|Oh my! Summer is fast approaching and let’s face it, you're going to need to have an action plan in place to avoid arguing over curfews, technology, and house rules with your teen.|
|The truth is, your independent offspring is walking into summer with his or her own set of rules too... And that means it's inevitable that there's going to be a clash of power. So…|
When I was 21 years old, I landed an internship with a well-known corporation that I won't name but everyone in the world has heard of it.
I was eager to get an inside access at how this company operates, not to mention the impressive bullet point this put on my resume. I knew this was the experience of a life-time. I was hired as a paid intern on their Research and Development team for seven weeks. And each day I went to work I had a blast. Except for my very last day.
The team I was a part of was a fun group of young thirty-somethings. They included me as one of their own. I participated on their softball team after work. I went jet-skiing with them on the weekends. We went to concerts together as a group and drank beer with each other at happy hour. They let me in and I was excited to be "in".
There's a certain safety with an intern. Everyone confided in me. I knew the inside dirty secrets of their lives. Who was sleeping with whom and who secretly hated who. To me, it was a great learning experience of how fun a corporate team can be. For them, I was the non-threatening young intern that everyone wanted to hang out with and let loose around. It was a win-win for all! But my wild ride had to eventually end and after seven weeks it was my last day of interning.
My supervisor tried to convince me to stay longer, but I knew I had to return to college finish my degree then see what path life had for me. I spent my last day, walking around the giant corporate office handing our greeting cards to say goodbye to my new-found friends. Most gave a me a handshake. Some a high five, a few gave me a hug. Then with a smile and great memories to last a lifetime I was ready to part ways. This was before the age of cell-phones and social media, so when you said goodbye to someone you knew it was unlikely you would ever see them again. And with that in mind, as I was about to head out the front door, I remembered the Marketing team upstairs.
The Marketing team was full of thirty-something single guys. They were a wild bunch that I had barely interacted with, except for a few laughs together at happy hour once or twice.
I instinctively knew they were the "players" of the company and I mostly stayed away from them. Yet, I figured it would be unprofessional to at least not say goodbye in person so I ran up the stairs to give them a quick fair-well.
One of the men, a tall Steven Seagal look-alike, invited me into his office when he heard it was my last day. I smiled and told him how much fun I had working there and thanked him for all his help. He then walked closer to me, towering over me about 8 inches. He was a big guy. And soon, I was pinned against the wall when he moved in to try and kiss me… on the lips. "Whoa!" "Stop!" "What are you doing?" "Get off me!" I said, trying to squirm out from under him. Then I quickly walked down the stairs, out the front door and told no one.
What's the point of telling anyone I thought? It was my last day. I didn't want to be known as the "problem intern" after everything went so smoothly up until that point. Besides, I rationalized that since he never actually landed the kiss, did it even matter? I chose to let it go. And to be honest, I probably wasn't that startled by it at the time. There were guys in college who tried that sort of thing (or worse). Yet, I can tell you to this day, I never forgot that moment or his face and this was over 20 years ago…
Today, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace. But let's get real, an "Act" doesn't mean these behaviors from men have changed at all. Sexual harassment exists across all professions, positions, and in every culture.
What actually defines sexual harassment?
I talk about stories like this in more detail in my book Someone You Know, to drive home the point that people who try to bully or harass you are more likely to be someone you know, not a stranger. Just like me and the Steven Seagal look-alike… He was not a stranger. Most of us know what sexual assault is (where a person forces, coerces you to perform a sexual act without your consent). And yes, in this case the Steven Seagal look-alike may have tried to assault me but luckily, I was young and quick-witted enough to turn my head and slither out from under his height in time.
Sexual harassment is a term that is overused and misunderstood in our society. Basically, it's any unwelcome sexual advance. That includes comments, groping, threats, implied favors, anything that makes the workplace uncomfortable for a person to do their job.
Here's some examples:
A male coworker comments how tight your sweater is.
Unwanted touching, flirting, displaying of pornographic images, or repeated requests for dates.
Several employees joking about a sexually offensive movie they saw on the weekend using explicit language in your presence.
A manager making demeaning comments about a female worker to his colleagues.
Things to keep in mind:
Sexual harassment (or assault) can occur to any gender-identified person. Although the overwhelming majority of claims that most often occur are men harassing women. We all have a story.
It happens in same sex situations.
It can happen at all levels in the organization; including employees trying to harass their supervisor.
Enough is Enough!
In the workplace harassment is sometimes more discreet but not always. We have a responsibility to keep an eye and ear out for any type of discrimination around us and to speak up to let the person know it will not be tolerated. Supervisors and managers need to invoke a "No Harassment" policy where it's safe for an employee to come forward with a complaint, and all complaints are taken seriously. Educating employees on what harassment is on an annual basis is important and having a system in place to take action on the offenders. In some states, this training is already mandatory by law. In California for example, businesses with fifty or more employees are required to conduct sexual harassment training for 2 hours, every 2 years. One state is not enough.
