Pro-Active Prevention Education

babies with jobsWe frequently hear the statement “children are our future”. That comment is bigger than a lot of us realize. So many things can be attached to having a child and women and men have their own reasons for wanting or not wanting a baby.

Having a child should be a blessing that both parties are desirous of and ready for. That means planning and knowing your current conditions. This includes relationship stability, financial stability, and health, both physical and mental. All of these components are important because if any of them are not where they should be, then the chances for a successful child rearing outcome can be negatively impacted.

In relationships, far too often someone is trying to bind a person to them by having a baby and believing that the child will force a person to remain in the relationship. Whenever this is used as a reason for having a child, you’re already fighting an uphill battle. A baby should never be born with the job of keeping two parties together. Whatever problems existed prior to the birth of the child will still exist and most likely become worse. Now the baby only becomes a burden in the relationship.

When a couple is already struggling financially, the additional expense of childbirth and child-rearing increases monetary needs and only puts more strain on relationship stability. Even if you are not in a situation where you are struggling financially, will an additional mouth to feed push you into this position or will it cause emotional or time restraints on a relationship that you just can’t push past? Not having enough income or time to raise a child can lead to emotional and financial stressors that in turn can cause hardships, violence and social service involvement.

All of the conditions that have been mentioned above are far too common in our society today, especially when you consider all the available information we have that can be put to good use prior to a pregnancy. We all have access to information on the cost of healthcare, child-rearing, relationship issues, etc. If you choose not to read the information then you only need to turn on the television and see the family destruction.

If children are supposed to be our future, just how far are we looking into the future? How many times do we see young men refusing to do anything for his child? How many times do we hear a young lady state “I just wanted to have his baby” while not taking into consideration how the young man feels or what their future plans will be when it comes to the joint parenting of the child? Babies are innocent, important and very expensive. They need attention from both parents, not one using the baby to get back at the other, or controlling how much time is given based on how much money is paid.

A baby should not be born with the job of keeping a relationship together or coercing someone to be in your life, filling a void, getting financial support from someone, or creating someone you feel will love you unconditionally. It’s not fair for anyone to be pushed straight from the womb and immediately into the work place. I think when two people agree to have a child they should have a well thought out plan and the goal should be to make the child safe and happy!

With the number of abused and abandoned babies being on the rise, I guess babies are not doing their JOBS!

20131229_120634_resized

copyright 2013

Most of us begin a relationship with enthusiasm, love, lust or something else.  But somewhere along the way, those feelings can change. How long did it take before you or your mate started to complain and your life at home started to become uncomfortable?   Not feeling comfortable at home is a problem that can be experienced by both males and females.  We know that traditionally it’s always been the females that have been accused of complaining, but men can be equally as annoying.   In my years both as a youth and mature man, I have witnessed moments and heard many stories from both sexes.  What I find interesting is the amount of anger and emotional punishment we can dish out in our own homes.

What should our home life be like?  The answer depends on your own choices and your upbringing.  It depends on whether it was peaceful or stressful.  If you were unhappy, uncomfortable or abused, your beliefs today can be socially slanted.  Can you remember as a kid how it felt coming home to a setting that did not make you feel good, but it was the only place you could go? As an adult I have had that feeling.  So obviously the feeling is not limited to age, it can impact anyone.  The best way for me to describe the feeling is to imagine being incarcerated and the guard is your agitator.  You can’t escape because you’re already at home.  Let’s call it “RELATIONSHIP INCARCERATION”.  It’s that feeling of I must go home but home is where I feel the most miserable.

This is how a friend of mine described being in a relationship where she felt incarcerated.  She worked long hours and found other things to do all to avoid coming home.  Each day as she pulled into her driveway, a feeling of dread would overtake her.  It moved from the tip of her head and made its way down to her toes.  As she put her key into the door; she would take a deep breath before turning to open it because she never knew what the mood of the person waiting on the other side was going to be.  When she closed the door behind her, it always seemed to mimic the loud clanking of a prison door.  She’d muster up a smile and a pleasant greeting only to be met with complaints and hostility.  Nothing she said or did mattered.  The person she was married to just never seemed happy or satisfied and everything was always her fault.

