Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Billion Dollar Bank Account...Low Class Behavior

All the billions of dollars that Ivana Trump has in the bank did not prevent her from going straight ghetto on a Delta flight the other day! Apparently she had to be escorted from the plane after reportedly screaming “Little f*ckers!” and “Shut the f*ck up!” at kids who were running up and down the aisles. Ivana didn’t spare the F-Bomb from the crew either, because she repeatedly screamed “F*ck You!” at them as they removed her from the plane. Tisk…tisk…tisk…..such poor behavior for someone who should know better. She does, after all, have three children of her own.

But just between you and me…don’t YOU sometimes want to go off on unruly kids at a department store? Maybe even at a restaurant, or at a playground. I’m the kind that sits back first to see if their parent will intervene. However, I don’t hesitate to say something if they don’t. For example, recently I was Christmas shopping at a mall. As I walked around a store, I could repeatedly hear the bell chime that alerts store staff that someone had entered the store. I looked
over and saw a young boy (about 6-years-old) standing in the doorway and kicking his legs in front of the sensor to activate the bell sound. He must have made that thing go off two hundred times! The store owner muttered under her breath as she rang up my purchases “I wish that kid would stop because it’s driving me crazy!” So…as I passed this little door bell bandit on my way out I smiled warmly and said “You are too cute! But you know…that is not a toy and it is really noisy. You probably shouldn’t play with it cutie pie.” He grinned at me and immediately stopped what he was doing. Embarrassed, my younger brother whispered to me that I was not supposed to talk to other people’s children. Maybe it’s because of what I do for a living, but I have no problem with it. I would not necessarily reprimand a child if there parent was present. But I see nothing wrong with correcting children (within reason of course). I think it’s more about how one goes about doing it that is most important. So I don’t blame Ivana for being irritated by the kids who may have been behaving badly on her flight. She was probably already on edge since the tabloids reported that she is separating from husband number 17. However, cursing at kids is just wrong, and ultimately not helpful.

So next time you are at your favorite all-you-can-eat restaurant and a doe-eyed youngster proceeds to stick their finger into the salad dressing, don't go Ivana on him. Just tell him not to do it...and skip the salad:)

Happy Parenting,

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Legal Victimization

I'm scratching my head trying to figure out why anyone would think that something like this would be okay. If this was your daughter (or son), would you support her/his sexual relationship with her/his TEACHER????? Below is a Blog that I wrote for Time's Up Blog. Some of the comments in response to the post truly sadden me. Whether or not a student is a "hottie" does not make it okay. AND whether or not the law says that a 16-year-old is old enough to decide whether or not a teacher can have sex with them DOES NOT MAKE IT RIGHT! ... Please read and share with me what I might be missing.

Happy Parenting,

This post was written for the Time's Up Blog (http://www.timesupblog.blogspot.com/) which is a collection of bloggers who are champions for victims of crime. The purpose of the blog is to bring awareness to the injustices to victims and to search out solutions with an SOS to those in the capacity to make changes happen.

Today in the metro Atlanta area, former Marietta High School teacher, Christopher King, was acquitted of sexual assault. The charges stem from the discovery that he had been having inappropriate interactions with a female student. Since he openly admitted that those interactions were “sexual” you would think that this would be an easy conviction, right? However, the problem is that his 17-year-old victim took the stand in defense of her former teacher who she described as her “boyfriend.” His lawyer told jurors that the two “were in love,” and although "This may be a bad idea…it's not illegal." This attorney’s argument was bolstered in June when the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that, when a student is a willing participant and is 16 or older, the student's consent can be a defense for teachers facing a sexual assault charge. The presiding judge by-passed the jury and rendered his verdict this afternoon, saying "It's gross, it's awful, but it ain't illegal…This was a consensual relationship." So with that…Christopher King was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Really? Is a 17-year-old able to consent to a sexual “relationship” with a nearly forty-year-old man? In the dictionary, an adolescent is defined as: A young person who has undergone puberty but who has not reached full maturity. Therefore, how can it be that there is such a law that blatantly ignores the fact that, by definition, an adolescent is not equipped with the emotional maturity to understand the ramifications and consequences of adult behaviors? Adolescents and children are inherently trusting of authority figures, and are naïve and easily mislead. This is one of the reasons why pedophiles are able to commit their crimes. In this case, King’s former student told a courtroom full of people that he began calling her about non-school related issues. Later, the two went shopping, out to dinner, and the movies. She said she believed that they were doing the “things dating couple do.” "It evolved the way I assume any sexual encounter does," she said. Clearly, Christopher King took advantage of his position of power as well as the childlike immaturity of his 17-year-old victim. Yes I said it…VICTIM! In essence, she was groomed to believe that they had a relationship. Romanticizing this as love and anything positive is sickening. Point blank.

