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Thursday, March 31, 2011

What Do I Say?

Having played competitive sports since I was seven-years old through college football, I've heard all the coaching cliches, good and bad. I use some of the ones I like a lot. I've also respected my elders over the years and have listened and catalogued some of their wisdom as well. I have a pretty good quiver of one-liners, motivational quotes and sage advice. Unfortunately, I don't know that any of that can help me right now.

Maybe you, my faithful readers, have an idea.

After several visits with orthopedic doctors since Monday, we learned yesterday that my middle daughter tore the ACL in her right knee. Shredded it is more like it. The doctor described her ligament as "mop ends." Only thing the doc can do is reconstruct it using two of her hamstring tendons to replace the ligament that's not there.

She was fortunate to be able to participate in the county all-star basketball game for seniors on Sunday night.  After having a nice all-around game, complete with some points, some rebounds, some assists, two blocked shots and two steals, she was bringing the ball up court with 18 seconds left in the game...actually left in her high school career, and her right knee went in a direction it shouldn't have.

She won't be able to dance at her senior prom, and marching in procession and walking across the stage to get her diploma will probably come with the assistance of crutches.

Her senior year of high school started on a downer because she discovered late last summer that her boyfriend was cheating on her. She cut him loose, and I was proud of her for that. Then she had a falling out with one of her best friends since kindergarten over some Homecoming stuff that grownups, most likely, could've worked out in an hour. But it lingered for many months. Then her senior year of basketball wasn't what she had worked so hard for it to be, but she kept up a good attitude and remained a good teammate and made the most of the time she got (did I already say it was less than what she deserved?). Now we've got the torn ACL.

I believe, in my heart, that one of the reasons she's going to college almost four hours away next fall is that she feels like she needs a clean break from her hometown and from her friends of so many years. I respect and understand that. I think she aspires to do great things in the field she has chosen to pursue, but I wish she could do it closer to home. Although I view myself as her parent and not her friend, to me, she is my buddy.

I'm not whining or complaining. If my wife and I knew 20 years ago that the three girls we are blessed with were our picks in the draft of life, we would've been ecstatic. And still are. We're not perfect, we have our flaws, but I'll gladly take my trio (and my wife).

But I feel like I should purchase for my daughter the book, "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People."
I want to tell her that she will grow and be a better person for all of these experiences her life has granted her this year, good and bad. I want to tell her that she's a participant in life, she's not sitting on the sidelines watching everyone else, and when you participate, sometimes you get hurt - either physically or emotionally. I want to tell her that her friendship will be restored once she and her friend are apart for the first semester of college and realize what they had. I want to tell her that her knee will be better than ever (once her 6 months of rehab is done), and I want to tell her that someday she will find a man who cherishes her for who she is (of course, if he doesn't pass MY standards, all bets are off).

So even though I'd like to tell her some of these things, she doesn't want to hear them. Despite the fact that this daughter is the one with whom I have the most communicative relationship, she doesn't like it when I (as she puts it) try to give her advice. So much for respecting her elders. Of course, if my neighbor told her these things, he'd be a genius!

So I see a short time window before my buddy goes off to college, and there's a lot I want to tell her before that. Just not sure how.

Your thoughts are welcome.

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

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Boobie Boosters or Not?

I have to admit that I wouldn't mind if my daughters dressed in clothing that covered their bodies from throat to toe...all year round. All the better if flip flops weren't available and they had to cover their feet as well. The less skin they can reveal, the less stupid boys will be attracted to them for the wrong reasons. I want a boy to be interested in my daughter for all of the right reasons. Covering as much of her body as possible on a consistent basis is, in my mind, one of the better ways of accomplishing that.

Seriously, though, my Dad Radar caught a disturbing report the other day, and I had to check it out.
I sort of wish I hadn't.

One of the country's largest clothing retailers has introduced its spring line of clothing, and it includes bikini bathing suits with push up padding in the bikini top -- for 8-year olds. I wouldn't kid you about this.

