Sketching on a Danger Day

suicide sketch

I know that this isn’t technically a “My Opinion Monday Monthly” article, but this feels like the right place for this particular post. As you may or may not recall, I have spoken many times in previous MOMM articles that I have depression and anxiety. As someone who has struggled with self harm for twelve of my twenty-four years (a.k.a half of my entire life)… I have what I call “danger days.” These are days in which I am in danger of relapsing and harming myself.
I am extremely self-aware. I can tell when depression is coming and I can tell when I am in danger of making a poor choice. Not everyone is able to gain control of themselves and handle mental illness in this way, and for that I am extremely thankful. It took me several years to develop this sort of control and a clear enough mentality to be good to myself. My son is the biggest motivator behind that strength.
But this post isn’t about bragging about my ability to divert a catastrophe. I’m not here to tell you that for nearly two weeks I’ve spent most of my alone time crying and staring out windows. I’m not here to detail everything about the way I suffer depression. Instead, I’m just here to share a piece that I had originally posted to my personal social media. I felt that sharing it here is just important. Not just because I am in awe of how great my sketch turned out – humblebrag – but also because I want to encourage more people to think of alternatives to self-harm.
See – the thing about depression is that no matter how big of a smile you wear or how many reasons you have to be happy or how much medication you are on… Sometimes you wake up and you just feel as though you are going to suffocate when you breathe. When you have depression there are always going to danger days – times when suicide sounds is more plausible than staying in bed all day pretending that you’re dead. Because sometimes pretending just feel like enough anymore…
And painful as it is for me to admit any sort of weakness (something I know I need to work on in my personal life) – danger days are my greatest weakness. I never want to announce when I’m having them and I never want to talk about them. I have an aversion to acknowledging any sort of emotion – because I hold myself to an unfair standard that I’m too stubborn to change. As such, I simply suffer my danger days silently with crazy laughs and silly grins. I think that many people who have self-harmed know exactly what it is I am saying here.
My hyperawareness allows me to prevail over the blackhole of sorrow in my gut that I cannot control. This is not true for everyone, as much as I wish it were. The ability to detect the appeal of committing suicide and finding a way to rid of it from your heart, mind, and soul – one never really can perfect it. However, simply telling yourself to do something else – and then just doing it, no matter how small – that can mean the difference between life and death. Today – sketching instead of cutting may have very well saved my life.

We never know the damage that we can do if we allow ourselves to down within our foulest thoughts. So, waking up and just knowing that today was going worse than previous days – I chose to very plainly acknowledge my feelings. I took what was inside filling my lungs with desperation and pushed it onto the page. I like to think of it as tragically beautiful.

I worked on it from 11:00 A.M. to 3:15 P.M. I was alone from 9:00 A.M. until 3:45 P.M. and I don’t know what I would have done if hadn’t busied myself. Art is special for a lot of people and even if you’re not good at it – just keeping your hands busy will prevent the decision to self-harm. When someone is alone, they are at greater risk for harming themselves. Nobody can be with someone constantly, not unless they are admitted to a mental health facility (which is, unfortunately, not attainable or feasible for many at risk). As such, reaching out to people you know are susceptible to self-harming – asking them to do something small or maintaining a brief conversation. Even texting them for an hour could change their mood enough to prevent an incident – or even a suicide.

My reasoning for my sketch today was that a picture of slit wrists was better than actual slit wrists. I just repeated that to myself the entire time I was working on it – a picture of slit wrists is better than actual slit wrists.
A picture of slit wrists is better than actual slit wrists.
Don’t ask your loved ones to ignore their feelings. Don’t invalidate their suicidal feelings or their self-harming tendencies. Do everything within your power to comfort them, encourage them, and provide care to them. If someone is ever a high risk – call an emergency service. Contact a family member who can admit a minor to a mental health facility or hospital. And if you’re unsure, intervene anyway. You never know if today is the day that your loved one commits suicide.

It is my hope that this post serves as a reminder that mental illness is often suffered quietly. Anyone could be struggling with suicidal thoughts and self-harm. Please be aware of what you’re doing; what you’re saying; and what your loved ones are doing. There are signs that you can watch for, there are behaviors that you can track – there will always be warning signs. Sometimes they are small but they are always there. As I just said, you never know if today is the day that your loved one commits suicide.

Remember – just because someone isn’t wearing depression on their sleeves doesn’t mean that the depression is gone.

Never invalidate sadness. Offer your love instead.

Thank you.

Yours,
ab

 

 
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Sex & Romance Don’t Show Up in Perfectly Wrapped Boxes – SORRY!

Disclaimer:   This MOM article is extremely controversial and could trigger intense opinions and/or feelings. If you do not feel that you can express those opinions/feelings in a polite and respectful fashion, then I highly advise that you do not continue reading. For everyone else that can and will read, please remember that this is an opinion article, although heavily informative.


Sex. Gender. Sexuality.

Do those words tend to make you nervous? Perhaps those words make you uncomfortable? If it makes you feel better, those words all used to make me want vomit. Growing up, I hated identifying with a gender, talking about sex, and identifying my sexuality. All of it – I just wanted to crawl in a door and hibernate until the next generation, or until the apocalypse. Of course, if you asked my family, they’d tell you that my actions strongly contradict that statement, but that’s not really the focus of today’s article. Today I really just want inform and discuss sexuality and romance in great detail because someone out there needs this information.

To start, I want to first make sure that we – as educated humans – understand the difference between gender and sex. I’ve discussed it before in previous articles, but let’s pretend we don’t know for a second. A refresher never hurt anyone, right?

A person’s biology and/or genitals identify that individual’s sex (APA). Now, I know that we will probably need some context here. People will hear ‘sex’ and they think of the verb tense. Before we start getting into that frame of mind let’s just throw that a park, okay?

Sex is determined by genetics. A male has the genetic code “XY” while a female has the code “XX.” There are disorders, such as Turner’s Syndrome, in which the genetic code has been altered. Unfortunately, I am not covering such matters today. A person’s genetic code determines how that individual will react physiologically to medications, surgeries, and hormones. Biology is different for each gender and can help determine how to handle the symptoms of various disorders, illnesses, and treatments. Identifying a person’s sex is incredibly important for medical reasons and should never be “brushed aside” in any circumstance.

A person’s gender is determined by behaviors, attitudes, and feelings (APA). This is a shortened version that isn’t inclusive of the relation to culture, stereotypes, and biology. Gender is something often misconceived. Gender and sex are nonexclusive identifiers. Too often this forgotten and causes hysteria among individuals whom are not accepting or understanding of what separates sex and gender identities.

For example, there’s also the option to identify as transgender/intersex and gender fluid. Transgender, or intersex, occurs under one of two circumstances: 1) the person’s biological sex does not match that person’s gender identity, or 2) the person’s biological sex comprises of both male and female genitals (Dictionary). For example, a person with a penis choosing to identify as a female is transgender. Another example, a person that has breasts and a penis is transgender. Some transgender individuals experience gender dysphoria. Other transgender individuals can be at peace with their bodies and identities, but those who do not overcome the dysphoria can choose to transition.

Transition is just an easier way of saying sexual reassignment surgery, which is a procedure that allows a person to change his or her genitals to the gender desired (Surgery Encyclopedia). There are male-to-female and female-to-male surgeries available. The details of those procedures are best reserved for someone wishing to acquire that information and can be best described by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or physician that is knowledgeable on the topic.

Male, female, and transgender are not the only gender identifiers. There is also the option to be gender fluid. A person who gender fluid chooses to not identify as either male or female but prefers to remain neutral, or changes back and forth between both genders as desired (Dictionary). People who are gender fluid are typically referred to as “gender neutral,” “androgynous,” or “non-binary” depending on which term more accurately describes him, her, or xem.

This leads me perfectly into my next topic – pronouns. So, we have pronouns that we use in association with our gender identity. Males use: he, him, and his. Females use: she, her, and hers. People who are gender fluid prefer to use a different set of pronouns. While there are no linguistically accepted terms currently for fluid identification, there are dozens of options online. Although, the most commonly used conjugations can be found on this Tumblr blog.

For the purposes of this article, I will be using xe and it’s derivatives. I always try to be gender neutral when using pronouns in general, unless I feel that it will hinder the flow of text. Even then, I will often alter my text to avoid gender specific pronouns so that I am being considerate to all audiences.

So, now that we understand gender and sex as well as the various identifications in each category – time to move deeper into the cavern of knowledge! Now we can look at the next tier of sex, romance, and sexuality. Of course, where there is sex and romance there is also attraction. You may or may not realize this, but there are four (or five, depending on who you ask) types of attraction. Since I didn’t even know this until a few months ago – it is extremely vital that I make a short list of each type and what it entails. Let’s go!

Now, since these are relatively new concepts and are just now being explored, many of these sources will be blogs (on Tumblr specifically) that discuss sexuality in great depth for their followers. It’s hard to find professional and scholarly websites that are reliably unbiased on the topic. Even those striving to be informative use negative language. So, based on my research here’s what I’ve found on the different types of attraction:

  1. Sexual: The desire to engage someone sexually based on as many or as few factors as the individual enjoys.
  2. Sensual: The desire to engage someone physically in such a way is not sexual but is still physically satisfying according to the individual’s need. Note that sensual attraction is not sexually suggestive in any way and could possibly be felt towards non-human things, such as a cat, clothing items, blankets, and pillows – to name a few.
  3. Romantic: The desire to engage someone emotionally in such a way that suggests a profound and/or exclusive romantic relationship.
  4. Aesthetic: The attraction to a person devoid of any physical or emotional desire and is based primarily on an individual’s personal preferences. Aesthetic attraction is not unlike playing a game that you are fond of, or watching a television show that you find enjoyable. There is no desire for reciprocation of involvement in any way.
  5. Platonic: The attraction to a person on an emotional level that harbors no desire for any physical reciprocation of those feelings. This attraction is not romantic on any level either. As such, the individual only wishes to maintain a long lasting relationship with the person emotionally. (This form of attraction arguably could be a subsection of Romantic and/or Aesthetic, but some argue it is a separate category because it doesn’t fall exclusively in either category).

(AVEN Wiki & Whes Tumblr)

Many people experience each of these stages as they develop long-term relationships. Understand that not everyone experiences every single form of attraction. The following paragraph (in italics) serves only as an example to better explain the forms of attraction.

Please find no offense if the example does not apply to you ❤

A girl sees a boy at school and thinks he is cute. She finds that she is aesthetically attracted to him, but she doesn’t pursue him because she knows nothing about him. It doesn’t make him less cute, but it doesn’t justify her obsessing over him and wanting a relationship either. A few weeks later she goes to a party and runs into the cute boy from school. They start talking and realize that they have quite a lot in common. Now that she is familiar with him she is platonically attracted to him, being friends works out great because they can learn about each other more. After several months, though, the girl starts to feel differently about her cute guy friend. She wants to hold his hand in the hallways, give him hugs when he wins his sports games, and even kiss him when he’s laughing. The girl is now sensually attracted to him. At the same time, she’s still growing increasingly closer to him. Somewhere around the same time she realizes she desires emotional reciprocation from their friendship she starts to see him romantically. Before long the girl and boy are dating. They are together for several months when they start wanting more than just hugs and kisses. They start craving physical gratification now and soon engage sexually. By this time, the two have worked through each form of attraction, each of which coexists in a bit of a blend throughout the entirety of their relationship.

Hopefully that helps as an example of how each of these forms of attraction work. People can experience all of these, some people experience one of them, and others can experience a blend of some them. It is important to remember that attraction is not a mutually exclusive process. There are no restrictions or inclusions which dictate that you have to experience one and two, or two but not three. Too few people know this – and too few people bother to share the information.

Okay, so you’ve worked through 1600 words now, and I’m sure you’re ready for me to get the “meat and potatoes” (goodness, doesn’t that sound delicious right now?) of the article. Finally, we are going to get in the grit and grime of sex, romance, and sexuality. So let me ask you this – are you aware that there are more than three sexualities, and did you know that sexual and romantic orientations are separate from one another? Luckily, if you don’t, I’m getting ready to break into the simplest terms I can come up with for you.


I am not going to beat around the bush or pretend to transition to the next topic. I’m going to hit hard and go in fast. Be ready because I’m about to info-dump a lot of information that could help you be a better person to the people that you know.

So, first, sexual and romantic identification are separate from one another. Again, there’s so few academic works on this because anything other than heterosexual is just now starting to getting recognized as legitimate. Right now, the culture is growing – booming even – as these individuals’ feelings are becoming valid. I apologize that there aren’t more scholarly references, but the most renown leaders in psychology and sociology were once pioneers in their fields. If you search in Google “sexual and romantic orientation” you find a slew of links to asexual support forums and blogs – all dedicated to validating a person’s sexual or romantic identity.

