Category Archives: Parenting

Kids Lose When Parents Play Favorites

Favoritism exists throughout the animal kingdom.  Most species nurture the strongest of their offspring, which have the most promise of propagating their genetics into the future.  The wussy and wimpy ones, on the other hand, usually get eaten.  So when it comes to humans, it makes sense biologically that parents play favorites amongst their children.

Parents are drawn to kids who are more pleasant and affectionate, and less aggressive and deviant. For example, let’s say you have twin babies. One screams 24/7 and the other coos sweetly in your arms.  Well guess what? The screaming one is toast.

Parents also tend to feel closer to children of the same gender and personality type, and favor their biological kids over stepchildren.  In addition, parents usually have a soft spot for their first- and lastborn (at some point, the first- and lastborn have their parents all to themselves).  Generally speaking, it’s the firstborns who get all the perks due to the emotional and physical investment that goes into having the first baby.

Favoritism manifests itself in how much time, affection, privilege, or discipline you give one child compared to another.  The problem is that kids who are blatantly disfavored by their parents experience terrible outcomes across the board: more depression, greater aggressiveness, lower self-esteem, and poorer academic performance.  On the opposite side of the coin, children who are favored tend to develop a sense of arrogance and entitlement, which makes them terribly disliked by their siblings and totally unprepared for the real world.

So, how can a parent avoid showing favoritism?

1. When one kid is looking for a leg up, pick up everybody’s leg.

The irony is that every kid wants to feel like they’re different and special in their own way.  Your job is to do that without making them compete with each other.  When one of your kids asks, “Am I the best swimmer in the family?,” respond by saying, “I think you’re the best swimmer, and George is the best baseball player, and Mary is the best painter,” etc.  That way, each of your children has the mentality that he or she is the best, but so are their siblings.  There’s no favoritism shown because everybody’s the best at something.  Try to divvy out your love and affection equally, but continue highlighting each child’s uniqueness.

2. It’s not personal – it’s situational.

  • If you have a new baby at home, explain to your older child, “Your brother is a newborn. He can’t roll over or even scratch his butt – he can’t do anything.  So for a while, it’s going to look like we’re paying more attention to him, but you can scratch your butt and he can’t.”  Your older child will think this is hilarious, and they’ll get the picture (and wait for the day that their brother’s hand reaches behind his back…)
  • If one of your children is physically ill or disabled, inevitably there is going to be unequal treatment.  Make it clear to your other kids that you are not choosing the disabled child over them, but that their sibling’s condition simply requires more attention.  Reassure your other kids that it’s not personal – it’s just situational.

Feminism: The Best Thing to Ever Happen to Young Males

Feminism initially started off as a good thing. A woman with equal ability should have the same opportunities as a man.  She shouldn’t be given a leg up or down because of her gender – it should all be based on ability.

However, what feminism evolved into was women hooking up, disdaining men, and deciding not to raise their own children.  Women began taking less interest in their homes, husbands, and kids, and what resulted was very destructive to both men and women.

First off, boys started growing up to be “males” instead of “men.”  The best thing to ever happen to young males was feminism because it saved them a lot of money paying for whores.  With all the hooking up and casual sex that goes on these days, most girls act like whores – they just don’t get paid for it.  And what guy wants to lay down his life for some skank who has been with 18 guys?  What for? He doesn’t see her as motherhood and apple pie, he sees her as a skank.  This is why young males stand by and watch when girls are molested and raped – it’s entertainment to them.

In addition, feminism encouraged mothers to neglect their kids.  I think it’s wonderful for a woman to go through medical school and save a lot of lives, but she shouldn’t have kids.  We shouldn’t dump kids by the wayside so we can pursue a career.  No nanny or day care can take the place of a mother’s arms.

What began as a noble cause has emasculated and effeminized our culture to a disgraceful level.  As parents, we need to place more value on teaching kids to be ladies and gentleman again – and fast.

How to Protect Your Child from Online Predators

Meeting people on the Internet is not a very good plan.  You can never know for sure who you’re talking to, and there has been plenty of research to show the dangers of developing a relationship with someone online.

