Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Relationships are complex. We are not born into a world where we can choose our families, and in some respects, we are not of the ability to choose to whom we are attracted.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t lines. 

About 20 years ago, I attended a party at a convention in which my fellow attendees and I were required to wear colored dots on our name badges. There were three colors, each indicating a certain aspect. One color indicated that the wearer was straight, one that the wearer was gay and the other to indicated that the wearer was bi-sexual. In many ways, it made the evening very fun and easy-going because everyone knew where everyone else stood in the sexual arena. Almost everyone at the party was single, and the system was designed to promote a hassle-free environment wherein a heterosexual like myself could mingle and flirt without worrying that I might be made uncomfortable by someone of the same sex hitting on me.

Would that the world was this way. That no one had to be made uncomfortable or to deny who they were because of their sexual orientation and that it might offend another. For now, we live our lives in a tenuous web of interpersonal relationships that may or may not make us uncomfortable or self-demonizing. Generally, we live in an uneasy harmony.

There is a group asking for a seat at that table, and to be honest, I’d rather hit them with the chair than offer it to them as a place to rest.

At a recent conference, a group called B4U Act was discussing the rights of the pedophile. No, you read that right. They were holding a discussion on the best ways to normalize the attraction to minors. Jacob Breslow, a gay-rights activist and a speaker at the conference, said that there should be no stigma associated with the attraction to children. In fact, Breslow suggested that consent from a child wasn’t necessary for a minor-attracted person to perform a sex act on “it” anymore than one need seek permission to perform a sex act on a shoe. His discussion, from the firsthand accounts of those who were there, seemingly advocated that child rape was “natural” and should be condoned.

Read that again. He advocated that child rape was “natural.”

My sons, from their first breaths, have relied on me to be a protector. In fact, I feel that role is placed upon me for all children simply by virtue of being a parent. As a person who has investigated the crime of commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes dealing with children, I am acutely aware of the psychology of the predator. I am also acutely aware of the sexual development of children. I remember my own feelings around age 12 and 13 for girls who were my age and older. I get that the pre-teen years and especially the teen years are a time of sexual awakening as we discover through constant trial and error who we are as individuals and begin on our path to adulthood. But I also knew, at the age of 13, that feelings of sexual attraction to an 8-year-old would be abnormal. (Just to be clear – I have never been attracted to children) It wasn’t just because society had implanted a normative feeling that attraction to minors was a sexual taboo, but it came from an innate sense that certain milestones happen at certain ages. That our bodies become biologically available for sex at certain ages.

That those ages were not early childhood. 

Courts in Texas have ruled that children who are not of the age of consent are not able to be criminally prosecuted if lured into commercial sex acts. This wasn’t done to promote the commercial sexual exploitation of children, but to shield them from the justice system once they have been victimized by child predators. But it was not an arbitrary ruling. There is a point at which we, as a society, must set limitations on behavior that is destructive.

The pedophile community argues that it is no different than homosexuals. They use the same argument that such behavior is not learned or chosen, but rather part of their inherent emotional makeup. I think the same argument could be made for a serial killer. Clearly, a serial killer is a deviant individual who takes pleasure in some way from the murder of another person. Yet, the murderer is robbing that person of their rights and without asking for any kind of consent. The child predator does the same. It seeks a sexual encounter with a non-consenting child who may or may not fully understand the concept of sex.

This group is small, but it is active. It’s active in the scientific community, pushing the boundaries of “acceptable sex.” I’m far from one to dwell on the inner workings of a couple’s boudoir, and that means if they get down while dressed up like Big Bird and Barney, far be it from me to scoff at what gets them off. Once that activity becomes a danger to children – who these pedophiles claim are rarely sexually assaulted or forced into a sex act – it’s no longer a question of what is permissible in the sexual arena. It’s a matter of protection. This is not about repression. When a child reaches adulthood, they should have the support of the community to have a vibrant and fulfilling sex life. Until that time, however, we must draw a line in the sand.

