Yes, it is your problem! CDC estimates that $16 billion are spent on STDs in the US. Half of the estimated 20 million new infections were in our 15-24 year olds.

Click to access STD-Trends-508.pdf

Click to access sti-incidence-prevalence-cost-fact-sheet-508.pdf

The CDC came out with it’s report for 2018 on reported STD cases in the US. I’ve included the links to the CDC website and to who wrote a very useful article on the CDC report including an interactive map showing rates across the US. You can click on your city or county and get the statistics. They also listed the cities with the highest rates and the top three states with the highest rates. California came in as the worst state with Ohio and Texas tying for second place. This is not a contest I would wish to win. The south has terrible statistics.

CDC reported STDs in the US 2018:

  • 2,457,118 combined cases of Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis

CDC estimated statistics STDs:

  • 20 million annual new infections
  • 110 million total infections
  • $16 billion total medical costs
  • Half of all new infections are young men and women aged 15-24

Anyone who has read much of my blog has probably figured out that I get in the crosshairs of the religious right 8 days out of 7. I am never going to be onboard with their head-in-the-sand/butt-in-the-air mentality on real life issues such as this one. The above statistics show why I’m not onboard. Clearly, the abstinence approach isn’t very effective. Before you say not where I live, maybe you should check the interactive map. You also might want to consider the following: on occasion your teenager might leave the immediate area in which you live, some STDs are transmitted skin to skin and actual sexual intercourse does not need to take place, and birth control pills protect against zero STDs.

Birth control pills are to prevent pregnancies. They don’t prevent the spread of STDs. I’m highlighting this information because it is always dumbfounding to me how many adults don’t understand birth control pills do not prevent STDs. I have no sympathy for men and boys having casual sex then complaining they were trapped into fatherhood. You were acting irresponsibly. That’s the actual fact. So was she. You weren’t trapped into anything. You should have used a condom to prevent the spread of STDs and prevent pregnancy. That was your choice. The birth control pill isn’t 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancies. Grow up. Man up.

I live in the middle of the bible belt in rural America. Sex education in schools can really start some drama. Churches as a general rule believe in teaching abstinence. OK, well I can’t think of a better way to convince a teenager to wait to have sex than an STD course. Teenagers and young adults are not known for making the best decisions when it concerns hormones and long term consequences to their actions. They ALL need to be taught the actual facts of how to prevent the spread of diseases and pregnancies. They all need to be taught the symptoms of STDs and the fact that they can be asymptomatic while still spreading the disease. Let’s face it, some of these diseases are for life. For girls, they can affect their ability to have children. The above reported statistics do not even include Herpes or HPV. The estimates include all STDs. The rate of STDs being spread is increasing instead of decreasing in the US. The religious right likes to claim the moral high ground and preach abstinence and other’s bad choices involve consequences. A lot of them will actually tell you that other’s choices don’t affect their lives. YES THEY DO. Public health costs affect every individual in the US. We spent an estimated $16 billion on STDs alone last year in the US. How is that not everyone’s problem? That $16 billion is just STDs. It doesn’t include unwanted and/or teenage pregnancy costs. Basic sex education in public schools is a must. Parents are not teaching the information at home. Frankly, some of them don’t know the information themselves. If your school does not teach adequate sex education, or any at all, the CDC has a printable fact sheet for educational purposes on the link I provided. It’s a very good fact sheet for teenagers. There is no excuse for the lack of education and these numbers in our country. It’s disgraceful and preventable. Religion should never be an excuse for not teaching our children basic facts that could permanently affect and improve their lives in a positive and healthy manner.

There is currently a STI Federal Action Plan through OASH with a proposed release date of 2020.

Christmas, Secret Santa, and Millennials

In Great Britain, the website Jobsite, came out with a study saying that Millennials find Secret Santa in the workplace anxiety inducing and stressful. My first knee jerk reaction was, oh lord, more whining. Stop ruining things others enjoy. Well, I too, hate most work practices when it comes to Christmas and I am not a millennial. Why are we expected to budget our income for coworkers instead of our friends and family? We work to provide for our family and be able to spend time with our friends and family. We don’t work to support our coworkers and bosses. That’s where our money is earned not where we wish to spend our money. I completely disagree with our employer telling us how we have to spend our money. I am siding with the millennials in the study on this one.