Knowing that sexual and romantic identification are separate from one another, I believe that now is the perfect time to use a chart to best relay the “spectrum” of potential orientations. I will address this again later in this article, but in spite of how specific I am being in this article know that I am still being very quite general.

Please take no offense if your specific identification is not in this chart ❤

Sexual Orientation Explanation
Asexual Does not experience sexual attraction
Demisexual Experiences sexual attraction under certain circumstances
Graysexual Experiences sexual attraction only after a profound emotional bond has been established with the other individual
Heterosexual Experiences sexual attraction only to the opposite sex
Homosexual Experiences sexual attraction only to the same sex
Bisexual Experiences sexual attraction to only two genders (male & female, possibly male & transgender or female & transgender – although not as common)
Pansexual Experiences sexual attraction to all genders
Romantic Orientation Explanation
Aromantic Does not experience romantic attraction
Demiromantic Experiences romantic attraction under certain circumstances
Grayromantic Experiences romantic attraction only after a profound emotional bond has been established with another individual
Heteromantic Experiences romantic attraction only to the opposite sex
Homoromantic Experiences romantic attraction only to the same sex
Biromantic Experiences romantic attraction to only two genders (male & female, possible male & transgender or female & transgender – although not as common)
Panromantic Experiences romantic attraction to all genders

Technically speaking, this should be a horizontal chart. People refer to the above information as being on a “spectrum” – not too unlike when describing the degree of affliction of Autism. While sexuality and romanticism are not disorders by any stretch of the imagine, it is something which is so broad spanning and under-researched – it makes the most sense to include it on a spectrum for the time being. One of my previous hyperlinks does take you to a website which has the information horizontally, although I disagree with the order because it doesn’t fit the flow of a spectrum.

As with all spectrums, though, there are smaller degrees within that spectrum. (Gosh, I’ve said ‘spectrum’ so many times I’m already sick of typing it. Alas, I have an obligation to be thorough so I’ll keep on throwing it in wherever it is necessary.)… To start, I’m going to move from asexuality/ aromantic to pansexuality/ panromantic. Without further adieu, let’s delve deeper, shall we?

Asexuality is easily the most diverse portion of the spectrums, ironically enough. This is because technically speaking, asexuality is the umbrella term to refer varying levels of interests in sex and involvement in sex, including: asexual, graysexual, or demisexual. The same idea is applied to aromanticism, including: aromantic, grayromantic, or demiromantic). Each of those three are distinctly different from the other but still qualify in some way as asexuality.

In addition to ace/aro, gray, and demi orientations, there are two more classifications that are worth addressing as well. I want to start with Lithsexual and Lithromantic. After I will address autochorissexual (and why people don’t think autochorisromantic is possible).

            Lithsexual? Lithromantic? What could those possibly mean? Well, lithsexuality and lithromanticism means that the individual experiences sexual desire or romantic desire – but – the individual has no desire for those feelings to actually be reciprocated (Wikia). Consider this: a guy and a girl are best friends for years. The girl maintains a steady relationship with one of the guy’s best friends. The guy, however, constantly flirts and makes passes at her – suggesting that they should be in a relationship. It never goes anywhere, though, because the guy is open about the fact that he has no desire to actually engage his friend in that fashion.

            Lithsexuality/ lithromanticism is the notch between graysexuality/ grayromanticism and demisexuality/ demiromanticism. It makes the individual somewhere between the two, but not wholly one or the other. There’s still a lack of desire for participation in sex or romance, but there is some attraction either way. Similarly, there is a step between heterosexual/ heteromantic and demisexual/ demiromantic – and this autochorissexual – maybe-maybe-not autochorisromantic. Ready to talk about that? Too bad – I’m doing it anyway.

You will be hard pressed to find anything on autochorisromanticism because there’s debate as to whether it’s a real thing. I suppose that is up to the individual until sociology and psychology pioneers decide to officially put in a book. Here’s the meaning of autochorissexual, you can compare and determine for yourself… When someone is an autochorissexual they fantasize about sex and sexual acts and even masturbate; however, they don’t harbor a desire to actually engage in sex or sexual activity with others (Wikia). There is a distinct disconnect between feeling the attraction and engaging, which means that the individual identifying as autochorissexual is still a degree of asexual (Wikia).

Arguably, in my personal opinion, autochorissexuality could also be applied to romanticism. When we swap sexuality for romantic, the altered definition becomes: they fantasize about romance and romantic acts and make romantic gestures; however, they don’t harbor a desire to actually have romantic gestures returned or made to them. There are blogs on Tumblr that argue autochorisromance is not a possibility. Some say it’s because autochorisromantic is more akin to sex-repulsion, but rather as romantic-repulsion. Others believe that autochoris- as a prefix is exclusive to sexuality and cannot accurately translate to romanticism. Were autochorisromantic is very similar lithromantic.

If I followed the spectrum left to right we would be discussing heterosexuality and heteromance, but I’ve decided that’s essentially a waste of time. Society has weighed so much on heteronormativity that we are assumed heterosexual until we dictate otherwise, and even then we are not necessarily believed. As I’ve mentioned before in other articles, there’s therapy that exists to “correct” sexualities that are not heterosexuality. So, I don’t really believe that I need to really identify what heterosexuality is, or what heteromance is, because we’ve been fed heteronormativity before we ever took an independent breath. Harsh as that seems, this article isn’t about shedding light on something we already understand but rather to focus on things we do not understand – or worsethat we don’t respect. So, all of that hot-tempered rambling aside, we’re moving right on forward into bisexuality/ biromantic and pansexuality/ panromantic.

As with all things sexuality and romantics these days, there is some question about the difference between bisexuality and pansexuality and their romantic counterparts. I can’t make the decisions for you on what the words mean, but I can talk to you about linguistics. When something doesn’t make sense, we should try to make sense of the individual parts to understand the bigger picture.

So in my mind, there’s no legitimate question as to what the differences are between bi and pan. Prefixes all have a fairly exactly meaning. Now, meanings can and do occasionally change and get altered through time, but not all words will change. Some definitions are pretty concise.

‘Bi,’ as a prefix, means “two” or “twice” when combined to a root word. There is no room for interpretation of a number. Two will always mean two. Twice will always mean twice. And as such, using ‘bi’ as a prefix will always mean that something is halved, or doubled, or split in two ways. That means that bisexuality and biromanticism will always mean attraction sexually or romantically to two genders. In my chart above, I listed the possible combinations for bisexuality and biromanticism.

It may seem strange to look at those options: male and transgender, or female and transgender? But I’ve seen it. People saying that they prefer transgender individuals instead of men or women. Bisexuality including a preference to transgender and one other gender is within the scope. Transgender is a separate gender classification, whether ignorant people want it to be or not, and should be treated as such. There could even be an attraction to females and non-binaries, as an example including a gender fluid individual.

As I said, bisexual and biromantic encompasses only two genders. ‘Pan,’ as a prefix, means “all” when combined to a root word. This is what truly differentiates the two orientations. Pansexuality/ panromantic is an attraction to all gender identifications. A slogan of pan relations is “Love Hearts, Not Parts.” Someone who is pansexual or panromantic will have sex or love anyone regardless of his/her/xe’s genitals.

The argument at its core on bi versus pan is that if a bi prefers trans individuals that a trans is both genders, which could mean bi and pan are comparable terms. But – sorry Charlie – that is not the case, though. A trans person does not see him/her/xem selves as a blend of genders, or two genders existing together. No – transgender people see themselves as a group – entirely separate from male and female and non-binary. Trans is a category all it’s own and those people deserve the respect that males and females get; and non-binaries deserve that respect too, by the way.

And therein lies my opinion, with linguistics backing me up pretty heavily, that bi and pan are different. It’s a step between hetero or homo and pan orientations. There are people in the world that are bisexual/ biromantic choosing that orientation because pan doesn’t fit their interests but neither does hetero or homo. It is something worth something to those people and if they say that they’re bi, respect them. Do not invalidate them by lumping them into pan, or changing their orientation in your mind to fit the partners they have at any given time.

Perception is so weird, isn’t it? Perception is just the inner workings of our brain, our way of connecting dots to things we understand. Our perception gets all messed up because too many people in the world haven’t had the opportunity to see gender fluid role models, they haven’t had access to transgender support, and too often sexuality and romance is only portrayed one way. The easy way.

But that’s just it. Sex and romance is never easy. Love is messy and ridiculous. It’s up, down, backwards, sideways, and diagonal. The only cure for the simple is knowledge. Knowing more let’s us see more; let’s us understand things that we misplaced in our mind palaces. We re-categorize once we have what we need to identify what we see. So here’s knowledge so that you can appropriately identify relationships that you don’t understand. It’s okay to not know, but I don’t want you living in a world where you’ve never been told. So I’m telling you just a little bit more.

The best way to convey information is through stories, or at least that’s my personal belief. So I’m going to detail something in italicized font and then explain in bolded font how to best describe the relationship. And – we start – now!

Keller is sex identified as a male. His chosen gender identity matches his sex. Keller chooses to identify as demiromantic and homosexual. He will have sex with men as he feels the desire to do so, but his romantic inclinations only arise when a very deep emotional and spiritual connection been established. This is called “Mixed Orientation Identity.” Keller’s romantic orientation and sexual orientation do not match. Another term that can be used to identify Keller is varioriented – which is another way of saying that his sexual and romantic orientations do not match.

 

            Bennett is sex identified as a male. His chosen gender identity matches his sex. Chase is a sex identified female. Chase’s chosen identity does not match the assigned sex. Chase prefers neutral pronouns, such as xe, xem, xyr. Bennett is bisexual and biromantic. Chase is pansexual and panromantic. Bennett and Chase engage in a long sexual and romantic relationship that results in a healthy marriage. This is called “Mixed Orientation Relationship.” Bennett and Chase have different orientations but are in a relationship together. Another term that can describe Bennett and/or Chase is perioriented. Each person’s sexual and romantic orientations match (Bennett is bisexual and biromantic, Chase is pansexual and panromantic).

 

            Blake is sex identified as a female. Her chosen gender identity is female. Mel is sex identified as a male. His chosen gender identity is male. Blake and Mel are great friends and have strong feelings for one another but those feelings are neither sexual nor romantic. Blake and Mel have been living together as friends for several years and have committed to a life together with no romantic or sexual implications. Each of them identify as asexual and aromantic. Their relationship is platonic. Blake and Mel identify as platonic life partners. Not unlike people in traditional relationships or marriages, they have decided to help one another emotionally and financially, but they only see themselves as friends.

 

            Jo is a sex identified female. Her chosen gender identity is female. Alex is a sex identified female. Her chosen gender identity is female. Jo and Alex are perioriented asexual individuals. They have no sexual or romantic inclinations towards one another but are close friends. A part of their well-adjusted lives comes from living together and supporting each other emotionally and financially. This is similar to the platonic life partnership but is maintained between two individuals that are of the same sex. This is called queerplatonic. An alternative term is quasiplatonic, or even QP for short.

 

            Erin is sex identified as a female. Erin’s chosen identity is transgender. Erin uses male pronouns but is not pursuing sex reassignment. Quinn is sex identified as a male. Quinn’s chosen identity is transgender. Quinn uses female pronouns and is not pursuing sex reassignment. Erin and Quinn maintain a traditional relationship both romantically and sexually. Upon marriage, Erin and Quinn agree to a monogamous relationship with one another exclusively. This is a closed relationship, or a ‘traditional’ relationship as some may view it. A monogamous relationship is a closed relationship because sexually and romantically two people are exclusively with one another.

 

            Cecil is sex identified as a male. His chosen gender identity is male. Cecil is asexual but heteromantic. Sam is sex identified as female. Her chosen identity is female. Sam is homosexual but heteromantic. Since Cecil does not engage Sam sexually she has sexual relations with Lee. Lee is sex identified female whom is bisexual and biromantic. Cecil and Sam love each other romantically and maintain a stable relationship, but Sam and Lee also have a very healthy sexual relationship. This is an open relationship in which there are open sexual opportunities and romantic opportunities. Polyamory is the identification of one’s orientation if he/she/xe desires to only engage in open relationships.

 

Does that help? I think it helps. By creating realistic people and giving them clear identities and bonds with other realistic people the concepts become, well, real. Chances are that we know couples and partners and friends that fall into these categories in one way or another. Understanding the correct terminology and relationship classifications helps us to better respect our peers and loved ones. It also helps us keep an open mind when meeting strangers. By having an open mind we can extend a level of respect most people who have minority orientations don’t usually expect.

Why don’t people expect that respect, though? Unfortunately, most people do not take the time you are taking today to understand the various sexual and romantic orientations and the different kinds of relationships that exist. There are actual people in the world that do believe sex and romance are packaged neatly into one category: perioriented heterosexuality.

