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Friday, January 28, 2011

Diana Taurasi is next on the List

This week, Diana Taurasi joins Snooki and Heidi Montag on the list of Women We Don't Want our Daughters to Be Like.

My Dad often told me that if you have to cheat to win, it's not worth winning. Course, that was one of the reasons my Dad (and rest of the family) stopped playing board games with me. I hated to lose, and I would do almost anything to win. Steal Monopoly money when you're not looking, switch the dice, knock the whole board on the floor so we had to reset everything.

Now, I don't want to jump to conclusions regarding Diana Taurasi's double positive test for a banned stimulant called Modafinil. But if you connect the dots, it's suspicious, at the very least.

Over the summer, Taurasi, who plays for the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA, said she was giving serious consideration to taking off some time from either the WNBA, her European team, or both. Her reason was that her body needs a rest.

With that proclamation, the ownership of the Mercury doubled her salary to $100,000 and Taurasi signed a new multi-year contract. Not bad coin for about three months worth of basketball.

Unfortunately, most players in the WNBA don't think making between $49,000 and $100,000 for three months is enough, so many of them play overseas in the WNBA off season. Who can blame them. They can make sometimes ten times their WNBA salary playing in Russia, Australia or many European locales. Foreign owners also pamper their American stars with lavish perks like free use of expensive automobiles, free living quarters in fancy villas, free massages, clothing allowances, etc.

So Taurasi goes to her new foreign team late this fall, defending Turkish champ, Fenerbahce. This is where the positive drug test occurred.

Now, of course Taurasi denies ever taking Modafinil, and she told her former UConn coach Geno Auriemma as much. But how many drug cheaters have uttered that phrase before? Taurasi's agent emphasized in his media statement that Taurasi did not test positive for steroids or any recreational drugs.

That's an ironic defense because even though Modafinil is an ingredient in alertness medications (for people with sleep apnea, for example) it's also been proven to be a masking agent for steroids. That's why it's banned by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency). Just ask former U.S. sprinter Kelli White, who won the 100- and 200-meter sprints at the 2003 World Championships, only to be stripped of her gold medals after testing for....yep, you guessed it...Modafinil.

So that's the primary reason that Taurasi joins the list of Women We Don't Want our Daughters to Be Like, but there's more.

Taurasi is, arguably, the best women's basketball player of all time to this point in history. She led UConn to consecutive national championships in 2002, 2003, 2004 and she won every conceivable award at the collegiate level. UConn fans are rabid, to say the least, and she's got thousands of little girls who look up to her.

As a professional, she was the #1 pick in the 2004 WNBA draft. Earned Rookie of the Year honors, and led Phoenix to the WNBA championship in 2007 and 2009. She's been a member of USA Basketball, helping the women capture gold medals at both the 2004 and the 2008 Olympic Games, becoming only the seventh female to win an NCAA championship, a WNBA championship and an Olympic gold medal.

Combine her WNBA salary ($100,000) with the minimum $500,000 she was receiving from Fenerbahce, and she was making a pretty nice salary.

As a result of her positive drug test, Taurasi has been dumped from her Turkish team. Goodbye half a million bucks. She also could face up to a two-year ban from international competition, which means goodbye 2012 Olympics in London.

Toss in her arrest last July when she was pulled over at 2:30 am in the Phoenix desert with a blood alcohol content of .17 and her speedometer pushing the far end of the spectrum. She was charged with excessive DUI and excessive speeding. Both charges were reduced to one, simple DUI (I'd like someone to explain the difference to me between excessive DUI and simple DUI). She spent one day in jail, out of her ten-day sentence.

Seems that when Geno Auriemma was gloating over the three national titles Taurasi helped him win, he forgot to teach her about real world stuff, like making good choices, honoring your obligations and measuring up to the little girls who idolize her.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Another Reason I Hate Cheerleading

Most people who've known me for any length of time know that I despise cheerleading. My wife has told me, over the years, that if any of our daughters had been cheerleaders, I would've supported them 100%. I've told her not to be so sure of that. I can't honestly admit that I would've. That's how much I cannot stand it. I'd much rather watch an hour of 'beehive soccer' or 50 turnovers in a youth basketball game than cheerleading. Heck, I think I'd rather have a colonoscopy. Of course, I might change my mind about that last one since I've yet to hit the big 5-0 and have yet to have the pleasure.

