What does health insurance and health care have to do with bullying? Well maybe nothing or maybe it has a lot to do with it; maybe more than we would like or even imagine. I’m not sure but I feel compelled to speak about an event that occurred on October 18, 2013 that involved my daughter Grace and I. I think that it’s important to state here that I have health insurance, good health insurance. I am a retired high school administrator and receive an excellent health care package from the state of New Jersey. So, this is not going to be a complaint fest. It’s something that I am speaking about because my eyes were opened to a few things that are worth sharing as the topic of health care has become so divisive in our country. I’m not a politician, just an average Joe but things happen at times that just trouble me.
I received a call on Friday morning from the nurse of Grace’s school. She informed me that Grace was experiencing a great deal of pain on her right side and should be taken to a doctor or to the emergency room at our local hospital to rule out appendicitis. I drove over to the school picked up Grace and headed to the hospital’s emergency room. We walked in and filled out a form with all of the basic information needed by the hospital. We then sat and waited to be called for what they call triage. About ten minutes later a nurse called us in to an examining room and asked us for the same information that was on the form I just filled out and entered it into a computer. She asked Grace some basic questions about her condition took her vital signs and told us we would be called back in when a bed was available. In about 15 minutes we were called back in, directed to a room where Grace put on her hospital gown and waited. Waited for what I hoped would be a doctor. Well, the door opened and in came a woman with a portable computer and asked us for the same information that I just gave to the triage nurse. I hope you are counting. A nurse came in occasionally and tucked Grace in, took her temperature, asked her how she was feeling and left. We just wanted to see a doctor and get a diagnosis.
After about an hour a woman came in, gave us her name and identified herself as the nurse practitioner. She examined Grace and told her that her pain was in the area of her appendix and that she was going to order a CAT scan. My question was and still is; where was the doctor? I mean I have good health insurance right, so why was my daughter being examined by the doctor’s underling? The next thing that happened was a tech came in to schedule the CAT scan and asked Grace the same questions that the other three people asked her previously. How many times do they need this information? Well Grace had her CAT scan, and we found out after a six hour stint in the ER that she was constipated. She was told to go home take a laxative and eat more fiber.
Well, now the rant. As stated earlier I have good health insurance as do many people but, that doesn’t matter, because health care, not health insurance has become a political football in this country. The government was shut down because of it, patients who are in the hospital pay $60 dollars for Tylenol because of it, the mind of everyone is focused on it, the media talks about it, and quite frankly I am sick of IT. What’s the difference between health insurance and health care? Health insurance is what you have or will have when you apply online and receive the health insurance that will be assigned to you by the government. To many people this is a life saver. Some people think that it is for FREE. It’s not, the co-pays are huge, the deductibles are between 2 and $10,000, and based upon your income you will have to pay a monthly premium. Health insurance is what you have or will have; health care is what you get. The quality of the care will be determined by how much the doctors, clinics, and hospitals can afford to offer based upon how much they receive from the insurance companies. My quality health insurance does not guarantee me quality health care. I can see any doctor I want but my care will be based upon the doctors revenue overall. If my doctor has huge overhead and he is treating patients with huge co-pays and deductibles the chances are pretty good that when he is done treating those patients he will be waiting around for his money for a good long while. The results for someone like me; I receive the same health care as does everyone else.
Let me get this straight right now, I am pleased that everyone will receive health insurance. But, I want them to be aware often what is believed to be a life saver can be a killer. Many people are broke in this country right now. What are they supposed to do when the doctor wants his co-pay, or when they can’t afford to pay the minimum insurance premium, or when something catastrophic happens and their insurance doesn’t cover it, or when money has to be paid to meet their deductible? The government will have to eat those numbers and that will drive up the national debt all the more.
I am just an average Joe which I said already, I worked for 30 years to receive the great health insurance that I now have. But, I can see already that if an emergency room doesn’t have a doctor but has a nurse practitioner working the floor someone will pay and I don’t mean monetarily. Did I feel bullied the other day? Of course I did. I was forced to accept the unacceptable because there was no other alternative. Are we being bullied as a country? Of course we are, the problem is though the country doesn’t even realize it.
Yes, everybody does know. In this world of dysfunction, deviance and denial how could anyone not know? In the world of education there are things that go on that are so obvious that denying them is just embarrassing and we all should be red faced. There is an 800 pound gorilla in the room and he is being ignored and the path of least resistance is being taken. What are these things that educators, parents and society knows but for some reason won’t discuss or won’t even admit? Let me share with you my thoughts on ten things that everybody knows.