And as a reminder, even as I write this article trying to inform readers about the details – I know that I’m still generalizing. There’s always more.

Yes, you read that correctly. There’s even more to asexuality and aromanticism specifically. I listed Asexual/ aromantic, Demisexual/ demiromantic, and Graysexual/ grayromantic. What I didn’t list was: fraysexual, cupiosexual, placicsexual, abrosexual, and apothisexual. What I didn’t list was: gynoromantic, androgynoromantic, androromantic, neutroisromantic, transromantic, polyromantic, and monoromantic. There’s so much more to sexuality and romanticism than the world has been willing to explore. Psychological and sociological professionals believe that sexuality can be situational, adding deeper degrees to our sexuality.

Let’s go back to Keller from the first story. Keller identifies his sexual orientation as homosexual. But, let’s say because of his demiromantic orientation that he falls in love with a female. Emotionally and romantically the two of them connect very deeply. As the result of that connection Keller finds that he want to have sex with this woman. So even though he identifies as homosexual, he engages in heterosexual sex. Keller only does this because his romantic needs have been fulfilled and sexual desires arose from that relationship exclusively. It could be said that Keller is circumstantially heterosexual. Circumstantial sexualities and romantics could be considered a secondary attraction.

What’s that? What’s a secondary attraction? If there’s a secondary then there must be a primary, right?

And that brings us into the last little bit of information I wish to discuss in this particular article. One’s primary attraction is a reflection of one’s preferred desires. You could equate these to your “standards” for a partner. Going back to Keller again. With him being demiromantic and homosexual that means that his wants are strong emotional bond and male sexual partners. Those are his first factors when engaging someone sexually or romantically. However, when Keller found a woman who met his needs romantically he then found that he could engage in heterosexual sex because of his romantic satisfaction. This is a secondary attraction, which has developed over time as the result of his circumstances. Keller was not forced to change his sexual orientation for the relationship, but his needs and wants changed to reflect his circumstances. People too often forget one vital thing about life, or perhaps they conveniently forget. I guess I don’t care to know which… but…

People change. We make mistakes. We learn lessons. We grow, and we learn. All the time we are changing our clothes, our homes, our jobs, and any other innumerable amount of details about ourselves and in our lives. However, nobody tells us that it’s okay for our sexualities and our romanticisms to change too. It is perfectly acceptable to be heterosexual and heteromantic during one part of your life and to later realize that sex isn’t really your thing, and change your orientation to asexual but heteromantic. Or perhaps you are heterosexual but panromantic for several years, but you quickly find that heterosexuality is limiting your ability to find a stable relationship and broaden your interests before identifying as bisexual and panromantic. So many changes happen in this world, right down to our sex assignments. Before long we will be able to alter genetics manually.

And that’s why I wanted to write this article. Why is it we want to control the way people look and the way people feel with surgeries and medications but we don’t want to acknowledge the wide spectrum of sexuality and romance that exists in the world? I can’t wrap my mind around why it is such a controversial topic. We aren’t deciding life and death by allowing people to love and have sex the way that they want to… but we would deny these people their ability to choose how to make those decisions for themselves? It is all very wrong to me that we can’t let people maintain whatever relationships make them happy. As long as nobody is in emotional, mental, or physical distress – what should it matter to anyone outside of that relationship?

In conclusion – sex and romance are complicated. Love is wild. There’s not a single box in the world that could ever hold all of the different aspects of sex and romance. There is no ribbon long and wide enough to tie it up and put it into a pretty bow of containment. Sex, love, and romance – it’s always going to be as untamed as the ocean. Instead of leaving these people in the dark depths, unknown and unrecognized, why don’t we explore what their world is like? Why don’t we give show these people that we know that they exist…

And that we think it’s wonderful that they do ❤


*I am not using a References section for this article. I have hyperlinked everything within the article for easy access while reading. Normally I would create a hyperlink reference section at the end of the article too, but I nixed it. Express your concerns in the comments below if necessary, and thank you for your understanding.

A List of Charities for Everyday Santa Clauses!

Disclaimer:     I am not a paid advocate for any of these charities/foundations found on this list. The charities listed are either: a) endorsed by celebrities I am familiar with or b) highly regarded by their respective markets. Each section is something that I am passionate about and feel should get more attention in the media. As always, this is an opinion article and should be noted as such.

 

I have decided that this week for “My Opinion Monday” to make a list of things I personally regard as important matters. My focus is on charities for five distinct causes. Be aware that these aren’t the most important causes in the entire world, and they aren’t the most important causes even to me. However, they are important causes to me and things that I believe get overlooked too often in the media today in favor of bigger name charities. If you are the giving type, a tried and true everyday Santa Claus, then please consider donating to any of the following charities:


Autism.

Why it is important to me: Once upon a time, my own child underwent extensive therapy to determine the cause of his severe developmental and social delays. Things went so far as us going to a renowned children’s hospital to see if our child was Autistic. Even though we were able to pinpoint a series of medical issues that were causing the symptoms, not everyone can chalk up the differences in their child to a collective of other issues. I want those families with individuals diagnosed with Autism to have the support that they need and reliable foundations to best help them give their loved ones a quality life.

Why it should be important to you: ONE IN EVERY SIXTY-EIGHT CHILDREN ARE DIAGNOSED WITH AUTISM. Not only does that mean that the chances are incredibly high that you’ve met someone with Autism, but that means if you have children in school – there could be as many as a dozen students in the system that are autistic. No differently than your children or relatives, these children deserve a quality education. Their families also deserve to be extended resources the best ensure their ability to care for their children.

Also, children who are special needs or disabled inevitably are treated differently than their “normal” counterparts. Below I have listed almost verbatim form this website some ways in which disabled and special needs children are treated differently. You should want to prevent that by supporting organizations that will bring awareness and better the experiences of individuals afflicted with a variety of diagnoses, such as Autism.

1) Students with disabilities (or special needs) are more likely to be bullied.

2) Bullying hinders one’s ability to focus and learn.

3) Bullying based upon an individual’s disabilities (or special needs) is harassment.

4) Disability Rights qualifies as a Civil Rights matter as dictated by federal law.

5) On a state law level as well, there is legal recourse for bullying of disabled (and special needs) students.

6) Adult intervention is extremely vital.

7) Students with disabilities (and special needs) are extended resources that are designed specifically to assist him or her academically.

8) More than half of all bullying ceases when a peer intervenes.

9) Speaking up for yourself is important.

10) Bullying happens, and disabled (or special needs) victims are not alone in the matter.

Charities for Autism: Here are three charities for Autism that I have hyperlinked for your review. Beneath each I have copy and pasted the missions statements and or company vision for that particular charity. You will notice that Autism Speaks is not listed, and that is because I’ve been contacted personally about Autism Speaks being under fire for less-than-ethical practices. As a result, I have decided to include it at this time.

(1) RT Autism Awareness Foundation.

“The RT (Reece Trahan) Autism Awareness Foundation is an organization dedicated to making people aware of Autism and the effects it has on individuals and their families.

The diagnosis of Autism is an emotional one for families, and the RT Autism Awareness Foundation wants individuals and families to recognize that they are not without help.”

(2) Grant A Gift Foundation.

“Grant a Gift Autism Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization helping children, youth and their families fight Autism by providing diagnostic and treatment funding, support services, vocational training, transition planning, and education.

Our goal is to provide family centered care through one or more of our programs and services, and help prepare individuals with autism to live as independent adults with functioning roles in our community.

We act as a community safety net by filling in treatment and funding gaps not covered by state and federal resources or insurance. Our organization achieves this by collaborating with other organizations, state agencies, or providers to give children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, growing up in Nevada, a better quality of life and future as they transition into adults.”

(3) Northwest Autism Foundation.

 

“Our mission at the Northwest Autism Foundation is to improve the lives of those affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders through the mobilization of resources and by championing innovative solutions.

The original goal of NWAF was to “provide education, resources and information to parents, family, friends, caregivers and professionals treating children on the autism spectrum on a donation only basis.” Shortly after its inception, NWAF expanded its goals to include facilitating early diagnosis and effective treatment for individuals with ASD.

Most recently, we have adopted a Lifespan Framework to help conceptualize and direct our ongoing efforts.”


LGBT / LGBTQUIA

Why it is important to me: My first exposure to someone who was not heterosexual was when I was ten. My (late) cousin typed onto her computer screen that she liked girls and boys. I accidentally read it aloud not thinking about it being ‘wrong,’ but there was a look of horror on her face as she told me to stop joking around… I guess I never realized that liking someone of the same gender could get someone intro trouble. After that she would tell me in secret about a girlfriend she had at school and how everyone made fun of her and told her she was a sinner for liking girls. It became so bad that her girlfriend told everyone that it was a disgusting joke that my cousin was playing to get attention. Very few people knew about the emotional struggle she had over the last two years of her life, keeping her sexuality and the bullying a secret from nearly everyone in her life.

After that, I found that a friend from elementary school was gay. He kept it a secret from all but two or three people. He tried dating another friend of mine to convince people he was straight simply because his parents were religious and he feared the image it bring upon them. When I was fourteen, one of my closest friends revealed that she identified as bisexual and secretly maintained a relationship with another girl in the seventh grade for a few months before they decided it was a fleeting interest.

Having always been exposed to people who identified as bisexual or homosexual really allowed me to see without the tunnel vision of my predecessors that these people are just the same as everyone else. Knowing that still in 2015 people are treated differently because of the genders they choose to have sex with, or because of the sex identity of themselves… Why?

Why it should be important to you: People that you love, people that you know, and people that you work with could still be in the closet about his/her/ce sexuality and/or gender identity. There is a deep psychological damage that develops when someone believes that he/she/ce cannot express him/her/ceself. Someone else’s inability to function at healthy levels can bleed into your life and affect you, especially if you are very close to that person.

Furthermore, these people can make a difference in the world no differently than you or I can as heterosexual individuals. There is not a single job in the world in which your sexuality interferes with your ability to do that job. Your gender identity does not determine your ability to complete a task in the workplace. As such, we should do all we can for the people that need support to become effective members of society. Individuals may deserve equal and quality living, but not everyone has the same resources available to him/her/ce. You should want to change that because if the tables were turned – you would want the same courtesy.

Charities for LGBT / LGBTQUIA:   Here are three charities for LGBT/LGBTQUIA that I have hyperlinked for your review. Beneath each I have copy and pasted the missions statements and/or company visions for that particular charity. Endorsements come from Miley Cyrus, Laverne Cox, and TIME magazine, but there’s no harm in bringing more attention to these organizations.

(1) Happy Hippie Foundation (founded by Miley Cyrus).

“Our mission is to rally young people to fight injustice facing homeless youth, LGBTQ youth and other vulnerable populations.

People who say WE can’t change the world ARE wrong. We will make some noise and cause a scene! We will challenge each other and the world & will stop pointless judgment. We know that the people sleeping on the sidewalk could have been us or our closest friends if our lives were just a little bit different. And the people we see sleeping on the sidewalk COULD be our friends if we gave them the chance.

It’s time for us to speak up for the people in our streets, our cities, our world. It’s time for us to grow our passion, shine bright and change the future.
John Lennon said it best: “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is a reality.” It is essential to our lives to do good for others! The only way we can truly be happy is if we are making others happy!

That is this Hippie’s goal!

#HAPPYHIPPIE”

(2) Powered with Pride.

“Each year, Powered With Pride donates to a non-profit charity partner whose mission is to improve the health and well-being of people in Louisville and beyond!  Our 2015 charity beneficiary is YMCA Safe Place Services.  YMCA Safe Place Services is committed to making our community stronger by providing help, hope and healing to teens and families in crisis.  Their mission is to accept, affirm and advocate for youth by empowering them to reach their full potential in spirit, mind and body.”

(3) Trevor Project.

“Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.”


Ladies in Crises / Feminism

Why it is important to me: I am a lady and that is justification enough. More deeply, though, I have faced sexual abuse and harassment since the age of seven. Although I have been able to save myself, there are not many people who have the same resources that I had to do the same. In addition to this, I know so many women who discredit themselves as the result of their situations. Never should a woman believe that because she is a woman that she is less. The effects of this corrupt thinking can be seen everywhere, in every crevice of the planet, and I dare to hope that it is eradicated swiftly.

Why it should be important to you: If you are living and reading this it is because a woman birthed you. Life cannot continue without women to contribute to reproduction. However, the treatment of women can contribute to one’s desire and/or ability to reproduce. As a women, why would you want to devalue your peers and make her feel as if she is worth less and that her decisions are without substance? As a man, why would you want to devalue your peers and make her feel as if she is worth less and that her decisions are without substance? See what I did there – I made the same statement twice because women are equal to men no matter what. And yet, today there are still inequalities present as the result of sex identification, and thereby gender identification as well. This standard could be a roadblock in your life that you cannot control, and it could be affecting women that you love dearly.

