UPDATE: Just go read this instead.
Every October I rant a bit about how the Susan G Komen Foundation is nothing but a party planning service. In addition to misery directly from the NY Giants (G-Men fix that shit) there’s the misery of pink all over the NFL to raise Breast Awareness.
No, they aren’t raising Breast Cancer Awareness. Everyone is aware of Breast Cancer. In fact, they’re so aware that they’ve inflated the number of incidence concurrent with the cure rate. Stage zero breast cancer anyone? It’s easy to cure because the 10 year morbidity rate is less than 1%. This means that less than 1 in a hundred would die of stage zero cancer – which is actually DCIS if it were untreated after ten years. I’m pretty sure that untreated influenza is more deadly.
Breast Awareness month is titillating. Marketers everywhere get to turn things pink like Football and handguns and KFC.
Show me a good Breast Cancer Awareness campaign. I dare you. I don’t see them happening.
We’ve made great strides in cancer treatment at the same time we’ve added a multitude of carcinogens to our daily lives. We’re fat and sedentary (massive cancer risks), we’re having kids late in life and we’re using hormones in unprecedented numbers.
These stupid Facebook Memes have turned otherwise thinking women into the worst kind of sheeple.
This year’s meme supports breast cancer. It’s so poorly done that it doesn’t even support awareness. Can we please stop with the pinkification of a very serious disease?
Also stop trying to save everyone’s breasts. Try saving people. They might be more appreciative.
Growing up in the 70′s meant that more than a few parents left Playboy out in their living rooms. Reading material I suppose. My parents didn’t. We didn’t really talk about porn much but at a certain point there was a step-family connection and our refusal to talk about it actually became the talk. That’s an elephant from a very old and very wealthy ex-living room.
Porn became a little more mainstream when it transitioned from movie houses to VHS and then completely exploded (bad choice of words but I’m too lazy to go to thesaurus.com) with the internet. With free porn online it’s not a matter of if the kids will see porn, it’s a matter of when.
Last night Mr. G and I had the porn talk with each other and this week it’ll be a divide and conquer with the kids. I get Jane, he gets Alexander. We’re probably really late to have this first talk (all talks worth having need to be repeated for a dozen or more years) but at some point I’ll have to steel my nerves and talk to Jane about porn.
I need to ask Jane if she’s seen porn. Then I need to deal with her reaction to it. I can practice the scenarios in my mind a million times but this is going to be one of those talks where I just wing it. Mr. G and I have decided that there are important points that Jane needs to hear (I was shocked and thrilled that so many of these came from him):
- Porn is as relevant to real sex as Marvel Comics are to real life
- You’ll probably find yourself with at least one boy who only knows about sex from porn. If things seem weird and strange they are. Trust your instincts
- It’s okay to not shave. This goes for armpits, legs and pubic regions
- Sex isn’t typically an aggressively athletic endeavor
- Use condoms
- Seeing porn doesn’t make you bad
I’m sure there’s more to talk about, I have no idea what it will be because every time I try to plan one of these talks I find that my kids surprise me with both their knowledge and lack of it.
We’ve talked to them about sex, drugs, driving, trusting their instincts, protecting each other and being a trustworthy friend. We’ve talked to them about how to get out of uncomfortable situations and the myriad of things that could go very wrong for which they will never be punished so long as they never get in a car with someone who worries them (parents of friends included). We’ve empowered these kids every way we know how but we forgot about porn because when we were teens porn wasn’t in our faces. We didn’t have a free porn culture.
So this week we’ll be talking about porn. Poor Jane, I’m going to trap her in the car and have a good long talk.
Q&A with Dr. Susan Porter author of Bully Nation: Why America’s Approach to Childhood Aggression is Bad for Everyone
I haven’t received my copy of Bully Nation yet but I was so enthralled by the title that I just had to do a quick Q&A with Dr. Porter. I’m looking forward to reading it and I’ll keep everyone updated on Goodreads. Every time someone says the word bully in my presence I shudder. I want to ask them a million questions like, “Oh it is an every day occurrence? Thrice a day? Do they have power over you? Is it a large pack of kids? No? Then why did you call it bullying?”
