It’s terrifying to be a mom and we men need to do far much more than honor that.

fathers and daugtersWhat most men and fathers are seemingly unaware of is that mothers of our daughters have a truly frightening task: teaching our daughters how to be safe in a world where at least three of five girls will be subjected to sexual abuse  or other forms of gender abuse in their lifetimes.

Our beautiful teenage daughters desire to be boldly and vividly alive, fully self-expressed, socially popular and accepted by boys and peers. They demand of us that we permit them the freedom to dress as they please in pursuit of self-expression, popularity, and belonging. They are furious and resist us when we deny them freedoms they feel they deserve.

Our daughters simply do not recognize the terror we live with on their behalf. Our beloved daughters cannot know what we know – how easy it is for them to become the next statistic: abused, raped, drugged, abducted, exploited, enslaved, or murdered as a result of their female gender.

We adults respond by attempting to suppress our daughter’s natural exuberant sexuality and sense of self-expression. We attempt to hem them in with rules; we (naively) enforce curfews. We’ll interrogate and give the stink-eye to potential male admirers. We make ourselves become gatekeepers in a desperate pursuit for their safety.

To add insult to injury, our nightmares and anxiety will remain with us for the rest of our lives, well after they have left the “safety” of our home. We will do the best we can to numb our anxiety the day we see them drive off without us to protect them.

Part two

And men, we are not as helpful as partners to our spouses as we might be. All too often our female partners, the mothers of our children, feel alone and unsupported by us, as if we did not care about our daughters. We often minimize their all to real concerns.

By way of offering a mitigating defense – I would assert that many males grow up in a world in which some kind of masculine “sucking it up” is our norm.

Growing up in the very same gender-distorted society as our female partners we adapt in our own unique way. We learn to survive our male lives with, “Tomorrow is another day. It’s not so bad. Take a break. It will feel better in the morning. Have a beer.” Or, to quote King Solomon, we’ve learned that, “This too, shall pass.” And it does indeed pass – until it doesn’t.

However, this adaptive male worldview and set of coping, survival perspectives makes us poor partners when it comes to raising our daughters.

In effect, the bulk of responsibility for our daughter’s safety winds up on the plate our female partner’s shoulders.

I’ll never forget the day when my fifteen-year-old daughter turned to me in anger, noting and resenting the fact that, “men were looking at her differently now.” I knew exactly what she meant. I sympathized that that is the way the world is. I tried to explain but I, her dad – had nothing to offer.  Atlas shrugged.

I admire, appreciate and honor all female partners and mothers of daughters for shouldering the burden of our daughter’s safety. I deplore that we as male partners and fathers of daughters have largely left it that way.

So the challenge, for both mothers and fathers is: What is next?

A few suggestions as the man I am who admires the women in my life.

  1. Talk about it.  Talk about our feelings as we watch our children mature and evolve.
  2. Stick to the 80/20 rule – wherein we listen 80% of the time, speak 20% of the time.
  3. Support the mothers of our children – even when we might rather not.
  4. Talk to our daughters and sons, appropriate to their age, as they grow and develop. What they can grasp at age 11 will grow yearly at least till they reach age 25.
  5. Don’t fool ourselves that a some spontaneous generational shift will occur without our personal participation.

Your turn: What would you offer?

Hint: Accepting that our world is and will continue to be a place where women are abused is not an acceptable answer.

Relationships are all about WE and US, not ME.

How many times have you, or someone you know say, “THEY are not making ME happy, there’s something wrong with THEM, MY needs are not being met.” Or alternatively, “If only THEY would… I would be happy.”

One of the couple complains the other defends, the temperature rises in the room, feelings get hurt, the argument escalates, and the relationship goes downhill from there.

WE’ve all had conversations just like these. We are all too aware of how conversations like these will end. WE hate listening to conversations like these between those around us. WE are well aware that our homes, our families, our communities, the public media, popular literature, are awash in conversations just like these.

I call these conversations ME-based conversations. They are full of ME, MY feelings, MY experiences, MY needs, and how I am being frustrated.

