Saturday, October 11, 2014

"She's Crazy!!!"

It has been quite a while since I have made a post to my blog. Been busy with the chaos of our world.
Needless to say the last 5 months of my life have been very eventful, to say the least. I racked up everything from letting people stay with us who needed a place to stay, my car was wrecked twice ( not by me), I had to forcefully kick someone out of my house who was, let's just say, less than honest...sigh...
And then started the beginning of all the teenage drama.  I love all of them - well most of them, but the parents who continually allow their sons or daughters to curse at adults when they don't get what they want and have no respect for authority are exhausting and ridiculous.
I never realized the kind of stress I must have put on my Mom when I was a teenager, but I deeply apologize to you Mom...apparently- I was not in my right mind.
But- I keep plugging along trying to figure out the best communication strategy.  I love my daughter more than anything, and I will never give up trying to figure out how to reach her, help her, and protect her during these tough times in her life.
Then- as the months dragged on, I had the pleasure of adding those "Mom's who think they do no wrong, or their child does no wrong, and or they think they were put on this earth to teach me and others a life-lesson"! Yea- those Moms. I have never claimed to be perfect, in fact,  some of those particular Mom's have said I am a crazy person and or don't live in reality...well ladies- the truth is - I just don't want to continually be interjected into your warped view of reality. The difference between me and some of these other folks is- at least I am self - aware and confident...where they, on the other hand, have a low self - image and praying on others, during their weakest times, is what makes them feel stronger and more in control....But- they really aren't. It's just a high they get, like a drug, and it only lasts a short time before you fall down again.
Between the summer craziness, people in and out of my house, teenage drama, and parents who think they are "Dr. Phil" there suddenly appeared a ray of sunshine who seemed to need help and guidance just like I did. I had not really laughed like that in a very long time.  I had not felt totally comfortable in my I own skin, until the moment that I stepped out of my comfort zone and onto the SMU green.
More to come later... -Amy

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Facebook Is Fueling Cyber-bullying

Parenting is about a million times harder these days.  So, this post is for you Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook (just to start).  
When I was growing up, our parents did not have to deal with cell phones, texting, sexting, social media, Facebook, Instagram, and every other form of electronic media.  No.  They DID NOT!  But, the world, as we know it, has changed drastically, and now we as parents not only have to know "what kind of party" are kids are going to...but we also need to make sure that some other kid with no self-esteem is not destroying their reputation or self-esteem on Facebook or sending massive texts to all of their friends with information that is evil and not true.  And - why do they do it, probably because they have no guidance, no self-esteem, emotional issues etc.  Yeah- it isn't fair, but unfortunately it is a reality.  
Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook team are the first company I would like to address.  Yes Mark & Facebook staff, I have a profile on Facebook.  I had to start one several years ago, when I sold advertising online.  And now, the only reason I really keep it is to keep in touch with some of my friends and family and to keep an eye on what is going on in my daughter's teenage circle.  
Mark- you and your Facebook team are making billions of dollars with Facebook, but you have little to NO true parental controls, content removal, protection against bullies, protection against sharing explicit content with children under the age of 18 etc.  
What you have arranged is a list of places a child and or parent can go, a number to call, and or a website to visit.  You also give some helpful tips (insert sarcasm) like "How to keep your child safe on Facebook..." #1- Don't share your password...#2 - Don't put any of your personal information on Facebook....blah blah blah.
Well- all that stuff doesn't matter when the cyber-bullying has already happened, their self-esteem is already damaged, someone already re-posted a nasty picture of them, evil rumors have already been spread and now they have decided that cutting themselves or God Forbid suicide is the only answer.  
Their parents keep asking them "What's wrong?" are you..."Okay?" They take them to a therapist, the school counselor, give them pills and crap for their anxiety, depression, anger- management!! What is all this stuff.  
And I will not accept someone saying "Oh- well Amy it's not Facebook's fault, you know... freedom of speech etc..."  REALLY! Facebook along with many other social media outlets have to take more responsibility because YES- they are partially to blame.  Here's an idea- how about if you made Facebook intelligent enough to recognize when someone was sharing explicit information with a child under the age of 18 and maybe there would be a pop-up or it would just automatically block it. And that just scratches the surface of the entire problem.

Let's look at some of the "help" that Facebook offers to parents and their children (and mind you- it is in the small blue "help" section at the very bottom of your Facebook page.  You can see it in your personal drop down too, but you would have to search for "Parental Help" or something to even get to it.  Help for parents and their kids is NOT listed as a drop down.  Let's LOOK below, shall we:

Facebook-2014

"Can I monitor my child’s activity on Facebook or delete my child's account?

