Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Shh...The Children Are Listening

A few weeks ago, I was enjoying a tasty pizza with some friends. In the table next to us, a mother was dining with her two children: a ‘tween girl and a pre-tween boy. The mother was attempting a conversation on her cell phone, loudly telling us all about her soon-to-be ex-husband’s latest evil tactics. Meanwhile, her two children attempted to engage their mother in conversation about an exciting series of books they were reading.

I admit: my friends and I were amused at first. “Are we that loud on the cell phone?” and “That sounds like something my ex would do,” were comments among us. Then the name calling against the ex became vulgar and the kids quieter as they listened to their mother tell her friend horrific things about their father, along with rather inventive name-calling. At one point, the girl leaned to her brother and said, “She’s going to tell the ___ story next.” This was obviously nothing new to them.

The boy was visibly upset and said to his sister, “She shouldn’t talk about Daddy like that”. Finally, the kids had their mothers’ attention. Turning the color of the tomato sauce, she exploded at her children. Now, I’m not going to repeat everything this woman said. I can tell you that after hearing the way she just spoke about her soon-to-be ex-husband then telling your children they are just like their father cannot be good for the child- in any way.

Look, I get it. Relationships end. There is anger, resentment, disappointment, and hurt that can feel like the deepest black hole. There is always something good to be found in any experience. If you brought a child into this world, a creation from the two of you, you created something that should outshine any negativity, any hurt, and one that should certainly not feel ashamed for his or her existence.

We can get overwhelmed becoming a single parent, in the midst of a break-up, trying to manage work and/or school, and trying to regain some sort of normalcy in a hectic life. Remember that YOU are the adult. YOU chose to join with someone to create a life and bring it into the world. YOU are responsible to ensure that child feels loved and safe and secure. Saying they take after the parent they have heard you saying nasty things about are NOT conducive to a child’s well-being.

Approximately 20 years ago, Judge Michael Haas in Minnesota had some excellent parenting advice. Judge Haas is now deceased, but his words of wisdom live on:

"Your children have come into this world because of the two of you. Perhaps you two made lousy choices as to whom you decided to be the other parent. If so, that is YOUR problem and YOUR fault.

"No matter what you think of the other party -- or what your family thinks of the other party -- these children are one-half of each of you. Remember that, because every time you tell your child what an 'idiot' his father is, or what a 'fool' his mother is, or how bad the absent parent is, or what terrible things that person has done, you are telling the child half of HIM is bad.

"That is an unforgivable thing to do to a child. That is not love! That is possession. If you do that to your children, you will destroy them as surely as if you had cut them into pieces, because that is what you are doing to their emotions.

"I sincerely hope that you do not do that to your children. Think more about your children and less about yourselves, and make yours a selfless kind of love, not foolish or selfish, or your children will suffer."

Practice empathy, put yourself in your child’s position and hear what you are saying. Would you want the other parent to say it about you? Co-parenting is about putting your own differences aside with mutual respect and understanding for the best interests of the child. Show the child they mean more than any animosity you feel toward one another. Teach them healthy relationships. It should never hurt to be a child.

Monday, July 9, 2012

July Schedule for Free Women's Self-Defense Classes in Winnemucca at Montenegro's School of TaeKwon Do

Pics: Paul Montenegro and Jessie Rowe demonstrate the stop-block technique and trap and roll technique.

July's schedule for women's FREE self-defense and empowerment classes provided by Paul Montenegro of Montenegro's School of TawKwon Do and AVA Executive Director, Rebecka Swatman are as follows:

July 13, 14, 15, 23, 24, 25, 26. All times are 7:30- 8:30 p.m. Classes are held at the Montenegro School of TaeKwon Do, 5184 1/2 Winnemucca Blvd. (Behind Computer Tamer and next to BLM offices)

Each class involves critical discussions covering the most important awareness principles and safety strategies. Even if you are already well-versed in safety strategies and are well aware of your surroundings, these lessons will reinforce your safety consciousness and heighten your awareness in many settings.

Offered monthly to all women ages 18 and over (if younger, parental permission is required). These courses follow the Women’s Empowerment program as part of the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy.

If anyone is interested in taking a class but is not comfortable with any of the lessons, it’s acceptable to sit out and observe. No one will be asked to participate in anything they are uncomfortable with. If any special accommodations are needed, please contact us and we’ll make arrangements ahead of time.

Patience, timing, and leverage can overcome any of life’s adversities, regardless of their nature. Remember: Anyone can be a victim, regardless of where you live, education, age gender, physical attributes, socioeconomic status, etc. Everyone can learn to protect themselves!

Space is limited, contact us to reserve your and/or your youths spot! For a full description of each class, please visit www.humboldava.com . To reserve your spot or contact us with any questions, please call 304-7007 or 304-5997. Or email us a humboldtava@sbcglobal.net

All classes are FREE, but donations are always accepted and appreciated. AVA is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charity, any donations made are tax-exempt and a receipt will be provided.

The Good Samaritan - Less Common Than You Might Think

A bystander is someone in a crowd who sees a potentially dangerous situation and does nothing. A bystander does not protect the values of safety, trust, and honor that are central to our community.

In a recent study, researchers conducted an experiment in which a man pretended to assault a woman and the experimenters recorded how often others stopped to help. When only one bystander was watching the scene, the woman was helped 85% of the time. However, if there were 5 bystanders, the woman was only helped 31% of the time. In another experiment, social psychologists sought a better understanding of bystander apathy in episodes of public child abuse. They surveyed 269 witnesses who stated they had seen instances of child abuse. While around half of the participants in the survey stated that these instances occurred in public, only one out of four witnesses acted to intervene.

Does this make sense? Shouldn't having more people present increase the chances that someone will get help?

Amazingly, this is not the case. We all take cues from those around us about how to act in different situations. In emergency situations, many things bar bystanders from intervening:

• If no one else is acting, it is hard to go against the crowd.

• People may feel that they are risking embarrassment. (What if I'm wrong and they don't need help?)

• They may think there is someone else in the group who is more qualified to help.

• They may think that the situation does not call for help since no one else is doing anything

With each person taking cues from people around them, a common result is that no action is taken.

What can we do about this problem? As community members we all have a responsibility to help each other. Intervene regardless of what others are doing and don't be worried about being wrong; it is better to be wrong than to have done nothing at all.

Be on the look-out for potentially dangerous situations. Learn how to recognize indications of potentially dangerous situations. Here are some examples of “red flag” behaviors related to sexual assault:

o Inappropriate touching

o Suggestive remarks

o Testing boundaries

o Disregarding set boundaries

o Inappropriate intimacy

o Attempts to isolate someone

o Pressuring someone to drink

o Targeting someone who is visibly impaired

Ask yourself: If I were in this situation, would I want someone to help me? If a situation makes us uncomfortable, we may try to dismiss it as not being a problem. You may tell yourself that the other person will be fine, that he or she is not as intoxicated as you think, or that the person is able to defend him/herself. This is not a solution!

When in doubt, TRUST YOUR GUT. Instincts are seldom wrong. When a situation makes us feel uncomfortable, it is a generally a good indicator that something is not right. It is better to be wrong about the situation than do nothing. Many people feel reluctant to intervene in a situation because they are afraid of making a scene or feel as though a person would ask for help if it were needed.

You have the responsibility to intervene! You may think, “No one else is helping; it must not be a problem”, or “People who are sober don't think this is a problem, maybe I'm wrong?”, or “Jim's really responsible and he's not intervening... why should I?” Many people do not intervene in a potentially dangerous situation because they are looking to others for cues on how to act or they believe someone else will intervene.

In order to create a safer community, everyone can take steps to be an active bystander:

• Consider whether the situation demands some action

• Decide if you feel a responsibility to act

• Choose what form of assistance you can use to intervene

• Listen and be open to a victim seeking help

• Ask yourself, ‘If I were in this situation, would I want someone to help me?’

• Even small interventions can make a big difference in a questionable situation

• Just distracting someone, saying something, can stop the momentum of something bad

• Use your cell phone (or any phone) to contact 9-1-1

• Speak up if someone is putting others down

• Talk with your friends about how they would want you to intervene if they are in an uncomfortable situation