Abercrombie & Fitch has a division specifically marketed to 8-14-year old kids (Abercrombie Kids), and the "Ashley" Push-Up Triangle is a triangular-shaped bikini top that comes armed with a fully padded breast enhancement feature. Of course, to a father of daughters, I don't see this as a "feature" as much as I see it as an evil marketing ploy aimed at seducing young girls into trying to look 'hot'.

In almost 50 years of life, I completely understand corporations trying to make a buck, and many of those corporations doing so without any conscience whatsoever. But I struggle with the question, "when will the insanity stop?" When will someone figure out that they've gone too far?

I also will admit that I leave the clothes shopping sprees to my wife. I have not interest in shopping for clothing for myself (my wife would say that's evident), let alone spending an eternity in a clothing store with a teenage girl who's trying to decide between 97 colors of the same shirt, at the same time attempting to match eye liner and footwear. All I want to know, when they return home with their goodies, is are they appropriately covered? The more covered the better.

So what's a Dad to do? There's little chance that fathers are shopping for bathing suits with their second-grade daughters. At the same time, Dads need to exercise their concerns about this type of exploitation of our daughters for the sake of a nickel.

Now, there are plenty of people who've taken A&F to task for this bikini blunder. Plenty of psychologists who've debated the self-esteem issues surrounding this type of clothing ploy. Other experts have chimed in with their concern about how this type of clothing can promote promiscuity at a frightening young age.

I understand all of those arguments, and even discussed some of them in a post last month

But there was an interesting analysis put forth by Shirlee Smith, CEO/Founder of "Talk About Parenting with Shirlee Smith." Smith said, and I quote from a Fox News article, "...I'm slapping the blame on moms for not seeing any further than their own breast implants when it comes to purchasing push-uppers for girls that don't, as yet, actually have breasts."

I'm not sure if that's what an attorney would call the, "you reap what you sow," defense or not. I can't help but think there's something to that argument.

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

Friday, March 25, 2011

Liar, Liar, Skirt on Fire

I was a terrible liar when I was a kid. Got better as I got older, but when I was younger, my Mom didn't hesitate to use the wooden spoon when I did something wrong, and my Dad was coerced, on occasion, to use his leather belt on my big butt. Never any fun. I would've hated to see what would've happened if I was a bad kid. In retrospect, I think the primary reason that I did lie is that I feared being punished.

I'm not sure when my lying stopped. I guess most of us might tell a white lie once in a while, and I also will admit that while I might not still lie, there are times, mostly professionally, where I won't tell the whole truth as I know it to be. As a professional communicator, many times a newspaper reporter or a television reporter might be intensely intrusive, and I have made the judgement to not completely answer a reporter's inquiry.

For example, if I were dealing with a crisis situation, perhaps the death of a student on the campus on which I was working, I always erred on the side of the student and the student's family. If a student died because he or she consumed too much alcohol, I might not disclose the cause of death. Or if the coroner beat me to it (which happened more often than not), I would at least try to conceal the blood alcohol content of the deceased. If a family lost a child, I didn't see the need to tell a reporter the BAC. What was the point?

Anyway, I was reading yesterday an article by Kim Painter in USA Today in which Painter tries to illuminate parents as to why teenagers lie. Painter insists that recent research indicates that 80% of teenagers have lied to their parents about something "significant." She goes on to share that 59% of teens admitted to cheating on a test in school and that 29% claimed to have stolen something from a store.

The one thing that bugs me about this article and its supporting survey is that it seems to blur the lines between a lie and withholding information. Now, I have three daughters, so if one of them chooses to NOT tell me about which boys and girls were swapping spit behind the school before sports practice, or which two factions of girls are fighting about something stupid at school, I don't consider that lying to me. With three daughters, I want to avoid as much DRAMA as possible, so if they don't share that with me, I'm fine with that.

