Total Pageviews

Friday, February 25, 2011

"Do these Jeans make my butt look fat"

Honesty is the best policy. Most of the time. I don't advocate lying. But if your wife asks you, "Honey, do these jeans make my butt look fat?" Your response shouldn't be, "No, baby, your butt makes those jeans look too small." Personally, I'd recommend running down the street if confronted with that question, but honesty and diplomacy are important.

When it comes to our daughters and self-esteem, I think honesty can make a significant, positive impact.

In my post earlier this week about Second Graders and Makeup, there were many comments to articles on that topic, and many of those focused on self-esteem as it relates to how girls look...physically. Ever since I wrote a series of newspaper articles about women and eating disorders several years ago, I've been overly sensitive to girls and self-esteem.

Much of what I pen here today is based on a research study, "How to Raise Girls with Healthy Self-Esteem," by Anita Gurian, Ph.D. and I recommend that you look at its findings. It's not a long dissertation, and it's worth your 7 minutes to read and to digest.

Much of what I learned in this report I'd known from research I've previously done. A couple of things stand out to me. For example, 20-40% of girls begin dieting by age 10. By age 15, girls are twice as likely to become depressed than boys. 47% of 5-12th grade girls said they wanted to lose weight because of magazine pictures.

As usual, external factors play a large role in girls' loss of self-esteem. Think about the images, language, and actions our daughters are exposed to everyday on television, in the movies, in videos, in song lyrics, in magazines, on the world wide web and in product advertisements. To a certain degree, some greater than others, our daughters believe they should emulate what they see in these different mediums. They believe, to a certain degree, that what they see and hear is how they should look, act and speak.

This is where the honesty comes in for fathers (and mothers). So if our daughter says, "Dad, I think I look fat," your response should NOT be, "Yeah, you make Rosie O'Donnell look like a SlimFast commercial." It should be more along the lines of, "Daughter, I understand that right now you might not appreciate your physical appearance. But, your value as a person is not based on how you look. Second, if you are feeling that way, maybe we could start taking a bike ride a couple days a week or tryout for spring soccer. And we'll substitute an apple or a banana into your snack list instead of potato chips."

If your daughter says, "Dad, I don't know if I should sign up for Honors math for next year, it's a hard subject." Your response should NOT be, "Yeah, you couldn't spell CAT if I spotted you the 'C' and the 'T'." It should be, "Daughter, you're a smart girl, I know you can do the work, and your brains are going to get you farther in this world than anything else."

The good thing is the research study highlighted some ways that we Dads can help our daughters. It says that "girls with active, hardworking dads attend college more often and are more ambitious, more successful in school, more likely to attain careers of their own, less dependent, more self-protective and less likely to date an abusive man." How can you argue with any of that? Of course, if my daughter were dating an abusive man, I can't guarantee that the male in question would have full use of all of his bodily functions for very long.

The study also says, though, that Dads can make a negative contribution in the self-esteem department if we're always doing things for our daughters and protecting them instead of letting them try...and fail at things themselves.

Bottom line, Dads, is that we can make a positive impact on our daughters' self-esteem. We still have more clout than movies, television, music, etc. The study says so. So Dads have to make a concerted effort to counteract all the negative images to which our daughters are exposed. We need to continue to tell them that we value them for who they are, not for how they look or how much money they might have.

And if you're wife asks you, "Honey, do you like this new shade of lipstick?" Don't say, "Jeez, the last time I saw a mouth like that it had a hook in it." Instead, say, "Honey, I think the dog needs to go for a walk." Even if you don't have a dog.

Have a Great Weekend

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

P.S.S. At the bottom of this post you will find some buttons you can click to indicate what you think of the post. It'll take a second to click a box. If you want, you can also leave a comment for fellow readers to see and discuss. Don't be afraid to add to the conversation.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lady Gag Me is next on the List

For new readers who might not have been following along, about six weeks ago I decided to start a list, in no particular order, of Women We Don't Want Our Daughters to be Like. I don't have a predetermined criteria, but I've attempted to explain for each candidate, what it is that got them a spot on my list of shame.

