Nature has done almost nothing to prepare men and women to be either slaves or slaveholders. Nothing but rigid training, long persisted in, can perfect the character of the one or the other. One cannot easily forget to love freedom; and it is as hard to cease to respect that natural love in our fellow creatures. –Frederick Douglass from My Bondage and My Freedom
Hatred for another human being is not something that we are born with, it is something we are born into. We are conditioned by our families and society to feel anything other than the need of belonging when it comes to other human beings. Young children who have never been exposed to racist ideologies do not look at the skin of another child and decide this child should be hated based upon a darker or lighter tone of the skin. Young children do not hear a different dialect or accent in the voice of another and automatically assume this a person to be hated, to be mistrusted, to be destroyed.
Human beings who hate based upon skin color, national origin, or religion are no higher evolved than animals. Animals rely upon their primal instincts to protect them from predators based upon instincts. However, animals recognize those who belong to their species, and do not hate or attack, simply because, only to protect. Animals live in greater harmony with those who are “different” than humans do. The reason for this, is that animals cannot be taught to hate based upon visual differences, they learn to react to actions.
Spreading Hatred Through Fear
Military personnel both in the U.S. and abroad belonging to infantry units are provided images, videos, and literal war games to teach them to “recognize” the enemy. A healthy human mind can only accept the act of killing if it is convinced that the subject is less than human. This is how every incident of genocide and slavery has occurred since the dawn of civilization. A close read of religious texts, and historical documents can identify the language used to distinguish the “less thans” in our society.
The hate speeches of leaders of countries speak to the “less thans” those who present a threat to not only lives, but a way of life. Patriotism, nationalism, and religious allegiance become pardons for hatred, as long as it is done in the name of god and country. It is not difficult to whip a group of people into a frenzy of hatred when a tragedy has occurred on domestic or even International soil that involves the citizens of one’s own country. Heavy rhetoric is used to stir emotions, facts are often distorted to further incite rage. With social media it is even easier for misinformation or premature information to reach the eyes and ears of citizens generating fear. Fear is the bases of every act of hatred.
Are we as a Nation too far gone to return to a place within ourselves where we do not hate based upon differences, and do not act based upon unverified actions? We have the technology and the resources to communicate, to work together, to support, to feed, and to teach one another. All of these are instruments of peace. Silencing the propaganda of hatred is our only hope of survival. We are above a dog eat dog mentality. Are we not?
For those who struggle with feelings of hatred for others based upon differences, there is hope – because there is a struggle. Research studies show that depression and other mental illnesses can be directly related to cognitive dissonance associated with the act of hatred toward other human beings. Hatred based upon human differences, be they skin color, national or linguistic origins, religion, or political affiliations can only be mediated through exposure and education. Each of us is responsible in our own element of providing that exposure and education, and thus exposing the propaganda of hate for what it is.
Navigating your way through workplace politics and pecking order is difficult. If you are not at the top of the order, then you fall somewhere below and let’s face it, that means your job security is based upon how much the boss values and likes you. Whether there is an intentional abuse of power or not, there is still power, intimidating to those who are subject to it. The most common abuse of power in the workplace is sexual power. This can be directed from male superior to female subordinate, or vice versa, and same sex superior and subordinate. Standing up for yourself at work, fending off inappropriate advances should not mean also fearing the loss of your job.
It is never a good idea to become sexually or romantically involved with a co-worker, and especially a superior. It is never a good idea to allow flirting, even when it seems innocent as this can be misread. It is difficult to find oneself in a situation where what seems to be harmless flirting leads to expectations or unwanted advances.
Backing Out and Backing Up
If in this sort of situation, it should be nipped in the bud before getting any further. This can be done subtlety and most of the time the other party will get the message. In the uncomfortable event that the message is either not received, or ill-received it is best to clear the air. Admit that the flirtation was not a good idea and that your professional reputation is important to you. If your manager has no agenda, then that should be it. However, if it is not, the very next step to send an email through the office email and state “per our conversation” the date and a summary of what was discussed. This provides documentation. Do not threaten, simply state facts. End the email with “Thank you very much for your understanding. BCC your private email.
If this does not get the message across then the next step is your human resources officer. He or she should then follow whatever policy is in place for processing complaints. It is good to know that in larger companies everyone has a boss, even the owner of a company. That boss is the law. The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) takes complaints at their website 24 hours per day. All complaints are confidential and information is used only for investigative purposes.
