#ManEnough #redefinemasculinity

Last post, I spoke about “boys will be boys” and our need to change the culture of men. Interestingly enough, I have had women come out of the woodwork, needing sessions because watching news on Harvey Weinstein and constantly hearing #metoo stories have triggered them back into PTSD. I could write forever on this topic, both personally and therapeutically. However, I really wanted to have a direction and as stated from my last post, give concrete tools on how to raise our young boys.

Last week, I had a client angered by men going to “rehab” to fix their “problem” in a luxurious, high-end, five-star rehab facility to supposedly understand their behaviors, when they will never experience the mental, physical, emotional, spiritual anguish along with the damaging ways they have sexually violated us. Unfortunately, I agree whole-heartedly with this client and although I have my own two cents with regards to what I believe “rehabilitation” should consist of (think of boot camp-style facility with no affluent amenities), I was so relieved and felt a sense of renewal to come across Justin Baldoni’s Instagram posts. I instantly re-directed and felt more compelled to use his Hashtags of #ManEnough and #redefinemasculinity than using #metoo.

If you don’t already follow Justin Baldoni, I highly encourage you to. As a father to a daughter, and now a new son, he understands the immense responsibility we have to our children. Not only to empower our daughters, but also to redefine what manhood should be for our sons.

Being “Man Enough” should not equate to physicality or physical strength being projected into sexual prowess towards women in a violating manner. So, what are tools we can give our sons to change the culture of what has been accepted by society?

*First and foremost, be honest with the men in our lives and let them know in the most direct manner how we feel about specific behaviors or verbiage they use that come across demeaning or derogatory. Often times, they are unaware of how we feel about specific comments and in turn, they feel it is ok to continue with such “humor” or commentary. In addition, teach your sons that under NO circumstance is he ever to call a female a swear word. EVER! I am amazed at the couples who come in and call each other names, let alone swear at each other. It is not constructive, nor is it uplifting. (Even if it’s a joke – calling a woman a b*tch is not funny to me no matter the context.) And, if a female is calling your son a swear word, it is time for your son to walk away. We need to honor each other with our words and not be destructive.

*Talk with your sons about girls’ sexuality. My son has 4 sisters, but he did not become sensitive to their being until his peers began to talk about “girls who wear bikinis or have big breasts are sexy.” I am very honest with my children and as my son goes through puberty, it is very important for him to hear from me (and his sisters) as to what we think and feel when males talk about our physicality in a purely sexual manner.

* Chivalry is about being a man. It should NOT be dead. Yes, “feminism” has confused men into believing they should no longer open the door for a woman, or carry their bags, or pay for a meal. Men in my practice actually disclose feelings of frustration and contradiction because women will either yell at them because they can “do it themselves” or because they wish their mate would be more “thoughtful.” Boys – do not be discouraged and continue to behave in a gentleman-like way. I remind my son to always let a woman go first, help their sisters when they are carrying too many bags, open their doors, walk behind them when walking up the stairs, etc. And, when women scoff at that and consider that anti-feminist and insulting, this is my response: the Queen of England is the most feminist woman I know who not only is the Head of the Commonwealth, but is also the Queen of 12 countries!! A leader and yet a woman who still expects a man to open the door for her, assist her in carrying items, allows her to go first, and so on. She commands respect and so should we all. We should not be ashamed of our femininity and we should allow men to acknowledge it – it is not insulting, it is respectful!

* Be honest with your son regarding sexual temptation and the effects of pornography. Please do not normalize these behaviors; rather educate them. It is important to keep an open door of education when these topics arise because they are bombarded by too much mis-information from the web and their peers. I have already spoken to my son regarding the moments when he may feel tempted or peer pressured and how to cope with those feelings, so as to never disrespect any female. Remind him always that “NO means NO! and STOP means STOP!” Always. With no exceptions.

* Role play with your son how to stand up and protect females. One of my proudest moments I had was a few years ago. A couple mothers from school called to thank me because my son intervened and “protected” their daughters from being teased and harassed by a few boys in their class. The boys were making fun of how the girls looked and were also trying to take their money from them. Boys will encounter situations in which their peers are mistreating girls. It is important to role play with your son how to have courage and stand up for girls, while risking being made fun of or taunted themselves.

* Surround your son with kind men who speak of and treat women in the utmost respect. There are many men out there who really are good men. Those are the men we should be celebrating and focusing on, not the Harvey Weinstein of the world.