Let's do a quick recap. Again in no particular order, here's the ladies on the list to date: Snooki, Heidi Montag, Diana Taurasi, Lindsey Lohan and Kim Kardashian. If you're curious about what landed those ladies on my list, you can look through the archives to find those posts.

I don't pay a lot of attention to awards shows nor to reality television. I know, it's all the rage and I'm showing my age. Perhaps. I look at it as a huge waste of time as well as a misrepresentation of what it is that my father and mother taught me about how to be a good person and how to be successful.

Anyway, I know the 53rd annual Grammy Awards were on last week, how could I not. I think all three televisions in my house were tuned to it. It was unavoidable. So even though I made a conscious decision to ignore the proceedings, I happened to walk past one of the televisions as Lady Gag Me was emerging from her egg. Rip off #1. Lady Gag Me claims to have been in the egg for three consecutive days leading up to the Grammy show. Truth is, according to experts, there was only about 30 minutes of breathable air in the egg. So either she has the lungs of a whale or she fabricated the truth a bit.

Second, I mean the whole egg thing is like most of what I've seen of her other performances. Everything is contrived. I hate phonies. It's like she says to herself, "okay, I can't sing and I'm not particularly attractive, so I've got to come up with a gimmick." Doing a knock off of Madonna, I guess, works because her audience isn't old enough to get it. Obviously, it's working because her songs and concerts are huge hits. I wonder what happens, though, when her fans have had enough and say gag me with Gaga.

Then on Sunday, the 13th, she did an interview on 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper where she said, "I smoke a lot of pot when I write music." Ya Think!? Try telling me something I didn't know. She also claimed to consume large amounts of whiskey when she writes her music. She's doing a disservice to my beverage of choice. If she's drinking whiskey, she's not drinking the good stuff because I know for a fact that good bourbon would produce much better results. But I digress.

Add to that a gem I found when I was doing some research on this (yes, I do actually spend some time uncovering pertinent information before I write about my least favorite women). In an interview on with Bill Werde, Gag Me had the nerve, or stupidity to say this, "Gaga is not is not artificial." Okay, and I'm going to be the next astronaut on the space shuttle after I lead the 76ers to the NBA Championship.

Gag Me's real name by the way, given to her at birth and on her birth certificate, is Stefani Germanotta.

Finally, there is the matter of her performing in a raunchy video for Purple Magazine where she gropes herself, amongst other distasteful acts, while she has a young boy of about 3 or 4 years old on screen with her. The boy's parents should most likely have their rights taken away, but that's another topic. I'm not going to post the link, you can go to YouTube if you're really that curious. I didn't play the video, but I saw some screen shots, and it's not only questionable taste, but it's kind of creepy.

Please feel free to leave me a comment, sign up as a follower, and pass it along to friends and colleagues who have daughters.

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

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Makeup for Second Graders??

The only thing I can remember about second grade was that I had a crush on my teacher, Miss Miranda. She selected me as the Handsomest boy in the class. I received an oversized cardboard ribbon for that honor. Of course, that was when I had hair, good teeth, no facial hair, and I didn't have to unsnap the top button on my trousers in order to avoid buying he next biggest size pants.

(I wonder if a teacher could get away with awarding such a prize these days?)

Now, I'll admit that somedays I can't remember what I ate for breakfast, but I'm pretty certain that there was not one girl in the second grade at Christ the King school in Manville, New Jersey who wore makeup. Not the silly, dress-up fake stuff that girls used on themselves and their Barbie dolls. I'm talking about wearing the real thing to school. Or anywhere else, for that matter.

I can remember when my daughters were eight years old, and I'd have to say that purchasing makeup for them was the last thing on my mind. Or my wife's mind. I might've been chaperoning a class trip to the Lake Tobias wildlife park, or trying to figure out how to affix training wheels on my daughter's bike without smashing my knuckles with the adjustable wrench. Maybe even taking that daughter to see The Lion King. But I don't recall makeup being in the mix.

Joel Carden is the executive vice president of Pacific World Corporation, and this charletan wants us to believe that in 2011, it's time for our 8-year old daughters to begin wearing makeup. Carden's corporation is partnering with WalMart to introduce this March the Geo Girl line of cosmetics for girls between the ages of 8-12.