In this case, the victim’s father became alarmed by King’s phone calls to his daughter. However, she told him that he was overreacting. As an educator, I can assure you that EVERY school employee is aware of the appropriate code of conduct regarding students. Sometimes parents might feel uncomfortable with the attention that a teacher is giving to their son or daughter, but may not know how to handle the situation. Here are some clear cut No-No’s.

· Contact students for personal issues (ie. “Just to say Hi.”).
· Text students.
· Discuss personal information with students (ie. Issues related to marital problems, family issues etc.)
· Make plans with a student to have dinner or go to a movie.
· Videotape or record a student without expressed consent from the parent.
· Make any comments of a sexual or suggestive nature.
· Have sex with a student.
· Serve alcohol to a student.

So, what should you do if you notice any of these things? First, talk to your son or daughter to try and find out what has happened. Next, IMMEDIATLEY report your concerns to the building administrator and to the proper authorities for a thorough investigation. Have copies of text messages, emails, and pictures to share as evidence if you have them. Also remember that your son or daughter may try to conceal the “relationship” by denying that anything inappropriate is occurring. They may be defensive, and even angry with you for asking questions.

Regardless of the state Laws, any sound minded adult knows that it is immoral, unethical, deplorable…and YES criminal to take advantage of a child. I hope that we will all take a closer look at the laws that directly affect our children and adolescents because some offenders are taking advantage of a legal loophole, and are able to walk away totally free…Legally.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Shaniya Davis...Our Lost Angel

Below is an article that I recently wrote for Essence Magazine online. It has been a few weeks since the nation was paralyzed by the news of Shaniya's horrific story. However, it is critically...I mean critically important to me that we don't forget her. Why? Because, now that we know and understand that this horror exists...we, as a nation, can do what needs to be done to end these crimes against children. NO child should endure what this baby girl did!

How Many Shaniya's Are There?
Posted in Essence.com November 24, 2009

A rose colored casket adorned with hundreds of flowers sat at the front of the church. A casket so small that it served as a vivid reminder that inside laid the body of a small defenseless child. Her name was Shaniya Davis. More than two thousand people packed the church, and hundreds peered through the windows to catch a glimpse of the homegoing ceremony. Shaniya's father, Bradley Lockhart who was not scheduled to speak, got up and encouraged the community to not get angry about the situation because he believed that God had a reason for taking Shaniya so prematurely. He then turned to his daughter's rose-colored casket and said lovingly "I know you're going to be waiting for me [in heaven]. I'll see you when I get there."

Mr. Lockhart's strength in the midst of such a horrific tragedy is commendable because most of us would have succumbed to anger and rage had something like this happened to our child. In fact, most of us didn't know Shaniya, but the emotion that her tragic story evoked was paralyzing. She was able to give a face to something so sadistic and perverted that most choose not to acknowledge...that everyday, hundreds and thousands of children are sold into the sex trade. It's a phenomenon known as sex trafficking.

There is no consistent face of a trafficking victim. They are both male and female. They are of all ages, races, and socio-economic backgrounds. However, although anyone can fall prey to trafficking, victims tend to come from vulnerable populations such as runaways, at-risk youth, drug addicts, the poor, and oppressed and marginalized groups. Traffickers often target individuals in these populations because they are reportedly easiest to recruit and control. These criminals are driven by two primary factors: high profits and low risk. The FBI was recently able to recover 52 children that had been sold into prostitution. Consequently, over 500 traffickers were successfully convicted. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg because reports suggest that well over 100,000 children and young women are sex trafficked every day. What makes Shaniya's story all the more disturbing is that it is her very own mother that stands accused of selling her precious baby girl into sexual slavery. Despicable, nauseating, infuriating...but a reality of the world in which we live.

What I'd like for people to understand is that no one is safe when it comes to this issue. Just as you get up routinely each day to go to work, pedophiles wake up to plan and strategize just how they can lure and molest children. They are extremely adept at doing just that. That is why the statistics show that a child is abducted every 40 seconds in our nation. Moreover, nearly 50 percent are African American. There is a false sense of security that many of us tend to have because we feel that our circle of elite friends and family, and large brick homes buffer us from the inherent cruelty of the world. However, the statistics do not lie.

Sadly, there are millions of Shaniya's across the world. They have no voice. They have no power. They have no face, and until recently, the wider public refused to even acknowledge that their stories were legitimate. Shaniya's story helped to change this. So, I agree with her father. God had a plan, and was ready to bring an angel home because her job had been accomplished. May you rest in peace baby girl.

Gaétane F. Borders, MA., A.B.D.
Certified School Psychologist
President, Peas In Their Pods

Read more: http://www.essence.com/news/commentary_2/how_many_more_shaniyas_are_there.php#ixzz0YgaJZdQB

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cute Little Movie Trailer....Babies Are Sooooo CUTE:)

This movie trailer is just so cute and intriguing to me! The movie titled "Babies"
follows the very different lives of four infants living in Mongolia, Namibia, San Francisco and Tokyo. The opening clip cracks me up:) Siblings can be so mean to each other (lol).


