Monthly Archives: January 2012

Excluded at the Office

In this week’s YouTube video, Jessica is feeling shunned and excluded by her supervisor from activities outside the office.  It seems like the only time she’s spoken to is when her boss wants something from her.  I think Jessica needs a different perspective regarding office relationships…

Watch: Excluded at the Office
Read the transcript

Or watch other videos at youtube.com/DrLaura

Where Are the Real Men?

I want to write about how there are no men.  (Well, there aren’t no men, there are just few men).  And a lot of women don’t even like real men; they like feminized men – - especially if they’re gay.  That’s even better.  And many women marry mama’s boys because they don’t want a real man.  Then they get shocked when his mother can push him around better than they can.  Well… his mother has had a lot more practice — his whole life. 

Betsy Hart, one of my favorite writers, recently wrote a great article about this topic.  She begins:

Whatever happened to men? That’s a common question today, being asked by social commentators, parents and single women everywhere. They are lamenting young men’s shrinking status in academia, the workplace and, maybe especially, marriage….

She goes on to say:

…it’s simply the case that too often today’s males are living up to the low expectations the culture has for them.

This is true particularly since feminism arose with the attitude of “we don’t need men.”  Gloria Steinem said: “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle”.  That was feminism.  It rarely had anything to do with equal pay for equal jobs.  It had to do with hating being a wife… hating being a mother… and hating men.  That’s what feminism primarily has always been about.  Don’t kid yourself.

Betsy Hart goes on to quote from Bill Bennett’s new book: The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood.  In it, there’s an essay by:

David Gelernter, the renowned Yale computer-sciences professor who was injured in an attack by the Unabomber[. He] talks about how he is bringing up his own sons against the culture. He writes that ‘a man’s role in respect to women is to protect, to help, to support, to cherish as opposed to consume. We are a consumer society and the number one consumption is that of women.’

…Families need to teach young men what it means to be responsible, to work hard and to be prepared to someday get married and care for a wife and children….

I would argue that we also might teach our daughters to respect men. Real men, not the men concocted for treacly romantic comedies. And to respect themselves enough to wait for that man in every sense of that word.

Please take the time to read Betsy Hart’s entire article: Lamenting the Demise of Manliness in America 

And then my staff got me information on traits of real men and I want to share this article with you.  It’s from the blogger MochaDad:

Men were made to be bold, strong leaders.  However, our society has attempted to repress these traits.  (Sidebar: Look what happens in schools with little boys and girls.  Schools are organized for little girls who can sit quietly and sweetly with their hands folded at the desk.  Of course I was never one of those little girls, but generally speaking the schools were. And the little boys?  Well, we say they have ADD and we drug them so they’ll sit like little girls with their hands folded sweetly.) If you look at the way men (especially dads) are portrayed on TV, you’d think we were all a bunch of irresponsible, befuddled, nincompoops, who can only function with the help of a “smart” female partner, friend, or spouse.

He titles his blog: The 7 Traits of Real Men.  Women — I want you to read them because this is the guy you should look for.  Men — I want you to read them so you can stop being weenies and take back your masculinity, your parts, your giblets — if you get my drift.   I can’t believe how many women who have called my show over the years who I’ve told they should have married another woman because the traits they wanted in their husband are not masculine.

Quote of the Week

There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.
               – Martin Luther
                 German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the
                 Protestant Reformation
                 1483 – 1546Wedding Bands

How To Tell If You’re A Terrible Spouse

How can you not know when your spouse is not happy?  You can go into a room, not know anybody in there, just look around and you can tell who’s happy.  It’s not hard – look at the body language and facial expressions.  But when you are living with somebody, how do you know if they’re happy or not?  So many times you hear women say:  “I had no clue; he never said anything.” 

He had to say something for you to know? 

So, here are a few things to consider and see if any of these describe your life:

* Your life centers around your kids, your job, and/or your hobbies.  Maybe that’s making him unhappy. 

* You burn your candles at all these ends with everything but love.  So you’re totally exhausted and there is no time for each other. 

* Your home and your life seem to move from one small crisis to another and that’s about it.  You figure, “Okay, we’re going to interact, and we’re going to romance each other, but we’ll save it for the weekends.  Then the weekends come, and “Oh my gosh, there are so many chores to do!”

* You do this thing in your head:  it’s either the kids or the spouse.  Well, you don’t love them both the same way.  Those are different loves.  Living a balanced life doesn’t require you choosing between them at all. 

* Your lives are very fragmented.  You spend your time running hither or thither and doing this and that and loving each other is just not a priority.  Even when you are together, you are in your own little world.  You are both easily irritated by the other.  Your disagreements and misunderstandings become more frequent. 

* Several months pass before you realize you haven’t even sat down and talked to each other nicely.  You haven’t made love; you haven’t done a fun thing together.  Sit down and look at the time you spend on things.  “I have no time.”  Yes, you do.  There is stuff you could trim, but instead, you are trimming him.