But what if shifted the way WE talk about our relationships from ME-based language to WE-based language?

What if WE were to say instead, “WE are not making ME happy; there something wrong with US, OUR needs as a couple are not being met?”

With this simple linguistic shift in the way WE speak about ourselves to ourselves and others WE take our partner off their hot seat, stop making them wrong and the one accountable for our feelings, responsible for the dysfunction of our relationship with them.

Isn’t it a lot easier to hear our partner when they tell us, “WE are not making ME happy,” “There something about US, how WE speak and listen to each other that isn’t working for US.” Isn’t “WE need to take a look at how successfully WE are doing US.” easier to hear than, “if only YOU would…then I would be happy.”

With this simple clever shift in the way WE talk about ourselves WE take our partner off the hot seat, stop making them responsible for our feelings and upsets. When our partner no longer has to defend themselves in the face of our upset and dissatisfactions – then WE can shift our attention to where it belongs, to US, about WE, and what is going on between US. Once WE have accomplished this, WE can begin to discuss, focus upon those thoughts left unsaid, misspoken, mistaken and misunderstood.

As a WE, speaking with one another as an US, WE have an opportunity to powerfully listen to one another. Together, WE are able to focus upon our WE-practices and take a good look at persistent behaviors and ways of our being together that are hurtful, unproductive, identify and examine those behaviors that simply don’t work for an US, any US.

As a WE in partnership with our relationship at stake, WE can look for what is missing, that if present would make a difference for US as individuals and bring new workability, expanded love, relatedness and intimacy to our WE.

And then We can be happy.




Gun violence clues lie in early childhood nurturance and neglect

So long as we dwell on red herring surface issues such as gun control, the underlying issues can never be addressed.

Has anyone noticed that none of the shooters are female?

Rather than rehash old arguments regarding gun control and mental health availability, maybe we should look into how we raise and nurture our sons, our male children in this country such that some of them explode into violence.

A late teacher of mine, Charlie Kreiner, once asked us a question I will never ever forget,

“What do you have to do to a male child such that he will agree to kill and be killed in the name of masculinity?”

I ask: “How do we engage with our adorable, delicious, joyous, and loving male children such that they grow up to perpetrate domestic violence and become killers?”

I suggest that there is a clear connection between gender-related nurturance neglect, developing emotional numbness, and the capacity of any individual to perpetrate violence.

Evidence is emerging in neuroscience literature. Watch and listen to neuroscientist VS Ramachandran speak in the TED Talk The Neurons that Shaped Civilization.

The roots of our capacity to empathize lie in early childhood and in the manner we as young children are treated, or not.

We learn that young children are born with an enormous capacity to mimic, mirror, and to reliably reproduce the world they experience. But the number of mirror motor neurons shrinks by about four years of age and their capacity to learn shrinks as well.

Emotionally neglected children do not develop into adults who have the capacity to feel the consequences of their actions.

It is impossible to feel the pain of another if your capacity to feel at all is stunted or missing altogether. Sometimes it looks like the violence perpetrated on elementary school children; other times it looks like domestic violence in the home.

Gun control is a red herring. The clues to the origins of gun violence lie in early childhood nurturance and neglect of children.

Hanukkah memories: sour cream or applesauce?

Lighting the Hanukkah Menorah

“Applesauce or sour cream?” will be one of the most hotly debated issues around family tables this Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights.

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah begins this coming weekend and will last for eight days. The holiday celebrates the triumph of the Maccabees over the Assyrian Greeks 2300 years ago and of the re-consecration of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

Families everywhere will soon sing festival songs and light Hanukkah candles on a Menorah, an eight-branched candelabra, adding one candle each night until the candelabra is completely filled with light on the very last night of the festival holiday.

The issue at stake surrounds the humble Latke, a potato pancake, Hanukkah’s signature food. There are a wide variety of opinions regarding how to make latkes correctly, what they should taste like, and whether a latke is best eaten with a liberal application of applesauce or sour cream. Every family has a slightly different recipe and public heated debates have been held surrounding latkes, their use and preparation. I am a sour cream stalwart.

