Tag Archives: brother

Family, Duty, Honor. But This Isn’t Game of Thrones.

“Monopoly, anyone?” It was always the game we played up at the lake, when everyone was around. A few times we tried Risk; group Solitaire was always a family favorite. But it was always Monopoly that got everyone going.

Every year we would go up to our cabin on a lake in the Adirondacks and play this game of Monopoly. Before we kids grew up, no one really knew anything about fiscal conservatisms or capitalism. The cousins and I would just kind of bought up properties and sold them at a whim while playing this game of Monopoly. Tempers flew when someone lost but couldn’t figure out that having all four train stations paled in comparison to having a monopoly on the all three red spaces.

Now, however, the strategy was plotted before the game even started. Secret trade deals were made that would make Mr. Moneybags roll over in his grave. It’s the better knowledge of how to play the game and cheat your family members out of their money that makes the game that much more fun and infuriating.

But Monopoly is not the only reason we go to the lake, nor the lake the only place we go. My family likes to uphold an annual schedule of things, so every August my grandmother comes up from Maryland and my surrounding aunts, uncles and cousins all congregate under my roof in Massachusetts. While we are all together we go on the annual trip to Powder Point in Duxbury, make the annual trek to the beach, have the annual ice cream cone at Farfar’s, and feast the annual feast at Red Lobster in Plymouth.

This past summer, however, we had an addition to the crew: my brother’s girlfriend, Claire. Claire is by no means a new addition; she was there at our last Monopoly game, she went down with my brother to visit my grandmother just this month, and she was there the day we spread my grandfather’s ashes up at the lake.
trash-throne

This was her first experience of the annuals, and she was starting to fit in, until the last night everyone was here, when everything got a bit out of hand.

It should be noted that my grandmother is a news junky, or rather a politics junky. Now, without diving too deeply into politics (this isn’t Game of Thrones or one of those articles), politics are all she talks about. It can be a bit overbearing, and, along with most of my family, she is on the exact opposite side of the spectrum from Claire.

A conversation started during hors d’oeuvres. A comment was made about how the media had focused in on an Olympian woman who had won a fencing match while wearing a hijab. While my uncles and mother claimed that the feat itself, a Muslim woman winning the gold metal, was the real accomplishment, Claire argued that the symbol of the hijab was just as important. Words of oppressive religious practices were thrown around and the conversation got a little heated. Claire got backed into a wall, being the only one who had her own separate view.

Seeing my brother’s girlfriend sit there and squirm under the pressure to support her views made me cringe. It was like Monopoly up at the lake, but this wasn’t a game and we weren’t dealing with paper money. I spoke up in her defense.

I said that while writing, an author or journalist often times wants something to pull from, a symbol that ties it together and makes the point clearer. Metaphor is one of the greatest tools of the human language and allows for easier flow of understanding. The use of the hijab was a metaphorical crutch for the article’s message.

My family just went on arguing, but Claire shot me a thankful look.

***

Later, after my aunts and uncles had gone back to their respective homes and we had seen my grandma off back to Maryland, my mom expressed a concern to me. She said, “I don’t like being at odds with my family.” She went on to describe the scene after the confrontation, when everyone had left the room and only her and my brother remained. My brother had approached my mom about her views and how much they differed from his own, a shock to her.

“Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, mom.”

“Yes, but I’m afraid that your brother feels challenged by us. I did not mean for that to come up with Claire. I was relieved when Uncle Mark changed the topic to sports. I just don’t want you two to feel distant from all of us because we have differing political views.”

“Mother, you wound me. You know how much we love our family.”

To prove our loyalty, a month later my brother and I went and got matching tattoos: a combination of our family crest and the shield of the Blue Angels, the group in which my grandfather had flown in during Korea.


Chris Largent is currently employed as a Content Marketing Specialist for HMI Performance Incentives, Chris writes copy for various clients in the form of email and print marketing. While employed as an intern at Hudson Valley Public Relations, Chris helped to write blog articles about an assortment of relevant ideas in the Public Relation, Marketing and Advertisement industries. These blogs are all about stimulate business health and growth. In his time at Hudson Valley Public Realtions, Chris wrote an assortment of content for the firm’s clients, ranging from law to finance. He also worked on projects within HVPR to help promote events and articles through social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter. In his free time, Chris likes to write, read and hike.

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It’s Peculiar, Isn’t It? How We Hide From Our Self

I was rather unaware of my peculiarity at a young age and I guess that’s why it’s peculiar.It’s one of those adjectives that you don’t understand about yourself until you’re able to see your youth from a different lens. Back then I was just the boy who played a rough game of football during recess and who, for some odd reason, was always asked to walk in the line with the girls. I didn’t think much of it–sure I thought it was peculiar but I didn’t understand exactly why I was the peculiar one, it was more so the practice of putting a boy into line with the girls that I found odd.

