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IconWe're all outraged when we hear the stories of children being beaten, locked in cages, raped by adult "friends of the family" (if not family members themselves), abducted, and murdered.' These are clearly horrendous realities that offend all decent people.'Then there are the "normalized" child abuse activities that barely make people shrug a shoulder.' We were somewhat amused and annoyed by the recent story of the reality show family who pretended their son was in a balloon flying high in the sky while the balloon was empty and the boy was hiding.' Turns out that this was all about auditioning for their own reality show.'TLC has a show called "Toddlers and Tiaras."' According to one of my listeners who alerted me to this program, it should have been titled "Mothers Who Exploit Their Children." It's a show about young girls (as young as 4 years old!) who compete in beauty contests.' The worst part is not that the mothers over-dress and overly make up their children.' The worst part is not that these young girls put on immodest swimsuits and high heels and parade in front of an audience.' The weird part of the show occurs after the competition ends and you see how these young girls and their parents react to the final results.' One young girl, who couldn't have been older than six, took second runner-up, and her mother was furious.' When the mother went backstage, there was no "you did a great job," or "I love you."' She simply said to her sobbing child - angrily - "I don't know what happened.' Come on...let's go."' Another little girl responded to the results by saying "I'm first runner-up.' That means I'm a loser."These kids are learning that they are only worth something if they win.' They're only loved up by their parents if they win.' And they're learning that winning a beauty competition is the way to a meaningful existence.These kinds of competitions shouldn't even be allowed.' If I had the power - no one would be able to exploit their children for money, infamy, notoriety, selfishness or stupidity.' We all have heard the stories of the warped and sorry lives of most former child stars - the drugs, alcohol, suicides, and self-destructive behaviors throughout their lives - generally because their worth was hitched to the wagon of public adoration.These so-called "family" reality shows are a form of child abuse and exploitation.' Children lose their privacy and have to cater to the desire of networks and cable executives for ratings and sponsorship income, and producers need outlandish behavior in order to get and keep an audience.' Parents expect them to do whatever it takes to keep their star in the sky.' It's disgusting, and our society not only allows it, but elevates these shows to an incredible level of importance.' How about all those news stories of Jon & Kate and their eight kids?' They're getting a divorce, and their pathetic story got coverage from actual hard news sources for weeks at the same time they were appearing on the covers of so-called "news" magazines.We have become detestable in our acceptance and normalization of obvious emotional child abuse.' Shame on us. More >>

Tags: ChildrenFamily/Relationships - ChildrenInternet-MediaInternet/MediaParentingReality TV
IconI have watched film adaptations of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in all its incarnations many, many times, and I recently watched the 2005 film version again. I love the film...no matter what criticisms may be about a portrayal or a performance. I clearly have a profound attraction to this work.First and foremost, I love the utter regard the men had for women, which is evident from how they addressed them: "Miss..." (and their first names if they were single) or "Mrs...." (and their last names if they were married). Men bowed upon entering and leaving a woman's presence, and women curtsied, even under unpleasant conditions. Flirting was ever-so-subtle: a look, a light "accidental" touch of a hand. A man romantically yearned for and tried to earn the affections of a woman. The sweetness of the regard for women in this era (particularly in upper and middle classes) was something to be admired, and something we now miss. There was a clear distinction between a "good" woman and an easy, loose woman or whore.That distinction is gone today. Now, women put down good money for music that represents them as whores without pay. So many young men are casual about women and sex in general, and sex is a casual expectation almost always fulfilled.Young women scoff at dignity and modesty as just stupid, prudish, sexist notions. They "shack up" with some dude without a marital commitment, yet expect the love and respect, fidelity and loyalty to exist without the spoken vows, only to be disappointed, hurt, and generally confused.There was a recent film comedy, called "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past," in which Matthew McConaughey (in a twist on Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" ) got to go back into his life to see all his old girlfriends. There was one scene in the television ad for the movie which showed a seemingly endless dining table filled with hundreds of girls. Obviously, this was meant to show how shallow and manipulative he had been. To me, it just showed how many stupid girls there were (and are), "putting out" in a situation where there was clearly no respect, regard, or intent.Men used to have to ask a woman's dad for permission to "court" her, even when the woman was an adult! Now, all he has to do is show her a bedroom, back seat of a car, or a motel room, and the date is sealed. When men had to explain and express their intentions, they had to take the whole activity of dating much more seriously, as there were personal and social consequences to misleading a young lady. That reputation would annihilate any chances he might have had of marrying a good woman. He'd have to move states or provinces away. Now? That kind of rakish reputation makes girls/women want to line up to get some from an infamous entity.The women's revolution did not raise any consciousness worth elevating. It mostly diminished a woman's sense of herself as special, minimized her value in the minds of men, put sex on the level of animals, created a nanny/baby-sitter/institutionalized day care financial boom (as women gave up the blessing of nurturing their own children), increased the use of abortion as a birth-control technique when an accidental pregnancy occurred with a guy who did not want fatherhood, created perpetually unhappy, angry, nasty wives, and made it very difficult for "nice girls" to be respected and cherished.The last scene in Pride and Prejudice between the two now-married lovers has them discussing what she wants to be called by him when he is not using her given name. He suggests one name, and she rejects it sweetly, because it is what her father calls her. She then asks him what he will call her when he is angry. He, not being able to envision that situation, talks to her about always letting her know how lovingly important his happiness in wrapped up in her...forever...and he kisses her gently about her face as he says "Mrs. Darcy" over and over again. He gave her his heart, his life, his vows, and his name. And, in that era, giving a woman your name was the ultimate public and private statement of his total commitment to her, which makes that scene so moving to most of us, and infuriating to feminists who see that scene only as ripping away the woman's identity.I always cry at the end of the movie.I cry also for what women have given up in exchange for wanting to have it all and not be subordinate to a man. I don't know...I kinda think being on a pedestal is not subordinate. But what do I know? I'm only a recovered feminist. More >>