This is why I talk so much about being your kid’s mom, being your husband’s girlfriend, being your wife’s boyfriend — these are very important.  You need to focus on being each other as girlfriend and boyfriend.  That has to be a major focus of each day.  Aside from which, the kids need to see that.  It makes them feel secure and it gives them hope for their future.  I mean, do you spend any time connecting each day?

I had a call one time where this woman found out that for nine years, her husband left the house in the morning and spent 15 minutes, five days a week, in the back of a van with the same woman.  For nine years, they would have sex every morning, every day; that’s how they would get their work day started.  I said, well if that had been happening in your home, it wouldn’t have happened in a car with another woman.

So, when is the last time you schmoozed and tickled and rolled around and snuggled and kissed and hugged and were playful, huh?  Do you take care of yourself — your hygiene, your presentation, your health — so you have something to give?  Or, is it all about, “I just don’t have anything to give?”  You have to learn to say no to errands and chores and social activities and overtime and volunteer work and meetings, if it is interfering with your love.

 Don’t read the full newspaper everyday, don’t read Twitter or your emails — don’t read all that stuff.  They steal time from where you could be being cute and adorable with your spouse.  Send emails to each other, leave love notes around the house. Make the most of every moment you have together.  Make it an issue and a priority so I don’t get a call from you on my program where you’re saying , “I have no idea whatsoever why my husband and the father of my kids just said ‘I am out of here.’”  What an insult that is! Men don’t fare as well as women after a divorce emotionally, physically, medically.  Women handle this stuff a lot better, believe it or not.  So, for a guy to face going through the court system which is going to give her everything, for him to make a move like that, he had to be really unhappy.  And if you are truly willing to stand by the statement “I have no idea why he would be unhappy,” then you’re a terrible wife.

Work Habits That Work

A lot of you are struggling with making sure you keep your jobs in this economic climate.  I think the qualities for making sure you keep your job are closely related to the ones you need even if you want to get a promotion, much less keep your job.  So I did a little research on the types of behaviors that keep you employed and possibly even get promoted. 

First of all, constantly look around and see what else you can do.  A lot of people have a sense of entitlement:  “Well my job description is ‘blankety-blank’ so, you know, I’m not going to put more paper in the copier.”  When I first went through all of the qualities I’ll mention here, I thought about all my peeps.  Each of my peeps has a job description, but when push comes to shove, they each act like the company is theirs.  So if there’s no paper in the copier, well their company doesn’t have paper in the copier so they put paper in.  No one (including me) thinks they’re above doing anything.  I am notorious for cleaning up…they’re always going “here she goes again”.  That’s not in my job description; I am the host.  Heck, we’re all in this together and whatever needs to be done, we do it.  That’s a team effort.  And people who have the team effort mentality do better with their bosses and do better with their co-workers.

Now everything I’m going to say presumes you’re not working for a nutcase.  We leave out the nutcases.  If you’re working for a nutcase, get another job.  Nonetheless, 99.9% are working for reasonable people.  If you behave as though you’re part of the team, everybody will appreciate you, including the boss who will find you indispensable.  “This is a person who will put the coffee on, as well as make the PowerPoint presentation for the CEO of this Fortune 500″…whatever.  So that’s really important. 

Next?  Be observant.  Pay attention to the people who seem to be doing well with the company.  I ask that question a lot when people have concerns about what’s going on at work.  “Well, who are the people who are doing very well?   Who are the people who are liked?  Who are the people seemingly getting ahead?  Who are the people who have the eye of the boss? What is it they do?  How do they behave?  What do they contribute?  What are their people skills?  Communication skills?  How do they get along with people?”   So observe.  Drop the competitiveness, drop the cattiness and just observe.  What skills, what attitudes do the people doing well have that you could take? 

In addition to being a team player (this may sound counterintuitive, but it’s not) you have to find a way to stand out.  Make yourself indispensable; be proactive.  On my racing sailboat (and sometimes I’ve got 10 to 12 people aboard), we sort of noticed over the years the people who were proactive – who would  look around and see if anything bad was going to happen.   Look at all the lines, is anything crossed?  How do all the shackles look?  How does this look?  How does that look? Where’s the wind coming from?  While being a member of a team, they’re looking at everything.  And, over the years, I’ve become adept at figuring out early on the people who are sort of lazy and just want to be on a boat as opposed to the people who really commit to the team by being aware and supporting each other, which is an important thing: Looking for problems before they happen.  It’s easier to avoid than to repair. 

You make yourself indispensable by the positive attitude, by being a flexible team player but also looking around, coming up with ideas, and trying to make things better for everybody.  You need to know how and when to have the right conversations.  So, for example, you go to your boss, your manager, your supervisor and you say, “In 3 to 6 to 9 months what would you like to see me doing?” or “What do you imagine for me?” or “What could I work toward?” or you have a friendly conversation (not a threatening, demanding one) where you say, “What do you see?  What could I do for you that would be better?”  So that you’re open to what a lot of people take as criticism without being sensitive.  Use it as information to run with. 