Monday, November 30, 2009

A Princess For My Princess

It is almost a year ago to the day that I searched for a doll that resembled my caramel-cocoa princess. My daughter, who was two at the time, had major fits each day as I combed her hair. See…she has a head full of thick and long hair, and a mommy who did not know what to do with it. She was miserable…I was miserable. It was honestly stressful! Searching for a solution, I recalled a toy that I had when I was younger. Do you remember the Barbie “head” that you used to play with? You could comb her hair and paint lipstick on her… Yeah that one! I figured if I could get one for my daughter, she would be distracted as she combed its hair while I struggled through hers. Issue solved! Not so much…

Enter problem…..I wanted a Barbie head that resembled my lil’ pumpkin. Up and down the aisles I went to all the different department stores and toy retailers. No brown dolls. I even exclaimed to a well-intentioned teenage attendant “This is Atlanta! How could you not sell African American dolls?” Fast forward to last year. My daughter asked for a Princess Tea themed birthday party. I went all out with the décor and costumes for her and her adorable friends. Everything seemed to be in order. That is, until I tried to find a princess themed cake. The local grocery store had pages upon pages of different cake designs with all the Disney princesses. Yet, none of them looked like my Princess.

This year it looks like there may be an abundance of dolls and merchandise for me to choose from because the Disney movie titled “The Princess and the Frog” will hit theaters nationwide on December 11th. I can’t wait to see it, and if appropriate…I can’t wait to take my baby girl. However, apparently not everyone shares in my excitement.

Almost as soon as executives announced that they would be bringing the story to the big screen, parts of the public began to complain. There was criticism that the main character was slated to be a maid called “Maddy.” The name, many felt, was too close to ethnic slur “Mammy.” Disney quickly made adjustments, and now the princess is called Tiana, and is a chef. Yet, dissent again emerged when it was revealed that Tiana’s prince was not seemingly African American.

Hmmm….I’m not sure what to make of this criticism because I feel that overall this movie may be a positive thing for all children…especially those of color. Sure, if allowed to script it myself I might have made some adjustments. However, I am just happy that my daughter will have the opportunity to see someone who looks like herself being described as a beautiful princess for once.

So here’s my question…. Does Disney deserve all this controversy? Or, are people just nitpicking. You decide! Watch the video and cast your vote in the LEFT margin:)!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dead Wrong or Right On Point...You Decide

Did you see the American Music Awards last week? I missed all of it except for the last 5 minutes of the show. Based on the news reports over the week, this was the most controversial segment. Remember Adam Lambert from American Idol last year. Well, he closed out the AMAs with a performance of his new single For Your Entertainment. In my opinion…the performance was overly contrived. He looked like he was trying too hard to be a “star.” All that gyrating, screeching, and make-up was simply not my cup of tea so I did not watch intently. But I guess I should have paid attention like everyone else because apparently he kissed a male band member and simulated oral sex as well. The backlash was almost instantaneous, as ABC cancelled his Good Morning America performance, and thousands complained about the racy performance. I searched Youtube and other internet sites to see a clip of the show. However, the video has seemingly vanished from the face of the earth. All that remains are the still shots...many of which are blurred out. Adam cried foul to the censorship and “double standard” (as he said) exemplified by the press. After all, Madonna kissed Britney and Christina a few years ago. He also says that it is not his responsibility to parent our children. So here’s my question….Do celebrities have any responsibility when it comes to what kids are exposed to? Was Adam Dead Wrong for his theatrical display? Or is he Right On Point for his freedom to express his art in anyway he chooses? Can’t wait to hear from you! :)

Onto the next story of the week. It is about Lincoln University’s graduation policies. Lincoln
University, the first historically black institution, has decided that a handful of students won't be getting their diplomas this spring. That’s right. Two dozen African American students will not be receiving their diplomas because….they are fat. In 2006, the university implemented a mandatory semester-long program entitled "Fitness for Life," designed to educate the portion of their student population with a body mass index of 30 (considered to be obese). However, a group of twenty-four students opted not to enroll in the class, and now they will not march across the stage with their peers. Statistics show that the black community has suffers nutrition-related illnesses more frequently when compared to the white community. Hypertension accounts for 20 percent of African American deaths (twice that of the white community). 12.5 percent of African Americans over 18 years old will be diagnosed with diabetes (compared to only 1.8 percent of non-Hispanic whites). Given these statistics, and knowing that African American children may not get adequate education about proper nutrition….Is Lincoln University’s graduation policy Dead Wrong, or Right On Point?