Years ago in the United States, employers were expected to pay out Christmas bonuses and provide Christmas meals or a party as a way to promote loyalty and show appreciation. Over time, this has been pushed off onto managers and employees. Employees are expected to buy their boss a gift. Managers are expected to throw the party and often pay for a portion of the party or meal. Christmas bonuses are often a thing of the past. I view this as one more cost that corporations and business owners have manipulated employees into incurring. The reality is that most employees including managers cannot afford to incur this cost and still pay their own bills and buy the people who will always be in their lives the gifts they deserve. Employees don’t even realize in many cases how much money their managers are required to spend on these parties and events. Add Christmas to the long list of reasons why employees are no longer loyal to employers. They are however, loyal to good managers. Corporations and business owners should wake up. Business 101, the highest cost of doing business is employee turnover. This is true of any and all businesses. Lowering turnover increases profits without fail every time. It’s basic business.

Secret Santa appears to be a way to minimize costs for employees since they only have to buy one gift. It doesn’t matter if the employee has the income to buy the one gift or not. If you get your boss’ name, good luck to you. I’ve had Christmases over the years where I have struggled to pay utility bills. Yes, that one gift can be a really big deal. Which family member is getting the lump of coal? I’ve had Christmases where I have had disposable income and bought gifts for people I normally would not have bought gifts. There are offices that let people opt out of the Secret Santa or Christmas hoopla all together. Again, this appears to be a reasonable solution. Except it isn’t always a reasonable solution. Some companies literally keep track of who partakes of the work events and it will show up on reviews as not being committed to your job etc. It will be an excuse not to give you a raise. You aren’t a company person. The millennials are correct. Secret Santa as well as other Christmas work events (in my opinion) can be extremely stressful and can in fact affect your job.

Gifts are supposed to be exactly that. Gifts! Freely given to someone because we want them to have whatever it is we found for them. Personally, I have made lifelong friends at every job I have ever had. We have moved on from those jobs yet remain friends. If you work with people who you know will be lifelong friends or you just want to show your appreciation for, absolutely buy them a gift if you can afford to do so. Those people you have a good enough relationship with to give them their gift outside of work even if it’s in the parking lot.

Keep on “whining” millennials. You’re bringing change and awareness. Those are both gifts.

Shades of Gray in a Black and White World

People are either black and white or they see shades of gray in the world. I live in rural America which tends to be black and white, yes or no, right or wrong. No exceptions. I am usually some shade of gray. Rarely is anything black and white with me.

Most people will say that there are certain things we can all agree are black and white. Murder, for example, is wrong. Sounds like a simple enough black and white statement. Unless of course you are a right wing republican or a liberal democrat….or anyone in between. Abortion, up to carrying a baby to term, is murder. Capital punishment is murder. Shooting and killing an intruder in your house before they murder your family is murder. Murdering the enemy in times of war is murder. If you intentionally killed someone, it’s murder. If you’re really as black and white as you think you are, then none of these things are ok. Most people I know think that at least one of these things is justifiable. I do. That justification is the gray area. Here in the US, we have justifiable homicide. It’s still murder. We gave it a different name so that we can retain our black and white viewpoint and our moral high ground. We decided as a society that murder is ok under certain circumstances. It’s all murder. Nearly everything has some exception or shade of gray. It’s the inability to see and/or acknowledge the gray that is partly to blame for tearing our country apart. We are all so determined that our own viewpoint is correct and moral. We forget the person we are arguing with usually feels the same way about their viewpoint. We have to agree as a society to acceptable compromises in order to make laws we will enforce, follow, and enable us to live the American dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. (Yes, I do see the irony of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness after discussing the justifications our society has for murder.) We have to see and agree on some gray areas and compromises in order to continue to reap the benefits of our diverse nation. We have to come together and genuinely listen instead of being politically correct, stifling free speech and opposing viewpoints, and allowing ourselves to live in echo chambers.

Compromise and seeing shades of gray are also about acknowledging everyone has that line where their willingness to compromise ends. Even people who see mostly gray, have a line. When we hit that line, all bets are off. Redirect the conversation and give a little someplace else so everyone can walk away from the table with something. It’s called negotiating. We have forgotten how to negotiate and debate. When we are watching or reading about politics on whatever media source we choose, we forget there are negotiations in play. Usually if you’re a good negotiator, you start with asking for a whole lot more than you expect to walk away with. This gives you wiggle room for compromise without crossing your line. The areas you will negotiate are shades of gray. If you approach people and conversations with an open mind and listen, you will quickly discover that most people have a lot of gray areas whether they know it or not. Even people who are primarily black and white have areas of gray. They are able to negotiate and often compromise for the betterment of our society if they want to do so. We have to get past the anger and hate directed at opposing viewpoints. We have to get past me and consider we. It will end our country if we can’t relearn these basic skills.