As the result of rape culture, woman are over sexualized and blamed for the sexual abuse that she may experience. This being present in society detracts any first world status we [America] has simply by allowing women to not only be paid less, but to be judged as inferior and worth little more than a temporary sexual pleasantry. Women are disrespected and judged for something a natural as menstruation. All of these realities are disgusting and as unnatural as rape. There is a woman in your life doing something for you and you owe it to her to do what you can to ensure she has resources that she needs in order to be respected, and to have recourse for the inadequacies she faces in life.

Charities for Ladies in Crises & Feminism: Here are three charities for ladies in crises & feminism that I have hyperlinked for your review. Beneath each I have copy and pasted the missions statements and/or company visions for that particular charity. Understand that while each organization is targeted at a specific group of people you should not overlook it, as the services provided are priceless.

(1) To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA).

“To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.”

(2) He For She (endorsed by Emma Watson).

“UN Women is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide.”

(3) INCITE!

 

“INCITE! Women, Gender Non-Conforming, and Trans people of Color* Against Violence is a national activist organization of radical feminists of color advancing a movement to end violence against women of color and our communities through direct action, critical dialogue and grassroots organizing.

INCITE! is made up of grassroots chapters and affiliates across the U.S. working on particular political projects such as police violence, reproductive justice, and media justice; a national collective that works to leverage this grassroots organizing on a national and transnational platform; an advisory collective that helps increase the capacity of national organizing; and thousands of members and supporters.”


Food & Hunger

Why it is important to me: I love food, I think I actually qualify as a “foodie” in my newfound obsession. That aside, as important as international issues are, there are plenty here [in America] that matter too. There are struggles we [Americans] face that we should not as a first world country. Food is not only vital to our survival in terms of nutrition, but it is in large part the livelihood of many people. Grocery stores, farmers, and restaurants – almost every facet of the free world is in some way related to food. We know it is important but do we really realize just how important it is?

Why it should be important to you: Well I imagine that you like food, and I imagine you like when people work to bring food to you. Can you imagine a life without a server to bring food to your table in a restaurant, or a life without a chef to prepare it? Can you imagine a world with grocery stores? Can you imagine a world without farmers? Do you want to go back the most rudimentary form of hunting and gathering?

Nah, I don’t really think you could. Food is important to you because without it your body will quit. Also, it is a huge convenience to have business that make obtaining food easier. And more still, there’s a pretty good chance that at some point your life or the life of your loved ones that income was earned from a food service job. Your life would be radically different without the food industry and, you know, food.

Aside from that, you should want to help your fellow men and women who struggle for food. As you know, you can’t live without it. There are people here [in America] that don’t know when they are going to eat again, many of those being children. That could be your loved one, or someone a loved one cares about, and if that person passes away as the result of malnutrition or starvation… the impact that can have cannot be measured. Think about that.

Charities for Food & Hunger: Here are three charities for food & hunger that I have hyperlinked for your review. Beneath each I have copy and pasted the missions statements and/or company visions for that particular charity. Big names endorse these organizations, such as: Food Network, Marcus Samuelsson, and (queen bee) Beyoncé Knowles.

(1) No Kid Hungry.

“NO CHILD SHOULD GROW UP HUNGRY IN AMERICA. But 1 in 5 children struggles with hunger. Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is ending childhood hunger in America by connecting kids in need with nutritious food and teaching families how to cook healthy, affordable meals. You can help surround kids with healthy food where they live, learn and play.”

(2) C-CAP (Careers through Culinary Arts Program)

 

“Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), a national non-profit, works with public schools to prepare underserved high school students for college and career opportunities in the restaurant and hospitality industry. C-CAP offers:

  • job training and internships
  • teacher training
  • curriculum enrichment
  • college advising
  • life-time career support and
  • culinary scholarship

Since its inception in 1990 C-CAP has awarded over $43 million in scholarships, and classrooms have received $3.8 million worth of supplies and equipment. Many C-CAP students find rewarding careers in the restaurant and hospitality industry.”

(3) The Lunchbox Fund.

“Fostering education via nutrition, The Lunchbox Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing a daily meal for orphaned and vulnerable school children in township and rural areas of South Africa, a country where 65% of all children live in poverty. Receiving food encourages these children to stay in school and obtain their education. When a child stays in school, his or her risk of HIV infection, abuse and unwanted pregnancies is greatly reduced.

It’s quite simple. Regular lunch programs increase enrollment at schools and reduce truancy rates. Students participating in a school feeding program attend school more frequently than those who do not. Academic performance also improves with test scores increasing in students who have access to a daily meal through a school feeding program.

Today, 19.6% of all children in South Africa are orphans, with approximately 1.9 Million of those children orphaned as a result of HIV and AIDS. Unemployment is a severe problem where we work, resulting in many of the students at our partner schools not having access to adequate nutrition or basic health care.

The simple act of providing each child with protein-rich peanut butter sandwiches and a piece of fruit, or hearty soups, stews with vegetables or enriched porridge, makes a substantial difference as it nurtures and encourages each child’s attendance and performance at school. Not only is it often their only guaranteed meal of a day, but children are more likely to attend and stay in school to obtain this basic sustenance.”


Grab Bag

…because this list would never end if I tried to make sections for every single thing I get passionate about… 

Why I care so much about everything: My education is in law (as a Paralegal) and in business. Originally, I had every intention of getting into psychology, and as such have acquired a significant amount of self-taught understanding on the subject. Humanities are something that I’ve always been interested in and passionate about because in my heart of hearts, I’m a writer. To be a writer I have to understand people and what motivates them and what defines them. I have to be able to think in thousands of different ways to create diversely believable and relatable characters for my readers. As I educate myself, I find the flaws in humanity, and I want to change that in spite of my love for all things fictional.

Everyone faces adversity in some way, even if they are CIS white privileged people. As such, it is our responsibility to do more and be more – for ourselves and those around us. This cannot be done if we don’t make ourselves aware and if we sit idly by doing nothing to change the world. If you can’t donate money or time, you can donate awareness. Bring up the name of a foundation you care about in conversation, use social media to generate buzz around something that you care about, think about charities you care about when doing school projects as a way to get the younger population motivated for change; there are tons of ways to help without going broke. Not to mention, you can volunteer your time for charity related events.

Every single person can do something!

Why you should also care this much about everything: As a human you should care about humans. There seems little other reasoning required, but just in case that isn’t enough…

People you know and love and interact with face struggles that sometimes you cannot see. Sometimes they carry burdens that you have never bore. Even though you may not understand, or cannot understand, you would want the best for those people. That’s what everyone wants in life – the best for themselves and for the people they love. Unfortunately, in our selfless selfishness (oxy moron, but accurate) we forget the needs of humanity as a whole.

As we become increasingly inhumane towards the quality of life others experience we will inherently taint our own. Filling a world with racism, sexism, prejudice, and strife will only bring about the extinction of humankind. I don’t know about you, but being alive is pretty darn amazing. There is value in life and too many don’t see that, so you should want to help these people enjoy their time amongst the living.

Charities for the Grab Bag: Here are three charities for the Grab Bag section that I have hyperlinked for your review. Beneath each I have copy and pasted the missions statements and/or company visions for that particular charity. At some point in my life I have heard about or been exposed to these organizations and have been moved by the stories and premises of each.

(1) Alex’s Lemonade Stand (Endorsed by Alex Guarneschelli).

 

“Curing childhood cancer, one cup at a time.

Our mission is to raise money and awareness of childhood cancer causes, primarily for research into new treatments and cures, and to encourage and empower others, especially children, to get involved and make a difference for children with cancer.”

(2) World Animal Protection (Endorsed by Ricky Gervais).

 

“Our vision is a world where animal welfare matters and animal cruelty has ended – together we can move the world for animals.

We are World Animal Protection

We end the needless suffering of animals

We influence decision makers to put animals on the global agenda

We help the world see how important animals are to all of us

We inspire people to change animals’ lives for the better

We move the world to protect animals.”

(3) Reading is Fundamental (RIF).

“To motivate young children to read by working with them, their parents, and community members to make reading a fun and beneficial part of everyday life. RIF’s highest priority is reaching underserved children from birth to age 8.”


I know that this article was less informative than past MOMs, but I feared the read would be dry if I just threw statistics and psychological reasoning out to you. One thing that I have always believed is that everyone is responsible for becoming informed. You, as a reader, have taken the first step by reading my blog today, and I encourage you to check into these charities further as you are interested.

Maybe you can’t make regular donations, but maybe you can buy a t-shirt that you wear to an event at work or at school. It can grab someone’s attention that could donate regularly, or make a large donation. Sharing posts and articles about your favorite charities and organizations can spread the word, maybe getting someone else to buy merchandise and share posts. The impact may feel small, but thousands of “small impacts” make a difference.

One of the most important lessons in life is that every voice matters. Your voice can make a difference. You are capable of much more than you think, and by using your strengths you will make a difference. Maybe it’s in one life, maybe it’s in thousands, but it is still a difference.

And isn’t making a difference basically the meaning of life?


*For this particular post I have chosen not to utilize a References of Redirect References due to the number of resources used in the writing of this article. You are welcome to leave a comment with any questions or concerns below and I will respond to you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding in advance.

You are invalidating your children… and pretty much everyone else too…

Disclaimer:     The only things that you need to know about this article this week are that 1) I am a parent; 2) I am still young enough to be a considered “child” to to most parents; 3) I’ve had a decent amount of academic exposure to sociology and psychology; and 4) I’m hyperaware of social issues. These particular issues have been gaining a lot of momentum – especially online – and are things I feel need addressed more straightforwardly. As always, be reminded that this is an opinion article. Although, if you ask me, I will tell everyone to take these things into consideration when, you know, being a human. Also be aware that there is course language in a few paragraphs of this article.

* terrible parent voice*      You made yourself mad…

This is a post that set me off about a month ago. I replied (on my own blog without any tags) with a slew of swear words and insults. As a parent, it’s hard for me to watch younger children talk poorly about their parents without considering what actually makes a good or a bad parent. As you can see… this post had no context. If you’re a parent you know that sometimes – yeah – your kids piss themselves off and that’s just the reality of the situation! I was having bad anxiety that week and I wish I wouldn’t have said anything because afterwards I got a message from the original poster telling me I was a shitty parent and that I was an asshole for replying to his or her post.

Furthermore, his or her friends started messaging me to kill myself. They don’t know me, but I’ve had a long struggle with self-harm and depression on top of my severe anxiety. This experience just heightened the slew of attacks I’d already been having at the time. I spent hours evaluating why I was so upset, evaluating if I was in the wrong, if I was a bad parent, and if having a blog was even worth it anymore because this one incident would ruin my reputation as an open-minded person – something you can rarely come back from on the internet.

But that’s when I realized – no. I wasn’t wrong because everything I posted in the reply was right. This person wasn’t a parent. This person didn’t explain why he or she felt that this was a terrible parent thing to say to a child. This person didn’t think before they posted. The last realization is what hit me hardest, though, because neither had I! It made me wonder more about how people discredit each other all time. I had easily done it to this person who eventually revealed that he or she had a terribly manipulative parent and reacted in the same way his or her parent would to any kind of criticism.

I never replied to the message from the original poster because I realized that with my anxiety I was bound to follow in the footsteps of my mother. I would reply until I was red in the face with a tear stained cheeks. Just as she has severe anxiety, so do I, and recognizing the pattern in her has saved me a world of trouble. Being at odds with her through my childhood has shown me how easily an argument with someone can turn dark and hateful, even when it’s not even sincere. Once it happens it cannot be undone so I just kept my curiosity self-contained. Until now.

All of this has inspired me to write this article. Parenting is something that the Internet has a fascination with – are you doing it right; are you doing it wrong? So, today I want to talk about some things parents do that discredit their children – and consequently, other people too.

(1)      It’s just a phase; you’ll grow out it someday. You might change your mind when you’re older. There will come a time when you don’t want/ won’t like that anymore. You’ll regret that someday. Everyone goes through it. This is normal but it won’t last forever.

            I’ll admit that I’m guilty of telling my 7-year-old that he might change his mind about things. As parents we don’t think of the implications that this imposes on our children, though. The reality is that this is a form of invalidation. When you tell your child that he or she is just going through a phase and that he or she will regret something in the future – you are basically telling them that their opinions and feelings don’t matter right now. Remember that saying? “Kids are sponges,” yeah – that is real. Kids remember everything. Truth be told, it is harder for them to remember things if the child hasn’t developed language, but that’s a completely different matter.