Now don't get me wrong. I don't despise the girls and young women who are cheerleaders. I know there are readers whose daughters cheer. It's not personal. I don't think cheerleaders are bad people. Although I do notice some social behaviors in cheerleaders that I don't appreciate.

I despise the activity of cheerleading. Notice I didn't say 'the sport' of cheerleading. I can't stand the premise behind the activity. I could write an entire post about my strong dislike for cheerleading. I will if you want me to.

But what caught my eye recently was a Sports Illustrated article that briefly discussed the link between cheerleading and eating disorders prevalent among the young women who cheer.

According to the study by Toni Torres-McGehee at the University of South Carolina, 33% of the young women in her study are at risk for eating disorders. Think about that number. Think about the hundreds of thousands of girls from Pop Warner to the Laker Girls who cheer. One-third of them are at risk for bulimia or anorexia or a variety of other eating disorders. That's a staggering number.

Who are most susceptible? Those girls whose cheer uniforms expose their stomachs. I admit that I don't follow cheerleading, my daughters have never participated and my favorite football team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, is the only franchise in the National Football League that doesn't have cheerleaders. Another commendable practice by the best ownership in professional sports - the Rooney family.

So I'm not an expert on the activity. But I do seem to recall that whenever I've seen cheerleaders, be it a high school game, a college game or a professional event, I've rarely seen a cheerleader that could even be considered plump, let alone overweight.

It seems to me that if the uniform required to participate in an activity requires the participants to, possibly, engage in unhealthy, and sometimes deadly, behaviors just to be able to participate in the activity, something's wrong.

But I don't want to misguide your focus. In years past I've written quite a few newspaper articles on eating disorders. It's a plague on our daughters. We need to be able to recognize the symptoms and we need to be able to know how to intervene and how help our daughters either avoid this or, if they are engaging in this type of behavior, how to help.

I will write more about this, probably several times, and I'll also try to get some expert advice and commentary as well.

Please don't forget to share the link to this blog with friends and colleagues who have daughters. I'm also getting some responses from single Moms as well. Don't be shy...leave me a comment.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Monday, January 24, 2011

It's All About Balance...I Think

I've always wondered, to myself, if I've pushed my daughters too hard, or not hard enough.

When I was a kid, I recall my mother and my father frequently reminding me to always do the best I could do, at whatever it was I was doing. I still try to adhere to that mantra. I also remember that they were not overly pushy until they knew my capabilities. In other words, if I received a grade on a report card that they might not have been pleased with, they might not get too upset with me. Unless I had demonstrated previously that I could do better than that grade indicated I'd done. Then the conversation took on a completely different tone. Any of you with Italian heritage know the power of the Italian Mother's Guilt Trip. Or the strength of a stubborn German's leather belt.

It was the same way with my athletic career. I started playing Little League baseball when I was seven years old. I can't remember when I started to play Pop Warner football, but it was probably a couple years later. I remember the night I came home from my first football practice. It was the most physically demanding two hours I'd ever had in my life. I was completely unprepared for it, as were my parents. I got out of my Dad's Chevy Impala, collapsed on the grass of our front yard, and proclaimed that I was probably going to quit. It was too hard. The coaches seemed kind of mean.

My Dad didn't protest too much about my designs on quitting, even though I've always thought of my Dad as a tough guy. But what he did talk to me about, and what my Mom reinforced over a cold drink and a snack, was that quitting was not something that I should be too comfortable with, and quitting wasn't a good trait to have on one's resume. They persuaded me to give it a try, to do my best, and to see how things went after a week or so. I'm glad they talked me out of quitting because football eventually provided some of the most memorable points in my life, as well as helping to pay for a nice chunk of my college education.

So I heard about this recent article in The Wall Street Journal by Amy Chua, where she elaborates about why Chinese mothers (called "Tiger Moms" in her article) are the most superior mothers on the planet. Really?! Chua admits to calling her daughters 'trash' when they do not perform up to her expectations, and also she admits to denying them dinner if they do not perfect a piece of music, forcing them to practice on their instruments sometimes for three hours at a time. In my mind, that's complete bonkers, not superior parenting.

Or if you happen to take in an episode of Toddlers and Tiaras on The Learning Channel, you'll find wacky mothers preparing their young daughters for child beauty pageants by having their daughter's eyebrows waxed. Five year old daughters.