We are generally forbidden by privacy laws against giving unauthorized access to someone who is not an account holder. We encourage parents to exercise any discretion they can on their own computers and in overseeing their kids' internet use. Please talk to your kids, educate them about internet safety, and ask them to use our extensive privacy settings.

If your child is experiencing abuse on Facebook, we encourage you to ask them to log in to their account and report it."

"Suicide Prevention
If you've encountered a direct threat of suicide on Facebook, please contact law enforcement or a suicide hotline immediately.

I need to find a suicide hotline for myself or a friend.
How do I help someone who's posted suicidal content on Facebook?
If you've encountered a direct threat of suicide on Facebook, please contact law enforcement or a suicide hotline immediately.

You can also:
Report suicidal content to Facebook
Review resources about identifying and responding to suicide warning signals
Learn more about the resources available to members of the US military community"

"How can I help my teen use Facebook wisely?
Depending on your teen’s age, you might go through their privacy shortcuts and account settings together and make selections you’re both comfortable with. No matter how old your child is, we recommend that you make using Facebook responsibly part of an ongoing conversation about the internet and technology. Talk about your expectations about how they'll behave and help them understand what’s safe and what they need to be aware. Be sure your teen understands these basics of internet safety:

Never share your password
Think before you post
Only accept friend requests from people you know personally
Report anything that looks suspicious (learn how)"
 
"Where else can I report inappropriate or objectionable actions that have been taken against children?
Facebook takes the safety of the people who use it very seriously and takes significant efforts to make sure that the interactions encountered on the site are done so in a safe manner. We strongly urge everyone to report suspicious people and sensitive content when they come across it on the site. You can notify Facebook of any inappropriate people or content by clicking on the "Report" link located throughout the site. People under the age of 18 are also encouraged to talk to a parent or a responsible adult immediately if someone online says or does something to make them feel uncomfortable or threatened in any way."
All information referenced from Facebook 2014

Now let's look at some recent Cyber-bullying Statistics: 

Referenced from Answer.com 2014

  • Four in ten teens (43%) have experienced online harassment. 
  • Girls are twice as likely as boys to be victims and perpetrators, usually through email or a social networking sites, where they typically engage in social sabotage. 
  • Cyberbullying is most prevalent among 14 to 16 year olds. 
  • Teens who share their identities and thoughts on social networking sites, such as Facebook, are more likely to be targets than are those who do not use social networking sites (39% have been cyber-bullied in someway, compared with 22% of online teens who do not use social networks).     

 National phone survey of 935 teenagers by Pew Internet and American Life, November 2006 
Here are some additional cyber-bullying statistics from iSafe:
  • 22% of students know someone who has been bullied online. 
  • 19% of students admit to saying something hurtful to others online. 
  • 12% of students have personally become upset by strangers online. 
  • 90% of middle school students have had their feelings hurt online. 
  • 75% have visited a web site bashing another student 
  • 40% have had their password(s) stolen and changed by a bully 
  • Cyber-bullying has led to at least 4 cases of suicide in the United States and many more abroad. Suicide related to cyber-bullying is called “cyberbullycide” 
Something has to change soon!  I am aware that social media is not going to go away, but the controls on sites like Facebook must improve immediately.  There is no protection for our children, there are no notifications to parents, there are no true parental controls.  
We are out there trying to work a full-time job, protect our children from strangers, provide for them, and try to instill good morales and values for them, but as parents our words are continuously cut down by what they are learning online, the post their friend shared with them with sexually explicit content from a share from her weird Uncle, the cuss words & weird YouTube videos that were posted on their timeline by a friend of a friend...they see it all before they even know it is happening or can even block the person...one by one.  
I could go on and on, but it is what it is and something has to change soon, because we as parents ARE NOT going to be able to protect them from everything they see and experience online.  But- we cannot completely shut them out because that is our world now.  BUT we can ask or DEMAND that companies like Facebook, with its target audience, must design and implement much better safeguards for our youth, because right now all it is doing is fueling an even bigger fire.

-Amy



Friday, March 28, 2014

Honor...Yourself...

