Red Flag Relationship Series, Part I
Why Are You A Red Flag In Relationships?
Choosing the wrong person in relationships can happen for various reasons; however, problems occur when we do not learn from our mistakes and repeat the same cycle in relationships. If you find yourself encountering the same problems relationships, then you need to stop and think,
Is it me?
Or, is it always something wrong with everyone else? Answer: No, it is you. Your negative relationship patterns may be happening due to unresolved personal issues, communication and conflict resolution problems, low self-esteem and self-worth, lack of self-awareness and experience, pressure to conform to societal standards, using unhealthy emotional patterns, and not being emotional availability. If you fall into one of these categories, then YOU are a Red Flag in relationships. Lets explore why you are a red flag in your relationships:
I share this with my personal friends: "A relationship is only as healthy as the two people in it."
How To Stop Being a Red Flag in Relationships
Consider the following steps:
No Relationship is Perfect
It's important to remember that no relationship is perfect, and people can exhibit occasional negative behaviors. However, if you consistently notice multiple red flags or a pattern of concerning behavior within yourself, it may be necessary to reassess your relationships and prioritize your well-being.
Making mistakes in relationships is a part of the learning process. By understanding yourself better, working on personal growth, and seeking support when needed, you can decrease your red flag behavior and increase your chances of making more fulfilling and healthier choices in the future. It's important to remember that recognizing these aspects does not make you inherently flawed or unworthy of love. Flaws are a natural part of being human, and they don't define our inherent worth or value as individuals. Each person is unique, with their own strengths, weaknesses, and areas for growth.
It's important to embrace your imperfections and recognize that they don't diminish your worth. We all have room for personal growth, and acknowledging and working on our flaws is a part of that journey. Your worth and value are not determined by any perceived flaws or shortcomings, but rather by your inherent humanity and the way you treat yourself and others. Treat yourself better to improve your relationships!
She said, "I'm torn between my man and my secret lover." I thought, this is going to be a deep question but instead, it was a deep paragraph,
"My man is my everything. He gives me exactly what I need, want, and desire. Then I met him; my secret lover. My world changed. It was instant attraction and mutual lust. He does something to me internally that my man does not do; it's like an internal flame that ignites, and I cannot let it extinguish. The feeling is too real. The chemistry is hot. I do love my man, but I am in-love with my secret lover. I cannot let either man go. My mental health is in jeopardy because I cannot continue on this way. What are your suggestions?"
Whew... right? I am no relationship expert or marriage and family therapy, but I can address the reasons that we may be in relationships with one person and lust over another. So, you say you love him, but why? Love is a profound and powerful emotion that brings joy, fulfillment, and a sense of purpose to our lives. It plays a significant role in fostering healthy relationships, promoting well-being, and enhancing our overall quality of life. It's easy to love someone who fulfills what I call, "business love." Love is a deeply personal and subjective experience that can evolve and grow over time based upon your needs. Take a look at the pyramid. It represents Abraham Maslow's 1943 hierarchy of needs theory which states that our actions are motivated by certain physiological and psychological needs that progress from basic to complex. Love/Belonging is the third level of this theory because we have the need for love, affection, and a sense of belonging. This includes establishing meaningful relationships, social connections, and feeling accepted by others. Love encompasses a wide range of feelings and can be directed towards different objects or individuals, including romantic partners.
For years, I've called the type of love characterized by the elements discussed in this paragraph, "Business Love." It includes the following characteristics: Emotional connection, care and support, acceptance and forgiveness, commitment, and intimacy and vulnerability. Let's explore each one starting with an emotional connection. This is a the part of love involving a deep emotional bond and connection with a partner that brings forth feelings of warmth, tenderness, and empathy. Care and genuine concern for the well-being and happiness of the loved one is next. It includes providing care, support, and understanding during both good times and challenging situations. Love must entail accepting the other person as they are, including their flaws and imperfections. It involves forgiveness and understanding, as well as the willingness to work through conflicts and differences. A long-term commitment is a part of love and dedication to develop a nurturing relationship. It includes a desire to invest time, effort, and energy into building a strong and lasting connection. Having a sense of emotional intimacy, where couples feel safe and comfortable being vulnerable with one another takes the relationship to a deeper level.
"Business love" can obviously develop into a strong sense of passion, dedication, and commitment. It represents the deep satisfaction and fulfillment that couples can in their relationships. This kind of "love" for one's relationship can be also be characterized by enthusiasm, a sense of purpose, and a genuine enjoyment of the relationship. This builds positive and nurturing relationships based on trust, respect, mutual support and love. Ultimately, many individuals choose this type of love because it feels good and it's safe to them. However, what happens when you meet someone who, without trying, can turn your "business love" off and ignite a "lust love?" Then you you realize, "lust love" is missing from my relationships... uhh-ohh!
