Video: March 2009 Archives

Are people online too negative?

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The latest episode on Momversation wherein I get really honest. Negativity? Online? I've been burnt many times from people who dislike me just because of what I believe. It sucks, but sadly, whoomp, there it is. I don't like to be cyclical with it; I prefer to ignore it and refuse to give people and their negativity power over me, which can be difficult sometimes. As Karen says in the video: happiness is contagious but I fear that negativity is also.

I'm careful not to take out my bad days on the internet, which is very hard (as I said, which was edited out for timeliness) because this medium, the printed word is how I work out all of the jumbled stuff in my head. If you're a new reader you may not remember, but I've discussed before how, while in therapy as a child, writing was the skill I was encouraged to use and it helped get me through my tough times. I string the jumbledness together in some fashion of coherency here and offline, written places that I don't share with the internet. I take care - I don't obsess over what I send out because, like I have all my life, I write for myself first. I censor less, I'm more honest this way and when discussing this in the realm of social media I feel this keeps it real on my end; I'm truly connecting with people instead of avoiding topics or sugar-coating things, although sugar is tasty. What I write is so ridiculously tied to my emotions that in order to direct my thoughts down a certain path I have to use music to help keep the focus. If I try to make it something that I'm not feeling then my words to me sound very after-school-special.

It's become a bit of a challenge to continue being so open as the years have gone by and the eyeballs increased, but I feel it's forced me to become more creative with regards to how I approach things. There is a way to vent without making people want to go sit in the corners of their bedrooms and listen to Joy Division while scratching out faces in their yearbooks in solidarity. I'm also joined by the lovely Rebecca for this episode.

How we deal with bullies

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It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who want to affix negativity to a certain parenting approach simply because it's an approach that they would not choose for themselves.

My latest episode for Momversation (with Giyen and Alice) is up and in it we discuss how we help our children deal with bullies. This sounds incredibly braggy, but because I think good traits should be commended, I'm just going to write it: my children - Liam especially - have cooler heads than most adults. Liam regularly demonstrates a compassion and respect for others that floors me. I'd like to chalk it up to my, ahem, simply awesome parenting, but I think a lot of it is just his genetic makeup. That being said, I related a story in the Momversation episode about how he stuck up for a little girl with whom she was playing when a boy began to first tease, then physically bully her.

Liam is like me in that I have zero tolerance for poor behavior. I believe that cruel people thrive on the apathy of others. My son saw what was happening with this girl, his friend, and because he is taught that a) you never hit or manhandle women and b) you stick up for your friends when they need you, he politely asked the kid to stop repeatedly (diplomacy!); when the boy wouldn't and grew more aggressive, Liam knocked him down.

And I was proud. And I do not feel bad for feeling proud that my son demonstrated chivalry in a world where we're taught that chivalry is bad, to cover your head, take it, and hope that whomever is picking on you doesn't break one of your bones.

After a rash of fights in my school the principal sent home a letter to all parents instructing their children to cower in the floor and cover the backs of their necks with their hands if a bully tried to fight them. My mother read that and strung a few profanities together before telling me that I had her permission to not like like a pansy in the floor, to defend myself.

"In fact," she said, blowing cigarette smoke out of her mouth, "you BETTER defend yourself."

I raise my children to believe that their bodies are their temple, so if you respect the gift of that body why would you not defend it?

Some of the commenters at Momversation were appalled that I would be proud of how Liam handled the situation with the bully he encountered. I hear these arguments all the time; people try to bring up my faith and quote "turn the other cheek" while glossing over the story of Jesus flipping over the money changer's tables in the temple and shouting that they were a "den of thieves." (Also ignoring Matthew 10:34.)

It saddens me that we live in an era where the root of bullyism is not criticized but a parent telling their child to not be a victim when and if diplomacy fails is somehow.  I'm sorry, but that's seriously messed up.

How did this get to be the fault of the victim? We see this played out over and over again in society: in rape cases, etc. How dare the victim.

I've been bullied before and I'm telling you right now, those precious authorities that the kids are supposed to report to - like some nanny state? Completely ineffective. Making a child dependent upon officials who, statistically do not solve the problem, is a further blow the that child's self-esteem. It also makes kids dependent upon this nanny state of authorities instead of relying on his or her own ingenuity and diplomatic capabilities.

We're not teaching our children to be self-sufficient by removing from them the power to stand up for themselves and handle their own situations.

I refuse to buy into that. I also refuse to fail my child by not teaching them the difference between fear and an actual threat; or how to diffuse situations with words and that getting physical is the last resort. But sometimes people may want to hit you and no amount of sweet-talk will stop that and as of such, I am teaching my children when to recognize that situation and how to react accordingly.

You know how you stop bullies? By standing up to them. By refusing to allow them to victimize you. If you can simply ignore them and your inattention does the trick, fabulous; but more often than not, such an action doesn't stop bullying behavior. Bullying is caused by an epic parenting fail and it is perpetuated by a failure to stop it in its tracks.

You are free to agree or disagree; but I've made my choice and my children won't be victims.

Saturday Soundtrack

Depeche Mode "Dream On"

Bruno Coulais "Exploration," from "Coraline." (Fabulous soundtrack)

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club "Love Burns"

The Black Ghosts "Full Moon"

Sigur Rós ''Starálfur''

Jesca Hoop "Money"

Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Gold Lion"

Catherine Wheel "Sparks are Gonna Fly" (embedding disabled. BOOOO.)

Muse "Hysteria" - one of my favorite bands, if not the favorite

Alice Cooper "Elected" Marilyn Manson is the poor man's Cooper

Do boys get a bad rap?

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I have two sons so naturally I'm a little sensitive concerning things that seem designed to purposefully harm their self esteem. Wherein "sensitive" means my reaction might earn me 15 minutes on "Cops." It's all about the klass!

Momversation kicks the week off with an episode entitled "Do Boys Get a Bad Rap?" I wrote about this "war against boys" topic a while ago referencing both a Newsweek article and the experience of seeing a "boys suck" t-shirt with my son while at the mall. (Can you seriously imagine seeing a "girls suck" shirt? No? That's what I said.) I mention in the video that there seems to be a prevalence of "man hate" in our society - one example is found in television where the majority of the sitcom dads/male figures, et al. are made to look like total buffoons. Rebecca notes how early on this stigma is taught and is right: it's about empowering our boys. It's difficult to push against the widespread current of this message and teach your boys that you still expect them to behave as gentlemen even though much of society refuses to treat them as such. Mindy also chimes in for this episode.

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