Lastly, I could not resist making a reference to the Octomom herself, Nadya Suleman. In an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer, Nadya responded to the question of whether she planning on
having more children. The single mother of 14 replied that although she is not currently trying to conceive, she might consider it if she were to get married in the future. I honestly believe that children are precious gifts from above. However, you have to know when to say enough is ENOUGH. Nadya….you are wrong….Dead wrong for this!

But…I do have an idea that might help. I came across an ad for something called a Uterus Pillow. This larger than life, fuzzy, fleece pillow in the shape of Nadya’s most beloved organ can be found on the craft website etsy.com. Maybe cuddling up to this might help calm Nadya’s quest to self-populate the world.

Happy Parenting,

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Am I The Only One Left Without A Sex Tape?

I have to ask this question because it seems that more and more, tapes surface with celebrities in …eh hem…compromising positions. Years ago it was Pamela and Tommy Lee. Next came Paris Hilton, followed by Ray J and the Kardashian girl. Dustin Diamond (Screech) pimped himself out for several months after filming himself in a tryst. There was even a tape of Tonya Harding circulating the internet, and “Hoops” from The Flava of Love show made her homemade porn debut this year as well. What the heck is up with all the camcorder porn?!? I mean even some of the Disney starlets have suggestive photos out there!!!!

Well just when I thought that the worst was behind us….they announced that Sara Palin’s would-be son-in-law, Levi Johnston, will be baring his Alaskan jewels in Playgirl. (By the way…do women really read Playgirl? But, I digress…) Yet...you know something, Levi never made himself out to be anything other than what he is… a simple-minded, “redneck who likes to snowboard and ride dirt bikes.” (his words) Besides, I’ve learned to expect the unpredictable when it comes to the Palin bunch.

The week’s shocker for me was the introduction of the Carrie Prejean sex tape! You remember her…the former Miss California and Miss America contestant. She was placed on the radar after a judge at the Miss America pageant asked her to share thoughts about legalizing gay marriage. Her response created a media frenzy because she said that she believes that a marriage should be “between a man and a woman.” You could hear gasps and hisses coming from the auditorium. In the days following the pageant, Carrie emerged as a conservative Christian with firm views on morality. Now, I can’t be mad at Carrie for offering her opinion even though it does not mirror mine. And I am not hating on her for the topless photos or the video that she reportedly taped for a boyfriend when only 17-years-old. But, I do have a BIG problem with her apparent hypocrisy! It’s normal to make errors or have a lapse in judgment especially when you’re young. After all, we are all human. But when you present a façade of perfection, you almost always fall from grace.

So I guess the moral of the story is unless you are a squeeky clean Mother Teresa clone... keep the camcorder on Stand-by mode at all times. But if you feel tempted to press record, know that someday your co-worker might be able to order a copy of your Oscar winning performance for about $19.99 plus shipping and handling.

Just Saying...:),

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Our Battle With Swine Flu

The reality of how bad this flu season was did not hit me until a little over a month ago when I visited a school that I service. There were teams of kids packed in the Nurse’s office…most with fevers above 102. The nurse wore a face mask through which she said to me “Make sure you put your clothes in the washing machine as soon as you get home!” Despite this, I was pretty secure that the ominous virus spoken of in the news would not personally affect me. And if it did it would not be a big deal. After all, it’s just the flu….right?

Well, the school year was well underway, and my kids managed to make it through with just a few sniffles and coughs (nothing out of the norm). That is, until this past weekend. It was Halloween, and like all other children, my son and daughter were looking forward to going door-to-door in their cute outfits…him as a Ninja and she as a little witch. It rained off and on all day in the metro Atlanta area, and it was rather cold. Nonetheless, there was nothing I could say to convince the kids that it wasn’t necessary to go out in the miserable weather. So, off they went with my husband as I stayed home to give out handfuls of miniature chocolate bars to the neighborhood kids.

The next morning, my son began complaining of a slight sore throat. I figured it was because he had been out in the cold the night before. So I gave him some Motrin and called it a day. However, in the middle of the night, he stumbled into our master bedroom gasping. “I…c-c-c-can’t b-b-breathe…!” he struggled to say as he held his hands around his neck. I could hear him trying to force air through his airtight esophagus. In an instant, we hopped up and gave him a nebulizer treatment. Yet, after wards he could only breathe slightly better. Two minutes later, he and I were Emergency Room bound. After waiting four hours to be seen, the doctor spent only 30 seconds with us. His only advice was that he was not to participate in P.E. class for a week. Well… mommy had better advice…let’s stay home to monitor things for a couple days. I worked from home both Monday and Tuesday while he recuperated. Although he had a cough, I felt he was good enough to return to school on Wednesday.

Here’s the timeline of how things progressed on that day:

6:00 a.m.—He got dressed for school.

7:15 a.m.—I drop him off at school.

11:30 a.m.— The School Nurse calls and says he has a sore throat and she wants my permission to give him a cough drop.