I call a love with a strong sexual desire or craving for someone, "Lust Love." It is primarily driven by physical and sexual attraction, often characterized by a focus on immediate gratification and pleasure. Lust tends to be more temporary and transient in nature, centered on the physical aspects of a relationship rather than emotional or deeper connection.
Dear Torn One,
You have "lust love" for your secret lover.
I wish you had both "business love" and "lust love" with your man. Or, felt burning passion, intense romantic, and emotional feelings about him that signifies a strong and overwhelming connection, desire, lust, and attraction to him. If you had both types of loves, you would not need two men to satisfy your innate or overall needs. When someone has lust love for another, they may experience intense emotions such as love, infatuation, longing, and a deep attachment. These feelings can consume their thoughts and emotions, leading to a heightened sense of excitement, anticipation, and desire to be close to the person. A strong emotional and physical connection is also a part of this, as well as a deep understanding and compatibility. Your secret lover causes you to pursue a romantic relationship with him; however, are you willing to make a significant effort to nurture and maintain the connection with your man because you are passionate about him? I know your secret lover is exciting, exhilarating, and transformative but be careful because sustainable relationships require more than just initial passion. Yes, you can have a successful relationship built from lust love, but building a strong foundation of trust, shared values, and emotional compatibility is crucial for long-term relationship success.
Lust love can be missing from business love which can be problematic, as we read from Torn One's paragraph and question. Note that business and lust love need to coexist and evolve into a healthy relationship. Initially, strong physical attraction or infatuation may be present in lust love, but as the relationship deepens and develops, it can transition into a more profound and lasting love that encompasses both types of love along with emotional and psychological aspects. However, you cannot focus solely on the physical and sexual aspects of a person. While lust may be the initial spark, find out if a deeper connection can form on a more comprehensive level with Secret Lover if you want him.
You are correct in that your mental health is in jeopardy. For one, this is not only about you. You have two other people involved with at least one of the two who may not be aware of your lust love for Secret Lover. Imagine how he will feel if and when he learns about it. Are you willing to loose him. Is that what you want? Or, is lust love more important to you? While I will always believe that a combination of the two works best in relationships, consider whether or not lust love is the missing link from your relationship that causes you to have a secret lover. Then, if lust love is void to the point where it makes you unhappy, then it may be best for you to make a decision to walk away from your man.
Only you know the right decision. Trust your instincts and listen to your own needs and desires. Approach this situation with a realistic mindset and understand that no relationship is perfect. Mental health plays an important role in maintaining healthy and fulfilling relationships. Both you and your man play a role in supporting each other's relationship and mental health. If you do decide to grow with your man, ensure that you do a few things within yourself to help sustain your relationship such as,
When I think back to my childhood, our local community center comes to mind. Sports programs were offered at this center which positively affected the social communication skills of black kids, and encouraged a wide-range of experiences and opportunities. For example, their programs helped to develop social interaction and social skills development, (i.e., teamwork, nonverbal communication, sportsmanship, team building, communication under pressure, conflict resolution, and empathy). Sports had a positive impact on black kids and many achieved greatness in their respective sports in high school and even college. The challenge is that many black kids also had a unique set of talents, interests, and potential in other aspects of life that were hidden by their interest in sports. Black kids were not limited to being athletes when I was a child, nor are they now. However, the problem is that society tends to support black athletes yet fails to recognize their diverse aspirations beyond sports.
Why Does This Happen?
It happens because of the overrepresentation of black athletes in certain sports, particularly in professional basketball and football. This visibility in sports media and popular culture can contribute to the perception that all black individuals excel primarily in athletics. Additionally, historical factors such as racial segregation and limited opportunities for black individuals in certain areas, including education and professional careers, may have contributed to a focus on sports as a means of social mobility and success. This, in turn, can reinforce the stereotype that black individuals are predominantly athletes. These perceptions, however, are not accurate representations of the diverse talents, interests, and abilities of black kids. Just like kids of any other race or ethnicity, black kids have a wide range of passions and skills that extend beyond sports.
Why are Black Kids Only Considered Exceptional as Athletes?
The notion that black kids are only considered exceptional as athletes can be influenced by a variety of factors, including historical patterns, cultural influences, limited exposure to diverse experiences and achievements, and representation in sports media. It is also the social construct that black athletes possess a physical and natural ability that allows them to overcome their perceived cognitive deficits by playing sports. That is called racism friends, compared to white kids who are seen as possessing a special knowledge or intellectual skillset (i.e., being witty or gifted), that allows for greater athleticism. Of course this, more than likely, derived from slavery. You may not want to hear this fact, but it is true. In other words, the fittest and strongest survived and passed athletic skills down throughout generations. I know, antiquated but,
Scientists had to justify it somehow because black athletes were not clever enough to use their intelligence to understand their chosen sport, right?