Sounds made up, right? Invalidation – that cannot possibly be an actual thing, right? Unfortunately, there is psychological relevance to invalidation. It’s not called “invalidation,” but it is based upon the premise of devaluing your child. There is a quote from this article that I simply cannot summarize, so allow me to copy it word-for-word for you right here:

“Invalidating someone else is not merely disagreeing with something that the other person said. It is a process in which individuals communicate to another that the opinions and emotions of the target are invalid, selfish, uncaring, stupid, most likely insane, and wrong, wrong, wrong. Invalidators let it be known directly or indirectly that their target’s views and feelings do not count for anything to anybody at any time or in any way.”

(Allen)

Is it really fair to play games in front of your sister when you know she isn’t old enough yet? You don’t know what you’re talking about, sweetheart. Can you share your cookies with your cousin, please, since he doesn’t have his own? That’s too hard for you; why don’t you try something you already know how to do. You can’t do that unless you do it the way I showed you.

            None of these things sound very bad. We want our children to be generous and compassionate, and we want them to be fair. We want them to be happy and to listen to directions. What we don’t consider is that we do this so often while our children are growing up that it transitions into somewhat harsher actions of invalidation – because certainly they should know better by now, right?

You can’t do that because I said so. I’m the adult in this house and I make the rules. You don’t have a choice. That’s not your decision. You’ll have to get over it. It doesn’t matter. One day you’ll realize that I was right. I carried you for nine months; we take care of you. I did what I thought was best for you.

These are things we usually say to our children when we’re mad at them, or we don’t like something they’ve said, done, or chosen. Really, though, when we say these things we are manipulating them to think that they were wrong. We are choosing our language so that when they hear it they will believe that because of our “superior” role in the household that we were automatically correct. By creating this relationship we can teach our children that when they want something that they are automatically incorrect – exactly the opposite of ourselves as the parents. How awful is it to grow up thinking that everything you think and feel is wrong?

Disqualification is the result of invalidation, you see. By developing a psychology that disqualifies, oneself is imposing the idea that his or her internal desires are invalid (Allen). We’ve all heard of the “self-fulfilling prophecy,” the idea that we can avoid something so fervently that we blindly walk down the very path that leads us to that same thing we are trying to avoid. Too often we are told that we are exactly like our parents, or that our children are exactly like us. The truth is, if you say this enough even when it’s false – eventually it will become true. The reasoning is rooted in invalidation and disqualification. When someone develops the psyche of a disqualifier, essentially he or she begins behaving in a way that invites or provokes others to invalidate their decisions (Allen).

Someone who has always been told that they are too reckless, too radical, or too outspoken then they are more likely to be reckless, radical, and outspoken. If you spend eighteen years telling your daughter that she needs to keep her opinions to herself – she is more likely to share her opinions because she doesn’t know how to function without being told in some variation that basically her opinions don’t always matter. Tell a young man that he needs to stop putting himself in life threatening situations, then he’s more likely to do something dangerous because he’s used to hearing that he’s done something crazy and out-of-control. Disqualification is not unlike addiction in that respect. The individual becomes dependent on the idea of hearing the same thing, and as such they do things to continue the pattern.

To summarize and wrap up this particular problem, I want to list some language that we use when we are disqualifying our children. Next to it is my proposed alternative language.

Disqualifying language Supportive/Inclusive language
Be happy / Cheer up / Don’t be sad / Don’t look so serious / Don’t look so cocky / You’re bringing everyone down

 

This encourages a child to believe that their emotions are not appropriate or are unwanted – this teaches them to fake their emotions or better hide them so that they are not commanded to feel differently. This is especially true for teenagers who suffer from self-esteem issues frequently during puberty.

What can I do to help you right now? Can I do anything to take your mind off of what’s bothering you? Do you need a moment to yourself?

 

Instead of suggesting your child should feel differently, this acknowledges your child’s current emotions and that there is actually a spectrum of emotions to be felt. By offering your support and/or assistance this will create a strong bond of trust between you and your child. He or she will not be discouraged to discuss things with you in the future (during those teenager years, for example).

Get over it / Stop whining / You don’t understand / I tried to help you / There’s no reason to be upset or angry / You should be thankful that something else didn’t happen

 

This suggests to your child that it is undesirable to feel anything other than happy and calm. It also can lead your child to believe making mistakes is unacceptable. However, feeling defeated and complaining are facets of life that cannot be avoided. Making a mistake or messing something up is unavoidable. Causing a child to feel this way can lead him or her down a path of lying or deceiving so that you will not judge them or invalidate something that they have done.

You did your best and you learned something / There will be more opportunities for you / It’s okay to feel that way because it means you have passion and drive / That might not have be the best experience but that is okay

 

This allows you to encourage your child when he or she may not be thrilled about the outcome of something. So maybe he or she didn’t listen to your advice and they lost the big game or they got a bad score. Instead of invalidating those emotions teach your child to choose a more positive outlook without compromising the way that they feel right now. Turning your emotions into fuel, not matter how “bad” those emotions are, can really lead your child to a life of fulfillment because they will not become discouraged by something difficult.

Don’t take it personally / I was just kidding / That’s not what I meant and you know it / Forget about it / You should be embarrassed or ashamed / I didn’t hurt you or your feelings / Are you on your period / Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed / This is getting pathetic / It’s all about you

 

By saying any of these things to your child you are basically teaching them that you can say whatever you want to them. In addition to that, you are suggesting that something that is out of his or her control is the reason that their personality and emotions are undesirable. If a child is offended by something and it hurts their feelings you can’t discredit it because it teaches the child to believe that their reactions are not valuable to anyone. A child raised with this type of language will get taken advantage of by others frequently and only perpetuate feelings of distress.

I apologize for hurting your feelings / I should have chose my words better / What I did or said was wrong and I am working on it / Let’s talk about this and try to recover / You are feeling this way a lot – do you think we need to talk about it more or see a professional for more help / You are focused on yourself lately – is there something going on / Do you feel like you’re getting healthy attention from us and/or your peers

 

Firstly, always be willing to admit when you have done something wrong in front of or to your children. This will show them that not only that it is it okay to make mistakes but that they should acknowledge and fix them too. Opening the communication with your child also allows them to define themselves and the severity of any issues that they are experiencing. If you’re child is suffering from a serious issue the first step is in admitting that there is a problem. Foster your child’s growth, and recovery if necessary.

(EQI – source for disqualifying language)

(2)      You’re a little boy – you can’t play with dolls! You’re a little girl – you can’t wear that shirt! Girls don’t roughhouse. Boys don’t play dress-up. Boys will be boys. Girls will be girls. That’s for girls. That’s for boys. Marriage is for only a man and a woman. Homosexuality is a sin. Same-sex couples shouldn’t have children. You should find a boyfriend/girlfriend. When are you going to settle down with a good man/woman?

            For so many years in the lifespan of humankind there have been “girl” things and “boy” things. Where does this come from even? Oh yes – our fucking genitals. I know that is harsh language – but I won’t apologize for it. Gender identity is assumed for children long before they are ever born! As soon as you find out if your child has a penis of a vagina you are buying all pink or all blue. You buy cars or dollies. That child’s identity is chosen for them based on their sex.

Unfortunately, nobody teaches in any mandatory classes (yeah, I’m looking at you American health class curriculum) that GENDER and SEX are two different things. Gender is how a person chooses to identify him or herself. There’s even the possibility that someone wants to identify as neither gender, or changes their gender day-to-day based on how they feel when they wake up.

Gender is a very fluid thing for a good many people. A harsh reality on the matter is – children can know as young as two to four years old whether or not he or she has the wrong gender identity (Psychology Today – GID). In fact, it’s more common than people really credit for someone to feel as if he or she is the wrong gender. One in every thirty thousand men and one in every one hundred thousand women, actually, feel as if they were born the wrong gender (Psychology Today – GID). Just to be clear, it’s more likely for someone to have some form of gender dysphoria than it is someone will die from a shark attack (which if you Google it, you’ll find that the odds are 1 in 3,748,733 – it’s also more likely than dying by a fireworks accident). One psychologist says that most parents seek out professional treatment once their child is school age because it is a “phase that hasn’t passed” (NPR).

It’s important to pay attention to your child’s behaviors and ‘leave the window open’ (although, I disagree with one of the NPR psychologists in this respect) so that your child can show you if he or she agrees with the gender identity that you have chosen for them (by their genitals of all things). When your child tells you plainly that he or she thinks that he or she is the wrong gender – take it seriously. During the interview it is stated that Dr. Zucker has never had a child conclude on his or her transgender identity and later change their mind. That means – yes – if your child tells you at two, three, or four years old that he or she is the wrong gender – it is highly probable that he or she is secure in those thoughts. Older children expressing these types of feelings should be taken even more seriously because of the amount of time that it has taken to reach a point of comfort to discuss those feelings.

Building on this even more – do not ever judge different sexualities in your children – or ever really. This is especially hard for people within the religious community. Many religions believe homosexuality to be a sin and therefore submit their child to constant invalidation, verbal abuse, and even therapy designed to make him or her heterosexual. Honestly, this is one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever heard of happening outside of actual murdering and physical violence against people for being of a different sexuality (or gender identity, by the way). Of course, religious wars are a real thing – but that’s one of those touchy subjects I’ll save for a rainier day.

I don’t agree with everything perfectly being said – but I think if you’re religious and you are struggling with a child whose sexuality is outside the realm of the church’s acceptance – you should really read this letter by a Catholic pastor. Now, I know that this pastor is suggesting that you seek therapy after a child comes out as homosexual, bisexual, or otherwise. Understand that this is meant to deal with the feelings of distress you have as a devout member of your church and for the benefit of your child. It is not to reconfigure your child to be heterosexual. Having parents in the religious community means that your child is likely suffering from a mental disorder as a result of all the suppressed feelings and hidden identity. The therapy is to help you cope as a parent and to help your child deal with lasting impressions which have oppressed them. It is becoming more and more common for churches to accept and incorporate all types of different gender identities and sexualities into their following because – oh goodness is this possible – the only person that can judge them is God (or gods depending on your religion). That means you shouldn’t open you mouth about whether or not God (or gods) will accapet your child, and definitely not using your religion as a way to devalue the child as a person.

Your child loves differently than you do. Your child did not murder someone.

Unless, of course, your child did murder someone – in which case the homosexuality is definitely the least of your worries. Get immediately psychological help and contact the authorities. Anyway… enough of that… back on track!

Another good read for parents and families facing sexuality questions and concerns is this pamphlet prepared for educational purposes by the American Psychology Association. This walks you through all of the questions that most parents and people have initially about their child’s sexuality. My favorite section is “What is the psychological impact of prejudice and discrimination,” which addresses things same-sex couples have been unable to enjoy as freely as heterosexual couples. Until recently, marriage was a part of that list. America, along with many other countries, is has legalized same-sex marriage since the publication of that article. Further in the reading, it also discusses the importance that homosexuality (and otherwise) is not a mental disorder, and that support is crucial when facing a “coming out” transition.

Really, just don’t invalidate your child’s identity or sexuality. There is nothing wrong with him or her. Listen to your children when they ask you to use certain pronouns. Take your children seriously when they are trying to share something with you like a same-sex partner or a desire to not identify with any gender. Just accept them and love them as a person not as a gender identity or sexuality.

(3)      Oh – you should try that – I never had that kind of opportunity. This wasn’t available when I was your age. You’ll thank me for this experience when you’re older. This will be good for you. You need to do this because it will look good in the future on your resume or job application. My parents made me do this when I was a kid and it was amazing. It’s a tradition so you have to do it too.

            Isn’t it hard to not want things for our children? We want them to be cultured. We want them to be experienced. That’s the problem with us – we want so much for them. As it stands, though, our children really aren’t miniature versions of us. Every person is unique in some respect or another. There are similarities, of course, that we share with our parents and our children with us. This truth does not give us permission to make decisions for our child unless it is in regard to their safety. That is literally the only time that you should be making a choice for your child ever. You can’t make a child join a sport just because you like it, and you can’t forbid your child from playing a sport you don’t like either. Allow your children to decide for themselves what they want to do and you’ll be surprised to find out that they will honestly figure out who they are on their own just fine.

