Posted in Family, Writing

Finding Balance in 2018

 

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I’ve gone through the edits on my latest MS. It’s coming together and I’m excited about this story! I’m going to go through it one more time before I start the query process so wish me luck!

 

Photo credit: Erin Costa on VisualHuntCC BY

I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been struggling with finding balance. I’m devoting as much time as I can to my writing, but it’s hard when you only have so many hours in the day and so many goals. For example, I’m trying to be the best mom I can be, the best writer I can be, and live my best life. Sometimes my goals compete with each other, and I have to choose.

I always put my kids first, but when I do that, I have to put my writing aside for later, but when I do that I ultimately skip my exercising for the day, and let’s face it, that’s not good for my health. Then I have to deal with the guilt of not taking care of myself.

Photo on Visual Hunt

So to avoid that, and the frustration I feel if I don’t spend time each day writing, I’ve worked out a schedule where I focus on one goal at a time and I give myself permission to focus on that one goal. This is important, giving yourself permission because it alleviates all those negative emotions like guilt and frustration.

 

Photo on VisualHunt

I’ve also whittled my goals down to three. This is a big step because sometimes the reason we can’t find balance is because we’ve overloaded ourselves. So I’ve simplified them and shrunk them down to three broad ones.

I want to be the best mom I can be and that means being present and taking care of my kids’ emotional and physical needs. However, to be the best mom I can be, there are times when I have to take care of me, too. So I’m going to make sure I take time to exercise and eat healthy and every once in a while take a little time to just be instead of do.

Photo on VisualHunt

I also want to be the best writer I can be so I’ve got to take time to do this. I’ve got to hone my craft and write incredible stories. 🙂 I’m doing this by working with critique partners and mentors. I want my writing to move to the next level and the only way to do that is to improve.

 

Photo on Visualhunt

I also want to live my best life. To do that I have to take care of my relationships with my hubby and my kids and my extended family and friends.

This is how I’m going into 2018. I’m simplifying and focuses with a laser instead of a flashlight. How about you? How are you approaching the New Year and what do you see on the horizon? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

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Posted in Family, Parenting, raising kids, Teen

The Time I met A Sociopath

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week. I’ve changed the beginning of my latest WIP and now I suspect I’m going to have to rewrite the story.  Oy!  But it’ll be worth it in the long run because the story will be better, grittier. That’s my hope anyway.

But enough about that. Today I’d like to talk about a new friend who has entered the group my son hangs out with. He’s a smart little guy who we’ll call Damien (not his real name). Right from the beginning hubby and I thought there was something off about Damien. He’d call and ask my son if he could come over and spend the night. My oldest would ask us and we’d say, “Sure. Why not. Have his parents drop him off after four.”

My oldest would inevitably return and say, “His parents prefer that you pick him up.”

Well. We thought maybe there was something going on in the family where they weren’t able to drop him off, so the first time we obliged and picked him up.  However, this started to become a pattern, and we noticed other things too. Damien could tell real whoppers. I’ve never heard a kid lie with such ease. Hubby and I started discussing how something wasn’t quite right about this kid.

Photo credit: Moheen Reeyad via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC

We were perplexed, but we didn’t want to tell our oldest about our misgivings until we had more evidence than just a weird vibe.  A few weeks later, I happened to chat with one of the parents of another friend. We’ll call him Mitchell. Mitchell’s dad had seven hundred dollars’ worth of X-box games charged to his credit card. It wasn’t done all at once, but at times when Mitchell was with him (Mitchell’s parents are divorced), and he believes Damien must have somehow gotten his credit card number because Mitchel would ask before he’d charge anything to his dad’s card. Mitchell’s dad also went on to say that Mitchell had thirty five dollars in his piggy bank and the money had mysteriously disappeared.  Later that day,  Damien pulls a wad of bills out of his pocket states, “I want to buy Mitch a game.”

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Damien flaunted his cash in front of Mitch’s dad. Now, the dad’s totally suspicious but he has no proof so he doesn’t say anything to the kid. After I heard this story, alarm bells went off in my head. I shared this info with my boss who shook his head and said, “That’s sociopathic tendencies right there.”

