The Most Destructive Words We Speak to Our Daughters.

One of the greatest disservices we do to one another as women is that we teach our daughters “to be nice.”

It is not that “be nice” is a bad message.  It goes with “be polite,” “be respectful,” etc.  The problem happens when we teach our daughters to be nice with the fervour of Moonies at the “weekend retreat” from which no-one ever returns.

The problem is that little girls learn a whole set of rules that are as restrictive and perhaps more damaging that any burqa or religious indoctrination.  “Being nice” can end up teaching little girls to deny themselves, to ignore their own needs . . . to feel achievement and satisfaction in putting by always putting others first.

Of course we want to teach our daughters to be kind but being kind is far different than being nice. “Kind” is about a nature, a governing soul principal that guides everything you do. “Nice” is a learned, superficial worn affect. When someone does something “kind,” we characterize the action as being “nice.”   Nice is a choice we make and can be done even when the feelings behind the action does not support it.

When we teach our daughters to be nice at all costs, we are denying them feelings and insight into who they are. We actually force them to “be nice,” even when they do not feel it, and we reward them for their efforts.  But there is a cost to women learning to hide their true feelings and masking those feelings with an unfelt overture. We are in fact, teaching our daughters to lie . . . to themselves.

One of the biggest complaints I get when I counsel men, is that the woman they married is not the woman they dated.  When I first heard a man say that, my immediate reaction was to dismiss it as simply his individual experience but when I thought about it, I couldn’t  ignore the point.  When other men made the same observation.  Think about it, how many of us have done this on a date:

“What would you like to do this weekend?”
“I don’t know, what would you like to do?”
“No, I asked you, anything at all .. What would you like to do?”
“I don’t know, really I am easy, happy to do anything you want .”
“Seriously I always decide, tell me what you would like for a change.”
“What are the choices?”
“Well, we could go to the fair, or bowling, or out to dinner, or the football game.”
“Really I don’t care, I just like being with you.”
“Well ok then, lets go to the football game.”
“Oh great.”
“You sure?”
“Absolutely.”

They go to the football game.  And every date goes pretty much the same, with the woman “being nice” and insisting she is happy to do what he wants to do.  She goes to the game and appears to have a great time.  After months of dating and a marriage, he buys her season football tickets for their anniversary,  something he considers special, confident she will love them.  Imagine his shock when her response is anger, and an outburst insisting she hates football and prefers the ballet and why can’t he ever take her to the ballet?

Of course I am over generalizing, but the point is this …

Women are taught to be nice at the expense of understanding themselves.  If she wants to play dolls and her friend wants to skip, her mother often steps in and tells her to “be nice” which means, in this situation, skip because the other girl wants to do that.    If the goal is always to give into other people our daughter’s grow up losing themselves. They may not know what they want after 18 years of “be nice,”  or they won’t know how to ask for it.

Let’ s teach our daughters honesty. The fact is we feel things. How do we deal with those emotions, in a way that honours the feelings and channels them into understanding for self and others with positive outcomes? So when Susie comes home from school and says she hates Mary Jane cause she laughed at her in class and said she was fat and now all Susie wants to do is smash Mary Jane , we don’t dismiss it with “that’s not a nice thing to say.” Trust me, Susie already knows it is not nice. When we hear her on the phone later planning revenge with some of the other girls, we don’t just caution her with, “Susie .. be nice.”

Susie needs to talk about the way she feels. She needs to sit with her feelings and be supported in that, yes we all feel awful when someone says unkind things about us. She also needs to be helped to understand:

1. What others say or think is not something we can control.
2. What others say or think is not always the truth nor does it reflect what everyone else says or thinks.
3. People are unkind for all kinds of reasons that often have nothing to do with us. Often what they say tells us far more about who they are than it says anything about the person they are disparaging.
4. Responding in kind feeds the problem and makes it bigger.
5. You can control yourself and what you do and within THAT lies the power to change how it impacts you.

Those are empowering messages.  They are helpful to her, to the other parties, and to the community.  Asking how she wants to handle it is far more supportive than telling her she has to go back to school and “be nice,” the emotional equivalent of “please lie down in front of the bus when you see it coming and let it drive over you again and again.”

Asking her to refrain from doing anything mean in response is perfectly legit. But empowering her to step back from interaction with, or helping her to find the words to say if it happens again, these are important steps for all women. Each of us chooses to deal with situations in different ways, depending on the circumstances. We need to be empowered to do that and empowerment has to start with children.