The notion of black kids only being exceptional as athletes continues today and here are a few reasons why this behavior persists:
How To Overcome This Stereotype
To teach black kids that their dreams matter, foster an environment that promotes inclusivity, provides support, and encourages all of their aspirations. Here are some ways to accomplish this:
Black Kids Can Teach Us More Than Sports
Please do not to view black kids solely through the lens of athletics. Reducing black kids' identities or potential to a single aspect, such as their athletic ability, is unfair and limits their opportunities for growth and success in other areas. Black kids possess skills and talents needed in our society in academics, arts, sciences, entrepreneurship, leadership, and other academic opportunities. Promote a holistic approach to their development to help them realize their full potential and pursue their dreams in various areas of life. We can learn a lot from black kids by active listening, engaging in dialogue, and being open to learning to gain valuable insight and to broaden our understanding of their career aspirations and goals. Valuing and supporting black kids in all aspects of their lives helps to break down stereotypes, promotes inclusivity, and recognizes their talents and abilities beyond the realm of athletics. This approach fosters a more balanced and empowering environment that respects and appreciates their diverse strengths and aspirations.
Question: "Why Are Black Women So Mad?"
Just stop with the stereotypes. Black women are misunderstood. We are harmed by your biased and distorted views about us. In this blog, I am going to challenge and debunk this stereotype to promote understanding, respect, and equality.
I knew this question would come at some point. I mean, ask me because I speak for all Black women, correct? Seriously, I know you are asking because I am in the field of psychology and also a black woman. I get it. The cool thing about me is that you can ask me and I am going to tell you an answer. Yes, we do get mad but so do you. Some of you view black women's emotions differently than you do your own which is unfair and inaccurate.
Do not assume that all black women are mad or angry. Just like any other group of individuals, black women are diverse and have a wide range of emotions, experiences, and perspectives. Stereotypes about black women have been a central factor in our exhaustion. Have you ever walked into a room of people without anyone speaking to you? Then, you find out once they are comfortable that they did not initially say anything to you because,
"I thought you would be mean"
"I did not realize you were that intelligent"
"I was waiting on you to go off on someone"
Or, they speak to you in a stereotypical tone and dialect assuming that you speak in a specific type of language? My friends and I always respond, "We don't speak that way" and correct that behavior. Many of you assume that we are angry when most of us are just plain 'ole tired. Black women are subject to harmful stereotypes and objectification, which can affect our self-esteem and relationships. These stereotypes lead to dehumanization and dismissive attitudes causing emotional exhaustion.
The phrase "black women are tired" is often used metaphorically to express the cumulative exhaustion and emotional burden experienced by many black women as they navigate various intersecting forms of oppression and systemic inequalities. It highlights the unique challenges and burdens faced by black women and the toll it can take on their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Stereotypes about us do not help. It does not acknowledge our experiences. It does not validate our feelings. It does not dismantle the systems and structures that perpetuate these inequalities. In fact, it increases generalizations and stereotypes which causes added stress and fatigue.
Early on in our lives, we learn to deal with intersecting forms of discrimination and marginalization based on race and gender. For example, imagine being 16-years-old and being told by black and white people,
Think that is a lot of pressure for a young black girl? You are correct. Those conversations were ongoing throughout my life, including while I was earning my doctorate degree,
"I was hard on you because I never want anyone to question your clinical competency"
For the record... no one has questioned it...
The white professors who trained me predicted what I would go through within my career. They understood long before I knew, and prepared me well to face adversity. To add, for longer than 16 years at the time when I graduated, I was reminded of why the world would mistreat me due to being a black woman.
The mistreatment of black women is rooted in complex historical, social, and systemic factors that have perpetuated racism, sexism, and various forms of discrimination. It is important to recognize that the mistreatment of black women is not universal or experienced by all black women, but it does occur in various contexts and can have significant consequences.
Want to ask me again why I may not always smile? Or, why some black women wear a poker-face to work? It's because we have to and you need to stop stereotyping us for it. Ask a black women her story. When you do and hear about her experiences, I guarantee you will frown too. It does not mean a negative past or current life, but one fueled with constant reminders that we are black and women. Given everything that we go through, being a black woman should be treasured but instead, our efforts can be invisible within OUR society.
You all get on our nerves!
We feel as if we always have to work harder than everyone else. You will not win an argument with me on this one. This is ALWAYS the case. No wonder we frown sometimes. On top of it all, we encounter racism and discrimination in a variety of aspects within our lives including education, employment, healthcare, and the criminal justice system. We often bear the burden of emotional labor, which includes managing and navigating racialized and gendered expectations, biases, and microaggressions. Oh so many microaggressions. The additional responsibility of educating and advocating for ourselves can be emotionally taxing. Many black women often assume multiple caregiving roles within our families and communities and we get limited support and recognition for our efforts. Often we are undervalued, underrecognized, and overlooked.
