Gender roles – Masculine versus Feminine

gender roles

What are little boys made of?

What are little boys made of?

Slugs and snails

And puppy-dogs’ tails,

That’s what little boys are made of.

What are little girls made of?

What are little girls made of?

Sugar and spice

And everything nice,

That’s what little girls are made of.

What Are Little Boys Made Of?” c. 1820

I remember hearing the above nursery rhyme as a child and not thinking much about it. Now a days, this popular nursery rhyme is considered sexist and misandrist. Oh how our culture has changed over the decades!

As a girl, I did display feminine characteristics by playing with Barbie dolls, wearing my Sunday best dress to church, and messing around with Mom’s make-up. However, I also recall slamming POGS, climbing trees and wanting to be the first female in MLB (NOT softball) – masculine characteristics. My room growing up maintained neutrality by having sea-foam green walls with a seashell border… no indication of gender. My parents allowed me to discover who I am as a person, regardless of my gender.

However, not all of my friends received the gender free upbringing that I enjoyed. My girl friends had pink or purple rooms and wore more dresses/skirts than blue jeans. My boy friends had hunting decor or baseball themed rooms with GI Joe figurines as their “dolls”. As children, our parents instill a certain way how a girl and boy should be. On top of the influence we receive from our parents, media reinforces the gender biased belief system via magazines, TV shows, movies, and advertisements.

So, what does all this gender stuff have to do with anything? A lot! I hear often from parents how boys should not cry and to “man up”. If boys are taught to not show the emotion of sadness, how can they relay to their future spouse a concern? Quite often, they relay the concern through another emotion: anger. As for girls, we are told to be submissive and learn how to cook, clean and take care of children. What happens when a female decides to choose a career lifestyle over being a caregiver at home? They are viewed as abnormal and a selfish “b word”.

Being aware of our gender biases may help our thinking and future choices on how to raise children. There is nothing wrong with being gender biased or free… After all, it is a choice! Just how would you like your child to fit a particular mold?

Check out these gender roles tests to see how you view gender:

For women – http://psychologytoday.tests.psychtests.com/take_test.php?idRegTest=3250

For men – http://psychologytoday.tests.psychtests.com/take_test.php?idRegTest=3249

Experiencing Grief

Experiencing GriefGrief is a reaction to a loss that can consist of a variety of behaviors, feelings, and thoughts, and is experienced in a different way by each person according to his or her gender, culture, background, beliefs, personality, and relationship to the loss or deceased. People not only experience grief  through someone being deceased, but when they experience the loss of  a job, go through a divorce, custody battle, failing a something, loss of a pet, reposition of car or house, or in a relationship. Feelings common to grief are yearning and sadness. Anger, regret, guilt, and a sense of worthlessness may be present also. There may be some that  gret,guilt,hrough a divorce, feel a sense of release, liberation or deliverance. Sentiments may be unforeseen in their strength or mildness, opposite to the expectations of the griever; they can as well be confusing, for example overlooking a painful relationship. It may carry on anywhere from a few weeks to years even, and it is typically different for each event or relationship. It is also rather common to be able to feel happiness, satisfaction, and humor even amidst the most horrible loss. Factors that can contribute to soothing grief can include a strong social support group, hopefulness, and physical exercise. A majority of people recover from their grief periods and carry on with their normal routine and activities, at the same time still feeling moments of sadness, for a few more months. Some people feel better after about a year to a year and a half. For others, their grief may be last a while longer, ongoing for years with no improvement or without any breaks, and this may be due to issues before the loss.

Around this time of year a lot of people grieve for loss love ones, it is the holiday season and the person you miss most is no longer with you. I myself  remember spending the holidays with my grandmother and grandfather at huge family gatherings. Now the holiday season has not been the same since their passing, but we have continued as a family to have our holiday gatherings. We may not all show up on the same holiday as we would usually, but we do set out a few days in a year to unite as one and remember from whence we came. We stand on knowing that throughout the holiday season it is a time for healing, deliverance, forgiving and giving.

If you or someone you know is experiencing grief here are some things you can do for yourself or others doing this holiday season:

Make a phone call or send a card. Cook something and deliver it personally.

Be a good listener and allow for them to express themselves.

Do not pass judgement.

Be encouraging. Encourage them to take time to deal with their situation. Whether it is a divorce, loss of  employment, loss of a family member,etc., everyone should be able to take time to just sit and think about what’s next and what’s to come without experiencing pressure from other things that may be troubling.

Have patience, getting through grief will not happen over night.

Volunteer your time. In return they may do the same.

