Children and Divorce: And Now For Some Really Depressing News

I awoke early Tuesday morning with my throat so swollen and sore I couldn’t swallow, mucous streaming from nearly every orifice above my shoulders. I could not utter a sound that was even recognizable as speech.  My daughter felt much the same.  I knew I needed to call in a sub.  Two days later, most of it spent sleeping and reading (I certainly had no energy for anything else and the reading was pushing my limits), I think I might be well enough to return to work tomorrow.  The book I managed to devour between naps was, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, by Wallerstein, Lewis, & Blakeslee.  I’m warning you.  It isn’t a cheery read.  In fact, I had tears streaming down my cheeks at points.

wallersteinbookimage I stumbled across this little find at my local book exchange.  I’m always up for reading some research (yeah, I’m kind of nerdy like that), especially about families of divorce, stepfamilies and how all of this impacts children. (Maybe because it is just a little close to home for me?)  This one billed itself as a landmark study because it was the only one that tracked children of divorce from the time their parents split up until they reached full adulthood. It was a 25-year-study. Since I work with kids and their parents many of them divorced and re-married, and since I myself am the child of divorce as are my own children, I thought this might be an interesting read.  It was indeed interesting, but it was not cheery. Wallerstein’s findings are sobering, relevant, deeply saddening, and yet more hopeful than one would expect.

I would recommend that anyone considering divorce, in the process of divorce, or now in the post-divorce family read this book.  I wish I’d read it 4 years ago.  It would have helped me support my children more effectively through the divorce process. Of course, to be honest, I was so stressed and fragmented (as many who undergo divorce are) that I’m not sure I’d have read it.  Which just underscores a significant aspect of this research.  The book also details children’s perspectives of parenting plans, remarriage, step-parents and life after divorce.

The most salient point of Wallerstein’s study, for me, is that no matter when the divorce occurs, no matter what the reason for the divorce, and regardless how amicable or not the divorce is, risk factors for children significantly increase while protective factors that were in place when the marriage was intact are diminished. I don’t think this is new news for any of us, but Wallerstein was able to get behind the eyes of the children in this study and reveal how that reality impacts and shapes children of divorce. She (Wallerstein) does not draw from this conclusion that divorce should never happen.  The author does conclude that we’ve just not been aware of the impact divorce has on children from the child’s perspective until now.  Maybe now, we can begin thinking more about divorce from the perspective of not just what works for the parents, but what works for the children throughout all their developmental levels. Wallerstein goes on to mention that the debilitating impact of divorce is often not evident until children reach adulthood and begin to enter into relationships and marriages of their own.  In other words, divorce has lasting effects on children, no matter how good things appear on the outside. (Personally, I suspect most of us parents know this. We just feel uncertain as to how to deal with this reality.)  These are just a few of the highlights I’ve gleaned and tried to summarize, and which were significant to me as I devoured her over 330 page book.  Oh, and the book does include specifics about the research design and the statistical results of study for those who are interested.

As for me, it was impossible for me to read this book casually without some serious personal introspection.  I am, after all, the mother of four children, all of whom experienced divorce, two of them when they were in elementary school and two of them when they were in preschool.  This book forced me to look at myself and my parenting since the divorce.  I’m asking myself questions because, if I’m to be the best support for my children that I can (and diminished parenting is cited by Wallerstein as one of the biggest perils of divorce), then I must take inventory. 

j0410095 Some of the questions I’m grappling with are:

  • Given that children often tend to either act out or stuff their feelings behind an ultra compliant approach, how are my children really doing?
  • Am I giving my children opportunities to express their fears and their anger (and yes they have both) about the divorce?
  • Am I taking the necessary time to parent them or am I so preoccupied with survival and keeping the family afloat that I am unintentionally neglecting their very real emotional needs.
  • Are any of my children taking on the parenting role?  What am I doing to reinforce this if it is happening?
  • How do I balance the stresses and demands of my adult world, the needs I have for adult love and companionship, with my children’s needs for protection, comfort, care and emotional connection with me…and…when do I get any rest?  (I say that last a little bit tongue in cheek, but fatigue is a big stressor and leads to illness as I’ve learned of late.)