Pedophilia must never find footing in civil society.

I spend a fair amount of time in my car and online, though thankfully for other drivers, not at the same time. Recently, I’ve been listening to the tales of woe that come from dating in our present time and, more specifically, guys giving advice to women on topics ranging from dress, behavior, sex and more. I find that I am continually at odds pretty much with all of these men and that baffles me. Am I the odd man out?  For your reference, readers, I point you to this Yahoo! article, The Bert Show on Q100 (primarily Atlanta, but nationally syndicated), and I am sure there are others. So here I present my answers from a distinctly different male point of view.

Q:  When should I tell a guy that I am a single mom?

A: Right now. In fact, if you can have it printed on a T-shirt to wear on dates, that’d be great. No one – not even women who date single fathers – want to be surprised by this information ever. Some men are not built to be dads, and some men are not yet ready to be dads. You don’t want either of those guys in your life. Not because they are not handsome, cool, or making you feel great, but a man needs to be accepting of the “whole woman.” The fact that you are a mother is a HUGE part of who you are. Does this lessen the dating pool? Sure. But first and foremost, you must place you and your child out there. Even though your ex may be a great father, the role that this man might play in your life is significant and you don’t want someone who can’t handle that role, who can’t navigate the relationship with your ex, and who can’t find the way to put you first in his life to be in yours.

Q:  My breasts are natural, but I can afford and am willing to go get breast enhancements. My husband tells me that I don’t need to, but I see him looking at other women’s breasts all the time. Why?

A:  Little secret? They’re boobs. Guys like boobs, all shapes, all sizes. There’s a great line from the recent movie “Friends with Benefits” starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. Kunis’ character looks down at her chest and says, “Really? I think they’re kind of small.” Timberlake replies, “Thy’re still boobs.” Truer words have never been spoken. Men are visually aroused far more than women. For those who are attracted to breasts (we all seem to have quirks as to what fires our attraction cylinders.), large boobs are like colorful billboards. Just because you see the ad doesn’t mean you are going to go buy the product. I know that many times for me, it’s been purely reactive. I am aroused by the female form. This has nothing to do with the attraction or level of love I have for my wife. It’s physiochemical, not a matter of wanting something different than what you have. In the same way that my wife can look at Bono and say, “I find him terribly attractive,” and not go on a four-country stalkfest of the guy because she’s married to me, I can appreciate that another woman is attractive without actually desiring that woman.

Q:  Can men in committed relationships truly believe that sex is meaningless?

A:  Yes and no. Can we have meaningless sex? From a moral standpoint, no. From an emotional standpoint, probably. Though I can’t, not really. And I would argue that many, many, men are more affected by sex than they admit. I have to be honest that I have never been the “hit it and quit it” type of guy who goes bar prowling for chicks on a regular basis. I’ve tried to act naturally on the attractions of people who I knew something about before diving straight in to a sexual relationship. Perhaps I am a product of the 80’s when we were learning that random sex could kill you; maybe it’s just that I have always been a Don Juan-style romantic. I do know guys who claim that they repeatedly have sex with women just for the hook-up itself, but I would note that most of these men are heading into their mid-late thirties and early forties and have yet to truly have meaningful relationships. There’s something to be said for the first time you have sex with a person – it’s all excitement and adrenaline. But I will tell you that the best sex I’ve had in life has come from being in a committed relationship where the rhythmic patterns of emotion merged and made it a truly transcendent event. That just doesn’t happen in one-night stands. So before you take advice from the “cad-about-town,” consider asking a few guys who have been married for 15 years or more and are still devoted to their partner.

Q:  How long should I wait to call a guy after a first date?