Why do we feel so bad at home sometimes?  I believe the most common issue is excessive verbalization (too much complaining and harsh words).  The next thing is probably physical assaults or the threat of assaults.  What makes a person attack verbally or physically? The selfish reasons are too many to name, however control is a major issue.  This is a moment for you to look at your home environment.  Do you find a reason to complain about one or more things almost daily?  What is the reaction from the person you target with your complaints?  If the person appears to give no resistance, how long do you think you can continue before the relationship is strained or it fails?  When someone chooses to leave the relationship the other party usually doesn’t want it to end.   Should everyone feel comfortable and safe at home?  The answer is certainly yes!  What can you do to improve the environment at your house?

There is aLove or Bloodn old saying that “Blood is thicker than water”.  This may be true, but is blood stronger than love?  There are so many dynamics that can tilt the scale one way or another when we weigh out love and blood.  When some of us have found ourselves in the unpopular position of having to choose one over the other, regardless of the choice, we still can find ourselves facing major disappointment.  The power of the physical touch that comes with a love relationship is something almost all of us desire but family feelings are sometimes thrust upon us when our desire for love does not match our family’s choices. When we are forced to make a choice between the two, often there is a consequence; sometimes the expectations of either side can become a burden of the choice.

As a man there may come a day when you meet a young woman who seems to draw you in, and can make you feel fantastic.When you choose her are you leaving behind a family member who has depended on you for help with a disabled parent, or some financial help that now goes to the new person in your life?  Has your sister or mother seemed to resent your mate and she’s done nothing wrong?  We all know this happens, but what we sometimes don’t know is the motivation behind it. Similarly, what about the young woman who is starting a relationship with a guy that the family doesn’t think is worthy of her?  Will their love outlast family pressures and criticism?

If the person choosing love over blood is victimized by the love how will the blood (family) respond?  Many times a call for help can bring a rage from the family which is stronger than the anger exhibited by the victim.  This is probably due to the hurt experienced by the family because of the choice.  Sometimes the rage can cause a level of damage that destroys the relationship permanently and may result in legal issues.

Some of us find a way to balance love and blood, while others have made decisions we have later regretted.  Whatever the choice, rest assured there will be an impact.  If you stay happy and distant from your family for love or vice-verse, just make sure you are comfortable with your decision.  If the outcome is ugly and disappointing remember that recovery is also possible.

Now that we are into the holiday season, how many of us will be asked to choose between love and blood when it comes to everything from family traditions to financial obligations.  How we deal with the expectations of those around us can sometimes become more difficult than walking an oiled up tight rope.  We are sometimes stumped when it comes to deciding what choices are proper or safe to make and how we can disappoint the least amount of people around us, but still find some well-deserved happiness of our own.  Either way someone may end up hurt or disappointed.  Are you ready to make some of those difficult choices and who will you hurt?

When all is said and done, love most time wins out over blood and it may start with the motivation behind the choice.  Warn hugs and kisses, holding hands, that feeling we desire that you just can’t get from family love.

So if you’re the family member who is insisting that someone make a choice, be mindful of what you’re up against and choose your battles wisely. The choice you make today will determine your tomorrow!

As a provider ofWhat about Me Anger Management and Domestic Violence Classes in the Detroit, MI area, I often receive calls from people who have either been court ordered to attend class or persons in the community who feel that they have a problem and seek classes on their own.  In mid-December I received a called from a young mother in Detroit. She stated that she received the phone number to my agency from another agency.  I inquired as to whether or not she needed Anger Management or Domestic Violence classes and her response was “I don’t know”.  I asked her name which she provided – Semeria Greene.  Ms. Greene began to speak vehemently about having tried to obtain services regarding her daughter Tameria Greene.  She said she felt that Child Protective Services (CPS) was influencing her daughter against her.  Ms. Greene spoke fast and loud with her complaints about the social service system.  I listened for a few more moments then asked “Ms. Greene what can I do for you?”  She responded by saying “I need help because I think they’re going to take my daughter.  They (CPS) are saying I have abused my daughter.”  I asked “did you abuse your daughter”?  Ms. Greene said “no”.  I asked “Have you ever abused your child”?  She commented that she will holler and curse at her kids but not hit them.

