Modern Providence: Genesis addendum

And on the 27,5838-gazillionth day, God created glowing screens with voices, and sticks to change the images upon their faces, and He said to the mother, “Go, set your children before this comfort, for your soul and your bones are weary, and I have brought you rest. Go take a nap.”

So she did, and it was good.

(Edit to explain: Eyes kept me up til 4 a.m. last night, then woke around 7. Yeeeaaaaahhhhh…. not firing on all cylinders today.)


Ms. vs. Mrs.

I’m sure most of you reading this had the same training as I did growing up: we addressed adults by their last name and proper title, e.g., “Mr. Johnson” or “Dr. Bradley” or “Mrs. Hinkle.”

Those Misters and Missuses of the ’80s and ’90s we so addressed probably still prefer (or maybe just expect) to be called that. After all, they are still our seniors by a good twenty years or more and belong to a generation where this was thoroughly standardized. So, unless I’m given specific instruction to the contrary, I maintain this form of address with them—and I expect my children to mimic me.

However, I don’t refer to my peers in the same way, even around my children. Since I normally address my friends as “Gretta” or “Bob” or “Joanna,” and my children hear me refer to them this way, I don’t want to confuse my boys by giving them another name to know adults by, so I just have them use first names as well. Sure–previous generations have worked through this confusion in the traditional way, and it was no big deal. But that’s not the main reason I do this; it’s just a helpful side effect.

To clarify somewhat, we don’t have our children address adults just by their first names. Formal titles do show respect to one’s elders, or in some cases to those with a greater degree of expertise in a particular subject field. Since using titles doesn’t actually require coupling with a last name, we do have our kids use them when referring to adults. The results are “Mr. Bob,” “Dr. Dan,” “Ms. Anita,” etc.

But we rarely, if ever, use the title “Mrs.” If we do, it’s by mistake; a slip of the tongue generated through years of habit.

Why not?

“Mrs.” is the formal title specifically for a married woman–one who “belongs” to someone else. In very formal settings a wife might even be denoted by her husband’s name preceded by the title, e.g. “Mrs. John Smith.”

grammarly has a great article on how to properly use these formal titles!

For more about this, see grammarly’s very helpful article, “Here’s How to Know the Difference Between Miss, Mrs., and Ms.”

Here’s what bothers me: why should a woman’s traditional, formal title be defined by her husband’s possession of her? In contrast, a man’s formal title remains unaffected by whether or not he is married. Now, there are certainly many different degrees and forms of possession in relationships, plenty of which are harmless and normal; after all, my children are referred to as “Stephanie’s kids.” But the relational imbalance inherent in the titles “Mr.” and “Mrs.” paired with the all too commonplace misogyny in traditional marriages of the past half century (either grossly overt or relatively benign) leads me to feel that, on the whole, I’m not sure I like “Mrs.” anymore.

But even that isn’t my ultimate reason for avoiding the word. My final reason comes down to this:

I want to avoid putting any sort of negative spotlight on unmarried moms.

If I ever told my kids that we call the mom of some friends “Mrs. So-n-So” but the mom of other friends “Ms. Thus-n-Such,” I would have to explain the reason behind that cultural phenomenon: one woman is married and another isn’t. I would be highlighting that fact for my kids, singling out the minority group as different in some way, and thereby planting seeds of skepticism, disassociation, and criticism. I’d be inviting gossip about the other mom and the opportunity to discredit her for no reason except for the fact that we call her something different. If we label her with something strange and use it every time we speak to her, there must be something wrong with her–right? This is the kind of assumption a kid can easily make.

Of course it would be obvious to my kids if their friends have no dad in the picture. Of course they might have questions about the situation, but I would encourage them to talk to their friends and their friends’ mom about it, and if they didn’t want to talk, to respect that. It’s not something my family needs to problem-solve around our dinner table, and it’s not anything that should alienate us in *any* degree from a family with a different shape.

So, for all these reasons, my boys address women roughly my age as “Ms. First Name.” No muss, no fuss. Everybody’s on the same playing field, and, I have to say, no one has batted an eye.

Words so greatly affect how we relate to the world around us, and I feel that the fewer lines we can manage to draw between ourselves and others, the better off we’ll all be.

The Jesus Eraser

Image credit David Hayward @nakedpastor



The Five-Second Rule

five to ten seconds: the eternal perspective you need in a moment

I texted this to a group of fellow mom friends a few weeks back (we were sharing our struggles in parenting young, volatile, impressionable children):

“My number-1 targeted habit-to-improve these days is stopping and taking 3 seconds before reacting. If I do that, I give myself a chance to be intentional. Sometimes I’m not anyway… but if I don’t pause at all, I default to whatever knee-jerk reaction is in the queue without thinking.”

If I’m honest, I really need more like 5-10 seconds to take a deep breath, release my priorities, remind myself that my childrens’ emotions won’t kill me, and reset. When I take those five seconds, I give myself a chance to make better choices than my history-crippled subconscious would default to.

Five seconds = power to do good.

I went on for my friends:

“In those 3-5 seconds, I try to employ mostly-non-verbal self-talk like, ‘yes, I am angry. Yes, it’s understandable. Yes, it’s hard to be kind when I feel hurt and attacked. Yes, I can react to these feelings with frustration.

“Now, let me react to my kids differently, because they /= my negative feelings and experiences.

“They deserve a different response. It might entail consequences, it might not. But one reaction is for how I feel, and one reaction is for who they are.

“These are not interchangeable.”


One of my friends said she wanted to copy these thoughts into a text file to read later, so I figured I’d put them up on the blog for her convenience, and in case they help anybody else.

The amazing thing is, this concept that God was stirring up in my subconscious until it worked its way into more conscious, verbal thought is very similar to the techniques and teachings of at least one parenting and child development expert with way more credibility than I have: Dr. Laura Markham, founder of My husband and I attended a seminar by her this past week, and we were both blown away–which is rather amazing in and of itself.

I’ll save that story and more on what we learned from Dr. Laura another time, but suffice it to say: Jesus, much like Aslan, is on the move in our little family. He’s preparing our hearts and pulling things together in ways we did not see or comprehend months, weeks, or even days ago.

It’s incredible to watch!