A:  The “rules” on this sort of thing vary from magazine to magazine and all of them are terribly, terribly stupid. Call him whenever you want. Text him the next day. If you like the guy, let him know. I’m not saying become crazy-stalker woman, but let him know how you feel. If he brought you flowers, thank him for the flowers when you look at them the next day. He’ll appreciate knowing that his gift made you happy. It’s as simple as that. No mind games, no odd “laws of dating’ treatise. And you should expect the same from him. If a guy is playing those sorts of games, run, because he’s not treating you as an equal. He’ll treat you like a doormat.

Q:   This was one of the actual quotes from the Yahoo! article: “If she has to be at work at 6am and uses the hair dryer, it wakes me up. Then, just when I get back to sleep. She is wearing her heels in the bathroom and the kitchen. Click. Click. Can’t you wear slippers?” -Pablo”

A:  This really sums up most of the issues guys had in the Yahoo! article. If this is your guy, or if he sounds like ANY of the guys in that article, flee. Get a new ID, color your hair and find a new part of town because that guy, he’s everything that’s currently wrong in men-women relationships. First, Pablo – if she’s getting her butt up to go to work at 6AM, it’s because she either HAS to work or she has a career. Unless you just came off the late shift, get the hell outta bed and make that chick some breakfast instead of bitching about the fact that she has to put herself together like a knight donning armor because we – men – have pretty much made it so that she has to do all these things just to be accepted. Make no mistake – she’s not tuning up her brain with that hair dryer, she’s getting her hair ready so that she will be seen as feminine. She’s also probably putting the same investment in herself when she goes out with you, idiot. So deal with it. Second, really? This is what peeves you about your woman? What I wouldn’t give for my life to be so uncomplicated, you worthless, douchey excuse for a human.

Q:  My boyfriend wants to go “Dutch” on everything, but I think he should be paying when he asks me out. What do you think?

A:  For a couple of dates, especially if you were friends first, this is acceptable. But I’m old-fashioned when it comes to this. If you take a woman out, you pay. If it’s dinner and a show, you pay for both. Now, I am highly disturbed that many women are looking for “the successful man” because many times it’s code for “I want a guy to give me stuff” and that’s just not right. Perhaps its my Southern upbringing, perhaps I just believe my father to be the greatest gentleman I’ve ever know, but if you are a prime specimen of manhood, you buy. It’s like opening doors – it’s not something that’s done to be condescending and it’s not done because women are “the weaker sex.” It’s done to show you care, to show respect and mostly, to show that you value that person. Further, it’s been my experience that if you want to impress a woman, it’s not just that you pay for dinner, it’s that you are going the extra mile to make her feel special. Like anything in life, the more you put into her, the more you will get from her. Okay, that sounds sketchy. But invest, gents. Invest in her.

Q:  Do gentlemen really prefer blondes?

A:  Yes. Also, brunettes and redheads. And women with black hair, pink hair, blue hair, no hair and hair half-shaved. Pretty much any color hair. Pretty much women.

Q:  My boyfriend and I have been dating for seven years. When we talk about marriage, he says he’s just not ready. When will he be ready?

A:  Never. There are exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, he just doesn’t want to marry you. And the exceptions are so extreme, it’s a million to one that you are not it. He’s afraid that constitutes a binding commitment and it does. If he moves to that position, he can’t just leave you when he decides he’s unhappy. Unfortunately, all of that – it’s him, not you. And when he leaves you, that’s what he’ll tell you and he’s not lying. If you have been with someone long enough to outlive a bankruptcy or long enough to pay off a mortgage, you know whether or not that person is “the one.” In fact, you most likely knew years ago but have become co-dependent and unable to move to something better. And by better, I don’t mean that you, ladies, aren’t worthwhile; it means people are only happy with who they are happy with. If your mate isn’t willing to formally become your mate, there’s an unspoken issue between you. Best confront it now.

Q:  My husband has cheated on me twice. We separate for a bit, but I keep taking him back. I don’t want the kids to be without a father. What should I do?

