Monthly Archives: April 2008

Quote of the Week

Many people have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. 
It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.
               - Helen Keller

Giving Up Private Practice

I’ve been doing a large number of radio interviews since the publication of Stop Whining, Start Living a few weeks ago.  I enjoy them, because I connect with fellow talk-show hosts around the country.  I’m challenged with great questions, and I have an opportunity to meet new listeners.

One particular interviewer asked me:  “Why did you give up private practice for radio?”  My answer?  Because I can help more people per square inch of time.

That is exactly true, but after thinking more about this question during the week, there is more.  Having been trained, licensed, and in private practice as a Marriage, Family, and Child Therapist, I have had innumerable experiences with people dealing with a wide range of problems.  Looking back, it seems that suffering and problems fill the amount of time allotted to them.  That means that generally (read:  not always) most “problems” can be dealt with in a shorter amount of time with a change in how you look at the problem.  In other words, the “fix” is most often just looking at the same facts in a different way.

For example, a recent female caller was annoyed at her mother being in constant “schmooze” mode.  It seemed incredible to have someone complain about “too much lovey-dovey behavior” from a parent!  I asked her about her childhood.  Bingo.  Her mother had been cold, unloving, critical, etc.  I told the caller that it was understandable that she was uncomfortable with loving behavior from her mom, considering she spent an entire childhood getting the opposite.  And this big switch explained why the caller felt that her mom wasn’t being sincere.

One could imagine a year or so of joint and individual therapy to “resolve” the resentments and other feelings.  But it took thirty seconds for me to help this woman open her heart to her mother trying to make up for the past.  I explained that the other options were that her mother ignored her completely or continued to be horrible.  Trying to make it up to her is a demonstration of humility and love.

My caller cried as I told her to “let go” into it, and that as difficult as it was for her to accept the love because it felt to foreign – that the same was true for her mother!  The caller thanked me and remarked how she had never looked at it that way and that it changed everything.

When people call my radio program, they already know that the time they’ll have is quite brief, and they know “the rules.”  They are open to a “smack in the head” (V8 style!), and in the “heart” from me, and they fill this brief time with intensity.

People who read my books (currently Stop Whining, Start Living) write me that within a few chapters, they feel a change that others notice!  They feel “released.”  I believe a lot of important changes in life can happen quite quickly and the feedback we get from listeners and readers shows that the students are ready – and I’m grateful that so many people have accepted me as a teacher.

Are Dads Unnecessary?

For the life of me, I don’t know what single women “by choice” tell their sons about what to look forward to in their futures. 

“Randy” sent me the front page of her local newspaper, with an article touting “Moms Single By Choice.”   Randy writes:

 [The article is about w]omen in their late 30s or 40s who have no husbands but want a kid.  A few adopt, while sperm bank fertilization impregnates many of them.

I have learned from listening to your radio program for the past two years that a woman’s selfish desire to have a kid should be trumped by the needs of a child who would be best brought up in a two-parent family – mom and dad, married, with a stable home.

Ninety percent of the article promotes this behavior as an acceptable “choice.”  The article explains the pain a woman goes through when she realizes that Mr. Right is not coming as they age into their late 30s or early 40s.  The article sympathizes with these brave career women who can afford full-time nannies and day care.  One woman is quoted as saying that this was ‘the best decision she ever made,’ while the final word plainly says to ‘go for it.’  There are a couple of brief paragraphs buried late in the article mentioning the conservative point of view.  It states that hundreds of studies have shows that mom and dad homes are superior to single-parent homes.  Also, very briefly stated is that ‘choice mothers are, in effect, teaching their children that men are not important to families, marriages, or children.’

I sympathize with the children of these single moms “by choice.”  They are intentionally robbed of a father.  More than traditional money-earning, protecting and fixing things around the house, the dad does something else.  He has a place in the family where he shows monogamy and daily behavior as a father and man should behave.  He is a role model, and an example of the kind of person sons should grow up to resemble, and daughters should grow up to look for.”