My Worst Nightmare

My worst nightmare is dating or marrying the wrong person. I am not a joiner, follower, or a person who NEEDS to be in a relationship. I enjoy my own company. I enjoy reading, writing, painting, watching movies, listening to music and going out and being social. I NEED downtime, quiet time, and a block of daily peace pretty much everyday to unwind and get rid of the noise. Downtime does not include another person. I don’t unwind by being around anyone else. I don’t unwind at a bar or social event. I do that alone. I decompress alone. Without down time, I will spin out and explode all over anyone near me. GO AWAY!!!! Seriously, I love you, please go away. You are not an appendage. I am that person who could happily marry the man who is gone for days at a time. I have a friend of 20 plus years who is the same way. He is gay. We have joked for years that we should get married, continue to live in our own houses, continue our existing lives, but not have to deal with people who can’t understand our need to just have that quiet alone time. People who cannot be alone for five minutes assume you’re cheating or don’t love them. It’s neither one of those things. I barely have the time for one person permanently in my life on a day to day basis. Why would I possibly want more of my valuable alone time taken up with yet another person? Why? I don’t need another person’s validation for my own self worth. If I’m talking to your husband, I’m the last person you need to worry about. If he is willing to cheat on you, he would cheat on me. I don’t want him. I don’t cheat. I don’t tolerate cheating in someone I’m dating. Am I going to chase you around and play the jealous game? Nope. Choose to leave or stay. Commit to an actual relationship or not. I’ve got better things to do than let you control me with your games. And that is a game. The game playing mentality of I’m going to go over here and flirt with someone else if you’re not giving me attention or doing what I want you to do, leaves me cold. OK. Bye. Especially at this point in my life. I’m 51 years old with a 10 year old son. I don’t have time, energy or interest in childish games. I am very direct. If you want to ask me out, ask. I’ll say yes or no. If you want to know what I want out of a relationship, well, mainly to find out if you’re worth my time and in what capacity. Isn’t the point of dating to find out if that person is the one you want to spend the rest of your life with? I’ve dated men that I’ve had great relationships with but didn’t want to marry. I’m still friends with most of them. I’ve dated men I’ve wanted to push off the top of a building after the first date. I’ve dated just about everything in between. I’m 51. I’m not 25 or 35 just divorced from marrying someone at the age of 18. I’ve dated a lot over the years. I’ve also spent time periods where I’ve dated no one because it just hasn’t been a priority for me. My job, my son, my friends, my personal interests have been my top priority. As a single person, there is nothing more irritating than married people who assume you’re out at the bar every night looking for a man or every man you talk to you are hitting on. Not everyone’s life revolves around the search for a mate in order to feel complete or validate their own self worth. Nope, I just like to talk to people. I am actually pretty social as long as I have my personal space and downtime. I have a ten year old son. I’m usually home with him or taking him someplace. I have a job. I have things I enjoy. I have a yard to mow and laundry to do. I have a life. You may not be able to be single. That’s ok. Don’t assume others are the same as you. Hands down the worst times in my life have been when I’m dating the wrong person not when I’ve been single.

My worst nightmare at 51 years old, would be to marry the wrong person just because I have a 10 year old boy and that’s what our society expects. First of all, my son knows not to accept the unacceptable from other people. He knows women don’t have to tolerate bad behavior from men. He actually knows how to treat women. I haven’t exposed him to a revolving door of boyfriends and husbands or my going to the bar to find a man instead of placing him as my first priority. Being a single parent isn’t the problem with raising kids. It’s the revolving relationship door that’s bad for kids. It’s a new set of rules with each new boyfriend or girlfriend if you’re a man. It’s instability and not getting the focus of their parent or parents attention. My son hasn’t been exposed to fighting and yelling and doors slamming in our house. We are pretty peaceful here and we like it that way.