12:30 p.m.—I go to school to sign my son out early to go see his pediatrician (My mommy intuition was going wild!)

1:00 p.m.—We arrive at doctor’s office and sign in.

4:00 p.m.—Still waiting in the waiting room after three hours, my son begins to appear sluggish and faint. He rests his head on my lap and closes his eyes.

4:30 p.m.—His name is finally called and we go to a patient examination room to explain to the nurse his symptoms.

4:45 p.m.—My son lies down on the examination table as we wait for the doctor to appear. He
complains that he is extremely cold, and begins to shiver vigorously. He then falls deeply asleep. Still shivering, his mouth is open and his breath is shallow…he begins to drool all over the paper sheet.

5:00 p.m.—His doctor walks in. Although normally polished and poised, she drops the clipboard to her side and exclaimed “Oh my God…What’s wrong?” We both wake him up so that she could examine him (ie. Take his temp, listen to his heart and lungs). She informs me that his fever is at 104.1. A few tests later…she says that my little knuckle-head had the flu…Swine flu.

5:30 p.m.—Prescription in hand, I head over to a Mom and Pop pharmacy. They’re the only one’s with a supply of Tamiflu (the only medication given to treat his flu). The pharmacy does not accept insurance for this medication, and the cost is $200!

They could have charged $2,000 and I would have bought it because this is just how miserable my baby looked. After a few days of a horrible cough and sore throat, and extreme lethargy, I could begin to see a glimmer of my son’s personality emerge. That’s when I was sure that he was going to be alright. So right now I can say with confidence….Borders family 1…..Swine Flu zilch!

Happy Parenting,

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rihanna Opens Up

Rihanna finally breaks her silence about what happened between her and Chris Brown! I just hope that now that she is sharing her story people, particularly teens, will begin to understand the cycle of abuse. Then...and only then...can something be done to stop it.

Sometimes you just have to just take a step back and make decisions based on rational thinking and not "love." Because, as Rihanna put it..."'@#%&' love" when someone has the audacity to harm you physically....emotionally...or sexually!

Please watch...

Happy Parenting,

Sunday, October 25, 2009

In his own words, Tyler Perry describes the abuse he endured as a child. I'm soooo proud of him for his courage to speak about what happened to him. But it is clear that it is still very difficult...

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Lions and Tigers and Pedophiles...Oh My!

Trick-or-Treat has a new meaning in Huntsville, Alabama this year! Next Saturday while little goblins, pirates, Cinderellas, and otherwise disguised children will go door to door on the hunt for the best candies, the real-life monsters will be attending a mandatory meeting hosted by state and federal probation officers. Yup, registered sex offenders in the northern Alabama city will have to report for an educational program that will review both state and federal sex offender’s laws next Saturday from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Reportedly, it's meant to encourage accountability and behavior changes in the offenders. Seems like a handy way to clear the street of pedophiles if you ask me. Too bad this isn’t something that every state and district does!

The state of Georgia made the news just a few weeks ago because it surfaced that homeless sex offenders were instructed to live in tents just behind an office park as a "last resort." This option was given to those of them who could not find places that complied with Georgia's strict restrictions. But they were ordered to move when the public became aware. Upon learning of this, one of the pedophiles was quoted as saying, "You know, I just want to go back to a sense of normalcy, to having a place to live and having a place to work. You know, that's all I want — I just want the basics." Now, I’m not an unsympathetic, cold-hearted demon. But…. I just don’t feel sorry for him. Is that bad? Do pedophiles deserve sympathy on any level?

As parents and concerned citizens, we cannot sit back and expect that the authorities will closely monitor the activities of these criminals. But there is something that we can do. Visit websites like www.familywatchdog.us to see how many pedophiles live in your community. You’d be surprised! I plugged my address in this morning and found that a couple new individuals had moved into my small town. ARRRRRRRGGRRRHHHHH! Sad thing is that this map only shows the identified offenders. Think how illuminated the map would be if every pedophile was put on blast!

Happy Parenting,

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Stars Behaving Badly Pt. 2

According to Michael Lohan, his daughter, Lindsay, is in imminent danger. He recently appeared on the Maury Povich Show in a supposed “desperate attempt” to reach out to his famous daughter, who he has described as being addicted to prescription drugs. A tearful Lohan said "Lindsay, I love you with all my heart and ... I am not going to bury you." "You're going to bury me before this is over. I will do anything and everything I have to save your life...You're not in the right state of mind!"

