Saturday, June 16, 2007

When Parents Hurt

I get a lot of books in the mail from publishers--some are worth reading and others aren't. When I first picked up psychologist Joshua Coleman's book, When Parents Hurt: Compassionate Strategies When You and Your Grown Child Don't Get Along, I thought it was another self-help book with silly strategies about how to mend a parent's relationship with his or her grown kids and teens. I deduced it not worth my time when the first thing I read was that he originally helped adult children in therapy sessions craft letters to their parents telling them essentially to kiss off. Coleman states that he thought the kids were often right and the parents were to blame in most of these cases where family members did not get along. However, he admits that he was wrong and that as often as not, the grown kids had contributed equally to the poor relationship and parents were not necessarily to blame. Parents hurt too when their teens and adult children want nothing to do with them or treat them in dismissive or cruel ways. This book teaches you how to heal.

And just as the author admits he was wrong about parental and child conflict, I will admit that I was wrong to initially dismiss the book without giving it a chance. It is chockfull of information for those parents who do not get along with their grown children and offers concrete advice on how to cope and change the destructive child-parent interaction to a postive one. There is a chapter on the "Brave New Parent of the Twenty-First Century" where the author describes the burdens parents are facing today. One of these burdens is that parents have now become more responsible for entertaining their children because of the decline of extended families, the scarcity of places for kids to play and the blaring media news on the dangers of outside play. "..the claim 'I'm bored,' rather than being a statement about subjective experience, ends up being a statement about the parent's adequacy and worth. Children can now judge parents by how well they provide opportunities and therefore, how deserving they are of the child's love and respect." And even if you are a parent who ignores this type of behavior and doesn't play the game, the society, schools, and even churches etc. often reinforce the notion that parents are responsible for their kid's happiness. Kids take it to heart and blame parents for any shortcomings.

My favorite chapter in the book is one entitled, "Where Did This Kid Come From? Mismatches Between Parent and Child." Coleman lays out the different types of parents and kids and gives guidelines on how to deal with each type. For example, if you are a high-achieving parent raising or interacting with a low-achieving child, he says to avoid making all or most of your interactions about grades, college, or career, avoid expressing a lot of worry or "concern" especially if your child is clearly turned off by it, avoid micromanaging and tells you how to become a consultant rather than a manager as your child gets older.

Although, I do not agree with all of the advice given, if you are a parent who has an older teen or adult child who has dismissed you, dissed you, or just plain written you off, this book gives some good ideas on how to cope, for even if you can't get your relationship back on track, the book gives some good strategies on how to help yourself move on from the pain of being shut out of your grown child's life.

At the risk of sounding like Jerry Springer here, or worse, Oprah, if you are going through problems with your grown adult child and have any words of wisdom for other readers, drop a line in the comments.

Friday, June 15, 2007


I did a radio show with Dr. Robert Epstein, the host of Psyched! on Lime (Sirius Channel 114), which airs on Saturdays at 9 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. (Eastern Time). "Psyched!" features interviews with both expert and celebrity guests, a segment on psychology news, and a segment in which Dr. Epstein answers questions from listeners. Our topic this weekend will be youth violence. If you have Sirius, take a listen to the show this coming Saturday at 9:00 p.m. or Sunday at 5:00pm Eastern Time.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Don Surber controls his anger while posting on hypocrit Angelina Jolie's attempt to ban Fox News from covering her movie premiere for A Mighty Heart, the movie about Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was tortured and beheaded by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Karachi, Pakistan on Feb. 1, 2002.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Kids and Money

I read in this MSN Money article by Liz Pulliam Weston that the average teen is expecting to make a six-figure income:

I refer to tidbits from the "Teens and Money" survey Charles Schwab released earlier this year. This poll of 1,000 Americans aged 13 to 18 from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds found that 73% believed they would earn "plenty of money" when they were adults.

In fact, the teenage boys expected to make an average $174,000 annually. Teenage girls expected to earn $114,200.

