Monthly Archives: January 2011

Interview with Abby Johnson, author of “Unplanned”

Last week, I had a fascinating conversation with Abby Johnson, a former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas who, not long after assisting in an actual abortion procedure for the first time, crossed over to join the Coalition for Life.  Because so many of you asked for this, here’s the audio of that entire conversation.

Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader's Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line

Surviving A Shark Attack (On Land)

Last week, I was on the “Today” show  to talk about my book, my life, your life getting screwed over by people you depended on or never knew were going to shoot at you or unknown to you completely.  When it comes out of left field, it’s really something.

My book is called “Surviving a Shark Attack (On Land)”and it’s about overcoming betrayal and dealing with revenge, and as I’ve said many times, I adore revenge.  I just can’t get any!  You know, like the Rolling Stones’ “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction?”  Well, I can’t get no revenge.

Why?  Because the only way to get revenge is doing something illegal, immoral, fattening, or out of your own character, which then warps your character. Damn!

Here’s a little piecelet from the book, so you get to know something more about me:

“There is a rush of lust for quick vengeance when betrayed.  I know because I have felt it every time I’ve been attacked.  I’m glad I’m surrounded by cooler heads, people I admire and trust who distract me with tales of new beginnings, opportunities and challenges.  It is also true that time well filled (in other words, not with obsessing) is a great salve.
In the case of a number of my betrayers, they went on to fail miserably and publicly.  I know that their egos have taken a beating, but I’m not rejoicing.  I simply don’t care.

I’m enjoying my work to a greater degree, because I’m surrounded by more support at SiriusXM.

I have taken up at least three new hobbies, and I am planning an incredible journey – an ocean race of I don’t know how many hundreds of miles (I don’t want to think about it) from Los Angeles to Honolulu in a sailboat with my crew.  All right, I’m nuts.

When these situations first went down, I, of course yearned for a “blood-letting.” And I actually think I would have enjoyed it at the time.

Time is the smart part of life.
Time reveals character.
Time permits healing.

Time permits growth.

Time gives perspective.
Time is one of life’s greatest embraces.

My entire being has been “rebooted,” and while it is satisfying on some level that my betrayers ultimately failed, it gives me no surge of delight or adrenaline.  I believe that it went the way it should have gone, the way most of us knew it would, but if I still cared, it would be less of me.  In other words, their loss is not my gain.  My gain comes from my actions, my activity, my attitude, and not from anybody else’s pain.”

The book is very tight (I tend to write succinctly), and is only 200 pages. I found some great quotes to put in it, and I’ve got my soul in it.  If there was ever a book to help you dealing with hurt, this is it.  I come at you quite personally with it.
Getting to the point of not caring is the epiphany that you have to come to, and it is the epitome of handling it when you actually don’t care.  I’m 64.  It took a while to learn all these things.

Quote of the Week

If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them as you think you should and half the amount of money.
               – Esther Selsdon
                  British novelist and travel writer

Are Chinese Mothers Superior?

The blogosphere is all abuzz with a lot of women furious about an article in the Wall Street Journal titled “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior.”  It’s an excerpt from Amy Chua’s new book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” and basically, it’s an analysis of the Asian mentality versus the Western mentality of raising children.  If I had to pick one myself, I’d pick the Asian method of raising children. 

Chua writes: …A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids.  They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies…and whether they could do it too. 
…when Western parents think they’re being strict, they usually don’t come close to being Chinese mothers.  For example, my Western friends who consider themselves strict make their children practice their instruments 30 minutes every day, an hour at most.  For a Chinese mother, the first hour is the easy part.  It’s hours two and three that get tough.
Despite our squeamishness about cultural stereotypes, there are…studies out there showing marked and quantifiable differences between Chinese and Westerners when it comes to parenting.  In one study…almost 70% of the Western mothers said either that ‘stressing academic success is not good for children,’ or ‘parents need to foster the idea that learning is fun.’  By contrast, roughly ZERO per cent of the Chinese mothers felt the same way…..Other studies indicate that compared to Western parents, Chinese parents spend approximately 10 times as long every day drilling academic activities with their children.  By contrast, Western kids are more likely to just go play some sports.