 

These are only a few of the tools I use with not only my son, but some of my clients. Open the door, talk with your son, and let me know how it goes…

 

Charise

Boys Will Be Boys

When my son was younger and even now that he is a teenager, I would often times ask my husband why the heck my son was doing whatever it was he was doing. I simply didn’t understand – why is he eating like a neanderthal? Why is he constantly joking about bodily functions as he makes continuous fart noises? Why will he not stop talking about Minecraft? I would just look at him wondering what the heck is wrong, only for my husband to reassure me that “That is just what boys do.” “He’s just a boy.” And, as my son would get older, my response was, “I don’t care. He’s my boy and therefore, he will not act like that!” Now granted, I look back and his behaviors were quite typical – climbing the walls as he only answered to the name ‘Spiderman,’ not focusing on school work because he is obsessively thinking about a video game, not cleaning the toilet after he pees all over it, forgetting everything I say that doesn’t involve a superhero character or new video game, and the list continues. However, there is a specific phrase I hear in my office often – “Boys will be boys” or with my couples, I hear “It’s because he is a man.” Women excuse their husband, their brothers, sons, friends, or colleagues simply because he is male. I do not understand. If men themselves are not going to create standards for them to live by, then who will? Us wives and mothers will set up a doctor’s appointment for the men in our family because they won’t do it themselves. We will tell them to dress appropriately for an event so as to not be ridiculed. We will tell them to mind their manners to show respectable behaviors. We set the precedent for what we expect. And yet, I wonder why we have expected or stayed silent about men’s predatory and demoralizing behaviors toward women. We expect them to behave in a sexually disrespectful manner. And so, as opposed to holding guys accountable when they are being complete @#$%, we instead train our daughters to deal with them in a certain way so as to protect ourselves.

I can understand that with all the current news, women now believe it is safe to speak out and #metoo. There is not one single woman I know who has not experienced some sort of assaultive behavior or harassment towards them. NONE! I am not here to tell my stories and say #metoo because I would be here for awhile. I would like to take a different path – I am here to hold men accountable. I do not want a group of women only telling their stories because the fact is, all women can relate. I don’t necessarily want a support group type of environment without a direction of what to do next. Just telling our story is not going to change the culture of men. Instead, I would like to begin by encouraging others to change the verbiage. People write “Women were raped or assaulted.” They are not writing, “ Men raped women.” We discuss how many young girls have gotten pregnant, but we are not saying how many men or boys impregnated those teenage girls. As though men are not part of the equation. We are focusing on what is happening or being done to women when we should be shifting the focus on who is actually part of the problem. Why are we not calling it out for what it is – “Man assaulted woman” versus “Violence against women.” There needs to be accountability directly towards men. And, when this occurs, they WILL know what is expected.

The next step is making sure I am doing my part at home. I am not raising just another boy. I am going to change the presumption that all “boys will be boys.” I will raise my son to respect women, to not touch them in an inappropriate manner, to not threaten them, to not speak of women in a derogatory way, and to challenge his peers to do the same. And, if I miss a beat, I am sure that his 4 sisters will remind him to be better than what society has simply accepted or excused!!

Stay tuned for more concrete tools to help our sons, brothers, husbands, and friends as to how to stand up for their gender by being better men…..we will no longer allow “boys will be boys” to exist!

Charise 

Where Have I Been?

Hello again!! It has been quite some time since I have been on this platform. There is no excuse other than life itself and let me tell you, it has been daunting….

Today, I would like to share my journey on where I have been and how exactly I have been preparing for yet again, another chapter. Where have I been exactly? PREGNANT!! That’s where!! My family has transitioned from being a party of 6 to a party of 7. It all began in December. I have been experiencing symptoms of being peri-menopausal for a couple years. So, having months with no menstrual cycle or a month where I would have one/two day periods was not exactly unusual. During the holidays, I was still having my incredibly irregular one/two day periods and was at Target with my 3rd child to purchase feminine hygiene products, no less. It must have either been divine intervention (and possibly a dare!) to purchase a pregnancy test. I went home, took the test, and in no less time to pull up my pants, I see the DOUBLE LINES! THAT CANNOT BE! So, I immediately take the 2nd test only to get the same results without the chance to blink or breathe. I sit there….completely still. And, within less than 20 minutes my husband texts me to check in and see how my day is going. Although quite abrupt of me, all I could muster up to do was send him the photo of the pregnancy test. 30 minutes later, my husband is at the door, as I am sure praying that it is an early anniversary joke of some sort. Only, he saw my face and it was not a joke.