Carden is trying to peddle the fact that this line of cosmetics is enviromentally friendly because it will be packaged in recyclable paper and renewable corn. (Can you eat the package after the cosmetics are extracted from it?). It's a full line of 69 products from blush and mascara to lipstick and anti-aging products. Now I might need some anti-aging assistance...course my wife would say, "who'd want to preserve that?"... but I'm not sure any 8-year old girls I know need that type of product for another 40 years.

Carden also stresses that the products are healthy products because they're made from natural ingredients, including cruelty-free honey (did they let the bees sting them before the asked for the honey?).

I'm sorry, this guy's a moron. In an article on, Carden claims that he wants to make it clear that the company isn't pushing for girls to begin to wear makeup at any specific age. He's then quoted that it's a decision between a parent and his/her child as to what age is appropriate for wearing makeup. He just wants to provide a quality product, just in case 8-year olds and their parents are in the market for it.

Yeah, and I've got a plot of land somewhere in the Everglades I'll sell you real cheap that has no alligators or snakes.

I saw this ploy when I last worked in higher education. After having been in that industry for nearly 20 years, we began to recruit high school students when they were in 9th grade. How many high school freshmen do you know that have any clue about college? But it was an attempt to begin to influence the decision-making of those students and their parents years before they were ready to begin the college search. The goal was to achieve TOMA, or marketing slang for 'top of mind awareness.' So that when they began to look for colleges in the second half of their junior years, we'd have already bombarded them with enough four-color glossy publications, emails and phone calls that they'd at least give our college a look.

Carden is using the same strategy. He's attempting to create enough TOMA so that even if second graders and their parents have the sanity to say 'No' to makeup, as the girl gets older, Walmart is there to serve her every beauty need, and Carden's Pacific World Corp. is positioned to gain financially.

I'll save the self-esteem theme for the next post, but I think when our daughters are in second grade, we should be attending their tea parties with make-believe guests, we should be reading them bedtime stories, we should be taking them to the park to swing on the swings, and we should be helping them figure out how to ride a bicycle. We can also begin to include them in some things that interest us, like maybe fishing or sports or another hobby.

We should also be telling them, when they're 8-years old, that who they are and what they become has everything to do with their heart and their soul and their brain. Not the color of the lipstick they choose to wear.

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

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Top Ten Lines to Scare Your Daughter's Boyfriend

I try to be open-minded. Honestly. I do. I'd like to think that I will consider opinions that don't necessarily jive with mine. To a degree. If you're a blathering idiot, then all bets are off. If you're reasonable, maybe I'll listen. Maybe. Nearly half a century of lived life is tough to reverse. Especially when it comes to my theory on my daughters and boyfriends.

My Google alert popped up a blog article last night titled "43 Questions for Fathers to Ask Their Daughters Boyfriend." First of all, any Dad who thinks his daughter will permit him to interrogate her boyfriend for 43 questions worth, is completely detached from reality. If you're lucky to get in a 'how are you,' and maybe a firm handshake (breaking fingers if possible, cracking knuckles at minimum), that's about all the time your daughter might allow you to interact with her male friend.

But I had to at least take a glance at the 43 questions, right? Making an earnest effort to be open-minded. The writer, not clear whether or not it's a male (let alone a father with daughters) breaks the 43 questions into five categories: Job and Education, Residence, Relationship with his Daughter, His Parents/Family and Other Interests.

I have to admit, I tried. I really, really tried. But it was difficult to read through the list of questions more than once. I'll save you the insanity of reading the whole list and I'll attempt to rationally cover a few of them here.

For example, 'What do you like about my daughter?' What the heck kind of question is that. There is only one response, and that would be, 'sir, I worship the ground your daughter walks on. She is the beacon of light in my otherwise miserable existence.'

Or how about this prize? 'Are you good at home improvements? Plumbing?' Now what father in his right mind would ask a boy with raging hormones who's dating his daughter about Plumbing? Seriously?  I might show him my staple gun and demonstrate on him how it works if his pants are hanging low enough that I can see the design on his boxer shorts. But I'm not asking him about Plumbing!