What was Hanukkah like for you growing up? How did your family prepare latkes? Or did your family like make sufganiyot, ball shaped fried doughnuts instead? Has someone actually written down the family recipe?

Did you family give Hanukkah Gelt, spin the Dreidel together, exchange gifts with one another, Christmas-style. Some families give a gift for each night, some only once, and some give no gifts. What are your family’s festival traditions? How has the Hanukkah celebration changed for your family over the years?

Use can ask these questions and find other questions like these on the Memoriesbroughttolife website. Use them as a guide to recover your parents’ and grandparents’ memories of Hanukkah. There are pages you can use either stand alone, or as part of a family Living Legacy LifeBook.

To obtain these free pages, click on the Downloads tab on the Memoriesbroughttolife website and be guided through a very simple process, entering your name and e-mail address to be provided complementary access to all downloadable files available.

These are irreplaceable memories well worth keeping, valuable memories providing a window into the lives of our ancestors.

Discover Your Family Treasure

Stories of familyThe encore years of life offer Baby Boomers a time for reflection and conversations to discover valuable family stories. When you uncover the stories you hold for your own life you create greater awareness of how you fit into your family. And, when you share your stories with others in your family, you expand their perspective of their own lives, as well as of the family as a whole.

Reflections on your own life stories can help you design your retirement lifestyle. What do you remember as the most important? Are there any repetitive themes? How can they inform your choices for the next stage of your life?

Discovery Process

There are many ways you can discover your family treasures, including:

  • Journals and diaries that you and others have kept, or currently write.
  • Asking other relatives what they remember about events that you remember – their memories may be illuminating.
  • Allow other relatives to interview you with their own questions which you may never have thought of.
  • Record your discoveries to share in the future by writing them down, or by making audio or video recordings.

Sharing Your Stories

Family members may think they know each other well when they have grown up together. Other relatives may know each other superficially because they see each one another infrequently. Instead of keeping conversations on a mundane level, I encourage you to share the wisdom you have accumulated throughout your life when you reach your retirement years. Your stories will allow others of all generations to know and appreciate you more. Your perspectives on life can inform family members of new ways of experiencing life.

Throughout the ages, and in other cultures, the wisdom of the elders has been highly regarded. I recommend that you gather your own stories and the stories of your family and actively keep them alive by sharing them with one another often.

What family treasures will you discover in your encore years?

Janice Williams, Retirement Coach,

For These Gifts, I Am Thankful

Raging storms
That shift minds
And open hearts
Snowflakes falling
Family texting
Simply saying
I’m safe, we’re fine
A lingering hug
A loving look
A soul shouting
A kindness
A touch

Drifting to sleep, unencumbered
Chasing fears back under the bed
Waking to whispers, uncharted
Wonder unfiltered, explorer of moments
Dreams forming, shaping futures
Grateful moments, amidst challenging times
Grasping, reaching, achieving, and growing 

In all ways, always growing

Joni Kovarik |

Listening for lost narratives – “I did not know that!”

Dear all,

Let’s have some fun!

I am looking for your stories, 100-400 or so words telling something unique, fascinating, entertaining, whimsical, or just plain wow, a tale, a family legend from the lifetime of your parents, grandparents, or beyond for a new blog to be posted on  in the near future.

It is intended to inspire and encourage folks to dig into their family’s living legacies and heritage and share the amazing stories that can be found there.

The theme for the stories is, “I did not know that!”

One of my friends shares a discovery of hers that her mother had been a Playboy Bunny for six months! She certainly was surprised when she found out.

From my family there is the story of my grandmother Celia who, so the story goes, was a teenage radical in Czarist Latvia around 1905. Unbeknownst to my great grandfather, grandmother Celia had been distributing radical leaflets and aroused the interest of the local Russian police.They came to the home of my great grandfather and wanted to search the home for radical literature.Quickly they stuffed the offending literature beneath the parlor room seat and sat my grandmother on it. The police searched throughout the home but did not find any leaflets.