We need to celebrate who we are and what we enjoy and love. To be given messages that whatever that is – is perfect. That way, when we date and meet others we can say,” no thank-you,” when we get asked to the football games we hate.  We can let someone know,  “I actually prefer the ballet.” It gives us the confidence to find people we are compatible with and if we do that we have a chance to find good friends, wonderful lovers, and husbands. We are giving our daughters a chance to be happy.
We can turn so many things around and make them different for our daughters.  Blaming society is pointless when you consider WE are society.  Society succeeds when every member does their part with their individual responsibilities.

It is not about the way it has been, it is about the possibilities. The possibilities of who you, and of who your daughter is. Empower her to make choices, to speak up, to say who she is and what she likes and dislikes, to have feelings, to discern, to decide what she should do next, to fail, to succeed, to be … and you stand beside her as her mother and tell her …. she is wonderful and perfect, just as she is.

Pinda Piper Pinned a Pin. Pinda Piper’s In the Bin!

pinter poke

 

 

 

 

Poor Pinda, she had no idea that some pinning is considered a sin, worthy of excommunication from the Church of Pinterest.

I have a suggestion for all the people on Pinterest who are so freaking panicked about other people pinning “their” pins.   Clearly they are beyond distressed about how many pins other peoples repin and so they post all kind of posters warning those people they will be blocked (as in not able to look at or take their pins anymore).  I tried to talk to a couple of them off the ledge and explain the pictures they collect are not really “theirs” (in most instances).   They did not make the item, nor do they own what is shown in the picture.  They did not take the picture.  Someone else did all that and loaded it onto the internet, where THEY got it from so really . . . it is not “theirs.”  It actually belongs to someone else on the internet who may or may not be really happy about the fact THEY took it without asking.  I can’t sing a song someone else wrote and insist it is mine and that if anyone else sings it they have to give me credit.  I can’t see a painting and like it and then insist if anyone else does the same they have to credit me for it because I saw it and liked it first.

Asking these types of Pinters  if they see the irony in their not wanting people to copy and paste from them is not dissimilar to trying to convince a cranky two year old that eating liver is awesome.   Ok actually lets change that to trying to convince me, even on an awesome day, with ample medication, that eating liver is awesome.

I appreciate Pinters get cranky over the amount of time it took them to find those pictures  and then to  click their mouse to load them onto their boards.    I know they feel they have a special eye for collection of all things “green,” or “cute,” or even “fluffy.”  I get that it probably took days to come up with what you should call a board with green things in it and that how you arranged the words “all things green” shows promising literary talent.  All THAT should be worth something right?

I don’t think, on a global scale, it really is.

It might have merited you several gold scars in kindergarten and Sesame Street may have criminally promoted the idea that “one of these things is not like the other, can you guess which one before I finish my song,” was of epic importance but no …it really isn’t.  That you can surf the internet and identify and mouse click on all  the shiny and sparkly pink things is  awesome … for you.  I am sure the people in your life are really happy about that achievement.  You can’t see me right now, but I am clapping for you, I promise.

I am not sure putting 50 posters on each board threatening people who visit your account is the way to go, but I can assure you that having one of those poster pictures as a frog that has all kinds of watermarks over it – meaning you are supposed to PAY to use it – is definitely NOT the way to go.  That’s YOU actually really stealing someone else’s work.

I think the point of Pinterest was to share.  They actually want people to post things on their accounts that other people will like and want to repin.  Otherwise it would be sort of like opening an art gallery with awesome easels in everyone’s specially reserved room and not having any pictures.  No-one would come to that art gallery, no sane person would offer to hang their art in that gallery and they would be bankrupt in no time.   Oh, and probably on some list on the internet featuring the dumbest business ideas ever.

I doubt many strangers show up at your house just to see you and hang out.  The problem is most people don’t see you and they don’t know anything about you.  Even if you put your name and a Photoshopped picture of you from 10 years ago when you were much thinner, wrinkle free, and had a great hair day . . . it is not likely enough to pull people in off the street.  Certainly not people who are living across the world from you.

So Pinterest had this cool idea that if people pinned things they liked and were interested in, other people who liked the same things would be attracted to their site and perhaps people would get to know one another and magic would happen.  Oh, AND, people might learn a few things, share information and support on how-to’s and it would be a win win for the people and for Pinterest.

Think of it like getting a truck load of decorations and party supplies, all the cool kid toys, AND the circus put up in your front yard.  NOW, there is a slight chance someone from off the street is going to stop and say “Hey, I love what you have done with your clowns!”