If I tell one of them that they are not permitted to go to a party, and they create a ruse in order to get to the party, then it's game-on with the disciplinary branch of Dad. If I ask one of them how she did on a test, or if the homework is done, and they fib to me, I'll take their cell phone, iPod or ban television. Nothing caveman about that.

Another psychologist in that article actually gave me some hope. Jennifer Powell-Lunder said that the three main reasons teens lie are: to protect their friends, to do things you would forbid, and to avoid consequences. The thing that was reassuring is Powell-Lunder said that the biggest reason kids lie is that they really and truly do care about what their parents think, and they don't want to disappoint their parents.

Some pointers (from the experts, not me, because I'm not one): kids tend to be honest if their parents are honest with them; kids tend to lie less when they know the consequences of their actions as opposed to having some unknown punishment awaiting; and catch them when they lie to others, no matter how big a lie it might be.

One pointer from me, which is really hard for me because of my Italian blood - try not to make a big deal about everything.

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

Monday, March 21, 2011

Fathers, Please Prevent Your Wives...

Sometimes you don't need a rule or a law to know that something is just plain wrong. Common sense or moral decency, more often than not, can be utilized instead of laws and written rules.

For example, recent news from television land says that the production company that has brought us the train wreck also known as "Jersey Shore" (see my post about Snooki ) is planning to unveil a new reality show that will feature daughters with their party-animal mothers. 495 Productions is about to open casting calls to identify mothers who party like it's 1995 (I know, dating myself). They also want mothers who dress provocatively and who don't mind being hit on by their daughter's boyfriends. They're looking for mothers and daughters who party hearty together, or daughters who are embarrassed by their mother's boisterous behavior.

If you find my news hard to believe, you can see for yourself at this link -

As a father of daughters, and as a husband who still worships his wife after 22 years, I find the idea behind this show disgusting. I've professed here before that I'm not a fan of the stupidity of reality television. I'm not naive that I don't understand that some people find reality television entertaining. Some more than others. I'm not judging. It's just not my thing. It insults my intelligence (what little I have left with three teenage daughters under my roof).

If you're a father of daughters and a husband who has a wife that might fit the casting call for this show, you obviously need an intervention of major proportions. Call Dr. Phil.

If you're a father of daughters and your wife does not fit the casting call for the show, congratulations. Now, explain to your daughter(s) and wife why this show is stupid and why it's not a good idea. Explain to them that, even though somebody chose to put it on television and some people make the decision to be on the show, that doesn't mean that it's a good thing. Or that it's acceptable.

You don't need a rule or a law to figure that out.

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

Monday, March 14, 2011

How Young is Too Young?

I spent all day Saturday surrounded by teenage girls, and, consequently, some of their fathers. Basketball consumes my family's time from November until June, because once the high school season is complete in February or March, the AAU season begins and runs until early summer. Was at a tournament at McDaniel College in Westminister, Maryland for an all-day tournament, with our last game not concluding until about 6:30 in the evening.

Now when I say I was surrounded by teenage girls, I don't just mean our girl's team of ten. I'm talking about about approximately 40 teams (maybe more) of girls and you can do the math. Hundreds of teenage girls. Which means that I heard a lot of things that made me want to say, "Beam Me Up Scottie." Now, please.

Of course there are some times during the day when you're not surrounded by teenage girls, and then Dads (sometimes Moms) get to hang out and discuss important stuff, like all the yard work you're not getting done, or how many fishing poles do you need on opening day of trout season? Or how many beers it will take, once you get home, to erase the memory of all you've seen and heard being around hundreds of teenage girls for approximately 10 hours.

One topic of discussion this Saturday was, how young is too young for a girl to have a steady boyfriend? My first answer (with my daughters in mind, of course) was 30 years old. A good question, though.

