Tag Archives: Responsibility

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.

Not Everything is Forgivable

I am really ticked off that so many experts, shrinks, religious leaders, and medical doctors say that if you’ve been wronged, regardless of how severely, you must forgive the person who wronged you or you are considered a bad person who will never heal.

I think that is some of the stupidest tripe I have ever heard expressed.

First of all, if unconditional forgiveness itself does not allow for judgment, how is it fair that other people can judge your virtue simply because you won’t find it in your heart to forgive somebody?  (Throw that at the next person who tries to judge you for not forgiving someone). 

Secondly, forgiveness focuses on the perpetrator.  A victim should not be fixated.  It freezes them and prevents them from getting on with their life. 

I want to tell you a story about someone who I have never forgiven.  This person – who shall remain nameless to protect their identity – was someone who I trusted to arrange something for me.  I put my mind, body, soul and savings into this experience, and this person did not take the responsibility to make sure serious information was checked.  And because of that, everything I put in was blown. 

They ruined something that meant a tremendous deal to me.  And, to top everything off, this person still wanted compensation.  I thought it would have been more professional and classy to say, “Since you did everything I asked you to do and I blew it, don’t pay me.”  But instead, they sent me a bill.  After some period of time, I finally told them, “The truth is I don’t, can’t and won’t forgive you.  This was your responsibility and you blew it.  You’ve been compensated, and I’m left here staring at my fingernails.”

As you can see, I expressed no forgiveness, and yet, I think it was still extremely healthy.  I get very frustrated hearing how many of you go through tragic situations or horrible things and then get pressured by people to forgive the person who wronged you.  The truth is, forgiving may be the worst thing you can do. 

Over the three decades I’ve been on the air, it has been horrifying to hear so many people say that they’ve been pressured to forgive a perpetrator.  I’ve listened to countless stories about families who have turned their backs on victims of crimes like sexual abuse because the victims wouldn’t keep their mouths shut, forgive their attacker, let things go, and get on with life.  There have been many women who have called in saying that they stood up to an abusive husband only to be cut off by their children because they wouldn’t forgive their abuser. 

That’s what makes a lot of people say, “I forgive you” – family members telling them that if they don’t forgive, there will be hell to pay.  Out of fear of being banished or messing up their family, many victims keep their hurt on the inside.  However, this becomes very toxic because they don’t and shouldn’t actually forgive their abusers. 

I say don’t give in to this pressure.  Most of the time, everyone in the family simply wants there to be forgiveness because it will make family functions seem normal.  But there are things that are unforgivable.

Another thing that infuriates me is when people say victims are supposed to forgive as a gift to their offender.  In my opinion, this takes responsibility away from the offender, and a lot of times, the forgiveness serves as a benefit to the offender.  I’ve seen sick things like people put on trial for molesting, torturing and killing children, and the parents say, “I forgive him.”  I just want to take those parents and slap them up one side and down the other.  Why?  Because they are betraying their children, that’s why.  They may be making themselves feel better and look really good, but they are betraying their children.  I find that despicable. 

After the Columbine High School shootings, mourners put flags on a hill with the names of the children who were murdered.  And beside them, somebody decided to put up flags for each of the psycho-creeps who shot them because they died too.  I went on the air that day stating that it was a desecration because showing compassion for evil is showing evil to the innocent.  That was one of the most disgusting displays of phony righteousness I have ever seen.  The parents who had lost their kids had to deal with flags for those creeps placed on the same soil as the ones for their murdered children. 

You should not forgive someone until they have earned the potential for forgiveness.  How do they earn it?  They need to follow the four “R’s”:

1) Responsibility — The perpetrator needs to take complete and absolute responsibility for what they’ve done.  They should not blame it on anyone else, their childhood, bullying, or moon spots.  If it was their own decision, they must take full responsibility for having made that decision without justification or excuses.

2) Remorse — The perpetrator must be truly remorseful.  Most people feel bad because they were caught or had to suffer consequences, however, that’s not true remorse.  The only problem with this step is that no other human being can tell for certain if another is truly remorseful.  People can say it, but we don’t really know what’s in their hearts. 

