Monthly Archives: April 2010

Divorce, Recession-Style

A number of news sources recently reported that (sniff, sniff) people just can’t afford to get divorced anymore, what with mortgages upside down, and diminished family income.

Furthermore (more sniffs), in most cases, the couples have to stay together under the same roof just to make ends meet.  No longer can divorced spouses count on maintaining a lifestyle.  No longer are kids summarily thrown into visitation chaos and feelings of abandonment….and that, obviously, is a good thing.

One of the sadder aspects of my three decades plus on radio talking to people in some sort of crisis is the growing realization that many people see adversity as a motivation to turn on each other, rather than to turn to each other.  I understand husbands who feel depressed when they can’t adequately support their families, and I understand wives who feel desperate because they worry for the well-being of their home and children.  But I don’t understand turning away from each other at a time when both need support and hope.  Each spouse needs to (as Archie Bunker often said on “All In The Family”) “stifle themselves” and try to buoy up the other’s state of mind.

In trying to make the other person still feel valued, competent and loved; in telling your spouse that you know that, ultimately, you can count on him/her; in letting your once “dearly beloved” feel your support, makes not only them feel better, it makes YOU feel better.

I’m sure everyone reading this has some sort of strain or stress in their marriage.  Generally, it’s something that can be overcome if you both pull together and put aside your individual resentments and fears long enough to follow through on your marital vows to love, honor and cherish.

Quote of the Week

Intaxication:  Euphoria at getting a refund from the IRS, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
               – Author unknown
                  (from a Washington Post word contest)

What’s The Matter With Kids Today?

What’s the problem with kids today?  The answer to that is easy:  THEIR PARENTS!

According to the Fresno Bee, five high school seniors cut down two trees on their campus as a “senior prank.”  School officials expelled the students and transferred them to a continuation school to finish out their senior year.

The students (all seniors and football players) cut down two Southern Live Oak trees, with ten-inch trunks.  The trees were about 14 years old and nearly 20 feet high.  The damage was estimated to be between $7,500 and $14,000.  The boys said this was a prank meant to deprive junior classmates of shade.

Stupid, stupid, stupid…..but they are all “jock heroes,” probably way too used to inflated estimations of their own value and power.

The school did exactly the right thing.

The parents did exactly the wrong thing.  They said that the school “overreacted,” and they got attorneys involved to get their kids back in the school.  The school is standing firm.  Good for them.

“To hire attorneys,” as one of my listeners wrote to me, “teaches these kids that they can get away with ‘pranks’ and that they do not have to respect the law or be accountable for such behavior to school officials.  It will be interesting to see how these youngsters turn out as they mature.  Will they be good citizens?  Will they raise their children similarly to how they were raised?  Will their views change on how their own parents handled this life lesson?  It remains to be seen.  I do hope our community doesn’t read about them again later on down the line after they’ve robbed a store or beaten someone up and again hired an attorney to defend their actions.”

That point, in particular, is why (when people call and tell me that they have “x” number of “beautiful” children) I tell them I don’t care if they have pretty or ugly kids.  I only care that they have decent kids, because the well being of all of us depends on that.

Bullies Depend on Your Cowardice

On Monday, I wrote about the event in Massachusetts that you’ve all heard about by now.  Several South Hadley, Massachusetts high school students are being tried on felony charges for the harassment of a high school freshman which led to her suicide.  It was worse than harassment – it was persecution, both physical and mental, and in the full view of other students and teachers.  No one did anything to stop them, not even fellow students.  Disgusting, really.

What I want you parents to do is to teach your children to stand between evil and the innocent, even if they risk being ostracized or worse.  It is only when people stop just standing by that evil will be squelched. 

My son came home from middle school one day to say he was in trouble because he was in a fight.  I asked what happened.  He told me that some kid was picking on another kid and it got physical.  I asked him what happened then?  He said that he got into it with the bully.  I asked him who won.  He looked down at his shoes and muttered “I did.”

I gave him high fives, made his favorite dinner, and sent my husband in to the school the next day to make it clear to the principal that we expected the bully (and not our son) to be punished.  I sent my husband, because he is more laid back than I (if you get my drift).