Everybody Knows: That disrespect is pervasive in society. Students aren’t corrected for it and they become adults who believe that they can say and do whatever they want. And that includes instilling the fear of God into a teacher who tries to correct their kid. Teachers complain about it, but no one talks about the problem. Why? Because this fear ascends the ranks and school administrators and even the superintendent live in fear of irate parents. No one confronts and everybody runs. The schools are controlled by 20% of the parents with the biggest mouth, and the most threatening attitudes and behaviors.
Everybody Knows: That no one has self control. Have you looked at the condition of society? 1 in 4 homes are in foreclosure. I guess we can blame the banks, or can we? Everybody wants something bigger and better. To get bigger and better the money has to be made to get it, unless the bank doesn’t care. But, in the final analysis the decision is made by the buyer. Teenage obesity, diabetes, addiction, alcoholism, are all evidence of the lack of self control in society. And oh, did I mention anger issues and the left over bitterness from childhood that gets carried into adulthood reeking havoc on families. Society has lost control of its thoughts, its words, and its actions. Everybody knows. What produces a nation of people with self-control, consequences do. Unfortunately many people are sitting in that leaking boat right now and are experiencing the consequences of a lack of self control.
Everybody Knows: That we have medicalized education and have gotten to the point where meds are the first choice in treating behavior problems not the last. Oh, don’t get me wrong medication has proven to help kids with ADHD or ODD. Talk to any therapist though and they will tell you that medication in combination with therapy is the plan that nets the best result. In schools meds are relied on too heavily, and need to be used in combination with solid discipline and effective consequences. Realistically though where were ADHD and ODD 40 years ago? They didn’t exist or they weren’t invented yet. Why, because kids with behavior problems were few and far between. Authority was respected by parents and students. What happens when we discover that disrespect is now the norm and not the exception, we create a condition to support the behavior. If a kid acts up today it is usually attributed to the fact that he doesn’t take his medication consistently, when in reality he is not being disciplined effectively.
Everybody Knows: That the statement, “I like you, but don’t like your behavior” is a lie. Be honest you don’t like the kid. The truth is we are all are measured by our behavior. I own my behavior, I am my behavior. Like me but not my behavior, stop it. There are some adults that we don’t like because of their behavior, we might be married to one, are kids any different. The truth is I don’t like you because of your behavior, and I go home every night praying that you take the next day off.
Everybody Knows: That years ago the only thing we wanted was for a kid to obey, now it’s the last thing we get. As a matter of fact obedience has become a dirty word. The educational gurus who have spent their time attacking education from a theoretical standpoint, but never really spent any time interacting in a classroom with a group of wild kids liken the word obedience to dog training. They fear that we will destroy the creative side of a kid’s brain by not allowing him to choose and by forcing obedience. Okay already, let’s change obedience to compliance. The definition; doing what you are told when you are told to do it, with a good attitude. The NJ Turnpike has a sign posted right after you pay the toll, it reads; You have left the NJ Turnpike OBEY local speed laws. I guess we only have to obey as we get older.
Everybody Knows: That we lie to kids, and we have inflated their grades because we don’t want to destroy their self esteem. By the way, what is self esteem? Today kids feel good about themselves for no apparent reason. It is almost impossible to be left back, and if a kid has low test scores the teacher always gets the blame. So we let the kid know that he is doing great academically, inflate his grades and give him a false sense of his academic ability. Don’t worry someone will tell him, like the college he will be trying to get into in a few years. Then for sure everybody will know including him.
Everybody Knows: That excuses are built around circumstance, environmental and genetic circumstance. Crimes get committed and circumstance is always brought up. Tough up bringing, or he was raised on the wrong side of the tracks are just two excuses used. We are determined, that’s who we are, and we can’t change. Circumstances only influence they don’t determine behavior. Provide enough excuses for anyone and they will provide you the evidence to support your belief. Teachers have been forced to excuse behavior by a dysfunctional system. A system that has been shoe horned into education by a dysfunctional society.
Everybody Knows: That parents need parenting. The question is who is going to do it? After speaking to hundreds of parents about their children what I discovered was they don’t talk to their own parents. They lack discipline skills and are so angry and lost that they take out their rage on their own kids. Three generations of dysfunction. Everyone knows it, and talks about it, but no one knows what to do about this disaster that Everybody Knows.
Everybody Knows: That kids don’t fear anything today. As a matter of fact parents fear their kids more then kids fear their parents. Systemic discipline is just a slap on the wrist and dysfunctional schools fight dysfunctional families. While all of this is going on the kids watch, laugh, and say and do what they want without any real consequence.