And there are more questions lurking within. 

I’m really not depressed and I’m not beating myself up as a parent after reading this study, but, like the veil being lifted, I certainly see some areas I need to work on for my children’s sake.  I also see some areas that I’ve done well, which is reassuring. It has certainly given me a great deal to consider regarding my parenting, dating as a single parent and, if it ever arises, the idea of remarriage. We grow a little at a time all throughout our lives.  This book just revealed some areas that I think I need to check up on.

As I re-read this post, I realize I’ve only shared the down side aspects of the research.  There is much cause for hope and encouragement as the result of Wallerstein’s work.  I don’t want to be a spoiler, so you’ll just have to read it for yourself. 

The Next Installment of Sunshine

sunshineblogaward1 This next installment of The Wild Mind’s picks for the Sunshine Award, will, like the last be completely astounded that they received an award from me.  They will likely not even know I’ve been reading them and, well, an award from me to them really isn’t going to change their blogging world all that much.  However, since the whole point of this venture is for me to name others that have shone a little light in my world, I’m picking them whether they like it or not. Hopefully, they like it instead of not.

The first up tonight is Amy Whitley, over at The Never True Tales.  Incredibly fun to read her anecdotes of life with young children is really enjoyable to me.  Plus, I really like her writing style and her blog layout and, yeah, the title doesn’t hurt her blog any either.  I have The Never True Tales on my iPhone and I read her whenever I can.  Good times.  Go see for yourself!

My next pick for the evening is another fun mommy blogger who’s been on my blog roll for quite some time. In fact, she was one that I crossed paths with early on in my blogging efforts.  She’s Mir at Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda.  She’s funny, creative, and she’s traveled the divorce route like I have.  She’s now remarried and writing about her adventures in her own heartwarming way.  She makes me laugh and inspires me to keep going though I really can’t hold a candle to her (and many of these other bloggers I esteem) in the writing department.  Well…at least not yet.  Just wait.  I will grow up into my writing self someday.

New to my blog roll is a single gal who certainly has it going on.  Jolene at To Be Determined shares her single journey in a candid, honest, forthright manner.  It is like reading her personal journal and that’s pretty fun.  I find that her experiences in the dating world are similar to my own though we have some very different demographics between us.  I hope you’ll consider paying her a visit or two or three.

laugh My last notable of the evening is Mrs.. Squirrel over at Hollow Squirrel.  She is really one of the very first mom bloggers I stumbled upon in my web wanderings.  She makes me laugh till I hurl every time I read her.  She isn’t afraid to call it like it is.  I love her blog.  I hope you will too.

That’s seven of the ten Sunshine Awards announced.  Stay tuned for the final three sometime later this week.

P.S.  Really, I’m not intentionally dragging this out, but it’s killing me to do this and get an entire household ready for a week, not that I mind.  I actually love having the privilege, but I have to budget my time.  I’ve got to do some lesson planning somewhere in here too.  Oh and dinner, yeah.  Somehow I’ve also got to figure out what I can quickly destroy for dinner tonight.

Blog Makeover or Multiple Blog Personalities?

I was really getting tired of the Motion theme from WordPress.  It was kind of interesting to me at first, but it was beginning to wear on me.  Further, I cannot find any of the ready-made themes that I like anymore.  They all seem too limiting to me or they don’t quite seem to have all the little gadgets or goodies I want.  This all leads me to conclude that I’m probably outgrowing the WordPress hosted themes and am going to have to move my blog over to my own domain.  Yes, foreseeing this possible future, I’ve already purchased a domain name.  This is not a project that I can even consider tackling right now.  This theme, Vigilance, will simply have to do for now.  It is, at least, not as annoying as Motion was becoming. 

I’m providing this merely as an explanation for the complete blog theme schizophrenia you have observed here of late. 

Carry on.

Some Blogging Positive Reinforcement

gottmanbook1 John Gottman, in his wonderful book, “Why Marriages Succeed or Fail…And How You Can Make Yours Last” (1994) discusses the criteria for a stable marriage:

“…it all comes down to a simple mathematical formula:…you must have at least five times as many positive as negative moments together if your marriage is to be stable.” 

