Category Archives: Ethics

Has Courtship Jumped the Shark?

Courtship, for the most part, doesn’t exist anymore.  Men today are either very crass in how they treat women, or they have been completely emasculated.  I’m so frustrated by the lack of masculinity in our society, which, in my opinion, was ripped away by the feminist movement.  Feminism taught women that they needed men for nothing – holding a door or pulling out a chair became unacceptable, let alone providing and protecting.

As a result, men no longer think women should be placed on pedestals.  Instead, they only consider how fast they can get them on their backs with their knees up.  That’s what feminism has done for women: it’s made them target practice for penises.

The decline of courtship has been a total disaster.  Individuals forever avoid becoming adults or lack any sense of well-being in their lives.  Life has absolutely zero meaning if you’re not living for someone else.  In addition, our children suffer.  We used to think motherhood was as American as apple pie, but not anymore.  Women drop their responsibilities as mothers and put their kids in day care for the sake of being equal and doing it all.

Leon R. Kass wrote a very brilliant essay titled, “The End of Courtship,” which is as critical and despondent about what has happened as I am.  Read it here.

 

Video: Silly, Selfish and Cheated While We Dated

You and your ex-boyfriend are flirting with the idea of getting back together. However, there’s just one problem: before you broke up, you cheated on him and he still doesn’t know. Should you tell him?   Watch:

Read the transcript.

Getting the Most Out of Therapy

Once I started becoming more “known” from my radio program and books, I had to give up my private practice.  Folks would come in for sessions and expect me to work magic in three and a half minutes.  It became clear to me that I couldn’t be as effective one-on-one anymore.  So instead, I wrote books and did my show because I thought that those were the best ways I could help people.  

However, there are times on my program when I tell callers that they need to do a little more extensive work.  I can give them a jump-start, but they need to pick up where we left off in therapy.

Therapy can be a very complicated process, and there aren’t many therapists who do it well.  When looking for a therapist, there are a few things you need to do.  First, and most importantly, you have to form a relationship with your therapist.  When people call in to my program, they generally have listened to me for a while.  This means that they have already developed a kind of relationship with me in their minds.  When you go into somebody’s office for therapy, it usually takes a while to form that relationship. Without it, there isn’t going to be trust.  Although it seems like I receive instant trust from the people who call in to my show, that’s not really the case.  Most callers have been listening to me for a long time (sometimes 20 years or more), and therefore, the trust part is pretty much all squared away. 

Your clinician also needs to be a good fit for you.  Not every therapist makes the same choices or has the same personality and expertise. For example, when I was involved in private practice, I would not deal with anyone’s insurance companies.  They paid for their sessions, and I signed the insurance papers for them to submit.  I did this because I didn’t want my fights with an insurance company to interfere with our relationship.   

In addition, I believe that your first session should be free and on the phone.  It’s not really a session – it’s simply you asking a lot of questions.  You can always look up somebody’s license and credentials, but you still need to ask them about their expertise.  A lot of people get psychology licenses of various kinds and then claim that they can do anything.  However, there are specific areas of expertise.  Make sure you ask.  If you’re nervous about asking questions, first write them down on a piece of paper.  You may be less afraid to ask them if you put them in writing. 

This process may be uncomfortable, but if you don’t feel safe and comfortable with the therapist at first, you are not likely going to meet your goals with them later. 

Personally, I think that if you are seeking marital therapy, you should ask if the therapist is divorced.  Statistically speaking, when a therapist is divorced, he or she is more permissive of divorce.  And if they’re more permissive of divorce, it may impact how you perceive your marriage.  It’s the same old thing – if other people have done it, we feel like it’s more acceptable.  So, be sure to ask if they’re divorced and for how long.

Also ask about their ethics and how they’ve continued their education.  Once you’re done asking everything you want to ask, repeat this process with three to five more therapists.  See who gets defensive and who answers your questions openly. 

I know it can be intimidating or feel like you’re being impolite, but you must ask questions.  The truth is, your therapist is your hired help.  And if you do hire them, you’ll want to be able to ask them honest questions later, such as, “I don’t understand how this is helping; can you please explain it to me?” 