I’m 51 years old. The worst decisions in my life have been when I have done what others have told me to do instead of what I knew was the best decision for me. I am things. I don’t need another person to define me. I don’t need another person to validate me. I don’t need another person to make decisions for me. I am a grown up (most days anyway). I don’t ask someone what to do unless it’s new territory and I need input from a person with experience. I have been making my own decisions for YEARS. The last thing I would do is marry someone who wants me to give up my identity for them and ask them what to do in situations I have dealt with for over 30 years of being an adult. That’s never going to happen.

It sounds like I want to remain single doesn’t it? That’s not necessarily true. I don’t care if I do, but, I can certainly make room in my life for the right person. A person that adds to my life instead of taking away from my life. That’s the reality. I am a stereotypical generation x person in most ways. I am also an introvert. I have to have time to internally process everything on my own. It’s how I’m wired. You can bet that if I date you or spend time with you, it’s because I genuinely enjoy being around you. Otherwise, you would be gone. I don’t waste my time with people I don’t appreciate. I don’t need you in my life. I want you to be in my life. Yes, you have to be a pretty independent and strong minded person to date me. Otherwise, you won’t be happy. You need to move on. I am not for you.

Facebook Madness: The Lake of Insanity

Facebook Madness should be the next mental illness added to the DSMV-5. What happens to normally rational people when they get onto Facebook? โ€œHey look! Thereโ€™s a big Lake of Insanity. Hold my beer while I jump in head first naked.โ€

The above picture is one my son took of me last summer at Lake MacDonald in Glacier National Park. It is not the Lake of Insanity. In fact, there is virtually no signal to even use your phone throughout most of the park and that area. My son and I took a weekโ€™s vacation off the grid. It was wonderful! Now, four months later……

Signs and symptoms of Facebook Madness (FBM):

  • Finding fault with ๐Ÿˆ pictures. 
  • Finding fault with ๐Ÿ• pictures. 
  • Calling,texting, or messaging friends and relatives over a mutual friends post. 
  • Obsessing over a friendโ€™s posts, friends, contacts, comments or activities.
  • Worrying about what someone else will think if you post something.
  • Getting offended by posts not even about you.
  • Assuming every post on your feed is about you because Everything must be about you right?
  • Telling others what they can and cannot post on their page, because thatโ€™s somehow your business and you are now the FB ๐Ÿš” ๐Ÿ‘ฎโ€โ™€๏ธ. You believe you are just that important. 
  • Posting nothing personal or nothing at all while criticizing others on your feed. 
  • Checking your phone every five minutes for new posts, likes, or comments.
  • Checking continuously to see who is active on FB. 
  • Getting angry every time you log on.
  • Getting jealous of otherโ€™s good fortune.
  • Pointing out others faults. 
  • Comparing others to yourself in a negative way so that you can feel better about yourself. 
  • Believing everything you read.
  • Assuming what someone posts is their entire life. 
  • Finding fault with pictures of any of the following:๐Ÿญ๐Ÿท๐Ÿฐ๐Ÿ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿฆ…๐Ÿฆ‹๐Ÿด๐ŸŒ๐Ÿฆ„……a leprechaun ๐Ÿ€…….looking for something to find fault with. 
  • Believing everyone should have the same sense of humor as you. 
  • Being continuously shocked about what is on your feed. 
  • Feeling depressed, a sense of doom, or generally moody after logging on. 

Please note that this is not a complete list. There are many additional secondary symptoms. Do not panic if you only exhibit a few of the listed symptoms as this is normal. Consider unplugging and going off the grid for a reset if any or all of the symptoms persist. 

Iโ€™m thinking skiing in February…..

My Years of Being a Manager of a National Retail Bookstore Changed How I View People.

I was a store manager for a number of years for a national bookstore chain. I worked in two different stores and opened a third. I always made my sales numbers. My staff followed me from one store to the next. As a manager, publishers send you advance reading editions of new books coming out. At one point, I could have opened a bookstore of my own with the number of books I had collected and read. You can sell what you read. Know your product. Know your customer. That’s how you make your sales numbers. Pretty basic retail/sales strategy. It works.

What I learned very quickly is that people can be categorized exactly like a bookstore according to what they read. Different personalities read certain subjects.