Here’s my question. Why does one need Maury Povich in order to speak to their daughter? Wouldn’t you just speak directly to your child and consult with trained professionals in order to host an intervention. I’m just saying… It seems self-serving to court the media outlets when in such a crisis situation. It reminds me of another Hollywood dad….What’s his name? Oh, yeah…
Jon Gosselin. No surprise that the two Dad’s of the Year award winners have been socializing in recent months. (Maybe they have the same agent;)

Whatever her dad’s motivation, I do agree with the fact that there appears to be cause for concern, as Lindsay’s emaciated frame is alarming. There are frequent reports of her drinking and acting erratically, even after spending time in rehab. Hopefully, there are people around her who will do what’s right and get her the help that she may need…outside of the bright glare of the media spotlight.

Now onto “Bubble Boy!” Hmmm…boy what an oddly interesting family.
Like everyone else, I was glued to the news to see if Falcon, the missing 6-year-old, was inside the floating silver balloon. Then came the news that the balloon had landed but that no one was inside. Horrifying! However, we were relieved to learn that it was all a false alarm because Falcon had been hiding in the family’s attic the whole time. Seems straight-forward enough…until you learn that the family has been heavily pitching a tv show around Hollywood, and have appeared on two segments of Wife Swap. Thus, this whole thing may have been a publicity stunt. Sigh…it seems like in addition to the Swine Flu outbreak, there is also another epidemic sweeping across the country. Its called the PWNS Syndrome (Parents-With-No-Sense). Hopefully you have built up your immunity:)

Happy Parenting,

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Even Barbie Is Imperfect

With a body measurement like 39-18-33, it’s hard to believe that ANY woman would be considered to be fat. However, according to popular shoe designer, Christian Louboutin, Barbie’s ankles are "too fat" to wear his shoes. “Huh?” you might be asking. Because if skinny-minnie Barbie has cankles, then I must be obese!

We have all heard and debated about the impact that that the media plays in young girl’s and women’s self-perception. Many blame magazines for the fact that women NEVER seem to be accepting of their appearance. Well, one magazine has stepped up to help change that. Brigitte, Germany's most popular women's magazine, is banning professional models from its pages and replacing them with images of "real life.” Representatives said last week that they would now only publish photographs of "real women" after readers complained they could not identify with the models depicted. Hence, size zero models will no longer grace their pages, as only “normal figures” will be photographed.

Excellent!……right? Most women in the US are not a size 0, 2, 4, 6, …or 8. So, of course seeing a similar silhouette in the media is cause for celebration. However, a notable industry person has something to say about that! German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, has been outspoken in his disdain for showing “real sized women” in the media. In fact, he responded to the news that Brigitte magazine was banning thin models from its pages in favor of "real women" by saying that women who thought of models as bony or anorexic were fat and "chip-eating.” "No one wants to see curvy women," he was quoted as saying on the website of news magazine Focus. No one, that is, except for me and millions of other women. But according to Mr. Lagerfeld, the world of fashion is about "dreams and illusions.” Illusions of unattainable "perfection."

He’s not alone in his thinking, however, because Ralph Lauren has also come under fire for a recent controversy involving a young model. Filippa Hamilton, who has been a model for the designer for several years, was soooooooo Photo-shopped in a recent ad that she looked like a bobble head. According to reports, Lauren apologized for this ridiculously distorted image. Yet, Filippa was ultimately fired and released from her contract despite being 5 feet, 10 inches, 120 pounds….and a size 4. Yet the company claims she’s too fat to fit into their sample clothes. Ralph Lauren does admit that Hamilton was fired, explaining the termination came “as a result of her inability to meet the obligations under her contract with us.” Filippa’s response to this is…“I think they owe American women an apology, a big apology; I’m very proud of what I look like, and I think a role model should look healthy.”

Hmmm….. I wish Filippa could speak directly into the heart and soul of all young people. Because according to US estimates from The National Institute of Mental Health, between 5% and 10% of girls and women (i.e. 5-10 million people), and 1 million boys and men suffer from eating disorders. Estimates suggest that as many as 15% of young women adopt unhealthy attitudes and behaviors about food.

Bingeing and purging, or complete refusal of food is common place for way to many. But what causes this? Is it the media? Is it social pressures? Well, although many are quick to point the finger at the media outlets, there’s reportedly more to it than that. In fact, there appears to be a definite correlation between physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse and the sufferers of eating disorders. According to studies, a relatively high percent report that they have suffered from some sort of abuse in their lives. With the stats indicating that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are molested before the age of eighteen………well you can just imagine how many may develop an eating disorder! (Please note that not everyone with an eating disorder has been abused).

This may help you if you fear that your child has an eating disorder. How many of these symptoms do you see in them?:

Eating tiny portions or refusing to eat
Intense fear of being fat
Distorted body image
Strenuous exercising (for more than an hour)
Hoarding and hiding food
Eating in secret
Disappearing after eating—often to the bathroom
Large changes in weight, both up and down
Social withdrawal
Hiding weight loss by wearing bulky clothes
Little concern over extreme weight loss
Menstrual irregularities—missing periods
Feeling cold all the time
Cuts and calluses across the top of finger Puffy face
Fine hair on body
Thinning of hair on head, dry and brittle hair

Please address any concerns if you see any of these symptoms in your child. Though they may not indicate an eating disorder, they should raise a red flag. Try not to make them feel bad by embarrassing them. Instead, let them know that you are concerned and want to help. Therapy is key! Eating disorders do not go away on their own. It requires emotional and behavioral interventions. With these treatments, healing will occur!