Nevertheless, you must also remember that the therapist does not assume the entire burden.  Therapy is hard work, and in order to improve, you have to do the work.  It’s the same principle as playing the piano – if you don’t practice, you’re not going to play very well.  You may notice that I often give assignments to callers on my program.   That’s because change doesn’t happen in one session – it happens outside of the session.  It’s an active process.  You can’t expect to go to therapy once a week and then not give it a moment’s thought until the next session.  The sessions are important but so is your effort to reflect on the content of those sessions and apply it on a daily basis. If you don’t make progress, it could very well be your own fault.  As I’ve said many times on the air, “Hey, I’m not going to work harder on your life than you are.” 

Finally, you need to expect that at some point during therapy, things could become extremely painful, uncomfortable, or unpleasant.  There are often blockages you have to work through.  You may start placing some of your past relationship issues on your therapist or treat them as if they were your mother, father, sister, etc.  Sometimes you’ll want to quit therapy or wonder why you’re bothering to spend money to be in pain.   You might even develop a habit of arriving late to sessions as a mechanism of avoidance.  However, when you start freaking out or getting defensive, you absolutely must go back and talk to your therapist about it.  Say, for example, “After opening up to you last time about ___, I became very vulnerable.”  Really good therapists are trained to understand and deal with your concerns.   

To bring it full circle, this is why establishing an initial relationship with your therapist is important – you need to be able to discuss anything and everything.  If you don’t trust your therapist or don’t feel like they believe in you, there will be no change.  You’ll simply reenact the same patterns with them and everybody else.

Teaching Children About Choosing Friends

Every parent frets about their kids having “weird” friends.  At some point, children always seem to gravitate toward some unhealthy, unpleasant, or annoying kid that you don’t like. 

Kids pick their own friends, and who they choose says a lot about their character.  However, they also get drawn into situations where they feel compelled out of fear or threat of isolation to be friends with certain kids.

I remember my son having a bunch of his buddies over once.  When they all left, he came to me and asked, “So, did you like them?”  I told him I particularly liked the ones who could look me square in the eye.  I didn’t say that I disliked anyone in particular.  I just said that I thought the ones who could look me in the eye were more straight, confident, and comfortable kids.  I told him it was just a preference on my end and that he may see other things in them.  Perhaps one of them couldn’t look me in the eye, but they were always there for him when he had a problem.  

If your son or daughter has weird friends, you have to give them little hints like that.  By doing this, you’re not criticizing, condemning, or excommunicating any of their friends.  You’re simply giving feedback.  The minute you start singling out and condemning one kid, your child is going to become best friends with him or her.

Ask your child what they think constitutes a good friend.  Have them to think about what happens at school:

  • Who’s not nice?  Who hurts other kids? 
  • Is anyone bossy?  Does anyone tell your child what and what not to do, or use threats to get them to do things?  Do any of your child’s friends try to make them feel guilty if they don’t get what they want?  
  • Does anyone get jealous or angry if your child spends time with other people?
  • Do any of your child’s friends talk behind their back, laugh at them, or make fun of them?  Do any of them spread rumors about your kid, tell lies, or share stuff they told them in secret?
  • Do any of your child’s friends play rough by hitting, pushing, pinching, kicking, scratching, slapping, or punching? 
  • Do any of your child’s friends ignore them if they haven’t gotten their way?  Do they only pay attention when they want something and ignore your child when he or she has something important to talk about?

Instead of attacking a particular kid, what you should be doing is constantly grooming your child to be thinking about these things and then have them make their own decisions.  Kids choose their own friends, and at some point, parents become secondary to their kid’s friends.  That’s just the way it is.  When you attack your kid’s friends, it’s like pulling the rug out from under them when there’s no floor there.  Instead, you should be more indirect about it and avoid the tug-of-war.  Discuss with them what the qualities and behaviors of an unhealthy friend are.  Keep your voice very low-key, and help them understand that friends do not embarrass each other, put each other down, pressure each other to do bad things, act nicely only when they want something, or reveal information they share in confidence.  Put it back on your child to think about. 