So, I don’t think parents actively decide to “live vicariously through” their children. To be honest, we [my husband and myself] struggle with this very line a lot. My husband bowled and played soccer when he was younger but stopped in high school. As it turns out, our son now loves soccer and bowling. We find ourselves pushing him to be better – and unfortunately, it’s not always in a way that is healthy. That’s right, folks, even I – the writer of this article – find myself committing some of these terrible, awful, no good things. Children can adopt the interests of their parents, its’ common, but it’s not right to treat your child the way you would treat yourself if you had a second chance to achieve these same successes. You will push them twice as hard because you already gave up or failed once, and that will make it hard for your child to see you as a parent so much as a coach (or a dictator)…

This scenario can play out two ways. Your child likes your ideas – your child likes what you like – and so your child takes your advice and achieves all of the success that you hoped for when you were their age doing the same things. Unfortunately, while your child reaps the benefits of your dreams – you’ll become depressed (Psychology Today). This theory is “the savior” outcome. You see yourself as “the savior” for your child because you had to sacrifice your aspirations to ensure that they did not have to do the same (Psychology Today). I don’t think parents realize exactly how often that they do this verbally and nonverbally, as well as aggressively and passively. It’s so easy to congratulate your child by saying: “All the miles I put into this for you have finally paid off! Look at this trophy!”

I’ll be honest, I said exactly that to my son when he won not one but two soccer championship games in the same day. I was so proud of him because he was seven and he played with the six-seven tournament and the eight-nine tournament. He played seven soccer games that day – one of which went into overtime! And he was so excited that we turned around and went bowling. Immediately afterwards. He bowled a 100 and a 75 during those two games. He was on a roll that day. But I passively applied my “savior” complex to the situation by making it about what I gave to him rather than what he earned himself. We all do this and it’s important that we try to avoid it.

Now, for every good outcome there’s a bad one, right? That’s like – what physics? For every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction! The second outcome is that called “the avenger;” this relates back to disqualification. Your child sees his or her parent focusing on his or her negative behaviors which hinder success and therefore continually behave in a way that perpetuates the same (Psychology Today). What ultimately causes this is when a parent is himself or herself taught not to express frustrations or behave in a way that could compromise an opportunity thought to be good for them in childhood. As a parent you then perpetuate those ideals even though you disagreed with them growing up. This leads you to later defending your child’s feelings of resentment and outbursts of otherwise inappropriate behaviors.

My mom may or may not read this, but she is very much like this. When any of her children are in the wrong – she will scold us with hellacious vigor [sorry mom]. However, if anyone else tells her that her children are bad or wrong in anyway then she jumps to our defense. Many people believe that this is what you should do as a parent – you are obligated always protect your children. Unfortunately, protecting your children can sometimes mean telling them that they are wrong and that they are making really bad decisions. Let me reiterate, though, that homosexuality is not a bad decision. A bad decision is committing a crime or risking one’s safety or that of another person [like murder or suicide, for extreme examples].

In the end, everything comes full circle when the “avenger” role is occupied. Invalidation, disqualification, and manipulative language eventually just breaks down whatever quality relationship exists between you and your child. Even with the “savior” outcome doesn’t end well. You will eventually resent your child, which will result in the exact same thing: invalidation, disqualification, and emotional manipulation.

(4)      Why can’t you sit still like your brother? Why can’t you be quieter like your sister? Are you going to go to college like your cousin? What if you did something like you brother? I think you’d like to follow in your friend’s footsteps. Maybe you should try what your friends are doing. Maybe you should study more like this other person. You’re the smart one and your sister is the creative one.

            In my husband’s family – he was the “quiet” middle child. His brother was the “baby” and his older sister really didn’t have a label given to her. In my family, I was the “emotional” middle child. My younger brother was the “socialite” and my older brother was the “trouble maker.” My cousins were often labeled: daredevil, wild child, and oddball. My nieces and nephews are usually labeled “quiet,” “athletic,” and “awkward.” Even the grandchildren in the family are labeled: “energetic,” “behaved,” “aggressive,” “silly,” and “shy.” Labels are pretty shit at school but they even more shit when plastered on by your parents.

So it is okay to use these words to describe your children. It is not so okay when you use this to identify them. This is you picking their identity for them. When you start calling them something as an identifier – “he’s my athletic child” – you basically are creating the perception for and of them. Growing up for as long as I remember I was also called the “smart” child. It still happens today. Now, I’m a cocky person at times, and I won’t deny being a smart person ever – but when I became a mom in high school the amount of pressure that label bore into me was excruciating. Every grade I earned was no longer just a good grade or a bad grade. It was a consequence. My grades were consequences and reflections of my life decisions. That is quite a lot for a sixteen year old girl not accounting for the fact that the school’s been trying to pressure me into picking a college and major since first grade! I’m not the only person that feels this way, though, because the same troubles weigh heavy on the minds of athletes and students in other extracurricular activities. Any labels assigned to a child prevent them from fully expressing themselves. They need to explore the word the way it was meant to be explored – trial and error (so long as safety is not compromised, as I keep reminding you).

In addition to labeling children, what about those first statements, how those come into play here? Honestly, there is so much wrong with comparing your child to other children – especially within your own family. Firstly, your child is different from other children. Remember that everyone is unique thing – yeah, that does apply to your child. All the time, too, just in case you only wanted it to apply when they are successful. It means your child’s best and worst traits are unique and should be acknowledged and respected equally. Don’t believe me – that’s okay… I’m confident that you will.

Doctor Sylvia Rimm has a website dedicated to the effects of sibling comparison. You can read the full text here, but I’ll summarize what it discusses for you quickly. The implications of labels for your children, some of which I’ve stated my opinion on based on previous points in this article. However, Dr. Rimm also goes on to elaborate how the psychology of labels can cause children to consciously and subconsciously competes with one another, or even with outside parties, to prove themselves to their parents. They may refocus on only the thing that you believe them to be, willing to give up in areas that they believe that they could never surpass their siblings in otherwise (Rimm). A perfect example of this is in regard to my and my siblings.

My eldest brother struggled with severe ADHD and never excelled in school. My mother then was excessively interested in my being smart and academically versed. By the time my younger brother popped up she was balanced. She believed in encouraging him for do his best and pushing him to just improve in whatever ways he could manage. Our academic careers accurately reflect our parenting, but also the labels assigned – since I was called the “smart” one (interchangeably with the “emotional” one).

My brother really only tried to make sure he was passing class, getting extra help only if he needed it. He was a “B” and “C” student, which isn’t bad. I know it’s hard to forget this in America where only “A” and “B” students can get into college and be success stories, but “C” is average. Being average means that you are where you should be practically. Scoring something that is considered average is actually where, based on evaluated standards, you are expected to be usually. The problem is – I was already the “smart” kid. Nobody will ever admit it out loud but this was discouraging to him. Dr. Rimm is right – it creates an unspoken competition because he went on to pursue things in which I had failed – such as the prestigious show choir and sports. It’s unintentional, in most cases, but it is damaging no matter how absent-mindedly labels are placed and statements are made by parents.

The best advise for avoiding this type of behavior comes right down to how you speak, and how you encourage your children. Firstly, don’t label children in anyway (Rimm). Labeling, as explained, causes so many issues. Just don’t do it ever, and if you do it try to apologize and explain why it’s not okay so that your children don’t do it to other children or their children in the future. Also, make sure you put education first (Rimm). It is illegal to not have your child in school or participating in a school curriculum. Focus on making sure that your children are doing well in school no matter what their preferences for after high school are – encourage them to take classes that will better help them in their decisions. Focus on making sure that everyone’s academics are the priority because all work habits start with how a child works at school. Lastly, be sure to always regard both parents and/or parent figures as intelligent (Rimm). Children need to have a high regard for both parents – and children who associate themselves as more like one parent will adopt their personality traits and mannerisms. It wouldn’t be wise for your child to affiliate with his or her mother and constantly hear that their father is the “smart” one.

See how that works – labels suck. I’m not even going to try talking about favoritism between children because this article is already length enough. But if you happen to be worried that you might be playing favorites – you should probably read this article to better prevent yourself from – you know – doing that.

(5)      There are children starving in the world – eat your dinner! Don’t be wasteful because not everyone has the same privileges that you have. There are people in the world who have less than we do so you should be grateful. It could be worse. That’s not a big deal. That isn’t even a real problem.

            I am super excited to see that mental illness is becoming more prevalent in the media these days. There’s so much stigma about common disorders like anxiety and depression, people disregarding them as honest afflictions. I’ve talked about the severity of anxiety and depression in my previous articles. They are serious and should never be disregarded simply due to the staggering number of people affected and diagnoses with these diseases. If you think I’m just excusing people – let me remind you that Ebola wasn’t even a pandemic and people were all talking about how severe it was and how it was a risk. You have a bigger chance of someone committing suicide than you do of someone contracting Ebola in the United States.

For obvious reasons, displayed in these two articles by Huffington Post in relation specifically to anxiety and depression, you should never say these types of things to someone with a mental disorder. Firstly, they have a medical predisposition due to their illness to take what you’re saying extremely personally. If you told someone struggling with depression because of his or her gender identity and sexuality which is being oppressed by his or her parents that their problems aren’t even real problems because he or she isn’t dying or dead – well, you could wake up the next day to find out he or she committed suicide. Convincing someone that their problem is not a real problem is almost as bad as holding a gun to someone’s head when that person has a mental illness. You are being abusive and you need therapy too (probably for the same reason your child would need therapy, honestly – I’ll explain that later).

For less obvious reasons (although, I can’t say I understand why they are less obvious), this is equally as detrimental to children who don’t have mental illness. You could actually cause your child to develop a mental illness as the result of saying things like this to him or her. Everything ties back into disqualification and invalidating your children. Even though it’s a fallacy (a philosophical theory that essentially means that something is false or conceived without any logical basis – I’m getting kind of counterproductive here but you should know what that means if you didn’t already) invalidation of children is a slippery slope. Now, not all parents who have disqualifying language when addressing their children raise children with problems. In fact, parents that do all of these things don’t always raise children with problems either. There is some “luck of the draw” aspect to it as well.

I give a lot of credit to my mother. She struggles day-in-and-day-out and she still makes improvements, no matter how small that they are, daily. When I was a kid she was deeply prejudice even though I don’t think she actively did it. In fact, a good many of our behaviors are ingrained (DeName). We adapt and incorporate the behaviors that we are familiar with from our own childhoods (DeName). They define us as adults and become the examples we set for our own children.

Now that’s what I call a full circle! All of these bad things that we do as parents we learned from their parents, and their parents from their parents before that! How does anyone ever function on a healthy level with information like that rattling around in their heads? I think the better question is how does anyone actually function healthily in any situation, but that’s almost too philosophical for this piece.

This wouldn’t be a good article if I didn’t offer up some advice, especially since I definitely believe that this is a problem. Being a parent is one of those damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t life things. There is no single way to be a good parent because it all depends on family dynamics and personalities. Some parents need to be more restrictive with their children than others, for example. It’s all up in the air. All of the above points I’ve discussed are matters that are crucial in your child’s life. Doing any of these things can have detrimental consequences right down to your child killing himself or herself – something that you will forever regret watching happen as a parent.

As I said, I struggle with a some of these mannerisms too. I’ve shared the kind of background I come from, and it’s certainly not perfect. I’m certainly not perfect. Nobody can ever be a perfect parent, and that’s the cold reality of it. We can, however, be better parents and we can be better people. If you find yourself doing any of these things why don’t you try treating it like a bad habit? Take the opportunity to promote change within yourself and your relationship with your child?

Growing up I always heard that if I was exposed to information at least seven times in two or three different ways that I would inevitably remember the information. This is what my teachers told me when I asked why we had to see the same information so many times and spend so much time on chapters that the class has clearly mastered. Later in life teachers started talking about breaking and developing habits that will help us succeed in the future. At that point we were told twenty-one days, or approximately a month, is the time it would take of doing something every single day in order to break or create a habit. Breaking a habit is, after all, just developing a new habit of not doing something or doing something else.

But of course it takes much longer than twenty-one days… go figure!

Studies actually show that it could take as long as 66 days for the average person to break or develop their habits (Clear). Remember that word “average” is only for the majority of people – that’s where people generally conclusively had a “habit.” Some people may take more or less time depending on a variety of different factors (Clear).

Changing how you raise your children to ensure the healthiest life he or she can enjoy, it’s not easy. As stated, it takes time. It will be hard. There will be mistakes along the way. More importantly than the struggles is the outcome. You will become a better person. You will have a better relationship with your kids. You could work on a better relationship with your parents.

And when that’s all done – you just might realize that you are doing better with other people too.

References

Allen, David M., M.D. “Invalidation in Families: What Are The Hidden Aspects?”          Psychology Today. Psychology Today, 23 Sept. 2013. Web. 17 Aug. 2015.

Allen, David M., M.D. “Living Vicariously through Children with a Twist.” Psychology Today. Psychology Today, 30 Sept. 2011. Web. 17 Aug. 2015.

Clear, James. “How Long Does It Actually Take to Form a New Habit? (Backed by       Science).” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 10 June 2014. Web.       17 Aug. 2015.