My wife and I have had a family rule that there will be no steady boyfriends until senior high, and even then, possibly not until 10th or 11th grade. The later the better. Our two oldest didn't have too many problems with that rule, and they both had a lot of group activities through their high school years where groups of 10-15 kids, male and female, might go the movies, go out to dinner or go play Laser tag. All acceptable on my Dad-meter. Fortunately, both girls are really, really smart and also pretty tuned-in people-persons. So they've both felt, through most of high school, that high school boys, in general, and the teenage boys at their school, in particular, are just plain stupid. Music to my ears!

Last year, the day after we dropped our oldest off for her first semester of college, the phone rang and she started telling her Mom about a boy in the next hallway who'd already lost his college ID and room key in the first day. Then she said, even college boys are stupid! Which made me almost want to open champagne on a Saturday morning. My 30-years old threshold was looking better and better.

Let's be clear on this. NOTHING good can come of a girl having a steady boyfriend before an appropriate age. In our house, that age is about 16 or 17 depending upon what we know about the boy and his family, and our judgement of our daughter's maturity for such a relationship.  That's our house, and you have to do what you think is best in your house. But the other key is that MOM has to be on board with this. If Dad imposes this rule (or any rule, really) without Mom's signing off on it, the rule is doomed for failure.

Research studies (yes, these are ones that support my position) indicate that the younger a girl starts to have a steady relationship with a boy, the sooner she is likely to have a sexual relationship, either with that boy or the next one. Other research indicates that 33% of teenage girls who have boyfriends are sexually abused, 1 in 16 have been raped, and 25% are subjected to physical violence such as being slapped, punched or beaten. Of course, the easy retort by a parent is either, "that won't happen to my daughter," or "Billy is a nice boy, he would never do that." Bullcrap!

Not to mention the negative impact that STDs and/or an unwanted pregnancy could have on our daughters. I even found, in a Google search, two books: "Sex Tips for Girls" and "Advanced Sex Tips for Girls." Both books written by the same author who happens to be female. Go figure. I guess people will do anything to make a buck.

Now, the women's libbers will most definitely object to my 'rules' and that's okay. That certainly is their constitutional right. However, if you try to implement a dating rule in your house, and you're met with some resistance, just refer back to my post on February 17, 'The Top Ten Lines to Scare your Daughter's Boyfriend.

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

Friday, March 11, 2011

Backwards Technology

I know I'm dating myself, but I don't care. Most people probably think I'm older than I am anyway. I still remember as a young boy picking up the rotary dial telephone in my grandparents house and intruding on the party line. That's when individual houses didn't have exclusive access to an anonymous dial tone, nor a personal telephone number. You had to ask the operator to connect you to an exchange in order to connect with the person you were trying to call. And there were usually other people on the line. Of course, that quickly evolved into everyone having their own telephone number, the rotary dial phone turned into a push-button device. If you had a push button phone while your friends still had rotary dial, you were thought to be neighborhood royalty.

I also remember, fondly, my Mom playing her big vinyl record albums on the greatest gift my Dad had ever given her - a stereo console with a record player, radio and speakers all in one unit, with enough room to store all of her big albums inside the cabinet. The turntable was constructed so that you could stack several albums on top of one another and they'd continue to drop and play (with a needle) for hours. My Mom always like to do that when she was doing housework. My Mom is most responsible for my eclectic musical interests because she would listen to everything from Johnny Cash to Herb Alpert (big band stuff) to Dionne Warwick. And of course the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Sinatra. If you were of Italian heritage, you had to listen to Sinatra, or you'd have to go to Confession on Saturday afternoon to explain to Father Anthony why you weren't.

My Dad filmed holidays, birthdays and other special occasions with an 8 millimeter movie camera, and colored photography was experimental. Just like the push button telephone, if you had a camera that took color photographs, people bowed at your feet. Television was black and white, and there were very few channels from which to choose. In New Jersey, we had ABC, NBC and CBS, and two New York stations, WPIX and WNEW. Of course, there was also the public television channel so kids could watch Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood.