Some avoid admitting that systemic racism exists or they ignore it. It does not just happen in corporations, but in other areas (i.e., exams, schools, and politics). Acknowledge that systemic racism, discrimination, and social inequalities have historically and continue to disproportionately affect black women. These factors can contribute to frustration, anger, and a sense of injustice. The sad part is that many of you are aware of racial injustices toward black women, yet you support it by being silent.
Similar to a vast majority of black women, I too, have been the victim of systemic racism multiple times. I still experience it and some of it will remain with me for the rest of my life. A former employer of mine told me,
"I've never hired a black person before, I don't know what to do with you"
Yes, I am serious. I did not slap her. I wanted to, but kept my composure. You see, some claim to want to diversify in their companies, but put in zero support systems to help once they hire black women. Instead, they default to the victim role as this women did and of course I resigned. #screwher
This type of behavior is not fair toward Black women. We face societal expectations that place a heavy burden on us to fulfill various roles and responsibilities which can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Though some may try, we cannot erase American history. Historically, slavery, colonialism, and ongoing systemic racism has had a lasting impact on the mistreatment of black women. It has contributed to the perpetuation of stereotypes, economic inequalities, limited access to resources and opportunities, and unequal treatment within various institutions. As a result, black women can face limited access to resources, including emotional support, healthcare, and financial stability. The absence of adequate support systems can place additional strain on our well-being.
Now replace, "Why are black women so angry" with "How may I help you today? A little 4-year-old said to me at the right time,
"What can I do to help you?"
Which made my eyes water. Simple acts of kindness not only help us, but help you as well. Even if that person does not show you gratitude, you will feel better knowing that you offered to help. We need to keep having these conversations about race, gender, and emotions with empathy and an understanding that each person's experiences and emotions are unique. Engaging in open and respectful dialogue can help foster understanding and address issues related to social injustice, inequality, and systemic biases.
Do You Pretend That You Are A Psychologist?
Dr. Google says that you are a Psychologist since you obtained your doctorate from Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, or Reddit. Are you trained to identify signs of feigned symptoms and employ standardized assessment tools to differentiate genuine mental health conditions? If not, then STOP diagnosing other people! If you are not an expert, then you should stay away from incomplete and unreliable information based upon your judgments. Mental health conditions are complex, and symptoms can vary widely among individuals. Refrain from looking at another person and stereotyping them based upon your lack of expertise. For example,
Layman, or those untrained in psychology, believe that they can diagnose others based upon what they see or hypothesize to be true. Stop it! Even if you use online sources, the majority of those websites do not have articles based upon the expertise of qualified mental health professionals who specialize in diagnosing and treating psychiatric conditions. Diagnosing requires a comprehensive assessment, and considering various factors and nuances that cannot be accurately captured by a simple online search. If you are a relying on Dr. Google, I suggest you learn how this may be harmful to you. Most of all, your assumptions are not valid about psychiatric conditions and your actions can result in the following:
Stereotypes of Individuals with Autism
Even if you have experience in diagnosing mental health conditions, or have a diagnosis yourself, you still may not be an expert in the field of psychology. On behalf of all experts in the field of psychology, STOP referring to people in stereotypical language just because you think you know what is going on with them. Our field is not simple to learn and your stereotypes about others' mental health conditions are annoying. For example, some members of The Grand Old Party (GOP) are stereotyping Ron DeSantis based upon their perception of his behaviors with phrases such as,
The above quotes were adapted from Politico, Editor, Michael Shaffer (06/02/2023):
Other stereotypes that I hear about from families:
What is the purpose of using stereotypes to describe autism? In the case of DeSantis, it is politically motivated; a reason to distrust him and to question his leadership ability, as opposed to viewing him an individual. We do not know if he has autism and it is none of our business. To be clear, autism is a developmental disorder that can affect how individuals behave, think, and interact with others. Since there are a variety of symptoms with their behaviors, this leads to stereotypes. Then again, just because a person seems different to you it does not mean that they are autistic or "on the spectrum"
Autism stereotypes are preconceived notions or generalizations about individuals on the autism spectrum that may not accurately reflect the diversity and complexity of the autism spectrum. These stereotypes can perpetuate misconceptions and misunderstandings about autism. It's important to recognize that every individual with autism is unique, and the spectrum encompasses a wide range of abilities, challenges, and characteristics.
Collectively, stereotypes about mental illness are pervasive in society and can contribute to stigma, discrimination, and misunderstandings. It's important to challenge these stereotypes to foster a more compassionate and inclusive understanding of mental health. Here are some common stereotypes about mental illness:
Stereotypes are insulting toward individuals diagnosed with them. Challenging these stereotypes involves promoting accurate information, raising awareness, and fostering empathy and understanding. You cannot assess the nuances and complexities of mental health conditions solely based on limited or secondhand information. You will misinterpret symptoms, misdiagnose, and miss important context relying on your instincts or Dr. Google.
