Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dealing with grown sons

-Tough situations require more thoughtful solutions-

Fellows… this is a tough call, especially for African American males, but perhaps for matured males across the board. I can’t speak for all of you.

However, when you have grown sons over the age of twenty-one living at home without a job or otherwise not contributing to their upkeep, the tendency is to kick them out to the curb.

When we were in our twenties, or earlier for some, we could not wait to leave home. In fact our parents, primarily our mothers, had to hold us back until we were at least eighteen because they didn’t feel we were mature enough to be out on our own. By the time we graduated from high school we were out lick-i-ti-split! We were either working, going to college, or perhaps getting ready to be married and raise kids on our own. That was the culture of our day.

Back then labor jobs were commonly available if you didn’t mind working hard. You could find a job if you really wanted one. You didn’t necessarily have to like the job because you only wanted to gain your financial independence.

If you had a live-at-home father you couldn’t wait to prove to him that you were also a man. Even if you had a great relationship with your father you wanted to make him proud by showing your independence. If no father was present you might have stuck around longer than you would’ve liked just to make sure your mom was okay. But, as soon as possible you were out the door.

We were raised differently and things were much different then. Today is not the same for our grown sons, as it was for us. Even those who attend schools of higher learning are not guaranteed to find jobs these days. There aren’t enough jobs to go around. Of the few jobs that are available there are probably dozens or even more people standing in line waiting for them. This includes skilled and unskilled labor jobs.

The tendency we have as the older generation is to be tough on our sons because our fathers were tough on us. Although it is important to keep a certain amount of pressure on them to perform, we must not hold the pressure too tight that it breaks them. A healthy line of communication would help the situation.

Sit down with your boy (young man) and talk with him about what he is doing toward gaining financial independence. Whenever possible assist him toward achieving what he needs. Just yanking his chord alone will not help him do what must be done. He is not you and neither is the world he is facing like yours. These are tough times that require measures that match these times.

I say this from personal experience. My first inclination was to tighten up the screws as much as possible because I felt that if you “mother” a man you would weaken him. Many of our wives do a good job of mothering so we feel that it’s our job to be the (hammer) tough guy. That is not always the best measure.

Staying on top of the situation is a good practice. However, just imagine if you were in his exact shoes and what kind of assistance you might need in dealing with this tough economy. Again, tough situations require more thoughtful solutions. Give your boy a hand and help him become what you would like to see him achieve. He needs you and your strength to help him come through this economic storm. One day you will be happy that you did this.

Friday, October 22, 2010

All Advice is Not Good

When accepting advice from non-professionals, please at least consider the source. We know that most of our friends mean well, if they are our true friends, but some of the advice they give us is biased. Regardless of the situation our friends usually want to see us win.

When discussing relationships problems with a friend is when they are most culpable. It is difficult to be impartial and give sound advice when you’re only willing to weigh one side of the equation. In order to give the best advice one needs to impartially look at both sides. Where the shoe fits… that is where the gavel should fall; however, out of loyalty to our friends we may unintentionally curve our advice to please them.

From one guy giving advice to his buddy, many times it has nothing to do with what is right, good, or decent. He could even be dead wrong. A macho pal usually stands by his buddy regardless. Perhaps they think it's possible to find another mate, but not another great friend. So guess who gets the ax? This may even include wives as well as girl friends. Guys tend to stick together just as the gals.

Are we really doing our friends a true service when we take their side knowing they are wrong? The real answer is "no", because they don’t get a chance to correct a fault in them. Many friends will watch their buddies go through several failed relationships for the same reason and never tell them the truth.

If you knew your pal was a constant womanizer and cheated on his wife frequently, what position should you take? If this buddy had been married and divorced several times and continued with the same habit, are you being a good friend by taking their side?

I once knew an associate/friend that had a thing for under-aged girls. He was a schoolteacher. At the time I said nothing, even though I disagreed with what he was doing. I knew he was both morally and legally wrong.

You hear of such teachers on the news occasionally going to jail and serving serious time for their crime. In essence my loyalty to a friend made me culpable to his crime. (Aiding and abetting!)

