Monthly Archives: April 2009

How the Latest Successful Stop-Smoking Campaign Can Be Applied to Other Bad Habits

Every time I go out to buy anything from shoe polish to hair spray to a new Harley-Davidson jacket, I get taxed.  Every time this happens, I ask, “Hey, what’s the story here?”  When I earn it, the federal government taxes it, the state government taxes it, and then when that’s all done, and I’m down to what I can actually spend, they tax me on everything I use my “already taxed” income for. Does that seem right, fair or fun to anyone?  I think not.

That was until last week.  The per-pack federal tax increase on cigarettes from 39 cents to $1.01 has made for a smokin’ “stop smoking hot line” and treatment center boom!  The Denver-based National Jewish Health line received triple the usual number of calls last Monday for six states in which it operates:  Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, New Mexico, and Ohio. 

Quit smoking phone lines around the country are feeling the surge, and Michigan’s quit line itself had to quit because it ran out of money in mid-March after logging more than 65,000 callers in 5 days!  Besides counseling and tips, Michigan’s hot line offered free nicotine patches, gum or lozenges.

Arkansas had to quit general advertising for its quit line to keep up with the surge.

Not all “quitters” will be successful.  It’s a tough physiological and psychological addiction to break.  One source guesses that about 1 million adults will quit as a result of the tax increase. 

So, after hearing about this, I got to thinking…if money outweighs morality in issues of behavior, the government is onto something.  Instead of super-taxing yachts and Harry Winston-level jewelry, why not tax divorces, so that people will make more of an effort to make their vows mean something more than their egos or impulses? Why not tax people who use day care, nannies and/or baby-sitters, so their children will come to know them better and be more loved, nurtured, and end up feeling safe and confident about love and family?  Why not tax women who abort instead of finding a wonderful family to give life and love to their unwanted children?  Why not tax men who walk away after knocking up some woman they have no intention of adoring, protecting or providing for by marriage?

I could go on, but you get my meaning.  On my radio program, I try to reach and influence people with a bit of good sense, rational thought, and (when necessary) appropriate guilt.  I give them direction, motivation, support, and a good motherly nag.

Callers don’t pay for their time on the phone.  Sometimes, I joke with them that if they don’t start doing the right thing, I am going to reverse the charges – and impose a kind of “talk show tax.”  That’s starting to sound more and more like a good idea.  If people are willing to get rid of a nasty, dangerous, addictive habit like smoking because of money, maybe costing them money would prod even more people into “doing the right thing.”

Deflecting Arguments Against Being a Stay-At-Home Mom

Stay-at-home moms are often misunderstood, sneered at, and given very little respect.  It’s no wonder women say they stay at home with some apprehension – they never know what they’re going to hear back!  Well, today, I have some advice for how to handle the naysayers: 

Video: Deflecting Arguments Against Being A Stay-at-Home Mom

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Read transcript here.

Don’t Do the Wrong Thing With Your Hyperactive Kids

When I was a child in school, my parents were called in each and every year to have a conference with the principal about my inattention, underachievement, and disruption of the class because I talked too much – all the things that would have me doused in Ritalin today.

I get way too many calls from mothers that their local school is threatening to drug their child (usually a son) with Ritalin to cure his ADHD, and thereby control his behavior.  I always tell them:  NO.  There are numerous reasons why children (and especially boys) won’t sit still and won’t pay attention.  Sometimes they’re bored, sometimes there is so much turmoil at home that they’re acting out, and sometimes they just have so much energy that they can’t sit still.  Schools have virtually thrown out recess breaks and physical education.  Sometimes, too, they’re just the sort of kids who need more one-on-one attention in order to keep focused.  Of course, there’s also the possibility that there are other problems.

There’s an important (and not surprising to me) piece of news published online in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry:  that stimulant drugs like Ritalin that are used to treat ADHD do not improve children’s symptoms in the long term.

The latest report tracked almost 500 children for eight years, and found that those still taking stimulant medication fared no better in the reduction of symptoms such as inattention and hyperactivity or in social functioning than those who had not taken medication.  The difference was clear in less than two years.

Behavioral treatments are going to have a much bigger benefit in the long term.  It’s easy to find a doctor who will prescribe Ritalin.  However, it takes some time to find a doctor experienced in behavioral intervention, and for many “too busy” folks, popping a pill seems easier and more expedient than ongoing behavioral techniques that will require their time and energies to learn and utilize at home.
Here in Los Angeles, we have The Drake Institute, which is expert in this area.  These ongoing interventions are costly, and not all insurance will cover them, which is, indeed, a problem.

I remember reading on the air an email from a grandfather whose grandson was the child of a two-career household.  The grandfather was retired.  He found out they were going to “Ritalin-ize” his grandson, and immediately took over.  He homeschooled this child and spent the entire day combining school work with structured play and discipline   The child blossomed.  He wrote:  “I sometimes think that it is not the child who has attention-deficit problems, but the parents who give the child a deficit of attention.”

While that may be true in a lot of cases, there are still those children whose impulse control and thinking processes need special attention.  Find a good behavioral therapist with the experience to make a difference, and realize that you, as a parent, will have to spend the time to understand, learn and help your child mature in a healthy and productive way.  Stop with the popping of potent pills as a first and last resort…..please.