I went about being and growing and experiencing until the subtle oppressive nature of the sly remarks and the stares got the best of me. Maybe I wasn’t who I thought I was all along. Maybe they were right. Maybe I am the peculiar one, the odd one, the weird one, the “girl who looks like a boy.” But that just couldn’t be. I mean how could I be so wrong about my own self-identity?

But those doubts weren’t finalized until my older brother, aka my childhood hero and best friend, came home one day and sat me down and said, “when do you think you’re gonna, ya know, start acting like a girl?” I shrugged on my shirt a little, propped myself up on the couch, and said, “I don’t know really, I think it’ll just happen.” What I really meant was, “I’m going to make it happen, don’t worry brother, I won’t let you down.”

Screenshot 2015-02-17 14.27.49

And so I did. I took a look through my sister’s wardrobe and decided this is what it meant to be a girl. So I watched closely, I examined every movement of femininity and I mimicked it, until I became it. Then from that point on, it did just sort of happen naturally.

And that’s the story of how a little boy was convinced he was a girl even though the little boy was right all along. It wasn’t until the age of 21 that he had rebuilt the courage of his youth to proclaim himself. That is the story of how I became Jamie; an outspoken transgender man still trying to find the incomparable courage of his youth.

Screenshot 2015-02-17 14.29.14

Watch my story.

 

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The Importance of All Relationships

Relationships, one of the many things that’s highlighted in Look At Us Now, Mother.  As we all know, relationships play a major role in our lives.  I read blogs, articles, books, and seen movies about all different kinds of relationships that humans have.  There’s the relationship you have with your friends, families, pets, significant others, bosses, co-workers, etc.  You name it, you have a relationship with it.  What I want to know is why each relationship we have with someone or somebody is significant or important?  (Mind you, as you read this , this is all based on what I’ve seen, read, and experienced from personal events of life).

To answer my own question, I started looking at the various types of relationships I have, and picked three to highlight.  I’ll start with Friends, because that’s always a good place to start.  Friends are nowhere near as annoying as your family members.  They help enhance your social life, by going to dinner with you in a new environment, or even introducing you to new people.  If you don’t want to talk about something with a family member, you most likely turn to your best friend, or closest friends.  Friends have been by your side for either a short period of time, or since you were both in diapers practically.  This type of relationship is important because you can classify some family, significant others, and even co-workers into this category.  You can have a lot of friends, whether it’s an acquaintance, close friend, best friend…the term “friend” is broad.  A friend will most likely always be there for you when you want to get away from everything, that’s what I’ve learned.

Significant others.  Either a lovely subject that makes your heart smile, or a hateful subject that fuels the fire for your hatred towards the person.  Whatever it may be, this relationship normally plays an important role in how you feel and what your mood is on a daily basis.  You wake up and fall asleep next to them, and if not, you always hear from them first thing in the morning and last thing at night.  To be corny, they “mean the world to you,” you “love and care about them so much,” and you “have never been made happier by anyone else.”  Your heart melts when you think of this person, and you would do just about anything for them.  So why is this relationship significant?  In my opinion, you want to share the most precious moments with who you claim to be your “other half.”  You will experience the most beautiful things in life with this person, and cherish them forever.  However, if things fail or succeed with this person, you grow and learn from the experience.  Trust me on this one.  This person will become part of who you are and who you become, and that’s one reason why this type of relationship is important.

Family.  You have your mom, dad, sisters or brothers, aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents…the list goes on.  These people are with you in your life the day you’re born, and nothing will change that.  Even if you’re adopted, that new family and extended family will always be in your life, and that’s one reason why this type of relationship is the most important of them all.  The love you have for one another will be unconditional.  Yes, you will have tough times and hate them for brief periods of time, but that’s life.  We also may have a great relationship with one parent and not the other.  Your bond with these people is unbreakable.  Here’s an example of a family relationship that was nowhere near great, but with hard work, it became powerful:

Look At Us Now, Mother! takes a look at Gayle’s very unique relationship with her mother.  Although their relationship wasn’t great when Gayle was growing up, she and her mother are now best friends because family is inseparable.  Gayle’s mother was not kind to Gayle while she was growing up, and once convinced her to get a nose job.  Now they’re best friends and are mending their once broken relationship.  There’s no way to describe it, but families work in weird, but wonderful ways.

The moral and message of this blog is to emphasize how important each relationship in your life is, and how important it is that you cherish each relationship you have.  You will never realize what you have until it’s gone, so cherish it like you would an unhatched bird egg.  Family, friends, significant others, co-workers, bosses, the list can go on and on, but these relationships will play a key role in how you live your life.  As humans, we thrive on relationships with people to learn, interact, and not go certifiably insane.  So here’s my advice: don’t isolate yourself from anyone.  Build up your existing relationships, and even start some new ones.  Get out there, be a social butterfly, and enjoy your life with the people that matter most to you.