When someone gave you or sent you a present or a card for your birthday or a special occasion, you wrote to them a thank-you letter on a piece of paper, folded it up, stuffed it into an envelope, wrote out the address, put a stamp on it and mailed it to the other person.

I've been hounded by some writing friends that I needed to be on Facebook in order to promote my books and other projects. So, my 8th grade daughter had to sit down at MY computer and set the whole thing up for me, as well as give me a brief tutorial. Whenever I have questions or challenges with my Facebook stuff, I ask my 8th grader.

Similarly, I was pretty resistant to acquiring a cellular telephone. I didn't see the need. I was happy putting coins into a pay phone if I was not home. When the girls started getting into a variety of school activities and requiring rides and car pools, we gave in and got the girls cell phones, but the threshold was 8th grade. Not before. Of course, the cell phone companies have ways of enticing the whole family to have their own phone, so we all got one. As is usually the case, the girls always seem to get the really nice, top-of-the-line number and the wife and I get stuck with the crappy, buy-one-get-one-free option in order to try to save some money on the proverbial family plan. When I have a cell phone challenge, like how do you take a picture with a phone? Or, how do you download a ringtone, I ask my high school senior.

Most recently, I was encouraged to start an account with Skype. This is a service by which you can have a telephone call, on your computer, with another person, and, through the magic of technology, you can see the other individual, live, while you're speaking to them. Now, of course, this could lead to lots of shenanigans. What if your laptop is sitting open on your bed, and someone rings you up on Skype, and you've just gotten out of the shower and happen to be standing in front of your laptop with nothing on but your birthday suit? Awkward. And who says I want to SEE the person I'm conversing with? I mean, sometimes it's bad enough that you have to answer the darn phone, now you've got to actually look at the person. Why? Anyway, my oldest daughter is way ahead of me with Skype because she's been using it for two years to talk to her college friends when they are home for the summer break. So guess who got my Skype account set up?

Did I tell you that my 8th grader showed me the other day that she can thumb a complete text message, correct spellings and punctuation - blind-folded?

Makes me want to go watch re-runs of I Love Lucy.

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

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Less Sex is Good News

Music to my ears!
Best news in two weeks!
What father doesn't want to hear that teenage girls are having less sex than they did just five years ago?

I know, you're all going to remind me that I'm usually critical and skeptical about research studies. And I will remain that way till I'm planted under a big granite stone. But, when the research produces a result in which I can rejoice, then I, as a father of three daughters, and as a friend to many other fathers of daughters,  must do the only thing I can with such news. Celebrate!

According to a research study recently released by the National Center for Health Statistics, 29% of young women, ages 15-24 say they've never had a sexual encounter. Of course, raising three daughters whom I adore and love more than anything in the world, my first reaction was...that's slightly under one-third. It should be closer to 100%. I know that's not realistic, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be the goal.

The good news is that the percentage is up five points from the last time this research was conducted. So maybe my jubilation is in the fact that the number improved. Now five percent might not seem like lots, but the sample size of the survey was more than 13,000 people. Not a small number.

This study also gave me some hope because it delved into the inquiry with greater specifics than at any other time this study has been conducted. For example, in girls 15-17 years of age, 58% of girls reported having no sexual encounters. Of course, the percentages for the males in this study (all age groups) were all lower than the girls' percentages. Scum of the earth. That's why I keep my aforementioned baseball bat handy.

Of course, you'll always have some blithering, alleged doctor or scientist who has so spoil the good news. Or make just a completely stupid statement. How about this gem from Debbie Roffman, a human sexuality educator (if that job title doesn't send off any alarms, check your pulse). Ms. Roffman (notice no Ph.D. or MD after her name) says that, and I quote, "...more young people may be choosing to wait for a more quality sexual experience, knowing it is more likely to come with maturity..."