However, reality and facts don’t seem to matter when emotions are involved.  According to the journal Pediatrics, a third of teenagers reported having offline meetings with people they have met on the Internet.  Now, their parents probably didn’t neglect to tell them, “Don’t do that!” A lot of kids are thrill-seekers, or they desperately want to connect with someone, oftentimes someone older.  Not too many predators are even pretending to be kids anymore. Many flat-out admit that they’re adults.

Young girls who are abused (sexually or physically) or neglected (because their parents are either divorced or too busy with full-time careers) are the most likely to present themselves online in a sexual or provocative way.  They do it to fill the space that their parents aren’t filling and to get attention.  That’s the most vulnerable kind of kid.  If someone is looking for a vulnerable teen with whom to start an online sexual discourse, they will most likely target someone who presents themselves provocatively.  This also occurs with minor gay males, who are confused, scared, hiding, or being rejected by their parents.

So, how can you protect your kids from online predators?  You have to be there to parent. It’s as simple as that.  As research shows, installing Internet filtering software doesn’t really make that much of a difference – maltreated kids still find a way to intentionally seek the adult content and provocatively present themselves on social networking sites.

Like any other job, being a parent requires you to show up and put in effort.  For example, in order to be a surgeon, you have to be in the operating room.  As a parent, you need to be there when your child gets out of school to reduce the association between your adolescent’s risk factors and online behavior.  Paying attention to your kids is the best medicine and best method of control.  Kids who are loved and well taken care of, by and large, have more self-control and get into less trouble – online and elsewhere.

13 Things to Discuss Before You Marry

We all get nervous before big moments in our lives.  When you start school, graduate, or arrive for the first day of a new job, your stomach is sure to be doing flips.  So when you get married, it’s only natural and normal to feel some anticipatory anxiety.  However, there’s a huge difference between a few pre-wedding jitters and getting cold feet.

Getting cold feet is a message from the inside that you may be making a mistake.  Unfortunately, a lot of folks ignore this feeling because they think:

1. “It’s too late. We’ve dated for so long, and I have too much invested.”

2. “I don’t want to be alone.”

3. “It’s too embarrassing and/or expensive to call off the wedding.”

4. “He/she is really nice, and I don’t want to hurt his/her feelings.”

5. “He/she will change after we get married.”

How can you avoid getting cold feet at the altar?  Go through at least six months of premarital counseling.  Oftentimes people ignore doubts, red flags, and gut feelings because they don’t discuss their issues and concerns BEFORE they get married.  By seeing an expert who specializes in premarital counseling, you’ll go over things like:

1. Money. How do we spend it?  What about savings? What about budgets? Who takes care of the money?  When it comes to money, there are two types of people to varying extremes: those who like to spend and those who like to save.  It’s extremely important to discuss finances and prenups (which I think are absolutely necessary in second marriages involving children so that the kids are protected).

2. How alike are you?  People say “opposites attract,” but that only works for magnets, not for people.  The more you have in common with your partner, the better. You need to discuss your backgrounds, religious beliefs, values, and dreams for the future.  What are your views on loyalty, honesty, and dealing with anger?  What behaviors are off-limits?  You should talk about all these things and never assume they will change after you are married.  If you want something about them to change and it doesn’t, don’t get married!

3. Communication skills.  Many people come from families where they really don’t communicate.  They don’t sit down calmly and honestly speak the truth.   You and your partner need to be able to say to each other, “These are my expectations, hopes, dreams, desires, etc.,” and then ask if they are reasonable.  If your partner says, “I would like to have more freedom, come and go as I please, and not have to call when I’m going to be late for dinner,” then you know it’s a good idea to call it quits.
It’s vital to assess how someone communicates before you get married.  Some people use communication as a destructive tool to get what they want, and others use it to hurt their partner or justify themselves when they’ve lied or misbehaved.

4. Life outside of marriage.  Which hobbies and activities are you going to do together and which are you going to do separately with friends?  Am I not going to be able to ride my motorcycle because you don’t ride?  Some people are so insecure, possessive, or demanding that they won’t let the other person have a life.  Many women, in particular, don’t want their men to have guy time (which can be very disastrous).