Here’s a video I made more than 2 years ago.
I hate that we’ve labeled normal behavior bullying and turned kids into whiny victims hiding in their mothers’ skirts. Finally there’s an academic who sees things similarly (though probably states it with more grace).
Why do you think so many people say they’ve been bullied? If you read blogs you’d think that every human being who ever went to middle school was bullied.
Our current definition of bullying is so bloated that I’m shocked everyone isn’t blogging about being bullied. Currently, behaviors such as social exclusion, teasing, name-calling, and persistent unfriendliness are considered to be bullying, which means almost everyone can lay claim to victimhood. Who among us wasn’t teased in middle school? Who wasn’t left out at some point? These are practically rites of passage in middle school; it’s the dark side of this age (is there a bright side?). Much of middle school behavior now falls under the bully umbrella, so it makes sense that many of us look back and see our experiences through bully colored lenses.
In addition, we give victims of bullying a lot of attention these days. There is glory attached to saying we’ve been bullied, and no one questions what we mean when we say we’ve been bullied. Were we smacked around by a bigger kid? Not invited to a birthday party? Called a slut on Facebook? Who knows, and it doesn’t matter—saying we’ve been bullied is sufficient cause to demand attention. We can blog about our experiences with impunity. No one dares to question a bully tale because that’s blaming the victim, and that is anathema.
Do you think there’s some benefit in a child (or an adult) having their feelings hurt and knowing that they can survive hurt feelings?
Not only is there a benefit to learning how to survive hurt feelings, it is a necessity for developing true psychological maturity. Kids who are protected from their feelings, or who are taught that painful feelings are to be avoided, don’t get the chance to develop real resilience. Imagine if we tried to shield our children from using their legs. Admittedly, using our legs can make us feel tired and achy, but the process also makes us strong, and it ensures that our legs will carry us from danger when necessary. Developing psychological resilience isn’t much different. We need to experience negative feelings sometimes, and often the process makes us feel tired and achy. But just because the process is difficult doesn’t mean it’s wrong. We can’t run a marathon without feeling discomfort, and we can’t develop emotional resilience without feeling discomfort either.
What happens when we send kids out into the workforce who are unable to handle a bully?
Everyone needs to know how to deal with conflict, and the anti-bullying movement is sending kids the message that they shouldn’t have to tolerate conflict or deal with people who offend them. When kids accept this message, it sets them up for real hardship later in life. Adults must tolerate all manner of conflict, sometimes in the workplace, and we must prepare our children for this. We need to teach them not to be scared of disagreement, and that sometimes they will encounter people and situations that are difficult. We must also teach them to stand up for themselves without having to be victims in the process. This is the mistake we’re now making with our anti-bullying initiatives. Kids are being taught to stand up for themselves as victims against perpetrators; we are dividing their world into black and white. The truth is kids can be strong without being victims. Kids can be hurt without being victims. Kids can even be wronged without being victims. These are the things we need to teach them. When they’ve learned these lessons, they will be able to stand up to anyone in the workplace.
What if you think your child is a bully? What then?
I personally don’t know any parents who think their child is a bully. Usually, it’s the other kid that’s the problem.
That said, if parents are concerned about a child’s level of aggression toward other children, they should seek help immediately from a school counselor, trusted religious leader or group, pediatrician, or a licensed mental health professional (a pediatrician can provide referrals).
How can parents shift the paradigm so that we aren’t nurturing this bizarre pride in being a victim?
Parents can do a lot by not using labels: just say no to terms such as bully, victim, bystander, whatever. Labels create something called a fixed mindset, which keeps kids (and adults) stuck as they try to deal with troublesome dynamics. As soon as we label people, we see them in a very limited light, and this determines how we move forward.