Everybody Knows: That kids have lost their ability to get along and are rapidly becoming adults who have matured physically, but not mentally, or emotionally. Society has been taught to disagree, but with the wrong attitude, so don’t disagree with me or I won’t like you. Disagreements are things that get walked away from because of the fear of conflict. The idea that a productive conflict could exist and the two parties involved could leave enough space between them for a disagreement is too tough to imagine because egos are just too big. Win-Win, can’t happen because someone always has to win and someone has to lose. Don’t talk too loud now because someone will hear, and even your whispers will get back to the wrong person, like your boss who will muzzle you and make sure that you always walk the line of political correctness. EVERYBODY KNOWS that we are all victims of bullies and we will be for a lifetime. We still fear man and the man with power determines how intense that fear will be. EVERBODY KNOWS that bullying is intergenerational and for it to go away, which it never will it is not about the 20% of kids who bully right now in our schools, communities and families it is about what they become as adults.
Everyone needs a certain amount of praise and affirmation. Children are no different, if anything they need to know that the positive behaviors that they exhibit are recognized and appreciated frequently by teachers and by parents. Praise when offered appropriately to children will no doubt encourage them to continue with the positive behaviors of respect and responsibility. Praise needs to be offered to children when they display specific behaviors that have been identified by a teacher or parent. Often children are praised for anything and everything. This can produce in the child a skewed view of who they are and ultimately they can have a difficult time accepting correction. The praise becomes so frequent that the child can begin to believe that they can’t do anything wrong. A sense of entitlement builds in the mind of the child that is often accompanied by arrogance with the child developing a disrespectful attitude toward those adults who offer any correction for behavior that is unacceptable. Praise needs to be offered to children, but needs to be balanced by rules and constructive suggestions. Praise, if offered too frequently can become what I call White Noise.
During the summer of 1971, when I was sixteen, my first cousin, Jim, and I spent a lot of time together at each other’s houses. We played baseball and hung out with other kids. I enjoyed the visits, and so did he. He was an only child, and I was the only boy in my family. We had a lot in common, and during this time we were good friends. My cousin wasn’t as good at baseball as I was, but he was what I call a rooter. He enjoyed watching baseball and enjoyed watching me play. During one of his visits, I had a scheduled game. I had to be at the game early, so my dad and cousin came later. During the game, I had three hits, including the game-winning hit. I was the catcher and threw out three runners who were trying to steal second base. I had a great game. When the game was over, my dad drove my cousin back to his house, and I hung out with my friends.
I went home, went to bed, got up early the next morning, and left the house. My parents owned a bar in the town where I lived, and we lived right above the place. The normal routine was that my mother would open the bar in the morning. My father would sleep a little later then relieve her around 11:00 a.m. He would work until about 4:00 p.m. then go upstairs and take a nap. I can always remember him sitting in his recliner napping in the afternoon. He needed that nap; he was in his late fifties and had to be ready to work the night shift.
That afternoon, I returned home around 5:00 to find my father in his recliner, but he was awake. He jumped up out of his chair like he had a spring under him. He ran over to me, hugged me hard, and said, “I was so proud of you last night.” I thanked him, and I felt him squeeze me like he never had before. I felt the warmth of his body, but even more, I felt the warmth of his words.
Well, I’m fifty-seven years old now, and I still remember that hug and those words. Sometimes parents can say so much to their kids about their performance that it can almost seem like that white noise that I mentioned above. Most kids know their parents are going to speak well of them because they are well, their parents. But, the right words of praise and encouragement at the right time can actually change a child’s life. In my case, my dad didn’t offer a lot of praise and was very critical of me at times. This experience was life-changing for me. I quickly forgot all the times my father had said critical things to me. As a father myself, I know I have the power to determine how my own children view themselves. A father’s words do truly make a difference.
I really enjoy Napoleon Hill. Trust is something is something we need to teach to our kids if they are going to have successful relationships in their lives. Kids who have been targets of bullying don’t trust anyone, and believe that no one cares about them. Prove them wrong, and help them establish trusting and lasting relationships with others. It will make a difference in their lives going forward. This is Napoleon Hill’s thought for today. It just fits.
Most of us have two basic questions about others when we enter into a relationship. They are: Can I trust you? And, do you really care about me? Depending upon our previous success in partnerships with others — personal or business — the answers may be slow in coming. Confidence in another is often developed gradually as those involved in the relationship commit themselves to each other’s success and happiness. Although trust and confidence are the basic underpinnings of all successful relationships, they are fragile. A relationship that has endured for months or even years can be irreparably damaged by a few unkind words or a single thoughtless act. Don’t allow yourself to act in haste or to lose control of your emotions in important relationships.