Happy Parenting,

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Stars Behaving Badly

Boy oh boy, what a week! The entertainment news wires were a buzz due to the parent wars going on between some notable stars. Where should I begin? …

As much as it pains me to bring up Jon and Kate….I just can’t help it! What a bunch of knuckleheads! ENOUGH ALREADY with the whole media hungry stuff! It irks me to no end to watch Jon run to Entertainment Tonight every other day to divulge personal info “exclusively.” But I did chuckle during one of his latest “appearances” on another show when Nancy Grace hard lined Jon. He was on to talk about the allegations that he stole $230,000 from a joint account shares with Kate. He denied any wrongdoing, and even challenged his soon-to-be- ex to account for millions of dollars. Who knows what really happened. Regardless of all the he said-she said, there are eight adorable, doe-eyed cuties that simply want their parents to act like they were given some sense. Hopefully we will all get to witness this as well. Oh, and by the way….Kate irks me to!

Now on to my (home town) favorite, RnB singer Usher. Alright, so by now it’s not groundbreaking news that Usher filed for divorce from his wife, Tameka. The two have two young sons, and have been married for a couple or so years. Well according to TMZ, Usher told cops his soon-to-be ex wife vandalized his truck after a "custody dispute" they had. Usher reportedly called police after he noticed several scratches on his truck, and stated that he believed Tameka vandalized the car in retaliation for their fight just hours before. Isn’t it interesting to see that just because you have millions, you can still act a fool! Where were the kids when all this was happening? Let’s all just hope that they work out the details of their divorce amicably for the children’s sake

Next…David Letterman, sigh….yawn! This week, the public learned that David Letterman was the victim of an attempted extortion. Why? Well apparently, Dave had been having flings with his female staffers. Joe Halderman (a boyfriend of one of Dave’s staffers) reportedly caught the talk-show host and his then-girlfriend, passionately kissing in a car in the driveway of the Norwalk, Conn., home Halderman shared with her. So what’s the big problem? Well, for starters…David Letterman is married with child. Secondly….he allegedly had affairs with people that worked for him. Sex in the workplace seems to always backfire, and then when you add the boss/employee element it is destined to fail. Now add the cheating boss/employee/jealous boyfriend element, and the situation implodes.

I hope that I have less to reflect on next Friday because this week was something else! But it made me think about how as adults we tend to easily forget what children think of us. Even though they accept us as we are (faults and all), our behavior does affect them. Divorce is a difficult thing to go through even as adults. Just imagine what it must feel like to children. So if you feel like keying up your ex’s car...STOP and take a second to look into your child’s eyes. If you’re that out of control, you’ll be able to see the anxiety in their eyes. Perhaps that will help to put things into perspective for you.

Happy Parenting,

Take a minute and watch this video of the students at PS 22. I’m a big fan of these youngsters, and watch their performances whenever I need a pick-me-up and a reminder of how sweet and precious children are. Enjoy…

Monday, September 28, 2009

Nipple Tassles & Thongs…..For Toddlers

Now that I have your complete attention! Not sure if you’ve heard, but there is a company called Twisted Twee that has designed clothing for youngsters. They are a bit different from other baby clothes retailers because their designs are….…well crass and x-rated. For instance, one baby T-shirt says "I've done F@*k all day!" (This is the edited version). Then there are alphabet shirts that say “B is for Beer,” “C is for Condom,” while X is for a pig having sexual relations with a duck. Huh? Yes…that’s right parents, not only can you purchase these wonderful T-Shirts…you can get jerseys for your tots that have nipple tassles attached to the appropriate spot. Yup! Stripping is hot even for babies! NOT!!!!!!!!!!!

Why in the world would someone create products like this for children? Well, the maker claims that the designs were created in response to her “distaste at seeing mini versions of sexy clothes on young children.” Hmmm….it seems to me that there are much better and more productive ways to contest the cultural trend to sexualize children’s clothing! As if the half shirts, uber short shorts, and skimpy mini-skirts on tweens weren’t enough, now some knuckle-heads will want to buy this junk for their babies!

So let’s be honest, the only reason why retailers are selling these items is because there is a market for them. Therefore, if you don’t buy it…they won’t sell it. However, according to Teen Research Unlimited, in 2006 youngsters between 12-19-years-old spent $179 billion on products ranging from clothing to toys and snacks. Targeting children at a younger age ensures that retailers will have loyal consumers buying their products for a longer period of time. Thus, there seemingly IS a market for this stuff. But there does not need to be!