We anxiously await our first doctor’s appointment, only for him to confirm that we are indeed expecting a child and that I have been pregnant for 3 months. 3 MONTHS!! What the @#$%??!!
It was all a daze now that I look back. But, what contributed to the journey that my husband and I had to navigate through was the apprehension we both had in disclosing our news, knowing that we would not necessarily be greeted with congratulatory praises. “5 children! Are we crazy?” I vividly remember a client looking at me with a look of suspicion to which I admitted that I was indeed pregnant. Her response, “Wow! So, after this child are you going to fix this problem?” Ironic, considering she was in my office to see me for parenting advice. Another situation was at a school meeting in which our school president was recognizing and honoring a family who had 8 children go through our school. I was so amazed that this mother had 8 children and then, the woman (and mother) sitting next to me said, “That is so unnecessary!” Hmmm, unnecessary to have children? Ok. There was not a week that went by, or so I felt, when my husband was asked when he was going to get “clipped/fixed.” That specifically would make me frustrated.

Nonetheless, our journey to have another child was, yes, unexpected. But, the moment we had our first sonogram, I could not help but feel pure joy and elation. Unfortunately, my pregnancy was met with such disapproval by our society, that it saddened me. Although we have thick enough skin, it saddened me that our society no longer sees the beauty and preciousness of children. Rather, they see it as a burden. A burden to one’s wallet and one’s lifestyle. And so, the mental and emotional preparation began to make our family what it is and raise children to the best of our ability, despite what others think and believe.

My gorgeous daughter was born in August and all I can think of is the need I have for her in my life. She has reminded me in the busyness of mine and my older children’s schedule to stop, slow down, and be present. She has redirected me to focus on myself and my vocation as a mother, not my comparisons of what I am not as my insecurities rise in a self—absorbed world. She has brought more love and affection to my family and unfortunately for her, she has gained four extra parents without ever asking for it! She has allowed me to focus on good in the midst of political division, racial tensions, murders, fires, bombings and threats of war, and men in power who lack a moral compass. She has allowed me to remember what life is about – love.

Baby #5 was born August 2017 and has been the most wonderful gift!

 

Charise

In a World of Versus

Pro-Vaccines Versus Anti-Vaccines

Western Medicine Versus Eastern Medicine

No Technology Versus Owning most updated technology

Homeschool Versus Private School Versus Public School

Organic Food Versus I don’t care what I eat

Religion Versus Atheist

Pro-Life Versus Pro-Choice

At-Home Mom Versus Professional Working Mom

European Cars Versus American Cars

Democrats Versus Republicans

It is has been 6 months since I last posted anything. I have had difficulty with going on-line and looking at the headlines of articles and blogs and I will not even begin to describe my frustrations and anger when trying to open social media outlets. It has honestly been exhausting. Let’s put politics (or Donald Trump) aside for just one moment. The last 6 months has intensified our already world of differences. I saw this world of differences in a much more profound way as I entered adulthood and my friends were criticized for their “ultra-religious” views or when my married friends were questioned because one no longer needs an official certificate to bond their relationship. Then, I entered the world of motherhood and “versus” became the life in which all people needed to navigate through. The moms who would only feed their babies organic food versus those who were perfectly content buying baby jars at the grocery store. The moms who would absolutely refuse vaccines versus those who believed in it. The moms who would only maintain a strict and structured schedule versus the moms who were more flexible about routines. And, of course, the moms who stayed home versus those who left to go to a professional job setting. The list has always been there and after the last year, I fear that the list will simply be ever-growing.

So, what exactly are my thoughts regarding us continuing to live in a world of differences? This is what I know. My friends and even my family have vastly different thoughts, opinions, and feelings from regarding an array of topics – religion, politics, child-rearing, values, etc. I also know that despite those differences, these are people that I still respect and yes, love. I love my friends. My friends who do not agree with me. My husband who does not always agree with me. My family who can criticize my belief systems. And, I will continue to do so.

This is what I learned from the last few months during the election and even currently. People will be passionate about their thoughts. And that is ok. However, we are made up to be a beautiful world because of our differences and how we can and should challenge each other (constructively!!) to all be better people. But, I refuse to immerse myself in social media or news outlets where the communication style is demeaning, angry, and unkind. Regardless of what occurs politically or not, will not affect how I will raise a piece of the future – my children. I will raise my children to be kind, respectful of all people’s opinions regardless of how dumb we think it is, and mostly, to be tolerant. They will not be violent, they will not use vile language to try and get their point across, and they will judge one person on their character and not solely on their belief systems. The fact of the matter is that they will need these tools because there will be many other presidents elected that they may or may not care for; there will be new life philosophies that they may or may not succumb to; there will be many other laws put into affect that should not dictate how they behave towards their fellow man; and there will be many other inventions and technological advances that can possibly inhibit the ability to truly connect with each other through openness, kindness, and respect.