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Are Your Parents Toxic?

Just as it is difficult to deal with an abusive boyfriend or girlfriend, it is horrible dealing with a toxic parent. One woman says that her mother left her a message on her birthday once wishing that she gets a disease. That’s horrible for anyone to say to someone else, let alone a mother to a daughter, let alone on a birthday. Her mother was then approaching death, and she was faced with the decision to forgive her or continue to ignore her. Unlike with an unhealthy relationship with a spouse, you can’t get a divorce from a toxic relationship with a parent, unless you choose to lose contact, but he or she will always be your parent.

One man in his mid-20s had come out as gay with his religious parents, who responded by disowning him. At a later family dinner, his father took him aside and told him that it would have been better if he, rather than his younger brother, had died in a car accident several years previously. This obviously was a very harsh and cruel statement, which could probably make the son depressed to know that his own father wants him dead. And the son did end up becoming depressed, with low self-esteem. It is powerful to know that words have such a dramatic effect. When the parents met with the therapist, the therapist could not convince the parents that the son’s sexual orientation was not his choice. The therapist decided that he should lose all contact with his parents. He still, however, thought of them because research on early attachment, in human and non-human primates, shows that we are hardwired for bonding, even with those who aren’t very nice to us.

Sometimes parents can be critical with their children as students, demanding phenomenal performance all the time, thus creating perfectionists who fear taking risks and fall short of their potential. If the child’s standards get in the way of being successful and happy, something is wrong. These children are terrified of making mistakes and it affects their performance. In a study, parents rated their gifted offspring as more prone to anxiety, depression, and psychosomatic complaints than children in the normal intelligence range. It seems as though gifted children have more of a burden or expectation to reach a high achievement and with critical parents it makes the situation difficult, making them perfectionists and worried about making mistakes. If they have someone constantly telling them that they’re not good enough, the gifted students are going to feel the pressure and stress because they feel that they have no choice but to do better. Parents should be supportive rather than critical, so that way the students feel confident rather than worried. When students are confident and relaxed, they perform better.

As you can see, parents can fall into the trap of being toxic. Whether you wish your daughter gets a disease or whether you are critical about your children’s school performance, both are abusive and should be avoided. Words are extremely powerful and should be used carefully, especially with your children. Sometimes it seems that altogether avoiding the toxic parent is the best measure if the abuse is too detrimental to handle. However, ignoring your parent is a big decision and if there is a way to make amends, it would be better.

References

Elias, Marilyn. “Critical, Demanding Parents Can Damage Gifted Children.” USATODAY.com. N.p., 21 Aug. 2005. Web. 06 Feb. 2013. <http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/2005-08-21-gifted-kids_x.htm>.

Friedman, Richard A., M.D. “When Parents Are Too Toxic to Tolerate.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 19 Oct. 2009. Web. 06 Feb. 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/20/health/20mind.html?_r=1>.

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Have You Seen the Movie Stepmom?

  • Warning: This post may contain spoilers about the movie Stepmom.

I was watching the movie Stepmom starring Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon, and Ed Harris, and I realized that this not only is a great movie, but it always teaches a lot about relationships.

The opening scene is of Isabel (Julia Roberts) trying to find her boyfriend’s son, Ben, who is now late for school. Finally, she finds him hiding in the cabinet as he is already late for school. We immediately see that Isabel is having trouble with her boyfriend’s children. Isabel is younger than her boyfriend, Luke (Ed Harris), and doesn’t have any children of her own and obviously is struggling with Luke’s children.

Moving along in the movie, Luke is going to be away for some time and he doesn’t expect Isabel to be able to take care of the kids by herself so he wants to hire a babysitter. Isabel, however, wants him to give her a chance, so he does.

The movie even addresses divorce because Luke and his ex-wife Jackie (Susan Sarandon) were once married but now divorced. Of course, divorce has a big effect on children and Luke explains to his daughter Anna that he fell out of love with her mom, but they’re still good friends. He also explains that it’s impossible to fall out of love with his kids because Ben was scared that Luke might fall out of love with him.

Isabel continues to have problems with Luke’s children when she gets them a puppy but fails to remember that Anna is allergic to dogs. Anna and Isabel end up arguing, and Anna says that she doesn’t have to listen to Isabel because she isn’t her mother. Isabel responds by saying, “Thank God for that.” Of course, Isabel shouldn’t have said this to the child of her boyfriend because she should respect Anna. Isabel then corrects what she said by saying that Anna already has a great mom and doesn’t need another one.