In a situation where a superior is offering unwanted/improper attention some make the mistake of ignoring it, hoping it will resolve itself, or worst yet go along in fear of repercussions. Having neutral party to talk to over a situation such as this is more advisable than confiding in a co-worker. No matter how the situation started, you have the right to end it, the right to regain your power, and your rights are protected by the EEOC.
If you are a member of a family, whether it is as father, mother, child, sibling or an extended member, there will be conflict. The sources of the conflict can be internal or external to the family, as well as to do with the situation of one individual family member. Families often face even greater conflict when trying to agree on how to resolve the conflict, it is in these instances that seeking the help of a third party is in the best interest of the family, and very often the quickest route to resolution.
Identify the Source of Conflict
To resolve conflict within a family, the family must first identify the source of conflict. That does not mean pointing a finger at little Johnny who has ADHD and blaming him because of the amount of extra attention he needs. Chances are everyone is doing everything they can to help Johnny manage his ADHD. The question is, how is everyone else managing themselves?
For example. Johnny often leaves his things wherever he drops them. This means that getting everyone ready and out the door each morning for school and work means finding Johnny’s left sneaker before leaving. The shoe may or may not be found, but often not before dispute and some blaming takes place.
What can a family do to avoid such fallout? The source of conflict as the family sees it at present is Johnny’s ADHD. They are not dealing with the source of the conflict, they are dealing with the fallout. If the family knows that Johnny is prone to losing things, and recognizes this is a part of his ADHD, then the family should in addition to working with Johnny to help him self-manage, but should also find ways in which they can each help circumvent the problem.
Scenario: It is bedtime.
- If Johnny’s right sneaker is beside the stairs and is observed by older sister Julie, then at that moment she should pick up the sneaker and ask Johnny to bring down the other. This may take a while. Once the two sneakers have been reunited, place them both by the door everyone leaves from the next morning. Crises averted.
- In the event that Johnny’s left sneaker has been lost in the abyss that consumes little boy’s left sneakers, have a back-up pair ready and waiting by the door or some other place that is predetermined. Of course, the family – and Johnny- needs to make sure the back-up pair go back to their hiding place. As a natural consequence to help Johnny become more responsible and to self-regulate – the back-up pair should be his least favorite pair of shoes/sneakers.
- Mom, Dad, or Julie could take turns in following up behind Johnny each evening to make sure that his belongings are packed and ready to go. This helps to avoid the morning rush crises.
Accepting the Source of Conflict and Moving Forward
Yes. Johnny’s ADHD is a fact in this hypothetical story. However, it is not the source of the conflict. The true source of the conflict is the family’s lack of adaptability. Johnny has ADHD. This is a concrete fact. Johnny could benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Most children with ADHD respond well to a combination of CBT and the proper mediation. However, and most therapists and parents will agree, medical treatment is trial and error, and there are no overnight fixes.
What this means is the family has to deal with what is. Fighting over what should be at this point is moot, and just complicates matters further. By identifying the real source of the conflict, families can find those easy fixes -and Johnny’s missing left sneaker without all the family drama. Seeking help from a mental health therapist could benefit Johnny’s parents; however, it could also present a red herring. Families often seek mental health counseling for family problems because they do not realize there are other options such as conflict resolution which may be more cost effective and less stigmatizing than atteniding therapy. .
Foley, Marie. “A Comparison of Family Adversity and Family Dysfunction in Families of Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Families of Children without ADHD.” Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing 16, no. 1 (January 2011): 39–49. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6155.2010.00269.x.
Friesen, John D. “Theories and Approaches to Family Counselling.” International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling 18, no. 1 (March 1, 1995): 3–10. doi:10.1007/BF01409599.
Hofmann, Stefan G., Anu Asnaani, Imke J.J. Vonk, Alice T. Sawyer, and Angela Fang. “The Efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Review of Meta-Analyses.” Cognitive Therapy and Research 36, no. 5 (October 1, 2012): 427–40. doi:10.1007/s10608-012-9476-1.