Many years ago I had a friend whose son was getting ready to go off to his freshman year of college. We drove him up to Dartmouth. Her intention was to stay up there for three days to help him with the adjustment and get settled. During the five hour car ride there, he kept insisting that we leave after we dropped him off. We told him that we were definitely staying over for at least one night. After we moved him in we took him to dinner and walked around the campus with him. I watched his body language and I realized that even though he had protested in the car for five hours, he was glad we stayed. This story is not unique. Parents today have a terrible time when their children leave home. That’s because they know deep down that they haven’t done enough to prepare their children for independence. Children today are not given enough basic responsibilities when they are young and aren’t prepared for being responsible for all that lies ahead in their lives. These children haven’t learned enough about survival in the dog eat dog world. They are emotionally immature. Emotionally mature people have certain characteristics that make it easy to recognize them. What are these characteristics and what does an emotionally mature person look like?
Let’s start with one for today – Honesty
Emotionally Mature People are Honest
John Bradshaw, the adult child of alcoholic guru, made this very telling comment about the truth. “Telling the truth prevents future pain.” So why doesn’t everyone tell the truth? The answer is very simple. It takes a tremendous amount of emotional maturity to speak the truth. Often the truth can lead to a confrontation which is something a person who is emotionally immature just can’t deal with.
Larry, a dear friend of mine, who unfortunately has passed away, watched me with my daughter one day. Anytime she did or said something that was wrong, I would have a huge reaction and start to yell at her about her behavior. Larry just kept observing this. Finally he said to me, “Jim, by reacting the way you do, all you’re doing is grooming your daughter to be a good liar.” I finally understood what he meant when my daughter started to bend the truth a little. I would ask her a question and she would poke around verbally to try to find out what I wanted to hear. She did this to prevent my reaction. Emotionally mature people can speak the truth without fear of a reaction from another person, and can handle the truth when it is spoken to them. In this country, we are very accustomed to dishonesty, and everyone seems to lie, withhold information, or embellish a story just to make themselves look good in the eyes of others.
One of our most popular presidents was most definitely an emotionally immature liar. In 1998, we watched as President Bill Clinton constantly denied his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Why? Maybe he had a fear of an entire country and, of course, his wife Hilary’s reaction. When President Clinton continued to deny his affair, things only got worse for him as other women come flying out of the closet pronouncing that they also had affairs with the president as well. Clinton was also an expert in finding out what people wanted to hear and then he would tell them exactly what they wanted. People often joked that he always agreed with the last person that he spoke with. As a society we are so accustommed to untruth, and half truths that Clinton was forgiven for his behavior and he remains very popular in the eyes of many and his deviance admired.
Lying, conning, and withholding may prevent confrontations and reactions temporarily. But, permanent help only comes when the truth is spoken. Emotional maturity starts with being honest with ourselves and with others. It truly does set us free.
Emotionally Mature People Are Respectful
People who are emotionally mature are respectful. They don’t live and die by the saying…I’ll give respect when I get respect. They are respectful to everyone regardless of how they are treated. They have an appreciation for the rights and privileges of another person and therefore can accept differences of opinions gracefully. Emotionally mature people have a built- in set of values that won’t allow them to use their words or actions to be disrespectful to anyone. They enjoy other people’s successes and are ready to offer praise to others for their accomplishments. Emotionally mature people know how to respond to authority and know how to work with their employers regardless of whether or not they like or agree with their boss.
Emotionally Mature People Are Responsible
Emotionally mature people have the ability to accept responsibility for their own actions. They don’t look for excuses for their behavior. There may be reasons or circumstances why emotionally mature people act in an irresponsible way but they don’t waste time making all kinds of excuses. Emotionally mature people don’t feel victimized by circumstances or other people. Even when circumstances or events are difficult, they deal with them without resorting to blaming others. They realize that they were influenced by these circumstances and not determined, and at any point they can change their response to the influence.
In life, people can be dealt a bad hand in many different areas. They may have inherited a family disease; their parents may have been very poor or divorced maybe even alcoholics. The list could go on and on. It becomes the responsibility of the individual to overcome difficult circumstances that were not really the fault of that person. Typically, emotionally irresponsible people spend their entire lives blaming others for their problems. When they do this, they remain irresponsible and do not believe that they need to attempt to help themselves. A person who is irresponsible can blame others for so long that the hole he or she is in gets deeper and deeper.
Emotionally Mature People Are Compliant
What does it mean to be compliant? Most people would say it means that you do what you’re told when you’re told to do it. That’s about right, but not quite. Emotionally mature people have the ability to do what they’re told, when they’re told to do it, with a good attitude. One of the first signs of maturity in a child is when they have the ability to cooperate even when they disagree. When they do disagree, they do it with the right attitude. Another lost principle. Compliance