Okay, one more and then I'll give you my pointers for interaction with your daughter's boyfriend. 'What is your favorite movie?' Again, we're setting the poor guy up here. There really are very few acceptable answers. Any John Wayne western, any Clint Eastwood "Dirty Harry" show, the Godfather trilogy or Hoosiers. If he's never heard of or watched any of those movies, he's most likely a sissy boy and we wouldn't want him around our daughter to begin with.

Listen, when you're interacting with your daughter's boyfriend, the first and most important goal is to instill fear in the young man. I think I shared with you in a previous post that my daughter told me her boyfriend was scared of me. That's a GOOD thing. Respect comes second, and should automatically follow the 'fear' part.

So here's my Top Ten list of Lines to Scare the Crap out of your Daughter's Boyfriend:

1. I'm not afraid to go back to prison.
2. Come on in, son, let me show you my semi-automatic gun collection
3. Bend over and let me attach this GPS tracking unit in the appropriate place
4. Did I tell you about the time I fought off an entire platoon of North Vietnamese without a gun?
5. Did you know that Brock Lesner is my daughter's Godfather?
6. If you behave in a manner unbecoming while you're with my daughter, the authorities won't find your body.
7. I love to cook, and one of my favorite utensils is this ten-inch bread knife with the serrated blade.
8. Things didn't turn out so well with the last boy that dated my daughter. People tell me that when they see him in public he's always glancing over his shoulder with this terrified look on his face. I wonder if it has anything to do with the family dinner we had with Uncle Vito and the boys?
9. We took my daughter's boyfriend, now ex-boyfriend of course, with us one time up to the cabin, but the doctors couldn't fix the injuries from his hunting accident.
10. Careful where you sit. Lulu, my pet Burmese python got our of her cage the other day and I haven't been able to find her. She doesn't take too kindly to strangers.

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

Monday, February 14, 2011

Kim Kardashian is next on the List

Listen, I'm not against anyone utilizing their gifts in order to try to make a living. I'm working on doing that with my writing skills. Some people have a brain for numbers and make a fortune in stocks and bonds or real estate. Some people have empathy and bedside manner and lean toward the sciences and become doctors and surgeons.

Some people have other gifts that might not lend themselves to professional pursuits, so those individuals use those gifts in a manner that should make a father angry and embarrassed.  And yet they still manage to get ahead. When I was younger, it was said that actresses, aspiring female singers and women in corporate America had to 'sleep their way to the top.' Maybe it was worth it. I doubt it.

I could've put the three sisters together in this post, but decided to stick with Kim Kardashian as the newest addition to the Females We Don't Want our Daughters to be Like list.

I have a strong aversion to reality television shows. I think there's two classifications for reality TV. There are what I call the "That's nice, thanks for playing" shows like American Idol, that trick people into thinking that by winning a competition on television will result in a long-term lucrative career. Wrong! For every Carrie Underwood, there's five Ruben Studdards. Who's he? Exactly. Then there are the shows that are just plain STUPID! Or the people in them are stupid. Or both. Like who goes to a deserted island and eats crazy bugs, sleeps near predatory animals and does crazy stunts in order to try to win some money. I think that's the object of the game.

Anyway, Kim Kardashian is one of the players (I can't call her a star) on E! Entertainment Network's reality family dramedy 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians.' She's a member of an ensemble cast that includes her sisters Khloe and Kourtney and brother Rob (why doesn't his name start with the letter 'K'?). Her mother, Kris and her stepfather Bruce Jenner round out the crew. I think. I don't know if there's anyone else because I don't watch the show.

The only reason anyone knows who is Kim Kardashian is because of an explicit sex tape she participated in with some no-name rapper. Well, he does have a name, or had a name. It's Ray J.

Dads, if your daughter ever brings home a guy with one name, make sure your turn him around and show him the way out the door. Not gently.

Anyway, Kim had this tape made in 2007. One look on Wikipedia said the tape has been viewed over 2 million times. I don't know if Kim and Ray J are making any money off of that. Did anyone know who she was before that tape? Her only claim to fame to that point is that her mother married well. Twice.