“Managing Anxiety in Children With ADHD Using Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy – Emma Sciberras, Melissa Mulraney, Vicki Anderson, Ronald M. Rapee, Jan M. Nicholson, Daryl Efron, Katherine Lee, Zoe Markopoulos, Harriet Hiscock,.” Accessed May 5, 2017. http://journals.sagepub.com.contentproxy.phoenix.edu/doi/abs/10.1177/1087054715584054.
 John D. Friesen, “Theories and Approaches to Family Counselling,” International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling 18, no. 1 (March 1, 1995): 3–10, doi:10.1007/BF01409599.
 Marie Foley, “A Comparison of Family Adversity and Family Dysfunction in Families of Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Families of Children without ADHD,” Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing 16, no. 1 (January 2011): 39–49, doi:10.1111/j.1744-6155.2010.00269.x.
 Stefan G. Hofmann et al., “The Efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Review of Meta-Analyses,” Cognitive Therapy and Research 36, no. 5 (October 1, 2012): 427–40, doi:10.1007/s10608-012-9476-1.
 “Managing Anxiety in Children With ADHD Using Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy – Emma Sciberras, Melissa Mulraney, Vicki Anderson, Ronald M. Rapee, Jan M. Nicholson, Daryl Efron, Katherine Lee, Zoe Markopoulos, Harriet Hiscock,” accessed May 5, 2017, http://journals.sagepub.com.contentproxy.phoenix.edu/doi/abs/10.1177/1087054715584054.
When a couple with children decide that it is time to divorce it is important for them to remember they are not divorcing their children, nor are they divorcing their shared role as parent. The decisions parents make regarding how they will share parenting can lead to depression, anxiety, acting out behaviors, and even suicide. In divorce and family mediation, couples come to the table more often than not with unresolved conflict regarding what went wrong with the marriage and who is at fault. Many times, by the time a divorcing couple make it to mediation, one of them has already moved on to another relationship or moved to a new location. New problems are added to the equation and must be resolved before getting to what is really important in these mediations: the children.
Today more parents are deciding on shared parenting or joint custody. It is also not uncommon for fathers to want a 50/50 arrangement, literally split-custody. With this type of arrangement, the child or children have room and belonging in both parents’ homes, and they alternate either every other day, or 3 days out of four with alternating weekends. While this may seem the equitable thing to do for the parents, it can be quite traumatizing for the children.
When there are unresolved issues brought to the table, this already complicated arrangement can become even worse. For example, if the arrangement is every other day, but the father has moved to a new location that requires a 30-minute drive to pick the child or children up from school on “his” day, it may seem unreasonable for the mother to demand that the children remain in afterschool activities that run well into the evening, thus cutting into the father’s ability to have home time with the children.
Taking Parents Out of the Equation, Makes for Better Parenting
There are times when a couple have been separated for several months and the other parent is in a new relationship. The primary care parent, the legal address of the children for school purposes, may insist that the new significant other not be allowed to be in the other parent’s home while the children are there. While this may seem to not affect the children, it does indirectly so, because it is sure to create conflict in the parent’s new relationship which is bound to affect time spent with the children.
Other issues that arise in these types of arrangements is that one or both parents may take an entirely regimented attitude toward the arrangement. What this means is that there is limited to no flexibility for special occasions. For example: Tuesday night is Dad’s night with the children. However, it is also the night where he has a business dinner he has been told he must attend. Mom does not agree with the request to switch nights, she has her Tuesday night with “the girls” and Dad will just have to give up the dinner or get a sitter for the children.
For the Sake of the Children
It is impossible to foresee every type of situation that can arise that will negatively impact children with a shared arrangement such as this. Some courts frown upon this arrangement, recognizing that it is disruptive to the child’s routine. However, those that do not, and these types of arrangements are allowed, typically see families back within a year or two for modifications to the arrangements.
It is for these types of situations that some courts require divorcing parents wait year after separation before divorcing and making any legal decisions regarding custody and child support. Other requirements may be that parents attend a divorcing parents’ child custody class. An increasing number of courts require that divorcing parents go through mediation before filing for divorce through the courts.
While all of these are measures created and installed to prevent emotional trauma to the children and to promote a greater sense of stability, it is all still up to the parents to make the arrangements work.
There is generally very little doubt that divorcing parents genuinely love their children, and do genuinely want what is in the child or children’s best interest. However, when one is angry, resentful, or experiencing jealousy it is difficult to see any part of that parent as in the best interest of the children.
Serving the best interest of the children during divorce is difficult, because emotions do get involved. It is important for parents to realize how very vulnerable their children are and that the loss of the sense of family can be quite devastating.
Before taking the issue of divorce and child custody before the courts, parents may benefit from individual, or couple’s counseling expressly geared toward divorcing couples. Getting anger, resentment, and jealousy out of the way, and off the table before attending mediation will save so much heartache for both the parents and the children down the road. It is important not to forget about the children while sorting through marital conflict, it would also benefit the children to see a counselor, an outside party and a safe place to talk about their emotions. Parents should also keep a close watch on their children for warning signs of depression. The best thing a divorcing couple can do for their children is to put their needs first, and let them know that you are not divorcing them, or your shared role as parent.
For a free consultation contact Dr. Burnett-Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org
Is your workplace a toxic environment? If there is more than one person per week out sick in your department, chances are it is. Before I left teaching one of the primary problems was the inability to take an actual sick day. You know, the kind when you are really sick. If I needed to take a sick day for myself or to attend to my daughter, my ethical compass would steer me away from that decision. My daughter and I ended up in school many times when we were unwell. This did, I admit, cause some resentment towards peers who seemed to take an average of at least two days off per month. While my sick days were building up, so was my stress level.
Cognitively, I understood why there were so many teachers out each week. Yet, I did not see the district or my school in particular doing anything to fix the problem. None of these teachers were bad teachers. It is just that education has gotten to the point that what is actually taught is irrelevant, and as long as students can be trained to pass tests like seals jumping through hoops, we do not need to invest a great deal of time immersing them into complicated plot lines, or delving into characters to determine motive. No, all we have to do is to make sure students are able to accurately identify which key term is associated with a cold passage read, and viola! We have done our jobs.
The sick days were needed because the toxicity of the school environment, of the district expectations which do not at all seem fitting with what I observed at the state or national level. So, the sick days are real because creativity is atrophying at lightning speed for teachers in our schools.
On any given Friday as many as 25 teachers were out of a total of 290. That is nearly 10% of the teaching staff. By Wednesday each week what I began to call the “guilt” emails were circulating letting teachers know how many had already asked for Friday off. These emails ran up stress levels for many, myself included. You see, when my students came to my class after having at least one sub, and at times two on Friday, they were bored and restless. However, I had an engaging lesson ready to go, or more than likely an essay test or some activity to assess what was learned that week. Yes, even though their course scores did not factor into how well I was doing as a teacher, I knew that how they were doing in my class did matter to them.
My soldering on ended up getting the better of me, however, because I was not taking time off from an environment that was becoming increasingly toxic. The overall lack of trust between administration and teachers was palpable, and it was permeating what had once been strong bonds between teachers. How can you trust your colleagues when you are having to lose your planning period at least once per week to cover their classes; and sometimes, when you are sick yourself?
When situations like this occur in schools or other work environments, it is not because the teachers or employees are bad people, or are even irresponsible people. It is because leadership has either brought or introduced a toxin into the environment. When people love and are excited about their jobs, they do not miss work. There was never one meeting with the faculty at large or with individual departments to talk about the illness that was causing the need for sick days. There was no leadership accountability.
When the work environment is toxic, it is trickle down. Toxic leadership leads to a toxic environment. Teachers need to be allowed their creativity for more than meeting a lettered standard. Good teachers meet those standards every day without having to write them on a board, or put them into a formalized lesson plan.
If chefs in the finest restaurants were told they all had to cook the same meals on the same days, and that they had to survey restaurant patrons to collect data to determine if they were going to be allowed to be chefs anymore…they would take sick days too.
One of the reasons for toxicity in the work environment is a lack of true diversity and inclusion. The current climate of many schools is that teachers are supposed to be the same, what I call Stepford Teachers, yet they are to differentiate the “standard fare” for their diverse classrooms so that every student can learn the same thing, and be able to apply it in the same way on a standardized test. That class is an example of a paradox.
If teachers cannot be diverse – using their individuality, their uniqueness and creativity – to diversify the lessons organically, then the entire concept of differentiation is missed. Teachers become teachers because they are creative people who have a desire to share their knowledge with others. Their knowledge, not what has been boxed and properly labeled for them.