How to prevent it:
1. There must be a no tolerance policy in effect that all employees and supervisors know and understand.
2. All employees must be trained on what harassment is and understand the consequences.
3. Everyone is required to enforce the policy and to report it all the way to the board of directors.
4. Create a team environment where everyone feels safe to report it.
5. Take all complaints seriously and act promptly. Maintain confidentiality as much as possible. Some personal information will be necessary to file the complaint but keeping the information from becoming office gossip is crucial.
In my twenties, I wasn't aware of the laws or rights that I had to stop this sort of thing. Now of course I know better. When you know better you do better and why it's important to educate every young person that you know. If you or someone you know experience workplace harassment, discrimination, or sexism please reach out to me. There are trainings that Kurukula offers to help you better assert your voice, body language, and most importantly, actions to take to end harassment behaviors in the workplace or anywhere for that matter.
Just today, I had to have “the talk” with the parent of my child’s elementary school-age bully.
I made sure I approached the parent with a friendly conversation starter. One that talked about how much our kids both like their teacher. This neutral topic allowed us to start on common ground and agree on something before engaging with the issue.
I went on to mention how I was concerned that my child liked playing with his daughter but has been coming home lately saying they no longer like school because she felt his daughter was excluding her and being mean. I remained calm and conversational as I talked to the parent but noticed that my nonconfrontational behavior was not being mirrored.
The other parent immediately began to react in a defensive body language and tone of voice. He kept his arms crossed and defended their child’s behavior by saying the ridiculous statement that is often used to excuse intolerable behavior, “She was only teasing”. Then he continued on, “My child’s not a bully, anyway, they’re too young to be bullies at this age.” 🤬
What? Are you serious? I thought.
I kept my composure… Although I wanted to unleash the mamma bear.
I shook my head and simply thought, nice try, but you’re not going to fool me with that crap.
I politely reminded him that I’ve written books on the topic and that I lead an award-winning organization called Kurukula to prevent bullies. Adding, “I’m pretty confident that I know the difference between teasing and bullying”.
(In case you’re wondering as you read this post: Teasing is an isolated incident that is said among friends to reinforce their friendship. It’s said in a joking way and doesn’t offend the intended receiver. Teasing however crosses over to bullying when it happens repeatedly, and the receiver is clearly upset by the behavior, often asking the person more than once to stop.) And for the record, bullying of course happens across all age groups, from preschoolers to seniors.
There’s no justification that can be used to excuse bullying. If a person feels they were mistreated, then they most likely were.
Often times the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree... 🍎 🍏 Bullying adults often raise bullying children. But we can (and must), call them on their bad behaviors and speak up (yes, even to the grown-ups) if we want it to stop.
For younger kids, it’s essential that parents and teachers get involved. It may be hard for kids to communicate effectively on their own when a situation occurs. Therefore, we need to prepare our children with assertive words and body language to defend themselves, always without drama and emotion
I’ve spent the day trying to understand the other parents’ reaction. Honestly, it boggles me. If you approached me in a friendly way and told me your child felt scared to come to school for several days because of something my child said or did, the first thing out of my mouth would be, “I’m so sorry, let me talk to my child about that.” That, I think, would be a mature reaction.
Imagine how hard it must be for a child to confide to their mom that they are being hurt by a kid at school. That takes courage and guts for a young person. Now imagine the uneasiness of you approaching the bullied parent to say that you believe their child’s behavior was the cause of their pain. Most people would not enjoy that conversation and would want to avoid a further confrontation.
Wouldn’t it be human nature to empathize with the victims’ experience and pain? It’s no different than the victim blaming that our culture does when a woman finally speaks up that someone sexually abused her. Defensiveness or judgement have no place in these situations— even if you feel you are innocent. The point is, even if you were innocent, and didn’t intentionally harm another person shouldn’t the first thing out of your mouth be ‘I’m so sorry that happened to you’?
We have lost touch of our human connectedness. It’s not an us versus them world. We are all one. If a child feels bullied at school, then our entire school system is not successful at protecting our children, and all parents need to help solve it. Just as if one woman is a survivor of sexual assault, then our entire culture is lacking in decency and respect to how we treat women and we are all responsible for it.
We are one human race. One species trying to survive together on one planet. We need more empathy for each other. When one of us falls, lend out a hand to pick the person up, don’t simply walk by. It’s time we understand how our actions and words are hurtful to our neighbors, classmates, friends-- our entire human family.
I felt sad that the other parent reacted to my inquiry that way. My intention was not to be blaming or confrontational but rather, to have a mature conversation on how we can best get our girls to be friends again. Unfortunately, the dad walked away with a “huff” and a “sigh” to clearly demonstrate to me that this conversation was over and not worth his time. And with that, it was over.