Tags: AttitudeChildrenDatingFamilyFamily/Relationships - FamilyFeminismHealthInternet-MediaInternet/MediaMoralsMorals, Ethics, ValuesParentingPersonal ResponsibilityPurposeRelationshipsRelativesSocial Issues
Tags: Family/Relationships - ChildrenHalloweenHolidaysParentingPoliticsSocial IssuesValues
IconI got this email from a listener after she heard a call I took on my radio program.' She titled the email 'To The Mother Whose Son Is Smoking Marijuana.' It speaks for itself: Today you gave advice to a mother who found out her 16 ' year old son is smoking marijuana.' You advised her to get him into a residential treatment program.'' You stated that drug addicts lie, and she responded that she didn't 'see' him as a drug addict.' I am afraid she will not take your advice, and she may be in my situation in the future. Today, I write this with a broken heart.' 11 years ago, when my son was 17, I, too, found out that he was smoking marijuana.' He was on the academic honor roll and participated in sports ' he wasn't a drug addict!' I tried to get him into a residential program, but was told they would not accept him at his age unless he committed himself.' I took him to a counselor that the high school recommended and had him assigned a probation officer until he was 18.' I thought just like her that he was not a drug addict in my mind.' He grew up to be a responsible young man who owned his own business, but he continued to smoke marijuana. Six months ago, I received that phone call that no parent wants to receive.' My son was dead at the age of 28 from an accidental drug overdose (oxycodone), which the coroner told me is the most abused drug today.' I do not know if this was the first time or the hundredth time he used the drug, but I vowed that if I can save one child or one parent from experiencing what I am going through that I would share my story. Dr. Laura, you were correct.' She needs to deal with the issue NOW, while she still has some control.' My son was not a 'drug addict' either.' The coroner called it 'recreational drug use.'' Children need to know that tennis, hockey, and soccer are recreations, not drugs.' I hope that mother heeds your advice so that her son does not end up where mine is today, guilt-ridden and questioning 'should I have done more?' More >>