I’ve been complaining for three decades about Western parents and just the things Amy Chua talks about.  One of the main differences I have seen between Asian families and Western families is that Asian families will put in the time.  They will not go blame the teacher.  They’ll work with their kid until the kid “gets” it.  Western families mostly blame the teacher and the school and moon spots, because (with their dual careers, divorce, remarriage, shacking up, and love lives) they don’t put in the time. 

I’m much more a believer in the ultimate benefits of strength and courage and tenacity in life that you find with the Asian mentality.  However, when the kids become adults, they can choose their way.  But when they’re growing up, they need to learn how to handle choosing their way.


Delaying Early Sex Leads to Better Relationships

You young women who have hooked up a lot (you know, you’ve had sex because you had 15 minutes, were a little horny, wanted a release, you wanted a little excitement, etc.) – do you feel better about yourself?  Does it make sex a more valued entity in your life?  I’ve been talking about this for decades.  Trivializing something so incredible is a mistake. 

A recent study finds that waiting for sex is linked to better communication and stability in a relationship.  So for all of you who laugh at the religiously Orthodox types who barely even touch fingers (much less kiss), what do they actually spend time doing?  Actually getting to know one another!    Having sex early in a relationship, the study reads, may lead to less satisfying marriages because couples can fail to develop important skills to communicate well and resolve conflicts. 

The study, done at Brigham Young University, found that married couples who had delayed sex while they were dating were more likely to communicate, enjoy sex, and have more stable marriages than those who had sex early on.  They were also more generally satisfied with their marriages.

Why would rushing into sex impede marital happiness?  According to the study’s co-author, people who quickly become intimate end up marrying even if they are incompatible, because they become entangled in a relationship that becomes difficult to end.  This is especially true for women. Read my book Ten Stupid Things Women Do To Mess Up Their Lives – I have a whole chapter on this.

According to the study, the longer sex was delayed, the longer the more participants in the study reported a better quality of sex, better communication, more relationship satisfaction, and more perceived relationship stability.  Waiting until marriage to have sex had the strongest correlation with a positive outcome.

You can’t conclude that pre-marital sex (assuming you were going to marry that person) necessarily leads to a bad marriage.  It doesn’t mean that the marriage is doomed.  It just means that sex creates a sense of attachment and finality that leads people not to be objective anymore.  If they’re hot and heavy every time they see each other, then the incompatibility and lack of a potential future just gets ignored.  And spouses with a lot of sexual memories of other partners may find the bar for satisfaction very high.

In contrast, people with fewer sexual memories don’t expect a virtual circus of activity.  Basically, they’re as good at sex as they believe themselves to be. It becomes very complicated to leave a relationship when sex leads the relationship.  Objectivity is lost, people shack up and make babies out of wedlock, and all these things just start falling over each other until you realize you’re stuck.  And then you call me and say “what should I do?”  I just have to shrug my shoulders.

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King

Yesterday was my birthday.

Saturday, January 15 was Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, which we now celebrate today as a federal holiday.  I’d like to honor Dr. King and share with you some of his more personal observations and advice on how to have a better life.

From September, 1957 to December, 1958,  Dr. Martin Luther King wrote a monthly column for Ebony Magazine entitled “Advice for Living.”  Readers would ask questions and Dr. King would respond.  Today, I’d like to share with you some of his advice.

First, Dr. King on pre-marital sex:
Question:  I was raised in a Christian environment.  My father placed great stress on premarital virginity.  I am 29.  Of late, I have begun to doubt the validity of his teaching…Is he right?
  I think you should hold firm to the principle of premarital virginity.  The problems created by premarital sex relationships are far greater than the problems created by premarital virginity.  The suspicion, fears, and guilt feelings generated by premarital sex relations are contributing factors to the present breakdown of the family.  Real men still respect purity and virginity with women.  If a man breaks a relationship with you because you would not allow him to participate in the sexual act, you can be assured that he did not love you from the beginning.