When you see your child in cahoots with a particularly snotty, nasty, or rotten little bugger of a kid, just tell them, “You know, I was a little surprised that when Johnny or Mary said ‘blahbity blah,’ you didn’t stand your ground.  I think standing your ground is a good thing.  Sometimes it may annoy our friends, but there are times when it’s important to stand our ground when we know certain things are right and wrong.  You might think about that for next time.”  So, instead of saying, “That kid’s rotten and I don’t want to see him in the house anymore,” you’re putting it on your child to have strength of conviction.

You can also set limits and boundaries, such as telling your child that he or she can only play with their friend when they are at your house.  In addition, one of the best things you can do is to take the stinger away.  I’ve been suggesting this for years and years and years – especially when kids call saying their friend is being mean.  For example, tell your child that you are going to take them to the zoo and suggest they invite some of their friends, especially the ones you’re having a little trouble with.  While you’re at the zoo, make an alliance with the kids you think are rotten.  You don’t know what’s going on in their homes or what’s making them so difficult, but you can sometimes tame the beasts when you invite them to the beach or ask them to come over for a picnic or a barbecue in the backyard. 

I remember once my parents were concerned about a friend of mine whose nickname was Penny.  I don’t know why they were so concerned about Penny at the time, except that we got into some trouble.  Remember those phony phone calls?  As kids, we’d call up someone, ask them if their refrigerator was running, and then tell them they’d better go catch it.  Or we’d dial a bread company and order a whole bunch of bread to be sent to somebody’s house.  It was pretty terrible – we only thought about the people we were annoying, and we didn’t consider the poor bread company.  I remember my dad sitting me down and saying, “OK let’s talk about what a friend is.  Does a friend have you do things that are bad?”  I responded, “Well, I guess not,” even though at age 9 I thought friends that did bad stuff were pretty fun.  He then went through a list similar to the one I discussed earlier and said, “Now you make up your own mind.” 

Given the power to make up your own mind, you tend to do the right thing.  You don’t believe me?  If you’ve got kids who always squabble over who has the biggest piece of cake, pie, or whatever, next time let one of them cut it and the other one pick the slice he or she wants.  It’s amazing how the pieces all of a sudden come out even.

Spying on a Cheater

There is a show that’s been on TV a very long time called Cheaters.  I don’t know how they’ve been able to do the same scenario for a dozen years, but they’ve pulled it off. 

I’ve seen the show about one and a half times.  Basically, someone who suspects their girlfriend or boyfriend of cheating hires this television program to do surveillance.  The crew follows the boyfriend or girlfriend, tracks their car, photographs them at various places (restaurants, stores, etc.), and tape records their conversations.  If he goes to a hotel, motel, or apartment, the cameras capture him going in, kissing his bimbo at the front door, and then grinding groins with her.  If a guy tells his wife, “Oh honey, I have to be at work late,” the show will then cut to time-stamped footage of him going somewhere else. 

Near the end of each episode, the person who is being cheated on gets to see the tape, realizes they’re right, and then feels very badly betrayed.  The program ends with the girl or guy confronting their husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend.  It’s a free-for-all with the television cameras rolling.  The cheater and their bimbo or side stud start yelling, “What?!  What is this?,” followed by a bunch of “beeps” (because of all the bad words they’re saying).  I always think it’s funny when the cheater says, “How could you do this to me?,” in reference to being put under surveillance and exposed on TV.   Somehow they get moral outrage at that, not about the fact that they’re screwing around on somebody.
 
Now, a lot of shows try to market merchandise to make money on the side: T-shirts, mugs, spaghetti sauce…whatever.  But for a show like Cheaters, it’s a little different.  Since they can’t exactly make shirts saying, “I’m a cheater,” or, “I caught my spouse cheating,” they have instead decided to open up a spy goods web store:

“The Cheater’s Spy Shop sells all sorts of surveillance gear for suspicious minds, including recovery sticks that can pull up anything currently on the iPhone and even recover deleted information; mobile software that will send a person all texts and pictures being sent, web history, call logs, and GPS location every 30 minutes; and even motion-activated hidden cameras that record any movement and activity in high resolution [HD, 3D, whatever you want]…

The laws governing the use of surveillance devices by average citizens differ all over the place.  A lot of people think they’re legally allowed to spy on their spouses, but depending on how it’s done, that may or may not be true.  It may be totally legal to make, sell, and buy this stuff, but depending on the jurisdiction you’re in, it may or may not be legal to use because people have privacy rights.  Some people also get concerned that stalkers could misuse the technology.  It’s pretty scary to think about – a stalker could potentially put a tracking device at the bottom of your purse and know where you are at all times.  If you’re thinking of participating in an operation to expose a cheater either with a private investigator or just by yourself, you have to make sure that whatever equipment or techniques you’re using are legal in your state. 