Click here to see what Sociopathic tendencies are: Sociopathic Tendencies

I totally freaked because my mind immediately goes to serial killer.

 

Photo credit: aftab. via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC

 

When I got home from work that night I shared this info with my hubby and after doing a little research, we sat down with our oldest and explained why we wanted him to distance himself from Damien. I listed the characteristics of the sociopathic personality and my son listened and he agreed with quite a few of them, especially the one about lying.

My son has distanced himself from Damien, he’s still in the group of boys he eats lunch with, but that’s the only interaction they have together. He doesn’t come over to spend the night anymore. Phew! Crisis averted!

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I can see this kid when he’s older getting caught doing something illegal. Maybe he goes to a store and steals something. I can see him blaming it on his companion without feeling any guilt.  Sociopaths have no moral compass and that’s bad news for anyone who ends up being friends with them.

It’s fodder for a story, because as you know real life is stranger than fiction, but it’s also another example of why parents need to be involved in their kids’ lives. If we hadn’t been, this situation could’ve escalated into something irreversible.

Photo via Visualhunt.com

Sociopaths are among us. Most of them haven’t suffered child abuse or been neglected so there’s no way to tell who they are until you get to know them. Your child doesn’t have the life experience to understand the consequences of hanging out with someone like this, and the sociopath is manipulative. He can easily gain control in the relationship.

I’m still shocked I’ve seen one in action at such a young age. Sorry. I’m not a psychologist, but I totally feel this kid is one. To what degree, I can’t say, but I know he’s heading down the wrong road. Luckily,  my son won’t be travelling with him.

How about you? How do you handle it when one of your kids brings home someone who’s headed down the wrong road? Does your child listen or does he defend the kid? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

 

Posted in Parenting, raising kids, Teen

Teens: Beware the Blue Whale

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you and that you all had a Happy Mother’s Day. I’m back today and I’m talking about something called the Blue Whale Suicide Game. Have you heard of it?

Photo credit: Benjamin Lehman via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-ND

No?

Well let me fill you in. It is a game that encourages teens to commit suicide. It’s name is derived from the fact Blue Whales sometimes beach themselves to die.

According to this article, http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/blue-whale-challenge

at least one hundred and thirty Russian teen suicides have been linked to this game. This is how it works. An administrator assigns tasks to the teens who sign up to play. The tasks range from waking up at an odd time, watching a horror movie, to self-harm. The teen has fifty days to complete the tasks and they have to post proof for the administrator to validate. At the end of the fifty days, they’re encouraged to commit suicide.

The game is now spreading across the UK via social media. http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/science-technology/806384/Blue-Whale-Game-Suicide-Challenge-UK

 

Photo via VisualHunt.com

Now, it hasn’t been proven beyond a reasonable doubt the Blue Whale game is responsible for those one hundred and thirty suicides, but those teens were all part of the same group. Besides, do we need to prove it? Isn’t the fact that the game exists at all a major red flag for anyone?

I hate to say this because I’m not one for a great deal of regulation, but apparently we need some sort of guidelines for the internet. First of all, this game shouldn’t even exist. It needs to be removed from the web. We need some sort of committee to regulate apps so kids can’t access these games.

Of course, creating a regulating body takes time. So what do we do in the meantime? We must warn our kids against this game. Tell them in no uncertain terms not to play. Even if all their friends are doing it. Give them the tools they need to deal with peer pressure because that is how the Blue Whale hooks these kids. Here’s a great article on dealing with peer pressure. http://www.yourlifecounts.org/blog/20-ways-avoid-peer-pressure

 

The man behind this game claims he’s cleansing society. Isn’t this kind of thinking considered a mental illness? If it’s not, it should be. This guy reminds me of Hitler and we all know where his thinking got us, don’t we?

Photo credit: ksablan via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-SA

 

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post! Do you have any ideas on how to stop this insidious game? Please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Parenting, raising kids, Reading, Teen

It Takes a Village…

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I’m talking about the book and the Netflix series “Thirteen Reasons Why.” This week our school sent us a letter regarding the content of this show. They were concerned about how teens might be reacting to the strong issues the show addresses.