We've all encountered the crazy 'soccer mom,' albeit in a variety of sports, and maybe some of us are the crazy sports parent.

My wife and I have almost always tried to allow our daughters the opportunity to try almost anything that they were interested in, aside from the stupid trampoline in the yard which I've never allowed. Piano lessons, karate, soccer, choir, softball, basketball, Girl Scouts. Fortunately I was able to avoid being the Den Mother for my girl's scout troop, although you most likely had to have hair and some other essentials for that position. I also never qualified for the Girl Scout Cookie coordinator because I was told if you ate more than you sold, that wasn't a good example for the girls.

As my daughters got older, we've spent a lot of time in gymnasiums all over the mid Atlantic states for basketball tournaments of all kinds, and I've coached for 13 years. I've never had visions of grandeur for my daughters, but I wanted to keep them out of the shopping malls, and I wanted them to learn about all those things you don't learn in a classroom from a textbook: hard work, discipline, working as a team for a larger goal, how to overcome adversity, how to accept it when you don't win the game, and all those other things kids have learned for centuries from playing team sports. Sometimes the lessons you learn are negative lessons, and my two oldest have, unfortunately, had their share of those in their high school careers. But that's another discussion.

So I don't know if I've answered my original question. I think it's more difficult to be pushy with daughters than with sons. I think that's partially a biological thing and partially a societal thing, although I'm sure there are scientists in both of those areas who would say I don't know a thing about either. I also think there are lots of parents, male and female, who push their kids too hard in all endeavors. I've always tried to err on the side of not being too pushy, but I often wonder if my daughters would've excelled more in certain pursuits if I would've pushed them harder.

I guess I remember something else my Dad always said. If you want something bad enough, you'll work hard enough to get it.

P.S. Don't forget to tell you daughter that you love her.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Heidi Montag makes the List

Reality television star Heidi Montag has acquired quite a few assets over the past few years. Unfortunately, most of them are fake. Or plastic, whichever way you want to look at it. And while Montag doesn't appear to be an awful person, she's the second to join the list of Females We Don't Want our Daughters to be Like.

In our first installment of the list, Snooki from MTV's "Jersey Shore," earned low marks for basically being the kind of girl a father might be disappointed in if she appeared in public. Unfortunately, Snooki has her 15 minutes of fame and most reasonable people, especially fathers, cringe whenever she opens her mouth or makes a public appearance.

Montag, on the other hand, makes the list for a different, but equally important reason. Read the comment from Tom Jones after the Snooki post last week. It always amazes me what other people see in what I write. Tom talked about how important this 'list' is because we need to remind our daughters about seeking appropriate role models and leaders. He also mentions discussing this with his adult daughter.

I'll do a quick recap. Montag rose to fame on the MTV series 'The Hills,' then parlayed that into an appearance (with hubby Spencer Pratt) on the reality show, "I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here." Heidi and hubby also did a guest appearance on CBS's "How I Met Your Mother" ...why I can't understand. CBS must've been desperate. Heidi also had a cameo in the Adam Sandler film, "Just go With It."

Now while Heidi most likely isn't too far ahead of Snooki on the MENSA test, she at least has tried to parlay her brief fame into some tangible resources. She's started a clothing line, and has some other business projects in the works.

Unfortunately, from a Father's standpoint, Heidi also has acquired these many assets. In 2007, she had breast augmentation, rhinoplasty (which is a nosey thing, I think), and collagen lip injections. She followed that up in November of 2009 by possibly setting a Guiness record for having 10 plastic surgery procedures in one day. Ten. Seriously?!

During that day, Dr. Frank Ryan gave her brow-lifts, ear-pinnings, a chin reduction, a second rhinoplasty and a second breast augmentation among other enhancements. Montag said in an interview after that day that she nearly died because she required so much Demerol that her breathing had been reduced to five breaths per minute. I don't know about you, but I can think of better things to take my breath away than making sure that my ears don't have people confusing me with one of the elves from Lord of the Rings, my chin makes me look like Mr. Ed (I know, I'm dating myself) and that my breasts are big enough that Hugh Hefner finally takes notice enough to put me in Playboy Magazine.