In the case of the GOP, no, autism is not shameful and it should not be seen as a problem or something to be ashamed of. Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects individuals in different ways, impacting their social communication, behavior, and sensory processing. It is a natural variation of human diversity and should be accepted and respected, just like any other human characteristic. Autism is not a flaw or a defect; it is a part of someone's identity.
Promoting acceptance, understanding, and inclusion can help combat stigma surrounding autism and create a more compassionate and inclusive society. Rely on trained and licensed mental health professionals for proper diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders. We all need to foster environments that recognizes and celebrates the strengths and contributions of individuals with autism, rather than viewing it as a problem or a source of shame. Everyone learns lessons on the playground that we carry with us through life. Apparently, some members of the GOP learned to be mean.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is not a joke.
When you fail, if you’re anything like me, you take it to heart. You’ve worked hard at achieving a goal, though, the fruits of your labor were not enough to cause you to pass. I’ve been so annoyed with failure over the years that admittedly, it turns into anger for me. Maybe a few you of you are that way too, and others cry. I get mad over failure. However, I find the strength to tackle the problem until I am successful. I want to teach you how to get your stamina back after failure in order to focus on your goals.
What does failure do to us?
• Failure can break us.
• Failure can interfere.
• Failure hurts.
• Failure angers us.
• Failure makes us sad.
• Failure causes distractions.
• Failure can win if we allow it to do so.
I failed multiple times within my career. My failures started in undergraduate school and still occur today. When I think about my life, failures are what shaped me into who I am. Failure was never easy for me then, nor is it easy to cope with now. My mother used to say,
“I did not raise a quitter!”
And she meant it too. She kept my spirit high and continued to encourage me nonstop until my goal was accomplished.
Thank you, Mom!
Her words to me is a phrase that strikes my heart every time I fail at something especially when I know I should pass. For me, it is my mother’s words that caused me to keep working at a goal, along with the fact that I am mentally defiant. Some would call it being stoic. Meaning, I refuse to give into failure even if I am mad as hell about it. I have always been rebellious in my thinking with regard to my failures. When people tell me, I can’t I do I am numb to failure. Too many people have told me that I was not going to be able to…
• Become a Psychologist (because I am Black)
• Become a doctor (because I am Black)
• Work with children (because my GPA was not always a 4.0)
• And the list goes on… (It is long)
These types of comments will cause one to become mentally tough and start thinking, “Failure will not defeat me.” Although you are sad now, I want you to empower yourself enough to understand that when you fail, you grieve as long as you need to, then learn from it. Then, you figure out a plan to conquer what binds you in your process.
What Is Failure?
Failure is often associated with negative emotions, disappointment, and a sense of setback. Our society does not normalize failure enough at all. It is a natural and inevitable part of life and we all experience it at some point in our journey. In fact, failure can serve as a catalyst for growth and improvement.
Failure can be defined as the lack of success in achieving a desired goal, outcome, or expectation. It refers to the state or condition of not meeting the intended or expected result. Failure can occur in various aspects of life, such as personal endeavors, professional pursuits, academic endeavors, relationships, or even in specific tasks or projects.
The perception of failure varies among individuals. Some view failure as a temporary setback or a stepping stone towards success, while others may perceive it as a definitive and permanent defeat. How one interprets and responds to failure plays a crucial role in personal development and future endeavors.
How Do You Respond to Failure?
First, I know that failure is not inherently negative. I learn valuable lessons, insights, and experiences that contribute to my personal growth, resilience, and the development of new strategies. Embracing failure has become a part of me and overtime, I develop a positive mindset to bounce back.
How Do I Recover From Failure?
At times it was not to study harder, but ask others how to get what I needed done. It was to rely on other people to tell me what to do and how to do it. You can never be too proud not to ask for help when in need of it. Nor can you be stubborn either and decline help when it is offered. Here is what I do to recover:
• I start with introspection to determine how I contributed to my own failure
• I allow myself to be angry about my failure(s)
• I never feel sorry for myself
• I talk to my family and friends
• I lean on other professions; I am not ashamed to tell others that I failed
• I listen to the experiences of other professionals
• Then, I act, such as adding other services (coaching, tutoring, and etc.)
• Lastly, I try again until I win
Recently, I learned from a 4-year-old child to “try again.” This child also told me “good” to allowing others to help me when I fail. Out of the mouths of babes, right? It was an incredible moment for me and a lesson that I want to share with all of you. You must “cowboy up” as my husband says, and get it done.
I Am Embarrassed Because I Failed
Your failure was unplanned, frustrating, and disheartening, I know. Been there. Our personal goals are high and we can invest a lot of time, energy, and money into accomplishing our dreams. Now is the time to grieve.
• Allow yourself to feel and acknowledge your emotions.
• Give yourself permission to experience failure in a healthy way.