As we were speaking I could hear the sound of children in the background and told her it was hard to hear her above all the noise.   As she moved to another room she told the children she was talking.  For the next five minutes she told me her story of how CPS got involved.  She said that her daughter sustained injuries stemming from a fight on the school bus with another girl.  Ms. Greene indicated that CPS is accusing her of causing the injuries to her daughter because her daughter’s story has changed several times and CPS is now twisting her daughter’s words.  As I listened to her story I asked her questions about who is the other child, why she could not locate the child, does she attend the same school as her daughter, and were there any witnesses to the attack?  Ms Greene was evasive and would not provide any answers to my questions.

Our conversation refocused on what could be done and she said that she was sure she would have to take anger management classes.  I provided her with details of our services in Detroit and encouraged her to enroll in class.

On December 31st I read the online version of The Detroit Free Press as I do almost every day.  The story of an eight year old girl being stabbed to death by her mother on December 30th caught my attention.  As I read through the story I recognized the names and realized that the mother I had just spoken to some weeks earlier was now charged with the murder of her daughter.  I felt sad for the family and in the days after I began to read the follow-up articles related to the story.  I learned more about Ms. Greene.  By the age of 26, Ms. Greene had given birth to a total of 5 children, ages 8, 7, 4, 3, and 1. Records show Ms. Greene’s history involves several incidents of domestic violence (with her being the perpetrator), drug abuse and prostitution.  She currently has another case pending involving vandalism of property.

During our 30 minute conversation Ms. Greene kept repeating “what about me” to which I responded that the system is designed to help the victims, not the perpetrators.

There are many people who endure negative, hostile environments for many different reasons.   In our society, not having the opportunity to change should not be one of them. If you want to change a particular lifestyle, are your exposures too limited for you to formulate change without assistance and support?  What help can a person receive for behavioral issues by simply walking in and explaining the problem?  Are the costs too high for services?  Are the programs hidden?  When you are in crisis will you say “what about me”?

“Don’t behave like a bunch of Hoodlums.  Be Civil”. These were sometimes parting words from parents years ago as their children left the house and went off to school, church, social events or anywhere where a child’s bad behavior could be considered a direct reflection on the adults responsible for rearing them. This meant for us to be kind, courteous, respectful, supportive, and inclusive of others regardless of our differences.  As I look at the social climate in schools today, I wonder how many children are getting this message.

According to Webster’s Dictionary civility – (si vil′i te), n, pl. – is defined as – 1.  Courtesy; politeness.  2.  A polite action or expression.  3.  Archaic.  Civilization; culture; good breeding.

As parents, we spend a significant amount of time with our children focusing on school work, sports, and social activities.  We also put a great deal of effort in making sure they have high self-esteem.  But how much time do we spend teaching our children how to be civil human beings?

As children enter the new school year they are nervous and afraid for a variety of different reasons.  They tend to worry about teachers, classes, fitting in, making new friends, and not becoming a target of bullying.  Traditionally entering high school as a freshman could by itself subject a child to all sorts of humiliation and bullying by those who were now considered the upper class-men.  Combine fears of the unknown with the aggressive tactics of children today and school could become one long and continuous nightmare.  More and more incidents are occurring on school campuses and buses that make me wonder where all of the civility has gone.  Students stand by and watch as others are taunted, beaten, and humiliated.  They are also guilty of engaging in what I call “Bullying by Committee” which is being a part of a group that taunts and humiliates other students for various reasons.  Even if you don’t engage in the taunting and humiliation, being a part of a group that does and failing to say or do anything can be just as bad.  Many children feel the need to elevate themselves by taunting other kids who do not meet their social standards as friends. Hurtful bullying, teasing and gossiping may become a pattern for children who lack the skills of civility.

