It’s Not Much Fun Being Us . . .

Sitting On The Edge Of The World

“The world has become a very lonely place for many men these days”–(photographer unknown to me)

When I first saw this photo I instantly identified with how difficult it is to find our place in the world. On the surface of it it looks rather tranquil and peaceful but it could easily be lonely and empty.

Having said that the one thing that I believe we, as men, need to do is stop listening to everybody who has an idea of what and who we should be. The changing world has become a place that is increasingly more difficult to understand for men these days and the speed or the rate of change is very difficult to cope with. A man’s world, for many, is a place where there is confusion, frustration, fear, judgement, emptiness, loneliness and anger. We have gone from a place of being dominant and dominating to a place where we are basically a shadow of who we used to be and, for many, ineffectual in terms of providing true leadership. I’d be among the first to agree that we needed to back off the dominating place we had assumed and also among the first to agree that we have become mere shells of who we were. Instead of being leaders and decision makers and strong family oriented people we have become disconnected, displaced and found guilty of what I’m not sure by those who have no idea what it means to be male and won’t be happy until men are subjugated. How sad. How sad that we cannot find a middle ground that promotes and encourages women to strive for the success they deserve and, at the same time, allow men to be men-to be who they really are in the world. I, for one, am tired of the whining and the threatening and the posturing and the manipulating on both sides of this struggle. There can be no clear winner. If there were a winner that would mean that someone would be a loser. The only thing that might happen then is a change in social structure but not disposition.

We are supposed to be adults, whatever that means, so how do we navigate these treacherous waters and have both men and women feel as though they each won the day. Men need to allow women the freedom and the support and the respect they deserve so that they can pursue their dreams just like men want to pursue their dreams and feel that their gifts are appreciated and recognized. Some might say that it is all about feeding the ego and frankly I don’t care what it’s called. We are destroying ourselves, as a society, and we don’t seem to recognize it or care. The folks on either end of the spectrum in this fight are so stubborn that they would rather go down in flames than to wave the flag and negotiate a meaningful peace that suits and serves us all. It’s doable but only if both sides want it and are willing to work for it. That means give and take on BOTH sides.

I can only speak to the men’s side of things but we, men, need to wake up and accept that this is a new world and it will not go back to the ways and days of old. Good. But this new world must see us and accept as viable, important, meaningful, creative, intelligent, an equal partner. We are natural hunters, warriors, care takers, protectors and the one who takes the bullet for the village and for the family. Those who try to mess with this set up will be confronted with anger, resentment and aggression if need be. We are not much different now than we were hundreds perhaps thousands of years ago. Men will only hear this message from other MEN. Why is this so hard to grasp? Men need to be sure that they have the backing and the acceptance of other men before they will begin to feel OK about being seen as other than who they think/feel they are. We ask: Is concession the same as weakness? Is granting women an equal part of respect and acceptance the same as caving in and giving up? Why is it so difficult for women to accept that men are who they are? STOP trying to change us into something we are not and won’t be. This doesn’t mean that we can’t coexist and be accepting partners in the world. Besides respect, opportunity and freedom what is it women want? Why is it so difficult for men to drop their opposition to changing some of the ‘rules’ and recognize that there are many women out there who are intelligent, very capable, creative, driven and just want what other human beings want. That is a chance to demonstrate they have a rightful place in society and that they can be and are, rightfully so, key players in how the world spins.

If we don’t come to some actual agreements as to how we will choose to live our lives for the betterment of ALL, the big losers, of course, will be our children. They are the next generation of soldiers in this unnecessary struggle for?????

My hope is that we teach our children about human rights and leave the gender issue out of the conversation. No one gender is more deserving than the other. I believe that many more people would get on board if the changes were about treating each other with the same degree of respect and dignity. We all need to be provided with every opportunity to succeed as human beings.

That’s how I see it anyways–Jim

As always your respectful comments and thoughts are welcome. You can connect with me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com OR
jamescloughley.com

It’s Free To Our Children But Priceless Concerning The Giver: What Is It?

Grandparents With Family

“I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots”–Albert Einstein

I doubt most folks have any idea of what ‘it’is. It is not a new gadget or piece of technology. Actually it is only found in people who are about 60 years old and older. It is not generated by a computer and computers can’t make it. It isn’t taught in schools but kids could benefit immensely from this and it is free to them. It is, arguably, one of the most important things that many kids of this day lack. The giver, however, spent a lifetime gathering this and in so many instances it has been found to go beyond any stated or quantified value. It is truly priceless.

‘It’ is knowledge, information and experience.

It is true that computers have done much to add to science, space travel, medicine, education, architecture and design and so on. The list is very long and very impressive. What I suggest is this: While computers have changed our lives dramatically they have also, inadvertently, created less need for what we used to call human interaction. Life has sped up considerably and many are having a hard time keeping up. Along with this diminished need for human interaction we don’t have time for the age old practice of sharing wisdom and insight through conversation. This sharing was often referred to as the ultimate education.

Grandparents, who are our true teachers, used to be treated with reverence and respect for what they had experienced and for what they had survived. Many of our 20th century cultures revered their elders and respected their wisdom. Our elders knew and understood how to live in harmony with others. They understood the unwritten guidelines that kept us functioning as a large community. Today we seem to lack that same clarity and our vision has changed. Interestingly enough that has been coincidental with the lack of respect paid older folks and the messages they bring from another time. Where their words meant much they mean little today. Families don’t seem to have the time to spend with their elders anymore. More than many are in a rush to put good old dad or mom or both in nice comfortable homes for their own good. They tell us that it is in our best interests and that we can be with others of like circumstances. We are not seen or known for our learned wisdoms and our experiences are no longer sought or valued.

The seniors of this day understand the intricacies and the nuances of human life and what it is like to love, to hurt, to witness joy. They get the inner value of rolling up your sleeves and hard work. They learned how to adapt to an ever changing world filled with hardship because they had to or perish. They know about the lessons connected to being successful or not being successful and how to deal with disappointment. They didn’t run to the doctor’s office looking for a script. They learned how to deal with this stuff. They internalized the idea that you had to work and sacrifice for all you wanted and needed but the rewards were great and built character. They didn’t trade their future for their want in the present. They are the living proof that human beings can survive almost anything including loss and tragedy which are part of life. Todays’ computer cannot help us with these events because it cannot feel.

As important as seniors are we are allowing them to slip away from us in the trade off that is called progress. Parents used to live with their families in their retirement. They could share their wisdom with grand kids around the dinner table and on the porch. Now families don’t invite mom and dad or grandma and grandpa to come live with them-at least not often. Not many have time for us now. Not only have we become irrelevant but so has our message and so we are placed with other ‘old’ people in assisted living communities. The tragedy to that is all our knowledge,information and insights we have gained are never shared with those who need them the most. Those would be our grandchildren. They have become or are in the process of becoming Einstein’s greatest fear and concern–‘a generation of idiots’. Granted many of our grandchildren have become extremely good at utilizing their technological skills but that’s a one-trick pony. Outside of that realm they seem to demonstrate little in terms of ‘living in community and harmony’ with others. I believe that is what Einstein meant when he spoke about ‘idiots’. They are not stupid but rather ill-informed and ill-prepared to live amongst their peers in harmony and a sense of community.

Computers and technology have enriched our lives. We have built amazing things and discovered many more. But in doing so they have created a society that requires or encourages less human interaction. At a time when so many of our kids are struggling with hopelessness, fear, depression, suicidal ideation and a lack of direction regarding their futures I would think that this information and potential leadership would be sorely needed and sought after. I am concerned that this oversight will cost us much if we don’t tap into the treasure chest that is filled with our seniors experience. Our children need to re-evaluate the importance of learning what we seniors know about life and living. This is the stuff that can’t be taught in schools. It is up to our children to help our grand children understand that not everything of value comes out of a box that has no soul. These are the important messages and lessons concerning life and what it is all about. The circle of life isn’t about stages we go through. It is about the decisions we make to pass on the knowledge we have gained so that the next generation can benefit and do the same for their kids. This is the circle of life as I understand it and it is or can be infinite.

Anyways,that’s how I see it–Jim

Comments are always welcome pro or con. You can connect with me by email at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com
OR
through my web site at: jamescloughley.com

As Canadians Are We Really As Free As We Think We Are?

Soon But Not Yet . . .

Photographer Unknown To Me

Just recently I was involved in a conversation with 7-8 others about a topic that many of us seldom speak about: the extent to which we feel “free”. I must confess that I am or was one of those people who was born into freedom. As many of us did, I had family relations go to war in it’s name and am reminded of the value of those freedoms fought for and won every November 11th.

So my thoughts/questions to you are: How free do you feel considering how you live your life each day? Fine isn’t an answer. You need to be able to share, at least with someone close to you, what it means specifically.

I love this country. There is no greater country to live in than Canada. And yes we are free to do most things. We can travel anywhere we want at any time we want and with anyone we want. We can vote for the candidate(s) of our choice in free elections. We are free to practice the religion of our choice. We are allowed to speak our minds in public and protest, in a peaceful manner, our government without penalty–I think? I am free to write about things that displease me or that I find contentious and I can be critical of others if I want to be. I can buy what I want from whomever I want and I can sell whatever I want to whomever I please. I am free to smoke, drink and be merry anytime I want. I am free to love anyone I choose and to marry the love of my life regardless of their gender, race or religion. We are free to assemble and we have a free press and language rights. On the surface I agree that this sounds like a really good deal and for the most part it is. However, I’m very concerned that many have begun to forget how important it is not to take our freedoms for granted. And yet, those precious gifts of freedom are being eroded by folks who have other agendas and those agendas are not all that honourable.

Basically what I outlined above is true but not accurate. The Charter Of Rights And Freedoms provide for the entrenchment of our rights but there are now laws either passed or soon to be passed that would compromise those very rights. There are exceptions, consequences and penalties attached to some of these ‘freedoms’now. The untouchables have been touched. Just because we believe these freedoms can’t be taken away from us does not make them forever.

We maintain that we are free to do whatever we want. But freedom of speech does not allow one person to defame or lie about another in order to slander them or implicate them unjustly in a crime. There are penalties for that and so there should be. So there are limits as to what freedom of speech allows and means. When considering voting it’s true we can vote for anyone on the ballot without coercion or threat. Any of us can seek office if we meet the criteria to run. We are free to smoke, to drink and be disruptive and obnoxious in public but only in certain places. Again I agree that this is for the greater good. Free press and media is ruled more by political correctness now than at any other time so they aren’t quite ‘free’ to write or do what they want if staying in business is a priority. This is where it starts to get a bit contentious for me however. We are said to be free to practice the religion of our choice, for instance, and yet that is not true. While others are free to openly pray in public, Christians are not. If we do then we are sanctioned. That is not freedom. While major pieces of legislation are being run through parliament we don’t have much of a say, really, in whether that legislation passes or not. When was the last time your federal member stopped by your house to ask you what you thought about capital punishment, going to war or raising taxes-again. Mine either. How then is this true democracy and yet democracy is outlined as a must in the charter. The proposed anti-terrorist legislation will give the government many many opportunities to spy on us and to monitor phone calls, emails, web site surfing all in the name of our national security. I don’t trust them with that sort of power. They have proven themselves untrustworthy. I’m all for stopping terrorism and terrorists from gaining a foot hold in this country but at what cost to us as citizens? How much liberty do we sacrifice? What’s the old saying: “Power is always dangerous. Power attracts the worst and corrupts the best”–Edward Abbey. Legislation, once passed, is nigh on impossible to undo.

And then there is freedom of speech. How free is it–really? If the following is true Mr. Harper needs to answer for his statement in a public forum. He seems to have forgotten that he works for us and not the other way around. If this statement is true then he is nothing but a bully. Bullies don’t lead they threaten. If the quote is accurate then perhaps Mr. Harper doesn’t concern himself with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms after all. So much for free speech. The following contains a quote from a memo that, apparently, was attributed to Mr. Harper: “You’ll never believe what a leaked RCMP memo from last week says about you (as a citizen). If you oppose the furious rush to build pipelines and expand the tar sands like I do(says the writer of the article), then you’re considered to be a “violent anti-petroleum extremist.”

**The memo literally says that those of us who oppose pipelines should be seen and treated as potential criminal and security threats. I honestly could not believe what I was reading.’

So with a Prime Minister who feels that way about freedom to speak your mind the question is: Are we really as FREE as we think we are?

Anyways, that’s how I see it–all the best–Jim

Comments are always welcomed: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com OR jamescloughley.com

Are Your Kids Really Ready For This?

Kids In A Classroom

“Now this is a penis and this is a vagina”–do you think these little people really care?

I was going to stay away from this one–play it safe so to speak but I can’t do that it turns out. Like a moth to a flame I guess.

So I run the risk of upsetting some parents, teachers and some gay folks–sorry about that. It is not or was not my intention nor does this article confirm any particular bias. I have questions and need answers just like you do.

For instance:

1: Do they, the little ones, really care what their genitalia are called? How does this enhance the quality of their lives? They are just trying remember the characters on Sponge Bob and now this? I think that there is a great deal of cognitive growth between grades one and two. Grade two is early enough, in my mind, to begin to share this more detailed information. As for body parts I think they got it down that an arm is an arm and a leg is a leg and an eye is an eye.

2: At five or six years of age does a little girl/little boy have to know what her vagina/his penis is called in order to get the gist of being polite, respectful, tolerant, accepting, sharing and how to play well in the sand box of life. They need to understand why bigotry is not cool nor is laughing at some one else’s physical disabilities. To me it is much more important to learn and practice some simple social skills instead of learning what their intimate body parts are called. The little ones that I am aware of just don’t care about this stuff right now. If we pay attention to our kids and listen to what they are saying they will let us know by their behaviour when it is time for them to hear and learn more about their bodies and how they work. Let’s leave that for a time when our kids can actually develop some thoughts based not just on political correctness but also on family values. Whether we like it or not family values are just that–FAMILY values and not school/educational values. Teachers need to teach and find creative ways to make learning more fun and meaningful.

3. I suppose this one is the one that begins to raise the flags for me. I must admit my first response to this step was ‘seems like there may be an agenda of sorts at play here’. In 4 or 5 of the grade level outlines sexual orientation was mentioned–a common theme of sorts. For me it was more like the elephant in the room. I don’t have a problem with any topics being discussed as long as equal time for discussion and clarification is allotted to all the options and that this topic isn’t introduced into the program until later in the educational process.

When I looked up the words normal and preferred in Webster’s New World Dictionary I read:
Preferred–#3-to put before something or someone else in one’s liking, opinion, etc; like better.
Normal–conforming with or constituting an accepted standard, model, or pattern; esp.,corresponding to the median or average of a large group in type, appearance, achievement, function, development, etc.; natural; usual; standard; regular.

4. Premier Wynne clearly stated her credentials in the House the other day and they are impressive but does a Masters in Education prepare you to know and understand what others, including parents, are thinking, what they want, what they think is important, how they want to bring up their children, what values they want their children to exhibit to the world, what issues are more important than others and to whom? Why? and whether or not parents would like to have those conversations with their kids at a time of their choosing.

We would be better served by preparing our children to compete in the market place and to identify/develop the skills to compete to their maximum. I have no doubts that the system needs to be overhauled. It has become lax, boring and fearful of litigation to be of benefit when considering the financial backing they get from the taxpayers. I feel especially bad for those many teachers whose talent and creativity are stifled by an antiquated system. Clearly many kids who ‘graduate’ aren’t near being ready to decide on a career choice of THEIR OWN CHOOSING. Instead they are ‘directed’ through the system according to someone who thinks they know what’s best for each student. I believe there is a saying that goes something like this: ‘If you judge the intelligence of a fish by how well it climbs a tree then it will fail every time’. By graduation time the system has taught our children that winning is not important but rather how you play the game is most important. The school system needs to stick to teaching skills and identifying strengths and leave the social work to the social workers. How you play the game does not put food on a table and a roof overhead. How successful you are at the game does. The educational system needs to stay out of the morality business. Parents need to be parents.

They are the ones who need the help and not the kids at this point. Things seem to be reversed. We are wanting our children to grow up faster than they are capable of, at least emotionally and mentally, and parents–the adults–are trying to be more ‘youthful’-almost child like. If it is confusing for us as adults imagine what it must be like for our kids who look to their parents and adults in general for guidance and mentorship and wisdom. And while facing this challenge the best we can do is come up with the names for body parts and why it’s OK to be involved in an ‘alternate lifestyle’.

Where it gets really dicey for me is when I look at what is happening with our young men and women and the toll that the lack of role modelling is taking on our society as a whole. Check out the Canadian Childrens Rights Council site, The Changing Role Of The Modern Day Family, The Effects of Father Involvement: A Summary Of The Research, Why Are Dads So Important to name a few resources to learn more about why we need to be supporting the idea and importance of traditional family settings and concerning ourselves with ways of healing these broken relationships.

I agree that parents need to supervise their kids activities on the net and what they are watching. There is a place in the classroom for discussing sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. Having sex is no longer an adult activity. Kids around the age of 10-11 need to understand the consequences of decisions made-no question. We need to help our kids develop more self respect so that taking nude photos of themselves to be passed around on Facebook as a joke or as something to do to impress others is not a good idea and why. What we need to be doing is working WITH parents for a common goal instead of continuing with this adversarial social experiment that seems to be going on right now. We are stronger and smarter together than we are apart.

We can’t do it all at once so we need to pick our priorities. How and on what do we spend our human and financial resources? Schools need to teach and prepare our kids for the day when they have to compete for survival out there. Help our kids become the best they can be at what ever and wherever their skills and interests take them. And parents have to step up and do much more of the education around teaching how to be responsible, considerate, accepting human beings. We cannot allow some virtual stranger in a classroom tell our kids how they should live their lives. Their job should be to teach our children how to utilize their skills and strengths to their utmost advantage.

Anyways, that’s how I see it

Comments are always welcomed–pro or con. Connect with me at: jamescloughley.com OR jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

2 Lists That Could Change The Course Of Your Life–Forever

Two OCeans Meeting.Gulf of Alaska

Two Oceans Meeting Each Other–Photographer Unknown To Me

I’m a guy who doesn’t believe in coincidence. I believe that things happen for a reason and that they are opportunities I can learn from to use at a time to come. I meet particular people at particular times because they have something to tell me or I have/know something that they need to learn from me. We either stay connected or we each move on because the contact and exchange has been made.

Such is the case with relationships which can be either spiritual, personal or professional. How successful they are depends on how open we are to learning or hearing new information.

I have come to understand that the world is governed by two basic means. Those means are either by macro management or by micro management. Macro management would be undertaken by world forces, political groups, movements directed by a critical mass of people for a common cause–Greenpeace comes to mind or the opposition to the Vietnam War and how a critical mass of anti-war folks were able to change the course of the US military involvement. Micro managing, then, recognizes what we each do each day to exist, to produce, to continue the species–basically to ensure that the world keeps turning so that the macro guys can keep doing what they do. Is it ideal? I don’t think so. Is there a better system or way? I’m sure there is but we have not figured that part out yet.

One of the most important micro managing undertakings is learning how to, effectively, communicate with each other. How do we get our individual needs met in a relationship and be sure that ‘the other person’ is getting their needs met as well? The 2 lists I mentioned above are specifically intended for the use of people who are in a personal relationship and may be struggling a bit to try to understand the ‘other person’ so that a state of harmony is more of a reality than an expectation. The health, well being, stability, strength and prosperity of our families, homes and communities is at risk here and we need to get this right.

So the two lists that I have posted below are here because I feel they represent the essence of what we need to understand about each other. Wouldn’t you rather get along with each other and exist in some sort of state of happiness, satisfaction, understanding and peace? I take no credit for the first one. I came across it quite by accident. Actually I wrote a post previously about this one but have had folks ask me to publish it again and it fit perfectly with the theme of this article. The second list is one that I put together from things I have learned along my way from important others who passed in and out of my life for the sole purpose of giving me their wisdoms.

This list was written primarily for the benefit of men. As men in an ever-changing world we need our counterparts to say what they need to say in clear basic terms. The more words that are spoken the more confusing it becomes which leaves us wondering how to respond.

‘Nine most important words or phrases spoken by women’:

1. FINE-this is used to end a discussion or argument when women are right and need us to shut up and move on.
2. FIVE MINUTES–we need to understand that five minutes is never five minutes and no matter how long it takes–that’s how long it takes. This is true especially if she is preparing to go out somewhere special. Not always true, however, if there is 5 minutes left in a playoff game that you had wanted to watch all week and she would like you to do something that is important and time sensitive.
3. NOTHING–Look out here gents. Something is building or about to happen and you may just be the target here. NOTHING usually ends up with FINE.
4. GO AHEAD–This is a dare and not permission. The only rational suggestion here is DON’T DO IT
5. A LOUD SIGH–Although is doesn’t sound like a word it is. This is a type of non-verbal communication that basically says she can’t believe what an idiot you are. She just doesn’t get why she is still standing there arguing with you about nothing. (Refer back to #3 for the meaning of nothing).
6. THAT’S OK–This is typically one of the most dangerous statements that she can make. It means that she will think long and hard about how and when you will pay for your mistake.
7. THANKS–She is thanking you for something you have done. Don’t question it–just say “you’re welcome” and move on quickly. If, however, ‘thanks’ is followed by ‘a lot’ then you are in deeper than you want to be and don’t, under any circumstances, follow that with’you’re welcome’. If you do you will likely find out quickly’ what ‘whatever’ really means–that’s #8.
8. WHATEVER–This one is easy to get. It means–‘just take a freakin’ ride’
9. DON”T WORRY ABOUT IT, I’VE GOT IT–After repeated attempts to get you to do something and you have yet to get started, this is she saying she’ll do it herself. If you get here and ask her what’s wrong you will find it is not far to #3 and you know how the rest is likely to go.

This list is written primarily for women hopefully to help them understand a bit more about us (men) and why we do/think/say what we do.

1. If you don’t want to hear the answer then please don’t ask the question.
2. At the very least, try treating us as well as you treat your friends.
3. If you feel you really need to know then ask but remember #1 is still in play
4. If we walk away, it’s because we need time to think and not because we don’t care. Leave us alone and we’ll get back to you.
5. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Let’s keep it simple.
6. If you want the friggin’ seat down then learn to put it up when YOU are done.
7. If we ask ‘what is wrong’ and you say nothing, that’s good enough for us–see #5
8. Please. If you feel you are carrying a couple of extra pounds you probably are. Don’t expect us to lie if we are asked and then question our honesty.
9. If we are going to have words, let’s be sure that we both get to use them and not at the same time.
10.We think of hair rollers, fuzzy slippers, old terry cloth house coats and knee-highs as natural birth control devices.

I recognize that these lists don’t take into consideration all the things that we may want or need to enjoy a satisfying relationship but it’s a good start. Besides, two things are likely to happen if our relationships are strong and healthy: our children will learn from our example and we are likely to have fewer single parented homes.

Anyways, that’s how I see it

All the best, Jim

As always your opinions and comments are most welcome. Please contact me at jamescloughley.com OR jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

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Is It Better To Parent From Your Heart Or Your Head??

Father Talking To Son
Credit For Image: f1online.pro

It is in our nature to reach out to others–to help them if we can. The dilemma we face as parents is whether we are to parent (help)our children with our hearts or our heads. We often get these two choices mixed up and proceed according to what WE need or are feeling at the moment.

My question is, as parents, can we be successful by employing both head and/or heart approaches or do we have to choose one style and stick with it? For me as a parent I want the freedom to access both and feel right doing it. In my mind it’s possible to achieve a balance and to parent with consistency and fairness as well. Setting our anger, our disappointment or our frustration aside is one of the keys to being a successful parent. We need to consider our actions as parents instead of disciplinarians. “Is there something that I can teach my child that has life value–a ‘teachable moment’ without shoving poor judgement in his face? Years ago our parents and certainly their parents parented with their heads–the heart didn’t enter into much with regards to parenting. Today more and more parents are parenting with their hearts. We are witnessing the outcome of this shift and it is not very encouraging when we consider increases in violence, not respecting others and their property and their inflated sense of entitlement.

When I speak about parenting with their heart I mean protecting their children’s feelings and egos without understanding what those feelings really are or what they represent. Children have been relieved from experiencing the consequences for poor decision making. Parents today basically ‘think’ with their hearts treading very carefully so they can avoid confrontation and/or anger. As a result of this approach our children today are not very well equipped to deal with what can be a very harsh reality outside the family home. This is especially true for young men-sons-who are without a father or a strong male role model. Even in co-parented homes there is often difficulty dealing with a child who is 14, 15 or 16. This is around the time they begin to push the boundaries of appropriate behaviour and show their disregard for structure and rules for living.

Which style do you see yourself following in this scenario: Junior is 17, has a licence to drive the family car and has a date on Friday evening. He asks to use the car at which time it is made perfectly clear what the expectations are for Junior while using the car. He is responsible for the safety of the vehicle, is not to exceed the speed limit and needs to be home in the driveway by midnight. At twenty after 12 he pulls into the drive with an excuse already to go. He tells his parents that his date had to be home by midnight as well and they lost rack of time where they were. Junior managed to get her home on time which made her parents feel good and ensured their next date. However, in his haste to get home he was pulled over for speeding and that’s the reason he was late getting home. What happens now? The parents decide that, yes he was late but he was trying to be honorable and get his date home on time and the car is all in one piece so they give him ‘the chat’ about being responsible. He says he was being responsible by getting her home on time and felt he was being punished unfairly. They warned him that he is close to losing his privileges around using the family vehicle for a week. This is an example of parenting with the heart.

A parent parenting with the head might have said something like: “We are happy that you are safe and it’s good to see that you cared enough to get Mary (the date) home on time. However next time try leaving 25 minutes for the 20 minute drive home instead of having to speed to get here closer to the time we agreed to. We were very concerned about whether or not you were OK. We can talk more about this tomorrow–TOMORROW COMES AND THE CHAT BEGINS AGAIN–Perhaps not using the car for the next week will help you understand that we need to be able to trust you when you take the car and this doesn’t feel as though we can right now.” Junior flips out–says he has a date with Mary next week and what’s he supposed to do with that. Dad says, ” I’m sorry that you won’t have the car but perhaps you can make other arrangements to go out with Mary that don’t involve using the car.” Dad takes advantage of the opportunity to provide a teachable moment here about the need to establish and maintain trust. He creates a boundary that is not expandable and he remains consistent with his message. He does not make his son’s problem his to solve.

A couple of points to remember here:

1. Never try to discipline a child or comment on a decision made if either or both of you are angry, anxious, belligerent or argumentative. Establish a time frame that would allow for either or both to cool off then make your point. It also gives you a chance to talk it over with your partner so each is on the same page. You want to do this from the head not the heart.

2. Be sure not to judge the decision made but rather help him understand that there are consequences for decisions made. When you judge the thinking you are judging him as well. This conversation needs not to be about the process but rather the outcome. The hope is that he will learn something about honoring agreements, protecting trust and respecting boundaries.

3. Establishing this type of parenting style will take a while especially if the child is in his teens so be ready for that.

That’s how I see it anyway–all the best–JIm

Comments are always welcome. You can respond to me at jim.lifechoice@gmail.com or through my web page at jamescloughley.com

How Do You Tell An Election Is Coming? . . .

“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both”
–Benjamin Franklin

Pictured above are the ‘three wise men’. These are the people who are running for the highest office in land as we move closer to another federal fiasco. And we get to pay for it–somewhere around 300 million (estimated)dollars. And yet we don’t even have a say regarding how it goes or what it looks like. I agree we are extremely fortunate to have the right to participate in a free election system. But I do wonder about how democratic it is. If federal elections were fought with integrity, respect and adherence to ethical values I might feel differently but they are not. There was a time when being in politics was honourable. Now, however, the public perception has changed quite dramatically. Today many of us see politicians as crooks first, thieves a close second and greedy a closing third. Most of the rules, integrity and truth will be replaced by innuendo, unsubstantiated lies and false information. Not many of the candidates will answer debate questions directly. Fewer still are likely to answer questions and making comments using a form of political double speak that only shows up at election time. PR teams will make huge amounts of money putting together film clips for TV ads consisting of comments made by someone’s opponent and usually taken or used out of context. Their only goal is to discredit the other candidate(s) rather than talk about what they plan to do that is different and creative. It’s called the Socratic method meaning destroying someone’s credibility usually destroys the message they bring. They don’t campaign on their records much anymore because they don’t have much of a record to speak about.

So we have to endure watching or listening to a smug and arrogant PM, whose act is wearing thin with people and who has lost most of what little respect he had gained a few years back. He makes his way through question period by making sarcastic remarks to the joy of his backbenchers who hoot and holler like a bunch of drunken teenagers at a backyard BBQ or we witness the opposition party leader carrying on with righteous indignation about something designed to catch the PM in a lie or a slip up of some kind. Does any work ever get done in question period by the way? To think that Parliament Hill was once the legacy of what thousands of men and women gave their lives for. It’s more like a circus than a once revered political centre piece illustrating our freedom.

So what to do?
1. Attack ads need to be banned-period.
2. Political ads should only speak about what the politician is going to do to improve the quality of our lives.
3. No more cheap shots at trying to disparage or denigrate opponents.
4. No candidate should be able to publicize a montage of clips and pieces of tape put together from five or six different activities that may be, in some instances, years and years old.

I want to hear why I should vote for someone based on their platform–what are they going to do about specific issues. Otherwise shut up.

I always think about what our kids are learning about the political process. If they are old enough to be interested in politics what can we tell them about what they hear and witness when most of it is about the latest scandal of some kind. It certainly doesn’t give them a warm and rosy feeling about state security, competence or confidence in the political system that we are trying to sell them on. Perhaps these pillars of government might start to wonder about why some of our young are turning to other ideologies. Perhaps they have lost confidence in what they see.

But the two major indicators that an election is coming closer are these.
Sometime in the 8 months to a year preceding an election we usually start to see the faces of the chief candidates on television or internet with greater frequency. They are photographed glad handing in places where they otherwise wouldn’t go. All of a sudden they have lots of time to be out looking concerned or sounding tough on certain issues. They start to plant the seeds of doubt. They start talking about how much they care about this and that and how important it is to …?

The other tip off is that all of a sudden there is all kinds of money for this program and that program and they drag out the old favourites like subsidized day care, taking better care of our seniors, homeless programs and how they are going to wipe out poverty and lower taxes or at least not raise them. They promise something for everyone. They start throwing money around as if they had it. In essence they end up giving us back our own money and then tell us how grateful we should be that they can do this for us. They want us to believe that they are the only ones who can balance a budget or because of their prowess as fiscal managers they can now throw us a few bones (if they get re-elected that is). I always find it remarkable that they promise all this money but won’t/can’t tell us how they will pay for the promises. Nor will they commit to when this will happen. To me if they can’t give us this information then they should not be able to promise it. Tell us how or shut up about it. And by the way where is Justin Trudeau? Has anyone seen or heard from him?

Read the quote from Ben Franklin again and then ask yourself who just proposed that very thing the other day with the idea that this was going to make us safer–it was Steven Harper. Why wasn’t he concerned three years ago? Because it’s election time.

We are the only folks who can force a change in how we conduct our elections. It really is up to us.

That’s how I see it anyways,

All the best, James

Please contact me with comments pro/con at jim.lifechoice@gmail.com OR visit my web site at jamescloughley.com

There Comes A Time When You Need To . . .

PatrickHenryHughes

January 28, 2015

This article is a continuation of a blog I wrote in 2013. It tells of a family but more about a man and his son and their story. I wanted to provide an update about what they have been doing that shows that their story is very real-that it is a way of life for them and that they live what we see.

Patrick Henry Hughes was born with no eyes and his basic structural bones and joints were all but useless in terms of he being able to walk, climb and be a ‘normal’ kid. Most parents would have been destroyed by this but this remarkable family didn’t let that happen to them. Truthfully, Patrick’s father stated he was devastated by this. He realized that his dreams for his son and all they would do together were gone before any of it could be started. But instead of feeling sorry for himself and his wife and family not to mention Patrick himself, they all banned together to provide Patrick with the best life experience they could provide him given the ‘limits’ that Patrick faced.

Patrick has gone on to graduate from the University of Louisville (magna cum laude), has produced two CD’s, much of it being his own music, has given concerts (he was playing piano at 9 months of age and is an accomplished piano and trumpet player) all over the world, has become an international speaker with an excellent motivational and spiritual message and has appeared on all the top rated day time TV shows. He has chosen to celebrate his God given gifts and to realize his potential and skills. He will not be defined by his circumstances but rather sees himself as fortunate. I believe this philosophy to be a great gift from his parents–especially his father who refused to feel angry and somehow cheated out of his lost dreams. Patrick’s father stepped up when most would have stepped back. He taught Patrick many lessons by how he conducted himself. He became Patrick’s role model and he gave from his heart. Patrick had a great dad–an outstanding teacher and mentor–one he could surely count on and a dad who loved him unconditionally. That’s who a dad is and what a dad does.

(Original copy from October 22, 2013)

There comes a time when circumstances demand we get out of ourselves and share who we are and what we have to offer to the world instead of constantly looking for what the world owes us. We have become such an ego-centric society. This remarkable real life story of Patrick Henry Hughes should command us, especially those of us with kids, to look at what and how we determine our priorities. Do we need to re-assess that list somewhat?

At a time when men all over the world are second guessing their role as a parent and as a father along comes a video that truly says what being a father is really all about. If you have any doubts please watch this life changing video. It will be one of the best 6 minutes you have spent in a long time. The quality of the clip isn’t great but the message is very clear. It leaves no doubt about the responsibility men need to share when thinking about being a ‘dad.’ It’s not glamorous and it’s not medal worthy but it is absolute. If you have taken the time to participate in creating a life then you have a responsibility to stay around and make sure that the life you helped create has every chance of thriving. This is not negotiable and it is not to be debated. It is what it is.

“There comes a point in life when fun no longer means clubbing, drinking, or being out until 4am, or thinking about yourself.
But now fun means Disney movies, family dinners, bedtime stories, long cuddles, a messy house, sleeping by 10pm and hearing little voices say, “I love you.” Becoming a parent doesn’t necessarily change you. But it does help you realize that the little people that YOU created deserve the very best of your time.”
True and pure love is the basis of this clip. Spend the time it takes and you’ll see the world to be a different place.

Finally a resource for single moms and dads

Finally a resource for single moms and dads

Please check out “A Man’s Work Is Never Done . . . ” Read it and then pass it on to those who you think would appreciate some guidance when mentoring their sons through the transition from boyhood to manhood. This is a great resource for single moms, single dads, grandparents and other family members who struggle with how to help a fatherless young man in their lives become all he can be in a rapidly changing world.

Which Box Best Suits You?

A Wooden Box
Credit for the image to youtube.com

“A box is just a box”

Perhaps because I’m getting older I see these kinds of pronouncements with a great deal of skepticism. ‘A box is just a box’ has a different meaning to me than most I guess and it’s not a place that I feel very comfortable in. I don’t like being told what I have to do and what I need or don’t need and I certainly don’t like being told what I should think.

Zbigniew Brzezinski is a Polish American, a political scientist, geostrategist and scholar who has served many Presidents including Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter right up to Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The point is he is a man who still thinks ‘outside the box’. He is a visionary who, had people of influence paid more attention to back then–had they been more receptive and willing to look at a ‘different’ picture, could have helped to design a much different world than we have now. At least from a political point of view. Better? Worse? Whose to say for sure but it would have been different from the world that we see falling apart around us and are seemingly at a loss to determine how to fix. Last week I wrote about the comparison to other major empires of history and how we are on the same course as they were. This week my message is one of more hopeful solutions and possible outcomes. What did Zbigniew Brzezinski do differently? He thought and worked ‘outside the box.’ This is where I hope we go for our answers instead of depending on the same old approaches that have not proved very fruitful.

In our world today we still try to solve our domestic and worldly problems by throwing money at them and by ‘studying’ them to death. After a while studying things becomes a convenient political way of not making a decision or taking a stand on or against anything. It’s almost like saying ‘we don’t have any other ideas’. Studies are often a time and resource thief more often used for political purposes than for the good of the people who fund them. We let time decide many of our challenges rather than our ingenuity and creativity. We have become reactionary rather than proactive. Global warming has to be a leading example of that.

Our system has become one that is more and more dependent on ‘in the box’ thinking with a whole lot of hope tossed in the mix while our political and business leaders continue to gather wealth and power.

If we consider our education system, for instance, we see that we operate our schools using a very old, weary, unproductive and unchallenging grading system that actually hinders a child’s progress. Thinking outside the box would mean allowing a student to advance at their own speed studying topics and interests that excited them. Instead we tell them what they should be interested in and can’t understand why some don’t succeed. We punish them for being brilliant at something by holding them back from what they are passionate about. Our system is geared to teach those in the middle of the pack and ignore the students who are brilliant or fall short of the IQ needed to handle the subject matter. We need to get away from the ‘talking head’ at the front of the room and begin to take advantage of the teaching benefits of hands-on technology. Learning needs to be fun and for too many it is not. For some in this fast paced technological age school is downright boring and poses no challenges.

We are told that we are more free now than at any other time in our history and yet we have produced more laws to shape behaviour than at any other time. There is an illusion of freedom but our courts are full of frivolous lawsuits and petty complaints that could be handled outside the court system by a three person panel designed to select only those suits or complaints that actually suggest a legitimate need to be heard. Too often the courts are used by those hoping for a huge settlement that would guarantee an early retirement. A triage system comes to mind thereby freeing up valuable court time on matters that really have merit. We have more laws which, by their very nature, curtail our freedoms in the name of political correctness. Certainly our safety and our rights need to be safe guarded but can we actually be told and punished because we don’t wear a helmet? Common sense would tell us that wearing a helmet is the right thing to do but we make it a law.

We are told what side of the street to park on; we are told to shovel our side walks; we are told and our kids are told when and where and how to play in the ‘public’ park and what we can’t do there anymore.

We are told we cannot pray at school and many other public venues and we cannot speak our minds if that ruffles some feathers a little bit. Yet other groups are allowed to do what we are not allowed to do all in the name of political correctness. We are punished for non-compliance even though we have not had a say in how some of these ‘laws’ are conceived.

We spend millions of dollars housing a seat of government to impress who? to do what? Outside the box thinking suggests that, with technology today our representatives should be in their constituency office taking care of business instead of the paying public having to deal with an assistant. I voted for someone specific so I want to see him/her face to face when I got something that needs to be dealt with. Our representatives can deal face to face with their counterparts in Ottawa or wherever they are seated by Skype or emails. It would save hundreds of millions of dollars because our members wouldn’t have two housing allowances to cover plus all of the other expenses that includes things like security and housing costs hydro, gas, maintenance and so on. Sitting members have assistants who do much of the work behind the scenes anyway and ‘Question Period’ in the House is not only a waste of time but a true embarrassment as well. They can vote by encrypted email. It is no more dangerous than the robocalls people received during the last federal election or the discrepancies at some of the polling stations. In fact it may be more beneficial (meaning honest) this way.

Our families are becoming dangerously close to being irrelevant. Children can sue their parents and be ‘divorced’ from them. What does that mean anyway? The legal system, especially, when it deals with the rights of family, parenting and custody issues needs a dramatic overhaul and a new vision of what it means to be a part of a family. The family structure is close to defaulting. We need to be thinking outside the box when considering absentee fathers, for instance, and instead of punishing them when they can’t afford to pay support by jailing them or restricting their contact with their kids we need to come up with some ways to help mom make ends meet and also encourage dad to remain in touch with and accessible to his children. Perhaps tax credits at the end of the year to put some money back into dad’s pocket so he can afford to see and provide for his kids.

Pharmaceutical companies are telling us what drugs we need to take for all the new ‘diseases’ we are contracting. Meanwhile the side affects of these medications are lengthy and often worse than the illness they are supposed to be treating. Outside the box thinking might be as simple as having a regulatory body that doesn’t actually gain financially with the release of every new medication. The DSM5R, unless there is a newer one, is the ‘newest’ revised edition of the ‘bible’ that the psychiatrists use to determine whether a mental health diagnosis is warranted or not. Over the last few years mental health illnesses seem to have grown at an enormous pace to the point that most of us have some kind of mental health disorder according to this book. And make no mistake-there is a medication to treat it somewhere. There cannot be a virtually incestuous relationship that exists between the pharmaceutical industry and the medical treatment monopoly. Yet they do function in this manner, hand in hand and almost independently. They govern and discipline their members ‘in-house’ for instance. Outside the box thinking would allow chiropractors and health food/supplement producers to become recognized, legitimized and regulated as part of the bigger medical treatment system that would provide more options and at a lesser cost for governments as well as the public who don’t have medical insurance plans or any other coverage.

There is the media which has almost carte-blanche these days to put anything on the screen in prime time that supposes to provide good wholesome entertainment for our youth and younger ones. It really is about slaughter and mayhem dressed up in someones rights to produce it. At least have the good taste to put it on during the hours that our little people aren’t as exposed to it. The more ‘T and A’–blood and guts that can be jammed into an hour the better I guess.

We as citizens-as voters-as caring parents need to start thinking outside the box when we are deciding what kind of civil society we want to participate in. We can either continue to be ‘boxed in’ and told how to live our lives or we can decide to think outside the box and seek new approaches to old problems that haven’t been solved as yet.

WHAT KIND OF BOX SUITS YOU BEST? . . . LET ME KNOW.

Anyways, that’s how I see it–James

Please send me your comments pro/con. You can contact me at jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

OR through my web page at: jamescloughley.com

If you are interested in knowing more about fatherless sons and what you can do to re-build those damaged relationships you can find out more on my web site as well. My book is called: ‘A Man’s Work Is Never Done: A Novel About Mentoring Our Sons’

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