Tag Archives: Trump

Parenting in the Age of Trump . . . and other Parenting Challenges

John and Paul with Fish

This past week, Donald Trump posted another name-calling Tweet about Kim Jong Un being short and fat. Before that, he was famously recorded by Access Hollywood saying it was okay to grab women by the pussy. Somewhere in between, he tweeted about shooting Muslims with bullets dipped in pig’s blood and referred to “firing those SOBs.”

This blog isn’t designed to be political. I don’t mean to be picking on Donald Trump. However, the extraordinary number of provocative statements he generates every day makes him a ready example of a poor media role model. His statements are often of the ilk that republicans, democrats, and independents would all rather not have their 12-year-old children hear, much less repeat. The point is that sometimes politicians, news reporters, comedians, musicians, athletes, and other celebrities make statements that are incompatible with mainstream American family values. This isn’t new. For those of us who were parents back then, about 20 years ago President Bill Clinton made a statement about oral sex that—at the very least—constituted horrid advice for teenagers. The other point is that somehow parents have to figure out how to best deal with provocative statements that leak out of the media and into our children’s brains.

In this week’s episode of the practically perfect parenting podcast, Dr. Sara Polanchek and I take on the contemporary Trump phenomenon, as well as the equally challenging phenomenon of comedians who try to make a joke out of holding a picture of a severed Trump head. How should parents deal with this stream of objectionable content?

Not surprisingly, Sarah and I have a thing or two to say about Parenting in the Age of Trump. We encourage you to contemplate, in advance, how you want to address revolting media-based material to which your children will be inevitably exposed. Our hope is for you to identify your personal and family values and then learn how to stimulate your children’s moral development. Bottom line: we can’t completely control the objectionable media discourse, and so we might as well use it for educational purposes.

You can listen to the Practically Perfect Parenting Podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/practically-perfect-parenting-podcast/id1170841304?mt=2

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Cancer Part III: What Happy Feet Can Do For You

I wrote this a few weeks ago, but am just getting around to posting it now. It’s just a personal essay; sort of a cancer update along with a few thoughts on politics. There’s only a little psychology or counseling here. Feel free to read or pass.


What Happy Feet Can Do For You

Anger can easily give way to angst. All it needs is a little room to grow.

Rita’s cancer treatment is over. Her hair obediently fell out during week three of chemotherapy. But yesterday, we ran together in an it’s-hard-not-to-think-about-global-warming 68-degree March day in Montana. Winter is retreating. Everything is growing, including two full inches of new curly hair on Rita’s recently bald scalp. I can hardly wait for the blossoms this year.

A puzzling fact on this puzzling planet is that spring is the season with far more suicide deaths than any other. But this is also a planet where Donald Trump can say disparaging things about Mexicans, women, Muslims, and other vulnerable groups and yet still increase support for his presidential campaign. There are theories for both these phenomena. Perhaps the sad and suffering find spring intolerable, with all its promises of love and regrowth? Or maybe the energy of individuals with depression, having hibernated over the winter, has returned to fuel self-destructive actions to accompany the previously lonely self-destructive thoughts. Energy can be like that.

People say Trump openly articulates what they’re thinking. If so, we’ve got lots of people who are angry and looking for someone to blame. Mexicans, women, and Muslims are convenient targets. Rarely do angry bullies target the rich and powerful because bullying is all about power: It’s big on little; rich on poor; many on few; smart on less smart; strong on weak. Anger is way more fun when you can vent it on a safe target. I get that. I was there . . . just looking for someone to piss me off or articulate a little hate on my behalf. But now my anger has abandoned me like rats off a sinking ship. It’s nowhere to be found. Hair growth on my wife’s head can do things like that.

One thing for sure, this spring will bring more suicides. Another thing is likely too; it will bring more hate. Hate is on sale at a premium right now. You can get it at yard sales and flea markets. Everyone seems to have a little extra hate and most people who have it feel compelled to pass it on. Hate is like that. It’s not enough to have it and be alone with it. You just gotta get out there and sell that shit.

Over the past nine months I’ve given my wife well over 200 foot rubs. Not that I’m counting and bragging; I’m estimating and sharing. Our evening ritual involves streaming a video and, as it turns out, trying to rub the chemo leftovers of neuropathy out of her feet feels good to both of us. It’s simple. Her feet are right there next to me on the couch. I can’t believe I never thought about rubbing her feet every night for the first 29 years of our marriage. What was I thinking? And now that she’s feeling better, she’s rubbing my feet too. Not that it matters. That’s one thing cancer taught me. If you love someone, counting and tracking to make sure everything is in balance is stupid and irrelevant.

I don’t have much hate to sell right now. My feet are happy. I can run my fingers through Rita’s hair. But the cancer she had was a bad cancer. In the medical literature they refer to it as aggressive and chemo-resistant. It could return any time. Every day of health is a gift. But every day of her illness was a gift too; it was just an angrier gift.

This is why I’m not voting for hate or suicide or guns this spring. I have the gift of a new day and season. Instead, I’m voting for joy and blossoms and a perfect March madness bracket. I’d like to hug all the Mexicans and women and Muslims and invite them for a stroll along the Stillwater River in Montana. Right about now I’d even be happy to give the Donald a foot rub. God knows, he needs someone to help him unwind and stop selling all that hate.

Dancing Bear