Avid readers usually read a variety. There are a lot of avid readers in the world. They are hands down my favorite. Rarely do they buy self help and inspirational quotes unless it’s a gift for someone or highly publicized. Avid readers want to know why everyone is reading that particular book. They don’t necessarily want the help involved in the self help. They will tell someone to read The Art of War or a biography of a successful person instead of a book labelling a new mental illness or why you are a victim. They will tell someone to read a book with a fictional character that portrayed success. They will tell someone to read the history of a country, war, or a culture instead of believing the latest political agenda. They can tell you the life history of authors, what those authors have written and the biography of most historical figures. They can tell you the history of the world and religion. They read the latest science articles. They can have an educated conversation about nearly any topic. They read fiction and nonfiction. They read for enjoyment and for educating themselves. I love these people. A lot of them are now bloggers.

Self help, relationship, and inspirational quote readers are also the buyers of fad diet and exercise books. They are generally in some type of crises. I heard more personal stories over the years than I ever wanted to hear. I heard about divorces, abuse, medical issues, social issues….. You name it. I heard the story. People will tell a complete stranger nearly anything. Most of these people are very nice and in a dark place or struggling with an inner battle. They’re unhappy about something in their life. There are some great self help and relationship websites and books available. Inspirational quotes help a lot of people just get through their day. These people are looking for answers.

The Bible is the most stolen book. We had stores that didn’t even put it out but made people ask for it because it’s stolen so often. We always just said we hope they read it after they steal it. We were forever cleaning the porn out of the religious section of the store. We stopped more than one person walking out the door with an unpaid for bible wrapped in an adult magazine. Religious people REALLY like their porn. Yes, people would take porn to the religious section so that no one would think they were reading or looking at porn. However, I can’t begin to tell you how many people I sold religious books and porn or erotic literature too all in one sale. The porn, erotic literature and religious buyer is often the same person. Those books on sexually deviant behavior….same person. People are often not how they present themselves. Maybe they’re trying to change. I’m not entirely sure of the process going on there. Guilt? I don’t know. Yes, there are people that buy a Bible and a devotional book only. That section is truly a mixed bag.

Young adults trying to figure out who they are and their belief systems buy philosophy and theology books. They are fun too. They also tend to explore various religions. Wicca is a very popular and attractive religion or belief system for this age group.

Mystery, horror, and romance are almost a cult following. They know what they want to read. Leave them alone. They enjoy the search, the topic, and the style of the author.

The best seller buyer is synonomous with the person who only wears, purchases, and buys the latest trend. This is the person concerned with how many likes they have on FB. The writing and content of the best seller is irrelevant. It could be complete garbage. Doesn’t matter. Sheeples.

Nonfiction readers vary but they want specific topics, information, or authors. They can be business people looking for strategies, biography readers interested in certain time periods of history, or researchers wanting to know about history or science. They’re on a pretty specific mission. The political and cultural readers are always fun. Most only want to be in an echo chamber and have their own view reinforced. I like to shake those people up on occasion. Always read both sides of anything. Nothing is ever completely unbiased regardless of the author’s genuine attempt to make it so.

I’ve saved my very favorite for last. The science fiction/fantasy reader. Personally, this is my reading preference, along with horror novels. This reader is looking for something specific and will know it when they find it. Leave them alone. These authors discovered years ago that if you give a book a theme of good against evil, you can write about and address any social, scientific, political, cultural, or religious topic to your hearts content while staying off the radar. You can write about literally anything if you give it the context of being on a different planet or realm etc. No one cares. Some of these authors understand basic human behavior better than self help authors. They also have the benefit of being able to speak or write freely due to the context in which they are writing. They can say things a self help author can’t necessarily say or write.

What I learned. Leave whatever section of the store you are in occasionally and go explore a different area. You might be surprised how it changes your perspective.

My Dysphoria Regarding Gender Dysphoria

Merriam-Webster defines dysphoria as a state of feeling very unhappy, uneasy, or dissatisfied. The DSM-5 updated it’s classification of Gender Identity Disorder to Gender Dysphoria to eliminate stigma for people who believe they are a different sex than their designated gender. This causes me dysphoria. I’m feeling very unhappy, uneasy and dissatisfied with the PC, woke, complete loss of rational thought culture. I’m normally very supportive of the LGBT culture. For the most part, who you date etc., has nothing to do with me. Why should I care? Maybe I should care, but I don’t. Not even a little bit. At work, I only care that you do your job. You don’t tell me who to date and I don’t tell you who to date. What’s the problem? You’ve lost me on this new transgender movement. I’m a whole new level of dysphoric ALMOST but not quite as badly affected as the so FAR LEFT you have left the planet crowd.

