Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Truth in advertising

Can someone--anyone--explain to me why more than half the clothing items in the Ann Taylor Petites flyer I got in the mail this week are NOT AVAILABLE IN PETITE SIZES?? Were the tall, skinny fashion mavens smugly sitting around in their NYC offices overlooking Central Park one day and cruelly laughing, "Ha, we'll taunt all the short ones by showing them cute clothes they cannot wear! 'Look, a catalog marked just for you...oh, but so sorry, these don't come in your size.' Hahahaha!" Seriously, is it so hard to make a flyer for petites that actually shows petite sized clothing???

[Divorce] Nightmare Before Christmas

"Seth Gordon the director of the hit documentary King of Kong is set to make Four Christmases with Vince Vaughan and Reese Witherspoon. The plot concerns a married couple who are both children of divorce and have to make the rounds and visit everyone in the space of a day."

Heartbreak school

This article has some good back-to-school tips for divorced parents, but it also has some absolutely heartbreaking stories:

"Author Paula Egner recalls one horrible day when she and her ex-husband, who had joint custody of their young son, got their wires crossed and neither was there to pick up the 6-year-old after school. The boy stayed with his teacher till 9 that night...Blackstone-Ford tells a story about a young boy whose divorced parents were feuding bitterly. The boy was in a baseball game, and both sets of parents came to watch but sat as far apart from each other as possible. The child hit a home run, and in his excitement turned and looked into the stands for congratulations from his parents. He looked one way, then turned and looked in the other direction. Then, confused and not knowing which parent to look at, he sat down on the field and cried."

Kim Kline, child of divorce

Christian musician Kim Kline talks with Lifted magazine about her music and her life as a child of divorce:

"I wouldn't change anything about my childhood. It made me who I am. I grew up in a very loving family but came from divorce. It wasn't always easy as a child and I had plenty of struggles along the way. My past and what I have been through enables me to write my lyrics, because it’s what I have lived and experienced."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Left to my own devices

I'm throwing down the gauntlet to evolution. In the computer age, we have a perfect opportunity to see whether, in fact, we develop genetic mutations to better adapt to our environment. Yesterday, I visited a site (in the physical world, not the cyberworld) where I can access a subscription-only database for free, doing a little research for my consulting clients. As I sat there, madly clicking and scrolling through the screens with my right hand and jotting notes for myself with my left hand, it occured to me that evolution should (finally!) show the superiority of left-handedness. We lefties have long known our strength. We're only too happy to remind you that we're the only ones in our right minds. Now, in a click and drag world, we should finally come into our own. Instead of school teachers trying to force little lefties to hold the pencil in their other hand (the 'wrong" hand, I call it, although that's usually in the context of someone asking about grandma's ring that I wear: "No, it's not an engagement ring; it's on the right hand, or the "wrong" hand, as I like to call it"), we should start seeing teachers forcing kids to hold their pencils in their left hands, the better to jot notes down without interrupting the click and scroll action of the other hand. Then, it's only a matter of time before left-handedness goes from a genetic advantage to a genetic normalcy. That is, if evolution is true. And if we can resist Gates and Jobs and their darn ambitexterous touch screens.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

He weighs the same as a duck

An ad campaign in Virginia is making some waves. Aimed at preventing child sexual abuse, the ads instead imply that affectionate fathers are predators. The print ad campaign shows a little girl holding hands with a man, and the words "It doesn't feel right when I see them together." The radio campaign is more direct. One radio spot features a woman who is worried because she sometimes works late and her husband then gives their daughter a bath and puts her to bed.

I wish I could find the video online of the news report I saw this on last night. The reporter quoted a spokesperson for the campaign who said it was effective because calls to the abuse hotline were up. Using that line of reasoning, the Salem witch trials were effective because dozens of women were accused of witchcraft. Oh, never mind the pesky fact that most, if not all, of them were innocent.

Preventing child sexual abuse is a very, very good thing. Too many children (and one would be too many) have suffered unspeakable things at the hands of predatory adults. But genuine, appropriate affection between fathers and their daughters is also a very, very good thing. The Virginia ad campaign goes too far and ends up confusing the issue. Seeing a predator behind every affectionate dad is akin to being the little boy who cried "wolf!"

On a related note, I was watching a rerun of Oprah last week that included the story of a football player who has gone public with the sexual abuse he endured as a child at the hands of his stepfather. When Oprah asked the man's mother if, looking back, she could see the warning signs, the mother responded that her husband had not wanted to have sex with her before they married. He was a man of faith and she thought it was noble that he wanted to wait for sex until marriage, but now, in hindsight, she saw this as a sign of his warped sexual nature. Oprah nodded and cut to commercial. Um, what? So now we should be afraid and suspicious of every chaste single Christian out there? The mother clarified, for the record, that she and her husband had normal and regular sexual relations after their marriage. So the clear implication here was that she now thinks their chasteness before marriage was a sign of his twisted sexuality.

So, it occurs to me that we have become so sexually warped as a society that we can no longer tell the difference between good and bad, between normal and twisted. There is nothing twisted about people who want to wait until marriage for sex. There is nothing twisted about a daddy holding the hand of his little girl or doing any of the other routine daily parenting tasks that women have been clamoring since the 70s for dads to share equally in. There is something horribly twisted in an individual who sexually abuses a child.

Perhaps it would be nice if all sexual predators had warts on their hooked noses, or green faces like the meanie in The Wizard of Oz, or weighed the same as a duck. Life is not that simple and most predators are too clever to be that obvious. Identifying the real bad guys takes keen judgment, not hysterical accusation.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Judge for yourself

From The Buffalo News:

State Supreme Court Justice Janice Rosa listened to the combative couple before her in matrimonial court, then delivered her message: Grow up.

After all, they chose to get married and have children, she said, admonishing them to take responsibility for their problems.

“These are just immature people,” Rosa said after the couple left. “They chose each other. They didn’t just have some car accident where they ran into each other and decided to sue each other.”

The rest of the article describes the "Children Come First" program being used in Judge Rosa's court and includes some excellent examples of the positive ways our courts can help divorcing families.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Who's a good boy?

My former boss, Chuck Colson, notes the irony that we all love The Dog Whisperer's advice, but can't seem to correlate his lessons to the ways we interact with our children:

"Still, it says something about our culture that people understand the need for discipline and guidance when it comes to their dogs but are afraid of 'repressing' their kids. They see the connection between their absence and the dog's acting out, but they deny that divorce hurts our kids."

No substitute for good judgment

While this may be a cool toy, I have my doubts about how effective software can be at parceling out property during a divorce. Oops, due to a glitch, she got his mother's china. How did that happen?

Funny though, I was just thinking the other day how some folks would like to reduce our court systems to a computer program. Input data, hit enter, out pops the judgment. The whole reason we have judges is so that someone who is impartial and who has been deemed to be wise and knowledgeable can listen to all the facts of a case and make a fair decision. Cases brought before a judge are nuanced and require wisdom, not a rubber stamp. (Rent the movie "12 Angry Men" for a good example of this.) If we are unhappy with the job our judges are doing, we should get rid of the bad judges, not toss out the system.

Divorce? No thanks.

From Houston Home Journal:

"The numbers show that 45 percent of 18 to 29 years olds believe divorce should be avoided except under extreme circumstances – 15 points higher than the 30 percent of 50 to 64 years olds who felt the same."