DeName, Kristi A. “Repetition Compulsion: Why Do We Repeat the Past?” World of Psychology. Ed. John M. Grohol. PsychCentral, 6 Aug. 2015. Web. 17 Aug. 2015.

P., Steve. “Invalidation.” Invalidation. EQI, n.d. Web. 17 Aug. 2015.

“Psychology Today.” Gender Identity Disorder. N.p., 17 Feb. 2015. Web. 17 Aug.        2015.

Rimm, Sylvia B. “The Effects of Sibling Competition Dr. Sylvia Rimm.” The Effects of Sibling Competition Dr. Sylvia Rimm. Dr. Sylvia B. Rimm Ph.D, n.d. Web. 17   Aug. 2015.

Zucker, Dr. Ken, Dr. Diane Ehrensaft, and Alex Spiegel. “Q&A: Therapists on Gender Identity Issues in Kids.” NPR. NPR, 7     May 2007. Web. 17 Aug. 2015.

Hyperlinked Sources

http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/orientation.pdf

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/surviving-your-childs-adolescence/201103/adolescence-and-parental-favoritism

http://www.sylviarimm.com/article_sibcomp.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/29/what-not-to-say-to-someon_n_4675854.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/17/things-not-to-say-to-some_n_4781182.html

*GASP* College Might Not Be For You?!

Disclaimer:     It is important to you know I live in the United States of America. The idea behind this particular “My Opinion Monday” article is centered on my experiences and knowledge as an American. Chances are that this does not apply to other countries in the world that have very different educational structures. Again, be reminded, this is called “My Opinion Monday” for a reason – at its core this is an opinion article.

Author Note:       If you enjoyed my last MOM article (Money Can Buy Happiness and Here’s Why) then you should check out Shrey’s Finance Blog Here!

 

Starting at a very young age, children are conditioned and nurtured to believe that success comes in the form of a college degree. They fail to tell us the actual cost of attending college, though. Sure, they talk about student loans and interest rates. Sure, they talk about room and board costs, books, and meal plans. Even further, they talk also about grants and scholarships – ways to lessen the burden of student loans. Things that they do not talk about are how long you’ll be paying those loans back, how some fields don’t require a college degree, and how successful people can be if they don’t choose to go to college. They also never bother telling you that most people never even finish their degree.

I went to college. I went to a two-year private business trade school. I got a Bachelor’s Degree in Business with a Paralegal Studies major. During high school I was always told that a Bachelor’s Degree would make me more valuable. I was told that it would make me more money. All of these fantasies of having a financially secure future filled into my head and I was so sure that my decision to incur student loans was worthwhile because I would have the income to support it. Unfortunately, I found very quickly that I was wrong.

My annual income as a Paralegal/Office Manager was $22,800. Research and statistics suggested that I should be making easily twice that, and that even in a small law firm I should have been making 1.5x that figure. Why should I have thought anything else was possible when all my educators suggested that I would be making better money? The first couple of years I wasn’t bothered because I knew I was young, and I thought the number would eventually go up. Yet after four years in the same firm I found that the pay increases only made a miniscule monthly difference in my bring home wages. My student loan debts total $23,000 – my payments when my six-month grace period was up – an estimated at $250 per month.

Let’s consider a few more stories I am familiar with so that you know that this isn’t just a personal bone to pick. My husband was attending college when we met. It was a community college and he was covering all of it out of pocket with some help from his folks. He estimates that approximately $7,000 – $9,000 had been spent on the two years that he completed before deciding to drop out. That should have been an Associate’s Degree, based on what we are told in high school. An Associate’s Degree takes two years, a Bachelor’s Degree takes four years, a Master’s Degree takes six years, and any Professional Doctorate takes eight or more years; that is what we are led to believe our entire school careers. My husband should have had at least an Associate’s degree but he didn’t – and it wasn’t even his fault. Thankfully, he had no loans to worry about this time.

Flash forward three years and my husband decides to go back to college, an online university that promises him a degree in two years – a Bachelor’s Degree no less. It is a trade school so the degree completion is reasonably accurate. Unfortunately, the last semester he was attending his financial advisor got fired and none of his financial aid documents were turned in on time. As a result he was not allowed to attend for the semester unless he paid the full tuition of $15,000. As it turns out, he got billed for it anyway because his withdrawal never reached the right department because yet another person got fired. So now he owes the $15,000 semester tuition and he has $25,000 in student loans. Now he’s attended college twice and has been unable to finish either of his intended degrees.

Here are a few more quick real life experiences, since that was a story about my husband. Doesn’t really shift the scales away from biased does it? I know two individuals who were previously attending college. One of them was aiming to be in the medical field. After three years attending college there is now a possibility that this person will not return to attend nursing school. It is worth noting that this individual is already employed at a decent paying job in the medical field with which he or she is happy. Unfortunately, this individual has $35,000 in student loans – some of which has to do with additional withdrawals. From experience and acquired knowledge, however, many advisors do not warn against withdrawing funds in excess of the student loans so much as they warn that the debt accrues interest in the same fashion.

Another person I know started college unsure about what field to he or she was interested in pursuing. Three different majors and three years later, he or she has no degree and no desire to return for one. Now there is $18,000 in debt total waiting to be repaid even though there is nothing to show for the time wasted, except for a job application with a marked box: “some college.” A wonderful lady with whom I am acquainted attended a four year college for the same degree I did (Paralegal) during which time she had single year of studies near the end of her Bachelor’s degree cost $18,000 by itself! Times that by four – yeah, that number makes us all want to cry. I could go on and on about all the people I have known that have found college expenses aren’t quite everything we are told, but that would require an entire book.

Truth about college is – it’s not for everyone. Not just because some people don’t want to go, or don’t have the right personalities to attend, but because financially it isn’t always the best option. I highly advise checking out a website – O*NET – when researching what is required for a certain job or field. O*Net is a wonderful website I was introduced to in the last months of my college career. It really helped me better understand what the real job market looks like in terms of education requirements, job availability, employment trends, and realistic expected income. You should definitely check it out before making big financial decisions about college and student loans.

Anyway, I should get to my point before you lose interest in this article!

College is such an intricate life decision that requires more than just one angle of analysis. It would seem to me that the most important introduction to the matter is by discussing graduation statistics. Earlier this year, CNN Money published an article by Tamy Luhby about the graduation average for students attending college with the intent to finish a Bachelor’s Degree. Studies are for students going to college in 2003, with graduation projections for 2007 and stretching as far as 2011, showed less than a 50% completion rate (Luhby). In fact, only approximately 42% of the people who started college in 2003 completed his or her degree (Luhby). Even more frightening than that statistic is that the studies reviewed people who finished these Bachelor’s degrees in four to eight years (Luhby). Remember in high school when you were told that a Bachelor’s degree takes four years? Yeah, that is basically a lie.

Other articles I have found talk about the “four year myth.” TIME Business addresses that about 60% of people who graduate with a Bachelor’s degree end up completing their degrees in six years (Luckerson). By itself, something taking longer probably won’t bring about inner crisis. Issues begin arising when something taking longer than anticipated makes you realize that the cost of your education was based on it being completed in four years, and only four years. At the time you register as a student for college you are given estimated figures – for a four-year degree! Additional expenses after the four-year experience are not taken into consideration by financial advisors or by students incurring the debt when beginning a college career. Students are not properly informed during high school about the full spectrum of options and pitfalls of attending college unprepared; and as such, thousands upon thousands of people go to post-secondary institutions thinking that the figures similar to those in this graph are accurate. Based on conversations I’ve had with everyone I know that’s ever been to or completed college – those figures are just shy of delusional and could lead someone into making a decision that results in lifelong financial strife.

Both articles by TIME and CNN list reasons for an incomplete college degree. Each seems to agree that it really is a culmination of different situations. First and foremost, the unexpected costs can deter someone from furthering his or her education (TIME, CNN). Other reasons that are being cited are life emergencies, financial struggles (beyond school expenses), and not attending full time (TIME, CNN). One thing that I was particularly interested in was the fact that CNN points out that 42% is the graduation rate of those completing their intended degree, but does highlight how that number increases when considering those who finished with field certifications or an Associate’s degree – going all the way to 62% once inclusive. Of course, that means that 20% of people paid for more than they ended up receiving. Not that I intend to belittle those people, but how much better off are those individuals? Surmounting student loan debt may turn what was a good choice by him or her into feelings of regret since there are still monthly payments on the ledger for a degree that wasn’t obtained.

Backpedaling just slightly, what about the benefits of obtaining a degree? Naturally, it can/does make you more valuable in the job market. In my opinion, that is all relative to the field and position an individual is seeking. More important than the value as a worker, though, is cost of these time differences. Costs associated with a degree being dragged out for one or two additional years is estimated anywhere between $16,000 and $23,000. Yes, that is added onto the initial cost just to earn the degree (Lewin). Some of the reasons provided for these costs, and probably a contributing factor in the extension of degree obtainment, are transferring schools and programs (Lewin). For example, most people don’t realize that there are three different accreditation systems in which colleges and universities are approved. In fact, most traditional four-year colleges have one that is most commonly used throughout the country. Two-year colleges use an accelerated program to get students graduating faster and therefore operate on a second type of system focused on accelerated learning. As for community colleges there’s a third accreditation system that usually acts as a liaison between the traditional and the accelerated schools. As the result, credits are lost, degrees ignored, or only portions of completed courses being accepted. Most colleges don’t have the resources to best assist students in transferring in a way that saves them from essentially starting from scratch (Lewin).

Now, I’m not going to deny that people who have college degrees make more money, but have you ever heard a saying popularized by rap: Mo’e money, mo’e problems. It is entirely true, not only from my experience by from the various attorneys that I worked under during my career as a Paralegal. Generally speaking, people don’t consider the cost of having a degree and a position the corresponding field. Oftentimes it means buying business attire (or job specific uniforms), having money for business/work lunches, money for certifications and continuing education, membership fees for professional organizations, and additional travel expenses not covered by employers. Don’t forget about your regular cost-of-living bills and student loans, which are probably being paid on either a 15-year or 30-year plan. [Just in case you didn’t know, most homes are on a 30-year or 33-year pay off schedule, so your student loan payments can operate as second mortgage in your life.]

Now, there are options for repayment based on income or current earnings, each of which have to be updated anywhere from every ninety days to once a year. Even if you get into an income repayment program, you could still wind up paying a ton of money each month that you can’t bare to lose after you consider all of your other bills. Oh, and don’t forget about the interest on those loans. Income repayment plans help you now but you will be paying for a much longer period of time.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics and National Center of Education Statistics each have graphs showing how much money per week and per year people with different levels of education make. It is pretty clear that higher degrees yield higher incomes. High school dropouts average $375-$425 per week (BLS), or approximately $20,000-$25,000 annually (NCES); in contrast, individuals with a Master’s degree or higher make between $1000-1600 per week (BLS), or $60,000-$70,000 annually (NCES). Costs and benefits of college aren’t determined just by the income that someone will have after-the-fact, though. Jobs that pay that high often come with costs that aren’t monetary – mandatory overtime, on-call hours, pro bono services, controlled or limited vacation options, media exposure, and much more.

At the end of the day, an illusion surrounds the idea of attending college and the benefits that if can provide someone financially. There are tons of secure jobs on the market that don’t require individuals to have any college education. Below are some jobs that I know of that can appeal to high school graduates that don’t require college educations…

  • Paralegal, Legal Assistant (High School Graduate, Relevant Experience Preferred, College Degree is Bonus)
  • Reception, Office Administration (High School Graduate, Relevant Experience Preferred, College Degree is Bonus)
  • Retail, Retail Manager (Legal Adult, Relevant Experience Preferred)
  • Sales, Real Estate (Legal Adult, High School Graduate, Some Certifications/Licenses)
  • Manual Labor, Factory, Mechanic, Farming (Legal Adult, Some Certifications)
  • Field Cable Technician, Field Cable Manager (Driver’s license, Some Certifications, High School Graduate)
  • Entry Level Nursing (Legal Adult, High School Graduate, Certifications Required, College Degree Ideal)
  • Electrician, Carpenter, Plumber, Welder (Legal Adult, High School Graduate, Appropriate Training Program Completion)
  • Bank Teller (High School Graduate)
  • Server, Restaurant Manager, Restaurant Owner (Relevant Experience Preferred)
  • Painting, Landscaping, Personal Assistant (References Preferred, Relevant Experienced Preferred)
  • Writing, Blogging (None, Experience Ideal, College Degree Ideal, Portfolio Preferred)
  • Delivery, Trucking (Driver’s License, Additional Licenses, Certifications)
  • Postal Service (High School Graduate)
  • Artist, Media, Digital Design (None, Experience Ideal, College Degree Ideal, Portfolio Preferred)
  • Police Officer (Legal Adult, Background Checks, Police Academy, High School Graduate)
  • Army (Legal Adult, Certain Background Checks, Training Camp)
  • Entrepreneur (Legal Adult, Relevant Experience Preferred)

The delightful thing about the above careers is that there is upward mobility for most of them. Just in case someone doesn’t know what that means – it is the opportunity to obtain higher paying positions within the company. It is a fancy way to say that there’s “room to grow” within the position and field. With these jobs it is very unlikely any of these jobs are going to bring in six-figure incomes, but a lot of them offer livable wages. Remember that the key word is “most,” as some of those jobs don’t even make minimum wage or don’t even pay until a product is provided or a service completed. However, most of these jobs can give someone a manageable life financially without requiring a college education.