At the time, Montag was effusive in her praise of Dr. Ryan and overjoyed with her many enhancements. That is, until this year. She had a change of heart. In an interview for Life and Style magazine (December 2010 issue) she revealed the scars and marks from her surgeries, then expressed regret for having all of the surgical procedures, then, as could be expected, blamed the doctors because they didn't prepare her enough for the consequences of her surgeries. Her obsession with these makeovers was legendary, so I'm not sure ANY doctor could have prepared her for the end results, nor would she have listened to them.

So we have a 24-year old young lady who's estranged from her mother because of this plastic obsession, she's reported to be six figures in debt, and she's been reported to be getting a divorce from Pratt like two or three times, only to reconsider.

But what we as Fathers (and any Moms who read) must focus on with our daughters is this. The reason Montag had these plastic enhancements done is because she has some serious self-esteem issues and many of those stem from her insecurities about her body in the land of Hollywood and Maxim magazine. So we need to make sure we are telling our daughters, on a consistent basis, that what's inside their heart, and inside their brains and inside their souls means a whole lot more to us and to almost anyone else who sincerely cares about them, than what those characteristics are packaged in.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter you love her.

P.S.S. Don't forget to leave me a comment, maybe a recommendation on who's next on the list, sign up as a follower, share this with your friends and colleagues who have daughters. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dads and the Secret Code

I love making my daughters laugh. I'm not talking about an occasional chuckle, like, 'hey Dad, that was kind of funny.' I'm talking about a full frontal belly roar, uncontrollable get the picture. Except, for me, making my daughters laugh like that is difficult because no one's every confused me with Jeff Foxworthy. I don't possess the joke telling skills of Bill Cosby, so I'm relegated to watching re-runs of my personal favorite, Ron White. I sometimes have to change my shorts after I watch that guy. But I digress.

I picked up my middle daughter at basketball practice last night and halfway home I had her laughing so hard that she said her stomach and her sides hurt. It didn't take that much on my part. All I did was use one of her teenage slang sayings in response to a question she asked me.

She said, 'Dad, is there a good possibility that we have a delayed opening for school tomorrow (because of the weather forecast)?'

My response? Two slang words. Fo Show. Which, in teenage-speak means, For Sure for any of you who need the translation. It was my attempt at being cool. Of course, I haven't been cool, or at least considered myself cool since Ronald Reagan's second term as President. But the fact that I made my daughter laugh so hard was worth the lame attempt at Dad-coolness. Most times, those attempts to be cool in front of your daughter  end up being like the time in high school when you pulled up to pick up your date to go to the movies, only to have her mother tell you that she just left with someone else.

Of course, after my daughter stopped laughing, she asked me where I'd heard that expression. I had to admit that I'd heard it from her younger sister. Most times when there's a group of girls hanging out at the house, they speak freely, and while I'm not usually in the same room as are they, my Dad-radar is always on. Especially if boys are being discussed. Most times, the radar picks up something useful.

Now my youngest daughter has the exact opposite reaction when I use her slang language. She gets irritated with me because it's like I'm stealing her secret code. And this is what really gets her annoyed. Using her slang in the proper context!! Drives her bonkers. And I love it. Of course I know better than to take things too far.

But what's a Dad to do? I mean, honestly, how many times do we receive text messages from our daughters, and we stare at our cell phone, and we say WTH (What The Heck).

There's an abbreviation for everything, and NO ONE has given Dads the magic translator key. We're just supposed to know that BBIAF means Be Back in a Few. Why can't it mean, Buy Beer I'm At Foodstore? Or instead of TTYL meaning, Talk To You Later, why can't it mean, Too Tight Yell Louder. And how does MWAH translate to mean Kiss? Really? At least there's one translation Dads can always fall back on in self-defense. And it works equally as well with our wives as it does with our daughters. IAC, or I Am Confused.

P.S. Don't forget to tell you daughter you love her

P.S.S. Last week, Snooki was first on our list of Females We Don't Want Our Daughters to Be Like. Who's next on the list this week?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Clint Eastwood and Teenage Girls

I just started reading a biography about Clint Eastwood (American Rebel: the Life of Clint Eastwood) by Marc Eliot. I've always been a big fan of the Man with No Name, for some obvious reasons, and for some that aren't so obvious. Eliot's book, so far, is really good because of the details he's acquired that some biographers might not have. It's not a sensational style of biography, but a thorough examination of the man, warts and all.

And Clint has some warts. One is that he has seven kids by five different mothers. That he knows about. So in an article this past October commemorating his 80th birthday (I can only hope that I'm as productive at his age as is he) by David Germain of the Associated Press, Clint was asked what is was like to be the father of a 13-year old girl at the ripe old age of 80. His response was simple, that after 80 years he knows of all the "nameless terrors of which we dare not speak." He went on to say that fatherhood is easier for him now than it was for him in his 50s because he's no longer "trying to grab the brass ring."

I guess I take offense to that to a degree. Clint's assertion that his professional goals prevented him, or inhibited his ability to be a good father to his children doesn't work for me. Many of you who read this blog regularly travel for your jobs, work hard, might not always be home when you want to be, maybe we miss an event or an activity that we really wish we hadn't. But I know that we also take the time to spend as much quality time with our daughters (and sons) as we possibly can, and when we can't we are blessed with technology that we can use to stay in touch, whether it's via cell phone, Skype, text messaging, etc. We can still have a presence in our daughter's life even if we can't physically be there at the moment we wished we were. Is that the same as being there? No. But I think it's just as important to stay in touch, however you can and however your daughter lets you.

My oldest daughter is in the middle of her second year of college. She's the most introverted of my three girls, and she doesn't say a lot. If she won the MegaMillions today, you'd barely know it. So I try not to bug her when she's at college. I'll send her an occasional text message. I'm going to start to do some other things as well, like sending her an occasional care package, or a card just for the heck of it. Even though she's close, I know she'll appreciate those things.

But back to my main point. Does striving for professional success prevent us from being good fathers to our daughters? My life's experience says, No. In fact, I could argue that if we don't try to achieve great things professionally, we are letting our daughters (and family) down, because we are not providing for them the life that we'd like them to be able to enjoy. This point is a little bittersweet for me at this moment because I recently lost my third job in 30 months. But that's a story for another day and it'd most likely take a couple of adult beverages to explain.

So on one hand, I don't want fathers to feel guilty about working hard and trying to achieve great things at their job. On the other hand, I encourage you to make time to spend with your daughter(s) regardless of their age. Whether it's as simple as taking her to Starbucks or Panera Bread for a coffee or lunch, going to a movie, or renting a movie (see my post from December 21). Maybe you want to have a Daddy-Daughter weekend and take her to New York city or Philadelphia to see a play and have a really nice dinner and maybe take her to her favorite store. Whatever those things are that make your daughter smile and make her happy, make sure that you're making some time to actively engage with her in those. And turn off your Blackberry and don't check it until your day is complete, or your daughter's asleep.

There was one line in the AP article about Clint's 80th birthday that I think all Dads with daughters need to remember. Of course, if you're Clint Eastwood, I guess this is a lot easier to say and believe. Clint said, "Real masculinity is the confidence to not have to prove your manhood."

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

P.S.S. I've been getting some emails and some in-person comments about making sure that I keep this blog going...but remember. This is a two-way street. I'm not an expert, and I'm not a child psychologist. I need you guys (and mothers if there's any reading) to leave me comments at the end of posts, to email me  thoughts and ideas that you'd like me to write about or to investigate. Right now I'm a man on a deserted island, but I've got plenty of beer and enough food to get me through a while. But when my supplies run out, I'm going to need some assistance from you faithful readers.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snooki's First on the List

I don't know if this is going to be a Top Ten list or not, it might end up being longer than that. Certainly not shorter.

I think it's natural for kids to aspire to be like someone else. An athlete, a scientist, a lawyer (well, maybe not), an actor, a rock star, whatever.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be Julius Erving during basketball season, Jack Lambert during football season, and Nolan Ryan during baseball season. As I got a little bit older and began to really enjoy writing, Frank Deford was added to my hero list. Anyone too young to know who any of those guys are can certainly do a search to find out.

As I now have kids of my own, and have for sometime now, I've come to realize that my real hero all along was my Dad.

Nowadays, with the proliferation of all things having to do with the world wide web, the Internet, reality television, Facebook, My Space, etc., kids certainly have lots of choices of people who they might want to emulate. Most of those are horrendous choices, for various reasons.

So I'm going to make it my mission for however long it takes to develop a list, with a weekly post, about females that we DON'T want our daughters to be like.

This is in no particular order, but the first person that comes to mind, is Nicole Polizzi. Before you say, who's that? If I said Snooki, would that ring a bell? MTV's reality show Jersey Shore?