Throughout my life I have had many "Aha!" moments.  You know what I mean, those moments when you think..."how did I not know this already?..."  "But- it is so simple...wow!"  Those moments...when suddenly your perspective on yourself, your life, is changed.
You knew, in the back of your mind, maybe your subconscious, that something wasn't "right" but you ignored it or thought it was just a phase.
It wasn't who you were or who you wanted to be, but you became a Chameleon and you seemed to change or adapt, ever so slightly, to the environment you were sitting in.
Maybe it was easier that way, it reduced the pain for a moment, or you thought you were protecting someone else.
But all along, you were simply running from the truth...you were born a yellowish-green Chameleon with light blue transparent eyes, but instead of honoring your colors you transformed to blue, brown, orange, and sometimes black.  Those weren't "your" colors, and deep down you knew you needed to find your way back.
The words I heard during my recent "Aha!" moment were so gracefully laid out...kind, caring, concerned.  And honestly not tough to hear, because I already knew, I just needed to be told.
So, thank you for opening my eyes and calming my spirit.  It is amazing how, sometimes, a brief conversation can resuscitate what you forgot to honor...yourself.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Be "Present" In Your Child's Life

You know it's going to be interesting when someone starts writing with "in my opinion".... :)

In my opinion, if you have never gone through it (divorce with children) yourself then you have absolutely no idea what it is like and or what it entails.  I think it is funny how people, who have never walked down this "life-path", seem to think that they know everything about it.  They somehow telepathically know how you are feeling, how tough it is, what your kids really think, and how you should solve all of your problems.  I mean, I appreciate them being nice & somewhat supportive, but they have no idea and should never claim that they do.  Just listen & nod...that's all we want...

I mean...every Mom & Dad worries about what kinds of kids their son and or daughter is hanging out with; who are they talking to on fb (which I have come to dis-like- it makes parenting harder than ever); who are they texting & what are they saying...the list goes on.  And, honestly divorced or not, all parents have to deal with these issues in our current society.

Sometimes, both parents are truly "present" and sometimes, even if they are not divorced, they are NEVER "present".  And when I say "present", I mean in the lives of their children. What are their kids doing, do they know where they are going, who they are talking to...did they know that their kid is bullying other kids at school, did they see that last post on fb & that last "sketchy" picture on Instagram that their daughter posted 5 secs ago?  Did they?  Did they do anything about it?

I mean, we can't control everything, but our job as parents (one of them) is to protect our children to the best of our ability.  That means we can't be selfish and we cannot sit on our butts and do nothing!
In my opinion (there is that phrase again), parents have to be involved in the lives of their children, even more these days than any time in the past.  Because, the outside influences just keep growing bigger, stronger, and casting a wider net every single day.  I mean, kids these days at age 13 know more "junk" then I could have even imagined at that age...some of it I probably didn't even learn until I was in my mid 20's! Crazy & Scary!

When I was 13, I was taping songs from the radio; playing "kick the can" outside; catching tadpoles in the creek by our house; watching 5 or 6 channels on the T.V. (that is when my parents let Alan & I watch t.v.); building forts, under our ping pong table in our basement, with my Bro Alan and tape recording our voices as we tried to recreate our own versions of "Saturday Night Live" and or "Mr. Rogers"...I loved those times...and miss they innocence of those moments...You try to recreate those "types" of moments for your own children, but it just isn't the same.  It can be close, but not exactly the same.

SO, what is my point...?  Divorced, married, etc...whatever your situation, I just think it is so important to try and be "present" in your kids' lives...as much as possible...it might be 30 minutes, a whole day/week, or maybe just a moment...but, as tough as it can be sometimes, just take a deep breath and try to remember to be "present" (positive, listening, smiling, loving etc...) even if it is for just a brief moment...Peace.





A Different Form of Bullying | Painting My White Picket Fence a Different Color...

A Different Form of Bullying | Painting My White Picket Fence a Different Color...

High-Stakes Testing...What is your opinion? | Painting My White Picket Fence a Different Color...

High-Stakes Testing...What is your opinion? | Painting My White Picket Fence a Different Color...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Acts of Hope and Kindness, Toward your Fellow Man, can even Happen in a Walmart Parking Lot

Do you believe in Karma?  What about "The Universe" and what it can bring to you?  Do you think that what you say, or what you think, will actually become truth?  What about "what goes around comes around"?  And...if I say and think positive thoughts, then I will receive good things in return"...?

Later this afternoon, I started thinking about many of these questions...

So, I started thinking how I felt about the topics I mentioned in the first paragraph, and I started to think, again as I do several times a day, about my Grandma and how she always felt and what she always said and passed down to all of us.  The funny thing is, the things my Grandma taught us were simple, but they covered almost every area, every situation, every challenge, and every confrontation you may or may not have during your time on earth.  I have mentioned them before, but I think they are worth mentioning again.  Of course, the main focus that my Grandma ALWAYS had was to "be kind to your fellow Man...", which also included the Golden Rule (this is not the biblical version) i.e. "treat others the way you want to be treated".  Now, my Grandma lived by those words and many others...but she was no push-over. :)  She was stubborn, tough, independent, and she stood up for what she believed in...and under all of that she was graceful, beautiful, talented, and very intelligent.  She loved my Grandpa, and always stood by him through some very tough times.  They were best friends...soul mates...partners in crime...parents...