So, you might ask, what’s a single mom like me doing reading a research-based marriage book?

Yeah, well, about that.

It has nothing to do with wanting to be married or in a relationship, though I do love Gottman’s work and the way he writes about it. I actually stumbled across Gottman’s work through my own research and study on student behavioral success and creating positive learning environments for all children.  Creating a positive learning environment is not unlike marriage in some ways. If a relationship is to be perceived as positive or stable, there must be 5 times as many positive interactions as negative ones. This applies to relationships between parents and children or colleagues.

So, you might ask, what’s that got to do with blogging?  

Well, yeah, about that.

To be honest, blogging hasn’t always been a positive experience for me.  If you are a blogger you know that it feels great when people comment on your posts, when people notice, etc.  This creates a community of sorts where people connect, comment, share and exchange pieces of their lives.  There is a positive exchange and even if you don’t always get positive comments, hopefully, when things are going well (your blog is getting traffic and the traffic is commenting) you, as the blogger experience at least 5 to 1 positives for every negative.

That’s the positive part of blogging.

If, however, you are not self-employed, or have a flexible schedule like a stay-at-home parent or an entrepreneur, or a job that allows you to blog as part of your daily tasks, or, if like me, you just simply don’t know what the he** (can I say that here?) you are doing, then you might begin to experience some negativity associated with blogging.

If you wish to blog daily, but can’t, tally one negative for the frustration of wanting to write but not having time to do it well.j0433180

If you can’t write daily, tally another negative for the disappointment in seeing your blog stats decline.  Blogging really is an “if you write it, they will come” endeavor. 

If you can’t write daily and your blog stats dwindle, it means you are not getting traffic to your site and you are less likely to get comments or feedback on your blog.  Tally another negative or two depending on how much this bothers you.

If you already don’t have enough time to write daily, you likely don’t have the daily time (except maybe on weekends or vacations) to do the required research and study to find out how to get your blog SEO or to drive traffic to your blog, develop your personal brand or simply get over to other blogs you love so you can keep up on what’s happening in their lives, and thereby comment, create and sustain a blog community for yourself.  Tally, at least three negatives for that.

The positive?  Hopefully you are writing for your own purposes and that is enough.  If so, tally more positives for you than negatives.  If not,  then you’ve just ended up in an unstable blog relationship which might not last if you can’t turn that around for your bloggy self.

Maybe intervention is necessary.

For me, this intervention occurred, in part, when Amber over at Making The Moments Count awarded me the Sunshine Award.  I wrote briefly about it in my post titled Awards, Recognition, Reality & Paying It Forward.

That equated to a number of tallies on the positive side of blogging for me. It was not enough to turn around my faltering blogging relationship but it at least kept me from divorcing my blog…at least for now. 

You see, I do write for my own purposes, but somewhere along the line things changed and it became more than just about me.  It became about what I like to refer to as “The Community”.  It is about the friendships.  It is about the challenges we all encounter and share in life.  It is about the camaraderie, the laughter, the tears, the connections. It became about connecting with the real people behind the print.

The biggest negative for me is that I’ve missed keeping in touch with those other really excellent writers out there who share their stories, their perspectives, their knowledge and their lives through their blogs.  I’ve missed what I gain from reading them.

So, you might ask, where am I going with this?

Yeah, well, about that, too.  Like a wayward toddler in the toy store this post had a mind of its own.  I’m working hard to put it back in the stroller, so to speak, but I’m failing, so I’ll get to the point.

sunshineblogaward1 I am going to pay it forward to 10 other bloggers who bring sunshine to my life, but again time constrains me so I’m going to do it in parts.  What makes the bloggers I’m recognizing today so sunny for me is that they, like me, are not professional bloggers or writers.  They struggle with the time demands of a job (outside writing) that takes up most of their day then they come home to the second shift, often on their own without the benefit of a partner. In fact, they don’t even write daily some of them.  That worked in their favor here and that NEVER happens in the blogosphere. 

So, here we go with the first three of ten to get the Sunshine Award from me. 

Drum roll, please.

