Thoughts, rants and commentary of a simple man

Speak well of your ex for your kids’ sake

Posted on June 29th, 2014 in For the ladies,For the men,On Relationships | No Comments »

Speak well of your ex... your kids need that from you.I saw this image posted on Facebook a few weeks ago and in the last few days I was reminded of it. In recent months I have encountered a few situations in which an ex, or soon-to-be-ex, was talking either to their children or around their children about the child’s other parent. In most cases when this happens the parent is respectful and mature enough to not bad mouth their ex or, short of that, they are at least somewhat strategic in the words they use or how they deliver their thoughts. I think this is important because defaming your kids’ other parent is both vicious and damaging, and will ultimately end up harming the kid’s relationship with their other parent.

While I think it’s important to treat everyone with respect, I think it is especially important to treat the parent(s) of your kids with respect, even if you have to struggle through doing it. And along with treating your ex with respect, I personally think it is equally imperative that you speak respectfully of your ex in the presence of your kids. I know you might not have any ounce of respect for your ex. And I know that your ex may have hurt you beyond imagination and because of that you can’t muster even the slightest positive thing to say about him/her. But that doesn’t give you license to harm your kid’s relationship with your ex.

If your kids are within earshot please have the courtesy to speak well of your ex or, at the very least, not speak of your ex at that time. If something happens to come on in a TV show or a movie that reminds you of your ex’s shenanigans, keep that to yourself for a bit. And if your kids have the unction to ask you about why you and your ex are no longer together, it’s ok to be vague to a degree. Saying things like “your mom liked other men more than she liked me” or “your dad is emotionally abusive and detached” might make you feel vindicated in the moment but can cause all sorts of confusion in your kid. There is nothing wrong with saying something like “we just couldn’t make it work and to make things as good as we could for you, we decided to split”. There can be a deeper discussion about that later, or even at that moment, without going into specifics. But at that moment the best thing you could do is protect your children and their relationship with your ex.

Now please understand that I am not saying that you need to lie to your kids, or that you need to keep them in the dark forever. But when they are still kids, or are not yet capable of completely digesting your anger toward, or hatred of, your ex, I personally believe it is best to shield them from potential harm to their relationship with your co-parent. It pains me when I hear people talking smack about their ex without even considering the words coming out of their mouths.

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A boy insulting another boy is not the end of the world

Posted on June 4th, 2014 in For the ladies,For the men,On Fatherhood,On Manhood,On Parenting,Personal Messages | No Comments »

tl;dr Boys are way different than girls and aren’t little meanies because they call another boy a name

Raising a son is hard. And I have to say that raising a son as a single mom or a mom with no help from dad is probably the hardest thing that can be done as a parent today because there are so many societal “norms” that are being applied to young boys that sometimes letting a boy’s natural character out means that he’s in some way a problem child. I am not complaining about raising a son in any way, shape or form. Instead I am saying that raising a son can be challenging, particularly when the natural character of a boy is at odds with what a parent, or society in general, deems appropriate.

The reason I say this is because of an incident I learned about today involving my son. He has had his share of scraps and run-ins this school year, and has been spoken to quite a bit for behavior and behavior related issues. To me, this is to be expected for an eight year old boy. Hell, when I was his age I was doing much of the same stuff he’s doing today. Pretty much every boy in my school was. I think that’s because, in general, boys have a way about them that is unique to boys. We are loud, aggressive, forward, vocal, sometimes condescending, sometimes domineering, sometimes mean and sometimes rude. I am not saying these are all good qualities. I’m just saying, put a group of boys (or men) in a room and in a short amount of time you will see all of these qualities manifest in some capacity among the males in the room.