If you’re an adult, I don’t care if you choose to have transgender surgery, what gender you wish to be called, or what terminology you choose to use. Don’t, however, expect me to know how you wish to be addressed. I’m not a mind reader. Don’t expect me to call you woman of the year just because you had transgender surgery and are taking hormones. That does not make you woman of the year. It doesn’t make you a woman. Why would it make you woman of the year? You don’t know what a woman is. You don’t know what it means to be a woman. All you did was change your outward appearance to match your dysphoria. Many of you elect to keep your penis. If you genuinely believe you’re a woman, you would not keep your penis. If you are a woman who transgenders to a man, because you truly believe you’re a man, the first thing you would do is have a hysterectomy. It would not be breast removal. That’s about appearance only. No woman on the planet enjoys menstruating. That’s for reproduction. There’s no reason to keep your uterus and ovaries if you really believe yourself to be a man. Being pregnant and having a baby is an integral part of what makes a woman a woman. Yes, there are women who cannot or choose not to have children. Most women who cannot have children, but wish to, feel an emotional loss. You’re lying to yourselves. You are having irreversible surgeries for appearances only. You are not changing yourself from one gender or sex to the other. If you already believe yourself to be the opposite gender of the one matching your body, why does your appearance even matter? Dress as the opposite gender and present yourself as such. You can’t change your DNA and bone structure and you’re not even leaving behind the most basic functions which are the reproductive ones. You’re lying. I’m not saying you’re lying on purpose. I’m saying you’re lying to yourself. If your physical body, DNA, bone and muscular structure do not dictate which gender you are, then why are you having surgery? Because, you know that your physical body does dictate your gender. That’s the only answer left. You want to appear how you feel. You have completed the medical version of putting on a new suit or dress. That’s all you have done. Happiness comes from within not from our outward appearance. But at the end of the day, that’s your choice. I don’t think I should have to pay your insurance bill for your choice. I don’t think you should be discriminated against as far as employment is concerned. I certainly don’t hate you or bear you any ill will. I’m just not inclined to humor your dysphoria.

Where I really feel dysphoric is when you direct your choices at minors. I understand there are many gay, lesbian, and bisexual adults who grew up in households that were difficult to say the least because of their sexuality. Encouraging acceptance of attractions is not the same thing as encouraging surgery and medication. Attractions can change over time. Surgeries and the effects of hormones are permanent. There are de-transitioning surgeries but you can’t replace original sexual reproductive organs that work. They’re gone forever because of an adult’s choice. That is child abuse on the most horrific level. If you’re talking about grade school children or younger, you should be in jail. I have to question if this isn’t partly population control. Margaret Sanger was instrumental in the development of birth control pills and abortions as part of population control and genocide for black people. She is a heroine of the far left. These children undergoing surgeries will never be having children of their own. How can you possibly rationalize taking away that choice from children? If a child chooses to dress as the opposite sex or behave as the opposite sex, I’m perfectly fine with that. They can still make their own choices when they’re older. Children change their minds on a daily basis. They have no idea who and what they are or will become. That’s part of growing up.

Sports. Dysphoria is in my rearview mirror on this subject. Men don’t belong in women’s sports. Women don’t belong in men’s sports. If you have the bone structure, musculature structure, and developed with male hormones, you do not belong on the women’s sports team. You are not a woman. You are a bully. Nothing more. Why should our girls be physically beat up because of your dysphoria? You are selfish. You do not understand sportsmanship. Get off the field. We need a separate category for transgender sports. I would support a separate category one hundred percent. I would watch and support the transgender players. I think our girls and women should begin walking off the field. It’s the only way to end this nonsense. But hey, why should transgender women care about girls and women? Why should they care if there are injuries etc.? See my point? You don’t know what it means to be a woman or a girl because you aren’t one and you’re proving it daily in sporting events.

Appreciate the Step Parent or Significant Other

When you are a parent, it often seems as if the entire world is hellbent on telling you how to raise your child. We hear a lot of “what kids need these days is a good sound ass whooping”. And on and on and on…โ€ฆ. Anyone with a child knows they had preconceived notions of how they were going to raise their own children and not make the mistakes their parents and friends made or are making. About one month into the arrival of a new baby, you throw everything right out the window into the yard with the garbage cans. Sometimes its one day instead of one month. In my case, I gave birth via C-section to a 9lb 10 ounce 23 inch long baby. Five days later we went home from the hospital with explicit instructions that I was not to lift or carry anything 10lbs or over. Hello, single parent of a now 10lb baby. I had just turned 41. I promise that you do not bounce back at 41 like you do at 21 or 31. It’s an entirely different ballgame. Even my doctor laughed that she had just given me impossible instructions. What do you do? You get by as best as you can. You get creative in ways to get sleep when you’re exhausted and your baby needs to nurse every 2-4 hours for several weeks. Everything continues from that point onwards. The truth is that we learn to be parents with our children as they grow. We grow with them. My son is now 10 years old. I try my hardest not to say one single word to parents of teenagers. I already know that whatever I believe right now will be out there in the yard with the rest of what I thought I knew up until this point. I think that’s most parents.

