Author Archives: james

Chatting or Cheating?

In the day, it was very clear what constituted cheating. You had sex with somebody while you were married or engaged, and you also had to make great efforts to have an affair. But with all the new means by which people can connect today, cheating has become a whole new monster. There’s texting, Skyping and emailing. There are websites that cater to people who wish to fool around on their spouses. And along with these advances in technology, what counts as “cheating” seems to have become less cut and dry (i.e. it’s no longer just the physical act of having sex with someone else).

However, I can simplify things for you. Ready?

If you have to hide or sneak around to do what you’re doing, or you wouldn’t say or do it in front of your children or spouse, it’s cheating. Simple as that.

Here are some red flags that your friendly correspondence with someone of the opposite sex is really cheater chatter:

Deleting emails

If you’re deleting emails, then you’re assuming that your spouse would be upset if they were to read them. Therefore, you are covering something up. Ask yourself, “How would I feel if I knew my spouse was corresponding with an attractive secret someone in the way I am doing right now.”

Fulfilling a sexual fantasy

Affairs are often about playing out sexual fantasies.  If you notice that your correspondence is feeding your fantasies, you’re doing something wrong.

Amount of time spent talking with him/her

It’s not just the content that can be considered cheating, it’s the amount of time spent sharing it. For example, if you are emailing a “friend” 15 plus times a day, I’m sorry, that’s an affair.

Rationalizing

“He’s/She’s just a friend” is something you don’t have to say to yourself when you’re involved in an innocent communication. Do you feel the need to justify it? Well, that’s because you know what you’re doing is wrong.

It’s meeting your personal needs

Your marriage is for meeting your personal needs, and that’s where they should be dealt with.

Talking about your marriage with him/her

Talking about your marriage with someone of the opposite sex is a breach of trust and disrespectful.

Your spouse doesn’t like it, or your good friend tells you it’s not right.

If your spouse has told you they don’t like it and they do it anyway, it’s an affair. It’s not right to be more concerned about connecting with this person than with your spouse’s feelings.

So again, if you wouldn’t say or do it in front of your spouse or kids, you’re cheating.  And even if your spouse is being a pain in the butt, there are healthier ways to increase your self-esteem than breaching your vows.

 

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). 

 

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.

Single-Income Families Are Still Possible

I can’t tell you how many times I have been doing a public appearance when some woman in the audience has stood up and started yelling at me for saying that moms should stay at home with their kids.  I remember one woman in particular who said, “I’m at work from 6 in the morning until 8 at night, and I am a very good mother!”  I paused a moment, and then responded, “So, if you did not go in to your job from 6 to 8, could you say that you were a good employee and an asset to the company?” 

She just looked at me with her jaw hanging open. 

Many women try to justify not staying at home with their kids, but being a mommy is not something you should hire out.  Why?  Let’s assume for a moment that I wasn’t there for one day of my son’s life.  Instead of staying home, let’s pretend that I got up, went to work, and came home right when he was going to sleep.  Should I say that’s the right thing to do just because I want to justify my actions?  Of course not.   Yet, there are women out there who attack other women for being stay-at-home moms because they are not at-home moms themselves.  That’s what the “mommy wars” are all about: working mothers who choose not to be at home with their kids attacking those who make the sacrifices.  A lot of young men and women are being brought up by feminists who say that a woman being protected and provided for is a waste of her life.

I won’t lie – it’s very hard to live on one income.  Trust me.  I’ve walked the talk and know how difficult it can be.  I remember very clearly walking into inexpensive malls with my kidlet and crying because I couldn’t buy him a second pair of shoes.  But for better or for worse, I wanted to be a mommy.  When my son was little, I would take care of him all day and then go to work around 9 or 10 at night.  When he was old enough to go to school, I transitioned to going on the air during the day.  By doing that, I got to reap the rewards of being there for him and having all of his influences come from me.  

Even though becoming a single-income parent requires a lot of sacrifices, it is doable.  In order to make the transition, there are a few things you have to do in advance: 

  • Make sure you’re marrying someone who is on the same page as you.  I talked to a couple one time who were both letter carriers.  What they did was put the wife’s salary in the bank for one year and didn’t touch it.  When the year was over, they had no outstanding debts and realized that they could get by on one income.  She quit her job, got pregnant, and became a stay-at-home mom.  So, before you even think about getting married, you need to discuss the future and make plans. 
  • Build up some emergency funds and backup cash. Similar to the couple I just mentioned, spend a year living on only one income, eliminate any outstanding debts, and pile everything else into a bank account. 
  • Don’t buy new cars. You hear about new cars being safer and more convenient, but don’t be fooled. There are plenty of safe, roomy, and convenient USED options.   You don’t want to have to pay the price of a new car (which drops in value the minute you roll out of the dealership), or take on the cost of new car insurance either.
  • Don’t attempt to compete with two-income families.  The reason why they have disposable income may very well be because they’re neglecting and abandoning their children.  That’s not a tradeoff you want to make. 

