It was a woman – a poet – I studied in college as an English major at Belhaven University – who first referenced success being sweetest to those who didn’t succeed. I’ll supplement with this, whether it was in a personal relationship, in a sports competition or a business endeavor…doesn’t matter. It still stings and makes us want to counter-attack or jab back at that person. Our instinct says triumph over those who did wrong by us or to those we love and protect, or took a victory we believed to be ours.
Emily Dickinson doesn’t actually use the word revenge, but hints at it with words and phrases such as took the Flag, victory, distant strains of triumph, and agonized, suggesting an intense struggle or even war. Diehard golfers can relate to these words and thoughts about defeat and the satisfaction of winning the next round. They also know that the ugly desires of revenge don’t make for the best clarity during competition, and tournament winners don’t tell the crowd that wanting revenge is what helped them succeed that day.
What can I say?
You know if you’ve read my articles or pleadings that I am at war with those who would do harm to children, including my own, because it’s profitable for those who exploit and do wrong. Agony is assured for those targeted by the wrong-doers. Causing agony for innocent people because of greed and a lack of humanity is a terrible thing. Causing agony for children? Let’s talk off-line about that. But the messaging against those I refer to as bad actors, is – on its face – not in line with what children need to see and hear. And so goes the need for this post, as a qualifier or preface to my work. It’s also an admission that I struggle with work-life balance.
To our children
Should you stumble across this as adults, my wish for you all is that the messaging of this mission softens your hearts, opens your minds but does not cause you any worry. Empathy is good, but fear should be given to God, shared with a counselor you trust, and left behind you. Allow the good in this mission to resonate for you as you come across others in life struggling with something that may not be apparent from a distance or publicly.
For so many years I’ve worked tirelessly, and for the most part without interference, to insulate my own children from the stress I feel from another’s angry need for control, desire to demean and destabilize. I do not want them to know the truth of this battle. They have learned on the positive side, however, that other parents and children need an advocate who really understands the situation they’re in, and a confident, calm voice because what they are experiencing is, let’s say, unhealthy at best. It is draining work on the personal front and professionally. It doesn’t pay well, either, but higher pay is not what drives those of us involved in advocacy work to improve society and systems. Regardless of pay, title or recognition, it is still important & rewarding work.
It is the morning of my twins 16th birthday and I do not know how they are doing or where they are; that information is being kept from me and it feels terrible. I say this not because I need your sympathy or because I am seeking vengeance against those causing this pain, distress and uncertainty, but because this is what thousands of parents like me across the country – and world – are experiencing.For the most part it is a silent suffering, an epidemic without a diagnosis, but I promise you it is real – and devastating. It is an infliction that harms children, which is easily understood by reading the language in a piece of legislation before the Florida legislators. Thank God someone of influence recognized the pathology and lasting damages to children to influence legislators to include these facts in a bill. Thank you, Florida doctors, advocates and policymakers. Whether the bill is passed and enacted this year or not, it is crucial to press forward as this recognition, or mandate for certified counselors, can save lives.
It is not unlike the kind of suffering, in a much different way of course, by parents torn from their children by Natzi Germany and by modern-day traffickers of children or the keepers of the global slave trade. Regardless of country or time-period or nationality, the impact is the same. It is ugly – and caused by ill-intentioned people motivated by hate and greed. The image above of what could be a holding place designated for isolating parents away from children should evoke harsh emotions in you, including a desire to do something to the controllers breaking the bonds between those parents and their children.
This is not the article I wanted to write on the weekend of my beloved twins’ 16th birthday. Even with this prolonged and deep pain, I am not seeking revenge. Justice would be great, yes. But revenge belongs to God.
Call to action:
For our children to rise above conflict and heal beyond their circumstances, they need our leadership. They need an example that doesn’t keep them mired in suspicion, doubt or threat. Be successful for the sake of leading our children and the children of others who, for the moment, are unable to be that example.
Thank you for reading and for lending your support to those around you,
Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne'er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.
Not one of all the purple Host
Who took the Flag today
Can tell the definition
So clear of victory
As he defeated – dying –
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Burst agonized and clear!
Can you imagine being asked to help someone who has fallen on hard times? Yes, of course.
But what if you helped that person and they betrayed you? It uncomfortable, but life happens.
Bear with me – this gets a bit more intense and strange.
What if the person you helped actually staged photos of your home, without your permission, and posted them online to use in promoting their cleaning services?
Doesn’t feel good, does it?
Now – imagine this person saw an opportunity to better their position in life and in business by using photos of your home to help someone else. Think betrayal – as in the photos are given to your opponent in a court case while you are kept in the dark, unaware that this relationship has formed and that this person who made you believe she is here to help you is actually acting to cause you harm.
Where would you start? How do you address such unscrupulous behavior?
Of course you turn first to how you can keep things peaceful for your children; the less drama the better, right?
But what if the person you trusted to help you at home decides to become involved in taking your children from you? What do you do then?
Do you expose the situation publicly, or do you let karma take care of it?
That’s what we all want as parents, grandparents, teachers and coaches for our kids.
To ask for help early on to troubleshoot any challenges, including emotional burdens.
To use better judgment when choosing which company you keep, where you spend free time and how you treat your family, as a few examples. Each act of wisdom and each show of empathy and kindness may help prevent breakdowns and crimes as revealed in the news story below about a man who could not cope with the consequences of his addiction — set in East Cobb County, Marietta, Georgia.
After studying parent/child relationships for decades, analyzing hundreds of cases involving family conflict, I can say for certain that a parent’s judgment in how he or she guides children to treat other family members has a lot to do with preventing ongoing dysfunction, including addiction, family violence, abuse in relationships, etc.