3) Repair — The perpetrator must do whatever it takes to repair the damage.  Some damage cannot be repaired.  I remember reading a story about a driver who plowed into a group of young people riding their bicycles.  One biker, who was a superior human being and an athlete, had his arms, legs, and just about every rib broken, and his brain would never be the same again.  People wanted the driver to be forgiven after creating a lifetime of torture for this young man.  To that, I say, “No!”

4) Repetition – The perpetrator must take whatever steps needed so that this action is never repeated.

A lot of you folks who simply forgive your drinking or philandering spouse over and over again only give them permission to repeat their behavior.  Don’t be weak. Follow the four R’s.

Everybody who has been hurt has to go through a grieving and healing process.  It often takes a long time.  No one can tell you how to do it or how fast to go.  If someone is obsessing over you not forgiving someone, tell them to leave you alone.

And if someone continues to lay judgment on you because you refuse to forgive what you consider an unforgivable act, send them to me.  There are things that are unforgivable.

How to Be an Effective Parent

It is becoming clearer and clearer in today’s society that parents are scared to death of actually being parents, leaders, and authority figures to their kids.  Consequently, the kids run the house, and the “parents” are left feeling frustrated because they can’t get them to do anything except give them lip and attitude.

In my opinion, the current epidemic of incapable parents started with abortions (when children became disposable) and was made worse by day care (when parents didn’t have to be involved).  Throw in shack-ups, people having more and more kids out of wedlock, and the perpetual cycle of divorce and remarriage, and you’ve got the kind of parenting we have today.  This may all sound a little wing nutty to you, but all of these things have indicated to me that there’s a lack of primacy in people’s minds about the needs and well-being of children.  I mean, if you can kill kids in your body or send them off to an institution all day, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of concern involved. 

There are a couple of things you need to be aware of as a parent.  First, it is not about the quality, but the quantity of time you spend with your kids.  Kids don’t just need quality moments to feel secure and know that you care about them.  If you give them quantity, the quality moments will be covered, and when they don’t have quality moments, you’ll still be there.

Consistency is also an integral part of parenting.  There are a lot of folks out there who are lazy and think being consistent requires too much effort.  However, if one parent is consistent and the other isn’t, the kid will figure out how to use the inconsistent parent against the steady one.  Inconsistency impacts a child’s emotional security.  There’s something comforting about knowing your role and place within a set of rules.  When kids know their responsibilities and understand what’s expected of them in a hierarchy of power, they have a better opportunity to grow.  When they know that there will be consequences if they cross the line, they tend to be more secure in life. 

Consequences need to be reasonable and it’s helpful if they are already made known ahead of time.  Try to make them as close to the issue as possible. Let’s say, for example, that your teen lies about where he or she has gone.  The consequence should be they can’t go anywhere unsupervised for a while.  If they misuse or abuse a cell phone, iPad, or computer, then they should lose it for a while until they earn it back. 

The “earning it back” is usually the part parents leave out of punishments.  It’s not just about making your child suffer for a period of time; it’s about giving them time to figure out a way to earn something back.  You can always give your child a hint, such as, “You breached my trust, and now I don’t trust you.  To regain my trust (or whatever it may be), you have got to figure out a way to earn it back.”  That gets them thinking about themselves and their own destiny.  It also teaches them something about interacting with other people and what they owe them.  They have to learn that the world is not just about them.

Any character trait you want your child to have, you have to model.  Be it politeness, consideration or love, they have to see it played out between Mom and Dad, relatives, and friends.  If somebody you know is struggling with an illness or going through a rough patch and your child sees you bringing them some soup or baking them a pie, they are going to grow up with that as a reflex notion. 

Finally, giving your kids whatever they want or letting them do whatever they want is not how you should show them love.  Children are not your friends – they are wild little creatures that have to be socialized and made into decent human beings so they can produce something of value in the world.  Love is shown through actions (i.e. the time we spend with them, and the gentle touches, hugs and kisses we give them).  Let them know when they’ve done something really well or you are impressed with them.  Give them little gifts now and then.  It doesn’t have to be anything major, just look for little, silly things they might like.  For example, I remember when my kid was little and I was bouncing around the country for short bursts (a day or day and a half), I’d buy him a keychain from every city.  I came close to missing the plane a couple times while I was trying to find a keychain, but it was worth it because it made him happy to know I was thinking about him.  He’d put them all on his backpack. 