In addition, you have to learn how to be a “home economist.”  This is quite easy.  One thing I’ve noticed is that it’s actually women of more modest means who generally make the decision to be mothers when they have children.  There are many wonderful websites out there for at-home parents.  Just type “at-home parent” into your browser, and you’ll find coupons galore. 

I still use coupons to this day.  There’s no reason not to.  Just because you have some money doesn’t mean you should throw it away:

  • There are coupons for EVERYTHINGfood, clothes, pet supplies, computer accessories, and more.  Have you noticed when you order something on the net that there’s always a space to write in a coupon code?  The minute I see that, I think, “Whoops, I should have found one!”   I am always looking for coupons.  I don’t go to craft stores without them.  Art and craft places like Michaels have coupon specials going on all the time.  I always wait for the one that’s 20 percent off everything to stock up on the stuff I need (the key word there being “need” not “want”).
  • There are cash-back sites like Ebates.com, which give you money back on the purchases you make from your favorite stores.  There are also credit cards that offer cash-back incentives for the money you spend.  However, be sure to use these types of cards carefully. If you start spending right and left thinking, “Oh well, I’m getting money back,” you’re going to end up spending too much.
  • Look for restaurants that have family meals (“two-for-one adult meals,” or “kids eat free”).  Try to find coupons for restaurants as well.

Here are some more tips on how to become a “home economist”:

  • Pack lunches.  I’m definitely a “pack a lunch” kind of girl.  It’s cheaper, healthier, and you get exactly what you want.  For one thing, you can avoid buying all that flavor-injected meat and fish.
  • Shop at the Salvation Army.   You can often find new stuff like toys that nobody has opened.  Kids don’t have to know where it came from.  I once went to a really nice thrift store with a friend who was on a tight budget, and we got her daughter a bunch of nice tops and sweaters for only $25.  It was unbelievable.  They looked brand-new to us. 
  • Check your cell phone plan.  There are plans that include free calls to everyone on the same network.  Again, be cautious because a lot of them come with expensive monthly bills and long-term contracts.  
  • Participate in online barter groups.  These are very cool.  One participant wrote, “I’ve received clothes for myself and the kids, toys, musical instruments, books, movies, etc. all in exchange for things that I no longer need but are still functional and someone else can use.”
  • Homeschool your kids.  You won’t have to buy special school clothes, waste time driving to the campus, or be involved in school fundraisers.  And even more importantly, you can make sure your kids actually get an education. Imagine that.
  • Cook healthy meals. Preparing veggies and protein at every meal can be very economical, especially if you buy things in bulk at places like Costco.

You can find page after page of websites telling you how to save money as a stay-at-home parent.  No matter what your income level, it’s stupid not to use them:

  • On Stayathomemoms.about.com, one woman wrote that she doesn’t use the lights or the dishwasher, do the laundry, or consume much electricity during the day because it’s more expensive.  She does one load a day at 11 p.m.  She has a cup of tea and relaxes, throws the clothes in the dryer, and gets them out before the baby gets up in the morning.  That’s it.

The bottom line is that you need to care enough about your children to raise them.  If you can’t or won’t, then don’t have them.  And when you do decide to make sacrifices for them, don’t bitch about it – ever.  If you can’t go out and buy a lot of jewelry and clothes just think, “It’s a small price to pay to have peace, joy, and contentment.”  Being a full-time parent is a very rewarding experience for both you and your child, and with a little planning, you can not only stay at home with your kids, but you can enjoy the process too.  

How to Stop Bad-Mouthing Your Body

In magazines and throughout our society, there is such a heavy focus on how women look.  Because of this, many women have major body image issues. 

In my book, The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, I relay a call from a woman who told me she was short and tubby.  You know how some people have six-pack abs?  Well, she had a “12-pack” of fat rolls.  The thought of being sexual with her husband made her freak out because she was so self-conscious.  However, I told her that her husband would rather have her naked up against him than have her body be perfect.  She said I was an idiot, but promised to try out my advice anyway. 