That's just what a father with daughters wants to hear. Utter nonsense. Besides, after working in higher education for more than 19 years, and having three teenage daughters, I've seen, heard and been around a fair share of young people. Stating that young people are delaying their gratification in exchange for a more quality experience is giving young people WAY too much credit.

Finally, I can't ignore the bad news in this report, and I also have to acknowledge a faithful reader who left a comment on a post last week. This report, because of its specificity, basically Bill Clinton-proofed itself. When the study was conducted, the researchers didn't give respondents a vague bail out, like 'have you ever had sex?' At which point, anyone who had done anything but strict IC could say, yeah, I've never had sex. Email me if you need translations of my abbreviations. This study defined sex as everything and anything: fingers, hands, mouth, toes, whatever. There were no vague statements as to what is the definition of sex.

Which leads to the bad news. One reason cited for the delay in having IC is young people (62% of the girls surveyed) are engaging in OS, which apparently satisfies those urges without (in the minds of young people) violating anything. Unfortunately, OS is a primary contributor to the growing cases of genital herpes in the USA. Other STDs are also spread through OS, and we know that STDs plague people for many years beyond that initial encounter.

So, to conclude, our teenage daughters are having less IC, but might be having more OS. Which means I will remind my fathers once again. If a young man comes to the door to visit with or take out your daughter, the pants are the key. If his pants are low enough that you can see the color pattern on his boxer shorts, or if his zipper seems lose or out of place, introduce him to your staple gun to make certain his pants remain appropriately attached to his body.

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

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Housewives make the List

My Dad used to tell me, "just because someone says something is so, doesn't mean that it is."

For example, if the needle on your compass points North, but someone with you says you're driving South, you have the proof on your compass. If the opponent you're playing golf against hits his ball across the nearby road, it's out of bounds and he's going to lose some strokes. Even if your opponent thinks he can use his 'foot wedge' to get the ball back into play. Rules of golf. If you strike a match on certain surfaces, it will cause a flame that could result in a fire. Simple physics. Or chemistry...Or whatever science governs flames. I was never very good in math or science. But I do know there's a science to prove my point.

Which brings me to this weeks nominees for the list of Women We Don't Want our Daughters to Be Like. I've got to admit that I had a difficult time with this week's cast of characters because there are so many good choices. So instead of selecting one, I decided to have a group entry on the list for this week.

There is a series on Bravo called the Housewives can now fill in that blank with six different choices: Beverly Hills, New Jersey, Atlanta, Orange County, New York City and Miami. If you want to see who else has been on the list so far, I ran an update in last week's post (Lady Gag Me Makes the List, February 24).

As I've stated here before, I'm not a fan of reality television, because, in my opinion, it's not. Like my Dad said,  just because someone says it's so doesn't mean it is. I think reality television is a waste of time, and, to a certain degree, insults my intelligence. But that's a riff for another day.

I don't watch any of these Housewives chronicles, but if you've seen some commercials and some highlights on talk shows, you've basically seen and heard enough. Okay, you're wondering what I'm doing watching Bravo to begin with. You caught me. I'm a foodie. I watch Top Chef on Bravo, and I've got Food Network programmed on my channel changer. I love to cook, and I love to see what real chefs do that I might be able to use in my own kitchen. Without slicing any digits with those amazing Santoku knives.

But back to the Housewives. Listen, it doesn't matter which city you select from the menu, you're going to get the same recipe. About a half dozen women who may or may not have been friends before they got on the show (they usually aren't friends after a few episodes). They ride everywhere in limousines, they have parties at spas, they spend a lot of time drinking at parties and meandering through the night life of whatever city they are from (sometimes having too much to drink).

They spend more money on plastic surgery than I spent on my kitchen renovation, and their bling budgets are maxed out. Few of them work real jobs, some of them spend some time with philanthropic endeavors, mostly to make them feel less guilty about the botox and the bling. Some of them have faux careers, like the one housewife in Atlanta who's trying to start a singing career, but she can't carry a tune in a bucket. But she has money for voice lessons and studio time. Thankfully she has a lot of money for studio time because those sound engineers are earning every penny.