“The two groups who seem to be buying the products the most are women worried their man is cheating, and parents who want to make sure their kids aren’t sexting or getting inappropriate photos themselves.”  The biggest month for buying is Valentine’s Day.  They’re not really sure why, but my guess is that women who either get nothing or get something worth less than what they see charged to their husband’s credit card start wondering where the money went.

Cheating spouses typically get caught in a couple of ways:

1. Accidental discovery:  Most cheaters are not CIA agents.  They don’t know how to totally cover their tracks, and they forget things like a parking sticker hanging from the rearview mirror.  Deception and infidelity are usually uncovered by somebody making a mistake.  “A husband or wife decides to come home from work early, a third party inadvertently reveals the truth, an unpaid parking ticket reveals a spouse’s true whereabouts, or an e-mail exchange is accidentally sent to the wrong person.”  Many times on the air, I’ve heard callers say, “He meant to send it to her, but somehow he clicked me.”

2. Monitoring/Surveillance:  A lot of cheaters are exposed after being monitored by either their spouse or a private investigator.  From what I’ve read, if a private investigator uses a technique that’s illegal, even if unbeknownst to you, you are still liable because they’re essentially an extension of you.  Be careful!

So what should you do if you think your spouse or significant other is cheating?

If you’re not just a hypersensitive or neurotic person, then your instinct that your spouse is cheating is probably right.  If you get suspicious, ask yourself the following question: “Why is he/she cheating?”  Did you make a mistake in picking someone who is simply a bad person?  If your wife had a million affairs while you were dating or your husband cheated while you were pregnant with your first kid (and then you went ahead and made three more) then “Duh!” – you made a mistake.  However, people don’t always cheat because they’re bad people.  Other things come into play, usually relating to the quality of the relationship.  As it turns out, men more than women require opposite-sex feedback for their egos.  Women can turn to their girlfriends to hear about what a bum their husband is and how wonderful they are.  But guys don’t turn to their guy friends – they turn to other women. 

If you’re a woman and are worried about your husband having an affair, you should read my book The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands to see if you’re to blame.  Your husband once picked you, wanted you, and ultimately loved you.  Perhaps if you stopped acting the way you currently are, you wouldn’t be throwing away a perfectly good man.  A lot of times women call my show saying, “I think my husband’s having an affair,” and I tell them that they can either blow up the marriage or they can look at themselves honestly and admit, “I stopped being my husband’s girlfriend.  I’m going to take the proper steps to turn it back on.”   As his wife, you always have an edge over a new honey.  A new honey may be very exciting, but a new honey has no context or history like you have with him.  Losing you not only means losing the house, the kids, the dog, the parakeet and the cat, but he’ll be losing extended family and friends as well.  There’s so much for him to lose.  Missing the girlfriend doesn’t come close to that.  So ultimately you have the power.

There are a million and a half articles on the topic of cheating, but it all boils down to one basic concept: if you treat your spouse and dearly beloved in such a way that he or she wants to come home to you every night, then you’re doing great and you’re probably not going to have a cheating spouse.

Now that being said, some people are simply jerks no matter how much love and effort you’re putting in to the relationship.  The following article contains some practical tips on how to catch a cheater: “Tips for Discovering the Truth.”  Discerning whether or not there is bad behavior going on (affairs, whores, drugs, etc.) usually helps you with securing custody of the children later.   And remember: Don’t just ask, “Honey, are you having an affair?”  That never works.  Don’t even bother.

