Tag Archives: Family

FOR WOMEN: Let’s Talk About Men, Mothers and Monogamy

000c0065-0000-0000-0000-000000000000_bfb9a6b8-b325-4a29-9532-ce499f73c0f6_20121112170419_111212_mothers_600x300Some people wonder why I am obsessed with human relationships, why I ravenously consume all the latest research on love, sex, and marriage. Some wonder if my motivation is to change men or help people have better sex lives. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, while I think adults are lovely people who certainly deserve to exchange care and commitment with each other, my motivation runs much deeper. I care about children. Period.

I believe the innocent lives that are spawned by our mating patterns deserve to be invested in by the two people responsible for their birth. But when a baby makes a debut in a co-habitation relationship, a dating relationship or, god forbid, a hook up, the statistics aren’t good.

We live in an era where sex is cheap, commitment is scarce and the number of single mothers grows every day. Fueled by celebrities with uber budgets who nanny-up and trick young women into thinking single motherhood is a glamorous cake-walk and a baby the latest accessory, too many young women face a different reality. Single mothers have worst mental and physical health than married mothers and their kids have worse outcomes in terms of grades, at risk behavior and earlier onset of sexual behavior. Even children that pop up in commitment-lite marriage (co-habitation) face the reality that most will be left with only one parent before they reach the age of twelve. Children who are produced by unhappily married couples have better chances than those raised by single parents.

And I laugh at how adults justify their taste for sex over gene supervision with the idea that somehow this is natural, that our hunter/gatherer ancestors were orgy loving, seed spreading, hook-up artists and single parents were the norm. In fact, if that were the case, our species would never have survived! In our ancestral past, there was plenty of monogamy. It may not have always been til-death-do-us-part monogamy, but it was certainly long enough to get children safely up and out of the nest. We are the species that requires the longest period of in arms care and longest term of brain development. Most other species are up and running with the pack within hours. But humans don’t join the village until the age of five and not permanently for another decade and a half.

Many women today instinctively know this and are desperately trying to find a guy to commit in the shrinking fertility window between education, a career jump-start and the demise of their eggs. Our current American birthrate is now below replacement. This means big economic consequences for the country. Too many dependant adults at the top and too few tax paying wage earners are a prescription for social ills. One in five women are losing the freedom to mother because they can’t get a guy to commit on time or because they believe the marketing myths of fertility clinics that tell women they can have a baby until age fifty. The height of female fertility hasn’t changed since our hunter/gatherer ancestor women so carefully selected a mate — it is the age of twenty.

The answer of course is two-fold: More cultural support for single parents and the practice of slow-love (delaying the onset of the sexual relationship) in order to create emotional intimacy that evolved as the glue for relationships. Love can conquer all. But only if love is allowed to grow.

FOR PARENTS: Should We Get Back Together With The Big Guy?

morgan-freeman-god-in-bru-007I usually disagree with much that lawyer/commentator Ben Stein says but his comments on CBS’s Sunday morning about God were on point. (I’ve copied his editorial below, at least the version that has been flying around the internet.) He’s right. The question of which God and which back story is less important than the need to reinstate the trappings of all faiths — community, meditation, prayer and moral teaching.
Every religion in the world functions as a giant anxiety reducer using tools that have been proven through psychological research to improve our mood and even our health. Regular meditation — silence and a quieting if the mind — has been shown in only eight weeks to reduce blood pressure, increase feelings of well being and decrease stress. Every religion has some form of chanting, whether it be Catholics saying the rosary, Jews reciting a Shemah, or Buddhists chanting. The sound waves from a prolonged chant can calm the central nervous system and improve our immune systems. That’s why Buddhists use it to prepare for meditation.

But the assembly in communal groups is perhaps the best sustenance for human beings. We are thinking, feeling, social creatures. Our most torturous form of punishment in our prisons is solitary confinement. We are meant to meet, lock eyes, smell pheromones, and hug each other — something that a Facebook poke can never copy. Today, the groups we meet with face-to-face, in workplaces, schools, restaurants and night clubs, come with rules to wear masks that create artificial hierarchy and deny our humanity. What we are lacking is a place to really be seen by each other.

In our public schools today (my kids are there) the God is the planet. Moral teaching has been thrown out like the baby with the bath water, left as a responsibility of time strapped dual working parents. Less than 25% of elementary school children had one stay-at-home parent. Fourteen million single mothers are raising one-in-four American children and one third of those kids of divorce haven’t seen their father in a year. And most of those parents have abandoned the moral compass handed to them through their parents religion.

I will disagree with Ben Stein on two points. It’s a little unfair to Adam Lanza’s mother to imply that a little God and a little spanking would have saved lives. And he’s wrong about corporal punishment. Study after study has reinforced the knowledge that hitting kids teaches them mostly how to hit. The Sandy Hook tragedy has complicated underpinnings that involve mental health care, gun regulation, divorce, parenting, and yes, a lack of community intervention.

But how can we intervene if we really don’t know each other because we are not meeting together as real human beings? We need the nutrition that comes from faith-based groups, even if we disagree about the religious back stories.

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS  Sunday  Morning  Commentary.

My confession:

I don’t like getting pushed around for being a  Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for  being Christians.  I think people who believe in God are  sick and tired of getting pushed around, period.  I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly  atheist country.  I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat…Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship God  as we understand Him?  I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too.  But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little  different:  This is not intended to be a joke; it’s not  funny, it’s intended to get you thinking.

In  light of recent events… terrorists attack, school shootings,  etc..  I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she  was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she  didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said OK.  Then  someone said you better not read the Bible in school…   The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and  love your neighbor as yourself.  And we said  OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our  children when they misbehave, because their little personalities  would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr.  Spock’s son committed suicide).  We said an expert should  know what he’s talking about..  And we said okay..

Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and  themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard  enough, we can figure it out.  I think it has a great deal to do with ‘WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.’

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to  hell.  Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says.  Funny how you can send  ‘jokes’ through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think  twice about sharing.  Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public  discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.  God belongs in the schools, those don’t like it, should go to a different school look how the schools and churches have changed, since he left.  We want god back, in everything they pushed him out of.  The government needs god back.  AMERICA NEEDS HIM BACK.

Are you laughing yet?

Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list  because you’re not sure what they believe, or what they will  think of you for sending it. Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks  of us. Pass it on if you think it has merit.

If not, then just discard it… no one will know you did.  But, if you discard this thought process, don’t sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

My Best Regards,

Honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein

 

 

FOR PARENTS: How to Talk to Your Kids About Sandy Hook

parent-talking-to-childOn the morning of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, I was sitting in my own child’s elementary school auditorium welling up with tears of joy at the holiday program. I don’t think we can get closer to God than when we look into the eyes of a newborn baby or hear a four-year-old belt out “Joy to the World.” As the last red sweater stumbled down the stage steps, I automatically grabbed my iPhone to tune back in to the world.

What I read in that device stopped my body short. A slew of emails from media outlets with subject lines that read elementary school shooting – kids dead. I’d like to say that I wept immediately, that my heart raced, that I shook violently, that I had trouble breathing. The emails bespoke a child’s world of chaos, horror and tragedy. And kids are my sweet spot. When I write and speak on television or in public about relationships, my advice always circles back to what is best for kids. I beg adults to put their own “needs” behind them and be accountable to their responsibilities to love and protect the children they created.

But the traumatic news of the Sandy Hook shooting gently washed over me like a tiny wave lapping the sand. Trauma is like that. Tidal waves can show up later. But instead of answering to the calls of all those journalists, I found myself walking zombie-like to the third grade classroom and asking the teacher if I might stay and help with an art project and a holiday party. Obviously, I needed to be near my child while my compassion meter registered the sober reality of the horrors of those Connecticut parents. After dismissal, rather than letting my high-schooler take her usually city bus, I drove as if on autopilot, to pick her up.

This morning it hit. That tidal wave. As I type this, I am sitting in a metaphoric swimming pool filled with my own tears. Trauma is working its curious way through my body. And that’s what I would like everyone to understand. Whether you are in Sandy Hook, Connecticut or in your living room watching the horrific scenes unfold on television, you and your children may experience trauma.

 Individuals experience trauma in different ways. Some people are spurred into action, feeling that “doing something” will ease their pain. They organize fundraising drives or prayer groups. Others get busy in a different way. Seeming to be oblivious, they distract themselves with unrelated tasks. But this defense usually lasts until the trauma works it’s way out through irritability and petty fights with loved ones. Still others, the talker and extroverts among us, take to the phones and Twitter and Facebook and in a flurry or words asking “why?” and “how can we prevent?” they attempt to ease the pain from their bodies. Others fall silent. Numbness takes over. If they are lucky artists, the trauma oozes out through their hands into provocative art. Some people are fine until nightfall, when their dreams disturb the gentle silence. The point is we all deal with trauma in different ways.