We cannot necessarily change that we will forever live in a world of “versus” but we can change how we react and treat each other in spite of differences.

Charise

Do Not Judge Me Based on Who I Vote For

It would be an understatement to say that people’s convictions, thoughts, and feelings are intensely passionate regarding this upcoming election. Now that both National Conventions have aired, it is safe to say that people are more opinionated than ever. My blog has never been a platform for political accountability and I do not plan on it ever being so. One of the intentions when I began writing was to encourage compassion and more than ever, during this election, I believe it necessary to do so. I have never stated my political affiliations, not because I want to avoid conflict (because let’s face it – it is an area of conflict for everyone) but because it is personal. Just as my religion is. That is why I will not address politics among my religious friends. This is why…

Regardless of the presidential candidates, my personal moral choices in life are based on my faith and philosophies. That is not and will never be dependent on who is president – Republican or Democrat. I have never been a fan of someone JUDGING me because as a Christian, I “should vote conservative.” Or because I am an empowered professional female, I am judged if I do or do not vote democratic. My personal moral choices are between God and I. Not Bush or Obama and I. They have no bearing or weight on how I choose to raise my children or what legacy I leave behind. However, if we are speaking on fiscal concerns, national security, education, and healthcare, then I have an opinion. And, yes, they are strong opinions. My issue with this election is that we have forgotten the country we are living in. It is because of the freedom we are privileged to have, that we can have opinions and not be killed for it. Unfortunately, we are socially punished for it. I have friends who are extreme “left” and extreme “right” and I truly believe that because I respect them and they have mutual respect for me, that we can compassionately agree to disagree without losing perspective of our friendships. That is not the case I have been witnessing in the last year. I have seen and read vile comments to each other as people try to stake their claim in the #imwithher or #makeamericagreatagain campaigns. I have seen physical fighting and horrific name-calling. The fact is, there are presidents we have respected and those we don’t care for. I have been an advocate for voting since before I was of age and have followed politics since I was in grade school. It is a topic I enjoy. Call it maturity, but as I have grown older, I see the points of everyone. I don’t have to agree with it. And, if we are truly to be ONE NATION, then I shouldn’t be judged for my opinions. Rather, if we are to speak of inclusivity, then that means my race, creed, gender, sexual orientation should not matter. What should matter is HOW we all live together. Because regardless of whether I agree with Obamacare, I will still care for my clients. Regardless of whether the politicians deem same sex marriage or the legalization of marijuana as positive, will not have weight on how I personally live my life and how I raise my children. Regardless of whether taxes increase or decrease, I will continue to pay for we all live in a privileged country to have the niceties that we possess. Regardless of whether there is a physical border or not, I am called to be compassionate to all people – immigrants and citizens. Regardless if the gun laws are adjusted, I will continue to be a responsible citizen who follows the laws and equally respect service men and those who walk our streets and neighborhoods. Regardless of whether climate control is real or not, I will continue to respect this earth as it will one day be inherited by our children. Regardless of whether abortion is legal or not, I will continue to cherish life. The list continues.

As my friend so eloquently stated as she looked at the beauty of our beaches and the miracle of a gorgeous sunset, we simply need to redirect our focus sometimes from the chaos of “Ding Dong Donald and Crooked Hilary.” We have survived a lot in this great nation and we will continue to do so despite which candidate wins. I just ask that people calm themselves and remember what we were taught when we were younger – “If you don’t have anything nice to say, do not say anything at all.” I disagree with a lot of people’s posting on Facebook or Instagram, but you will not see me negatively comment. There are a few people I answer to on a daily basis – God, my husband, and my children. Whoever becomes president will not change who or what I am because how I live my life is between those I love and myself. The only judgement I care about, is that of God’s because no one else’s judgement should matter. Right? So, stop judging!

 

It’s easy to judge. It’s more difficult to understand. Understanding requires compassion, patience, and the willingness to believe that good hearts sometimes choose poor methods. Through judging, we separate. Through understanding, we grow.  – Doe Zantamata

 

As I say to my children, “Remember to always be kind to one another.”

Charise