At the time I was young. Even knowing it was wrong I didn’t quite know how to handle the situation so I just ignored it. After a while he left town so the problem was "out of sight and out of mind" for me. Whenever I hear of a teacher getting busted for this crime I think of this friend.

This is a character issue. Condoning illegal or immoral behavior is a reflection upon us. What if one of those under-aged girls had been my daughter or granddaughter? Does it make it less immoral or illegal when they are strangers? Absolutely not!

Our character defines us. It specifies who you are at the core. At the time I was willing to turn a blind eye to things that were seriously wrong. Who amongst us doesn't know people who have done wrong things? How do we respond in the face of culpability?

Back in the 60s many of my generation were fairly heavy into experimenting with all sorts of illegal drugs. We were drinking and driving, or high on something more lethal than alcohol. Weren’t we all a bit culpable to a degree at some point in our lives?

When we have friends or relatives that egregiously violate our moral boundaries yet fail to mention it to the proper authorities, does our silence help them? These are tough calls. The Unabomber’s brother was the one that turned him in to the authorities.

When young, perhaps there were many things that you ignored even knowing they were wrong. Even to this day we may do that for friends and family thinking we are on their side. Ask yourself, is it right to condone wrongful behavior?

The truth of the matter is there are morals and laws in a civilized society. We know the difference between right and wrong. When we allow wrong things to happen and do nothing to report it, this is a direct reflection upon our character.

The least you should consider doing when you know people are committing illegal and immoral behaviors is to tell them they’re wrong. If they choose to cut you off as a friend you would have only lost an immoral or illegal person. That is really your gain.

However, if this person is a family member you might want to give them another chance to correct the situation before reporting them to the proper authorities or family elders.

Some choices in life are tougher than others. This is a really tough call. Being a true friend should include doing what is morally and ethically right for them regardless of the possible outcome of the friendship. All advice is not good advice…FYI!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Finding Common Grounds

Our society is built upon polar opposites. Along with the good you have things that are not good. Many aren’t even well intended. Your awareness of this dichotomy may assist you in managing life with all its complications.

To bring this topic home we realize the seeds from which the world was founded upon were not shaped by perfection. We know that to be fact. There are many dark stains upon mankind’s history.

Although we cannot undo what was done, we can redo what we decide to act upon. Understanding the polar opposites can help us in intentionally making choices that we know to be formed by positive intentions, rather than negative.

Life is not fair. If you think things are based upon equality, freedom and justice for all you’re living in a false dichotomy. Most of our expectations come from things our guardians taught us in order to help us paint a rosier-than-reality-picture. It is only natural for them to want what’s best for their children. Telling them the truth would not paint the best of pictures.

Depending upon how and where you grew up you may know very little about the dark side. Even though you may have read about it or seen it in news stories, you can only know it by being there. Darkness is not something that most would want to knowingly experience by choice, unless they are naïve or ignorant. Perhaps the youth would also fall into that group of takers.

In the real world you have a mixture of light and darkness. These two poles somewhat balance each other. Even though you may experience more of one than the other, both exist simultaneously. The fact that you are not experiencing certain things does not in any way refute them. There is a lot of ugliness in our society along with greatness.

The dark side of reality is very powerful. It needs no help standing alone. Even knowing this fact we still have certain entities that cater toward the weaknesses in people. They exploit those who may be sick or have a low threshold of resistance in their human nature. This sect doesn’t need any help realizing their full evil intentions. On the contrary they may need help in restraining from doing their dastardly deeds. Unfortunately most such individuals aren’t willing to come forth to get help for fear of exposing themselves.

With that in mind why do you suppose we have reality shows promoting to the lowest level of human nature? Show producers actually advertise to sick individuals in order to get them to come on their shows. How sick is that?

I know this is a free society but what possible good comes out of airing such vile shows. Are they selling to those who are just as sick or to those who call themselves “normal?” Obviously they have high enough ratings in order to stay on air otherwise the stations would drop them. They must have connections in high places otherwise they couldn’t pollute our airways so easily with such garbage.