And children are especially sensitive. They tend to be less verbal so the signs of post-traumatic stress disorder almost always show up in their bodies — regressions, bed wetting, whining, tantrums, toy breaking, nightmares. And in today’s times, with such pervasive media, it will be nearly impossible to keep the trauma of Sandy Hook away from any school aged child. As a parent, here are a few ways that you can help your child deal with the news:

1. Let your Child Lead the Conversation: Don’t bombard kids with details that can barely comprehend. Answer questions honestly and calmly. Show compassion on your face and in your voice. Give no more details than what is asked.

2. Contain yourself – Small children look to parents to cue them on how they should feel. While you don’t want kids to think you are unfeeling, collapsing in crying jags and telephone rants in front of kids can rattle their core. To them, you are their strong protector. If you fall apart, so will they.

3. Do not punish developmental regressions. Bed wetting may happen. Tantrums can occur again. A child may want to sleep in your bed. This is not the time for lectures and stern admonitions. This is the time to wrap a child in your arms and let them know everything will be okay.

4. Don’t Make them Talk About it – Most children in shock have a hard time connecting feelings with words. Instead create draw, sing, or play music.

5. Model Healthy ways of dealing with trauma – Light a candle for the victims and their families. If you practice a faith, have your children join you in prayer. Find a positive thing to do together as a family in your own community. (My family is packing holiday food baskets next week.) Find a way to reach out into your own community with love and care.

Childhood psychological trauma is tricky. Some kids can have wounds that show up decades later in the forms of unexplained fears and anxieties. Others, because of the miracle of neuroplasticity, have brains that heal well, sometimes much better than adults who have been exposed to trauma. The most important thing in the days, weeks, and months to come, is that you remain in tune with your children. Look into their eyes, listen to the many meanings of their words, give them creative outlets to express. And most of all, don’t criticize them. They are finding their own perfect way to ease trauma out of their tiny body. Be a kind, solid, presence while they do that.

FOR PARENTS: The Insanity of Traditional Families

Traditional1-580x490Families are changing. And that’s not all bad news. I have a theory that rising divorce rates, declining marriage rates, and the growing acceptance of variations of the family model (single parents, grand-parent guardians, gay parents, etc) are really quite normal. At least normal in the sense that this shift away from a traditional nuclear family, with rigid gender roles that place undue burden on women, is the beginning of a march back to better outcomes for more children.

If you are still captivated by the belief that a “traditional” nuclear family, that is, one with one father who is male, one mother who is female, and children who are biologically related to those two, is the very best thing for humans to be raised in, you are not alone. I was convinced of that myself. And I still believe if a single parent does not have an elaborate support system of family and friends and a good economic base, children would be much better off living with two parents who hold a biological interest in their welfare.

Continue reading FOR PARENTS: The Insanity of Traditional Families

The Insanity of “Traditional” Families

Families are changing. And that’s not all bad news. I have a theory that rising divorce rates, declining marriage rates, and the growing acceptance of variations of the family model (single parents, grand-parent guardians, gay parents, etc) are really quite normal. At least normal in the sense that this shift away from a traditional nuclear family, with rigid gender roles that place undue burden on women, is the beginning of a march back to better outcomes for more children.

If you are still captivated by the belief that a “traditional” nuclear family, that is, one with one father who is male, one mother who is female, and children who are biologically related to those two, is the very best thing for humans to be raised in, you are not alone. I was convinced of that myself. And I still believe if a single parent does not have an elaborate support system of family and friends and a good economic base, children would be much better off living with two parents who hold a biological interest in their welfare.

But there’s something even better for kids and it has little to do with a family model that looks like an episode of Leave-It-To-Beaver. The idea that a lone woman should be left alone in a tract house in the suburb for fifty hours a week with a screaming bunch of small, hungry children is insanity. No wonder the news is chock full of stories of mothers abusing or murdering their children, or why postpartum depression is the darling diagnosis of our generation.

Continue reading The Insanity of “Traditional” Families