When you do something for your kid without them expecting you to do it for them, you provide a better model of love.  Just say, “I know you’ve been under the weather,” or “I see you’ve been working really hard at school.”  “How about I make your favorite dinner?,” or “How about we sit and watch your favorite movie (with some unbuttered popcorn)?” 

Being an effective parent is in your power.  Take responsibility, and you’ll take away the attitude.

Becoming a Mom – The New Reality

One of the scariest things in the universe is having to transition to being a mom.  At first, it’s a very romantic and cute idea.  You picture the little baby always smiling, and you anticipate getting to hug him or her whenever you want.  You think about how sweet it is that you and your spouse made this baby together as a composite of all your love for each other.  It’s going to be so much fun.  You can’t wait!

But then, the baby is born and reality sets in.

When my son was born, I called up every friend I knew who had ever had a baby and pleaded, “How do you get him to stop crying?! What’s the story?”   Some of them said, “Oh, just put him in the car seat and go driving,” but that didn’t help me much because even though the kid could sleep, I wouldn’t be getting any rest.  I gave it a try, but he only screamed more.   

We had a screamer.  It was a constant thing, and we could never figure out what he was screaming about.  “Does something hurt?”  “Are you wet?”  “Are you hungry?”  “Are you constipated?”  “What is the problem?!”  We just wanted to hold up pictures and hope he’d point at whatever was wrong.  However, babies don’t point or tell you, they just scream.  We even got one of those itty bitty baby swings, figuring that the rocking motion was going to work.   But it didn’t fix anything.  Finally, while I was looking through the mail, I came across an advertisement for a stuffed bear that was supposed to help kids sleep.  It contained a mechanism inside of it, which emulated the heartbeat sound that the baby hears when he or she is floating around in the uterus’s amniotic fluid.  When my husband came home from work that day, I said, “Lew, go out and find this bear, and don’t come home until you have it.” 

Yes, I was that crazed, and he knew I meant it.

While he was gone, I was lying on the bed trying to console the crying baby.  I put him on my stomach, tried petting him, and hummed/sang to him.  Every now and then he’d quiet down, but then he’d start screaming again.  Just when I was about to cry myself, Lew walked in the door holding the heart bear.  He stuck a nine-volt battery in its tush and turned it on. 

My son’s eyes got huge, and within a split second, he was out.  Boom.  Asleep.
 
Mr. Bear was like a miracle drug.  Although my kid is now 26 and doesn’t sleep with him anymore, I have kept Mr. Bear (even though he doesn’t work anymore) because he sure saved everybody’s life.

I use this story about my son to illustrate one of the more frustrating and scary moments about becoming a new mom: when you have no idea what the baby wants.  It’s an awful feeling when you’re standing there willing to do anything for your baby, but you don’t know what it is you’re supposed to do.  You figure it’s the standard things – they need warmth, food, contact, or cleaning – but none of those ends up being the problem.  In my case, it was the heart bear that did the trick.  For some reason, when I lay my son on my own chest and he could hear my heart pounding, it wasn’t nearly as impressive to him as his memory of the womb.     

New mothers have a lot of reasonable fears.  Here are just a few of them:

Everybody who says they want a baby pictures a sweet, happy child who is easy to get along with, studies, does well, has friends, and possesses many talents.  However, pregnancy is this big unknown.  You have no idea what kind of little person is going to come out until he or she grows up enough to start expressing him or herself.   Some kids are cuddly, and some cry a lot.  Some seem to bond readily, and others don’t.  Some are born unhealthy, and others are born healthy.  In the meantime, you have a whole lot of uncertainty going on.  It can be exciting, but it can also be uncomfortable.   There are a lot of challenges that you’re not going to know about until the baby is born.
 