The first of these blogs I stumbled across months ago.  The author has a graduate degree in Communication, the same area of study I did my undergrad work in.  I’m fascinated by his approach to planned change and how he’s implemented the strategies in his own personal life to not only change his life but deliberately plan and improve his entire existence.  Give it up for jassnight at The Critical Path. Better yet, go visit him!

The second of these blogs, I stumbled across a while back during my internet excursions. I was encouraged by the perspectives of a dad, who blogs and can cook and lives to tell about it.  This must mean his cooking is tolerable; a quality I definitely admire in a man almost as much as I appreciate a man’s ability to communicate thoughtfully.  He says he’s not first date material, but I’m thinking he’s got that wrong, after all, he has a day job and it isn’t blogging.  Give it up for Travis over at A Culminating Life.

The third daddy blogger, gets the sunshine award for keeping it real and sharing the good, the bad, and the irritating post-divorce single parenting realities.  He works in one of the most stressful professions I could imagine in probably one of the most stressful locations in the country.  I applaud him for consistently trying to be the best dad he can be and for sharing his joys and his disappointments so candidly.  If you haven’t done so already, I’d encourage you to visit Big City Dad.  I think you’ll enjoy it.

So there you have it.  Today’s top three.  I hope they got some positive reinforcement from this award and will now share this award with ten other bloggers who bring them sunshine (however, they choose to define it).  It’s going to be very fun reconnecting and visiting all their great links…at Spring Break! 

What’s Up With The Broken Heart?

So, I posted yesterday’s post and a bunch of peeps contacted me today wondering if and why I had a broken heart. 

Just to clarify…no…I am not currently experiencing Broken Heart Syndrome.

Yes, I have experienced it many times in the course of my life, with 2009 being a record-breaking year in the relationship department since being single. Contrary to popular belief, a broken heart doesn’t get easier to deal with as one gets older.  I think it gets worse. I don’t know why this is.

As for last night’s post, I just wrote and what came out is what came out.  Were there any events that triggered that post?  That’s a great question!

In all honesty, I’d have to say yes there were incidents that led up to me writing a post on the broken hearted, but it wasn’t my broken heart that started me down that path. 

Nor was it the sense of any dying dream that I was coming to grips with having to give up. 

In reality, I was just tired.

I was bone weary tired to be exact.  It’s been a long, grueling, exhilarating six weeks.  The adventure of doing new things, the excitement of opportunity, the hope of what can be possible is both energizing and exhausting.  The most difficult element is that when the demanding pace slows, and the seeds that were planted lay momentarily dormant before bursting into full bloom, there is a season of waiting.  This waiting can be somewhat anticlimactic.

I know this because I’ve been there in that place of let down after a great experience.

I am not there now.  I don’t feel any let down or disappointment or anything other than a sense that something really exciting is just around the corner.  Even if the most exciting thing that is around the corner is Spring Break, I still am feeling nowhere near sad, lovelorn or despairing because things somewhere in my life are less than I desire.

The reality is that some things in my life are less than I desire (except where the scale is concerned and then…well…let’s not go there in this post), but I’m not broken up over them.  Well, at least, not today.  The reality is also that some things in my life are better than I ever could have imagined at this point.  It’s also true that there are many, many things in my life that are still unwritten, untold, unimagined.  These are the things yet to be which are not now. It’s life.  It’s my life.  It’s everyone’s life to some degree, I think.  The good, the bad, the becoming, the yet to be. The happy, the sad, the exciting, the disappointing…the ever so daily.

Life is just moving along and I like it…at least most of it, most of the time.

No broken heart here, though I’ve had my share of experiences with the Broken Heart Syndrome.  No thwarted dreams, though I have a few of those too. The reason I wrote what I wrote yesterday is simply because I sat down to write last night and that post is what came out.

I liked it.

I posted it.

That’s all.   

A Broken Heart

 

imageI know it is an idiom: The idea of a broken heart.  Your heart doesn’t literally break like some glass ornament that can shatter when it falls from the tree. It is merely an expression indicating great pain. Pain usually associated with the loss of a love.

I know this pain.

I know this pain intimately.