Sometimes the best choice for a career is gaining field experience, or just plain being passionate about the work. That is why I have this author blog that makes me zero dollars per week. I am passionate about writing and I am passionate about sharing my opinions that could help other people see things differently. The impact your financial decisions have on your bury deep, and can cause depression and anxiety (as I’ve previously discussed here). Please make sure that when you consider attending college after high school, or even possibly returning to college later in life, that you are making a decision that won’t make you worse off.

Because *gasp* – college might not be right for you.

References

“Fast Facts: Income of Young Adults.” National Center for Education Statistics. National Center for Education Statistics, n.d. Web. 3 Aug. 2015.

Lewin, Tamar. “Most College Students Don’t Earn a Degree in 4 Years, Study Finds.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 01 Dec. 2014. Web. 03 Aug. 2015.

Luckerson, Victor. “The Myth of the Four-Year College Degree.” TIME Business. TIME, 13 Jan. 2010. Web. 3 Aug. 2015.

Luhby, Tami. “More than Half of Middle-class Kids Fail to Earn Bachelor’s Degrees.” CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 25 Mar. 2015. Web. 03 Aug. 2015.

“Median Weekly Earnings by Educational Attainment in 2014 : The Economics Daily: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, n.d. Web. 03 Aug. 2015.

Redirected Links

http://shreysfinanceblog.com

https://www.onetonline.org/find/

https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=76

Money Can Buy Happiness, and here’s why… (My Opinion Monday)

Disclaimer:     It is important to you know I live in the United States of America. The idea behind this particular “My Opinion Monday” article is centered on my experiences and knowledge as an American. This does not necessarily have to apply to other countries in all respects, but it is my personal belief that it is accurate to some degree as a generalization. Also be reminded, this is called “My Opinion Monday” for a reason – at its core this is an opinion article.

Money Can’t Buy Happiness. We have all heard this phrase at least once in our lives, be it from our parents, friends, teachers, or coworkers. This is one of those idealistic views meant to help people rise above materialistic needs and desires; and, honestly, it can bode well for those having the ability to actually abide by these words. True happiness comes from within one’s self. Only inner satisfaction brings happiness, right? Wrong. Today I want to point out that this “money can’t buy happiness” mentality is rather quite false.

Abraham Maslow. Does the name ring a bell? Do you need to Google his name to see his accomplishments? There is no need. Abraham Maslow created the hierarchy of needs. [Do you see my bad joke now…] After studying monkeys he realized that when hungry or thirsty that satisfying thirst takes priority (Boeree). It is from this point that he begins to theorize of self-actualization. Defined by Merriam-Webster, self-actualization is “to realize one’s full potential.” If we are to achieve self-actualization, Maslow laid out four preceding layers, which we much obtain in order.

(1) Physiological Needs. Our most basic needs must be fulfilled in order to successfully classify our physiological needs as “achieved.” Maslow identifies basic biological processes and requirements for this section. You know: breathing, vitamins, minerals, digestion, sleep, physical activity, water, etc. You would think that this is a relatively easy thing to achieve, that everyone should automatically be able to accomplish this one layer. Unfortunately, not everyone in the world manages this. In fact, not even everyone in this country gets his or her basic needs met. Foundations, such as No Kid Hungry, exist to bring awareness to malnutrition and lack of food source. Also, air pollution and water pollution are realities we currently face.

(2) Safety & Security Needs. For those who are fortunate enough to meet all of the above physiological needs, after that comes the need for security in his or her shelter (nonhazardous home, good neighborhood, renowned schools, etc…). This section of the pyramid also encompasses financial stability: job security, a retirement fund, and monetary cushion. Since homelessness is a real problem, well, it is obvious that this isn’t the easiest of things to achieve either. This is the need I will be focusing on later more attentively.

(3) Love & Belonging Needs. Maslow explains that in this tier the need for a sense of community and acceptance become necessary. If unattained these can cause an individual to develop a sense of loneliness and anxiety. Anyone that has ever been, you know, alive – has sometimes had love and belonging take a front seat to all other needs. Sometimes it even etches ahead of common sense. I can name at least three people in my personal life who currently are making this mistake, if I’m honest.

(4) Esteem Needs. Maslow describes two parts to esteem needs: lower and higher. For lower esteem he lists the following as requirements: respect for others, dignity, power, dominance, recognition, fame, glory, attention, reputation, and appreciation. Furthermore, to reach higher esteem, Maslow maintains that these things must be present: self-respect, confidence, mastery, achievement, independence, freedom, and competence. Understandably, anyone would love to have each of these words describing him or her. The problem always seems to be that a person only has a few of these traits, and usually in excess.

(Boeree).

So what does any of this have to do with money buying happiness? Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is the foundation to my belief that money is necessary to be satisfied – and subsequently – happy too. The bulk of “safety and security” is in the ability to have shelter and healthy finances. It affirms the importance of finance in our lives and, by consequence, the role it plays in our ability to realize our full potential.

When I was I was in high school, ninth grade specifically, we were encouraged to read a certain book: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. Perhaps you are familiar with it, perhaps you are not, but I highly suggest reading it – even if you’re an adult (although, there is a version for adults, too, if you prefer). One of the lasting impressions I got about the book was in regard to paradigms. “What are paradigms,” you might be asking. No need to worry; no need to Google. Paradigms are: the way you see something – a belief, point of view, frame of reference, or perception (Covey).

There are many paradigms centers one can have in life. Common ones identified by Sean Covey are: friend, family, school, significant other, parent, stuff, enemy, sports and hobbies, hero, and self. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? I mean, honestly we probably became (or will become, for you youngsters) centered on each one of these paradigms in the four years we attend(ed) high school! When someone becomes centered on these things it is not unlike having a filter in life – everything we say, do, or act upon is based upon the focus on one of these things. I do not think it is impossible to become money centered, even though it isn’t listed in the book. In fact, I think having a financial centric point of view is almost consequential of simply existing.

Paradigms all have a catch – that’s what Covey tells us. All paradigms have faults – save for one. There’s always one, isn’t there? Supposedly being principle-centered is the only way to avoid pitfalls (Covey). Just to name a few of the principles that he believes will lead to a perfect well-rounded life of decision making… honesty, proactivity, selflessness, kindness, and gratitude (Covey). Personally, I find fault with this because of Maslow.

Truth is – the principle-centered paradigm is similar to Abraham Maslow’s necessities for happiness. He classifies these components as B-needs: truth, goodness, beauty, unity, aliveness, uniqueness, perfection, completion, justice, simplicity, richness, effortlessness, playfulness, self-sufficiency, and meaningfulness (Boeree). It is explicitly stated that these are requirements for happiness. In one way or another, the principles stated by Covey fall within the realm of these requirements distinguished by Maslow. The good thing is that they add up, but the bad thing is that at the time he studies were originally published – he only estimated approximately 2% of people being able to reach self-actualization, and thereby happiness (Boeree). Even though this conclusion was made quite some time ago, I am going to say it is a safe guess that the likelihood of self-actualization isn’t much, if any, higher than it used to be back then. A principle center may be the most effective paradigm to have it cannot guarantee one will realize his or her full potential – I mean, self-actualization. Not to mention, Maslow himself believes that richness is essential to happiness.

Now I would like to look at the consequences of not having money or financial stability. When you go to the grocery store with a budget and you purchase items that exceed that budget – what do you do? There are really only three things that you can do: 1) purchase the items and figure out what in your budget can wait or be carved out entirely, 2) remove items from your purchase to get back within the parameters of the budget, or 3) make the purchase and borrow the money from someone else later to make up for the overspending. In one way or another, these options are in direct opposition of what Maslow believes we need as humans.

Your first option requires you to compromise on needs. Even if you’re giving up an opportunity to go to the movies you are still giving up a sense of community and belonging, which falls in the third tier of the pyramid. The second option requires you to compromise on your needs more directly – you have to put food back. You have to put back nutrients, minerals, and vitamins that are essential to your survival. Lastly, if you have to borrow the money from someone else to make up for the lack of funds, then you eliminate your self-sufficiency. Safety and security is then compromised.

Moving beyond that, what about the consequences psychologically of having to make such a decision? Chances are you feel down about it, you feel stressed about the finances. Can I pay this? What do I need to cut out? For some people it might be, “what do I have to skip paying this month?” Have to do it once – maybe it’s not so bad. Perhaps even a second or third time it doesn’t have to be a long-lasting worry. Eventually, after having to compromise on your needs over and over again, deeper psychological issues can and will develop.

Financial struggle is often listed among the leading causes for depression and anxiety (Mayo Clinic, WebMD). Unfortunately, we see a lot of stigma around depression and anxiety as mental disorders. Not unlike ADHD, depression and anxiety have both become sorts of ‘fast food,’ prepackaged diagnoses for everything sad and stressful. So you’re really tense about work? You have anxiety. So you’re really upset about your divorce? You have depression. Any traumatic event can give you anxiety. Any traumatic event can give you depression. As a result, for the most part depression and anxiety just aren’t taken very seriously anymore because – well – everyone seems to have it. The prevalence of these two illnesses have skyrocketed, and as a result people write off people whom have these disorders. Unfortunately, just because the issue is everywhere does not make the afflictions less severe. I don’t see anyone doing the same for cancer.

Suicide is something that people don’t like talking about because it isn’t exactly the most joyous of topics. However, it needs to be talked about briefly for this article because of the relevance that it can have to the topic. Over 90% of all suicides consist of someone whom had a diagnosable mental disorder (NAMI). Can you guess what you might find in the list of most common disorders for suicides? Allow me to save you the trouble: depression and anxiety (NAMI). And exactly who is most likely to have mental disorders such as these? According to the CDC in regard to depression, someone who is impoverished is four times more likely to be diagnosed with this illness than someone making well over the standard income threshold.

In support of the belief, “Money doesn’t buy happiness,” I will say that I get it. For some people afflicted with mental disorders as the result of biological imbalances, no amount of money can ever buy him or her seamless happiness. Maslow himself stated that, to some degree, the individuals he observed as reaching self-actualization experienced low levels of guilt and anxiety (Boeree). Happiness comes from a pool of things occurring within and without a person. So no, money doesn’t buy happiness exclusively.

But neither does spiritual and emotional satisfaction.

The cost of living rises year after year, after year, after year. People already struggling begin struggling more; people whom were comfortable before must now struggle. Not having money can make it difficult to move upwards in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs because it is essential to our basic biological and physiological functions. We have to pay for healthcare, we have to pay for insurance, and then we still have to pay the remainder of medical bills. We have to buy food for which prices continue inflating. We have to buy fuel for our cars, and we have to heat our homes. Getting ahead financially is about as easy as getting to the second floor of a building on a stair-stepper.

If one must live in fear of losing everything he or she has earned, how can one avoid developing depression or anxiety? How can one ever be happy without first constructing long lasting financial stability? How can we ever get to that point when the cost of medical care and college tuition alone can put us into debt for the rest of our lives? There is only one answer: you cannot. Money buys a lot more than stability.

Money buys happiness too.

References

“Anxiety.” WebMD. Ed. Joseph Goldberg. WebMD, 2014. Web. 17 July 2015.

Boeree, Dr. C. George. “Abraham Maslow.” Abraham Maslow. N.p., 2006. Web. 17               July 2015.

Covey, Sean, and Sean Covey. “Paradigms and Principles.” 7 Habits of Highly        Effective Teenagers. London: Simon & Schuster, 2004. N. pag. Print.

“Depression (major Depressive Disorder).” Depression (major Depression) Causes.       Mayo Clinic, n.d. Web. 17 July 2015.

“Mental Illness.” National Alliance on Mental Illness. Ed. Ken Duckworth and Jacob L.     Freedman. National Alliance on Mental Illness, Jan. 2013. Web. 17 July 2015.

National Center for Health Statistics.
Health, United States, 2011: With Special Feature on Socioeconomic Status and Health. Hyattsville, MD. 2012.

“Self-actualization.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 17 July 2015.