• Gain perspective.
• Recognize that failure is a part of life.
• Analyze the situation.
• Look for opportunities for growth that can be derived from the failure.
• Be kind and compassionate to yourself.
What Do I Do Now?
Remember, other people fail as well especially the ones that you perceive as perfect. If you get them in a corner 1-to-1, they will tell you how they failed multiple times. I want you to set new goals, adjust your strategies, and gain a clear understanding of what went wrong. Monitor your progress to keep you motivated along the way. Go ahead and create a timeline and deadlines and regularly review and adjust your timeline as needed. Don’t forget to share your goals with trusted friends, family members, or mentors who can provide support and accountability. This is the one area that I find most people are afraid to do as a result of fear. Tell others what has happened to you to allow them to emotionally support you. It helps. Finally, setting new goals doesn't mean you won't face challenges or setbacks in the future. You may fail again at something important to you, but always embrace the learning mindset and,
“If At First You Don't Succeed, Then Dust Yourself Off and Try Again” – "Try Again" by Aaliyah Dana Haughton RIP
This photo made me smile. It is all about happiness. A feeling that all of us want to have at some point within our lives. Yet, some will interpret this picture negatively for various reasons other than seeing this person as a happy human being. I know that mindset all too well. It is one that I have encountered within my life. It does not feel good at all; however, you learn how to cope with it. Hurt people hurt other people. Misery shapes their mindset and actions. It is the reason that some politicians enact bills that discriminate and hurt others. For example, the Parental Rights in Education Bill dubbed as the "Don't Say Gay" bill that bans sexual orientation and gender identity issues from classrooms in Florida. Considering that 42% of LGBTQIA+ youth and 52% of trans youth seriously considered suicide in 2021 in American, (NEA, 2022), I think we need to keep our children and youth talking and feeling comfortable in the classroom. Anti-gay rhetoric increases mental health related issues with our LGBTQIA+ children and youth. My goal with this blog is to educate others about the mental health of LGBTQIA+ children and youth. It is not intended to persuade anyone to be more accepting of individual differences. Allow your own conscious to guide you on that one. However, let's start with the basics: What does LGBTQIA+ mean?
The term "LGBTQIA" is an acronym that represents a range of sexual orientations and gender identities. Here's what each letter typically stands for:
Now that you understand what the acronym means, it's disheartening to me that some people harbor hate towards LGBTQIA+ children and youth. This hatred, however, is hurting them. There are many reasons why some people hold negative attitudes toward this population starting with ignorance and lack of exposure. People who have limited exposure to diverse sexual orientations and gender identities may lack understanding and empathy. Ignorance can contribute to the perpetuation of stereotypes, fear, and prejudice. Here are other reasons:
Importance of Accepting LGBTQIA+ Children & Youth
Love is missing. To me, it is a lot easier to love than to hate and all LGBTQIA+ children and youth want is to be loved. Positive emotions toward them will decrease their negative feelings. These children may have a sexual orientation or gender identity that is different from societal norms or expectations and as a result, can face unique challenges and experiences in their personal lives, schools, and communities. You can help them by doing the following:
Mental Health & LGBTQIA+ Children & Youth
Important: LGBTQIA+ individuals face unique challenges and experiences that can impact their well-being and mental health. Some of the areas impacted include:
Remember, hatred and prejudice are learned behaviors, often rooted in ignorance, fear, and deeply ingrained societal biases. We do not need to hate anyone as a result of their unique differences. We need to do a much better job with supporting the mental health of LGBTQIA+ children and youth. Let's promote acceptance, create safe and inclusive spaces, provide access to LGBTQIA+-affirming mental health care, and challenge stigma and discrimination. You all better learn how to love one another!
My experience with helicopter moms is significant because I encounter this behavior quite often in my career. The severity has ranged from mild to severe and every mother's story is different; behaviors are justified, and in most cases their behavior(s) negatively impacted their children. We carry our children for 9 months and release them into the world; I am a mother, I get it. Nevertheless, Dory (Finding Nemo, 2003), said it best, youtu.be/zEMcEYZr7Cw Go ahead, click the YouTube link. This is the most powerful part of the movie to me, and I also share Dory's sentiments while speaking to Marlon:
What Is a Helicopter Mom?
A "helicopter mom" is a parent who is overly involved in their child's life, often to the point of being controlling or smothering. A mother who is constantly hovering over their child, ready to intervene or solve problems at the slightest sign of difficulty. If you identify with the following characteristics, then you are a helicopter mom:
How Does Being a Helicopter Mom Hurt My Kids?
While I am positive that your intentions are good because you want to help your child succeed; however, your "helicopter mom" behavior can have negative consequences. Here are some examples:
Why am I a Helicopter Mom?
I questioned this behavior several times in mothers who self-identified as helicopter moms. Some have anxiety, trauma, and other fears of the world. Here are some possible reasons:
How Can I Stop Being a Helicopter Mom?
