit.) Anyway, I did not take things well at all, and the next liberty port saw me a grand poorer, and over nine tenths of that was booze and girls.

    Burned off my stink, and the two oldest younger sisters fared all right eventually, but my little brothers and my youngest sister definitely suffered mightily from not having Dad in the home, even with his flaws. (He never beat on the rest like he did me. Dunno, I’ve never been one to knuckle under for anything. Maybe that’s it.)

    Bottom line, I came out of the whole experience convinced that the law should be amended so as to force couples to deal with their grievances except in the most extreme circumstances when children are concerned. I am convinced I ended up better off with my parents still married and under the same roof than I would have been otherwise, despite the problems I had with my father. He was often unfair, but he was always there, and I never doubted that he loved me. I look at my younger siblings, they all have issues to one degree or another. Hell, we all do, but us older three managed better. (Though I recently learned oldest little sister contemplated suicide. Very glad she didn’t do it.)

    Son of abusive father says if you have kids together stay together, only exception is if one parent is so bad as to be a ‘death or serious bodily harm’ threat. Deadbeats outside of author’s experience. Father was sole breadwinner in household, and author never went to bed hungry.

    P.S. These days I’m on quite good terms with my father, and he apologized for the way he treated me a couple years back. I’m only airing the linen in hopes it might keep a home from breaking.

    1. My cynical assumption has been that any time a modern couple says “We’re doing ‘X’ for the sake of the child(ren) , they’re lying. They’re doing it for their own selfish reasons, and using the child(ren) as a socially acceptable excuse. They haven’t even ASKED the child(ren)Doesn’t matter what it is; breaking up, staying together, moving to the suburbs, staying in the city. If they invoke the child(ren), they are full of dung.

      1. We do a hell of a lot for the kids.

        We sure as heck aren’t going to say that, because we’re doing what we think is best; yeah, it’s for them, but it’s still our choice.

        I wrote up a ‘rules of helping’ for our eldest, one of them is that it doesn’t count as ‘helping’ if they don’t want you to do it. It might still be the right thing, but it’s got to stand as the right thing.

          1. *nod*

            I wouldn’t VOLINTEER the information, and what I suspect is that it’s more like “if the first hing they say is ‘we’re doing it for the children,’ it’s a big red flag, but not a mind reader.

    2. It might be useful to arm kids with the idea of what a marriage actually is— the Catholic church has mandatory counseling before a marriage, because marriage is for life.

      The thing is, “marriage” isn’t the ceremony– that’s why an “annulment” exists. Two folks try to get married, and at least one isn’t qualified to be able to enter a marriage.

      So there’s a process for it.

      And they realized there where a WHOLE HECK OF A LOT of annulments that were happening not because one of the folks had already been married, or something like that– but because at least one of folks who got married had a seriously deformed idea of what marriage involved. Most popular movie version is that he thought he was getting a mindless slave, from those records that aren’t sealed the most common idea was that sex was a mandatory, children were an option and not a great one at that (NOT in keeping with a Catholic marriage; the phrase is ‘open to life’ for anybody who is interested in that rabbit hole), that the idea was “loving each other” in the fluttery-feeling sense rather than the sacrificial-love sense…. you get the idea.

      So, they started having marriage classes to be married in the Church.
      This has reduced the number of divorces for those married in the Church…because it wasn’t done so well, it’s also lowered the number of folks married in the Church…. but those who do it DO have an idea of what they are getting into.


      It sounds like your folks…. *searched for a diplomatic phrase* …. had flaws, but were married.

      I wish I could fix things.

    3. > I am convinced I ended up better off with my parents still married and under the same roof than I would have been otherwise, despite the problems I had with my father.

      I’m the opposite. The stories of how children were abused in foster care sounded like heaven compared to the daily family life of drug addiction and industrial-grade crazy.

      When I got married I told my wife if our marriage ever started looking like that, I was gone with the wind. 35 years now, I guess that’s OK for a starter wife…

  8. I once told a health care professional about my childhood experiences and was told statistically I shouldn’t be alive. I survived, but in the long term I probably would have been been a healthy, more successful person if I had a “normal” upbringing.

    I’m not “repaired” with gold, but held together with wire and duct tape. Fortunately a few people lead me away from the darkness and for their attention, I’m eternally grateful.

    Not every person can withstand the crucible of misfortune and that of evil. The are those that soar, those that survive day to day, and a much large number of extremely broken people that alongside the road of life. I can’t judge them, that’s not my duty.

    1. “…held together with wire and duct tape…”

      Most of us are, the only question being how much. I’m lucky; I think I didn’t even require half a roll of tape and no more than a foot or so of wire. My Lady needed a whole pallet of wire and we got the tape wholesale.


      The gold comes in at the contact points of the wounds. It’s what you grow, while the tape and wire hold the edges together.

      My Lady is gold goddamned MESH.

      1. Hemingway was a damned commie, but when he wrote “Life breaks everyone. And some are stronger in the broken places.” he put truth to paper.

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