Kim's biological father, Robert Kardashian (God rest his soul), was O.J. Simpson's lawyer in one of the most infamous murder trials in history. Her current stepfather is Bruce Jenner, arguably one of the greatest athletes of all time after setting the record for most points while winning the gold medal in the decathlon in the 1976 Olympics.

Sure, after the sex tape Kim dated Reggie Bush for a while. And one of her sisters is married to Lamar Odom from the Los Angeles Lakers. But you could argue that all of this fame is due to the dubious sex tape. Gives a whole new meaning to sleeping your way to the top.

The worst part is recently when Kim was on the new talk show of another pompous reality show star, Piers Morgan, she expressed to Morgan that she was embarrassed and shamed by her sex tape and that she didn't get where she is today because of it.

Yeah, and I'm going to win a million dollars on the next America's Got Talent.

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

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Cowboy Code...for our Daughters

I'm not usually one to gloat, and hopefully none of you faithful readers will think me so. Hopefully you'll just think I'm accurate. If anyone saw Snooki on Letterman last night I think you'll agree that she was an appropriate member of the Women We Don't Want Our Daughters to be Like list. Additionally, the latest news about Lindsay Lohan makes her look like a pretty good selection for the list as well.

Which leads me to what's on my mind today. I will, in an average day, check out at least a dozen news sites, both on the net and in paper. It's part of my routine and it's part of my DNA. I think part of it has to do with the fact that I was a journalism major in college, and the other part is that I've always been interested in what other people write and how they write it.

So this morning I came across an article, on line, that makes me think there's a connection to why we even have the unfortunate circumstance of a Snooki or a Lindsay Lohan.

I'm not going to review the whole article for you, if you're interested you can check it out for yourself. The crux of the article is the fact that the Montana State Senate passed a bill the other day stating that it would adopt The Code of the West from the book "Cowboy Ethics" and make it the official Montana Code. The writer of the article, Patrick Dorinson, believes that there's a shortage of ethics and values in the USA, and that it wasn't a bad thing for the Montana Senate to pass this bill.

Dorinson goes further in his discussion of ethics and values, and went back to a study done by Rutgers University in 2002 that found that cheating in schools by our young people is a much greater trend than a parent or teacher might want to admit. But what struck me about that was not so much that cheating exists. I mean, who among us didn't, at least once, look over the shoulder of the smartest girl in third grade to see if you got the math problem correct?

There is a quote from a student in that study that pretty much sums up why we have Snooki, Lindsay Lohan and ridiculous shows like American Idol and that other stupid show where people go to compete to see who gets kicked off the island. I don't watch it so I don't know what it's called. I just know it's there.

The kid said, and I quote (to avoid any plagiarism claims) "I actually think cheating is good. A person who has an entirely honest life can't succeed these days."

Wow! Consider that this was spoken in 2001 or 2002, so right now this kid is probably your local mayor or state senator.

So anyway, I guess that got me to wondering what we're teaching our daughters about life. It's not something we give conscious thought to as we go through our daily routine. Maybe we hope that our daughters (and sons) will learn a lot of important things by observing what we do. I've always told my kids that I put a lot more stock in what someone does as opposed to what they say. So, at least I hope, that my kids pick up the good stuff that I do, and maybe don't always listen to the stuff that falls out from between my lips. I said in my last post that I sometimes go to bed at night wishing I could take back something stupid I may have said.

I think if you go read the article about the Cowboy Code, you'll think of some things for yourself. One of the negative lessons that our daughters learn from Snooki, Lindsay Lohan, and others of that ilk, is that MONEY is the most important thing in life.

While I admit that money is important and I would not turn down the opportunity for my next book to be a bestseller, I do adhere to a favorite saying by my second favorite Cowboy actor, Robert Duvall. In the movie "Broken Trail" he and his nephew are driving a heard of horses to Montana. There's a scene where they are discussing a variety of things, and his nephew (played by Thomas Haden Church) talks of money and riches. Duvall's reply is "Never judge your wealth by how much money you have."

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

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Even Dads Cry Once in a While

I cried in public Friday night. On two separate instances, actually. Now it wasn't the breakdown, sobbing, 'hand be a box of tissues' kind of crying. More like the lump in your throat, can't talk, crocodile tears in the corners of your eyes. A Man-cry.

My middle daughter is a senior in high school and she plays on the her school's basketball team that currently is 22-0 and ranked number 1 in the state in its classification. My daughter is not a star, but she's gotten to play a fair amount this year. She's played since second grade, and we're all hoping that her senior season concludes with a handful of gold medals for the three championships they will compete for during the next month and a half.

I'm not too concerned with the winning stuff. The kids will take care of that. I will cheer my brains out for these girls over the next six weeks, but if they earn silver medals instead of gold, it's still been a pretty awesome season in my book.

I wondered Saturday morning why I got all choked up. After all, I've been through this with my oldest daughter already, and I'll most likely go through it again with my youngest four years from now.

The Athletic Association organizes the night's festivities. Before the game, each player is introduced and is escorted to center court by her parents. They recite the clubs and organizations the girls participate in outside of athletics, and they announce the college to which they've committed. They then present them with flowers and balloons. Finally the game begins, and the coach usually starts all of his seniors; except this year there were seven, so two started a previous game and the remaining five Friday night.

After the game there is a get-together for the players, coaches, families and friends. The coach says a few words about his seniors, then underclassmen each select a senior to talk about, and they take turns giving a brief presentation about why that senior is special to them. The final moment is a video of all the seniors, and this year it was put together by one of the seniors instead of an adult. It was pretty cool.

I think I got choked up during the game because I realized how much respect and admiration I've acquired for my daughter these past few months. She worked really hard for this season because, as a senior, she wanted to be a key contributor, and, most importantly, she wanted to help the team win.

She was in the gym, working out three and four days a week from July to the middle of November when  preseason practice began. That came after a full spring of AAU practices and games, and a full schedule of summer league games. I had her in the driveway three nights a week on a shooting program that I developed specifically for her, and we were shooting between 900-1,100 shots a week.

She was ready to go! Unfortunately, her coach undervalues and underestimates her skills, her intelligence, and most important, her desire to help the team win. She and I know that she's not the best player on the team, and we would never make that argument. But we also know that she's a much better player, a more complete player, than a couple of girls who play in front of her. Which means that the team is missing out on the positive contributions she could be making to it.

So, I think when I see my daughter sitting on the bench and cheering her heart out for the girls who play in front of her; when I hear her talk about the team and never utter a negative word about the players who get some of the playing time she knows she worked hard to earn; and when I hear from others how she's been a mentor and a positive role model for the younger players in the program, I can't help but admire the young lady who cries herself to sleep after games in the bedroom next to mine because it hurts her to be devalued and dismissed.

Of course, the second time I got a lumpy throat was during the video presentation. I have a special bond with many of the players on this team because I coached most of them in youth sports for a number of years and have gotten to know them better than some adults have an opportunity to. Seeing the video of pictures from years gone by, and now seeing the tremendous young ladies they've turned in to, it was hard not to grab a napkin and dab my eyes. Luckily the lights were out.

I guess, looking honestly at the emotions of it all, I think what it really boiled down to is this. There are days that I go to bed wondering if I was a good Dad that particular day. Sometimes I wish I could take back things I said or did, or wish I would've said something but didn't.

But every once in a while, I'm lucky enough to get a little reminder that, maybe, I don't always mess up.

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

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lindsay Lohan....Grace period is Over

For a long time I had a soft spot in my heart for Lindsay Lohan for one reason. When my daughters were younger, she was the star of the remake of The Parent Trap, along with Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson. That was in 1998. My youngest was four. All three daughters loved the movie and my youngest was a modest Lindsay Lohan fan for a number of years.

That was until my daughter began to understand that as Lohan got older, her behavior continually got worse. It's amazing to me that my daughter, who's about half Lohan's age, has a better understanding of what good behavior should be than does the former star who's going on 25.