Lessons on civility should start at home and be further nurtured in schools.  School is the first large environment most children are exposed to and if they do not start to practice civility in this environment, how will their behaviors in other environments affect their ability to earn a living or perhaps stay out of trouble or jail? Parents lead by example and teaching civility now will translate into young men and women becoming well rounded productive young adults, parents, community members, and citizens.

The most important skills we can teach our children are how to respect, value, and support other children, especially those who may have lifestyles, cultural or religious backgrounds, social characteristics, or learning styles that may be different from our own. Our children need to learn from us to be inclusive in their social relationships, not exclusive so take a good look at those people you surround yourself with.   Are you accepting of those who are different from you?  Have you always been the best role model for civility? Is it something that you have taken the time to teach? And for students, how civil is your behavior towards those you share a classroom or school campus with?  What can you do to be more civil?

Think of how our school environments might drastically change for the better if civility was again being taught as a priority in our homes and modeled in our schools?  It can once again become a place of learning rather than a place that some of our children fear.

What would compel a father to take the life of his children?  I’ve been asking myself that question lately.  A story that recently caught my attention involved a North Dakota man who killed his three daughters because he was angry at their mother.  A few days earlier a man murdered his wife and daughter.  This action is becoming increasingly common and I worry about the safety of our children when a relationship between the adults who are supposed to protect them falls apart.

“What makes a man kill his child or children when he’s angry at his partner”? What makes the kids so expendable?  The answer has many possibilities but I think that this one is highly probable . . . It really has nothing to do with any of the children, but is instead intended to hurt the mother in the worst possible way.

I hear fathers complain about how the mothers of their children often seek revenge because of a failed relationship or for his developing a new relationship. They will usually do things that interfere with the father’s ability to see or have a relationship with his children or try to destroy a new relationship he has with someone else.  When a father seeks revenge due to a failed relationship it can come in the form of not communicating with the mother, not providing financial support for his children, and based on recent headlines revenge is now coming in the form of murder.

Some men may have the attitude that if I can’t be with you, I can’t handle you being with some else and the kids only become a reminder.  Because he pays support, some fathers are dead set on being in control of their kids, their home and their mother, even when he is living somewhere else with a new relationship.  Most of us know that when we can’t control something we either become frustrated or angry.  The issue then becomes how to handle that anger?

Before the child came, a relationship developed between two people and although we like to say that the most important relationship is the one between parent and child, it really isn’t.  The most important relationship is the one that exist between two parents, whether together or apart, it is the one thing that in some cases will decide the success, happiness, emotional well-being, confidence, or as recent headlines have revealed, the life span of their child.  Partners and Ex-Partners will put so much focus on hurt, revenge, and control that they sometimes forget about the negative consequences awaiting the child.  A child’s safety should always be an absolute priority.  But in reality when we seek to hurt those we are in a relationship or ending a relationship with, the easiest, weakest, most defenseless target is usually the child.

When a mother and father have a healthy relationship their children are more likely to be psychologically and emotionally healthier. The big question is how do we aid parents in dealing with separation and encourage them to take responsibility for their behavior?  In today’s social climate hanging on to anger over a failed relationship is an acceptable thing.  I once asked a friend why he seemed to hate is ex-wife, the mother of his children, and his reply to me was “That’s the way it’s supposed to be.  You should never get along with the ex-wife.”  To me this sounds completely irrational and insane, but in some families it’s the prevailing thought. Some of us are quite free with our advice on how to start or be in a relationship yet how many of us talk about how to break up and get past all the hurt, bad feelings, or betrayal we feel, real or imaginary and take full responsibility for our own contributions to the demise of a relationship?  If we don’t start including peaceful breakup conversation with all of our marriage and relationship advice, what will become of us and most importantly what will become of our children?