Some parents may view Snooki's reality television stardom as something to celebrate. After all, in this reality show era, many people say, 'hey, if she can do it, why not me?'

Here's a brief list of Snooki's attributes:
          a. She might be the least intelligent reality star of all time. Considering the rest of her Jersey Shore cast, I know that's saying something. Here's a few brainteasers from Snooki.
     On The Jay Leno Show last year, Snooki and two of her male cast mates were part of the Jaywalking All Star skit and the subject of the trivia game was, 'things you should have learned in school.'
     Snooki bravely stated these stunners: the United Nations is located in Albany, New York; the current vice president of the United States' last name is Krone; Dick Cheney's job involved trying to shoot former President Bush, and this gem...when former President Ronald Reagan told Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall," he was referring to a dam located in Denver. She also shared with Jay that she doesn't read books and her goal is to "change the world" by installing a tanning bed in everyone's home. Yep, that'll certainly change some things.

          b. She's a drunk. One of her top three goals in life is to drink as much as she can as often as she can. Now I realize that some men might find that attractive. Until they wake up the next morning. Last year she was arrested in Seaside Heights for drunk and disorderly. I grew up in Jersey and spent quite a bit of time in Seaside Heights. Getting arrested for that offense is difficult to accomplish. According to the New York Daily News she was so intoxicated on this particular occasion that she could not physically get herself up off of the beach. People had to turn her head to the side so she didn't suffocate herself in the sand. Then she had the class and dignity to launch into an expletive-laced tirade against the police officers who were trying to do their jobs without any fanfare.

           c. She's hunter...I don't know what is the politically correct descriptive word to use here. If I were at the bar with the boys, I could use the word that's in my brain, but I'm not so I wont. Aside from drinking large quantities of alcohol, Snooki's other primary goal in life is to have sex with any man that will have her. That might take a few drinks on the part of the man. I mean, Snooki's not exactly in the running for the cover of Glamour magazine. But I digress.

Snooki has other qualities that we could address, but the bottom line is this. I hope that all Dads will want more for their daughters, and expect more FROM their daughters than to be an intellectually-challenged, drunk, man hunter.

Snooki recently garnered a major news story because, hold your breath, she's getting rid of the the pouf in her hair and is getting a whole new 'do. She said in that article that she wants people to take her seriously and that the pouf didn't match her career goals.

Considering that Snooki gave up a lucrative gig as a receptionist to do Jersey Shore (no pun intended), I'm reminded of an all-time classic line from one of my favorite movies, 'Animal House.'

As Dean Wormer stands in the midst of a disheveled living room in the Delta Fraternity house, gleefully reciting to each Delta brother what was his grade point average for the semester, he comes to the late John Belushi's character and he states, "Mr., point, zero, zero. Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life."

Please feel free to leave me some comments, or to leave me some suggestions about who you might put on this list.

P.S. Tell your daughter you love her.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Gorillas in our Midst

Having worked in higher education for the better part of 19 years, I know that research can be manipulated to show whatever it is that the scientist set out to demonstrate in the first place.

So when I came across this article by Carmen Chai in Postmedia News, my first thought was 'who in the heck would pay for that research study?' My second thought was how ludicrous it is and my third thought was, 'I've got to share this with my Dads.'

According to this study done by a team of researchers at the University of Miami, it was determined that females between the ages of 18-22 avoid talking on the phone to their fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, et al about half as much during high fertility days as they would on normal days. Huh?

Now, the fact that it took a 'team' of researchers to review the cell phone records of 48 women might explain why most student-athletes coming out of 'The U' can't spell 'cat' if you spot them the 'C' and the 'T.' But I digress. It might also explain why I feel the way I do about alleged scientific research.

Another curiosity for me is how the researchers can determine from studying cell phone records when these 48 women were ovulating each month. I was not aware that cell phone records had that much detail. Again sorry for sidetracking, and apologies for using the 'o' word in the first sentence of this paragraph. Gives me the willies, too.

So, again, these researchers claim that our daughters will only talk to us on their cell phones half as long on certain days each month. The research team also states that this jives with other animal species where the females avoid the males during high fertility periods in order to avoid inbreeding. Okay.

The final nugget of astounding information from this study is that the scientists also suggest that women in the high fertility period (no pun intended) also avoid their fathers, brothers, grandfathers, uncles, et al because we are examining their boyfriends and fiances and possibly scaring off the men they might want to share their high fertility with.