People are pretty visual.  “A picture is worth a thousand words,” right?  You could write about yourself and what you like but the that would be a dating site, wouldn’t it?  And everyone lies about liking long walks on the beaches and how much they weigh on those things.  BUT imagine if someone filled out a profile for a dating site and then was really angry that people were reading it and asking them out on dates.   Again you can’t see my visual aids here, but I am holding up a broken pencil.  You could say it is “point-less,” not unlike joining a site to share pictures and then getting mad that people want to share pictures.

I am going to give you a few moments to think about that.

I can hear the whining already.  I told you I’ve done this already remember?  A couple of Pinters, ledge, they insisted on jumping, no safety net as the firemen were back at the station on Pinterest stealing more than 4 pins at a time . . .  I know the whole argument.  Pinters reluctantly agree people can repin their pics but ONLY a few at a time.  That is why you see women everywhere sitting in front of their computer screens, staring at the stop clock  in front of them, waiting for “a time” to pass so they can pin some more.  Well, the polite ones do that.  The rest are at the therapists, hysterical that they have been “blocked” and their lives are now over.

So let’s sum it up.  Some nice people come to your site and they LIKE some of the pics you have done.  You know that because they repin some of your pics.  But that makes you mad.  So you restrict the numbers and force them to come again and again if they want to “like” your stuff.  You force them to hit the “like”button before they take, and you force them to follow you if they want to take more, and you put up nasty posters accusing them of not being polite or “knowing” things like how Pinterest works on the planet you and your fellow Nazi-Pinters inhabit.  I get it.

No I don’t.

My mind goes to ok, I want 200 pics from you.  That makes you mad.  I can either take the 200 when you  are not looking and get banned so I can’t take anymore  or I can play the “I am your prisoner” game and take the 200 I originally saw slowly over time, 4-5 at a time, and keep coming back and taking more until I have all your pictures.  I am not sure you can see what is wrong with that logic, even though I am clapping out the words and saying them reallly slowly.  (waving the broken pencil again)

See I pin, not seriously, but I have a few boards.  When I am looking around and I come across your Pinterest etiquette posters I just think, “what a loser, get over yourself,”  and I move on to other pictures.  I don’t want to know you.  And hearing that there are now “gangs” of these people where if one blocks you, they all do, makes me wonder  what Junior High Course includes playing on the computer as part of it’s curriculum.  If people pin from me, I sometimes actually go to look at their profile and see if they have anything I like. I may not friend them but I grow fonder of them in subtle ways that can’t be measured.

You do know there are all kinds of ways for people to take every one of your pics without you ever knowing about it, right?  I am sorry, did I type that out loud?  (insert sound of bubbles bursting here)

So here are two simple suggestions that may save you … and me, from all this grief.  Firstly you could just actually MAKE the stuff or take the pictures of things you own and load that onto your boards, in which case, put up all the signs you want and complain away.  You should get credit for it because it is YOURS!  I still think it is a pointless exercise but I might respect you a little more.  The best solution is to simply copy the pictures onto your own computer.  Arrange them into categories and open them up and look at them whenever you want in all their glory, knowing not one other person is ever going to be able to SEE your precious pictures let alone repin them.  You can make up numbers about viewings and likes to your friends if you have to – how is anyone ever going to be able to check?  You will always be the number one pinner.

The added bonus is that when the internet is down, you can still look at them.

You did know that right, that if the internet goes down, or Pinterest shuts down because they are tired of all the whining … “your” pictures and all that talent and hard work …. Are … Gone ….?  You knew that right?

(insert sound of more bubbles bursting . . .

. . . and wailing . . .

. . . and gnashing of teeth . . )

Happy Pinning. :)

(tags not used but appropriate:   finding out your friends can and do read, I no longer have any friends, ex-friends with weapons,  I can now only see 3 people’s boards on Pinterst, what to do with your extra free time now that you have been banned by everyone on Pinterest)

TFFT: I Am, Unapologeticaly, Still A Child.

remember

How sad that as we age we are expected to take life seriously.  I have never understood why people assume because you are laughing and having a good time, or even dancing on your desk , that you are not being responsible.

I tried the “sit down and act like a grown up” and it was uncomfortable, restrictive , and boring.

I am not a one dimensional robot.