Hey, Randy, in this “PC” and feminist-brainwashed society, whatever an adult wants always trumps what children need!  If a woman who never bothered to become “Miss Right,” does want to devote herself to raising a child (without nannies and day-care), I’m all for her adopting an older or difficult-to-place child.  Now, that would be a God-send.

Endurance and Purpose: Antidotes to Despair

Last month, I was asked to write a note to wives of Los Angeles SWAT team members (“warrior wives”) after a SWAT officer was killed in a real life incident.  I thought it made sense to share it with all of you:

Not long ago, I received an award from a Native American patriot group for being “the proud mother of a deployed American paratrooper.”  The representatives of this group travel the country giving special awards to military personnel and their families honoring their efforts, sacrifices, and suffering.  Part of the quite moving ceremony was that I was given a Native American name.  The representative of the tribe said that he got special permission from the elders to do so, and that he prayed to the spirits for many days until they told him what name to give me:  Walks With Warriors.

The obvious irony is that I talk about “warriors” with great reverence and respect almost every day on my radio program.  Modern-day warriors include the military, firemen, and the police.  These folks elect to put themselves in harm’s way for perfect and imperfect strangers.  Why?  Because as the hot dog commercial touted, they “obey a higher power.”  That higher power is purpose.

When my son volunteered for the military, I was at once proud and scared.  I talked to him just before he left for basic training and said something like “You know, honey, this is not like a video game or shooting targets.  There will be young men on the other side trying to kill you before you kill them.”  “Mom,” he replied, nonplussed while I was reverberating with discomfort, “the way I drive, I could get killed on the freeway.  Of course, I don’t want to die or even get hurt.  And some day, I’m going to die anyway, because, eventually, we all do.  If I die in combat, I will at least have died for a noble purpose.”

I was stunned.  My eighteen year old wild kid had overnight turned into a man who understood that a life without purpose is the greatest loss.  The constant memory of that conversation is what buoys me as a mother of a combat soldier.  I’m so proud.

I have used my own experience to help the mothers, wives, and children of warriors; I help them understand that they are not just wives, mothers, and children – they are warrior wives, warrior mothers, and warrior children – and provide them real back-up for these extraordinary people  The sacrifice of time, energy, commitment, financial riches, and sometimes life and limb, make these warriors and their families special and deserving of infinitely more respect than they get by some who don’t appreciate the price of freedom from enemies foreign and domestic, as well as from natural disasters.

I am reminded of a scene from the Yul Brynner version of the film, “The Magnificent Seven.” It takes place in Mexico, where a small village is one of the many terrorized by a roving gang of Mexican bandits preying on their own.  Yul and six of his gun-slinging buddies are hired to protect the town.  The scene of most importance to the issue of heroes and warriors is one in which one of the gunslingers tries to shoo away two young boys who are enthralled with him as a warrior and hero.  One of them insults his own father, calling him a coward.  The gunman grabs him and yells at him (I’m paraphrasing here):  “We’re just men with guns.  Your fathers are the real heroes.  They work hard every day trying to squeeze food from the dirt to take care of your mothers and siblings.  They struggle against the forces of nature and the evil of bandits.  And they survive to protect and provide for you – they are the real heroes!”

The truth is, we need both.  We need those willing to fight evil and disasters and we need those who toil each day supporting those warriors and the life they have us live.  When we lose “one of ours,” and collapse into negativity and despair, we destroy 1) what they built, and 2) what they lost.  Their deaths are best honored by our continuing to do what they lived for:  to have wonderful, productive, happy, and safe lives. 

Don’t take what they lost and waste it with self-pity and rage.  Take what they lost and honor their memory and their efforts by squeezing every ounce of joy that life,  love, relationships, hobbies, work, family, and just plain smelling the lilacs can give.

We most honor the deaths of warriors by continuing their commitment, not by giving up on our own. 

A respected rabbi once said:  “Despair is a cheap excuse for avoiding one’s purpose in life.  And a sense of purpose is the best way to avoid despair.”  I have relied on this sentiment many times as despair has grabbed at my feet.  I hope this helps you.

