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Democracy Requires Respect

I doubt I’m alone in feeling a great deal of trepidation as we look forward to tomorrow’s election. At fifty, I can’t recall another instance in my lifetime where I’ve seen such contention and divisiveness between candidates and their supporters.

Facebook is no longer a fun space because people bully and belittle each other. No surprise, I suppose, because the candidates trash the other’s supporters, too. Media consultants speak over each other and trade put-downs. In truth, no one has really shown anyone with a different opinion any respect. In that way, everyone has been “deplorable.”47229718_s

The funny thing is that, the great majority of us are probably in the same boat: neither candidate represents our agenda or interests. Maybe you’re a moderate Republican (like me), who believes in small government, lower taxes, but also supports gay rights, is pro-choice, and wants tighter gun control. Or maybe you’re a moderate Democrat, who thinks taxes should go up for some, but spending should be cut, too. I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter, because we are each entitled to our opinions (and hopefully those opinions are based on something more than mere media soundbites).

What we aren’t entitled to is being so hateful toward each other. First of all, it’s just rude. Why does anyone think its okay to demean another person’s opinion or vote? Does a person who disparages another person actually feel better about himself? Picking on someone else as being “stupid” for his or her differing opinion does not persuade anyone that your opinion is correct, does it? It just makes you a bully. Don’t be a bully. Don’t make people feel stupid just because they like something about a candidate that you don’t like or understand.

Secondly, this belittling is dangerous and bad for the country. We are 300 million people and growing. There will never be a time when we are 100% unified on any topic, but we still have to live with and work together. We have to try to find the middle ground so progress can happen. To find middle ground, we have to be able to actually listen to and understand that other side’s grievances. The failure of the parties to work together this past decade has led us to this terrible place (in my opinion). I hope this election is a wake-up call to BOTH sides of the aisle. We need leadership to step toward each other or this democracy will collapse.

Our forefathers gave us power but, by and large, the vast majority (myself included) doesn’t exercise it enough. The bottom line is that, if we the people are unhappy with our choices, it is because most of us have failed to stay informed and involved all along. It is not fair to spew hate and anger if we’ve never read a paper, called a representative, or otherwise participated in the process on a more regular basis.

My biggest wish for tomorrow is that—no matter who wins, or how disappointed we may be—we take a deep breath, we get more involved in politics by staying informed, writing to our representatives, and taking advantage of the right to be proactive in the process, and we refrain from making ugly statements about the winner and his or her supporters.

In other words, it starts with your vote, but it doesn’t end there.

XO-Jamie

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Halloween: A Snapshot of Budding Character

They say you can tell a lot about a person from the way they handle themselves on the golf course. Does she cheat? Does she throw a fit when things aren’t going well? Does she understand the etiquette? However she plays that game is likely how she handles herself in life, at work, and so on. I think there is some truth to this particular saying, and I’m going to take it a step further.

60514268 - halloween: kids excited to trick or treat

60514268 – halloween: kids excited to trick or treat

You can tell a lot about a kid from watching her on Halloween. First, what costume did she pick? Is that little girl in a princess dress, or a football uniform? Next, does she look you in the eye, smile, and yell “trick or treat,” or does she keep her chin tucked and look back at her adoring mom or dad? Is she alone, with one friend or sibling, or running with a pack of kids? Does she ask “how many” she’s allowed, or just grab as much as her little hands can heft out of the bowl? Does she say “thank you?” or does she thrust her hands in there during someone else’s turn and grab a bunch before running away without ever once acknowledging you or the candy?

Last night I saw a little bit of all of these things. I admit, I get discouraged when I see discourteous children. I wonder how a kid gets to that point, too? Didn’t her parents teach her good manners? I know there’s a whole “anti-sharing” culture out there (schools that cater to that, too, by allowing kids to “save” toys from others even when they aren’t playing with it), so maybe that’s to blame.

A “me first” attitude is a huge turn-off to me, in kids and adults. It seems parents who are against sharing seem to think that, when another kid asks for a turn, then if their kid is expected to share, it is teaching that other kid that they get what they want whenever they want it. That seems to be a really twisted form of logic in my opinion. If anything, teaching your kids they never need to share (even if it is community property, like in a classroom or playground), is teaching YOUR kids that their needs always come first. ICK!!

Sharing is good for everyone. It teaches us to be part of a community. To realize that, if we’re lucky enough to have “more,” we can use that power to help others who have less. Giving is kind, and most people actually feel GOOD when they make someone else happy. Learning that the world doesn’t revolve around you and your needs is also a good thing (which I think sharing promotes rather than destroys). And people who share are much more likely to make friends easily and socialize better than kids who clutch everything for themselves.

What’s your take on all of this?

XO-Jamie

 

Raising Resilient Kids

My thoughts and prayers go out to all of the victims of the recent tornado in Oklahoma.  On my facebook page, I’d posted this quote, which I find to be extremely hopeful:images-1

There are no greater treasures than the highest human qualities, such as compassion, courage, and hope.  Not even tragic accident or disaster can destroy such treasures of the heart ~ Daisaku Ikeda

Watching the news coverage, and reading this quote, forces me to acknowledge and revere the need for the resiliency of the human spirit.  I’m not someone who naturally handles crisis or stress well, but I marvel at those who can.  Moreover, I want my kids to learn those critical skills.  Through my work with CARES, I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of child and mental health experts.  Local therapist Ava Diamond gave community parents some insight into this very issue, which I am sharing with you in Raising Resilient Kids.

As an aside, if you are interested in helping the victims in Oklahoma, this article offers several options:  Help Oklahoma Victims

Help Your Kids Get High On Life…Not Drugs!

Time for another off-topic post, folks.  This one is important for parents of tweens and teens.  Recent events in Steubenville, Ohio illustrate the extremely dangerous situations inebriated kids might face.  Today’s parents need to be ever-vigilant in order to keep their teens safe.  images-2

Last month was Alcohol Awareness month, and CARES offered the community vital information about what our kids are doing and why. I’ve summarized the major points in this article, Honing Your Radar on Teen Drug and Alcohol Use, which I hope you’ll take the time to read.  Even if you don’t have kids of your own, you may have nieces, nephews or others who can benefit from this information, so pass it along.

xo-jamie

Imbue Kids With Problem-Solving Skills

Parenting is simultaneously the most rewarding and challenging aspect of our lives.  For the past month, we’ve written posts intended to help you tap into and release your ‘inner diva’ (so to speak).  But for those readers who are also mothers (or fathers), being a great parent IS the most important goal in their lives.images-10  Thus, I’m always happy to share the amazing parenting advice I receive by virtue of my work with New Canaan CARES.  This particular article will be most helpful to parents of grade school aged children who want to teach their kids to become great problem-solvers.  Click here to learn more:  Imbue Kids With Problem Solving Skills.

Happy Parenting!

xo-Jamie