 

My Blunt, No-Nonsense Answers

Dr. Rodger Dean Duncan is widely known in the business world as an expert in the strategic management of change.  To name only a few, his client list includes American Airlines, IBM, eBay, Federal Reserve Bank and presidential cabinet officers in two White House administrations.  Dr. Duncan recently asked me to comment on personal responsibility, ethics, values, and moralities of today.  You can read my interview at his website: DoctorDuncan.com

When Kids See Smut Online

Should parents be concerned about Internet porn?

Yes!

The thing parents should be worried about most is the victimization of their children.  Whether it’s being preyed upon by a pedophile or experiencing crass sex totally disconnected from intimacy, it’s all victimization.
 
Today’s kids live in a culture where hard-core pornography is everywhere.  Kids have an arsenal of portable devices these days which enable them to go online just about anywhere.  Even if you monitor them closely at home by getting them to use child-friendly search engines and setting up OpenDNS or other parental controls, you still might not be able to stop them from looking at porn.  They could see it at a friend’s house, on a cell phone, or someplace where there’s public access to the Internet – like the library or at school. 

As far as I’m concerned, the windows in front of Victoria’s Secret stores depict soft-core pornography.  The same goes for Abercrombie and Fitch.  When parents walk by these stores in the mall with their kids or get their catalogues in the mail, they are exposing their kids to porn. 

A lot of people call in to my radio show wanting to know if they should wait until their kid asks about sex to talk about it.  I just tell them that at that point, it’s already way too late.  You should talk to kids about sex beginning at a very, very early age because they already have a high chance of seeing porn when their age is still in the single digits. 

You can say we all have different morals and philosophies about this topic, but mine is very child-centered and focused on kids having quality lives with quality relationships.   I think the ultimate goal for developing a child’s sexuality is making them see why connecting both sexually and spiritually is important.  You need to make them see that sex is a special act, and it symbolizes deep love and commitment between a husband and wife.  There are things that are sacred and sublime, and there are things that aren’t.  To take something sacred and put it in a meaningless context diminishes humanity, and affects not only the child’s sexuality, but his or her values, such as how women should be treated.

By helping your kids see the big picture about how sex is sacred and how it is being abused largely in our culture, you will be better prepared to confront the problem of pornography when it occurs in your children’s lives.

If you find out your child has looked at pornography, don’t get hysterical.  I think children are always victims of a form of sexual abuse whenever they are confronted with sexually provocative materials.   Gently find out if someone introduced it to them.  It’s really important to understand the context in which they got a hold of it.  It could have just been a pop-up, or their web search request came back with a porn site (e.g. they typed the word “fox” with two “x’s” by accident). 

And in the worst case scenario, your child could be looking at porn because it has been sent by someone who preys on kids.  “Pedophiles can use access to porn to establish a bond with a child.  The bond can lower a child’s resistance to meeting in person, and viewing porn may lower his or her resistance to being persuaded to perform sexual acts.  Showing a child pornography also is a good way to prevent detection because the child knows at some level he or she is doing something his parents wouldn’t sanction and is unlikely to tell them.”

Lastly, if your kid was just curious and looked at porn, don’t punish them.  Yelling, “We’re taking the computer away and we’re not going to feed you for four days,” is not helpful.   Instead, I think you should use the incident as an opportunity to teach your child that not everything and everyone on the Internet is harmless.  It’s a good time to talk to them about sexuality, how it can be exploited, and your values about sex, marriage, men, women, and relationships.  In your own home, it’s always a good idea to put the computer in a place where it is visible to the adults and limit the amount of time your child spends there.  You initiate the Internet session, log them on and off, and use blocking software and tracking services.  Basically, you set the rules.  If a child breaks the rules, then they get punished, but don’t punish them simply because they were curious and looked at porn.  If they are going to get a punishment, it should be because they disobeyed the rules.  Above all, you don’t want them to feel uncomfortable talking to you about something as incredibly important as their sexuality.

Your kids are being seduced all the time, and you have to keep that in mind.  I constantly see commercials that make my drop jaw.  It used to be that people would get hysterical over a kid getting his hands on a Playboy, but it’s not even close to that way anymore.  Our kids have lost their innocence and their sensitivity about viewing certain things that should be special.  It’s time to redirect and educate them.

Here are some alarming statistics about how Internet pornography is affecting our kids: