Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What Will I Tell My Children?

The morning after. No less than twenty-three posts on social media all asking the same question. 

What will I tell my children?

My mind raced with thoughts of inadequacy. Oh no! Did I miss something? Was I supposed to prepare a speech for my kids about the results of the election?

Once I had my coffee and the fog lifted from my brain, I realized that I don’t have to “tell” them anything. Because, when it comes to politics, I choose not to force my beliefs onto my girls.

Don’t get me wrong. Watching my friends post pictures of their children at the polls, wearing Hillary or Trump paraphernalia was adorable! I started thinking that maybe the elections are becoming similar to team sports. If you were raised a Yankees fan, you’re always a Yankees fan. It doesn’t matter if you don’t really understand why you’re a Yankees fan. But if your parents think the Yankees are the way to go, then that’s the way it should be, right? This line of thinking had me wondering if I had parenting all wrong.

But then I came back to this - there is a difference between giving your children your opinion and giving your children a pathway to obtain information so that they can form their own. And as difficult as it is sometimes, I always try to go with the latter.

Did my girls want to know who I was going to vote for throughout the entire campaign season? Absolutely! And maybe I was in a unique position because I truly had no idea. So, when I told them I was unsure, it was the truth.

But my “I don’t know” answer led to further discussions about how to make a decision, which led to discussions about researching all candidates, and selecting someone who holds beliefs that are close to our own.

Researching candidates didn’t come willingly for my eleven and nine year old daughters. But with a quick Google search, we were able to find a political topic that my kids actually could relate to- Common Core. Now, as a parent, I think Common Core is a disaster. But when talking to my girls about it, they were both indifferent. It’s just something they are learning in school and neither of them had any complaints. So, while I may not understand Common Core, just like my mom probably didn’t understand calculus, I learned that my girls have a different outlook than I do on one of the issues being discussed on the campaign trail this year. So, based solely on this issue, my girls and I would have voted for two completely different candidates.

This simple conversation with my girls opened my mind in an important way. Not to point out the obvious here, but kids are impressionable. I do realize that as parents, we have no choice but to make certain decisions for our children. But we also have the job of empowering our kids to be confident enough to have an opinion that is different from ours, or anyone else’s, for that matter.

We should have a nation of children who are interested in finding out for themselves why they support something, rather than a nation of children who support something just because mommy and daddy feel a certain way. As parents, it’s time we acknowledge that our children have their own thoughts and may not always be on our side of the fence. It’s time we give our kids the tools to be independent thinkers.

So, if you’re still wondering what to tell your children about the election results, I completely understand your desire to tell them of your disappointment about the winner. I completely get it if you accidentally frighten them with your very real concerns about America’s future. But try to remember that, unless your child did their own research, picked their own candidate, and truly understand what happened this morning, your feelings of disappointment do not belong to them.

Instead, tell them that no matter what happens in life, no matter what setbacks they may face, their opinions, no matter how different, are valid. Tell your children that their voices matter…now, more than ever.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

When An Ex Can't Get Over the Hatred

When exes physically insert themselves into your life, it is most commonly known as stalking. However, in many cases, exes indirectly connect themselves to you, ensuring that they are still in your life, while eliminating a legal stalking charge. With the power of social media, pursuing someone who is unaware of your interest in them is extremely simple and is usually harmless. However, this is not the kind of activity I'm referring to. I am talking about instances where a person's commitment to crazy is alarmingly impressive.

Unfortunately, I have had some dealings with people in this arena. And why they do what they do will forever be a mystery to me. Below are some personal examples that have contributed to my permanent state of "ex" bewilderment. Here's hoping you cannot relate.

Example #1: My family and friends have nursed me through a few breakups in my lifetime. And because they are my tribe, they are naturally inclined to have my back. But when dealing with an ex who acts like a lunatic, expect everyone on your support team to get a frantic phone call from said nutjob, detailing all of the ways that you are an asshole. This person desperately wants to feel validated by the people in your camp, most likely because the people in this loon's camp already know to keep their distance. I mean, what's that old saying? You are known by the company you keep? one wants to be labeled as "the cuckoo bird's friend", so here's hoping that your tribe lets the impending phone call go directly to voicemail.

Example #2: If you've read my blog before, you know that I've written quite a bit about how I'm incapable of hanging onto the past. But when it comes to a hate-filled ex, moving on is not a I've actually been in a situation where someone, let's call her Sally Screwball, harassed repetitively contacted me a YEAR after the relationship with her ex ended. Not a month or two later...a YEAR later. In my experience, three to six months after a relationship has ended is typically the point where people start moving forward. But not Sally Screwball. She chose anger (over therapy), and found herself at the receiving end of a restraining order.

Example #3: When it comes to my Puerto Rican familia, if there is a breakup, the non-bloodline gets the axe.

And if the non-blood line is a nutter, my family is smart enough to see through the shenanigans. I can count on the loyalty of my Puerto Rican posse. But not all families are like mine. Some are easier to destroy. Similar to Example #1, psychos tend to enjoy penetrating your personal relationships in an attempt to ruin your life. Even though this fruitcake admitted to hating your family when you were together, your family suddenly blossoms into an avenue of hope, where revenge can be bestowed upon you by the act of manipulation. If this insane person manages to pry your impressionable family members away by offering them "stuff" while telling them awful stories of your assholery, then the hater wins (and maybe you do too, because you are probably better off without family members who choose to befriend someone who hates you).

Example #4: Wait. The crackpot didn't win yet?  There's more? Yes. Yes, there is. Sometimes, all of the above just isn't enough. Sometimes (and this is a true story), the fruit loop conjures up old documentation that can potentially create a frivolous lawsuit! Although I'm sure it's every judge's dream to spend hours of his time hovering over an angry bird trying to do an ex-partner in, I have to admit that this one confuses me most. In a relationship that ended YEARS ago, where there are no children, no shared assets, nothing at all left, walking away should be the only logical step. But apparently, some people are so vindictive, self-serving, antagonistic or plain obsessive in ensuring their ex's misery, that instead of moving on, they dedicate years of their own court...seeking revenge.

Here's the bottom line. The above behaviors belong to a very sad person (or at least to a person who may need psychiatric attention). Finding ways to make someone else's life miserable is no way to live.

To the exes who can't get over the hatred, I leave you with this. Your constant presence is like that of a gnat - annoying, but easily swatted away.

Waking up every morning obsessing over someone who fills your heart with hate is not healthy. Thinking that you have devised a plan to reach the core of your ex's being is not realistic. Any type of potential harm you think you may be causing is really only a stress trigger...for you. Because the inevitable truth is that your ex has moved past you. Your ex is waking up loving life and the people in it. And maybe it's time for you to do the same.

If it isn't, and you insist on remaining in your ex's life due to your hatred, please understand that your efforts are noted. But don't let it anger you further if a smile remains on your ex's face. Because what you seem to be missing, my dear, is that your ex has already succeeded in releasing the one thing in life that caused the most misery of all - and that, I'm afraid, is you.