Isabel and Jackie, Ben’s and Anna’s real mom, do not get a long either. Isabel calls Anna a spoiled brat, and Jackie says Isabel is too self-involved to be a mother. Jackie obviously doubts Isabel’s abilities to be a mother, and maybe she has reason to have these doubts.

Then Luke brings up that he wants to marry Isabel. Of course the kids do not like this idea, but Luke tells them that hopefully they can learn to accept her because Isabel is going to be in their life. I would think that it is scary to think of getting a new parent especially when you aren’t fond of him or her.

A turning point in the movie comes when Isabel shows Anna a painting technique that she learned at NYU. Anna starts to see the good side of Isabel and views her as a big sister.

Another turning point comes when Isabel loses her job because she leaves work early to pick up Ben and Anna from school. This shows maturation and a character arch as Isabel is taking responsibility as a mother, even if it means compromising her career.

Originally, Jackie had given Anna advice about what she should do with a boy who is giving her trouble at school. The advice backfires and makes Anna feel horrible, so Isabel decides to give her own advice. When Jackie finds out about the advice Isabel gave Anna, she is enraged. Isabel made Anna use foul language at 12 years old, and she made her lie. However, Anna was so happy with the effect it had on the boy who was originally bothering her.

This movie deals with divorce and introducing a step-parent into the lives of a family. These factors can have a tremendous effect on the relationships within the family as you can see within this film. You should definitely check out the movie when you get a chance.

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Do You and Your Sibling Get Along?

I have an older sister, and I know that through the years it has not always been the calmest of seas, from bossiness to disagreement, there always seems to be some kind of conflict or rivalry. I do admit that now the storm has settled down in recent days, but still there are moments of argument. How have your relationships been with your siblings?

According to Kidshealth.org, a child’s temperament and personality may determine whether or not he or she will get along with his or her sibling. Kidshealth.org mentions that a calm, reserved child may fight with an easily rattled sibling. I would think that two easily rattled siblings would fight as well, but two laid-back siblings would have a more relaxed relationship. Naturally, some siblings are simply bullies, and others do not like to share. Others are name-callers and mean, but some are kind.

Kidshealth.org mentions the important factor of the parent as a role model and setting the standard for their children. They say that the parent should work through conflicts in a way that is respectful, productive, and not aggressive, that way the children will pick up on the healthy habits and learn to reciprocate. This relates to my previous Father-Son Bond blog post which mentions that the father is a role model for his son. In this case, both parents are role models for all their children.

So what happens when fighting commences? Well, Kidshealth.org suggests to not do anything at all. That is correct. Nothing at all. “Don’t get involved.” But there is a catch. Kidshealth.org says to intervene when there’s risk of physical harm. They say to not intervene because the children should learn how to handle the problems by themselves and not rely on their parents. Then they also claim that if parents intervene, it may appear as if one child is being protected and create resentment with the other sibling, or siblings. This seems like a good argument to me. Do you agree and think that parents should only intervene when children are fighting and there is risk for physical harm? Or should parents be there to guide them through the argument like a sports coach? Or even a referee: personal foul, 15-yard penalty…I don’t think it works like football.

If you do have to intervene, Kidshealth.org suggests not to resolve children’s problems for them but with them. They say it is good to separate the children until the emotions have died down, so that fighting does not escalate again. They also say not to focus too much on which child is to blame because each child is partially at fault. Kidshealth.org says it is good to create a win-win situation for each child involved, so that each child feels a benefit after the conflict. Ice cream, perhaps? The article mentions that if they are arguing over a toy, they can both win by playing a game together instead.

Kidshealth.org lays out some ground rules as well to prevent fighting. For example, they say to tell children to keep their hands to themselves, that there’s no cursing, no name-calling, no yelling, and no door slamming, and make consequences for when they break them. Kidshealth.org says that if your children often fight over the same things, to post a schedule showing which child possesses what items at what times during the week, and if they keep fighting about it, to take it away altogether. How do these rules sound, and what additional rules do you use with your own children? I think teaching your children to be assertive rather than aggressive or passive-aggressive would be a great ground rule to run by. Sharing is caring is a magical rule as well.

There are many reasons that siblings would develop a rivalry. One big issue is having to share. Sharing toys, food, the television, space in the house, etc. That is why it is critical for children to learn how to share, and parents to guide them to see how important it is to share and be assertive and not aggressive or passive-aggressive. But, of course, children don’t always listen and fighting continues. If they do fight and there is a need to intervene, as kidshealth.org suggests, it is important to separate them until they calm down, and it is good to set up a win-win situation, and most importantly set up ground rules to prevent fighting, such as making a schedule for when each child can use different items. Do relationships with siblings get better over the years? That certainly is the goal. Do you get along with your siblings?
Reference

“KidsHealth.” Sibling Rivalry. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2012. <http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/family/sibling_rivalry.html>.

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