Recently, I had the great fortune to be in Trinidad with my only brother, his lovely wife and our childhood friend, Ray.
We were all headed to the store to purchase a 60th birthday gift for another friend.
My brother was riding in the passenger seat up front while Ray drove and in the midst of recanting an old and funny story, he said very casually,
“Hey brother, what’s that red light on your dash?”
Ray, quite nonchalantly said, “Doh worry ’bout dat man, I put a piece of black tape over it, I don’t want to know what it is.”
And in typical Ray style, he started to laugh.
My sister in law, sitting next to me in the back then says, “So why is there tape over the locks in the back?”
Ray says, “Oh the locks are broken and I just don’t want people messing with them.”
We all start howling with laughter and start teasing Ray about his ability to block out the everyday annoyances of life.
I immediately say, “You know that I am going to have to write a blog about this, right?”
The thing about using black tape to cover up warning lights and broken bits of a machine made me think of the hoops we jump through to hide our shameful abuse from others.
Women will use any amount of makeup to try to hide the black eye.
Teenagers will lie to their friends and wear long sleeves to try and hide the cutting they started as a result of the incest they are suffering in their homes.
Young children know that they dare not tell about the knock down drag outs that their parents engage in and they instead begin to create a fairy tale family that they trot out to mask their pain.
Recently, during a Train the Trainer, one of the participants told the group that he never knew his parents because the state had taken him away due to abuse. He then explained that he made up a fairy tale of benevolent parents and used to tell fairy tale stories about the imagined family.
We use black tape in our everyday lives so effectively that we often forget the tape is there.
We begin to see the tape as the reality and we fight for the right to deny the reality of our pain.
What parts of your life have you taped over?
What is the tape hiding?
What would happen if you pulled the tape off and allowed yourself to face the truth?
I pull the tape off my own bruises every time I tell an audience that my abuse began in my childhood. When I am honest with my listeners and when they are able to receive the truth of what I am saying, they witness the absence of black tape.
I let them see my scars.
I let them in on my pain.
As a result of my being vulnerable, they give themselves permission to do the same.
Will you remove some black tape from your life today?
I give you permission to look at your truth.
Love and light,
What do a future fireman, police man, baker, soccer player, and pizza maker have in common?
They all have the same response when asked to slap a young girl.
Watch the video below to see their reaction:
If this is a typical response by the young boys of today, then what changes between 7 years old and adulthood that results in women experiencing the violence that we know they do on a daily basis?
More importantly: What can we do to help young boys like this grow up into men that truly believe “girls shouldn’t be hit, not even with a flower”?
We all need to start sharing answers about this question.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below: what do we need to do differently to help young boys grow up into men who don’t hit women?
Love & light,
Dad here, remember me? I need to talk to you about something important, so look me in the eyes and listen up (yes, this is one of the “look me in the eyes” type of talks).
Remember when we started playing video games? Remember how concerned your Mom was with the amount of time we played video games and the effect that might have on you, and how I told her that was crazy, video games weren’t bad for you?
Yeah, well, you and I know that I am almost always right, but, I might have been wrong on the whole “video games aren’t bad for you” bit, and I don’t say that lightly.
As you know I spent a great deal of my childhood playing video games: Atari 2600, Intellivision, Colecovision, Super Nintendo, Playstation, Windows Computers, Amiga, Commodore 64; I played most of them.
I also spent a great deal of my time in the 90s defending video games, content in video games, and violence in video games. Fighting against people who said that content in video games could affect how people acted in real life.
For the most part, I still think this is true….but…but…after watching this video I am not sure how I feel about my old arguments. I am not sure how anyone could make a game that allows you to do these things, and if games like this are selling millions, and gamers have a desire to do these things in a game, I have to wonder where gaming culture is headed, how gamers will behave in the future, and whether you and I should even be a part of this group.
I want you to watch this video Fionn. I want you to realize that, even though this is “just a game”, these actions are wrong. Wrong on so many different levels. They are wrong in the Real World AND they are also wrong in a Virtual World.
(Please Note: this video is Not Safe For Work and contains disturbing images)
Now, I am not going to go so far as to say: “some kid will play this video game and it will make him go out and pay for a hooker, then kill that hooker with an axe”. What I am willing to say is: “some kid will play this video game and think that women, and how he treats women, aren’t important, and someone’s daughter may end up hurt because of this game”.
Fionn, this video makes me embarrassed to be a gamer, and it should make you embarrassed to be one too.
I don’t want you to stop playing video games, but I want you to think (and tell your friends to think too) about the games you play and what happens in them. If a game disrespects women like Grand Theft Auto Five I don’t want you brushing it off, or thinking that it is OK. I want you to stop playing, tell people it isn’t acceptable, and stand up for the boys and girls that could be hurt by disgusting content like this.
Can you promise to do that Fionn?
Change the world with ONE simple act….like opening a door consistently.
What a guy!
Can we all be more like him?
If you have not heard it, now you have.
