Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

He sang about being your boyfriend, but what girl wants a guy who pees in a janitor’s bucket in a restaurant?  Most “girlfriends” would run for the hills, thinking this guy has issues. And there was more, he spritzed a picture of former President Clinton and called him an expletive. Who knew the Canadian harbored such feelings towards an American President? But because Bieber is a celebrity, most girls would overlook this moment of rebellion, and be his girlfriend anyway. If he was just the guy down the block, he would be gross and disgusting. Someone might even refer him for therapy!

Somehow, when gross and inappropriate behavior comes from a celebrity, we chuckle and think it is just a part of celebrity behavior-expected, minimized, and no one talks about what it really might mean.

Call me a mom, but I was so disappointed with the Biebs. He’s got talent, charisma on stage, so why does he have to sink to such a low level? Yes, he apologized after the video and word got out.

So why do celebrities act out?

Maybe it is the lifestyle –no privacy, constant adulation, and a team of people who keep pushing you for more because their livelihood depends on it. Once your famous, you are trapped. No going back to a private life. Time to rebel, and that rebellion seems to worsen with time. The isolation has to change their thinking, making them more paranoid, more self-centered and more out of touch with every day norms. Think about it. If you can jet to an island and spend 10,000 on a quick date, you aren’t moving in the circles of ordinary people. Eventually, you lose touch, can’t relate and unfortunately, the people around you stop questioning your aberrant behavior. They need you to make money, not question your mental health.

And the teenage brain isn’t fully developed. It doesn’t do well with impulsivity and judgment. And with no one telling you to “knock it off,” “that was stupid” or “I hope you feel embarrassed,” the normal controls are gone. Teenage rebellion is full throttle in the public eye. Few of these people have a genuine faith to ground and help them. Whatever they want, they can afford. No one says NO. No one says, you acted like a jerk! When they get caught, they apologize.

Dr. Drew thinks celebrity bad behavior is rooted in mental illness. According to him, celebrities already have narcissistic traits that then get reinforced with their success and fame. The press makes it all look so normal, rather than taking them to task. Maybe he is right. He has certainly worked with a number of them.

Whatever the reason, I wish every talented kid like Bieber would surround himself with people who would ground him, who don’t have money as their main issue and would put his mental health front and center. And maybe the media could stop celebrating their acting out–now that would be a miracle, but hey, I can always hope.

Advertisement

childYears ago, I began treating children with attention and behavioral problems with parent training. Yes, it was time consuming. Parents had to attend classes, track their child’s behavior and apply various parenting skills to the problems they saw. Then I would go in to the child’s classroom and train the teacher in the same methods so that we all were consistent and building skills in both the adults and children. Again, time consuming but seemed to have a good result.

Then medications for children became popular. Teachers were busy with classrooms too large, few helpers, too much paperwork and families who were not involved. Medicating children with ADHD seemed to help everyone immediately , but the question always was, was it good for the child and would the help last?

Families with an ADHD child often have concerns when a medication is recommended to treat symptoms. Parents typically do not want to medicate children unless they feel it is absolutely necessary and the benefits outweigh the costs. Since so many children are put on ADHD medications (2.7. million in the US according to the CDC; 2007) in order to help them in school, we have to question this practice given the recent findings. Perhaps parental reluctance to use medications on their young children now has more validity. This latest study may help parents decide what to do when it comes to medicating a child in order to improve school success.

Nearly 4000 students were followed in Quebec, Canada over an 11- year period.  The result of this longitudinal study was that boys who took the ADHD drugs actually performed WORSE in school than those who did not drugs and yet had similar symptoms! In terms of the girls, the National Bureau of Economic Research, discovered that those taking ADHD drugs had more emotional problems. So for both genders in terms of long term school performance, not good results.

But the picture isn’t clear. It seems that ADHD drugs do help kids sit still, pay attention and complete more problems and tasks with accuracy. However,  in the long run, the benefits of the medication do not seem to translate in the classroom, especially when we look at academic achievement measures. One thought is that maybe the improved concentration of the child isn’t directed at the academic tasks required for long term success. We just do’t know.

So what does all this mean? 

It means that medication alone is not going to enhance academic performance in the long run. Maybe drugs help kids focus on the immediate, but drugs do not teach skills, organization and prioritizing needed for academic success.

And since the medications also seem to backfire when it comes to studying and improving concentration, parents need to wonder if using the medications is a good idea, especially if the goal of using the medications is to improve academic success.