So, as I was thinking about all of my Grandma's life lessons, a past moment popped into my head...and it is relevant and worth sharing.  So, here we go...several months ago I was pulling into a Walmart parking lot. As I was getting out of my car, I looked over, and I saw this older woman stepping out of the side door of her small trailer.  The trailer looked more like a small "pop-up" camper, if you can remember what those looked like, and it was hooked onto the back of a really beat up SUV.  I just stood there for a moment, watching her and wondering what she was doing and where she might be going. She looked very tired, but she was standing up straight and she walked with a purpose.  As she got closer to me, she stopped and out of the blue said, "well, I'm going into another Walmart to try and find a job today...it's hard, but I know I just have to keep trying."  And I said, "I wish you the best of luck, and I am sure today is going to be the day for you!"  She said, "well, I don't have all those kind of fancy clothes like you are wearing, but I hope that don't matter..."  Then I said, "you look just fine, and I know you will be great in there!"...She ended with "thank you and you have a very nice day!"  I responded with, "You too Hon, and take care...it was nice chatting with you."  She had a warm smile on her face the whole time.  And that was our brief encounter...she continued to walk slowly into Walmart, and I never saw her after that.

So, what is my point to telling you this story...well, this was a strong person, who in the worst of conditions, never gave up on herself and never lost hope.  She knew if she just kept trying and kept a positive attitude, that eventually things would work out in her favor.  And, in addition to that, she continued to be kind to her fellow man...she didn't have to say anything to me, but she did and in the midst of all of her chaos she wanted to chat with me briefly, be kind, complimentary, and then move along her way.  How often do you experience that today?  Unfortunately, not very often at all.  To me, my encounter with the lady in the Walmart parking lot was refreshing and untainted.  To me, it was hope.

Peace & Goodnight,
Amy


Monday, February 3, 2014

MY Blank Slate...

Every time I write a new post I get to start on a fresh, new, blank, untainted piece of paper.  Well...it is a blank computer screen...
It sometimes makes me think of life, fresh starts and new memories...and hope.  As I handle all of the little things that creep up on us, in life, there are always those brief moments that remind you that everything will be okay...it will get better...there is some hope.
Like this one...I try, on a daily basis, to effectively communicate with my "tweener" daughter, but in her eyes I am not cool, I don't know things she knows, OMG & LOL! Right Right!  I don't want to be her best friend (oh- sorry BFF), but I would like to be her hero from time to time.  So, we are talking tonight, and for some reason this came up...I told her that I dated the captain of the football team (Hi Tim!) when I was in high school.  I mean, I can't even recall why I would have told her that.  She stopped in her tracks and said, "OMG Mom!  That is so super cool!"  Okay!  I thought...one point for me a zero points for the nerdy Mom that I thought I was.  We kept talking, and she said what else...so, I dug deep into my closet of "cool" stories, and I said ..."well I was on the homecoming court in high school and I was voted best personality in my class."  She seemed impressed, but not as impressed as dating the captain of the football team (thanks Tim! :)!!  Man, I really scored the "cool" points with that one.  Too funny...
So, when I look at where I have been, where I am, and where I am going they all look very different.  I am not sure why.  Do I wish that I could still have that "white picket fence" of life that apparently everyone "dreams" about...?....No.  I really don't.  I mean, when I see my friends on fb etc. who are still married to the same person, have a huge house, and look super happy on their vacations to Italy...am I a little envious?  Yes.  The truth is...I am...but I also know that I have been put on this "mission" and or "life path" for a reason.  My "untainted piece of paper" is just beginning, and it can only get better from here.
So, I need to savor the moments when my daughter thinks I am "cool" if only for a minute.  I need to suck up the love, from my son, that I see in different situations every day.  When he asks me a million and one questions, I need to take a deep breath and answer, then, like he only asked one.  He is also a blank piece of paper, and the writing that appears is what he sees from me and others every day of his life.
I wish that I had a crystal ball.  That I knew what the future held...and that our blank piece of paper was eventually going to be filled with "rainbows & unicorns"...but I don't have a crystal ball...I only have intuition...hope for a brighter tomorrow...and my high school "coolness" according to my daughter.  Right now, that is what I have, and right now I am okay with that.
Peace...Amy