Monday, April 29, 2013

Women’s intuition: Is my sixth sense on the fritz?

I do truly believe in women’s intuition. I believe it is inherently a woman thing, and I believe that for the most part we should trust it. Problem is, as we get older, we (read “I”) seem to have so many other issues that cloud our ability to listen to this internal judgment that we often turn a deaf ear and miss the mark completely.

I’ve had some first-class incidents where my sixth sense – or women’s intuition – whatever you want to call it – has kicked in high gear. A part of me attributes those to “guardian angel moments” – you know – like when you make the last-minute decision to go a different way to work and find out there was a horrific accident on your normal route. Is that necessarily women’s intuition or God at play? I don’t know.

Where relationships are concerned, I’ve often mislabeled my intuition as “red flags.” You know, those little things that kind of hit you like a ton of bricks and make you go “Ewww… uh no.” At first, I was the queen of finding red flags. If you chewed your food with your mouth open, that meant you were obviously raised by wolves and had no business having a relationship that could potentially lead to procreation.  After my divorce, any man who remotely did anything (read “breathing”) like my ex-husband was automatically put on the “watch” list, because obviously THAT hadn’t worked out so I must try to find something COMPLETELY different that will. (Note: I got over that. Sort of. Still workin’ on it.)

As I mellowed with age and wisdom (haha), I learned to relax what I considered these red flags and rely on this gift that God had apparently given me and all women – this intuition thing. While red flags would give me pause, intuition nagged at me like a cranky child with a wet diaper. 

More often than not, I can look back and see where my intuition kicked in and I ignored it until it was too late. Repeatedly making excuses for my behavior or for someone else’s, thinking things like, “It would do me good to change this or that about myself instead of arguing or debating” and “Well, all the other parents let their kids do that, so maybe I’m overreacting” had me backpedaling more than I’d care to admit. I think I was (and still am) lacking confidence in my ability to make the right decisions when my intuition more frequently than not seems to go against the norm.

Parenting is probably the only example where my intuition perhaps goes into overdrive. Maybe it’s because I remember being a teenager; maybe it’s because I’m a control freak, or maybe it’s because I am somehow uncannily (and uncharacteristically)confident that I know my son more than he (or anyone else) thinks I do. 

So far, my intuition has been almost dead on in occasions where others thought (and voiced) opposite assessments. Somehow, when it comes to intuition and parenting, I have this subconscious confidence that allows me to listen to what my insides are telling me instead of poo-pooing them as an overreaction. That isn’t to say that I know what to DO about it – believe me – this parenting intuition gives me many a sleepless nights full of worry. Maybe I feel like my intuition is all I have to hang on to in that area sometimes. 

That’s where I get confused. If I can be so sure of my inner voice when it comes to parenting, why does it seem so whackadoodle in other parts of my life?

Do I give a potential new relationship a chance or cut my losses early and run? Are the celebrity impressions he does charming or a sign of a deep neurosis? Am I worried about my job security because I have cause to be or am I just overreacting and reading too much into things? Do I need to “let go and let God” where my financial worries are concerned or should I try to pick up more freelance to further ensure a solid financial future for myself and my children? I have surface feelings about each of these things – common sense feelings – then that vexatious pit in my stomach that never quite seems to leave. Maybe women’s intuition is one of the leading causes of ulcers in middle age? 

No matter what you call it – women’s intuition, sixth sense, instinct, or just a gut feeling, I’m still learning to fight back the insecurities that keep me from embracing and fine-tuning this powerful tool that may one day cause me to put my head on the pillow and drift off into a peaceful sleep thinking, “Yep - I did the right thing.”

Friday, April 12, 2013

It takes a village to destroy a child - and we're doing a great job

In the past few weeks, I’ve read an abhorrent number of stories about teenagers doing unspeakable things. From two separate incidents of alleged rape of intoxicated teenage girls – resulting in the suicides of those girls, to beatings, shootings, stabbings, bullying and bomb threats.

I read these stories with horror at the grievous behavior. Disbelief at the lack of decency, humanity, compassion and morality of these young people. Bewilderment at what seemingly makes this OK in this society today and what has changed from 10, 20 or 30 years ago. 

Some comments in these articles echo my sentiments. I have to weed through the blatant violent threats against the perpetrators and the sickening rants of idiots who think that whatever was done to these victims was “deserved” in order to get to the incredulous responses from what I can only assume are people my age who say that this kind of behavior would have rarely if ever happened “back in the day.”

And they’re right. It wouldn’t have – or it rarely would have. And though I realize that my parents probably used that same sentiment about my generation, I’m sure they’re all shaking their heads at the state of our teenage society today. 