For me, this pain, while usually referred to in emotional terms, is one I experience on a physical level as well as on an emotional level. Most often, for me, it has been associated with the loss of a love, the end of a hope of a shared joy, the end of a dream that will never become a reality.  For me, mostly, this broken heart experience occurred when I finally realized that the relationship I thought I had was nothing like what I thought I had.  Broken hearts, for me, represent endings.

It is a very real emotional pain, but I also experience a tangible physical pain. It resides in my chest, just to the right of center and it feels like someone wedged a pick ax in at that particular point and is now trying to pull my heart right out from my body or, at least crush it so that it beats no more.

It is a physical pain as well as an emotional pain.

What I didn’t know, was that sometimes, a broken heart occurs for reasons other than lost, failed, or unrequited love.

A broken heart can occur sans the love between two humans.

A broken heart can occur when a dream that you loved, that you hoped for, that you worked for, dies.

Broken hearts might always be about love, but sometimes they are not about lovers.

Southern Oregon Single Parents Group Startup?

j0308958 I’ve long been pondering something and I think the time to make this dream a reality is upon me.  I’ve toyed with the idea of starting up a single parents group that is more than just an opportunity for single parents to get together to date or do activities with their kids.  Opportunities like that abound already.  I have a vision for something more.  I have a vision for a group that caters to the single parent socially, but in other ways too.  I have a vision for a group that is a resource and a network for single parents to provide them the support they need in the tough adventure of parenting solo. 

I have a number of single parent friends, both male and female, who have sole custody of their children.  The other spouse has gone AWOL, disappeared or is somehow nonexistent.  These parents have the pleasure of not having to co-parent with an antagonistic other parent, but they also have the down side of never having a weekend or evening to themselves without having to pay for a babysitter.  They also have the added emotional burden of seeing their children struggle through the emotional pain of feeling abandoned by their other parent.  I’d love to create a group that provides resources for these parents so that they can find the counseling they need or desire at a reasonable cost (free if necessary).  I’d love to create a group that can provide quality trained babysitting for these parents so they can get away to shop without the kids or just have some of their own adult time. 

I also have a number of single parent friends, both male and female, who are on the outside looking in.  These are the parents who have, through divorce and circumstance, ended up being ousted out of their children’s lives by the ex.  The pain, loss and loneliness these parents experience is unbelievable.  I would love to create a group that meets the needs of these single parents too.

j0401884 As a single parent myself, newly divorced, I was scared and had no idea how I was going to maintain my home on my own on a very limited budget.  Were it not for friends and even community professionals who cut me a deal every now and then, I would never have been able to make the repairs and improvements to my home that I  needed to make.  Things like changing a light fixture, installing a ceiling fan, designing and installing an in-ground sprinkler system and caring for plants and a yard, changing the oil in a car and maintaining vehicles are all things that can be overwhelming to the single mom and maybe some dads, who just aren’t handy and who don’t have the post-divorce finances to hire a professional.  I have a vision for a group that provides the training, the networking and the expertise of area professionals at a reasonable cost to those single parents who must watch every dime as they recover from the havoc that divorce can wreak in the life of a family financially, emotionally, socially and more. 

I’ve been a single parent now for three years.  It hasn’t been easy and I’ve struggled and stumbled much of the way.  Thanks to a wonderful support group of friends and family I’ve made it, but it hasn’t been easy.  I would have loved to have had a resource I could go to where I could connect with others in a similar situation, learn from them, get help with home maintenance or other needs, and not have to worry about compromising my already very tight budget. 

I have a vision for something more than just another social networking activity.  Maybe it’s just a pipe dream.  I don’t know. It just seems like it is the kind of thing that could really help make the difference in the lives of single parents and the children they love.   

Valentine’s Day – Friend or Foe?

j0382966 There’s just so much going on around Valentine’s Day that is happy and joyous and really over-the-top, almost (no, actually downright) annoying that I just have to say something.  Call me the Ebenezer Scrooge of Valentine’s Day.  Do it!  Maybe I’ll be visited by the ghosts of Valentine’s past, present and future and wake with a changed outlook.  It simply can’t hurt.

Clearly, if you haven’t figured it out, there is one holiday that disturbs me and it is Valentine’s Day. Or, maybe it is just that I’ve been all out sick from some death-seeking stomach virus this week and my outlook on everything right now is slightly disturbed. Whatever the case might be, I’m currently annoyed by all the happy clappy surrounding Valentine’s Day. 