As boys, we know this. We live this. We expect this from other boys. And because of that, we, as boys, challenge the norms that we are faced with (that is another quality of boys). When we see a boy that might be bigger, stronger, smarter, faster… our inclination is to establish dominance over that boy. We do that in various ways, from hurling insults to competing in sports to physically dominating another boy. And sometimes, as a stronger, smarter, faster boy, we are challenged by another boy trying to establish dominance of his own. Again, this is not only understood among boys, it’s expected. And how we as boys handle these situations begins to identify us among our sphere of influence. This process begins at a very young age and continues for most, if not all, of a man’s life. To understand this concept, observe a group of guys enjoying drinks and talking. How long does it take before one of the guys insults one of his friends, calls him a name or challenges his manhood? How long does it take for a man to establish his own amazingness by telling stories of his work, or how he handled a situation with a coworker, or how he handled something with his kids? It is the way we are with each other.

The incident that my son was involved in went like this… he was playing a game of Mercy with another boy. When the other kid lost, the kid began to whine about it to which my son replied “Stop being a little girl”. Now to those that don’t understand boys, this might come across as rude, condescending or even bullying. To those of us who grew up on the playground, we know this is a way of establishing presence and dominance among our peers. While I am not excusing the conduct of my son, I think it needs to be stated that among boys, games of strength and bravado always come at a cost in that there will inherently be a winner and a loser. In both the winning and the losing, there is a way to conduct yourself that is honorable among other boys. There are also ways to conduct yourself that are less than honorable among boys. So when a boy behaves in a way that is “dishonorable” among the group, it is natural for another boy to call him on that. This happens quite often in regular daily activities of a lot of men (and women, too, but probably not in as pronounced a way as with the guys). Again, I am not saying it is right or wrong, I am merely saying that this is to be expected, particularly among boys.

In the case of my son and his behavior, it is easy to look at him and say he was being mean or bullying the other boy. Personally, I think that’s a load of crap. Bullying, to me, would be something like my son seeing another boy, that he isn’t close with, wearing a pink shirt or sporting long hair and, out of nowhere, approaching him with a “What are you, a girl?”. To me, that is not only bullying but completely unacceptable behavior. It is unwarranted, unmerited and totally inappropriate. But in the case of two boys playing a game of strength and one boy losing then whining about it, to be derided for it in some way, to me, is not bullying. It is playground politics. It’s the same playground politics that say if we’re playing dodgeball and I know you can’t catch, you’re the target I’m throwing at. It’s the same playground politics that say if we’re playing tag and you’re the slow kid, you’re getting tagged first. And it is also the same politics that say if you’ve handled being the slow kid, getting tagged and not being able to get out of it while still being cool about it, you’re probably gonna end up being tight with a couple of dudes that will make sure you are never tagged.

Now moms, this is for you: boys and girls are different in many, many ways. How we feel things is different. How we respond is different. But trying to make your boy understand things from a girl’s perspective – or even YOUR perspective – will more than likely not work most of the time. While your boy may nod at you and say “yes momma, I understand”, the chances of it sticking with him are pretty slim. This is because you can never really take the character out of the boy. You can punish it, discipline it… even make him feel bad for it. But ultimately his character will continue to shine through – good or bad – and he will do what he will naturally do. If you are a single mom raising a son, or if your son’s dad isn’t as involved as he should be, please know that your best bet as his parent is to lead, coach and teach your son how to manage his boyness. Don’t condemn him for being what he naturally is. Don’t try to stifle his character or shut it down, but instead find creative ways to let that character of his flourish. No, that isn’t easy, but it is much less frustrating and much less likely to cause resentment from him later on life.

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Excuse my reasoning

Posted on November 2nd, 2009 in For the ladies,For the men,Observations,On Children,On Marriage,On Parenting | No Comments »

A point of view is a dastardly thing. It can be useful in some situations, but in a case where your point of view allows you to turn an excuse into a reason it can be devastating.

Excuses, in and of themselves, are nasty little buggers. They are purposed reasonings that one establishes to allow latitude and leniency to pervade their own inability to satisfy a need or a condition in which another person, organization or establishment is dependent upon the satisfaction of that need. In essence, they are a rationalized way out of a responsibility that should not be shirked.

Worse, excuses that are believed to be reasons are all the more dangerous because they are no longer just a way out of responsibility, they are now the driving force behind it. And along with that they become a convenient means to allow oneself to really never do the responsible thing.