Dr. King on parenting:
Question:  Young parents nowadays cater to every whim and wish of their children.  I was in a home the other day where a 3 year old child read the riot act to his mother.  The mother took it with a sheepish smile.  This, I am told, is permissiveness.  It seems to me that what modern children need is a large dose of parental permissiveness applied to their backsides.  Do you agree?
  It is quite true that many modern parents go too far in allowing their children to express themselves with hardly a modicum of discipline.  Many parents justify this by arguing that the children must have freedom.  But freedom can very easily run wild if not tempered with discipline and responsibility.  This almost “lunatic fringe” of modern child care has been responsible for most strange and fantastic methods of child rearing in many American homes.  The child is permitted to almost terrorize the home for fear of having its individuality repressed.  Somewhere along the way every child must be trained into the obligations of cooperative living.  He must be made aware that he is a member of a group and that group life implies duties and restraints.  Social life is possible only if there exists a balance between liberty and discipline.  The child must realize that there are rules of the game which he did not make and that he cannot break with impunity.  In order to get all of these things over to the child, it is often necessary to subject the child to disciplinary measures.

Dr. King on romantic love:
Question: I am in love with a young woman who is obviously unsuitable for me.  On the other hand, I know another girl who wants to marry.  I think the latter girl would be perfect for me, but I don’t love her.  We have the same background, the same tastes and we enjoy the same things.  Should I marry her?  Isn’t romantic love, which is at best transitory, a slippery thing to bet your future on?
  I would not say that romantic love is merely transitory.  Romantic love, at its best, is an enduring love which grows with the years.  I do agree, however, that it is quite risky to base a marriage purely on so-called romantic love without taking other basic factors into account.  For it may be possible that what we feel as real romantic love is at bottom a passing fantasy or a temporary infatuation with no real substance.  Many marriages have broken up for this very reason.  Persons marry on the basis of a temporary emotional feeling, and when the slightest conflict arises, the marriage breaks up because it is not planted on a solid foundation.  I think it would be far better for you to at least pursue the relationship with the young lady who has the same background and similar interests as you have.  If you continue to associate with her, it is altogether probable that you will grow to love her.  At least with a similar background and similar interests, you have something basic and solid to build on.  In the case of the first young lady that you mentioned, you may simply have a feeling that may pass away with the wind.

Dr. King on staying married despite extra-marital affairs:
Question:  My husband is having an affair with a woman in our housing project.  He promised to stop, but he is still seeing her.  We have children and I don’t believe in divorce, but I cannot and will not share him.  What must I do?
  Your unwillingness to share your husband is perfectly natural and normal.  No person wants to share his or her mate with another.  But your problem is a very delicate one, and needs to be handled with wisdom and patience.  First I would suggest that you attempt to get your husband to go with you to talk with your clergyman or a marriage counselor.  I am sure that they could be helpful in solving your problem.  In the meantime, since the other person is so near you might study her and see what she does for your husband that you might not be doing.  Do you spend too much time with the children and the house and not pay attention to him?  Are you careful with your grooming?  Do you nag?  Do you make him feel important…like somebody?  This process of introspection might help you to hit upon the things that are responsible for your husband’s other affair.  Certainly, I would not suggest a divorce at this point.  I strongly would urge you to exhaust every possible resource in your power and seek to rectify the situation before making any drastic changes.

Dr. King on interracial marriage:
Question:  I’m in love with a white man whom I’ve known for two years.  We met at the company where we work.  I want to marry him, although both of our parents object.  I know that he loves me, too.  Should we go ahead and get married anyway?
  The decision as to whether you should marry a white man whom you have known for two years is a decision that you and your friend must make together.  Properly speaking, races do not marry, individuals marry.  There is nothing morally wrong with an interracial marriage.  There are many other things, however, that must be taken under consideration in any interracial marriage.  The traditions of our society have been so set and crystallized that many social obstacles stand in the way of persons involved in an interracial marriage.  If persons entering such a marriage are thoroughly aware of these obstacles and feel that they have the power and stability to stand up amid them, then there is no reason why these persons should not be married.  Studies reveal that interracial couples who have come together with a thorough understanding of conditions that exist, have married and lived together very happily.

Dr. Alveda King, Dr. Martin Luther King’s niece, a civil rights advocate not only for minorities, but also for the rights of the unborn, has said that her uncle was a social conservative who believed in family, personal responsibility, marriage and sexual abstinence for the young.

Martin Luther King’s lifelong support for Planned Parenthood has always bothered me and always will, but I would like to celebrate the man who encouraged so many of us to dream of a better world.