This study certainly casts doubt on the effectiveness of stimulant medication for children and  further highlights the safety issues involved.

Another option is to go back to those parent training classes and apply the cognitive and behavioral interventions that have no side effects. These interventions take longer and require more parental involvement, but it might be worth the investment in the long run. And remember parents, many, many creative types did not do well in school, but did well in life! Academic success isn’t always an indicator of life success.

 

 

Advertisement

Do you ever have one of those days when you are mad at the way people behave? Something really unfair happens and you try very hard not to be offended?  Not that I am not perfect, but when I see people, especially Christians, purposely do the wrong thing because they are afraid to stand up for what is right, it bothers me. Today it is bothering me! I had two situations of offense to deal with today.  And in both of these situations, it was not safe to confront the people who doled out the injustice. This means, I can’t confront the problem and get it resolved. I have to live with the injustices and let them go.

Do you find that difficult? I do.

My first career choice was to be a lawyer and I think this is why- I have a strong sense of wanting justice, probably from experiencing things out of my control. And every so often, someone does something hurtful that impacts my future and I have a choice-let it go or hold on to anger and unforgiveness.

My head knows that I must forgive the person even though the person isn’t asking for forgiveness and probably doesn’t consider the ramifications of his actions. During these times, I engage my will.  I choose to forgive. My emotions take awhile to catch up. When this happens, I ask God to help me release the person to Him. Then I must trust that God uses these times of unfairness to build my character, and will bring good from these offenses. I also remind myself about the times I have offended God. Yet, He always forgives me and wipes the slate clean.

So today, once more, I turn the person over to you God. I don’t want to carry around angry feelings. I am not his judge or the Holy Spirit. You are. Yes, I was hurt by his actions but you know that, and will help my heart to heal. It is the relationship with You than makes it possible to release the offense and move on. My flesh wants revenge, but my spirit knows not to go there. On days like this, I am glad I have my faith and that God is patient with me.

Advertisement

sad childI was horrified to learn that 11-year-old Sebastien De La Cruz, who sang the national anthem  in his mariachi costume at the NBA finals, was bullied on Twitter. To the child’s credit, his response to all the bullying was incredible.

“I think the people were talking bad because of what I was wearing, and it’s not my fault. It’s what I love, and I’m just proud to be a mariachi singer. It’s their opinion, actually, and if they don’t like mariachi, that’s their problem. I love it.”

Way ta’ go Sebastien. Don’t let the bullies get to you. But do cyber bullies get to people?

Of course, but we only here about it when one of the victims commits suicide.

So what can you do to psychologically respond to this growing problem of web meanness? Part of the help is preventing a bully from ever developing.

One response it to not take it personally. This is incredibly hard to do unless you have help from your parents. The power of words are just that–powerful! And while you have to teach your kids not to take it personally and focus on the lack of empathy and kindness of the perpetrator, words hurt.

So parents, talk about what was said and let your kids know that out of the heart, the mouth speaks. Perhaps this is where we help our kids apply the words of Jesus to bless those who curse us. Help your child understand that the person who creates such meanness and hides behind the web to not face his targets has heart problems that parents need to address. All we can do is control our response to the meanness of others, but we can put it in perspective–it’s a lack of parenting! The first time my child ever tried to disparage another child, I was on him. The lesson–put yourself in his place. How would it feel? Would you like this?

Empathy can be taught. Here is what you do:

1) Help your child distinguish his/her feelings from others.

2) Talk about another perspective–what does it feel like for the other person. You have to prompt this at an early age.

3) Help your child regulate his/her emotional responses. Because you feel something, doesn’t mean you act on it. Use your head, not your impulse.

4) Teach your child to bounce back from distress. This means getting inside the emotional responses of your children, letting them express them, but helping them regulate them so they learn how to manage emotions early on in life.

5) Meet your child’s emotional needs at home–research proves that kids whose needs are met and whose attachments are strong, do better at handling distress.

6) Repeatedly tell your child not to give power to others to define who he/she is–our identity comes from God and those who know us and can speak into our lives!

7) Model empathy daily. If children see parents being empathetic, they will develop the response.

8) Talk about how difficult it must be for others who get teased and bring it to the minds of your kids. Point out examples and the label the bully as mean.

9) Teach self-control. When you are upset or hurt, you don’t lash out at others. Stay silent and think before you speak.

10) Provide kids a moral perspective. Part of being one of Christ’s is to treat others as you would want to be treated. It’s the Golden Rule which has been greatly tarnished. Do unto others and you would want them to do to you.

Previous Posts