The reason I bring this up is because it is so easy to do. Excuses, or in most cases, reasons, are so easy to come up with and even easier for others to believe. Children seem to know this inherently. So do spouses (yes, men and women). In fact, I tend to think it is human nature to be able to drum up an excuse, er, reason, at the drop of a hat in most cases.

I am just as guilty of this as the next guy. Which is why I chose to write about it. I find myself doing this more and more and, the truth is, it needs to stop. A wife, children, a boss… they all need reliability out of a man. And reliability is impossible if there is a way out of responsibility through excuses.

So the next time you feel yourself in a place to excuse your way out of something, think twice and see if you can reason with yourself to the point of not allowing the excuse. People are counting on you.

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Why I disabled my Facebook account

Posted on October 18th, 2009 in For the ladies,For the men,On Manhood,On Marriage,Personal Messages,Social Networking | 4 Comments »

Thinking of disabling my Facebook account. It is entirely too easy to not talk to my wife in lieu of reading her wall. #stupidfacebook
6:10 PM Oct 3rd from web

@RobertGonzalez

A couple of weeks ago I disabled my Facebook account. I also audited some of my accounts on other social networking sites and either disabled those or deleted them altogether. I have also started to cull my following list on Twitter.

So what prompted these actions, you might ask? The honest answer is… my marriage.

It became clearly evident, shortly after my wife joined Facebook, that my use of social networking was becoming a huge problem for us. What made this so evident was how easy it became to converse with my wife over wall posts and post comments as opposed to real conversations. We stupidly sat in the living room together, commenting on each other’s wall posts and replying to each other’s comments. And when we weren’t communicating with each other on Facebook we were ignoring each other altogether as I sat and Twittered or posted to my Facebook friends’ walls and my wife did the same thing with her Facebook friends.

The saddest aspect of all this was that I had never seen that I was doing this until I saw my wife doing this with me. She joined Facebook in June, and while she has only been on it for a couple of months I have been Facebooking for years. I have been Twittering for over a year. I have been keeping up with people through their blogs for years. I have been involved in forums for almost six years. If you look at it, I have traded relationship with my wife for interaction with strangers for upward of six years.

I chose to make myself available to people I would never meet, in whose lives I would really never have any meaning and whose lives really had no significant meaning to me while at the same time choosing not to put any time, effort, energy or expressed interest into the one relationship that should have taken the highest priority in my life. I have made many connections with other women, some married, some unmarried, and have put myself in a position of “caring friend” to them. And while I am sure that these women needed a caring friend I should not have been that friend. My wife needed that caring friend just as bad as the next lonely woman, she needed me more than any other person could have needed me, yet I never took the time or had the inclination to offer myself to her.

Facebook, Twitter and all the other social networking sites… even email, allowed me to spend time I should have spent with my wife, with someone or something else. I spent time getting to know other people. I spent time building relationships with complete strangers. I spent time spending time apart from my wife, even when I was within physical proximity to her.

The truth is, anything that allows a married couple to not spend time with one another while harboring an air of developing relationships with others is just plain bad for your marriage. Facebook definitely fits into this category. So does Twitter and every other social networking site.

By their nature, social internet networks are designed to bring people together with or for a common cause or idea or ideal. While this is not a bad thing, in my opinion, it is terrible if you are substituting a real relationship for virtual ones. Yes, I was doing that. No, that can never be good for your marriage. And no, it wasn’t good for mine.

Your spouse should be the most important person in your life. And if your intimacy and relationship with your spouse is suffering then you need to do whatever you can to feed it. In my case, I needed to starve my Facebook relationships and Twitter relationships in order to feed my marriage. And I’d do it again if the need ever arose.

So you may notice that every couple of days my “following” count on Twitter goes down. If I currently follow you and then one day I am not following you anymore, understand that my marriage has to come first. It is nothing personal. I just need to protect my marriage.