For a while I gave Lohan the benefit of the doubt for a variety of reasons. Her mother started her on a modeling career when she was three years old. Three! By the time she starred in The Parent Trap at age 10, she'd already shot more than 100 television commercials. I don't know how you feel about that, but I think it's pure lunacy to put your child into that environment at three years old, and continue the activity at such a rigorous pace during a time in the child's life when she should be playing with Barbie dolls, selling Girl Scout cookies and playing beehive soccer. So strike one against the mother.

The second reason I gave Lohan a pass was the bad behavior of her parents. Her father, Michael, was a Wall Street guy, and her mother, Donata, is a former singer and dancer who just happened to form her own movie production company about the same time her daughter was rising in the industry. Coincidence? Her parents separated when she was three years old, got back together, separated again, then finally divorced several years ago. The relationship was allegedly pretty turbulent and it was rumored that Lindsay often had to get in the middle of her parents arguments.

Her father has had run-ins with the law on several occasions, and in 2009 he released recordings of private phone calls to the media, phone calls between he and his daughter. Add to that what I consider the mother's exploitation of her daughter, beginning at age 3, and I can only conclude that Lindsay didn't have what I'd consider a normal childhood. Strike two against Dad, and the parents as a team.

But here's the reason I put Lohan on the list of Females we Don't Want Our Daughters to be Like. Despite the rocky relationship, brushes with the law, and sometimes offensive behavior by Lindsay's parents, and despite the fact, I believe, she was deprived of a normal childhood, there comes a time when you reach a certain age and you have to put those things behind you and act like an adult.

Lohan has failed to do that. Her transgressions began in the middle 2000s starting with all-night partying that caused her to be late for acting jobs in movies, or caused her to miss work all together. Then she began accumulating DUI arrests like the old ladies at Sunday Bingo collect good luck charms. She's made several visits to drug rehab, and and she's done a couple of short jail sentences. The jail time could've been avoided. She's worn the orange jumpsuit because she's stupid. The Hollywood media calls it 'defiant.' If the judge tells you that as part of your sentence you are required to submit to weekly drug tests, and you then fail one of those drug tests, that to me is stupid.

If the judge tells you what the conditions of your parole are, and you then violate those terms, especially after people have put up money to bail you out, that is stupid. No, this isn't Forrest Gump-stupid. This is Flounder-stupid (Animal House, remember, "zero, point, zero, zero. Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life son.").

Of course, in an attempt to endear herself to the judge who mandated her recent three-month rehabilitation stint (in which she was released in early January) Lohan decided to steal a $2,500 necklace from a posh jewelry shop near her home. Of course, Lohan says she borrowed it. The owner says that is not correct and that the store has a very specific procedure to follow and paperwork to fill out if a celebrity wants to take a piece of jewelry out on loan. That procedure was not followed, and apparently the police have store video showing Lohan wearing the necklace in the store, but never paying for it. How it ended up at her home is a mystery. Or so she'd like us to believe.

Probably the best way for Lohan to get back into everyone's good graces would be for her to behave more like the characters she played in movies like The Parent Trap, Freaky Friday and Herbie: Fully Loaded instead of her more famous turn as Cady Heron in Mean Girls.

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

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Dreaded Sleepover

I try to stop the question before it gets asked. That is, if I see it coming. Sometimes I don't get the question until it's a done deal. Like, "Mom already said I could." At which point my response is, "well then why did you ask me at all?" My daughters all know that I despise sleepovers almost as much as the Baltimore Ravens, the New York Mets, crappy beer, or spaghetti sauce from a jar.

Once the issue is settled (and I never win this argument because Mom always sides with the girls) the question to follow is, "Dad, why do you hate sleepovers so much? We won't bother you, I promise we'll go to sleep, and we're just going to watch some movies and eat pizza (or whatever junk food you provide)."

Sleepovers are death for parents. At least for me. I'm a light sleeper, so I have a difficult time falling asleep when there's squealing teenage girl voices reverberating from the family room until three or four in the morning. Which makes Daddy a grumpy guy the next day, when, of course, I'm supposed to put on my happy face and make pancakes and bacon for a dozen or more sleep deprived teenage girls who also are grumpy from a lack of sleep. Go figure.