Imagine being a step parent or significant other if you have never had children of your own. Imagine being a step parent or significant other to a child that you haven’t been around since day one and you don’t know even if you do have children of your own. Every child is different. It’s like reading a book only you started on page 200 instead of page 1. You’re probably going to be a little lost and overwhelmed at first as to what exactly you need to do. Some things you may see clearer than the parent because you are a fresh set of eyes to issues that slowly have grown and the parent doesn’t even realize they exist or to what extent they exist. It’s a lot to take on. It always amazes me how many people are willing to step into these roles and do them well. We should be encouraging and supporting people who step up. We should appreciate the things they do for our children and for us. Do they make mistakes? Yes, but then so do we. Do we disagree with them at times as to the correct course of action? Yes, but we disagree with the other biological parent many times too. If you’re a single parent and you find a person who is willing and able to step into this role effectively, you better treat them well and appreciate them. They’ve acknowledged that they aren’t just in a relationship or marriage with you but also with your child or children. That’s a person who is probably worth keeping.

Personally, I haven’t found the right person to be in a permanent relationship with my son and I. But I can guarantee you that if I do, I’ll be throwing all of my preconceived notions of my expectations of him out the window with the garbage probably about one day in. Hopefully, I won’t throw out my appreciation for his willingness to step up.

Meeting the Burden of Proof. How Combatting Rape in the US Lies in Education and Cultural Change Instead of in our Court System.

I spend a lot of time online reading news stories, articles, blogs, and people’s social media comments. Yes, I am a comment reader because I find it fascinating how people respond and view current events. Today I was talking to someone on Facebook about the burden of proof as it relates to a law incriminating people present when a crime is committed. We were talking about the burden of proof and how it lies with the accuser or prosecutor of a case. We are innocent until proven guilty in the United States. It’s not the defendant’s duty to prove themselves innocent. During this short exchange, I realized why I have been so completely at odds with both the Me Too movement and the far right on the topic of rape in the US. I have to say that I’ve been thoroughly disgusted with both extremes for a while now, but wasn’t sure exactly why my buttons were being pushed quite so hard by them both.

It’s because they’re both wrong. The burden of proof lies with the accuser. I cannot repeat that enough times. That’s the basis of our entire legal system in the United States and I believe it to be the best system. We often cannot prove our innocence. It’s impossible. Regardless of the crime, the accuser has to prove their case. The far right is online talking about how the number of rapes in the US are exaggerated, there are men in jail wrongly accused, and any accuser that didn’t prove their case should face the sentence the accused would have faced having been convicted for ruining someone’s reputation. The Me Too movement is online talking about how all accusers should be believed. Period.

Let’s start with the Me Too movement. It’s pretty basic and easy to understand. We have a legal system for a reason. Does it fail? Yes, sometimes it does. Can something like date rape be proven? Rarely. If you know you’re not going to win the physical fight, realistically you’re better off not increasing the physical damage with a physical struggle. Men often don’t understand that very basic fact. Do women report date rapes? Not often because there’s just no point in doing so. Women understand date rape is a he said she said no win why put yourself through that situation. Are the rape statistics in the US accurate? Absolutely not. However, we can’t accuse people of a crime without being able to prove a crime happened. People lie everyday for a variety of reasons. We cannot convict people based on he said she said. Stop vilifying all men based on a certain percentage of the male population. There are women rapists out there too. The human body physiologically responds to certain stimulus. I have a male friend who was raped as a 9 year old boy by his female babysitter. Yes, it does happen and boys or men really don’t report rape because of the stigma attached. Let’s not forget about them.