I love life.  I embrace education on ever level.  I am probably obsessed with learning.  I want to know what everyone else knows.  I want to see things like they see them.  I want to be sure that my opinions and ideas are well thought out and worthy of consideration.  I see the world around me.

I cry for the tragedies that have destroyed lives.

I worry about the future of this world.

I take responsibility for trying to find solutions.

I want to be on the team of those who are going to go out there,  do the work and make a difference.

I appreciate hard work and I know how to roll up my sleeves and get dirty and sweat.  I am not afraid of it, in fact, I love the process.

I see the beauty.

I love the creative process, even when I cannot participate or lack the skills.

But I also feel great joy, and I love to laugh.

I love to see children experiencing the world without reserve.  I don’t see walls between them and myself because it is the same way I feel about the projects and the days in front of me … Even the hard ones.  Everything is so full of possibilities.

And NOTHING is as healing as being able to laugh with people you love.

 

Health

 

 

I don’t care that people frown at me when I get carried away or that people unfollow me because they thought my blog was all about “serious matters.”  I don’t care that someone does not get my sense of humour because I DO!!  I so get it.  And I crack me up.  And I laugh.  Sometimes when I am writing or doing a picture, I actually laugh so loud that people around me stop what they are doing to see what is so funny.

My husband makes me laugh.  My children all have a great sense of humour.  And I will laugh at everything I can until I no longer have a breath left in me.  I will snort and even pee my pants a little because I am laughing so hard.  I will laugh at life, at others, at situations and stories, jokes and inappropriate and irreverent things that other people take wayyyy too seriously.  But most of all . . .  I will laugh at me.

The two greatest things that God ever gave us have to be our ability to love and be loved … and laughter.

 

joy

Quote

“If I have harmed anyone, in any way, either knowingly or unknowingly through my own confusions, I ask forgiveness.

If anyone has harmed me, in any way, either knowingly or unknowingly through their own confusions, I forgive them.

And if there is a situation I am not yet ready to forgive, I forgive myself for that.

For all the ways that I harm myself, negate, doubt, belittle myself, judge or be unkind to myself through my own confusions, I forgive myself.”  Buddhist Prayer

Open Letter to the Millennials or Generation Y on Parents, Blame, and Excuses.

Farewell

 

Dear Gen Y;

Life is hard.  You had some bumps along the road.  Unfortunately, part of the pain that can come from our childhood is because we were often powerless to do anything about the things that happened.  Life was what our parents made, or didn’t make, of it.  We were just along for the ride.  Children have to rely on the goodness of others, even strangers sometimes, to protect them.  More often than not, those people either lacked goodness or simply did not see what was going on.

Once you get out on your own you start to see how life appears to have been for other people.  Comparisons are always tricky because we tend to compare our worst to their best.   Everyone’s life looks shinier and prettier from a distance.  Even broken bits and pieces can deflect the light, sparkle, and appear magical from that perspective.

Feeling powerless in our own childhood can create a victim mentality that is difficult to shake.  When we are so focused on our own pain, we tend to look for excuses to back up our skewed view of the world.  It becomes difficult to make that transition from the child to adult because we are still  crying out for saving, as if we are still the victims of those who were meant to care for us.  That can’t work when we are adults.  Unlike a child who has no options, we do, so we can’t sit around feeling sorry for ourselves or making excuses anymore. We are now the people, the strangers that other children are relying on to see  and save them.  What chance do those children have of being saved by a world full of stuck, victim adults who deal with their lives as if they are still children themselves?

Crossing the barrier from childhood to adulthood is not all about the freedoms.  Many see it as finally being able to do whatever they want, whenever they want, without the constant fear of the disapproval of their parent’s heavy hand.  The first great disappointment for most of us, is the sad realization EVERYTHING is now on us.   Yes, you can go out and party as late as you want but  you also  have to earn your own money, make decisions, and find your way through life’s many trials.     Nobody  is going to shop or do the laundry for you while you are  out partying.  Your fridge does not magically get stocked with awesome foods you love to eat.   You not only have to replace the toilet paper once the roll is empty,  you have to remember to buy it in the first place.  Adulthood is work and requires far greater responsibility than you were ever tasked with as kids.  The emotional and social responsibilities are even heavier because they actually define your characters – the people that you are daily choosing to be.