A:  Divorce. Now. I wouldn’t tolerate a single instance of infidelity, but I can see forgiving someone for a single mistake. But he did it again, so he clearly didn’t learn his lesson. It’s much, much tougher to divorce when there are children and it’s a good idea to consider them before taking any action which might upset their view of familial relations. But look at what you are doing – you are basically demonstrating to them that it’s OK for their dad to treat you like crap. To lie to you, to betray you in the most personal way possible. That guy, though he may have fathered great kids, is a loser and half a man. You need to leave him now. Especially if you have daughters, because they will see their father’s behavior as normal and it’s not. It’s reprehensible. In my days as a private investigator, I had a case of a woman who hired my firm to investigate her husband to see if he was cheating on her. He was. We know because before I got the case, other investigators in our firm had caught him twice. I caught him twice more. Every time he would promise to go to church, counseling, be a better man, but he wasn’t. I’m not sure he could stop. What I do know is that she was not important to him. She represented stability in his life, not the equality of a loving partner.

Q:  My husband and I have completely separate accounts. We have divided up the things we each pay for, so I pay for my car and the mortgage. I’m not sure, really, how much money he makes. I think we should have joint accounts, but he says this is the best way.

A:  Some financial analysts will tell you this is the most practical way to handle finances. And I will show you many financial analysts who commit suicide or die alone. Look, you are married; you have joined your lives together. If you cannot combine your finances and trust one another to make financial decisions, the big challenges in life that deal with feelings, emotions and that are life-changing, will suffer. It’s about basic communication. I’ve never done a scientific study, but I have heard this tale from a LOT of divorced women. When it comes to being partners, you become partners. Disjoining part of your life from your partner this way, to me, signals a false sense of commitment. It means that one of you doesn’t trust the other to have spirited financial discussion like adults. It also smacks of “This will be easier to sort out when I leave.” Stephen Covey was fond of promoting his “Begin with the end in mind” philosophy on projects and goals. Yeah, it doesn’t apply to marriages. Anyone who starts out married being worried about how the marriage will end isn’t ready to be married and moreso, doesn’t want to be married.

Q:  I’m a Tennessee Vol gal and my boyfriend is a Florida graduate. We often argue over which is the better SEC team. Is this a problem?

A:  No, as there is a certain amount of smack talk that comes with being an SEC fan. I find that’s actually healthy in a marriage.  Naturally, you are both wrong because LSU is better than either, and at least your prospective mate isn’t an Auburn fan. That could lead to real problems.

Q:  My man would rather look at porn and be “by himself” than come to me and have sex with the real thing. Why is that?

A:  While there is no problem with masturbation, especially within the bounds of marriage, the scenario you present is a problem. It indicates a problem he has with you or with himself that he’s not discussing with you. If this is a one-off kinda happening, I wouldn’t stress over it. If this is a regular occurrence, I would term it as sexual dysfunction and he needs to be honest with you about the cause, even if it’s something you don’t want to hear. Maybe you’ve gained a few pounds and he is no longer attracted to you as much as he was when you first got together. If that’s the case, that’s pretty shallow, but if he’s honest and that’s how he feels, it is probably an issue he can’t control and the two of you seriously need to consider parting ways. I can honestly say that in the years wherein I watched porn, I never turned down sex with the woman with whom I shared a bed.

Q:  Can men and women have friends of the opposite sex when in a committed relationship?

A:  Despite what TV will tell you, my answer is no. I’m sure a whole lotta people will tell me otherwise. It’s almost impossible for men in a relationship to be friends with single women. There’s a high degree of sexual tension there and a natural tendency to confide in that woman as opposed to the woman you are dating or married to. By doing so, you are creating a false intimacy with the woman you are with and very real intimacy with the woman you should not be with. THIS IS HOW MOST AFFAIRS HAPPEN. The woman at work. The woman at the club. My friend from college. The woman at the gym. It’s great to be friends with people, but you can easily go too far.

Now that I have hit this solo, perhaps the next time we do this, I’ll ask a couple of other gents to weigh in. I would appreciate it if all hate mail was addressed to British Airways, Greenwich.