But the reality of the situation is:

Fewer than 5% of the U.S. population makes more than $100,000, according to the bureau. Only one household out of six report a six-figure income, according to the Federal Reserve's 2004 Survey of Consumer Finances.

Wow, these salaries seem pretty high, especially given the occupations that were most popular among the teens: doctors, nurses and medical technicians, technology (including jobs in programming, network operations and computer repair) and teaching, the three career fields that most interested the kids polled.

Notice that the boys think they will be making significantly higher salaries than the girls--perhaps their expectations may be even more unrealistic than the girls--that is, the girls may be more realistic about what they will earn or maybe the boys are just willing to ask for more.


A Few Housekeeping Rules

Hi everyone--just a post on a few housekeeping rules for this blog. As many of you know, I do not like to delete or block commenters here but do so on occassion and will do so more readily if comments disinegrate into insults. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) there are just a few commenters who try to ruin threads for everyone. The majority of you are thoughtful, kind, provocative and downright humorous. This blog is meant to be a place where people can feel free to share their opinions and thoughts that may not be politically correct and of course, for disagreement but--please--do so in a civil fashion.

In addition, many of you email me with links and articles that I very much appreciate. If I post on the topic, I will typically give a hat tip to "a reader" or use the reader's first name only or sometimes the commenter's name if I pick up a commenter's link or comment in a thread. I usually do not use full names unless someone has a blog already and I link to it, uses their full name online anyway or tells me to use their name. Some of you have written me and told me never to use your name first or otherwise, others have wondered why I did not post their full name and still others don't send any name at all. Please specify in your email what you wish but by defalt, you will be called a "reader."

And now, a warning--believe it or not, I am not following every thread in this blog 24/7--so these threads are not always monitored nor do I wish to spend all of my time this way. As I assume commenters here are adults who can handle themselves without intervention, I try not to interfere too much. That includes responding to requests in the posts for some kind of "debate." I have no problem answering questions if I feel they are asked in good faith and I have something to add. However, those commenters who come on in a snarky fashion and think that I am somehow required to respond to every fascinating insult they care to throw out need to get their own platform.

Finally, I have had many complaints about the confusion that anonymous commenters are causing on threads, particularly those with more comments. I can typically tell people apart but it gets hard after awhile and obviously, the anonymous option gives many of those with less then decent intentions a way to insult and annoy others. There are upsides to the anonymous option, however, which includes those of you who work in certain jobs and settings who want to share your views but do not want to be identified in any way. This is perfectly understandable. So I leave it to the readers here to leave a comment and let me know what you think of the anonymous option. Remember that blogger would require all to register should that option be restricted--and this may cause some very fine people not to post. Thanks in advance for any input or suggestions you might have.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bill Frist on Global Poverty and Health, Fred Thompson

The G8 is over, Bono has spoken and lots of people are talking about ways to help Africa. Our podcast guest today is Senator Bill Frist who talks about his new project--One Vote 08. The campaign is a non-partisian effort to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria and reduce poverty. He also discusses why he supports Fred Thompson for President.

You can listen online (no downloading needed) by going here and clicking on the gray Flash player. You can download the file directly and listen to it at your leisure by clicking right here. And you can get a lo-fi version, suitable for dialup, by going here and selecting "lo-fi." As always, a free subscription is available via iTunes. You can listen to our past archives at

This podcast is sponsored by Volvo at Volvocars.US.

Monday, June 11, 2007

“When it comes to parenting, mothers are God. They created you”

Really? I thought God did, my mistake. Anyway, that is the take of an author in this MSNBC article entitled, "‘Momblocked’ mothers feel edged out by dads" (Thanks to reader David who sent me the link):

Moms who feel edged out should take heart, says Philip Lerman, author of Dadditude: How a Real Man Became a Real Dad.

“When it comes to parenting, mothers are God. They created you,” Lerman says. “You don’t go to God and say, ‘What have you done for me lately?’ Mothers have this incredible, undeniable bond with the child. Fathers are always just trying to catch up.”