Valentine’s Significance?

The significance of Valentines Day as a holiday eludes me.  I’ve just never gotten the real significance of days like this.  Random days, seemingly stuck on a calendar with no real historical or religious significance…at least, not that one could detect without doing a Google search. It really seems like a big ploy to make men feel guilty so women can get presents.  Men do this so they can get or keep something else.  At best they do it to stay out of the doghouse.  I hate being manipulated and I feel like Valentine’s is one great big marketing manipulation.  I dislike this aspect of Valentine’s Day. 

Relationship Pressure?

Because such a big deal is made of the day, it is difficult to ignore it. I’d like to.  I can’t.  Just on Facebook alone,  I see apps for my phone just in time for Valentine’s Day, invites to romantic dinner events (for two, for a lot of money usually), singles get together events promoting the promise of “finding a date in time for Valentine’s Day” and status message updates encouraging you to update your profile image with a picture of you and your partner and tell how long you’ve been together. 

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love. Not a bad idea, but every day should be a day to celebrate love.  Further, this day, in my opinion, more than any of the holidays (except maybe Christmas or Thanksgiving), serves to point out the haves and the have nots.  Those who have a lover, a partner, a spouse and those, who even if it is by choice, do not.  Somehow, that’s just never felt good to me, even when I was in a relationship. men-in-doghouses-425tp120209 My experience has been mostly that the holiday was celebrated because the guy felt obligated to do something so he could avoid the relational doghouse rather than because he really wanted to.  Not a good time for anyone, especially me, because I really work hard not to put relational pressure on the people I care about. 

A Fun Day

But, in spite of my Scroogist tendencies, Valentine’s can be a very fun and (dare I say it?) meaningful day as well. 

Have you ever given one of those prepackaged Valentine’s Day cards to your teenager, just for fun with a Charms Blow Pop or a bag of Skittles attached? 

Have you ever been the focus of someone’s thought and attention so much so that the person booked you for Valentine’s Day weeks in advance before you were even really thinking of the two of you as a couple? 

Have you ever passed up a date on Valentine’s Day, to go out to dinner with another very good dear single friend you hadn’t seen in a while?

Ever been in a classroom of elementary school children on Valentine’s Day?  Ever seen the sparkle in the eyes as the children (yes, even the boys) open up a card that says something silly but affirming on it?   Have you ever been the recipient of those Valentines, written in a childish scrawl, unashamedly declaring love for a teacher, a mom, a dad, a best friend? 

Young children don’t care about how their affections will be received.  It never occurs to them that their love won’t be valued and received.  They just love and they just show it.  Simply.  Matter of factly.  Joyously.  Without reservation.

Another Day To Say, “I Love You”

IMG_7867Valentine’s Day, definitely annoys me on some levels.  I don’t like the pressure that seems to be implied in the day.  I definitely hate the marketing craze surrounding it.  I don’t like the way it separates and divides the loved from the unloved, so to speak.

On the other hand, it isn’t just about the hearts and candy and flowers, either, or the presence or absence of a romantic interest in one’s life.  I get that.

I have given the tacky Valentines to my teenage children and gotten hugs and praise in response.  I have passed up dates to go out with a single friend instead and had the best time of my life with some of the warmest memories attached. I’ve had someone want to be with me so much that he made sure I was free weeks in advance for that special day.  I have for the last 15 years watched elementary children open valentines, squeal and blush and give their teacher love notes and I’ve cherished every moment. 

Maybe that’s the part of Valentine’s Day that I need to focus more on.  Because, in spite of all the bad press or potential discomfort that a day like Valentine’s can create, it is still just another day.  Another day of life. Another day to love.  Another day to say so.  Another day to make a special moment for a special someone or maybe a few special young someones, somewhere.  A rose by any other name, right?

So, what do you think of Valentine’s Day?  Is it friend or foe?  What makes it so for you?

No Name-Calling Week

j0442223Anyone who’s been on a diet knows that you can resist foods of all kinds until the moment you decide to diet.  Suddenly the cravings come out of nowhere, the urges arise and if you aren’t very careful and very disciplined, you are soon stuffing your mouth with all sorts of rubbish that never tempted you before. 