Several cases in Georgia involve someone taking a life, their own or a family member’s life, committing arson and other crimes, because that person doesn’t have the coping mechanisms needed in relationships and in deciding how to handle uncertainty and disappointment.
A Marietta, Georgia, man turned suicidal, burned down his family home, ran from police and put many other lives at risk.
This story could have turned into a much greater tragedy, but fortunately no lives were lost and the perpetrator of arson and drug use is behind bars.
Below: traumatized father and neighbor talks about the scene. Other neighbors led from smoke-filled, burning homes adjacent to Matt Olson’s unit. We do not yet know the total damages caused by his addiction, suicidal behavior, arson and the police chase.
Photography and video credit: Fox 5 News, Atlanta, Georgia
Is it good for you to know what’s coming? What you can expect, or better yet, what you can or cannot control? I believe so, and I believe informing families improves stability.
Of course. So that means it is true for your children as well. Most of the concepts I’m exploring here have to do with helping us do better for ourselves but especially for our children. If you are not a parent, but support children or parents in your community, you may learn about concepts or resources that you’ll want to share.
In my own journey I realized there was a lot of information and guidance missing that I needed at a critical time, so I set out to have questions answered and to identify the best resources that others might need as well.
If you would like to contribute to the public education now available through My Advocate Center to help more families avoid the pitfalls seen in our court system, please consider donating here. This method is not yet tax-deductible, so let me know if you prefer to use a method that will allow you to receive the deduction through one of our partner organizations.
What I learned is worth sharing. The issues I address are meant to invite debate about more positive ways to resolve conflict and overcome challenges – or challenging people – with a central focus on the needs of children.
Just knowing the right questions to ask, knowing that accountability is possible, finding honest and trustworthy support…can make all the difference in how we function in life, how we protect our health and finances, and especially around how we care for and nurture our children.
When we are informed and well supported, we can properly set and follow through on expectations. That benefits our children because we all have greater peace of mind. With the right expectations, support, know-how, peace of mind…we can perform better, make better decisions, and ideally deliver what is needed.
So the conversation here is about empowering, creating new solutions and building toward better peace of mind, better health, greater productivity…and, yes, more laughter and joy.
Keeping it simple: when we are at our best, we can serve God, each other and our children better.
Many of my topics come from daily life, as well as from being provoked in social media by friends I agree with and others I don’t. My posts have less to do with what is reported in the news, and more to do with how I see us treating each other – and how that affects our children.
Many of the questions I raise also grow out of my observations of my own children and of other children & families:
When you learn to read the faces of children, you’ll see that they are telling you a lot about yourself.
Just know that if I call you out, I’m calling myself out as well. Being transparent seems to work for me so I’m going with it. None of us are perfect, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep learning and striving to do more with what we have, and to help our kids do better than we’ve done in the past.
What you can expect from me is candor, challenge, spirit (sometimes becoming “fight” when called for) and a genuine desire to both learn from my own mistakes and to help others do the same.
This desire gave birth to Connect | Inform | Empower and the warehouse of solutions and resources now called My Advocate Center.
On this blog and on My Advocate Center’s blog you’ll see a broad range of discussions, from children’s interests and parenting issues, including legal advocacy for parents and children, to issues that go to the heart of both social and business relationships. I’ll probably get Global and Political and Spiritual at times – but always practical, always balanced and quick to consider perspectives other than my own.
What I ask of you as a reader is to please consider different sides of issues, and to help me Stand in the Gap that exists around many of the problems we face in this Community of ours. Let’s set a better example: one we want our children to model after and carry forward with our help.
Your constructive feedback is always welcome here, and positive contributions are a great thing!
It would be so easy to sensationalize an expensive, high-profile case I’ve been keeping an eye on, but that would that mean setting aside empathy and the mission of supporting the best interests of families and children. I can’t and won’t do it.
This week I am having to choose between reporting something shocking or guiding content in a way that leads to something better for people engaging the legal system because they are either going on offense and being forced to defend.
This post will evolve as my report on the case is completed, but for now I’m logging the sadness I felt in observing a tough family matter being exploited in court. My personal belief is that this family has been through enough, and professionally I believe it’s time for the lawyers escalating the family conflict be stopped in their tracks.
A professional who has exploited a number of cases I’ve observed allowed her client to be exposed for using the court system in an abusive manner, showing he was acting in bad faith. When I say “allowed,” I mean that it is my belief that this could have been avoided with minimal and reasonable effort by this man’s counsel. It’s just more profitable to allow offensive legal actions to ride – even when they make no sense and serve no valid purpose.
But it does not seem that he acted on his own, and it is clear this stressful, expensive and time-consuming trial is a waste of the court’s time and of the family’s time and money.
I wonder what could have been resolved and corrected her if counsel had been willing to help him avoid the embarrassment and discomfort seen and felt in court today.
This man admitted that “had he known” what he was learning in court through the exposure of the facts, he would not have filed the action against his ex-wife. He seemed confused at times, still wanting to “get” his ex in some way, but not able to support his feelings and actions with facts. He was flapping out in the wind, and this was preceded by his counsel laughing, saying, “We aren’t fighting…we are having a PARTY at (their) expense.”
This appears to be a big mess that could have been avoided if his counsel had truly been acting in his best interests, and upholding duty to him and heeding ethics rules and our laws.
It’s so easy to get lost in keeping up appearances, competing or trying to get the upper hand or trying to defend our positions that we forget about what matters.
Our kids need our focus on them, their safety, peace of mind and the assurance that we have things covered; it is not up to them to make us feel calm, confident, supported or reassured.
This video puts a fun spin on how we treat each other as parents, and on how we deal with our differences. Click the link below to the “Boys Germs” Facebook page and look for the video to the left. Enjoy!
This parenting clip is brilliant…must watch to the end!!