Is there any level of decency we’re willing to adopt? Are there any morality lines we might entertain? Does free speech and choice mean you can do anything no matter how offensive it may be to others?

I’m just curious!

I understand that evil people have rights, but don’t those who draw morality lines have rights as well? Can’t we at least keep certain things out of the view of fragile minds? (OUR KIDS)

Sick people need no help promoting their sickness? Children need no help crossing over boundary lines. Don’t we have the right to restrict certain things from the public access?

Years ago parents set rather strong moralistic lines that children had to obey or face strong consequences. The children didn’t like it then but it steered them into a righteous pathway. Although they may have fallen off track at least they knew there was a line. We were those children. I’m not sure children of today understand boundaries.

How do we find common lines we can respect today? What one likes others may hate. What greatly appeal to one may be offensive to others. How do we find peace in the middle? This is the twenty-million-dollar question? What do you think?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Room for cream?

During my daily affairs I find myself consulting a few friends and associates about matters of life. They would call me their life-coach but that is not one of my official titles. Since I study, read, and write into this genre often it’s easy for me to share my advice about many subjects concerning daily living. One such topic I found myself sharing with several people was about leaving some room in their cup.

You coffee drinkers out there may have been asked by the attendant serving your freshly brewed cup of coffee; “Room for cream?” Rather than filling the cup all the way up to the brim they might ask if you want to leave room on top in order to add condiments to spruce up your coffee.

In that light I share my concept of dealing with many things that we allow to add unnecessary stress into our lives. As you may realize by now, life happens! When least expected certain things happen that throw us off our game. They seemingly come out of nowhere. Such is the nature of life.

Even though we might plan as much as possible for “what could happen,” inevitably things will happen that we didn’t plan for nor expect. Since they catch us with our guard down we are impacted more forcefully than if we were prepared. It is one thing to get hit hard when you are expecting to take a blow but another one when it catches you totally by surprise.

If someone hit you in your stomach while you were braced to receive the blow it would not impact you as badly as if you were hit with no advance warning. This is what life does to us occasionally. It hits us with things when we least expect them. Consequently, we are not prepared. For this very reason I suggest that you “leave room in your cup for BS. (I’ll let you define BS.)

Imagine that you are a cup with a certain capacity. Once your cup is filled to the brim nothing else can fit into it. That’s like the infamous straw that broke the camel’s back. Just one more thing happening to you when your cup is full could throw you completely out of whack. On the other hand if you consciously left a bit of room at the top for the unexpected (BS) it would be like bracing up when you knew someone was going to hit you in your stomach.

In a sense I expect the unexpected to happen in life. When it does I have room in my cup to receive it. I leave x-amount in my capacity for BS so when it inevitably happens I just shuck it off instead of getting all bent out of shape. This is a conscious daily practice.

When people do unexpected things or act in ways that are contrary to my ideal they no longer throw me completely off my game. When something I hoped for does not materialize as I had hoped I am no longer as devastated. Even though I keep a positive mental attitude in general, I try to leave enough room for the unexpected.

We are not superior to life. We are merely having our being inside this game of life. Expecting the unexpected, the unplanned and unwanted, leaves room in your cup.

Although we may hope that our incoming match our outpouring… that is not always the case with life. When things don’t happen according to our expectations we are free to let it go and move forward. By leaving room in our cup for the unexpected it is much easier to let go, forgive, or just press ahead with a positive mental attitude. Some refer to this as “Letting go and letting God.”

Try this practice as conscious awareness. Teach yourself to expect the unexpected. Keep enough head-room in your cup so some of those small things do not become really, really huge things. Be at peace with yourself so you can be at peace with the world around you. Constantly do things that take the edge off the top in order that you may have the extra head-space.

Leave room for cream. Leave some room for the inevitable BS that life tosses your way. If you do this you might become a much more peaceful person. In doing so the world will usually reflect back what it senses coming from you. Leave room in your cup for cream.