Tags: AddictionFamily/Relationships - ChildrenHealthMarijuanaMortalityParentingSocial Issues
IconBusy, busy mothers tuned in to their cellphones, BlackBerrys, iPods, iPhones, and chatty girlfriends, just don't have the time to tune in to their children ' that's just reality!' And you can't expect nannies (equipped with the same electronics) or day care workers with scads of kids to supervise or babysitters with other things to do to spend time tuning into your children either.' That's just reality.Why is this an issue?' Well, children just don't develop their language, communication skills, sensitivity to eye contact and facial expressions without input, stimulation and attention.' This fact will surely dismay parents and liberal educators who say kids just need a few minutes of quality time a day, and they'll be just fine.According to Randi Jacoby, a speech and language specialist in New York, who was quoted in the New York Times:' 'Parents have stopped having good communications with their young children, causing them to lose out on the eye contact, facial expression and overall feedback that is essential for early communication development.' That means that, instead of you parents going off to work when you have babies or small children, and then handing them over to institutionalized care or the care of someone hired to watch them all day and report back to you about 'food in and waste out,' you need to be home with your children, doing things like: Recognizing that communication begins as soon as the baby is born.' The way you touch, hold, look at and talk to your baby helps him or her learn language.' Even though your child doesn't necessarily understand what you're saying, your calm, reassuring voice is what he or she needs to feel safe.' You cannot spoil babies with attention and responsiveness to their cries. Talking all the time while you are doing things.' Talk about where you are going, what you will do when you get there, and who/what you'll see.' Talk about cleaning up the dishes, preparing meals, putting on makeup ' everything ' all of this is attention. Putting down the cellphone or other electronic device to look your child in the eyes as he or she tries to communicate or when you are engaging him.' Responding to a child's communicative attempts with complete attention is a sign of interest and love, and it teaches communication.' It might even help you with your spouse! Engaging your child in conversation, once he or she starts talking.' Expand what they are saying to help them learn to do the same.' For example, when your child says 'Doggie,' respond with 'Yes, that is a big black dog.'' Ask questions, play games, sing songs, recite nursery rhymes, and read books. Parenting is not about making sure your child lives through the day.' It's about an'investment of time, and loving energy to help them develop the skills they will need to function well in life.' Nannies, day care workers and babysitters just don't fill the bill.' Nobody trumps a loving mom and dad. More >>

Tags: Family/Relationships - ChildrenMotherhoodMotherhood-FatherhoodParenting
Tags: ChildrenFamily/Relationships - ChildrenInternetInternet-MediaInternet/MediaParentingSocial Networking
Tags: EducationFamily/Relationships - TeensParentingTeens
Icon"Stupid is as stupid does." Those are sage words from the fictional Forrest Gump.And stupid does some interesting things in America.' Here are two great recent examples of stupidity:Before I tell you the first story, I want to preface it with a memory from my middle school years.' We Long Island neighborhood children took the bus to school.' I walked two blocks to the bus stop.' In the winter, it was freezing, but fortunately, one of the kids I went to school with lived in that corner house right where the bus picked us up.' The mom would leave the garage door open (the cars were already gone) so we could all huddle out of the wind and chill until the bus came.' It was very kind of her.Now, to today's story:' A mom in Michigan allows the kids from three families to hang out before school at her house for about 1 hour before the school bus comes.' She's not getting paid, although I sure hope she's getting appreciation from the families who have to go to work before they can get their kids off to school.'Believe it or not, she receives a letter from the Michigan Department of Human Services warning her that if she continues, she'd be violating a law aimed at the operation of unlicensed day-care centers.' She's not getting paid!!' And she's doing the neighbors a favor!!This law says no one may care for unrelated children in their home for more than four weeks each calendar year unless they are licensed day-care providers.' The Department of Human Services warned her without even finding out the facts.' This is stupid.' Never mind that these kids, if left by themselves for an hour without adult supervision could be food for predators.' It seems also that this stupid stretch would preclude regular baby-sitting when parents go out to dinner and the movies.There is good news here, though.' After the news media got hold of this story (and embarrassed the heck out of the state of Michigan), Governor Jennifer Granholm instructed the agency's director to work with the state legislature to change the law.'Since when is simply being a good neighbor a criminal activity?' Some neighbor (and we've all had this kind of neighbor) made a complaint, and started this non-common sense ball rolling.The second stupid story is from Saratoga Springs.' Adam Marino, a 12 year old in seventh grade, and his mother are defying Saratoga Springs school policy by biking to Maple Avenue Middle School.' The school has a rule that kids can't walk or ride a bike to school.' Adam's mom and other parents want their kids to be less sedentary and to get exercise by walking or riding to school as a fitness activity.'After Adam's mom thought she had an understanding with the school board on this issue, she rode a bike with her kid to school, only to be met by a state trooper and school administrators.' You'd think she had been beating her kid or helping him play hooky.' Sheesh!In reaction to this, other parents joined them in riding and walking their kids to school.' Once again, this got the attention of the news media, and the Board of Education is going to vote to amend this policy this week.These arbitrary rules are just stupid, and frankly, ignoring the bigger picture of neighborhood safety and exercise for children.' Fortunately, however, thanks to the media spotlight, it's all going to change. More >>

Tags: Common SenseEat Less-Move MoreEducationExerciseFamily/Relationships - ChildrenMorals, Ethics, ValuesParentingSchoolValues
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