I’ve found this strange phenomenon to be present in another area this week.  That is the area of name calling.

This week is officially No Name-Calling Week.  According to the event’s Facebook page the week is described in the following manner:

No Name-Calling Week is an annual week of educational activities aimed at ending name-calling of all kinds and providing schools with the tools and inspiration to launch an on-going dialogue about ways to eliminate bullying in their communities.

Have you ever attempted to go a week without calling names?  It isn’t as easy as you might think.

Consider these things.  We are an increasingly disrespectful society.  I would say that this is limited to the U.S., however such is not the case.  In fact, in just the last week, I’ve received two comments on my blogs from people in other countries or continents calling me names and not nice ones either.  Of course, I spammed those comments in the spirit of the week I am celebrating.  While I’m not opposed to having people air their opinions in their own way, name-calling will never get press here.j0433180  Further, my own journeys around the blogosphere reveals a vast array of digital name-calling.  Behind the screen, it seems, that people simply let loose with whatever derogatory term or insulting phrase they deem appropriate given the circumstance. These labels and insults go far beyond merely disagreeing with another’s perspective or flawed reasoning, they are hateful, mean-spirited, and, at best, incredibly disrespectful and unkind things to say.  I have a friend who tells her children, “You might think it, but you can’t say it.” Personally, I think that’s a great start.  Sometimes these derogatory terms are meant in jest, in play, or in a teasingly affectionate manner. But  more often, there is no disguising the venom and fury and hate behind the words. 

The reality is, bullying is one of the first and simplest means of reducing another human being to a state of fear and helplessness. Name-calling and other acts of bullying are intended to intimidate and humiliate. The first and easiest method of bullying (and a largely effective one employed by those who bully) is name-calling.  The No Bully website lists name-calling first in its list of behaviors that identify bullying.  Bullying and name-calling in particular used to be called “just kid stuff”, but the reality is that those who end up perpetrating violent crimes in the teen years are as likely to have been long time victims of bullying as they have been to be the bully. Those children identified as bullies, are more likely to have a prison record by the age of 24.  It isn’t just silly kid stuff anymore.  While it begins in childhood, it continues to occur everywhere in our adult world too.

So this week, I and several others I know, including 32 young people I meet with every day decided to celebrate No Name-Calling Week. We are becoming more aware of how often we have the tendency to let slip a name even in jest.  We are finding that this task is much more difficult than we first imagined.  In fact, one young man even commented after a day or so, “Yeah, right,” he stated in frustration, “Like we are ever going to completely eliminate name-calling!”

No%20Bullying%20circle My answer?  “No, at least, not right away.  But if we all ban together and try we might do some serious damage to the disrespect we all encounter.”  Thus ensued a brief conversation about how we feel when someone calls us names and the respectful consideration of simply treating others the way we’d like to be treated. One conversation and one week of increasing our awareness certainly isn’t the cure all and I realize this.  But as a parent and as a human being, I am increasingly alarmed by how humanity is redefining decency, courtesy and respect. In an age where tolerance is valued, there is one thing we ought to be completely intolerant of and that is bullying in all its many forms, and this week, most specifically name-calling.

Disclaimers and Dementia

S8000281 Disclaimer:  (Don’t you love that word…I do..it means “I’m making a big fatty excuse to be lazy and careless and sloppy in my writing…sort of…or it means…I’m going to break some rules…so, here goes!)

I really don’t care if this post is SEO (Search Engine Optimized) or not.  Well, okay, I care, but I know it probably won’t be because right now, I am writing from my heart and not for an audience.  This could bode well for my stream of consciousness and my own well-being.  It could suck where my blog stats are concerned.  So be it.

I think I just have to say to hell with that.

I need to write what matters to me.  After all, the reality is, I’m not likely to get “published” (meaning paid the big bucks with a movie deal) and, well, much as I’d like to be J.K. Rowling right now…so not going to happen.  I’m cool with that.

Oh (insert your own special expletive here)!  After all that…and I forgot what I was going write about! I hate when that happens.