Bottom line, if you seem hell-bent on just getting a promotion, getting power, you’re missing the bigger picture.  You’ve got to focus in on every aspect of your being at work and relationships, because basically going to work is a relationship experience.  You need to know how to get along with people.  And the best way to get along with people is to be solicitous, non-competitive and supportive.  Ask them for advice and their opinions so they feel important to you.  It’s a give-and-take on a very positive level — it is not a family.  It is NOT a family.  Family has certain expectations and people get awfully emotional about that.  But be very aware of showing respect, asking for their input, and offering them help instead of being competitive.

There are lots of practical things to consider. If you come up with something brilliant for the company they can use, that’s great.  But for the most part it’s attitude, positive people skills, and support. A lot of people get into trouble at work when it all starts to get competitive.  To the contrary, the best thing to do with someone who seems already to be in that mode, is from time to time, say to them, “You know, I was thinking about ‘such and such’.  What’s your opinion on that?”  They stop being competitive when they feel somewhat valued because being competitive is insecurity.  So if you feed the insecurity by fighting, it’ll go south.  If you feed their insecurity by instead bolstering their sense  they are important to somebody, that’s going to work really well.

Competitive Kids

Is competition good for kids?  I’m going to give you the short answer and the long answer.  The short answer?  After about 8 years old, it’s absolutely necessary.  Before 8 years old, most kids are not really ready to process competition and what it means, and what the rules are and what’s fair, and what failure means and the rest of that.  So, for the sake of argument, I’m going to be talking about kids over 8 – when competition is absolutely necessary. 

Failing is an essential part of growth and that’s why you have to let your kids struggle and fail.  Remember the 4 minute mile?  It seemed nobody could run a mile in less than  4 minutes.  Then someone did and everybody competed against that time. 

Have you ever seen kids trying to climb something for the first time?  One usually says, “Oh, I can’t climb that high.”  Another starts scooting up and suddenly the first child is climbing too.  Competition makes you dig deeper into what you probably can do.  Endurance, persistence, perseverance, self-control – these are things your kids have to learn in order to be successful in life at anything: a career, hobby, even relationships.  And most of this they get from competing. 

There needs to be a balance between competing and cooperation.  For their first 8 years, you teach them a lot about cooperation, but you can’t avoid competition even then.  It is kind of a natural element.  A lot of people think you have to learn to compete, but I disagree.  I believe you have to learn to compete WELL, but that competition is inherent.  It’s inherent in just about every animal you see on the face of the earth – from their coloring and plumage, to their mating calls – even how they swim or strut.   

Competition is a natural, normal part of life for resources, opportunity, reproduction, everything.  And teaching your children to do it well is a responsibility you have – even though it’s painful to see their sad, little, puckered faces when they didn’t win. 

And when they lose, instead of hearing them say, “I’m a terrible person…I suck…This is too hard…” teach them to analyze what happened because then they grow.  Again, children need to learn failure is part of growth, even if it’s a little annoying.

Competition encourages growth and pushes a kid to excel.  They learn about their own abilities, and they learn about their limitations.  And oftentimes, without competition, you can’t tell what you can do.  I like to play tennis with people a hell of a lot better than me because it pushes my abilities. 
Competition teaches your kids to set goals, develop skills, solve problems, and try out new things.  It also teaches them to learn rules, perform with other people watching and work with other people as on a team.

Competition is a very strong motivator, but parents who put too much emphasis on winning can harm a kid.  Before I took an exam in college, my dad would always say to me, “Give ‘em hell!”  That meant “do your best”.  Whatever that is, that’s all each of us has.  And my best may be better than your best at something, and your best may be better than my best at something else.  We’re all better at some things and not as good at others.  And that has to be the mentality you teach your kids.  No matter how good you are at something, there’s somebody better or there’s somebody better at something else. 

And of course it’s up to you to make sure they can treat triumph and defeat the same…with class. 

Kids who are not ready for competitive activities are usually kids who are more insecure, immature, selfish, spoiled or irresponsible. They may be too pressured from their parents, can’t play in teams, can’t handle frustration, haven’t developed patience or tolerance and they often throw tantrums after being overwhelmed by competition.  They have trouble sleeping, get headaches, have nausea, get depressed, lack energy, and create ailments and excuses to avoid activities… So if you do have one of these kinds of kids use your judgment and understanding when making decisions about competition.

You’ve also got to pay close attention to the ethics of competing:   right and wrong, losing and winning.  The Foundation for a Better Life has a great video on this. Watch:  Basketball    It’s how you want to teach your kids.  Competition is important.  Support your kids’ participation.  But ethics are more important than anything.

Quote of the Week

Behind almost every great man there stands either a good parent or a good teacher.
               – Gilbert Highet
                 Scottish-American academic, writer, and literary historian
                1906-1978