Monthly Archives: December 2012

Quote of the Week

Seventy-one years ago today, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and changed our nation’s history:

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy …
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt
December 8, 1941, asking Congress to declare war on Japan

Relationships Make You Grow

Hooking up, shacking up, or having sex with someone within 20 minutes of meeting them does nothing to help you grow.  These types of behaviors stifle you and set you back.  Only relationships help you grow. 

A healthy relationship means choosing wisely and treating kindly.  I’m not saying it has to be perfect – that’s never the case.  However, in a good relationship, you and your partner have each other’s interests at heart, and you each feel like you are changing for the better.  You feel very secure, and it allows you to relax.

It’s amazing how much better your mind and body work when you have some level of peace and a sense of security.   I can’t tell you how many times people have called my show saying that they feel they’re lacking in some area for one reason or another, and I ask them, “So, are you saying that your husband/wife is stupid?  Because they seem to think you’re nice, attractive, talented, and interesting.”   A big reason relationships help you grow is because your partner usually sees something objectively that has been hard for you to accept emotionally.   It’s not unusual for you to start rejecting your distorted, self-critical perception of yourself when your spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend, who you admire tremendously and love, sees you more positively than you see yourself. 

There was one woman who I had in therapy a while back who went through this very process.  When she came to me, she was the stereotypical dumb blonde.  She had overly bleached hair, huge boobs, and a dingy way of speaking.  Then one day when we were talking in a session, she started to analyze something quite intelligently and articulately.   I just sat there with my eyes opened wide like a kid in a candy store for the first time.  I realized that behind this dumb blonde shtick was a very smart woman.  After gently nudging her for a while, I got her to start attending community college.   She would bring me papers she’d written for her philosophy class, and I remember reading them thinking, “Wow, I could never have written this. It’s brilliant!”  She went on to graduate, and she now has an esteemed position.  I am very proud of her.   

For this woman, the turning point was simply me believing in her. She had come from a very disruptive and destructive family, and she had been into every drug known to man (it’s a miracle she was still alive).  However, because I believed in her, she decided to believe in herself.  The same goes for intimate relationships.  When you are in a quality relationship and your dearly beloved believes in you, you believe in yourself.

Relationships also help you become a better person because your partner introduces you to new things.  They’ve probably had a million different experiences you haven’t.  Generally speaking, you get introduced to terrific things and expand your attributes and talents.  You learn to do sports or hobbies you would have never thought of doing, like watching science fiction movies or going whitewater rafting. 

In addition, your partner’s good habits will rub off on you.  Whether it’s their ability to cope emotionally, their physical fitness level, their commitment to eating right, their knack for managing finances, or their choice of friends, you can benefit from their good habits.  This happens a lot in marriages.   For example, if one spouse is more hyper than the other, the hyper one will become more calm and collected, and the more sedated one will become more energized.  They offer each other their positive parts and end up creating a nice mix if they are open and supportive of each other.

Another benefit of being in a relationship is that you are encouraged to be yourself and expand who you are.  If you love to sing but have anxiety about performing, your partner can encourage you to take some lessons or sing at the local restaurant on Wednesday nights.  If singing is how you love to express yourself, your beloved will encourage you. 

That’s another reason why relationships are great: you and your partner are there to support each other.  Be it emotional support (being their cheering section), physiological support (giving them a hug), or financial support (working extra hours so they can have the money to do something), it’s all about helping each other out.  When you’ve had a bad day, there’s nothing like coming home to a hug (*note: no matter how bad you are feeling, make sure you give your spouse a hug when he or she comes home after they’ve had a bad day). 

A final way relationships help you grow is that you are held accountable for your behavior.  For example, women, in particular, like to talk negativity.   We spend a lot of time expecting the men in our lives to sit and listen to us bitch and moan about what has hurt and upset us.  Guys can hear it once, and then they want to fix it.  They don’t want to keep hearing about the same drama with your mother or sister over and over again (guys, the same goes for repeating the “I’m angry with my boss” story every day).  You are going to be held accountable by your partner because they won’t tolerate certain constant behaviors like this.  It’s a good thing when your partner draws the line and says, “Enough of this!,” because it ultimately makes you a better person.

As Jack Nicholson said in the film, As Good As It Gets, “You make me want to be a better man.”  That’s the whole point of relationships – they help make you a better man (or woman). 

 

Day Cares Don’t Care

When it comes to the crucial age of being a new little person on the face of the earth, not even the best center-based day care can provide children with what they really need.  Kids require one-on-one, loving care that responds to them individually.  Spending hours away from home prevents little children and parents from establishing the intimate and emotional bonds necessary for both the parent-child relationship and the child’s overall development.
 
I consider day care to be neglect and child abandonment.  There has been sufficient research over the years demonstrating the negative impact of day care on children.  Here are just a few negative facts about day care from a website called “Daycares Don’t Care.” ()   I have promoted it many times because the creators are very scientific in their research:

* “Kids do not learn social skills through interacting with other kids any more than children learn to play the piano through interacting with other musically illiterate children.  Children learn social skills through observing and emulating adult behavior”.
 
* “The typical day care center provides the stimulation and educational opportunity of a day in prison — and spreads far more infection and communicable disease than the county jail.”
 