Oh the far right… are more difficult as always. There are people sitting in jail right now for all kinds of crimes that they didn’t commit. There is a legal redress in place for when a conviction is overturned. It’s in civil court and you absolutely can sue for damages. No accuser for any crime presented in court automatically gets the sentence the accused would have gotten had they been convicted. Get a grip. We wouldn’t even need jail if that were the case. No one would prosecute anything. And there are men who ruin women’s reputations by lying and saying they had sex with someone when they in fact did not. It’s fine for men but not for women? No, it isn’t. And yes, you did do damage when you spread that lie. Common sense should tell you that rape is under reported if anything because it’s so hard to prove. If the rapist wore a condom, even if you could prove rape, you may not be able to prove who the rapist was. It’s a hard to prove crime in many cases. It’s often a better choice for the victim to heal and move on with HIS or HER life.

Will we ever eliminate rape in the US? No, we won’t. But we can decrease the rate and lasting effects on victims through education and awareness. The Me Too movement needs to check itself when it vilifies all men and categorically believes all accusers. The far right needs educated. Men have more influence on other men’s and boy’s behaviors than any law ever written. We need to stop vilifying men because it’s wrong and we need them to stand up and say no to their friends and teach their son’s better. The same is true of women. I understand why there are so many mad women and men in this country right now. Women are tired of being told it’s their fault or not being believed. Men are tired of all being placed into one category as the criminal. Men and boys are online reading how we should believe any woman who accuses them of rape. That’s really not acceptable. If he or she isn’t allowed to say no or is incapacitated, that’s rape. Treat other people how you want to be treated. It’s really that simple.

Don’t Wrap Your Kids in Bubble Wrap

Most of us would like to protect our child from the world and any harm that can come to them. Our job is to teach them how to live in the world as adults and be successful in their own right. Success means different things to different people. For some people it’s money, fame, power, importance, having a family of their own, being a church leader, or simply being happy and healthy. Regardless of what success means to you, all of the possibilities have certain commonalities in order to happen. Successful people know how to make good decisions, learn from bad decisions and do not repeat them, they have high self esteem, they understand cause and effect, and they understand they are accountable for their own life choices and actions. They understand nothing is free, the world isn’t fair, and no one owes them anything. They think for themselves.

Don’t wrap your child in bubble wrap and try to protect them from everything. You are doing them more harm than good. Kids learn consequences and decision making skills from all of those skinned knees and goofy things they do. It’s better they learn as kids in a controlled environment where we as parents can help them pick up the pieces. They gain a little more self confidence with every little good decision they make. Don’t give every kid a participation trophy. It’s important to learn to lose and improve ourselves in order to win. Don’t buy them everything they want. Teach them how to balance a bank account instead. Teach them to take care of things and value what they have. Replacing what they break or lose teaches them nothing. Let them go without for a little while. Make them do chores and learn the value of work. I’m all for letting a kid be a kid. My own is pretty spoiled. But, part of being a kid is learning to be an adult. Kids learn constantly from the adults in their life and by playing with their friends. Honestly, they aren’t just playing. They’re learning even when they appear to just be playing.

Of course we have to keep them on track and make sure things are age and developmentally appropriate for our child. Every child learns and develops at their own rate in their own way. Children are born with a personality unique to themselves. We don’t give them their personality, we can only hope to shape it. What worked for you as a child or works for your friends child, may not work for yours. What works for one of your children, may not work for another one. What has never worked with any child ever is smothering or controlling them to the point they cannot learn.

There is a fine line between making sure your child is talking and communicating with you and giving them no privacy or room to process, learn, and handle issues on their own. My own son processes internally for a while before he will talk about anything. It’s his personality. I’m the same way so I understand the process. If your child is an internal processor, give them some space then be available. Sometimes that space is ten minutes and sometimes it’s ten days. If they aren’t ready to talk, they aren’t going to. They will tell you what you want to hear to make you go away. When they are ready to talk, they won’t talk to you because they already told you to go away. Yes, that’s how that works. Often our kids think and respond to things exactly the way one or both of their parents do. I would like to say that’s all environment, but its not. Part of it is definitely genetic. My son did not see his dad for several years. His dad lives in another state. He is ten years old and has spent less than two months total of his life with his dad around. And yet, he has the exact same body stance and facial expressions when he gets mad. His personality has a lot of his dad’s aspects both good and bad. That’s not an environmental influence coming from his dad because he hasn’t been around to influence him in any significant way. Having said that, don’t ever bad mouth any parent in front of any child. You’re bad mouthing the child when you choose to bad mouth the parent.