My heart is with all of you, past and present.

Dr. Laura C. Schlessinger

Too Much Water, Water Everywhere

It’s been a well-known, absolute fact that you’re supposed to drink eight 8 oz. glasses of water each day to help flush toxins from the body, prevent weight gain, and improve skin tone.  I’m surprised folks haven’t been walking around with those aluminum hospital poles holding up bags of water for an all-day water drip.  Remember all the recent arguing about those ubiquitous plastic water bottles and whether or not they should be banned?

Well, brace yourself.  Dr. Dan Negoianu and Dr. Stanley Goldfarb of the Renal, Electrolyte and Hypertension Division of the University of Pennsylvania say that not one single study indicates that an average, healthy person needs to drink that much water each day.

They did report the obvious:  that individuals in hot, dry climates, as well as athletes, need to increase the amount of water they drink.  But no studies have found any benefit to the organs of increased water intake.  Evidently, there is little to no data to support that drinking more water curbs your appetite, cures headaches, or improves skin tone.

On the average, the body uses between 1.7 and 2.6 pints (1.0 – 1.5 liters) of water daily, and more in high temperatures or when exercising.  While this can be replaced through drinks, a large amount is also contained in food, so it isn’t necessary to drink an equivalent amount to replace water levels.

Keep in mind that too much water can affect the balance of salts in the body, causing “water intoxication,” which can be fatal – as it was to that woman in the radio contest where contestants were supposed to drink water continually without urinating in order to win a Wii.

Marriage Matters to Children

The Claremont Institute (http://www.claremont.org/) recently published two book reviews having to do with the significance of marriage to the well-being of children, and the cohesiveness of society in general.  The books reviewed are:  “Marriage and Caste in America:  Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age,” by Kay S. Hymowitz, and “The Future of Marriage,” by David Blankenhorn.

These are two fascinating and informational books that you ought to read.  The reviewer, F. Carolyn Graglia, writes:  “Over the past four decades, American adults have seemed more concerned with enjoying their own existence than with the generation and welfare of children.” And in her book, Hymowitz writes:  “Children of single mothers are less successful on just about every measure than children growing up with their married parents regardless of their income, race, or educational levels:  they are more prone to drug and alcohol abuse, to crime, and to school failure; they are less likely to graduate from college; they are more likelyl to have children at a young age, and more likely to do so when they are unmarried. Soaring divorce rates and out-of-wedlock births (37% of U. S.  births are illegitimate) have made ours a nation of separate and unequal families.”

The propensity to divorce is apparently correlated with two-income families. Hymowitz notes that the “traditional families, with breadwinner husband and stay-at-home wife had the lowest rate of divorce.”  Women employed 80% of the time since the birth of their first child are twice as likely to be divorced as stay-at-home moms. 

Today, more than 40% of all first marriages end in divorce (the rates for second and third marriages are higher), and more than half of all U.S. children will spend “at least a significant part of their childhood living apart from their father.”

Shacking up, having babies out of wedlock as an entitlement for working women who don’t have the time or inclination to create a marriage, having babies out of wedlock because of irresponsible sexual behavior (and not considering adoption to a two-parent mom and dad)…all of these now-normalized behaviors reek of narcissism and indicate that we worry less about children and more about adults being unfettered by morality, good sense, or compassion to the needs of children.

Strong Marriages = Strong Communities

Pastor Alexander Hardy, Jr. of the New Dimension Worship Center in Frederick, Maryland banded together with 16 other churches to present Families United ’08 two weekends ago.  This was a three-day conference for children and adults, including workshops and fun and games.  Sunday was even declared Marriage Day in Frederick, by way of a proclamation from the mayor and aldermen.

The point of this effort was to send a message of hope and perseverance to younger adults.  The religious aspect was not incidental:  one participant said that building a relationship with God has made all the difference in building relationships with his wife and children:  “When we got married, we didn’t know God.  God has taught us to be humble; taught us we don’t always have to be right or have it our way.”

All together, about 350 people attended this event, with six couples renewing their vows in front of their children and community.  Inspiring!