But here’s the rub. Who is to blame? If you read the comments, it’s the parents. It always goes directly to the parents. Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter Adam Lanza? Nancy Lanza’s fault. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the pair behind the Columbine High School massacre? Parents again blamed. And these teenage boys shaking in their boots as they await’s threat to publish their names for assault, rape and possibly manslaughter of that now deceased teenage girl? Read the comments. Here’s one: “Parents are what has happened to our kids or more accurately lack of parenting. Some parents are no better than just substandard baby sitters, wrapped up in their own trash too much to notice that something very bad is happening to junior.”

I’m not going to disagree that parents may be part of the problem. Kids live in homes where both parents are working long hours and often stay connected to work via phones and computer long after they leave the office. Kids are home alone way too much and left to their own devices. “Babysitters” like TV, video games and other technology are utilized to keep kids occupied when those technologies are in my opinion one of the BIGGEST contributors to the decline of the family unit.  

But I gotta tell ya – I have a teen that is in the throes of this crappy, violent, insolent society. I hate what he is up against and all my attempts to shield him from it feel fruitless. I found a job with a flexible schedule so I can be home shortly after he returns from school. I limit his exposure (at home) to technology and make sure it’s safely tucked away out of his reach at night. I even have a block on our TV so he can’t get into any “inappropriate” shows that are so prevalent on the myriad of channels we’re provide through cable. How many parents of 15 year olds do that? 

Does it matter? Nope. Not at all. Have you checked your kid’s Facebook lately? If you’re lucky, he or she is posting pictures of unicorns and rainbows and having discussions about homework problems and play practice. Unfortunately, the teen Facebook scene is really more like a porn site. Seriously, check it out. 

Language fit for a sailor, BLATANT drug and sex references, outright bullying and general inappropriateness of epic proportions. Want me to name names? I could – just to see if the parents even have a clue. Oh, and don’t just look at your kid’s Facebook page. Because they can create them under ANY guise they want to. And they can be friends with anyone they want to. And they can be whoever they want to be, and whatever age they want to be. Look at their Facebook messages. Check them out. Again, if you’re lucky, it’s a discussion on the latest “who likes who.” If you’re not, it’s much, much darker. 

Do you know what they watch on TV? Have you watched TV lately? Just listen to some of the programs and see if you can go a whole minute without hearing a “bleep this” or “bleep that”. See if you can watch a program without something being blurred out, or something without a sexual innuendo, or violence. Just try it. 

And yeah, here I go with the video games again. Too bad. Don’t give me that crap about promoting dexterity and coordination and tactical skills. Math, science, reading and sports do all that. Not first-person shooter games where you can earn points for bigger and better weapons and BONUS you can play with people you’ve NEVER EVEN MET. WHAT A GREAT IDEA. 

One of the biggest issues I see in my experience with teens is that for some reason, they seem to think that they are on the same level as adults. Like it’s an even playing field. This astounds me. When I was growing up, no matter how “mature” I thought I was, my parents were in charge. THEY were the adults. They weren’t my buddies. I respected them regardless of how much they pissed me off because I thought I should be able to do something they weren’t letting me do. 

That sentiment is virtually gone now, and I don’t know why. It seems to start around middle school – this “mistaken maturity.” And it’s evil and deadly because they’re NOT mature. They’re NOT ready. And they MUST be parented. The problem is, as author Jane Cowen-Fletcher said and Hilary Clinton revisited, “It takes a village.” And there’s no village anymore. It seems to be a bunch of tired, overwhelmed parents trying to do the right thing in the midst of a society that could really give a shit about the morals and values of our young people. And since they can’t beat it, many join it. They stoop to their teen’s level and embrace the video games and the inappropriate TV. They allow the excessive technology and access to God knows what on the Internet. The kids are exposed to these poisons LONG before their brains can handle it, and it takes its toll in the form of desensitization. Desensitization to true feelings – to compassion – to morals and values and those incredibly important things that make people GOOD. 

How do we get back to GOOD? Can we get back to GOOD? Can we somehow stop the influx of degradation and smut and violence and somehow protect our children from being exposed to this too early – if at all? Who is the “they” who allow these evils to be so readily accessible and how can we make them stop? How do we instill in our children morals and values and more importantly, how do we get them to stick so when they’re faced with the bad in the world they can turn and walk the other way? HOW???

I'm befuddled beyond belief and don’t have the answer. I don’t think I’m a bad parent. I’ve done everything I can to raise my children in a proper, Godly way and I feel as if it is being stripped from me every single day. I feel powerless and hopeless. I feel as if I am on a constant, fruitless and desperate search for the smallest sliver of goodness pie in society that I can go and curl up in with my kids all safe and sound. 

That sliver of pie exists for some – I don’t know how, but it does. You families are the lucky ones. For others, even the BEST of parents, the outcome is not as optimistic, especially if your child has been exposed. If he or she has, it’s like a virus that spreads like a flesh-eating bacteria. Unfortunately, this parent with the best of intentions and the defensive nature of a momma grizzly bear can do nothing but  stand by with a bowl of chicken noodle soup and some Band-Aids and hope that someone comes up with a cure before it’s too late.