I don't think any of the six cities has a group of housewives who are not catty, controversial, jealous or petty. Or spoiled or bratty. Subtract the botox and collagen injections and implants and I'm not sure any of the housewives really have any assets that anyone would be particularly interested in.

But here's the kicker. On a talk show, and I don't know which housewife it was nor from which city she was, but she made the most outrageous statement. She told the interviewer that she didn't know what all the fuss was about. She said the that Housewives in the shows are not the exception, they are the norm. Really?

Then I have a question for all the Housewives from all the shows. What does a gallon of milk cost?

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

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friends with Benefits? Not at my house!

Some ideas just don't end well. No matter how well thought-out, no matter how reasonable or functional those ideas might seem at the minute of inspiration, it's just not going to turn out how it was planned.

Take for instance this craze known as Friends with Benefits. Or FWB to our sons and daughters. If you do a Google search, for example, and just type in Rules for Friends with Benefits, you'll get 2.85 million hits. NBC Television thought it was such a good idea they developed a half-hour comedy last spring titled, yes, you guessed it, "Friends with Benefits." Out-of-the-box creative folks at NBC, no wonder they're last in ratings.

It's such a popular topic that there have been not one, but two movies out of the left coast in less than a year. "No Strings Attached," was the original starring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kucher. Funny because Kucher doesn't even know he's been Demi Moore's FWB for years now. Based on the smashing success of  "No Strings Attached" where it barely made enough money to pay the guys holding the cameras, "Friends with Benefits," starring Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake will premier in July.

If you're a lonely heart in search of a friend with benefits, there are plenty of websites to accommodate your needs. Many of them profess to be designed for married people who are looking for a little extra on the side.

Just in case some of you don't know what Friends with Benefits means, the definition is pretty simple. You have a friend. You are not romantically involved with her (or him), and are not supposed to have any romantic feelings for this person. The two of you simply have sex together whenever the mood strikes. No flowers and chocolates. No pillow talk. No dreaded discussion of 'feelings.' You get together, do your thing, and go your separate ways. Until the next time you want to do it. According to the one set of rules I looked at (for research purposes only), it is permissible to have at least two telephone conversations with your FWB during the week, since, after all, you are friends. But any more than that would most likely have your privileges revoked.

Now, I'm not going to pontificate about the moral ramifications, nor am I going to pass judgement. Plenty of folks have made the mistake of having what, back in the day, was called a one-nite stand. But I will say this. Fathers (and mothers) warn your sons. Should they ever try to entice one of my daughters to be an FWB, I will not hesitate to introduce him to the fat part of my 34-ounce Louisville slugger. My house, my rules.

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

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Big Brother and Daughters' Cell Phones

Brityn Mykhail is a musician and a singer, and she's just 17-years old. She uses her cell phone to social network to promote her music. Most marketing experts would say that's a good practice. Unfortunately, when Brityn was 15-years old, she began receiving naked pictures from a man in his 30s. They had struck up a relationship via electronic devices, so the man could hide his age and his identity. The creep actually showed up at Brityn's school one afternoon. Not sure what he was expecting to accomplish.

According to a law enforcement official in Brityn's area, sex offenders are increasingly using cell phones to target their prey because computers are easier to track and easier for parents to monitor and to check with software.

So how's a father (or mother) supposed to protect his daughter against sexual predators on her cell phone? Bob Lotter has come up with a solution, but it's not without controversy. Lotter's company has created My Mobile Watchdog

I have not used the product and I'm not endorsing the product. Fathers can do that for themselves by following the link above. The product basically consists of two parts: one is the software that's installed on your daughter's cellphone and the second is the webpage for fathers to monitor their daughter's activity and control functionality.