I went home and reassured my child that bullies are not as confident as they appear. The best defense is to avoid them and search out better friends. Friends that treat them how they deserve to be treated.
We can’t be responsible for how others choose to live their lives or raise their kids. But we can strive to do our best to connect and empathize with the people around us in this world.
Arming you against bullies (and sexual assault) is my jam. I often feel like the Robin-hood of the innocent. I want to protect and empower you with tools you can use. And nothing makes me happier than knowing you’re living with confidence and fearlessness, and that you no longer need my trainings.
If you’re dealing with a bully harassing you or your child please reach out to me. My Jerky Johnny game was designed to equip you and your young person with these exact skills. Or of course, if you prefer to experience my badass trainings in person then schedule a call with me. I’m happy to help.
When you see wrong in the world, speak up. Especially for those who may need help asserting themselves. Your children are watching your every move. And when you behave with maturity, integrity, dignity, and respect it gets modeled in their behaviors. And that’s, how we change the world.
In support of you,
This was the advice women gave their daughters not so long ago.
Today, there's a lot more you need to teach her to help her thrive. Everything from how to be compassionate and caring...To being independent, smart & strong. Every mother wants her daughter to be self-sufficient.
To raise a woman who makes good choices is the ultimate goal-- Especially when it comes to men and relationships. But are you really prepared to teach her all the tools she needs to thrive in today's world? According to a recent study, here's the top 10 tips for raising a Confident girl today:
1. Encourage assertiveness.
2. Be specific in your compliments.
3. Make your praise match reality.
4. Help her understand why she sometimes gets left out.
5. Encourage competence.
6. Encourage her to play sports if she wants to.
7. Don't make assumptions about her strengths and weaknesses.
8. Encourage a healthy body image.
9. Prepare her for sexism.
10. Point out positive female role models.
Some of these are easier to accomplish than others. My workshops and speaking engagements have you covered. Especially for:
#4 Dealing with Mean girls
#5 Developing Competence
#8 Confident Body Image
#9 Preparing her for Sexism
#10 Giving her positive female role models
Did you know... Most women will have to deal with an unhealthy relationship at some point in their lives?
Whether it's mean girls, a controlling boss, or a jerky date that tries to take things too far...
She (and you) needs to learn effective tools to handle these situations!
These skills are not taught in school or learned from friends.
And sadly, many parents don't know how to prepare their daughters to have respectful, consensual mature relationships. I've seen it happen too many times over the years, especially during my work with the police...
Abusive people are often disguised as charmers and lurking to prey on young women who are innocent and unprepared.
Here's how it happens:
An innocent young woman, who "seems" confident or assertive at school or home, gets caught up in an unhealthy relationship with the "Nice Guy".
It happens partly because she was unaware of the Danger Signs of abusers and partly because her self-esteem was lacking and he chose her.
"But he was such a nice guy..." she says.
Of course he was.
Abusive people are often very nice, at first. They may even win over your friends & family.
Then after you let your guard down, they begin to slowly strip away your self-esteem even more.
He may begin to insult your appearance. Or remark that you're stupid, or useless, etc.
If left unattended, these comments often escalate into physical abuse leaving her completely depleted of self-esteem and depressed.
Like a fly caught in a hungry spider's web, many women are trapped in this cycle of abuse and often afraid/unable to get help.
It's not her fault. It's very hard to break out of the web.
Yet there is good news...
There are proven tools you can learn to keep abusers from selecting you-- before it's too late.
But tools are useless if you never use them.
My Kurukula organization is an Award-winning organization that is leading the Women's Movement to end abuse in the world.
We have empowered thousands of women. And we are not close to stopping...
Our goal is to:
Help women ages 10 to adult
live Confident, Fearless & Safe lives
by preventingBullies, Abusers & Sexual predators.
Let's make a New poster for women!
One that says:
1. You are worthy.
2. You are incredibly talented and smart.
3. You are deserving of healthy and loving relationships.
4. You can do anything you set your mind to.
5. You can choose when and who and IF you want to be in a relationship with someone.
6. You always have a right to say: "No!" or "Stop!"
7. You do not owe anyone anything regardless of how much money or time they spent on you.
8. You are not responsible for "how turned on" he got.
9. You have a right to change your mind.
10. You have permission to be authentically and unapologetically YOU.
We are Excited about our mission and hope you will join us!
Check out our upcoming workshops & let us give you advice that you can actually use:
Mother-Daughter Empowerment Retreat May 4 or June 9
Monthly Women's Circles, May 15 or May 17
Private Workshops for Girl Scout troops, NCL or Women's groups
Energy Healing Retreat for Women, Sept. 8
These events are popular, so if you're interested do not delay reserving your space. In the meantime, if you have any questions about how Kurukula can empower you or someone you know, feel free to:
Schedule a time to chat with me,
or Share our newsletter with a friend!
As always, you're important to me and I'm happy to help anyway that I can.
In support of you,
|What happened to your sweet daughter?|