So, she went to a lingerie store and bought something bright red and outrageous with spaces everywhere.  It was even a little too small because they really didn’t have anything in her size.  When she got home, she started changing upstairs while her husband was in the living room.  She then stood at the top of the stairs and called for her husband in the garish, red, too-tight lingerie outfit which prominently displayed her rolls of fat.  He took one look at her, smiled widely, and ran up the stairs.  They had a great night (and by the way, she no longer thinks I’m a complete idiot).

In my opinion, women are to blame for this obsession with their bodies.  I read a Glamour magazine survey (which obviously only sampled women who are obsessed with glamor) revealing that 97 percent of women are cruel to their bodies on a daily basis.  After surveying 300 women of all sizes, the researchers found that, “On average, women have 13 negative body thoughts daily – nearly one for every waking hour. And a disturbing number of women confess to having 35, 50 or even 100 hateful thoughts about their own shapes each day.”

That is sick stuff.  I feel sorry for these women who are more concerned about superficial things than their brain or character.  They are not worried about choosing the right men, doing charity work, getting educated, or being aware of what is going on in their community and world.  They are not worried about figuring out how to actually raise their own kids instead of just dumping them in day care.  No.  They are worried about how they look. 

That is so pathetic.  There is something to be said for school uniforms where how you look is irrelevant.  There is less distraction that way.

I’ll admit I’m not too crazy about looking in the mirror and seeing lines and wrinkles.  No woman likes that.  However, I don’t care about new styles of clothes, hair or makeup, and I don’t care about creams that make your face appear younger.  What I do care about is being strong and fit.  I don’t want to be spending the last years of my life unable to get around.  Everything I do is a preemptive strike on the future.  Every day, I get up at 5:30 a.m. and kill myself working out for an hour.  I play tennis two to three times a week, and I also kayak, sail and hike.  I work my body.

Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t have very good luck with genetics, or they’ve been in some kind of accident (e.g. they’ve got osteoporosis and they’re just waiting for a broken hip).  However, when you do have control, put in the effort.  Don’t have 17 different plastic surgeries.

Ann Kearney-Cooke, Ph.D., a Cincinnati psychologist who specializes in body image and helped Glamour design the survey, said:

“Neuroscience has shown that whatever you focus on shapes your brain. If you’re constantly thinking negative thoughts about your body, that neural pathway becomes stronger – and those thoughts become habitual…Imagine a concert pianist. Her brain would have stronger neural pathways that support musicality and dexterity than someone who hadn’t spent her life practicing.”

Interestingly enough, if a man thinks the same things women are thinking about their own bodies, he’s considered offensive or abusive.  If a man says that a woman’s got a big nose, disgusting skin, bags under her eyes or small breasts, it’s a “no-no.”  And yet with women, negative talk is part of how they bond with each other.

Women also tend to talk and feel bad about something rather than trying to fix it.  Whether it is stress, loneliness, boredom, or a bad day, women go into depression mode rather than being proactive.  I’ve mentioned many times on my program that it’s more typical for guys to be proactive about a problem than women.  Men want to go fix something.  Women want to talk about it over and over and then feel upset about it. 

It’s not easy, but there are some simple things you can do to change your body and feel better:

  • Rewire your brain to see the positive aspects about your body. 
  • Ask yourself if this really is about your body.
  • Exercise!  I cannot stress enough how being physical can change your mood and outlook.
  • Just say “stop” when you have a negative thought.  That will shut it down.
  • Remind yourself that obsessing about what you eat or look like doesn’t make you look better.
  • Appreciate your body for what it does – not what it looks like.
  • Play up your strengths.  Don’t compare yourself to others.  Focus on what you have and be proud of it. 

For further reading, here are some interesting body image statistics.

Shacking Up Does Not Lead to a Stronger Marriage

Remember this little ditty?: “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.”  Nowadays, this rarely happens.  For a lot of adults it’s, “First comes love (maybe), then comes ‘shacking up,’ then comes a heartbreaking split involving children.” 
 
Many shack-up couples claim, “We’re living together to improve our chances of having a great marriage.”  I recently even had a young woman on my program whose own father told her to do just that.  I couldn’t believe it.  As research shows, shacking up actually has the OPPOSITE effect.  I have been saying this for 30 plus years.

For the small percentage of cohabitants who actually go on to marry, the majority of them end up getting divorced, or they experience spousal abuse and infidelity.  The simple fact is that shacking up does not lead to stronger marriages.  I love it when someone writes to me saying, “Well, I shacked up and my partner and I are still together.”  So what?  That doesn’t mean shacking up is good.  There are people out there who smoke like crazy and don’t get lung cancer.  Does that mean we should tell people to smoke because some people have dodged a bullet?