Another worry is that you’ll turn into your mother.   Whatever your opinion of your mother’s mothering, it’s your first and strongest model of mothering.   A lot of you say, “I am not going to be like my mother,” but then you start hearing yourself sounding just like her.  That’s because it was your first experience, and it’s what you are familiar with.   Of course you don’t want to blindly stumble along in the footprints of familiarity, but you also don’t want to reflexively react against your mother’s parenting style.  Think about the good stuff you learned from your mom, consider the things you don’t think were the best, and formulate your own method of mothering.   You don’t just want to say, “Well, my mother did ‘x’ so I’m going to do the exact opposite,” because the opposite may not always be a good alternative.   Remember the Dr. Spock era where kids were encouraged to have total freedom to express themselves?  Yeah, that bombed.

You also may worry that your marriage will never be the same again.  Well, that’s true.  Although a baby doesn’t weigh much or speak, the minute you have them there, they rule.  However, the key to holding on to your marriage is to work together as a team.  The experience of having a baby can’t be about one of you being superior, more knowledgeable, or more in charge than the other.  The two of you need to be a team. 

For example, when I was trying to house-train my most recent baby (my Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy, Sweet Pea), my husband and I had a system.  I’d pick her up and carry her to the door, my husband would open the door, the doggie would relieve herself outside, and then my husband would help open the door to bring her back inside the house.  We also had a system years ago when my son was breastfeeding.  At a certain time, my husband would get up and bring me the baby.  I’d breastfeed, and then one of us would change the baby’s diaper.  After that, the other one would put the baby back to bed. 

That is what you have to maintain to keep your relationship strong:  a team effort.  On a side note, women’s brains are wired very differently for hearing baby sounds than men’s brains.  The reason is obvious: Since babies come from our bodies and suckle at our breasts, it’s a part of our biology for us to hear those little high pitched noises.  So, don’t think your husband is just being a drag and a bum if he doesn’t immediately get up when the baby calls – his brain is simply not wired to hear what you hear.

Another worry is that you’re going to be a bad parent.  I hear that far too often.  I know it’s easy to think about that in this extreme age of parenting where people are hovering over their kids and trying to make them be totally happy and successful without having to put in any effort, but you shouldn’t worry.  Being a good parent is really just about being open and willing to listen, putting your needs aside, and parenting even when it’s inconvenient, uncomfortable, or unpleasant.   It takes a lot and there may not be one specific way to do it because you and your spouse’s personalities have to coordinate, but you can do it. 

One of the things new mothers often say early on in the first year is, “I don’t think I like this parenting thing. What have I gotten myself into?!”   However, you have to remember that kids are always changing, and the experience of motherhood changes along with them.  Things won’t always be so difficult and overwhelming, and you are bound to have favorite and less favorite phases.  Just look at their sweet little faces while they’re sleeping, and you’ll remember why you got yourself into this.

A final worry is that you’ll be trapped.  It’s not as carefree of a life when you have a baby.  Unless you’ve got grandma living near you so you can go out to dinner and a movie, everything changes.  My husband and I would have to bring the car seat into restaurants with us.  As soon as our son started fussing, one of us would go outside and rock him while the other ate, and then we switched.  We very rarely got to eat together in a restaurant, but we still tried to do it about once a week so we wouldn’t go completely stir-crazy. 

There is a lot of negative thinking and anxiety when you become a new mom, and there are many adjustments you have to make.  Sometimes you think you’re going to mess up and do something terribly wrong, or you have nightmares about something horrible happening to your child.  You may even feel trapped and want to get out of the situation.  However, these are all normal anxieties.  The most important thing you can do is talk about them out loud.   That’s where girlfriends, mothers, or good mother-in-laws come in.  I remember one time when I was getting batty, I called up a girlfriend who was already on her second baby.  I told her, “Oh my gosh, I’m having terrible thoughts,” and she said, “Oh yeah, you’re going to think about setting them on the curb from time to time.  But don’t worry, that’s normal.”   Simply having the support of another mom telling you that what you’re feeling is normal is a huge help.

If you are having a hard time as a new mom, don’t hate or get down on yourself.  When you’re feeling stressed out, it’s time to hand the baby to Dad and go take a walk or a bath.  Do something to refresh yourself for a little bit and then come back.   It’s a difficult transition, but you can handle it.