I was thinking about expanding on this… what if you only have nails and you need a hammer? Then you have to determine what kind of hammer you need, right?
For instance, if you need to put a small nail in the wall to hold a small painting it would not help to use a sledge hammer because you would not have any wall left.
If you needed to put together some delicate furniture that needed some good pressure, you better use a rubber mallet and that too, very gingerly.
If we can expand this metaphor into the challenges that life gives, we must determine exactly what king of challenge is at hand and what kind of hammer we need.
If a child makes a mistake, say spills milk or pushes a sibling, then using a switch to beat the living daylights out of him, a la Adrian Peterson, is akin to using a sledge hammer. Your aim will be to inflict the most pain for the smallest injury.
Why would anyone choose to do that?
In my experience, sledge hammers and rubber mallets are NEVER needed, nor are nail guns. Instead what we usually need is to take a time out and to discover what other tools we have in our tool belt.
When you have a challenge, take a time out instead of taking out the sledgehammers.
Everyone will be happier.
Love and light,
“What does it look like when you put [a traumatized] kid in a classroom? When people don’t understand there’s been a tiger in your life, it looks a lot like ADHD to them.” – Dr. Heather Forkey
This quote comes from the last line of a recent article published about the misdiagnosis of childhood trauma as ADHD (you can read the full article here.)
Rushed doctor’s not taking enough time with patients, teachers and parents looking for a quick solution, families hiding the reality of their home life, and a lack of support for children experiencing trauma have all contributed to the possible misdiagnosis of ADHD, when in reality the child is suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to trauma.
Which raises an interesting question for all of us in our everyday lives: who have we misdiagnosed with a rushed and incorrect label in our own lives?
We call the neighbor’s teenage daughter that “gets around” promiscuous (if we are being nice) and a “slut” (if we are not being nice).
We call the boy in the Motley Crue jacket, smoking cigarettes a “thug” and walk on the other side of the road.
We call the lawyer at the party, who pushes everyone away with her know-it-all behaviour, a snob.
The child who never has lunch at school and wears old, torn clothes “just comes from a poor family”.
The bully in the playground is “big for his age, and pushy”.
The little boy, bouncing off the walls at the grocery store while his mother screams “must have ADHD”.
What if each of these people has a deeper story that we are ignoring?
Dr. Nicole Brown, Dr. Heather Forkey and their colleagues are working hard to change the landscape of ADHD diagnosis, hoping that they can teach professionals to look deeper, go beyond the quick and simple diagnosis and find what may really be going on with some of these kids.
You may not be a professional, but doesn’t taking more time and going deeper with your own “diagnosis” of people seem like a good idea?
How could your life, and their life, be different if you did?
Love & light,
“I’m not, it is just a boy with long hair.”
“Oh, ok. Can I watch?”
This conversation between me and my son seems innocent enough, and, a few months ago, before starting to work with Indrani’s Light Foundation, it probably would have remained in my brain filed away as “not a big deal.”
But, through my work with the Live a Brighter Life training, corresponding with the ILF Team, and the research I have done for articles and blog posts, this was no longer a casual comment by my son. It worried me.
Why at the age of seven was he cautious when he thought my character’s avatar was a girl, but excited to watch me play when he discovered I was playing the game as a boy?
My mind quickly returned to another conversation we had also had about Tamora Pierce’s “Song of the Lioness Quartet”, a series of books we were thinking of reading, until my son found out the protagonist was a girl.
This was now the start of a pattern and it worried me even more.
So, I did the only thing I could think of to, hopefully, change my son’s view and start some conversation:
I deleted my character and made a new one, this time a female character.
It didn’t take long for my son to notice. The next time he came to the basement while I was playing the game we had another conversation.
“Where’s your other character?”
“I got rid of him and made this one.”
“Is that a GIRL?”
“Yes it is a girl”
“Why are you playing as a girl?”
“Because I think she is way cooler than my first character. She is a warrior and uses this big sword and charges into the bad guys to fight”
“Can I watch?”
Will my playing a female, instead of male, character make a huge difference in how my son perceives gender roles and stereotypes? I have no idea. But I figure it can’t hurt and we are at least talking about it now and can continue to talk about it when he watches me play.
Equally important, this video game and conversation has me realizing areas in my life where I am modeling behavior that is supporting gender stereotypes and inequality and I need to change that.
Asasha Veil, my female character, is at least one step in the right direction.
Does making a small change like this help? What seemingly small changes could you make to help model gender equality? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Love & light,
Are you a positive influence on the children around you?
Too little, to late.
This statement by Larry Pott, father of Audrie Pott, a sexual assault victim who took her own life after photos of her attack spread throughout her high school and on social media, bears repeating,
“It’s not a college problem. It’s not a high-school problem. It’s a gender and societal problem.”
Let us join the families of these victims, who’s lives are so tragically cut short, by honoring them and finding ways to educate our youth and society so that we can put an end to Gender Based Violence.
Love & light,