Shortly thereafter my great grandfather decided to ship my grandmother and her younger sister off to America.

What delicious stories, narratives, are in your family tree?

Please post them here on Tuesdays with Deborah for us all to enjoy and send them along to me at


Paul Zohav




Mommy, Let’s Skip!

Mommy, are you fuhstrated?

A little bit.

Vroom, vroom, vroom. Look I am driving my worker trucks in. They can help. Beep, Beep, Beep!

Thank you, honey that’s helpful.

Mommy, I know – let’s skip!


Yeah! You can’t be fuhstrated when you skip it just doesn’t let you. Watch!

Skip. Skip. Skip.

He: Over-the-shoulder-larger-than-life-over-the-moon-smile.

Me: Love-pounding-heart-shouting-how-lucky-can-a-girl-get-smile.

See Mommy, see! I have to be happy or it won’t work.

I see.

Come on!  Let’s skip together.

Okay – let’s skip.  I need a good skipping today.

No Mom, THIS is how you do it. Here, let’s hold hands. I’ll show you.

Like this?

Yeah, that’s real good Mom.  Really, really good.  See?  Are you happy now?

Yep, thanks honey. Skipping was a great idea!

I know.





Aurora Colorado violence: relationship literacy = domestic harmony

The Aurora Colorado cinema gun violence massacre is not about guns, controlling guns, reacting with yet more gun legislation – it is really about people, you and I, communication, and the quality of our relationships.


Rather than talk about domestic violence – why not shift he ground of being to legislating on behalf of domestic harmony?

Why not promote relationship literacy legislation in place of gun control legislation?

What do I mean by shifting the “ground of being?” What is being done now? How can you help?
Relationship Literacy is:
  • about shifting the ground of being in the conversation about domestic violence and abuse to promoting domestic harmony.
  • Relationship Literacy is tasked with the mission to “Bring honor and respect for ourselves and to each other in every communication in any relationship.”
It is now my counseling practice, and I am working towards “Relationship” being adopted as the “Fourth R” in our educational school system. (after the three traditional “R”s of education, “Reading ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic”.) Do you want to join?

Imagine teaching middle and high school students effective relationship and communication skills.

  • Quality of all their relationships would rise.
  • Domestic date rape and abuse would diminish.
  • Calls for police intervention services would go down.
  • municipal court loads would shrink.
  • Child Protection Services would be out of a job altogether.
  • Domestic violence would begin to disappear.
  • (This is all measurable BTW)
Note that there would be no room, no place, no conversation about, no need for legislative agendas regarding guns and violence.

If you want to be part of forwarding this pro-life conversation, let’s meet, talk, and generate the next step towards domestic harmony together.

You are invited to comment below and participate in our conversation.


Invisible dog fences, life limiting conversations and the creation of freedom

If we could listen to ourselves for a moment we would hear us speaking in repetitive self-limiting sound bites. For example repeating statements like, “It has always been that way,” “Nothing matters” or, “No one really cares.”

Self-limiting sound bites can be can be understood as part of an “Invisible emotional electronic dog fence” mechanism where each of us get to wear personal invisible “emotional sound bite shock collars” that serve to warn us off, and warn us away from invisible boundaries between us and others, between us and ourselves, and between us and our futures.

Every time we approach our “emotional fences” we say things like, “It has always been that way,” “Nothing matters,” I don’t have a say in that,” It’s not my business” “It’ll never work” or ” It doesn’t work that way,” and so forth.

We believe we need to obey what we say, or experience increasing discomfort approaching or moving across those invisible boundaries to new possibility.

With the guidance provided by our sound bite-human/dog-collars, we consistently turn away from invisible emotional and psychological boundaries and returning to safer ground, literally going back into our comfort zone.

In the end nothing changes and over time we stop thinking in all disturbing directions.

Perhaps the main benefit of Landmark Education’s approach to human growth and development seminars is that participants learn that all of us wear invisible emotional shock collars, that we can distinguish the influence emotional those collars have upon our lives, and then choose to disable them to cross over into new territories of possibility.

So, how is your collar fitting today?