We can have a million court cases and school suspensions.  But it is only when parents teach their children to intervene that these bullies will be brought to their knees.  They count on the cowardice of your children for their freedom to torment.  Tell your children to band together if necessary and do the right thing.

Spoiled Brats Are the New Bullies

There is a precedent-setting action being taken by the District Attorney in South Hadley, Massachusetts.  A high school freshman, Phoebe Prince, new in town from Ireland, was harassed by a pack of older teens.  This was school bullying taken to the extreme:  she was subject to threats and physical abuse, and unfortunately, this young girl hanged herself when she could no longer tolerate the terror.

Criminal charges ranging from statutory rape to stalking and civil rights violations have been filed against the teenagers (two boys and four girls).

Unfortunately, the criminal charges stop there.  I would add that teachers, the principal and the administration should be subject to criminal charges as well or a civil lawsuit, because the bullying was common knowledge for months, and the girl’s mother twice complained to school staffers.  Some bullying was even witnessed by teachers.  It’s time to rise up and counter this vicious free-for-all going on in our schools.

Where do the kids get the gall to do this?  From everything around them! 

Watch “reality” television.  It’s all about being mean and out of control.  Even American Idol has so-called “judges” who insult people on national television.  Watch music videos and listen to mean/hostile lyrics with out-of-control sexually aggressive scenes.  What happened to the heartsick love songs of the 1950s?

Watch television or listen to most radio with people shouting angrily at each other, accusing each other of racism and such simply for having a different opinion or point of view.  Dominating people by humiliation is what we do for entertainment in our society.  “Lord of the Flies”-type behavior from our children should not be a surprise.  What is a surprise is that adults and parents stand by, afraid of their own children and handcuffed by political correctness, where vile behavior now becomes protected speech. 

That whole town of South Hadley, Massachusetts should be ashamed.  Phoebe’s parents should have taken her out of that school the same way I tell parents in step-families to leave with their children when the spouse or the spouse’s children become abusive.  The school should have thrown those brats out on their ears, worrying later about whether or not their parents would sue.

If you’re thinking “Well, no one could know that she would kill herself,” you should know that according to one source, “one of the girls posted on Phoebe’s Facebook page right after her suicide:  ‘Accomplished.’”

They tormented her to death on purpose.

This is our next generation?

Quote of the Week

I decided to devote my life to telling the story because I felt that having survived, I owe something to the dead, and anyone who does not remember betrays them again.
               – Elie Wiesel
                  Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate
                  Nobel Peace Prize, 1986

Sunday, April 11 is Holocaust Remembrance Day

Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and State Museum

Spring Cleaning for Your Head

Have you ever had the experience of trying not to think of something?  Like when you’re trying to go to sleep and something upsetting keeps coming to mind?  You may attempt to squeeze it out of your mind, but it seems to come back with a vengeance. 

What you learn about your mind is that when you try to shove something into a dark closet, your mind feels compelled to peek into that closet again and again to see if it’s still there. 

Everybody has memories from the past they’d rather not remember.
Everybody has annoying, upsetting, or threatening events going on in their everyday lives.
Everybody is bothered by thoughts they’d rather not have.

Instead of pushing them away, invite them in and deal with them.

Some callers have told me that after a year or two of marriage, they think about an old high school flame, and they wonder if this is an “omen” that they’ve married the wrong person.  No, of course not.

“Courting” is fun; marriage has obligations, responsibilities and challenges.  Even the things we love can feel overwhelming.  Fantasies and thoughts and dreams about someone else are brain “vacations,” taking you to a time when you had no worries.  Invite those thoughts in and examine them:  “Let’s see…if I married John instead of my husband Steve, hmmm…gee, I’d miss Steve’s smile and hugs, his manly chest, his tenderness with the kids, and eventually John would have probably ticked me off too in some silly ways.”

Once you’ve done that, it is no longer an obsession.  The vacation is over, and a greater appreciation of what you do have takes its place.

Don’t fight the thoughts.  Invite them in and talk to them.  Take control, and they will leave on their own.