I Tidied Up My Point of View

When my now 6’3″ son was a little guy, housework was secondary in priority to interacting with him.  One of my most wonderful memories is of taking him on a walk (and pulling him in his Radio Flyer-like wagon) to the huge parking lot of the local Target.  I would put him in one of the shopping carts, and run like mad, twisting and turning and twirling the cart until he whooped with delight.  This would go on for the better part of an hour.  Thinking back, I got a good aerobic exercise workout, and he got a Disneyland-like ride.  At the time, though, it was just about having fun together.

One of the constant complaints I get (especially from at-home moms), is about the drudgery of housework, particularly about how it is never-ending and repetitive.  Frankly, I liked knowing the parameters involved with housework:  bathrooms, kitchen, and washing and folding laundry.  Folding laundry was my meditative exercise.  I found it quite relaxing.

Attitude is the essential issue in dealing with anything in life.  I had a recent caller to my radio program who was still working through her rotten childhood by yelling and being physical with her kids…but in a bad way.  After a bit of a lecture from me on finally having fun in her life, and my giving her examples of getting kids to do things (like putting toys away or getting their pajamas on) with fun (complete with giggles and applause), she wrote me back and thanked me.  Then I received this email from another listener:

I am in the middle of three loads of laundry (I have four boys ages 7,10, 12 and 14, so I have a lot of laundry), and wanted to thank you for being my “housework buddy.”  You may not realize it, but you’ve been helping me with my housework for the last 3 months.  How?  I’ve always hated and avoided doing housework, because I never saw the value in it.  Instead, I took part-time jobs while the kids were in school and hired a housekeeper once a week.  While she put a dent in the mess, there was still a lot of housework left, and I asked my full-time working husband to help out on the weekend.  This meant that our weekends weren’t much fun.

After listening to you talk to a caller about what a great gift she was giving her family by keeping the house neat, I decided to devote the three hours you’re on the air to housework.  I can now happily listen to you from any room in the house.  While I still don’t enjoy housework, my family and I do enjoy having a clean, well-organized home.  And we have a lot more fun on the weekend.  So, thank you for being my “housework buddy” and keeping me company while I work!

San Diego

Everything we do is of value, even if it is the same thing every day (which, of course, it doesn’t have to be).  Creativity in how we approach situations changes everything about how we feel and how much we appreciate life, love, and family.  So, whatever it is you have to do, find a way to make it fun.

New Reality Show for the Overweight is a Bad Idea

When I was in my first year of college, I ate and ate and ate…especially at breakfast.  There was an unlimited supply of raisin toast, and that was the trough at which I fed.  I gained a good ten pounds.  This was a rebound from my anorexic last year of high school, when all sorts of stresses led me to find an answer to no sense of control in self-starvation.  The “plumpy” time was short-lived; however, as I became very active, and the rebelliousness was no longer necessary, as I was out of the home and on my own.

Since then, I’ve always been thin, but thin is neither healthy nor particularly womanly.  I’ve been working out six ways from Sunday, and I am a petite hardbody at 62, and proud of it, even if the discipline sometimes annoys me.

I do not watch reality shows.  I know of them, but I just can’t imagine how any rational person can consider these highly-produced dramas, with people pushed to bring out the worst in themselves as entertainment.  Yuck.

I just read that FOX has yet another so-called reality program in the works.  FOX is teaming up with “The Bachelor” producer for a new dating-competition series that casts fat people.  The series, titled “More to Love,” is billed as “the first dating show for the rest of us,” versus the sexy babes and good-looking bachelors that we usually see on these shows.  The show is considered “controversial,” because there is some argument the viewers don’t want to watch anyone other than “pretty people” do anything.

The producer says, “We want to send the message that you can be the size you are and still be lovable.  We aren’t going to ‘thin’ these girls down so they can find love – that’s a backwards message.”

I have my concerns.  This is the network that aired such shows as “My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance.”  I worry that, in order to get attention, overweight types might be exploited for the “freak” attraction element.  I worry that emotions are going to run higher and deeper, because these folks already have sensitivities and have likely experienced rejection in public, and public display (even though it’s voluntary and in pursuit of their ’15 minutes of fame’) could hurt people.  The “pretty people” shows have contestants used to acceptance and calls from agents for other “pretty people” opportunities. 

I’m hoping this doesn’t get set up as a circus sideshow, which I think these shows are, even for the thin types.  Viewers are not looking for true love to occur – they’re waiting for the train wreck, the car crash, the suicide jump, as embarrassed and hurt people display their pain, and potentially, their rage.

I know some of you might say, “It’s about time that the typical American man and woman (who are, by the way, overweight and out-of-shape) get to be treated on TV like anyone else.”  Okay.  I get it, but, my friends, this is ENTERTAINMENT, not a psychotherapeutically romantic venture.

First, we saw on TV the pain and hurt of “pretty” types.  Now we’ll get pain and embarrassment for overweight types.  Frankly, I find that reality programming is there because it is inexpensive to do, and because the population seems to have an inexhaustible appetite for watching people get emotionally and/or physically splattered. 

I thought those days in the Roman Colosseum were over, but I guess base nature doesn’t change.