* “Saying, ‘My kids went to day care, and they turned out OK,’ is like saying, ‘Some kids went to orphanages, and they turned out OK.’  But who would want to deliberately put their kids through that?!”

* “A religious institution’s day care (Bible Day Care) is no better. Whether it’s in a church, synagogue, mosque, or temple, it’s still a day care!  Even worse, many states exempt religious child-care programs from inspections and regulations that other day-care programs are subject to.  (By the way, are you sure the day care is really part of your church, or is your church just renting space to your day care?)”

It doesn’t even really matter if the day care is licensed or state approved: 

“Child abusers can easily craft neatly-typed resumes with impressive-sounding references…Even for facilities that are licensed and inspected, breaking the rules usually means little more than a slap on the wrist. The unfortunate truth is that even demonstratably bad day-care centers are unlikely to be shut down.  Though criminal-background checks are required of workers at licensed or subsidized child-care facilities, even a jury’s conviction doesn’t necessarily put someone out of the child-care business. Child-care inspectors…bend over backward to give day-care providers a chance to correct a problem – sometimes they bend too far – but it is very hard to take someone’s license away once it is granted.” 
 
I once saw a video of a licensed day care in Detroit where a 9-year-old boy was beating the crap out of toddlers and kicking them like a ninja. And what was the day-care supervisor doing?  She was just standing there, doing nothing.  She was arrested, of course, but that won’t be able to fix the damage done to those traumatized little kids.

Sometimes people argue that kids from very poor families benefit from being put in day care early on.  However, research shows that the “benefit” has nothing to do with any inherent merits of day care.  For these children, day care may have a positive effect on their language and cognitive skills because they are not experiencing that development at home.  If the child comes from a stable home with caring parents, then he or she receives no benefit from day care.  
 
Now, it would be mean to blame parents who want the best for their kids and truly have absolutely no alternative but to send them to day care.  In fact, I have recommended day care if you know that you are a sucky mother.  However, whether you’re doing it out of necessity or not, it doesn’t change the fact that day care is not a good thing for kids.  I have tremendous compassion for mothers who don’t have options, but you can’t say, “It’s a good thing for kids,” simply because you don’t have options.  It may be unpopular or frustrating for parents to hear because they are struggling with finances, feeling worried about their careers, or simply having a difficult time raising their kids, but that doesn’t make it right.  

As it turns out, most women who are stay-at-home moms are from modest-income homes.   This debunks the argument made by a lot of women who say they “have” to work out of economic necessity.  Statistically, more women whose husbands earn less than the median income are stay-at-home moms.  Therefore, what it really comes down to is a question of values, and taking care of children simply doesn’t seem to be a value of upper class or upper-middle class families.

 
Essentially, parents think they can do whatever they want and their kids will be fine.  However, we know that’s not true.  Having your infant or toddler at home being cared for by either a loving parent or grandparent is the ideal.  Whether that’s possible for you or not, it’s still the ideal.  We shouldn’t disparage it simply because people feel like they don’t have options or feel guilty about it, especially when, more often than not, it is possible. It just takes proper planning and sacrifice.

For more information about how day cares don’t care, click here.

 

Why Are We So Mean Online?

Human beings have a tremendous capacity for evil, cruelty and meanness, and a lot of times, they consciously choose to be that way.  Even good people have mean moments.  They know exactly what they’re doing, but they do it anyway because being cruel makes them feel good.  As with anything in life, the higher up the ladder you are, the more haters are going to unload on you.  If you raise your head above the crowd, somebody’s going to come around with a sword and even you out.    

One of the most prevalent examples of this is seen in how people talk to each other online.  People use the Internet as a place where they can spew their vitriol, show their muscle, and have momentary feelings of power and superiority.  They check every five minutes to see how many people “like” them or how many “friends” they have.  Then, they vent their frustrations and post mean comments to each other because they are jealous about what they see other people accomplishing.  A lot of them want to believe they’re special.  If anyone – a friend, neighbor, or family member – criticizes them or says otherwise, their egos get deflated and they attack.

But why are people so nasty online in particular?

One of the main reasons is that their faces can’t be seen.  A social interaction on the Internet is not 1 percent as intimate and fulfilling as interacting in person, and therefore, many people hide there.  It’s easy.  Looking somebody square in the eye and saying something mean is a lot harder to do.  It takes a very particular kind of person to be able to do that without turning red.  In general, when you’re making eye contact, it’s tougher to be your most base self. 

Another explanation for why people are so cruel to each other online is because they are bored.  When you spend a ridiculous amount of hours just browsing and surfing the web, eventually you’re going to need some drama or stimulation. So, hey, why not randomly attack somebody and see if you can get a rise out of them?

If you find yourself getting caught up in someone else’s mean behavior online, my solution is simple: get a life!   Do you seriously think it’s useful to waste your life spending hours on the Internet?!  The Internet is not a life – it’s instead of life. 

I think our ability to use the Internet for information and important communication is an amazing technological feat.  However, just like having one glass of wine after dinner is fine but getting fall-down drunk is not, the way you use the Internet matters.  The big problem is that it’s being used for terrorism, bullying, and destroying people’s reputations, not productivity.