Then, of course, if you don't want to be considered a total dork by your daughter and her friends, you try (as difficult as it is) to steer clear of the room or the area that the girls are occupying. You don't want to be labeled a spy, an eavesdropper, a party pooper or any other label that would cause your daughter to crawl under the carpet and wish to die from embarrassment. Of course, there are strategic ways you can spy. You can volunteer (to your wife) that you will gladly deliver the food on a half-hour basis to make certain that the girls are properly fed and watered. Every time you venture in to replenish the chips and dip, or fill up the Mountain Dew, you can usually pick up on the conversation. And as is the case with most females, if you go in every half hour, you'll be able to keep up pretty well.

But if you can't spy, then you're left wondering what the heck are they doing all night? You can only watch so many movies, so many re-runs of One Tree Hill or music videos. It appears that a favorite activity now is to text boys, which if I have an opportunity, I will totally ruin. "I'm sorry, I can't believe I spilled half a liter of Coke on your pajamas, here, let me hold your cell phone while you dry off." Or, if the sleepover is small enough, I'll confiscate cell phones at a certain hour. My one daughter has a friend who text messages her boyfriend so much that she had her cell phone taken away by her parents because she exceeded what was an already generous limit. Of course, kids always find a way to get around those restrictions. Apparently you can also text message from your iPod. Wait until her parents get that bill.

Boys, at least when I was a teenager, did a sleepover once in a blue moon (no, not the beer). So in order to make an attempt at uncovering what the heck the whole sleepover phenomenon is, I found an interesting website: The operators of the site have everything you can think of for almost any birthday party for almost any age. Not for adults though. So I clicked on Teen Themes and they have ideas for everything from invitations to party favors, to activities and even "In the morning after sleepover Party" tips and Sleepover tips. Fascinating stuff.

Course, I skipped the pleasantries and went right to "Teen Themes." Just a sampling, some of the more popular themes listed include: New Moon (that's the insanely hot book series, now movie about teenage vampires. I think it's a love story. Don't know how), Pool Party (not in my house if it includes stupid teenage boys), Mystery Dinner, Hotel Shopping Stay (for the rich and famous) and Scavenger Hunt. The site also lists John Deere and NASCAR, yet I can hardly believe girls would want to use either of those as a theme, and I doubt that teenage boys would admit it.

Some of the activities listed for sleepovers include: Funky Flip Flops (believe, if you have a dozen or more teenage girls sleeping over your house in the summer, the flip flops will be funky), Decorate a Pillow Case (as a keepsake, but why?), Chocolate Spa Sleepover, Drama Bag Game (like you need a sleepover for that), and my favorite, the Toilet Paper Share Game (I'm not going to elaborate...use your imagination).

Interestingly enough, one item was listed both as a theme and as an activity - Scavenger Hunt. See, when I think of a dozen or so teenagers sleeping over my house, and incorporate the words scavenger hunt, I'm thinking that while I sleep, the girls are searching for my Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey or my wife's wine bottles. I can't think of anything else useful they'd be scavenging for. Can you? So I think the whole Scavenger Hunt idea is a non-starter.

Some of the more useful Sleepover Tips were, 'buy extra toothbrushes in case guests forget theirs' and don't invite more than five guests because it could cause too much drama. Duh! Ya think?! As far as the toothbrushes, I think you ought to let the girl wait until she gets home. After chewing on cheese puffs all night, preventing her from brushing until she gets home prevents any liplocks with the boyfriend until her hygiene is taken care of. And we always want to prevent that whenever possible. The germ swap with the boyfriend.

Here's my advice for the next time your daughter has a sleepover. Wait until all the girls have arrived at your house, then corral them in a sound proof room. Confiscate all electronic devices that could be utilized to communicate with the outside world. Lock the door, deadbolt it, padlock it and toss away the keys. Take up residence in the room farthest from the sleepover room. Have by your side a full snifter of bourbon, a good cigar and a John Wayne dvd. Don't unlock the room until 8:00 the next morning when you'll have had a good night's sleep, and you'll have had time to read the morning paper with a hot cup of coffee. By that time, the girls won't care what you make for breakfast or when they'll get to brush their teeth.

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