5. Do you want to have kids?  How many? What does discipline look like? Who’s going to take care of them? What happens if one of you has fertility issues?  Are you open to adoption? Having two people cooperate to raise a child is a huge deal.  Compatibility issues in how you parent can lead to big problems down the road.  This is why it’s important to look at each other’s family dynamics.  People develop a lot of neurotic tendencies from their childhoods that may never change, such as how loving or attentive they are. Observe how your fiancé/fiancée is with other people’s kids.

6. Employment.  Do you travel a lot for your job? Do you plan to relocate often? Do you stay at the office late? Do you have any time for family?  Certain jobs (trucking, medicine, law, military, etc.) require a lot of commitment.  You have to analyze yourself and ask, “Do I want to marry somebody who isn’t going to be home at seven every night?  Do I want my spouse to be just visiting when he/she walks in to the house?”

7. Sex! Find out what each other’s fantasies are.  If their fantasies include small farm animals, you know to hit the eject button.

8. Daily life: Who’s going to be responsible for which household chores and bills?  Are you actually going to raise your kids, or are you going to farm them out (so that when you’re old and decrepit, they farm you out)?

9. How committed are you to the relationship? With looks, health, abilities, kids, finances, and family, there are many changes, phases, and challenges in life.  Are you committed in the relationship, or are you just a fair weather spouse?  I would say that about 70 percent of divorces result because people are not committed to a relationship – when it’s not going good, they find another place to go.

10. Personal space.  Everybody needs time to be alone with their hobbies and thoughts.  A lot of women have trouble giving their husbands personal space.  Guys are generally relieved when their wives want to go spend the day with their girlfriends: “That’s wonderful honey, are you sure you don’t want to go for the weekend?” = “Yes! No nagging for six hours!”

11. How are you going to keep the marriage exciting?  What’s your idea of a good time together? Is it hanging out with a lot of people? Watching sports? A candlelight dinner? A walk in the park? Soaking in the tub together?  After they get married, many people say, “My husband/wife doesn’t do anything.”  Well, perhaps that’s because you guys never talked about what would be fun.

12. Family.  My advice: If you really, really, really can’t get along with his or her family, move 3,000 miles away.

13. Know your odds.  Statistics show that couples who live together before they’re married are more likely to get divorced. Couples who have been previously married and divorced are also more likely to get divorced.  Don’t learn the hard way by thinking “Well, we’re different.”

How to Praise Your Kids

I get a lot of calls from people who say, “I can’t do anything because I don’t have self-esteem.”  My usual response: “b.s.”  I don’t wake up every day and tell myself, “Oh my gosh, I love you.”  It’s when I’ve done something that requires guts, sacrifice, or was extremely valuable to me that I’m proud of myself. 

Ever since the 60s, there has been a lot of psychobabble surrounding self-esteem.  People who buy into the “self-esteem movement” figure that the best way to combat low-esteem in kids is to artificially pump them up by saying things like, “You’re wonderful,” and, “That’s the most beautiful piece of art I’ve ever seen.”  However, this “person praise” does nothing to actually give them higher self-esteem.  You’re only blowing smoke and treating them like animals (“You’re such a good boy/girl” is something I say to my dogs). 

Instead, praise should be directed at a child’s effort.  For example, tell them, “Wow. You really worked hard on that!”  This is what is called “process praise” – you’re commenting on their diligence and persistence.  According to a study from the University of Chicago, kids are more likely to prefer challenging tasks and believe that intelligence and personality can improve with effort than youngsters who simply hear praise directed at them personally.  It sends the message that effort and actions are the sources of success and your approval.  If you’re impressed by their effort, kids will put in more effort.  If you just say, “You’re very good at this,” that’s it – they stay at that level. They won’t try harder because they figure that they have already reached the pinnacle. 

By praising the process, actions, and strategies (e.g. “I’m impressed that you did your best and worked hard to stick with it”), kids try to do better and better to impress you and themselves. And what happens when they impress themselves? Their self-esteem goes up. 

The bottom line: You can’t give your kids self-esteem. They have to earn it in their own minds.  Otherwise, you’re just handing them praise balloons and turning them into narcissists.