As far as the rest of the world is concerned, that single day that separates our childhood from adulthood signals a significant closing down of our imagined “choices.”  Children are given lots of “get out jail free” cards.  They are not held accountable in the same way adults are.  As an adult you are legally responsible for your choices and will pay the price like everyone else.  We tend not to sentence children to lengthy terms in jail because we know they would not be able to handle it, and because we have hope they might change their ways as they grow up a bit more.  Childhood sees a gradient of behavioural expectation.   We expect much more from a 12 year old than we do from a 4 year old.  But once you hit adulthood, that gradient disappears.     A 21 year old adult  is held to the same accountability  as is the 31 , or 81 year old.

You are no longer the centre of a global effort to protect you and excuse your behaviour.   Just like that you move from excuses to responsibility by simply waking up the morning of your 18th birthday.

As an adult you will find that while people might be understanding of your feelings, they will not condone bad behaviour .  Children react without much thought.  Tell a child he cannot have a toy at the store and he may fall to the floor kicking and screaming like a wounded bull.  He could care less what impact his actions have on anyone else.   He is reactionary, and sometimes unable to process his own emotions.   If there is damage caused by the child, physical or emotional, it is the parent that pays the consequences.  An adult is expected to have gained enough control that he is no longer a victim of his own emotions and in failing to exercise control, he is totally responsible for any damage caused.

An adult understands that he has a choice as to how to acts.  No-one MAKES us angry.  We choose our responses to the emotions we experience.  Losing control when someone cuts you off in traffic is still a choice and there are laws that force accountability on behalf of the public.    People who react to life are ineffective because they are side stepping responsibility.  You are accountable for your actions, every single one of them, good or bad.  It is not your parents fault if you turn out to be an ineffective human being.  The world is full of people whose parents were not perfect, in fact, everyone who has ever lived had imperfect parents.  Many people with even the worst possible parents chose to use that experience to propel them on to great things.  You are not ineffective because of your parents.  You are ineffective because you blame them instead of taking responsibility for yourself.   There is a subtle line that can exist between being the victim and turning into a perpetrator.     Bad behaviour is not excused by others because your parents disappointed/hurt/abused you.  Bad behaviour just tells the world who you have chosen to be.    And being sad about a parent who failed you is different from going out of your way to say and do nasty things to attack and destroy that parent.

In many instances our parents actions are often the result of circumstances.  They may genuinely not have understood the consequences of their actions.  People make mistakes.    Many of the criticisms leveled at parents are not for acts of commission.  Parents don’t often purposely decide to do things that hurt their children, they often just do the best they can with what they have available.

Life moves on.  We all grow and change.  Given the opportunity, our parents would probably have done things very differently.  Your parents are not the same people today that they were when you were 5.  YOU are not the same person you were when you were 16.  Through out history, the people most admired in this world,  are not the people who were perfect. They are the people who made mistakes, even horrific mistakes, and who had the courage to not give up but to keep trying.  These are the people that inspire us.  These are the people that have changed the world.   Your parents might be people who have made a journey like that in their lives.  They might be good friends to have, on the journey of your own life.

As you are no longer a child you will hopefully grow to understand how difficult life is and more importantly, how imperfect we all are.  If we are wise, we use our mistakes as opportunities to understand more about ourselves and the world around us.  As we suffer, break, and bleed, we hopefully will be opened up, softened, and make to be a more compassionate and a wiser human being.  If you insist on carrying your hate and judgment of your parents forward through your own life I can only pray that you will not one day yourself have great need for the very grace you currently withhold from them.

Continuing on your path of blaming others for you, or doing unkind things to get even, only shifts the balance from you being the victim to you being a perpetrator.  It means you are worse than anything you accused your parents of because while they may have struggled and made mistakes, you are presently making a conscious choice to be a nasty person.  It means you are taking something from long ago that is no longer a current threat to your well being and using it as an excuse to behave badly today.  Letting go is important in your life because despite what you say to anyone else about how awful your parent were, the only thing others will hear is a narrative on who you are.  No-one will care about your past.  They will only see you, here and now.  Your actions will always speak volumes above and beyond any words you use.

You are powerful.  You have the power to make choices about WHO you are.  You cannot make choices for who your parents should be anymore than they were able to make those choices for you.  Forgiving them is not just about allowing them off the hook, it is more importantly about you!  Forgiving them, empowers you.  It takes you out of victim mode and puts you in the drivers seat of full responsibility for your own life.    Who they were, what happened to you, those things were not things you could ever do anything about, but who YOU are and what you do with your life, is totally and completely in YOUR control.

So let it go.

Grow up.

Be every amazing thing you ever dreamed of being by taking full responsibility, without excuses.

 

 

With love,  from a “boomed baby”