Of course, if two people want to shack up it’s their own personal choice, but they should know it leads to reverberations – even when there aren’t kids involved.  For example, how is your extended family supposed to accept someone as “family” when you’re not even willing to make them family?  People become family through birth, adoption or marriage.  If you’re not willing to make somebody family by making a commitment to them, then you can’t get angry when the rest of your family says, “Leave him/her home, they’re not family,” or, “Of course we don’t want them in the family photograph, they’re not family.”   Furthermore, don’t be surprised when other family members with kids don’t want to hang out with you because they don’t want their kids to think your behavior is OK.

There’s enough research to show that cohabiting dissolves families, impacts children, and increases instances of sexual abuse, drug abuse, crime, illiteracy, and out-of-wedlock pregnancy.  In addition, studies reveal that only 45 percent of couples who live together go on to marry, and of those who do marry, there is a 45 percent higher risk for divorce than people who have never shacked up.  Only 15 out of every 100 shack-ups will result in a “long-term successful marriage”.
 
When cohabitants do marry, they tend to be less committed to the long-term future of the relationship, and they are less reluctant to terminate it.  Cohabitation is, in part, an acceptance of leaving.  One study found that the more months young people are exposed to cohabitation, the less enthusiastic they become about marriage and having kids.

Most importantly of all, since shack-ups have such a high dropout rate, there’s a better chance that kids will end up devastated.  All too often, kids are made or hauled in to a shack-up situation.  Moreover, kids who come from divorced parents frequently go on to shack up themselves.  It’s a ripple effect. 

Kids who live in homes with parents shacking up are more likely to:

  • Become involved in unmarried sex because their lives are very sexualized outside of any context of marriage and family. 
  • Experience sexual abuse in the home.
  • Have emotional and social difficulties due to problems with forming permanent emotional attachments.  When they reach adulthood, they struggle to find happiness and productive marriages.
  • Experience poverty, poor achievement in school, and a litany of other problems.

So, what should you do if you have already gotten yourself involved in a shack-up situation? 

  • Stop!  If your relationship matters to you, then you and your partner need to cease shacking up.  The longer people shack up, the less likely they are to move on to a long-term successful marriage.
  • Seek premarital counseling.  This is really important in establishing the communication and relationship skills needed for a successful marriage.  If you have already been shacking up, then developing these skills is even more crucial because you’re used to living with insecurity.   
  • Protect your kids.  If you’ve put your kids in a shack-up situation, understand that this is not in their best interest.  Stop being selfish, weak, scared, or any combination thereof. 

If you know someone who is revving to shack up or is currently shacking up:

  • Talk to them.  Bring the facts to their attention.  Although facts seem to bother some people’s emotions, make them aware anyway.  
  • Celebrate marriage. If you are happily married, share your experiences with other people – especially young people. They need to know that happy marriages exist.

What Makes Someone a Hero?

“Hero” is a word that’s misused all the time.  People who hit baseballs, throw footballs, or lob tennis balls are frequently labeled “heroes,” but they are really just paid athletes – not heroes.  It would be heroic if an athlete gave up a kidney for someone who needed it knowing that he or she would probably never play ball again without it.  You can’t be a hero without sacrifice. 

If benefiting somebody else results in no cost to you, you’re not being heroic.  “Hero” is a very special term.  For example, although he was damn courageous, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (the pilot who landed Flight 1549 in the Hudson River and saved the lives of all 155 passengers and crew aboard) was not a hero.  Yes, he ensured that the airplane didn’t hit any buildings and he saved a lot of people’s lives, but there was nothing for him to sacrifice because he was going down with everyone else.  Although he was courageous and kept his head while those around him were losing theirs, the term “hero” should not be applied.

By the same token, a person dealing with treatments for serious medical issues is not a hero either.  As brave as a person needs to be when going through something like that, they don’t have a choice.  There is no sacrifice involved on the behalf of another person.

I was recently watching the movie Act of Valor, which used real military guys to create a dramatic representation of a true story.  In one scene, the soldiers are clearing rooms in a building, and one of the guys goes into a room looking left and right, but he forgets to look up.  A bad guy perched on the scaffolding pulls the pin out of a grenade and tosses it into the room.  The soldier turns around to run out, but he sees his buddies entering that same room.  He has a choice to make: He can either run and see how far he can make it before the grenade explodes, or he can stay and protect his fellow soldiers.  To my shock and horror, he threw his body on the grenade, thereby taking the full force with his body.  It wasn’t pretty.  His buddies then shot the bad guy. 

That was the part of the movie I remember most.  This guy had a choice to make a sacrifice, and he did.  That was a heroic act.  He could have tried to run or throw himself behind something and let the other guys sink or swim on their own, but he chose to sacrifice himself. 