And will I ever make it back to Facebook? I don’t know. For now I am sticking to the idea that I am only gone for the time being. How long that time is depends entirely on how long it takes me to feed my marriage, which has starved for far too long. I may never make it back on there. And if I don’t, I’m fine with that. To me, what is most important is that my marriage is nurtured and that my wife knows, without a doubt, that she is so much more important to me than some website.

Until then, if you really have to keep up with what is going on with me, my family or things that I notice around me, you’ll just have to come here to find out if I have mentioned anything. But you can be certain of one thing: I am pouring myself into my marriage now like I used to pour myself into Facebook, Twitter and every other thing I let take the place of my marriage.

For the men: If you notice your marriage starting to take a downward turn take a look at what you might be spending your time on other than you marriage. Your marriage is your most important relationship you could foster. Make sure to treat it that way. Your wife needs your gentleness, intimacy, strength, your concern and your heart. Give it to her, gladly, and sacrifice whatever else you need to in order to allow your marriage to flourish.

For the women: Though I feel horribly unqualified to tell you anything as a man, I can tell you that when it comes to your marriage, your husband needs to know that he is the most important person to you just as much as you need that from him. Pay attention to what you are putting your heart into and where your time is being spent. Your husband needs your intimacy (not sexual intimacy but emotional intimacy) like you need his. Be cognizant of this, and be ready to offer to him whatever you can to show him he is just as important to you as you know you are to him.

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The sanctity of the toilet

Posted on March 18th, 2009 in For the ladies,Observations,On Manhood,Personal Messages | 8 Comments »

Webster’s defines sanctity as:

1: holiness of life and character [godliness]
2a: the quality or state of being holy or sacred [inviolability]
2b: (plural) – sacred objects, obligations, or rights

I noticed something the other day… well, let me rephrase that… I had an epiphany the other day about something that I have done for a while now but only recently have come to appreciate. Taking time, when I get home, to go to the bathroom.

Ok, before you get grossed out over what I just said, understand that the bathroom, for me, is a sanctuary. A getaway, if you will. My place to go to gather my wits about me, perhaps catch up on a few emails or just generally avoid the noise that is the Gonzalez house as soon as I walk in the door. Sitting on the toilet, even if I don’t have to do anything toilety, is my zen moment, my place of relaxation and quiet, my focus time, my time to center. So my toilet is a sacred object. No, not an idol, but something that means a lot to me.

Of course you can probably surmise that I have very few hobbies. In fact most of my identity revolves around my family. I don’t hunt, fish, ski, gamble, work out or anything to occupy my time, so my one real outlet, outside of work, is my toilet. And to be honest, I think every man needs a place like this.

If it weren’t for my toilet I would be a bear to live with. I’d be cranky, irritable, grouchy and generally of an unpleasant disposition. So as long as my toilet and I have a little time together every afternoon life in the Gonzalez house goes smoothly. But take my toilet time away from me and boy, look out.

There could be a heavy load of crap to deal with if that ever happens.

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Boobs: What’s the big deal?

Posted on February 9th, 2009 in For the ladies,For the men,Observations,On Manhood,On Marriage | 4 Comments »

NOTICE: This post has been removed. This page is here only as a place holder to prevent old inbound links from breaking.

The content in the original post was posted without my exercising good judgment and sensitivity and as a result needed to be taken down. I have chosen to leave some of the better portions of that post up, however. At least better in a way that I would think are better.

Man tip: It should go without saying that any time you are faced with the issue of a wife telling you she is feeling insecure about herself in any way that you reassure her that she is more than adequate in every way.

Man tip: If your wife does something that in any way speaks to any part of who you are as a man, tell her. She needs to hear it.

Man tip: Your wife is the most beautiful woman in the world to you. Always. This is never a question as much as it is an affirmation.

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Exposing differences between men and women

Posted on February 5th, 2009 in For the ladies,For the men,Funnies,On Marriage | 1 Comment »

I got this from my sister-in-law this morning and had to share it. There are some expletives starred out (*) so if there are kids reading you might want them to not read this entire post. You have been warned.