My Mobile Watchdog can monitor phone calls, text messages, photos/videos, address book changes, calendar updates and task updates. Fathers can coordinate, with daughters, an authorized contact list. If someone who's not on the list attempts to contact your daughter, it's blocked and reported. A father can receive an immediate alert of unauthorized activity, and that report can be printed. The paper trail helps law enforcement officers catch predators.

I'm not trying to plug the product because I haven't used it. But as a father of three daughters, I worry about sexting, cyberbullying and other behaviors that are difficult to detect and difficult to control. According to law enforcement statistics, there are 700,000 registered sex offenders in the U.S. Since My Mobile Watchdog was developed, law enforcement has used this technology to arrest 315 sexual predators, 90% of whom had no prior record and were not registered as sex offenders. The technology is being used by a minute sample, a dozen agencies, none at the federal level.

Which leads me to today's parting thought/question. If a father were to have this technology installed on his daughter's cell phone, is it crossing the line of invasion of privacy, or is it justified until the daughter reaches the age of, say, 21 and is no longer a minor dependent living under your roof?

I always tell my daughters that I trust them...I just don't trust other people.

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

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

McDonald's Could Damage Your Kids Future

I've admitted a number of times before that I'm not a rocket scientist, and there are days that, by evening, I can't remember what I ate for breakfast. Having spent nearly 20 years as an administrator in higher education, I will, however, challenge reports and studies by lazy scientists who come up with bogus 'discoveries' that don't make any sense. Honestly, some days I wonder why I've never been able to land one of these 'research' jobs.

A team of researchers from the University of Washington, University of Virginia and Temple University recently published a report in the journal Child Development, that indicates that if high school students work more than 20 hours a week at a part-time job, it could have a number of negative consequences.

Huh? The study claims that if high school teens work more than 20 hours a week at a part-time job they are at greater risk for bad behavior and they are less engaged in their school and the school's activities. So, if kids work more than 20 hours a week at a part-time job, if I read the study correctly, they are more likely to be involved with substance abuse, risky behavior, bad grades, and hole up in their bedrooms, emerging only for meals and showers.

Like I said, I'm not going to be selected for the next space shuttle mission, but this just doesn't jive. I can't speak on a national basis, but my personal experience is pretty good. I've got my second oldest daughter about to graduate from high school, so I've seen my share of teenagers who've had part-time jobs.  A number of my good friends have teenagers who work part-time jobs. They flip burgers at McDonald's, buff automobiles at car washes and wait tables at restaurants. These kids are active in the school choir, the school theatrical group, varsity sports, and numerous clubs like SADD, Students Against Destructive Decisions. Most important is, all of these kids that I know, are super kids. Teenagers you're happy to be around, and kids that you root for to do well in whatever it is that they do.

I can't believe that my sample is that much different from the so-called 1,800 kids that were interviewed for this study. But here's some other reasons why I think this study is bunk.

This new study did not conduct any interviews with teenagers in 2011. The study is based upon research that was done for a similar study in the late 1980's. Kathryn Monahan, the leader of the study, justified not conducting any new research by saying in a USA Today article, "Not much has changed over the last 30 years."

Yeah, right. Thirty years ago I had hair. Thirty years ago I was playing my music on a cassette player, watching three network channels on television, and putting money into a pay phone if I was away from the land line in the house. There were no iPods, cell phones, Facebook, text messaging, or Housewives of Beverly Hills. Come to think of it, there still aren't housewives in Beverly Hills.

Do our teenagers still flip burgers at McDonald's and collect tips waiting tables at local restaurants? Yes. But everything else about the life of a teenager has been altered. We can debate whether or not the changes are good or bad. But to put out a research study based on 30-year old data doesn't work for me.

After all, 30 years ago I was flipping burgers at McDonald's, and once I figured out the "one-bounce" rule everything worked out all right. I'm still alive and I've yet to spend any time in prison.

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