Let’s say your child comes home from school complaining about another child. Your child feels hurt, wronged, and bullied by his peer. You have a choice about how to react. You can focus just on his feelings of victimhood—and react as though his emotions are solely the result of another child’s behavior—or, once he’s calmed down, you can ask what happened, try to understand the dynamic that took place between the children, and ask him what part he played in the situation. You can also help him troubleshoot, think about what he needs to solve the problematic dynamic, and identify people (besides you) who can help (teachers, friends, etc.). This communicates to the child that he has some control over the situation, and that he’s not defined by his feelings of pain (which is what the label victim suggests).
Victims believe they are defined by their negative feelings and by other people’s behavior. If we want to raise children who feel empowered, we must teach them how to manage their negative feelings and negative interactions with others, all without feeling like victims
Earlier this week I bragged a little about the fact that I no longer had Upworthy in my Facebook timeline (we all have our own little victories, don’t judge).
One of my friends wanted to know how I did it. He’s looking to block Buzzfeed and HuffPo (good decisions all around). Rather than describe it I took a few screen grabs. I am not enchanted with the Dalai Lama, I get it, he says nice things but when you unwind them they’re the words of a man who was chosen as a toddler to live a life that Maslow couldn’t begin to comprehend. I digress. Here’s how you get annoying sites or fan pages off your Facebook timeline.
1) Figure out what bugs you and then click on the little arrow on the top right, it’s hidden between the “sort: most recent” tab and the “like page” box. For me it’s a kindly old man in red robes.
2) On the pull down menu click “I don’t want to see this”.
3) After you’ve clicked “I don’t want to see this” you’ll get to this screen. This is important, do not click that you don’t want updates from your friend (unless you don’t – I want updates from Kristine) click “Hide all posts from Dalai Lama”. You can click one o the four radio buttons underneath but I’ve never found them to apply. If facebook added an “I’m cranky” option I’d probably click that.
At this point you have removed the site or fan page from your stream.
Last night my son and I watched CNN as the US Government went into a partial shutdown. He looked worried that there would be mayhem on the streets so I reassured him by explaining that our Police and Fire Departments are funded with local money and it wouldn’t particularly affect him. I went on to explain that the kids who would be affected most would be the ones whose parents work for the federal government, they won’t be working.
I explained to him that there was an impasse with our budget and that Obamacare was a central point of contention. My boy’s exact words were, “I can’t believe that because they don’t want to give health insurance to homeless people they’ll stop paying the army.” He then walked away from the TV in disgust.
There was nothing I could do or say to make him less angry so we read some comic books side by side & called it a night. This morning we listened to NPR together. Jane didn’t give a shit, she’s got three homecoming dances in October. Skype and TopShop.com were taking all her concentration. I’m pretty sure her needs will be met shutdown or not.
This morning as the government shut down and the insurance exchange came alive I sat with physician to have my annual exam. Because we’ve opted into a concierge practice I had 90 minutes to talk about heart health (I’ve got a 1% chance of a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years), lung health, cancer, my immune system and nutrition. It’s no secret that I adore my doctor both personally and professionally and he reassured me that we’d get my thyroid under control and that my cholesterol is fine, great even and I should keep enjoying my cheese and maintain a sugar free diet. He told me about five different times that sugar and processed foods need to be out of my diet as well as my children’s diets. We talked about the import of sex, rest and balance and we read through the results of a gazillion tests that I’d been given the week before.
I am lucky in that I have good insurance, great even, but in addition to the insurance Mr. G and I joined a concierge practice. My doctor has limited his practice to 500 patients (that’s still a lot) and we get a fairly detailed physical each year. We have a few other perks, like quick access to the doctor.
You see last Thursday Mr. G was in New York and leaving on a 6pm flight to Milan. At noon he knew that he was sick, really sick and we were able to get him on the phone with the doctor at a moment’s notice, have a prescription emailed and filled and then a courier delivered it to him with an hour to spare. Finding an English speaking physician on a weekend in Italy would not have been so easy.
You know what else is interesting? Breaking Bad. Breaking Bad just ended and for the three people who didn’t watch any of the show it’s about a mild mannered (schlubby even) science teacher who is diagnosed with cancer and needs hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for his treatments so he manufactures meth. Breaking Bad could only take place in America.
Also, I hate breast cancer awareness. I hate every part of it. Go read this and tell a friend.