Let’s Get Him Involved in Our Family

FFC image for Lets Get Him Involved in our Family

I remember growing up with five brother and three sisters.  We lived in a four bedroom home in a little country town of North Carolina.  My father worked from sun up till sun down to provide for us.  My mother was a home-maker.  Yes, she made the home what it was.  Although she did not work in the corporate world, she worked constantly around the clock caring and praying for us daily.  My siblings and I never “missed a beat.”  We always had food to eat, clothes to wear, transportation, and a home to live in.  Don’t get me wrong; we had our struggles too. Sometimes we would hear our parents discussing and sometimes arguing about how we were going to make it.  If someone asked me today, how we made it, I would have a one word answer. God! It was nobody but God!  You see my parents were believers of faith.  They just believed if they put their trust in God, everything would be alright.  We sometimes thought our mother was crazy. She would always be praying.  She would pray in the morning, at noon, and through the night. Of course this was not literally but it was often.  She prayed without ceasing.  She prayed that God’s will be done in her marriage and with our family.  I must admit that we all turned out okay. Five out of nine of us made it through college. Most of us got married and raised families. But the greatest miracle was that we all are born again Christians. What am I trying to say?  I am trying to say that no matter how tough your life gets. No matter how tough the struggle in your marriage, with your family or on your job gets.  You can always come out on top. If we can learn to include God in every aspect of our life, though it may look dim and dark at times, we can be victorious.  Make your mind up today that you will give Christ a chance to walk with you through your tough times. If you get involved in His life, He will get more involved in yours. You and your family’s effort plus God’s involvement equals winning! You will never know until you try…

Characteristics of a Healthy Relationship

Characteristics of a Healthy Relationship Our most particular relationships are those that bring us closer to others- our friends, partners, spouses, parents and children. Such an intimacy is the most rewarding and often the most demanding of human involvements. The giving of ourselves to others, sharing thoughts, feelings, experiences, and sexual pleasures touch the essence of what it means to be human. Healthy relationships are characterized by respect, sharing and trust. They are based on the belief that both partners are equal, that the power and control in the relationship are equally shared.

Some of the characteristics of a healthy relationship are:

Respect – listening to one another, valuing each other’s opinions, and listening in a non-judgmental manner. Respect also involves attempting to understand and affirm the other’s emotions.

Trust and support – supporting each other’s goals in life, and respecting each other’s right to his/her own feelings, opinions, friends, activities and interest. It is valuing one’s partner as an individual.

Honesty and accountability – communicating openly and truthfully, admitting mistakes or being wrong, acknowledging past use of violence, and accepting responsibility for one’s self.

Shared responsibility – making family/relationship decisions together, mutually agreeing on a distribution of work which is fair to both partners. If parents, the couple shares parental responsibilities and acts as positive, non-violent role models for the children.

Economic partnership – in marriage or cohabitation, making financial decisions together, and making sure both partners benefit from financial arrangements.

Negotiation and fairness – being willing to compromise, accepting change, and seeking mutually satisfying solutions to conflict.

Non-threatening behavior – talking and acting in a way that promotes both partners’ feelings of safety in the relationship. Both should feel comfortable and safe in expressing him/herself and in engaging in activities.

I believe that there are many other healthy things that can make a relationship better, it just depends on what works best for you and your partner.

Megan’s Divorce Rant

I love my job as a marriage counselor and praise God everyday for being able to do it. One of the downsides of my life’s work is dealing with divorce or pending divorce. Divorce is a destructive force with a root of selfishness and immaturity. Marriage is not about two separate people taking care of their own agendas. It hurts God, it hurts your children ( even adult ones), the family and the church. A bad childhood and bad relationships are not an excuse to treat someone badly. According to various clients justifiable reasons include: boredom, sexual incompatibility, pornography, financial selfishness, missing an ex, emotional affairs I can go on. Everyone of those “reasons” is about selfishness and immaturity. The children affected by this always wonder why can’t adults be nice or considerate like they are told to be. Adults be adult. If you are facing issues in your marriage don’t wait until the last minute to get help, don’t look outside your marriage, don’t start “alternative” lifestyles. Go to a professional, a minister, a mentor couple, a group, something and get help. Pray together about improving your marriage. And when God sends you the help you need, grow up and listen! Stop making things harder than they have to be. Leaving usually does nothing but spread the passion, selfishness and immaturity. Little will change in your new relationship. Why? Because without God and other interventions you are still you and likely to carry the same destruction and insecurity with you.

Gottman Sound Relationship House Part 5

gottman 5The next level in Gottman’s Sound Relationship House is called the Positive Perspective. Gottman says that happy couples have Positive Sentiment Override, meaning that they view their spouse in a positive way. Neutral actions are interpreted with positive meanings, and even negative actions are interpreted as “she’s just having a bad day.” In contrast, unhappy couples tend to have Negative Sentiment Override. Positive actions by the spouse are interpreted to have manipulative motivation, and neutral actions are thought to be negative.

For example, think of this common event: a husband walks in the door and says, “hi Honey, I’m home.” A wife with positive sentiment override will assume that the husband’s intention in saying this is to show that he’s happy to be home with her. A wife with negative sentiment override might assume he’s announcing his arrival so that she will make him dinner and tend to his whims.

In both cases, the reality of his motivation (maybe he’s happy, maybe he wants dinner, or maybe it’s just a matter of fact statement that he’s home) is not relevant. It’s her perception of him that matters in how satisfied she is in her relationship. And it goes both ways: husbands also have either positive or negative sentiment override as well.

So how can you have a more positive sentiment about your spouse? The answer is in having “money” in the “relationship bank.” This is done by working on the previous levels of the house: knowing each other’s inside worlds, showing fondness and admiration, turning toward each other instead of away, and accepting influence from your spouse. If you find that you have a negative sentiment override toward your spouse, work on the lower levels. Get to know each other, find what you like and appreciate about each other, find a way to be partners together.

As always, I strongly recommend The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, by John Gottman.