Are You On The Level?

It's a little weird to have a grandniece: my niece has a daughter. Now, I have a grandnephew: my niece has given birth to a baby boy. Does this make me feel old? Hahahaa. A little. Only when I think about the norm that the uncle has kids before his niece does, except my niece and I are close in age.

She told me that one of her friends brags about how well she raises her daughter and doesn't use things like TV and iDevices. That had made my niece feel bad about the way she raises her kids. I advised that any bad feelings my niece had is really her holding onto those thoughts that causes those bad feelings. Let those thoughts go by not putting any value on them, like watching bubbles float away down a river. Don't be a puppet to your own thoughts.

Ultimately, though, her friend is insecure. If she was confident, then she wouldn't need to brag then devalue my niece in any way. We see this a lot when we think someone is out of someone else's league in regards to dating.

On Saturday, I went to dinner with a few friends and an acquaintance had joined who I've called Mr. SUV. You see, Mr. SUV had this girlfriend who didn't want to spend anytime with him, then stated he'd drive a hybrid except it didn't attract the ladies, which he wouldn't need to do if he already had this so called girlfriend. Right? Yeah...I don't know.

Anyway, I surmise that he doesn't like me. Why? He was praising his smart watch, which prompted me to ask him what he thought about Apple's smart watch. He threw air quotes and said, "Oh, the Apple Watch?"

My Preciousss...

I asked him what the air quotes meant. Apparently, the rumor mill had been calling the Watch the iWatch for a very long time, and even Tim Cook was caught on camera using that name. But Mr. SUV complained that they're now calling it the Watch. I guess companies can't change their minds or have code names for their products, despite the fact that Apple had never confirmed they were making an Watch before announcing it. I stated that Apple is doing this to avoid litigation issues with the naming convention of i(Device)s. Mr. SUV rolled his eyes. 

All righty then...

That same night, a friend of mine asked me about the new iPhone 6's. I told her that I loved the feel of the rounded glass screen. Mr. SUV then touched his phone's screen and mocked, "Ooh. The screen feels so good. Oooh." He was on the verge of having a Meg Ryan moment from When Harry Met Sally.

I felt miffed, but reconfirmed that I did love the feel of that screen. I don't know what it is. But maybe Jony Ive should design sex toys. I left Mr. SUV alone because he was trying to impress my friend, which she wasn't, and he didn't need any help from me failing at that, even though I wanted to do this:

I bring up Mr. SUV because he's the kind of guy who always praises himself and devalues others because he's insecure. And because I'm a writer, I'm always trying to tune myself more and more to what people are saying underneath their words.

Someone who is confident doesn't even need to elevate themselves because they know that other peoples' opinions have no effect on who they are. And vice versa. Confident people know they have no control over other peoples' opinions, so why put the effort in trying to change it?

And only insecure people would write about someone they don't like and call him Mr. SUV on their website. Wait. What? I mean, confident people wouldn't even post a Mr. SUV article on their website. Whoa. Hold on. Insecure people and confident people are people too. Sigh. I give up.

Talking to Your Children

If you've read my bio, you'll know that I've taught martial arts/sexual assault prevention for 16 years.  More than half of the people I taught were kids of all ages.  Eventually, I came to disagree with the one size fits all treatment way of teaching.  The problem comes from looking at a group class and not see the individuals.  Soon I'd started my business of teaching privately, focusing on the individual. Kids represent an interesting puzzle.  They're very much like adults.  They think about adult things, they try and act on adult decisions, but many times they don't have the wisdom or knowledge on how to go about it.  This is where the parent is essential.  Here's what I've learned from teaching hundreds upon hundreds of kids:

  1. Always listen.
    • Specifically listen for words that'll indicate whether they need your help or not.  Sometimes kids, just like adults, need to let go of the thousands of thoughts that go through their minds.
    • If you can't read whether they need help or not, then ask them.
  2. Listen without judgment.
    • Parents always complain to me about their kids losing their trust.  I think it's even worse to lose the trust of your child.  Lose the trust of your child, you lose the ability to truly help.
    • If your child has done drugs, had sex, drank alcohol, it may come down to a couple of things.
      • They're dealing with issues of emptiness, loneliness, nonacceptance, isolation, etc.  Some form of connection has been lost.  It's the reason why kids of divorced parents tend to succumb to things like drugs, or kids join gangs, or kids seeking sex to feel that lost connection.
      • They're being forced to do something they don't want to do.  The source of this could be a parent forcing them to do well in school, molestation of some kind, nagging  adults - parents, coach, teacher, bullying.  One thing that most parents or adults realize is that kids know what they want and don't.  That doesn't mean you don't guide them to do well in school, or go to sleep at a reasonable hour, or talk to them about sex, drugs, alcohol.  But decisions on social activities, academic activities, family activities should be a dialogue between parent and child.
  3. Ask questions.
    • Whether they've threw up all their problems, or keep quiet, ask questions.  Even if they don't say anything, it will open up lines of communication.  But please ask questions on what they've talked about first.  Once and if they've answered those, then a door may be opened for you to ask other questions that may concern you.
    • If they ask you what you think or what to do, turn the question around and ask them.  This is a really great way of finding out how mature your child is.  Many times I've found that my client knew what to do, but didn't know if it was correct.  If they're solution to their issue made sense, I'd congratulate them for coming up with it, then I'd agree.
    • Follow up with them to see if they've followed through.  Again, listen, don't judge, ask questions, and guide them.
  4. If your kids don't have any serious issues like having sex too early, use of drugs, etc, then you've got a great kid.  Again, most of the parents I work with don't count their blessings.  They focus on what their kids don't have.  "They got a B instead of an A."  So what?  They're healthy, happy, and in your life.  Remember, you wanted to have kids.
  5. Last tip, view your kids as adults.  They may not be 18, but their core characteristics will remain for the rest of their lives.  There was a study that stated once a child is three years old, their personality had been developed and ingrained.
    • This brings up an important point.  Start discipline early.  Too many times I've seen spoiled children run over their parents.

Changing Role of Parents

If you've watched any movies or films where there's a parent/child dynamic, the parent always views their child as children, no matter the age.  My mom does this to me a lot.  When I visit her for dinner, she'll make three dishes-chicken, beef, and a vegetable entree.  She makes enough to feed an family of four, but it's just the two of us eating. First she'll say that all of this costs less than a single entree at a restaurant.  Then as I take a piece of chicken, she'll point to the beef dish and ask if I don't like beef.  I take a piece of beef, and she points to the vegetable dish and ask if I don't like vegetables.  I take some and put it in my bowl, and she points to the chicken.  She asks me why I won't eat the chicken.

Over the years of mediating between parents and their children, I've noticed that parents are reluctant to change their role.  As babies, parents provide everything-food, clothing, healthcare, etc.  When children get older, the amount of care needed lessens.  Obvious, right?  You're not going to prop your ten year old on the table and change their diaper.  If you do, then there are issues of discipline you'll need to deal with.  During the teenage years, kids tend to want some sort of independence.  That's why they don't like to be seen with their moms or dads.  It's totally uncool.  Once people grow into young adulthood, then further on as adults, parents still care and worry about them as if they were little kids.  As children grow, so must the parent's role.

When I taught privately, my advantage was not having any emotional attachment.  I would listen to my students problems or issues, and I wouldn't judge them.  Some had sex early on.  Other's cussed a lot.  Many had complaints about their overbearing parents.  They told me everything.  I'd help them if they wanted, but left the subject if they didn't.  Parents would be thankful that I was there to listen to their children's problems, but didn't really know how to gain their child's trust.  It's simple, but can be hard to do.

Listen to them, ask questions about what they're talking about, and do your damned best not to judge.  Don't overreact, yell, scream, or solve their problems.  Ask if they need help, for sure.  But just listen.  If you want to give your two cents, then ask if you can give your opinion.  Trust me, if they want it, they'll say yes.  IF they don't want it, and you give it to them, it'll go out one ear and out the other.  That doesn't mean you don't make them aware of issues of sex, drugs, or alcohol.  You do.  I'd recommend not to be overbearing.

I live by two guidelines when I teach.  The teacher appears when the student is ready.  So if people are ready to learn, they will listen.  When I teach, I don't teach, nor do I take the role of teacher.  When I teach, I take the role of guide.  Life is a massive landscape of unknown.  Just as you would hire a guide for a safari, be your children's guide when they need it.