 

Thirteen Reasons Why by [Asher, Jay]

Now, I haven’t read the book or watched the series. I’ve got to find a time when my boys aren’t around to watch it, and right now they’re around a lot. I like that. 🙂 So I’m willing to make the sacrifice.

I agree with the concerns of the school district. The book and the show deal with a lot of teen issues like rape, slut-shaming, and suicide. The letter I received voiced the concern that the issues the show addressed might be possible triggers for some teens who are struggling with these problems themselves.

The school did a great service to bring these concerns to the attention of the parents. I was impressed the district was so in tune with what is happening among the student body. I work in the library and I know that book has been very popular.

Photo via Visualhunt.com

So the question arises, who is responsible for the message our kids receive, is it the author of the book? The producers of the show? The school district? Or the Parents? How about when the kids take this behavior to social media, who’s responsible then? My take on the whole situation is that we all are. Remember that old saying it takes a village to raise a child? This particular example is what the quote is talking about.

Our responsibility as authors is to make sure our stories are authentic and our message is a positive one. I feel, even though I haven’t read the book yet, that when Jay Asher wrote the story, he was attempting to show what could happen to a teen who was experiencing these problems. So teens who were slut-shaming or bullying would know the consequences of their actions before it was too late. It was a cautionary tale. Kudos to the author for sending such a powerful message.

There are differences between the show and the book, mainly for dramatic effect. The show is much longer than the book and the reason is because the producers wanted to make thirteen episodes to make the mini-series a two week event. Because of this, they had to make changes to the story itself. The administrators at the school were concerned the show presented suicide as a viable option to solving the issues in the story, and again, the possibility of this show as a trigger for teens experiencing some of the issues.

Suicide is never an option. We need to communicate with our kids and tell them help is available. There are professionals who can help them deal with their strong emotions and there are authority figures who can step in if they’re being shamed in any way. This is where the school took responsibility and warned the parents. Now the responsibility falls on the parents to get involved and either watch or read the book with their child and have an open dialogue with them. Could the producers of the series have done a better job of showing how Hannah could’ve gotten help? Probably. And I feel they should have. I’ve heard the show presented suicide as a viable option and like I said before, suicide is never an option.

But what happens when the teens take this behavior to social media? Who’s the authority there? Is it the school’s responsibility to make sure students behave? In my opinion, social media is out of the school’s control. The school can’t police all their students’ social media accounts.

Photo credit: Mark Kens via Visual Hunt / CC BY

How about the parents. Yeah. I agree in a perfect world, the parents are responsible for their child’s behavior, but we all know our world is far from perfect, and most kids don’t tell their parents when they’re going through something like slut-shaming. So how do we nip this behavior in the bud before it reaches that critical point?

We need the creators of these social media sites to be vigilant and look for this type of behavior among their users. They’re the only ones who can do this. And they need to take a strong stance against this behavior. Accounts should be suspended or deleted as soon as bullying appears. I know they can’t catch everyone, but they may be able to save a life.

I know some students will be up in arms about privacy issues and freedom of speech. But social media has never been private and freedom of speech doesn’t apply to bullying. We as parents need to teach our kids this behavior is never okay. We have to make sure we don’t inadvertently model this behavior in our own lives as well. So ultimately, every single one of us is responsible and it really does take a village to raise a child.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. What are your thoughts? I’d love to read them, so leave a comment! I love hearing from you!

 

 

Posted in Family, Parenting, raising kids

Protecting our Kids from Abuse

 

Hello everyone. I hope you all had a nice Easter holiday. I know I did, and it was just what I needed to get back on track with my writing. I’ve been working on my revisions, and I’m excited about the way my story is coming together. But enough about that. I’m back today to talk about a serious subject.  One I feel strongly about, and that subject is protecting our kids from abuse.

Our children are innocents. They don’t have the emotional capacity to deal with a predator when they come across one and let’s face it, most of them look like you or me. Some of them are doctors or priests. (Don’t get me started on the Catholic Church and the abuse they covered up for years.) They’re adults and they know how to manipulate and control their victims. To a child these people look trustworthy and they are everywhere, online, in schools and in our churches. So how can we protect our kids?

Photo credit: Stijn Goris via Visual hunt / CC BY-ND

First of all, let’s look at what type of victim predators look for. It’s the same type of victim whether the predator is a pedophile, a human trafficker, or an abuser. The type of child they look for is someone who doesn’t have a strong support system. A loner. A kid who doesn’t have a lot of friends or a strong family unit. They’re looking for a kid who’s emotionally needy. Someone they can ply with compliments and gifts so the kid becomes dependent on them for their self-esteem, and that’s when the abuse starts.

So how do we make sure we don’t raise victims? By being an involved parent. These predators don’t go after the kid whose parent is present watching baseball practice and cheering their youngster on. They don’t go after the kid whose parent is there picking them up from school every day. They go after the ones who don’t have a strong role model. The ones where the parent maybe is dealing with issues of their own, the death of a spouse, a divorce, or a mental illness.

Photo via VisualHunt

So how do we protect the kids whose parents are going through a divorce or a sudden death? That’s when we have to look to our community to help out. If you can’t be at the bus stop to pick up your kid, ask a neighbor to watch them to make sure they make it home, or if you can afford it, hire a babysitter. Someone responsible enough to be there for them.

Photo via Visual Hunt

If there is strong community support, predators can’t get in and our children are safe. Let’s face it. If our kids aren’t safe then we all lose, wouldn’t you agree?

Also, talk to your kids. Teach them to be suspicious of adults, who aren’t in your family, who buy them gifts and seem to give them a lot of attention. Teach them to be their own advocate. Tell them it’s okay for them to tell an adult, “I’m not comfortable with this. Please stop.” And tell them they can yell it if they need to. They won’t be punished for it. Let’s keep our littles safe.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. I feel strongly about this and I wanted to share my thoughts with all of you.

What are your thoughts? Do you have any ideas on ways to protect our kids you’d like to share? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Family, Parenting, raising kids

The Dark Side of Social Media

Photo credit: the UMF via Visual hunt / CC BY

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I’m talking about the dark side of Social Media. Now don’t get me wrong, I love being able to stay connected to all my friends and colleagues. It’s great to be able to chat with someone I haven’t seen in years. Social Media is an amazing tool.

I’ve used it when I’m researching information for my stories. I contact people who are experts in their fields and pick their brains. That way, I know what I’m adding to my story is accurate. It makes my story more authentic. Please understand, the people I contact, I’ve already established a relationship with them. I just don’t follow them or add them as a friend and then start bombarding them with questions. 🙂

This is an incredible way to get information, and I can see my kids using social media to do research for papers when they get older, but there’s a dark side to the internet as well.

Not everything on social media is as it seems, and we must teach our littles the difference. First of all, social media is the image someone wants to project. People usually post only about the positive things in their lives. This is okay, no one wants to hang with a Negative Nancy, but it’s only half the picture. Everyone experiences happiness and struggles. We need to remind our kids about that so they don’t get caught up in the world where likes and follows become more important than real relationships.

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          It’s sad to say, but it goes even deeper. Teens are using social media to hook up. That means to get together and have sex. They send out a tweet or a post asking if anyone wants to hook up. If someone responds in the affirmative, they make the arrangements. They’re even sending naked photos of themselves via the internet.  Isn’t that scary? In my opinion, social media hinders our ability to connect emotionally as human beings.

Photo credit: Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig, Hiking.org via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

          We need to be cognizant of this trend and turn it around because if we don’t, our kids may never learn to make that emotional connection. We don’t want to lose that because it would mean we’re losing a big part of what makes us human, wouldn’t you agree?

A friend recommended this book to me and I’ve just started it, but it inspired this blog post. I believe it’s important for every parent to read, to understand the climate our kids are trying to navigate today. The cover and blurb are below.

American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers by [Sales, Nancy Jo]

Instagram. Whisper. Yik Yak. YouTube. Kik. Ask.fm. Tinder. The dominant force in the lives of girls coming of age in America today is social media. What it is doing to an entire generation of young women is the subject of award-winning Vanity Fair writer Nancy Jo Sales’s riveting and explosive American Girls.