For over a month now mImageany of us have been focused on the case of Trayvon Martin.  The young Florida teen shot by neighborhood watch Captain George Zimmerman.  My heart went out to the parents and I prayed that God would give them the strength to endure.  I couldn’t imagine what pain they might be going through having lost a child so young to a crime so senseless.  It’s easy for most of us to find compassion for this family.  As we look into the eyes of our own children and can’t bear the thought of losing them.

But what about George Zimmerman?  Is it hard to find some compassion for him?  Just as it felt like my heart literally hurt when I thought about what it might feel like to lose a child, I also felt sick to my stomach when I thought about what it would feel like being George Zimmerman.  We have all been guilty of making poor decisions at one time or another, but imagine making one that puts your face on every news program, forces you into hiding, buts a bounty on your head, and has droves of angry people marching in the streets calling for your hide.  When I think about being in his shoes, my days would go much like this.  I couldn’t eat or sleep and my eyes would be swollen shut from crying as I contemplate the best possible way to kill myself because I would think that my life, as I knew it, was over.  This is probably much of what Trayvon’s parents felt after getting the news of his death.  How could you not have compassion for a person in this position, no matter how he or she got there?  It doesn’t mean that you in any way condone what they did; it just means that you can always find a way to be compassionate.

How often do you show compassion? Do you have a particular criterion?  In the movie “A Time To Kill” a story that depicts the trial of an African-American man who killed the Caucasian men who raped his young daughter, the defense attorney took twelve white jurors through the events surrounding the rape and then asked them to picture the victim, a ten-year old African-American girl, being a little white girl instead.  He was trying to get them to have some compassion by putting a face similar to theirs on the victim.

So what is your criterion for being able to show compassion – race, gender, religion, age, culture, socioeconomic status? Do you find yourself only being able to show compassion to those who are like you? Or do you find that compassion is something that you really haven’t felt lately.  Does it come up in your day to day conversations and it is something you discuss with the people in your household?

If you practice showing compassion to the people you come into contact with every day, those you may not be able to relate to or even some people you just simply despise, you will find that over time showing compassion will simply become a part of who you are.

Anger2Compassion . . . . . .  pass it on.

Remember when there was such a thing as bonds.  Relationships that we took for granted and knew that they would weather any storm.  We used phrases such as “Blood is thicker than Water” and “A Family that Prays Together, Stays Together”.  Even still included in marriage vows is “Till Death do Us Part”.  How strong are the bonds between two people today?  Do bonds even exist anymore?  I sometimes find myself cringing when someone speaks about bonding.  Especially when I have on occasion worked for bosses who insist that the staff bond and resort to repeatedly having you and your coworkers endure those bonding workshops and exercises that only bring to life why you really don’t like each other in the first place.

The strongest bond, we were told, was the bond between Parent and Child.  I sometimes question to what extent these bonds still exist.  At least once a week, you can turn on the news or open a newspaper in any city and hear of a child killing a parent or a parent killing a child. Children are abandoned, abused, and sold every day.  Can you do this to someone with whom you have a bond?

My husband received a disturbing message just this morning from a friend who was in court with a young man who is in jeopardy of becoming a ward of the state.  His mother doesn’t want him because he reminds her too much of his father and his father doesn’t want him simply because he just doesn’t.  He is not even willing to work because he will be responsible for paying child support if he does. I recently heard a young man speak about how he dislikes his father.  He didn’t care for the way his father spoke to or treated him.  His father also had a baby on the way with a new girlfriend.  He talked about how angry he would be if his father spent more money on the girlfriend and new baby than he would spend on him and ways he would like to punish his father.  The main way was to put him on a desert island and starve him to death.  He said that he would give him a little food before he dies from starvation just to keep him alive to continue the torture.  Does it sound as though any of these parents and children have a bond? I think not.

I watch my sister, who is the mother of two teenage children, and I am baffled by her inability to bond with them.  I see the  loving relationships she has with the children of her friends and her nieces and nephews, yet when it comes to her own children, it seems there is no bond at all.  I speculate as to whether or not it has to do with the poor relationship she had with her mate, their father, who is now deceased.  Could it be possible that not having a healthy relationship with the mother or father of your children interferes with the bond or lack thereof you develop with the children the two of you create?  I think so.