Let’s think about what message we are sending to our young girls if we dress them in thongs(Yes…they do make baby thongs!), and nipple tassles. Do we want to create a nation of Lolitas, or do we as parents aspire to better. Our kids are inundated with visuals like Miley Cyrus dancing on a stripper pole at an awards show, or whatever image they see on any given reality tv show they choose to tune into.

With all this aversive stimulii, parents are challenged to work harder to counteract it. Don’t be afraid to monitor, edit, AND prohibit what your children are exposed to. What they wear, what they watch, and who they hang out with does impact who they are. So take a stand, and refuse to give your hard earned money to clothing companies that send the wrong message to children and families. REMEMBER…IF YOU DON’T BUY IT, THEY WON’T SELL IT!

Happy Parenting,

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Consensual Incest?!?

Mackenzie Phillips went on Oprah yesterday to discuss details published in her latest book “High On Arrival.” It was evident on Oprah’s face that she was stunned (perhaps horrified) at Mackenzie’s openness about one subject in particular….her incestuous relationship with her father, the late John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas.

I use the term relationship loosely because what viewers heard Mackenzie share was that she and her father had consensual sexual encounters for nearly ten years! It apparently began when she was eighteen years old and continued until her late twenties. Here’s my sound off America! I vehemently disapprove of romanticizing incest because there is ABSOLUTELY nothing loving about it! There is no such thing as consensual incest because these acts do not occur in a vacuum. As with any form of sexual abuse, the victim is groomed by the abuser. Now perhaps in Mackenzie’s case, the grooming took years (18 to be exact), but don’t be fooled into thinking that it merely happened on a whim one night.

Although incest is defined as sexual intercourse between people too closely related to marry legally, its true ramification cannot be captured in these few words. Do you think it’s by accident that Mackenzie has had so many low moments in her life…arrests, numerous stints in rehab, plummeting career? Absolutely not! Although an adult when the abuse began, Mackenzie’s response was characteristic of what younger children experience. The repercussions are too many to list, but include addiction to alcohol and other substances, depression, and self-destruction (just to name a few).

Everyone in this country knows that intimacy between parents and children, and siblings is ethically and morally wrong. However, did you know that France, Spain and Portugal do not prosecute consenting adults for incest, and that Romania is considering following suit. In the United States, all 50 states and the District of Columbia prohibit consensual incest, although a few states impose no criminal penalties for it, according to the Harvard Law Review.

What is wrong with us as a collective nation if we send the message that sex between parents and children can ever be deemed consensual? What if Mackenzie was fifteen or sixteen when it began? Would it make a difference? Should it make a difference? It’s all the same to me, because child abuse of any kind is wrong….regardless of chronological age.

If you or someone you know is being abused, please do not be afraid to tell others and ask for help. Although your abuser my try to convince you that what they are doing to you is okay…IT IS NOT, and you are entitled to make it stop…whether you are eight or twenty-eight.

Happy Parenting,

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Teen Violence

Recently, the nation was stunned when two of today’s hottest and promising stars were involved in an act of domestic violence. Chris Brown and Rihanna were in a car on the eve of the Grammy’s when, according to reports, Chris hit, choked, and bit Rihanna. The world saw first hand her bruised and swollen face when a photo was leaked to the public. What’s most saddening about this incident is that both Rihanna and Chris are barely 21 years old. Who would think that teenagers would be involved in domestic violence? Well….the answer may surprise you.

According to research, 33% of teens report experiencing some kind of abuse in the United States alone. Females ages 16 to 24 experience the highest rates of any age group, research shows.Teen dating abuse is like domestic violence in adults in that it also is a pattern of abusive behavior used to control another person. As with adults, abuse can be emotional, sexual, or physical. Typically teens do not have the experience or maturity to recognize that they are involved in an abusive relationship. They often have a “romantic” view of love, and want so much to be independent that they may not tell their parents what is happening to them. That is why parents have to be very aware any and all possible signs that abuse may be occurring.

Here are some clues that indicate a teenager may be experiencing dating violence:
· There are physical signs of injury
· Truancy; sudden decline in academic performance
· Changes in mood or personality
· Use of drugs/alcohol
· Isolation
· Pregnancy
· Has a sudden change in the way he dresses or looks
· Stops hanging out with friends, and starts spending all free time with the romantic partner.

It is important to address your concerns with your teen if you notice any of these behaviors. Unfortunately, without help, the violence will only get worse. Therefore, make certain to intervene and provide emotional support. Listen, don't judge, and try to assess how your teen feels about the situation. Next, contact a local domestic violence organization, as they often provide group therapy sessions. But whatever avenue you chose, make sure to take it seriously because your teen’s life and well-being depends on it.

Happy Parenting,