Parents! Talk to your kids about voter turnout and the silent majority!

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I can’t deny that I am disappointed and disgusted by insufficient voter turnout this year so far. It isn’t news that 80-90% of the people don’t vote even when they have the freedom to. I question the state of American education when I see results like this. What have people not learned but should have learned through their education so that the silent majority would not end up being the result?

While pop media continues inflate the number of Trump and Clinton stories, these two remain the most disliked. But apparently people don’t care about voicing their dislikes at the polls. Nor their likes either.  What is very disheartening to me is the fact that the majority of the people seem unconcerned about potentially having an unashamed wrongdoer of poor character become president.

And if this is the state of our democracy, it is no wonder some of my friends are upset enough to want to move to another country.

I wonder too, if voting was as easy as pushing a few buttons in an app, would that cause citizens to vote more? My guess is yes, there will be more active voters, but I also think a huge majority still won’t care enough to click a few buttons.

So as a mom, my job is to educate my child in his civic duties among countless other things I must teach. If we leave it up to mass education, then the trend certainly will be more unconcerned members of that silent majority.

Not Everything is about Racism

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Chris Rock is blind to the fact that the standards by which the Academy judges films and actors have little to do with whether people like those standards. The reason why Leonardo di Caprio gets good roles often is because of his work, not because he is white. The Academy judges the acting, not the actor. Granted, I personally thought Michael B. Jordan should have been nominated because he was so convincing in Creed, but it’s not because of his race. (I think he’s better at acting than Denzel Washington, but I am not the Academy.) The Academy is simply an institution, and like any institution, it doesn’t need you to like who they choose as nominees.

 

While I understand the importance of taking a stance on racial issues where there is a serious problem, I don’t think it’s right to constantly force racial issues everywhere. Frankly I was falling asleep in the movie, Concussion. So no, I don’t think Will Smith deserved an Oscar nomination this year, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a good actor nor does it mean the Academy is being racist this year.

 

As an ethnic minority female, I don’t think it’s helpful to assume that just people don’t pick us or like us that they are being racist. Maybe they are, or maybe they aren’t. How does it help to assume that everything and everyone is racist? The only justification and rationale for why a certain actor won the Oscar is decided by his or her work. Without the work, you can be black, white, or rainbow, and it wouldn’t deserve any nominations.

Self-Love vs. Naked Selfies

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Yesterday I came across a disturbing op-ed piece (a book review) in the Wall Street Journal  about what most teenagers use their cell phones for. The shocking part wasn’t that some of them are involved in cyberbullying or sexting.  I’m well aware of that. The part I didn’t know was the sort of “homebrew teen porn” that the legal system doesn’t know what to do with which involves teenagers trading naked selfies as bargaining chips. The disturbing part is how these teenagers think this is prosocial bonding that most of them accept as part of youth culture these days. Isn’t this the very definition of antisocial (criminal) behavior? And what must have happened to make them value their bodies so little? And their self-regard so non-existent? Some teens think this is a better alternative to teen pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. So rather than saying yes to sex, they pressure each other to pass around naked selfies as social proof (i.e. everyone is justified and less responsible for these types of behaviors because everyone is doing it).  Knowing this, suddenly Matt Lauer’s NBC public announcements about no racy selfies and no cyberbullying just seem like a silly solution to the problem. The majority of teens are doing the opposite because they have not been taught to cultivate healthy self-love. They would choose to run to whatever their next craving is for love, for esteem, for validation. If they continue to be influenced by those equally blind, they will never know how to add to their well-being.

We as parents can teach healthy self-respect and model for our teens what self-love ought to look like. It should look like contentment, not lack or greed.  It is a care of the self that’s not constantly worried about what other people think.

I’m the sort of parent that teenagers don’t like (and I’m super proud of it!) because I will check my son’s phone, search history, video view history, and whatever else I can check because I am the adult. I do not need to let other teenagers tell me how to be a parent, nor do I have some sick need for teenage friends. So they don’t get to pass around inappropriate things into our family’s living space (these days it means our cyber space too).  I fortunately have the sort of connection with my son where we often communicate meaningfully and deeply so he trusts these parental decisions.  I’m not here to condemn other people’s parenting since other people’s children are not mine, so I obviously do not know the first thing about how to be those kids’ parents. But frankly a lot of parents need to man up (or woman up) where their teen cyber problems are concerned because they aren’t checking up on their kids.  And if the kids know that no one will keep them accountable, not even law enforcement, then this homebrew teen cyber porn via naked selfies will continue.

“Curvy Barbie is Fat!” ??!!