What is a bond and what makes it unbreakable? Webster’s defines a bond as something that binds, fastens, confines, or holds together.  With human relationships this takes some type of commonality along with emotions, such as affection and trust for this bond to be created. But like anything that has been bound, fastened or held together, no matter the glue, if we’re determined enough, it can always be broken, torn apart, or separated.  So I guess there is no such thing as an unbreakable bond.

I have seen long-term relationships that include friendships, marriages, siblings, and those between parents and child ripped apart over petty disagreements, money, lifestyle choices, hurt feelings, and envy.  When you can give up on a relationship for things that are sometimes small and petty how strong was the bond to begin with?

There’s an awful lot of blood around that water is thicker than.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, 1966

Lately I’ve been spending quite a bit of time engaging teenagers in conversation via a mentoring program I am now donating some time to. My role is to come in and offer insight into social education.

I find their conversations very interesting when speaking to them about the things that they may encounter throughout life, the ways in which society operates that they have yet to experience, and problems many of them will deal with in relationships (intimate or otherwise).  I listen to them as they speak, in sometimes barely audible voices, about the hang-ups they are now experiencing in high school.  Their experiences range from not being able to speak up or out – to experiencing violent relationships at school and at home.  A traditional education will be able to help them with the first part, but who will prepare them to deal with the rest of what life will throw their way?

Although a traditional education is an important key to your success, too many people are throwing all of that success away because they have never been taught how to make good decisions when it comes to matters that are more emotion based.  No matter how highly educated you are, if you don’t make good personal decisions, true success in life will be very short-lived.

Many of the kids are now in the process of choosing schools and identifying scholarships.  I sometimes find myself feeling sorry for them as I watch them prepare for college.  It has nothing to do with the difficult decisions they will have to make regarding their education; it has everything to do with which one of them will throw all of their opportunities away over a quick decision made during an emotional state.

I’ve worked in the Mental Health field and operated a Domestic Violence and Anger Management program for over twenty years.  Through working with mentally ill adults and speaking with court adjudicated persons about Domestic Violence and Anger Management, I’ve seen all too often lives destroyed, families torn apart, and loved ones lost due to people having no idea how to handle their emotions.  Because of this I have developed a strong compassion to aid the younger generation.  It is amazing that with all the programs being introduced into schools these days, even those that discuss the consequences of your actions, the handling of one’s emotions, is hardly touched on.  As responsible adults we must put more effort into understanding how to successfully deal with our own emotions and then communicate what we’ve learned to the next generation.   It is the number one starting point.  I’ve started. Will you join me?

As we look around today it seems that anger is everywhere and quickly becoming a major player in our society.  We get bombarded every day with negative displays of anger.  We see unhealthy displays of anger through media, sports, video games, etc.; politicians spew angry words at each other and sometimes encourage aggressive behaviors when someone does not agree with him/her; we hear of world leaders and religious leaders engaging in negative displays of anger; we have angry parents raising angry children.

People all around us, young and old, make decisions based on angry emotions.  When we engage in negative behavior because we are angry, there is no way to predict or reverse the consequences of those actions.  We shake our heads or find ourselves quietly grieving when we see the larger angry outbursts that can rock a community enough to make the evening news, yet we are more accepting of the smaller scale angry outbursts and destructive behaviors that can someday lead to something bigger.

What could be driving these destructive displays of anger? Are we that stressed? Do we not have any self-control or the ability to rationally think things through anymore?  Do we not care about the consequences of our actions?

It’s time to respond to all the negative energy around us and come together to create a more peaceful society.  We can start by taking a look in the mirror and making a pact with the person staring back at us to educate ourselves about anger and learn to better control our actions associated with anger.  Even if it means getting help to do so.  We can start to think things through before reacting and teach those who we are responsible for to do the same.  We can all agree to join the CRUSADE AGAINST ANGER® and pass it along.  Let’s all work together to make this world a better more peaceful place.

%d bloggers like this: