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

Please pass this along to friends.

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’

You Tell Me . . . What Would You Have Done?

Student Group At Graduation

Just when I thought that it was safe to watch the news again another major story hit the pages and here we go again. Each year I gather up all the instances of “what were they thinking” type stories but I couldn’t wait to write that article so here are my thoughts.

This one deals with 13 idiots who managed to get themselves suspended from Dentistry School at Dalhousie University for making statements that can only be described as depraved, stupid, dangerous, embarrassing–not only for themselves but for the school they represent and for men in general. This was a hateful act and seemingly perpetrated with a total lack of caring, respect or sensitivity toward fellow students and female faculty. It is these types of ridiculous and abhorrent behaviours that give the rest of us, men, such a bad rap. Please. We are not represented by these morons. They do not speak for the rest of us nor do they act on our behalf.

But as bad as this is/was I think that the University needs to take the greater hit. First of all they should have acted immediately on the evidence that had been presented. There is no doubt regarding ‘did they or didn’t they.’ The complaints were made. The documents were produced on facebook-really? The culprits were positively identified. Apparently one of the men was actually remorseful for what he had added to the process to the point where he was suicidal. I don’t know if that is true or not but ‘gee’ is that supposed to somehow absolve him of what he did? Once the trigger is pulled it is really too late to recall the bullet. Once the words are out there it is really difficult to recall them as well. Perhaps the time to consider this would have been before not after the words had gotten out. Did any of these rocket scientists stop to think long enough about what might happen and how this would be accepted by those females it was meant to impress?

So the University had a golden opportunity to do the right thing. They needed to act decisively and quickly sending a message that was unequivocal–‘This type of behaviour, under any circumstances, will not be tolerated by the school, its faculty or the students who respect the rules and guidelines of the institution. Such instances will be dealt with quickly and definitively.’ Period. These thirteen pillars of good judgement needed to be suspended the moment all doubt had been removed regarding what happened and which persons were involved. They could have been invited to return to complete their degrees after the other students had completed theirs and they were no longer attending school. In the last while we have heard a great deal about women who claimed to have been assaulted and how difficult it was or has been to come forward. The greater complaint has been around the length of time it has taken some to come forward. A quick and straight ahead action by the University could have gone a long way to establishing a safer and more supportive environment for females or males who have been abused to come forward and share their experiences. Perhaps, then, a message would have been sent that said, ‘you can feel more confident you will be heard,supported and not judged.’ This wishy-washy ‘process’ they have going is a cop out for what needs to be done. Some are board with it and some don’t want anything to do with it. What now? Shame on the University for taking the less demanding and seemingly less controversial road.

They really dropped the ball here and more importantly they had a chance to send a message to young men that this type of behaviour is not funny, it is not cool and will not be tolerated so don’t come here expecting that somehow it will be. To an outsider such as myself it sure looks like the inmates are running the asylum. There needs to be consequences to the decisions we make both pro and con. That is also a message that our educational system is not sending our kids. It sure isn’t being taught at home as often as it needs to be. Suspending these guys falls woefully short of what was called for here given the history of other universities in the area.

The missed opportunity to send our young and women a very important learning point was extremely regrettable. It’s no wonder this keeps happening. We are not demonstrating an example that works.

Anyways, that’s the way I see it–Jim

If you have any comments or want to share any other ideas please contact me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com OR through my web site: jamescloughley.com

Please pass this article along to your friends–thanks

It Seems We Haven’t Learned This Lesson Yet . . .

Wildfire

There’s a storm coming. Are we willing to do what it takes to get through it?

I recently had an opportunity to see the first two instalments of the “Hunger Games”. I must say that I was impressed with the writing and the story telling but what chilled me most was the similarity to what is actually happening in our time–right now. We are not that far removed from what is portrayed on the screen.

I wouldn’t call me an alarmist or anything but one of the first thoughts that I experienced watching these movies was how we may not have learned as much from history as we thought. Aren’t we supposed to learn from history and then use those insights to prevent our world from imploding? We are not supposed to repeat the mistakes of those who have gone before us. Yet here we are. Like it or not–see it or not–the truth seems to indicate that we are teetering on the brink of extinction as a species. The evidence is clearly evident for all to see. Environments are failing, diseases long since conquered are returning with a vengeance, our economy is more about smoke and mirrors and we are fiddling while Rome burns. Personally I am very concerned for my children and their children. I fear that we are about to leave them with the same mess that faced Rome all those centuries ago. The similarities between the two empires are staggering.

Here are some quick peeks at what could be coming. Unless a radical change in perspective is undertaken, we will find it difficult to avoid a similar fate to that of other great empires. We need to change how we think about what we are doing and how and why we are doing it. The current system could work but only if it were run with the best interests of all and not just a few in mind. This is not a slam at capitalism. Entrepreneurs need to be rewarded for their talents, skills and risk taking. No question there. But entrepreneurs don’t work in a vacuum. They still have to rely on ‘ordinary’ folks to make the overall dream come true. Currently, how are those ‘ordinary’ folks benefiting and to what degree? Perhaps sharing a bit more of the proverbial ‘sandbox’ with the other kids would be a good place to start.

In no particular order: (the following points are the basis for the fall of Rome)
1. The most influential system, that is the one with the greatest impact and the one that would be the most difficult to change, would be the political system. It is now almost completely controlled by wealth. By money.This money buys lobbyists, Super Pacs and leverage. They have influence. The very rich have removed themselves from the immediate limelight but pull the strings and push the buttons from the shadows. Citizens of ordinary means NEVER get elected to the upper political strata. Wealth and influence continue to amass for a few who are protected almost entirely now.

In the U.S. consider the near collapse of the government because of the political in-fighting over medicare. The wealthy did not want to give up that much power–financial power–to appease the masses. I could never figure out why 42 million people who now have medical coverage for their families was a bad thing? How is it OK that the wealthy can have as much medical care for anything at any cost and at any time but if a working stiff has a child who needs some serious surgery of some kind he really has to choose between having his child not have the surgery or going bankrupt? He could easily lose his home? I don’t begrudge the wealthy their medical care just make sure that the other citizens can have some similar care for their families as well and at a cost they can actually afford.

2. Our families are deteriorating. I have written about this for a time now. Much of what I thought would happen is beginning to happen. That doesn’t make me a seer of any kind. I just paid attention to what was/is going on. Again, it is evident for all to see if you look. Our families for the most part, and there are always those exceptions that create hope, are falling apart. We have more single parents than at any time prior. Most of these (80%) are single moms. Fathers are walking away from their homes and families because they are disillusioned, confused, angry, hopeless and so on. The rules are changing so fast that men can’t keep up with the rate of change. We have no idea any more of what is expected of us. But rather than be included in the solution-finding discussions men are castigated and jailed especially by those groups who do not have the best interest of all at heart. There is far too much anger and venom flying around to be helpful.

3. Our moral and value systems have been rendered virtually non-existent. If we look at advertising, the entertainment business or at what passes for entertainment now and the hedonistic life styles that many live we see that most of our standards have deteriorated dramatically. We have decided that recreational pot smoking is OK. Wow–that really is stupid. Remember our kids are watching all of this. What we are doing now will become their ‘normal.’ We are their teachers and how they treat each other is what they have learned by watching adults. What we are seeing from our children right now is exactly what you would expect. Then we wonder why our children struggle with rules, order, entitlement, respect for themselves and others. Why are suicide rates so high among our children? Is it any wonder that, with fathers gone from the household, mom doing double duty just to keep a roof over the family and food on the table that there is a dramatic lack of respect especially when we look at how men and women are portrayed as sexual objects. Rome objectified their women too. In today’s world this objectification is often of their own (men and women both) choosing or with parental consent. The lure of riches beyond belief can be a very powerful inducement I guess. But what are we really selling or selling off?

4. Speaking of that, we have sold out to the big health care companies and the pharmaceutical industry. We have allowed the creation of a two-tier system of health care. We have finally fixed a cost value on a human life and yet no one seems to notice or care about that. There is a set of ‘rules’ for how the rich will be treated and the type of care that the less fortunate can expect.

5. The same holds true for the legal profession. If you have enough money you can get away with murder–literally. There are definitely different consequences for similar behaviours if you are graced by money and/or are well connected. It’s a two tier system as well.

6. There is a gross amount of financial resources spent on waging war to protect the interests of the wealthy on other peoples land. When war is waged it means that the few industries set up to provide war machinery and supplies get ready to drive the dollars to the bank three times a day. What would happen if there was war declared and NO ONE-NO ONE showed up? They might be forced to sit around a table and talk about what to do next. The world cannot afford what it costs to wage war at least not at today’s prices. Most of the time someone (usually the folks with no political power) have to sacrifice something to pay the freight for war. However, sacrifice enough and people finally get peeved and decide, perhaps, that it’s time they were heard. Anarchy takes hold and suddenly the laws of the land become non-productive. Just witness the number of militia groups that continue to grow and flourish. You can follow that anger and violence right down to the street levels in any of our cities. They used to call this revolution or civil disobedience. Now its called ‘our rights’and political correctness. Now you have a war within the boundaries of your own country. What does that cost in dollars and cents not to mention in terms of patriotism and unity.

7. The educational system has been re-claimed by wealthy folks. Sure there are bursaries and scholarships and student loans available but higher education should be available to all. That’s how civilizations secure their futures. Well educated masses. It is in the creativity that national pride and ingenuity are produced and maintained. Currently higher education is basically for the rich. It will become or is becoming the unseen line in the sand. The haves and the have nots. That line in the sand will determine our fate as a species. I wonder how many kids could go to a good school for the cost of two battleships and a squadron of brand new fighter jets designed to kill as many folks in a foreign country as possible.

Of course we, meaning this current generation wont experience much of what is possibly to come but our children are likely to see some of this taking place and their children will for sure. Should we be concerned about something that seems so far away? Only if we want to affect a change in the quality of their lives. There is still time to alter the course we are charting but it needs immediate attention and to do that we really need to take off our blinders.