The article points out that many women feel upset now that they are working on careers and their husbands are getting more confident with caring for the kids, and the kids (gasp!) sometimes prefer dad. And other horrible problems are occurring--Dads are not being as PC as some moms would like:

Besides momblocking, McClure-Metz says her family also has had to come to terms with different parenting styles when Dad is in charge in their Los Angeles home.

“What I’ve noticed with my husband and other stay-at-home dads is that they like to fly by the seat of their pants,” she says. “Consulting a book to them seems like asking for directions. Consequently, they use some interesting, un-PC parenting tactics. I’ve caught my husband saying things like, ‘If you don’t put that back you’ll never have another cookie in your life,’ or, ‘Do you want a birthday party? Because if you don’t stop doing that, I’m going to cancel your birthday party.’”

She also found herself wondering about the more aggressive activities her husband seems to promote. Take the wrestling moves.

“My husband likes to pretend to pile drive our daughter. He acts like he’s going to go right on her but he goes to the side and they think it’s the funniest thing in the world,” McClure-Metz says. “Our daughter now loves to wrestle. I never counted on that.”

A girl who wrestles--what is the world coming to? Maybe it's time to stop telling moms that they are "God" to their children and are just human beings like everyone else--including Dad. Just remember the wise words of Kahlil Gibran:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

Update: This thread is closed--thanks to all who participated.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Boys are Smelly!

While looking for some interesting reading material, I came across this book, The Big Book of Girl Stuff, a kind of corollary to the The Big Book of Boy Stuff by the same author. Looking over the review from the Library Journal and the subsequent comments about the girl book, I couldn't help but note the upbeat and insouciant tone to this book versus the snippy and accusatory tone of the reviews and comments for the boy book.

For example, for the girl book, School Library Journal cheerfully states: "This funny follow-up to The Big Book of Boy Stuff (Gibbs Smith, 2004) is chock-full of hints and guidance. From the silly ("Why boys smell so bad") to the slightly serious ("Lies, Mean Girls, and Jerks"), it will have readers thumbing through the volume again and again....The volume has amusing illustrations and a reversible cover for sneaky in-school reading. While the information presented can be found in other books, the author's sense of humor and lighthearted approach make this one accessible to a wide range of readers."

Snappy captions and condecending comments (even from the men!) are found in the comments to the girl's book such as "No Boys Allowed!" or ... "the true literary measure of a fully realized man/child is this; can he write about, for, and with girls." Really? The only way for a man to prove his worth as a writer is to write for and about girls? Huh? What kind of a real man says stuff like this?

Compare this with the reluctant and downright annoyed reviews and comments to the boy books: one commenter states, "I flipped through it and figured out pretty quick it was sexist..." and from the School Library Journal on The Big Book of Boy Stuff:

This is a very uneven book, with some sections highly creative, informative, and fun and others almost insulting to youngsters (in one paragraph on how to make noises the author states, "being able to make a farting or bombing sound is very important to your career as a boy"). King begins by chastising those readers who might be looking for political correctness and warns that this title will be gross at times but suggests that he is offering what boys really want. The author points out that boys should really know how to use the kitchen and provides first-date advice. Unfortunately, his tone is so casual that the good suggestions he presents are likely to be lost in the silliness and the "boys will be boys" approach. The long list of reading recommendations gives no indication of age appropriateness.

So the "good advice" for boys has mainly to do with how to handle girls on dates and how to use a kitchen. Apparently, this reviewer's view of good advice for boys is how to turn them into girls!

The Dangerous Book for Boys even has a whole forum dedicated to why feminists need to bash the book just because it is written for boys. So as long as a book is for girls only that is fine but a book for boys is somehow sexist.

When women and girls (and "feminist" men) say "no boys allowed" and laugh that boys are smelly, it's all just a joke, but when the tables are turned, suddenly it's sexism. But maybe turnabout is the next best thing to fair play. I thought feminism was about fairness, but maybe turnabout's the best we can do.

Update: Stephen Gordon at the Speculist has more on The Dangerous Book for Boys.