If you recognize that you may be a helicopter mom and want to stop, here are some steps you can take:
It is important for helicopter moms to strike a balance between being involved in their child's life and giving them space to learn and grow. While it is natural to want to protect and support your children, you must allow them to experience challenges and develop their own coping strategies. This can help children gain resilience, self-reliance, and a sense of autonomy.
-I did not say it was easy!
Helicopter parenting is not limited to mothers, and can be exhibited by any parent regardless of gender. Despite their reasons, it's important for parents to be aware of the potential negative consequences of helicopter parenting. Changing your parenting style takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself and your child as you work towards a healthier and more balanced approach to parenting.
Remember, you did not want your parents hovering over you...
Are You Responsible?
For hurting the feelings of some parents? Daily, I listen to parents who share with me that they do not to take their child or children out in public due to fear of scrutiny from others. I find this utterly ridiculous and we should be ashamed of ourselves for making these parents feel as if they are imprisoned in their own homes due to our behavior(s) toward them because of their children’s behavior(s.) They report hearing public statements such as,
Then there are the dirty looks that convey the same feelings just with nonverbal communication and stares. Either people continue to gaze at them as they struggle with their children, or they focus their gawks strictly toward the children as if they want to discipline them on behalf of the parents. That attitude intentionally makes parents feel bad about their children. Parents love their children and want what is best for them, and making them feel troubled about their children can cause unnecessary pain and damage to their livelihoods. It is much better to focus on the positive qualities and achievements of children and parents, rather than dwelling on their shortcomings or mistakes. Besides,
This is a question that the parents want me to ask the public. Sometimes, more seasoned parents are quick to think that their way of dealing with children is the correct way for all families. They base this narcissism on how they raised their kids. As if someone died and made them "The God(s) of Parenting!" Further, who said you get to decide what another parent is doing incorrectly as they learn to handle their children. It is perfectly fine if what they decide does not align with your experiences. Society can be so busy scowling at these parents that they do not consider other factors that may contribute to these children’s, perceived, negative behaviors. For example,
• Educational disabilities
• Mental health impairments
• Neurodivergent “neurospicy” disorders
• Medical conditions
What if a child cannot help it? Ever consider that some of these children's behaviors may fall into one of the above categories, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)? How about cutting these families some slack based upon your ignorance about their struggles? One thing you can do for them, however, is to help when you witness their public distress. In case you are wondering, yes, I have assisted parents in public places. I am that person who will ask a parent on an airplane, for example, if I can support them with holding their baby as they put another one to sleep. Even when I do not want to lend a helping hand to parents, (I work with children and their families daily), I make sure that I do NOT glare at them if their child is misbehaving, (i.e., temper tantrums) out in public. I remember a few elderly women on an airplane helped me with my oldest child when she was 3-months-old and sick as we flew back home. I pay it forward.
Guilty of Forgetting?
Some parents of adult children forget what it is like to have toddlers. They fail to recall the sleepless nights, picky eating, public temper tantrums, frustration, sweating, and uncertainty about their own competence and parenting skills. Neglecting to recall how hard it was to function as a working parent while feeling like a parental failure does not excuse you from bad behavior toward these parents. Parents of disruptive toddlers are anxious and constantly questioning themselves and their children with,
“Is this normal?”
When something stands out within their children that seems atypical, it is an awful feeling. To make matters worse, waiting lists for therapists, psychological testing, and special education evaluations take months to occur in order to find out if something is wrong with their child. Then, other people make them feel bad and stupid while downplaying their children's behaviors with statements such as,
The most common statement I am told is,
Did you even hear the parent's concerns? No, you did not because you were too busy ignoring their them. Before they can fully tell you about their child or children's symptoms, you were ready to tell them what you did that worked for your own children. You are not an active listener. You are not displaying empathy. You are not being a good role model. The sad part is that these parents can shut down and resort to denying symptoms about their children because you made them feel as if it was in their imagination. Some endure excessive worrying which can disrupt their lives, or they unsuccessfully try to fix the problems on their own. The children suffer. Why? Because they may not receive needed assistance in the early developmental period which may exacerbate their symptoms.
How Can We Help Distressed Parents?
It is simple. First, have some empathy! Remove your negative, automatic thoughts, and replace them with useful ones. Parenting can be a challenging task, especially when children are taxing. Here are some ways to assist, encourage, and guide parents struggling with problematic children:
• Provide Respite Care: Parents can use a break every now and then, and having a trusted friend or family member take care of their children for a few hours can be a much-needed respite.
• Offer practical help: Offer to help with household chores or errands to give the parents more time and energy to focus on their child. Offering to run errands for the family, such as picking up groceries or dropping off dry cleaning, can be a big help. Parents with young children often struggle to keep up with household chores. Offering to help with tasks like laundry, dishes, or vacuuming can be a big help.