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

I am always interested to read your feedback and/or your comments so please send them along to me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com or go to my web page–jamescloughley.com and go to ‘contact us’. Thanks for your interest

Are We Governed By Nature Or Nurture? Big Pharma Says It Should Be . . .

Smiling Politician

“I don’t trust people who smile all the time and I don’t trust anyone who suggests that I should trust them.”–jc

Years ago when I first became interested with the ‘nature vs. nurture’ debate I was fascinated to see how many folks believed that behaviour and such was completely driven by the nurturing aspect of our lives. The researchers and the scientists said that parents and society were solely responsible where ‘little Billys’ behaviour was concerned. But then numerous studies were undertaken to show how boys played with trucks and girls played with dolls if left to their own devices and that’s the way that nature had planned things. Case closed. Then supervising people such as parents and/or other care givers were asked to switch the toys and reward altered choices, interests and behaviours and so on. This was supposed to prove definitively that behaviour was nurture driven.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending upon how you look at it, the pharmaceutical industry has really taken over the drive to make some sense of this whole debate. They have the money and the expertise to do it but they have proven themselves to be untrustworthy at the best of times and selfish beyond compare. Have they funded or been responsible for amazing breakthroughs? They sure have. Have they put out huge sums of money? Yes they have. They have also profited in a huge way. I understand wanting to recover the costs of research and development but immediately upon release? One begins to question the presence of an ulterior motive? I doubt that pharmas’ generosity is strictly about benevolence. What of those who can’t afford thousands of dollars a month to stay alive? The rich can pay but the poor can’t so they die? Not a great social business model. But there they are standing out in front of us on TV every day extolling the benefits of the newest drug to hit the market with a list of side effects as long or longer than the symptoms that will be relieved when you take their medication. It is all presented to us by folks with big happy smiles on their faces asking us to trust them and their latest concoction. I find it difficult to trust anyone who smiles all the time now. My first reaction is ‘what are they hiding?’

The pharmaceutical industry has always been involved in the addiction/mental health debate. For years the two camps have managed to stay clear of each other in terms of treatment modalities, theories, approaches and funding but with shrinking budgets in the health care field the need to save money has become the driving force in the type of treatment that clients receive. The debate is now driven by no other reasonable hypothesis. For the last few years the move has been to ‘combine’ the two fields and thus save a great deal of money on duplicate services, office spaces, office staff, less need for ER services–now it’s called ‘urgent care’. You may have an urgent need but that doesn’t translate into receiving urgent care. Good luck with that one.

I will admit that when the debate about whether or not mental health services and addiction services should be amalgamated into one ‘umbrella service’ I was on the side that said that does make some sense certainly from a fiscal point of view. Having worked for a lengthy time in the addiction services field I have changed my mind. There is the chicken and the egg thing going on here that is becoming more difficult to reconcile especially with all the ‘new’ medicinal treatment options available for our mental health clients. Does someone have a mental health disorder and then start to abuse drugs and alcohol because of that disorder or does the disorder ‘develop’ because of the alcohol and drug use? The DSM, which is the ‘bible’ used by psychiatrists to diagnose mental health disorders has grown substantially over the last ten years and now includes an addiction as being classified a mental health disorder. There are pills now to help alleviate some of the symptoms. The point is treatment for an addiction is becoming more of an issue to be treated by taking a medication than a problem that can be treated without the use of medication and have as much success. Do we treat the disorder and then the addiction or the other way around. Some say both at the same time but that troubles me some because that means that a client is trying to get used to a new medication that may of may not work well and at the same time we are expecting that client will be able to remain abstinent. Well if he could remain abstinent he wouldn’t need to be treated with medication for an addiction. If he/she uses alcohol during the time they are taking their medication for the mental health disorder that, in itself, poses a serious health risk. The other question is how much of the ‘mental health’ disorder is created by the stress, anxiety, lack of sleep and trauma caused by the substance use and would it begin to dissipate if/when the use was dealt with successfully?

These are questions that have no clear cut answers as yet. I don’t believe that we need to be making judgements regarding the quality of peoples lives without more substantiated proof beyond the acknowledgement that it makes fiscal sense and therefore we should do it. Pharma should not be the driving force. Obviously their influence in the debate is tainted a bit by their desire to have it become a medication based treatment approach. I would like to see a day when treatment for mental health disorders are treated chemically, if needed, and the addictions component is treated using a CBT-Cognitive Behavioural Treatment approach meaning more Life Skills Training and behaviourally directed approaches with less chemical intervention. But the system has been there and the pharmaceutical/medical field didn’t want to stay there so here we are with neither side of this getting anything close to what they really need to make a difference in the quality of their lives. The focus needs to be on functionality and not just existence and symptom management.

So when management comes to you with a smile, asking you to trust them and they are talking about encouraging transparency (it has become another word for duplicity) in the system, be sure to check your BS meter before jumping in.

Anyways, that’s how I see it–Jim

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

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