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I’m a boy mom so I have not been looking at girl toys in stores lately. Occasionally I would be introduced to the latest and greatest girl toys by my son’s friends’ sisters. Toys are not that different from a few decades ago when I was a girl. But recently the Curvy Barbie has gotten my attention especially because of an added label, “Curvy,” on the box.

I asked my husband and my son what they think of when they look at these two contrasting Barbie dolls: Original vs. Curvy.  My son said Weird vs. Fine.  My husband came to the same conclusion: Abnormal vs. Normal.  My guys don’t like the way Original Barbie looks; they don’t think the female doll looks right that way.

My husband said the problem is the word Curvy. To label something as out of the norm, as different from the original, is making the more healthy and proportionally more pleasant looking doll out to be something abnormal.  But in actuality, it’s the odd looking emaciated looking original doll that should have the word Abnormal written on the box.

So the question is why was the healthier looking doll given a label at all? Why can’t they just all be Barbies with different clothing sizes?

There was a Time magazine article about the Curvy Barbie and what that says about Americans’ body image. In the article, one 6 year old girl said Curvy Barbie was fat fat fat! Where could she possibly have gotten that idea from? This reminded me of another girl who came to our house and saw our skinny but long haired cat and exclaimed, “He is fat!” I just remember her morally indignant disgust towards an innocent creature who is actually very underweight, but because of his long and fluffy hair, he appeared bigger. These girls’ fixation on fatness disturbed me. So why do these girls care so much about it? And why the moral pronouncement?

I certainly hope that these girls are not taught to prefer emaciated, impossible bodies in the same way I hope Original Barbie isn’t getting more praise or popularity for looking that way.

Feeling Like A Bad Parent? Pretend to Be a Writer!

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One thing I’ve learned from being a parent is that kids often don’t want to hear us. They don’t listen. They don’t obey. And no matter how hard we try, they just don’t heed our advice.

But sometimes, they do want to listen. They do want our input and our stories. Our past experiences matter to them when they run into difficulties and want solutions. Or maybe just when they need someone to bounce ideas off of, they’d come to us.

I’ve been thinking about cognitive discord and how none of us want to listen when things “hurt our brain.”  Sometimes it’s just too much information, too much to have to fix, or too much to have to figure out.  Kids are the same way. Why should they want to listen to our correction, guidance, or advice when all of that is hurting their brain/causing cognitive discord?  Everything was at equilibrium before mom or dad started pointing out their mistakes. Everything was just peachy until grownups started spewing too much reality.

So how do I want people to break it to me when I’ve got the facts of life all wrong? How do I want to have my mind changed? Certainly not from someone who’s going to pound it into me by talking me to death (like the way I tend to do to my own kid sometimes). Quite frankly I don’t think it matters what parents say.

The only way I’ve been able to tolerate cognitive discord  long enough to change my mind about something is when I read about it in books after years and years of wrestling with challenging thoughts. Perhaps parents can learn a few things from authors — it’s not high emotions that drive change, but rather calm logic.  Which is why I sometimes prefer writing letters to my kid.  Pretending to write to an audience helps me contemplate the issues at hand. Plus he keeps everything I’ve ever given him so he can take those letters out to read over and over again if he wants.

So perhaps by pretending to be an author, we can become better parents. If we cannot remain calm in the heated moments of dealing with our kids, we have the option of writing a logical and high minded book for them to read.

No, You Can’t Be Anything You Want!

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Adults often have fantasies about how kids, whether or not their own, might turn out one day. I’ve had some parents and teachers attribute such greatness to my child that sometimes I wonder who all is going to be disappointed one day when he doesn’t choose to do or be everything people hope for him to.  The likelihood of becoming exactly like someone else’s fantasy is almost nil.

Unlike most parents, I don’t actually believe kids can become “anything they want to be.”  We are contributing to lies and misunderstandings when we adults say that to children. I know that goes against the whole Disney culture of having all your dreams come true, but reality does have a way of speaking  its truth — we can only become what we work at becoming. And that is the idea I try to plant in my son’s head.

So, we can only become what we work at becoming = if you are not putting in the time and effort to improve different aspects of yourself, you cannot hope to “be anything you want.”  This means someone who doesn’t put in 3 hours of piano practice per day during childhood is most likely not going to become a concert pianist. It also means kids who don’t study and don’t care about having study skills are not going to be successful as an academic scholar.  Much in the same way a boxer who neglects to eat healthy or train can’t expect to be a champion.

Learning and Earning.  Those are two ways to improve yourself, but even then, it’s wiser to tell your kids they are limited by time and energy. When you help them put away the childish thought of “being anything they want” or “having all their dreams come true, ” then they can begin with a solid footing in reality — actually becoming what they work at becoming.