Here is a prime example of “Men are from Mars, Women Are from Venus” offered by an English professor from the University of Phoenix.

The professor told his class one day, “Today we will experiment with a new form called the tandem story. The process is simple. Each person will pair off with the person sitting to his /her immediate right. As homework tonight, one of you will write the first paragraph of a short story. You will e-mail your partner that paragraph and send another copy to me. The partner will read the first paragraph and then add another paragraph to the story and send it back, also emailing a copy to me. The first person will then add a third paragraph and so on back-and-forth. Remember to re-read what has been written each time in order to keep the story coherent. There is to be absolutely no talking outside the e-mails and anything you wish to say must be written in the e-mail. The story is over when both agree a conclusion has been reached.”

*** The following story was actually turned in by two of his students, Rebecca and Gary. ***
THE STORY

(1st paragraph by Rebecca)
At first, Laurie couldn’t decide which kind of tea she wanted. The chamomile, which used to be her favorite for lazy evenings at home, now reminded her too much of Carl, who once said, in happier times, that he liked chamomile. But she felt she must now, at all costs, keep her mind off Carl. His possessiveness was suffocating, and if she thought about him too much her asthma started acting up again. So chamomile was out of the question.

(2nd paragraph by Gary)
Meanwhile, Advance Sergeant Carl Harris, leader of the attack squadron now in orbit over Skylon 4, had more important things to think about than the neuroses of an air-headed asthmatic bimbo named Laurie with whom he had spent one sweaty night over a year ago. “A.S. Harris to Geostation 17”, he said into his transgalactic communicator. “Polar orbit established. No sign of resistance so far…” But before he could sign off, a bluish particle beam flashed out of nowhere and blasted a hole through his ship’s cargo bay. The jolt from the direct hit sent him flying out of his seat and across the cockpit.

(Rebecca)
He bumped his head and died almost immediately, but not before he felt one last pang of regret for psychologically brutalizing the one woman who had ever had feelings for him. Soon afterwards, Earth stopped its pointless hostilities towards the peaceful farmers of Skylon 4. “Congress Passes Law Permanently Abolishing War and Space Travel” Laurie read in her newspaper one morning. The news simultaneously excited her and bored her. She stared out the window, dreaming of her youth, when the days had passed unhurriedly and carefree, with no newspaper to read, no television to distract her from her sense of innocent wonder at all the beautiful things around her. “Why must one lose one’s innocence to become a woman?” she wondered wistfully.

(Gary)
Little did she know, but she had less than 10 seconds to live. Thousands of miles above the city, the Anudrian mothership launched the first of its lithium fusion missiles. The dim-witted wimpy peaceniks who pushed the Unilateral Aerospace disarmament Treaty through Congress had left Earth a defenseless target for the hostile alien empires who were determined to destroy the human race. Within two hours after the passage of the treaty, Anudrian ships were on course for Earth, carrying enough firepower to pulverize the entire planet. With no one to stop them, they swiftly initiated their diabolical plan. The lithium fusion missile entered the atmosphere unimpeded. The President, in his top-secret mobile submarine headquarters on the ocean floor off the coast of Guam, felt the inconceivably massive explosion, which vaporized poor, stupid Laurie.

(Rebecca)
This is absurd. I refuse to continue this mockery of literature. My writing partner is a violent, chauvinistic semi-literate adolescent.

(Gary)
Yeah? Well, my writing partner is a self-centered tedious neurotic ! whose attempts at writing are the literary equivalent of Valium. …”Oh, shall I have chamomile tea? Or shall I have some other sort of F**KING TEA???! Oh no, WHAT AM I to do? I’m such an air headed bimbo who reads too many Danielle Steele novels!”

(Rebecca)
A**hole.

(Gary)
Bitch.

(Rebecca)
F**K YOU – YOU NEANDERTHAL!

(Gary)
Go drink some tea – whore.

(TEACHER)
A+ …….I really liked this one.

I could totally see myself having this same interaction with my wife. In fact I could see just about any man having this same interaction with just about any woman over email. Even moreso if they were dating.

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