Duh!!! Like they needed to study cell phone records to determine that my primary goal in life every time a male comes to the door for my daughter is to scare the living daylights out of him. Really? I didn't know that. What good father doesn't try to bring potential suitors to tears, send him fleeing back to his crappy used car, or better yet, have him drive off before you daughter even comes down the stairs to meet him?

So the good news is that the University of Miami spent a bunch of money for a team of researchers to study cell phone records of 48 women to inform us that there are certain days each month when our daughters might not talk to us very long on our cell phones.

The bad news is they can't tell us which days each month this is going to occur.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Why All the Drama?

I think the first time I was exposed to, and somewhat understood, drama was when I was a pre-teen or a teenager and I'd come home from school to my Mom watching her afternoon soap operas. I can still recall some of the introductions..."Like Sands Through the Hourglass, So Are the Days of our Lives.." cue the music. I always thought those shows were pretty silly and pretty contrived. Like when Billy Joe's mother was dating a younger boy who was her mother's brother's uncle's son from two marriages ago which made Billy Joe's unborn baby her cousin. Or something like that. Nobody believed any of that stuff happened in real life. That was television.

Unfortunately, sometimes our daughters have taken up where the soaps leave off. I'm told soap operas still rule daytime television. I wouldn't know since I stopped watching General Hospital when I left college and Luke and Laura were getting divorced or remarried, or something like that. Hey, there was nothing else on at 3:00 in the afternoon for a college guy to watch.

I was driving some girls, daughter included, home from basketball practice a few weeks ago, and the girls were discussing a sleepover party they had been invited to. But the primary topic of discussion was the drama that would likely occur at the party. My daughter got to the point where she had convinced herself she didn't want to go. Apparently there were two girls invited to the party who do not like each other. One had texted the other that she was attending the party and for the other girl to watch out. Literally.

The day of the party, all of a sudden, my daughter wanted to attend the party BECAUSE of the pending drama and some weird excitement about watching it all unfold. On the ride home the next morning from the sleepover, my daughter told me that the girl who was threatened in the text message actually smacked around the girl who threatened her...and then they made up. That's what usually happens when bullies get put in their place. But that's another topic.

So what's the deal with the drama?

Some research suggests that teenage girls place such a high priority on their social standing in their social circles, that when that standing is threatened, they react, often badly. So they then do whatever they feel is necessary to preserve their standing in the group. That can include telling lies about another girl, fabricating stories about another girl, making fun of another girl, spreading rumors, or simply ignoring another girl. We've seen some YouTube videos of things getting completely out of hand with teenage girls resorting to violence.

According to some experts, the root of this dilemma is two-fold: teenage girls are not prepared or taught how to effectively deal with conflict, and teenage girls have poor role models in learning this behavior.

Dads, we can help on both of those issues. Often the root of conflict is the lack of communication. We can teach our daughters that before they believe rumors, gossip and innuendos, they need to go talk directly to the individual with whom they might have an issue. Calmly sort out what's been said and why it's been said. Discuss if the problem can be resolved, like human beings, or if the negative behavior will continue. If the problem can't be resolved, then we need to explain to our daughters that sometimes people lack the desire or the ability (or both) to talk through their problems, and you just have to move on and leave it behind. Maybe that means your daughter has to find a new circle of friends, or maybe she'll be lucky enough that her circle of friends appreciates her more than they appreciate the person who's creating the drama. Which would cause the drama queen to find another circle of friends.

As far as role models, these experts suggest that the advent of reality television shows, gossip magazines and sleazy celebrity behavior has de-sensitized our daughters to the real world impact of these negative behaviors. Hey, if the Housewives of Atlanta are doing it, or Lady Gag Me, or Kim Kardashian, our daughters deduce that a. it's acceptable, and, b. if you behave badly, you can get your own reality television show and make a million dollars. Unfortunately it doesn't always work that way. So if we're able to demonstrate to our daughters how real people solve conflicts and explain to them how it works, maybe we can diffuse the drama.

Because I no longer can recommend to my daughters the method most men my age used when we were punched the other guy's lights out and, if he awoke and decided he wasn't going to be a jerk anymore, then you shook hands, went down to the drug store and had a milkshake and you were playing wiffle ball after dinner. Problem solved.