And just think – when they become teenagers and start driving, you’ll look back and say, “Gosh, that was easy.”

How to Help Your Older Child Adjust to the New Baby

Helping an older child adjust to a new baby being brought home can be difficult.  I’ve got some tips for how you can acclimate your child to the new situation based on an article published in Psychology Today

First, inform your older child you are having a baby.   Then, you have to tell them why because in a kid’s mind, the first thought is, “What?!  I’m not enough?  You don’t like me and are replacing me?”  For example, you could say, “We decided to have another baby so you could have a brother or sister, and you will never be lonely,” or you could tell them, “When you come home from kindergarten, you will have a little playmate.”   Even if their sibling won’t be able to do much for a while, it’s still something you can have them look forward to.
 
Second, tell your child some kind of success story.  Say, “Mommy is such good friends with her brother, your Uncle George, and it’s nice to have a brother and a sister.  We want you to have that kind of fun relationship.”  So, you are setting something up for them that already exists that they can appreciate.

Next, reassure your child that love does not get subdivided.  If you have a pizza and half the pizza goes to someone else, the child knows he or she is only getting half the pizza.  That’s a child’s mind.  You have to tell the child, “It’s not like pizza or a cookie.  Love grows.  There’s always more, more, more.  There’s love for Mommy, there’s love for Daddy, there’s love for you, there’s love for aunts, uncles, grandmas, cousins, and the new baby.  Mommy and Daddy have so much love you’re not going to miss out on one shred of love.”

Also, it’s really important that you show your child his or her baby pictures.  Show them when they were first born, when you had to feed them, when you had to bathe them, etc.  Say, “See you couldn’t do this yourself when you were a baby.  Now, you’re a big kid and can do it all.  But at the time, Mommy and Daddy had to do it for you.”  This will help the older child understand he or she received the same kind of attention the new baby is going to get.  Reassure your child that over time the baby’s going to grow up just like them.  He or she is going to be able to do things by him/herself and won’t take up as much time.  You have to remind yourself of that too.  I had to remind myself of this too because I thought the rest of my life was going to be spent with a screaming kid.  But kids go through phases, and this one will pass.

Another thing you can do is educate your child about babies.  If you know a family with a new baby, bring your kid over there.  You can show your child how tiny, fragile and dependent babies are.  Show your child that everybody will need to be gentle.  Point out how babies can get really annoying and cry, but they sleep a lot.  Admit, “When the baby’s first here, he or she is not going to be able to play your favorite games.  You have to wait until he or she is older.”  But then, talk about the things they can do with the baby – take it for walks, sing to it, read to it, hold it, etc. 

One of the things to always point out is that your child will have a special role as a brother or sister.  Talk about how they will be able to teach their brother or sister the alphabet, counting, writing, and riding tricycles.  Explain how the baby’s going to look up to them as a brother or sister because they already know so many amazing things. 

It’s also really important to talk about their emotions.   The truth is sometimes they are going to feel left out, angry, and annoyed because they want the attention, and the baby is either getting it or just being noisy.  These are all normal feelings.  You have to acknowledge that they’re normal.  You can say, “Sweetie, when you feel like you need a hug, just come over.  When I’m feeding the baby, you can cuddle with me, and I can read you a book while the baby’s drinking the bottle or drinking from Momma.  But sometimes sweetie, you will have to wait because it takes time to put the bottle together (or whatever it is you’re doing) and babies can’t wait.  Big boys and girls can wait a little bit, but babies can’t.  So while the baby is a baby, there are going to be times where you are probably going to be a little annoyed.   But you’re a big kid and can do some things for yourself; the baby can’t do anything.”   When you lay out what all the emotions are probably going to be, then kids don’t feel ambivalence, guilt, anger, annoyance, and rage.  They are also less likely to act out violently.

Lastly, make your older child feel involved.  Tell them when the baby comes, it would be nice if they would pick out its clothes or bib.  That way, they feel a sense of some responsibility.  When you ask kids their opinion and give them some responsibility and power, it’s amazing how they get less petty because they still feel important.