I remember back when our country first entered Iraq, a young soldier did the same thing.  He was clearing a room, saw a grenade, and threw his body down on it.  I remember being so incredibly upset because I was identifying with his mother, knowing and worrying that my kid might be in that same circumstance.  It was just terrifying.  But I knew his act was heroic – a personal sacrifice for the benefit of others.  That “Band of Brothers” mentality which ennobles a person enough to sacrifice themselves for their buddies is a mind-blower. 

In my opinion, some of the most blatant acts of heroism ever known were performed by “The Righteous Gentiles.”  That’s what Israel called people who protected Jews from the German “Final Solution” during World War II.  These were folks who knew they could die and their children could be tortured and hung in the street as a message to others for what they did, but they risked everything and did it anyway.  When you read or see interviews with any of these people, they all say the exact same simple, humble thing: “It was the right thing to do.” 

I believe “doing the right thing” has a lot to do with how people are brought up.  For example, when my boy was growing up, I told him that I didn’t care about the zero-violence nonsense at school.  I said, “If somebody hits you, or even more importantly, threatens or hits somebody else, I expect you to intervene and we will deal with the principal later.” 

One day, he came home in trouble.  A boy had been picking on another boy at school, and my son punched the bully.  I took my son out to dinner and sent my husband to go deal with the principal.

In short, heroism is about making a personal sacrifice for the benefit of others.  It’s serving others at a cost to you.  When those firemen, police officers and other folks looked up and saw the burning buildings on 9/11 with debris falling everywhere and smoke filling every breath, they made the decision to go into the buildings knowing full well that they may never come out again (and a lot of them didn’t).  That is heroism – not a guy who gets paid a lot of money to make field goals for people’s entertainment.

Anti-Bullying Laws Are Not the Solution

Anti-bullying laws have recently been popping up all over America.  They allow children to report their classmates to the police if they feel they are being bullied.  However, in my opinion, these laws are stupid.  

I have always said that if another kid lays a hand on your child, tell your kid to drop them down and hurt them.  If a kid lays a hand on someone else’s child, tell your kid to drop them down and hurt them.  You have a responsibility to teach your children to stand up for themselves and other people.  Put them in jujitsu classes so they know how to do it without any blood or broken bones. 

Of course these days, bullying is not only limited to the playground.  It happens outside of school on the Internet (in my day, the equivalent was spreading notes and gossiping).  I am well aware of how people can be damaged and hurt on the Internet, but I also grew up with the motto, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  We have totally given that up and told our children that the second their feelings are hurt, it’s all over.  Nobody has a right to not be offended, and no kid has the right to not have hurt feelings.  You need to teach your kids how to stand up for themselves and respond to bullying. 
 
Now, these anti-bullying laws are largely based on anecdotal circumstances.  Sadly, some children and young adults have committed suicide over being harassed.  However, there haven’t been scores of children killing themselves.  There have been unique incidences of suicide, and we’ve always seen those.  Every kid who gets picked on doesn’t kill him or herself.  It has a lot more to do with their mental constitution and family dynamics than the bullying.  These experiences are horrible, but they aren’t the norm, and making laws based on the exceptions is ridiculous. 

I can’t imagine the pain of being a parent whose child has terminated his or her own life.  It’s impossible to understand and appreciate, and I am in no way minimizing it.  All I’m saying is that these are isolated cases of individual people and their inability to cope. 

Do I have a definitive solution to all of this?  Not in our society anymore.  When I was a kid, the school called your parents, they gave you crap, and you were disciplined at school.  These days, if the school calls a parent, they give the school crap.  We’re becoming a disordered, self-defending society.  I may not have a solution, but the solution is definitely not to involve the police because somebody is calling you names.  Whatever happened to kids working out their own stuff? 

Here’s what I would do.  If I had a kid right now who was being bullied on the Internet, I would link it to another page saying, “These are the kids who are using the Internet to hurt other kids.”  I wouldn’t say anything mean or attack back.  I would just list all the things they are doing.  And at the bottom of the page I would also put, “Are these the kinds of kids you have come over and play with your kids?”   That way you bring the problem to light.  Embarrass the bullies and let their parents deal with them.  Smear their reputations with facts.  I think there should be websites that show facts about adults and kids who do bad things.  FACTS!  No exaggerations.  No bad-mouthing. Just facts.   

We live in a country where hurt feelings are the most important thing in the world.   It’s time to toughen up folks.  Have your kids toughen up.  It’s really important to you teach your kids to stand up for themselves and be able to handle life.