With extraordinary intimacy and precision, Sales captures what it feels like to be a girl in America today. From Montclair to Manhattan and Los Angeles, from Florida and Arizona to Texas and Kentucky, Sales crisscrossed the country, speaking to more than two hundred girls, ages thirteen to nineteen, and documenting a massive change in the way girls are growing up, a phenomenon that transcends race, geography, and household income. American Girls provides a disturbing portrait of the end of childhood as we know it and of the inexorable and ubiquitous experience of a new kind of adolescence—one dominated by new social and sexual norms, where a girl’s first crushes and experiences of longing and romance occur in an accelerated electronic environment; where issues of identity and self-esteem are magnified and transformed by social platforms that provide instantaneous judgment. What does it mean to be a girl in America in 2016? It means coming of age online in a hypersexualized culture that has normalized extreme behavior, from pornography to the casual exchange of nude photographs; a culture rife with a virulent new strain of sexism and a sometimes self-undermining notion of feminist empowerment; a culture in which teenagers are spending so much time on technology and social media that they are not developing basic communication skills. From beauty gurus to slut-shaming to a disconcerting trend of exhibitionism, Nancy Jo Sales provides a shocking window into the troubling world of today’s teenage girls. 

Provocative and urgent, Ameran Girls is destined to ignite a much-needed conversation about how we can help our daughters and sons negotiate unprecedented new challenges.

Like I said, I just started reading it so I’m sure I’ll have much more to say on the topic at a later date. 🙂 So stay tuned, there’s more to come!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post! I appreciate it! What do you think? Do you think Social Media has a dark side, or is it all sunshine and unicorns? Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Parenting

Are you a Helicopter Mom?

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I’m talking about something other than the election. Although, I will say that I’m tired of all the political posts on Facebook. Lately when I sign on, it feels like everyone’s yelling at each other. Everyone’s pissed off and it just makes me tired. So, I’m only taking it in small doses right now.

But enough about that. Today, I’m writing about Helicopter Moms.

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What is a Helicopter Mom? We’ve all run into them. They’re the ones who take a good mom attitude and turn it up to the tenth degree. They’re overbearing and pushy and just a downright pain, but here’s the official definition.

A Helicopter Mom is a mom who pays extremely close attention to a child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions.

Although the phrase applies to parents with children at the high school and college level, it can be applied to children of all ages. Not sure if you’re a Helicopter Mom? Just read through the list below and see if you qualify.

Helicopter Moms

You might be a Helicopter Mom if you have the same Halloween Costume as your child.

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You might be a Helicopter Mom if you have to be in charge of every fund raising event at the school. In fact, you’re so sure you’re the only one capable of handling these events that you mud wrestle other parents who have the gall to volunteer.

Photo credit: mrbille1 via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-ND

You might be a Helicopter Mom if you think the Parent Pick Up Line’s Procedure should be changed to accommodate you and your schedule.

You might be a Helicopter Mom if you hold up the Parent Pick Up Line because your special little cherub dropped her mood ring and needs to find it before you go home.

You might be a Helicopter Mom if your sweet little angel throws an incredible hissy fit about getting in the car, and you allow him to kick and scream, holding up everyone in line, and telling anyone who will listen that little Johnnie is just “expressing his feelings.”

You might be a Helicopter Mom if you go to Parent Teacher Conferences with your own graphs and charts of Little Gracie’s progress and explain to the teacher that she may just want to “rethink” her lesson plans for the rest of the year.

Photo credit: Innovation_School via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC

You might be a Helicopter Mom if your child is consistently late for school and you argue with the principal explaining that “Jasmine is just making an entrance and therefore shouldn’t be marked tardy.”

You might be a Helicopter Mom if you push other parents down as you try to get photos of your precious sweetheart at the Christmas Concert.

You might be a Helicopter Mom if you show up during recess to “provide instructions” for the playground aides.

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You might be a Helicopter Mom if you go on play dates and take notes about the other children and then pass the information along to the teacher to “help” her deal with the kids’ behavioral issues.

All the above issues are symptoms of the dreaded disease Helicopter Momitis. If you feel you have some of these symptoms, don’t worry. The cure is More Cowbell.

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Thanks for stopping by and reading my post! Do you have more symptoms of Helicopter Momitis? If you do please leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you! And remember when you’re burning with the Fever of this dreaded disease the only cure is More Cowbell!

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