• Bring over meals: Cooking can be time-consuming and exhausting, especially for parents with young children. Bringing over a home-cooked meal can be a thoughtful and practical gesture.
• Listen and offer support: Parenting can be overwhelming at times, and having someone to talk to can be a big relief. Simply listening and offering support can make a big difference.
• Offer to help with transportation: Parents with young children often have to juggle multiple schedules and appointments. Offering to help with transportation, such as driving children to school or extracurricular activities, can be a big help.
• Share resources: Sharing information about local parenting resources, such as parenting classes, playgroups, or support groups, can be a valuable resource for parents.
• Encourage the parents to seek professional help: Parents of aggressive children may benefit from the guidance of a mental health professional. Encourage them to seek counseling or therapy for themselves and their child.
• Offer to help with research: Researching and finding resources that may be helpful for the family can be time-consuming. Offer to help the parents research support groups, parenting classes, or other resources that may be available in their community.
• Provide a safe and calm environment: If possible, offer a calm and safe environment for the child to play in. This can give the parents a break and may help the child feel more comfortable.
• Listen and offer support: Parents of aggressive children may feel isolated or judged. Simply listening to their concerns and offering support can be helpful.
• Encourage self-care: Caring for an aggressive child can be exhausting and stressful. Encourage the parents to take care of themselves and to prioritize self-care, such as exercise, hobbies, or spending time with friends.
Give These Parents A Break
If you have never had a child with troublesome behaviors, consider yourself lucky. Supporting parents, especially those of challenging children, is not going to hurt you. It is not easy on these parents and it truly does "take a village" to raise a child. When encountering these families in public, remember, you do not know their story. Use your knowledge and insight while respecting their boundaries and feelings. Every child is different, and what worked for your child or children, may not work for another. Assist parents with finding out what works for their family and to stay positive and patient throughout the process. Even small acts of kindness can make a big difference in the lives of parents with young children.
Similar to you, I get curious about "The Shooter" in mass shootings. I want to know all about this person from their childhood through the time of the murdering of innocent people. For me, it is a matter of wanting to know the catalyst for such a heinous act and most importantly, how did society fail this person to the point of committing a mass murder? In my mind, it is unbelievable tragic and I am sure that it leaves many of you wondering things such as,
All of our communities are impacted by the devastating effects of gun violence. Still, given the fact that white men account for the majority of mass shootings, has our society done a disservice to them by ignoring their problems simply because they are, well white men? If we are, then we need to develop a comprehensive approach that addresses the complex interplay of factors, such as the examples below, that contribute to these tragedies:
Not all shooters have been diagnosed with a form of mental illness. Yet, one of the first justifications about the shooter is that the person is mentally ill, especially if the shooter is white and male. Some media sources discuss the cause of a person's decision to conduct a mass shooting as being due to mental illness more than they do easy access to guns or allowing families to grieve. Mental illness can impact people of all races and genders, and solely focusing on mental illness as the cause for mass shootings has not lessened the number of incidences of mass shootings in the United States.
Recognize that men, overall, are more violent than women. Men tend to internalize their problems, (see my blog about "Pay Attention To Men's Mental Health), www.lisaligginschambers.com/questions/q21-men and are more angry often blaming others for their challenges. These men are in crisis and have legal access to fire arms to relieve themselves of their negative feelings by murdering others and sometimes themselves.
The Shooter Characteristics
The lack of discipline, redirection, or structure reinforces the child's thinking that, it is okay to hurt others. In other words, harming others achieves what they want, (i.e., attention, food, and affection). These boys grow up with a sense of entitlement until society teaches them that this behavior is unacceptable, and they feel angry about it. Masculinity can be questioned and acts of violence, including mass shootings, can make them feel more masculine. As sad as it is, their anger can also stem from racial hatred, misogyny, and political rhetoric that does not condemn white men for this type of violence, but supports it against minorities. This, in turn, keeps up their ideologies and justifies their decision to partake in a mass shooting. This societal privilege is a learned behavior. It is afforded to white men simply because of their race and gender. This privilege can manifest in various ways, such as in the workplace, in politics, in education, and in social situations. Due to this white male entitlement, they receive lower levels of scrutiny and suspicion from law enforcement when crimes are committed. In the case of mass shootings they, nor their copycats, fear repercussions for their decisions to engage in mass shootings.
Decreasing Mass Shootings
Our society needs more interventions in place BEFORE these tragedies happen, including the following:
It is important to note that not all individuals who fit these characteristics will become mass shooters, and that there is no single profile that can accurately predict who will engage in this type of violence. Additionally, it is important to avoid making assumptions or stereotypes based on a shooter's race, gender, or other demographic factors, as this can perpetuate harmful biases and distract from effective solutions to prevent future tragedies and promote a safer and more just society for everyone.