Frances 0. Thomas

National Certified Counselor

Blaming the victim?

student-1647136_640

 

A recent study about bullying caught my eye. Chad Rose, an assistant professor of special education from the University of Missouri College of Education, and Nicholas Gage, an assistant professor from the University of Florida, say that children with disabilities are bullied significantly more often than those without disabilities. This inequality in bullying continues over time. It peaks in third grade, subsides in middle school, and increases again in high school.

They conclude that the disabled students aren’t developing the social skills to defend themselves as they mature. They recommend that schools teach “appropriate response skills.”

Apparently, the conduct doesn’t end in school. When a relative of mine with a disability was bullied in the workplace, I did some research and blogged about it.

Of course, it is important for the disabled students to learn better communication and coping skills. But isn’t it even more important that the bullies are taught better behavior?

To be fair, Rose and Gage are in the field of special education and focusing on improving conditions for at risk children, not on the general school population. They do assert that social skills are no longer taught to anyone. Still, it seems to me another instance of blaming the victim.

What say you?

 

Give it a Rest

joan-of-arc-206939_640

 

I venture a guess that no woman in America will be surprised by the results of research done by Cornell University, the University of Minnesota, and Minnesota Population Center. They studied time diaries from 12,000 parents and concluded dads are happier when parenting than moms are. It seems moms do more of the work tasks while dads do more fun tasks. Ya think?

Moms were often alone with their kids, but dads often spent time with their kids in social situations with other adults around to give support. Moms were also more likely to be on call 24/7, so dads got more uninterrupted sleep.

For a fictional look at how this can play out, I recommend Leave Me, a novel by Gayle Forman. The mom in this book suffers a heart attack and subsequent bypass surgery only to return home to whining, demanding children and a husband who thinks she can make a full recovery in a week so as not to inconvenience him.

Having facts from a study like this one to back up fiction and anecdotal evidence is good, but when will this situation change? I don’t have children, but I do find myself jumping in to do things that others could and should do for themselves and then feeling resentful. I need to learn to back off, set better boundaries, and ask for help instead of playing martyr. Do you?

Without a net

circus-835705_1280

 

Are you one of those people who always have a Plan B? Turns out that might not be such a good idea.

Two management professors, Jihae Shin of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Katherine L. Milkman of the Wharton School of Business at Penn, undertook a study to see if having a backup affected how hard people work toward a goal and their chances for success. Turns out if it is a goal that requires hard work, it does. People don’t put as much effort into achieving their goal and consequently don’t achieve less.

A goal that is dependent on having high innate skill isn’t affected by this dynamic.

The professors acknowledge that making an alternate plan helps reduce uncertainty and stress. They suggest, however, waiting until later in the process to think about Plan B. Do the work first and see what happens.

What is your best strategy for achieving goals?

Help the new prof

skills

 

For the first time, I will be teaching a class at out local community college for the fall term. It is called Cornerstone here, and is the basic freshman success class that is now mandatory in many schools.

I’m looking for suggestions from experienced teachers on activities and resources I can use besides lectures. I want to keep the students engaged.

Some of the topics I’ll be covering are time management, diversity, critical thinking, financial literacy, and careers.

What about it, fellow educators? Any ideas you’d like to share?

Grow where you’re planted

this-is-where-you-belong-hc-final.png

 

I confess it was never my intention to live in Florida. Yet nearly two decades later, I am still here. Moreover, I live on a relatively rural island a good drive away from the nearest city. I grew up and lived my whole life in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. If there was ever a fish out of water, I’m it.

When I spotted Melody Warnick’s book This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live, i grabbed it off the shelf. Maybe I could find some helpful advice within.

Warnick’s issue was a little different from my own. She had moved multiple times, never feeling at home in any of her locations. When her professor husband got a job in Blacksburg at Virginia Tech, she resolved to find out what leads people to feel attached to their town or city.

Her extensive research led to some practical suggestions. The first is to walk whenever possible to get a sense of place. That one is only marginally doable for me. I can’t really walk to any destinations, just within my immediate neighborhood. Doing that, however, would accomplish another tactic, getting to know my neighbors. In the time we’ve lived here, people have moved away or died, and we’ve never made the acquaintance of their replacements.

Warnick’s other advice includes volunteering and doing something creative. I do those things  but in the nearby city, not on the island. Doing activities most other residents find pleasurable won’t work for me. I’ve never fished and never will.

My one gold star is that I do try to patronize local businesses.

Is there hope for me? Like Warnick, should I push myself a bit more? Do you feel at home where you live? Why?

 

 

 

 

 

Another kind of segregation

america-1289515__180

 

I have recently made my first foray into the world of fiction. My contemporary romantic novella The Lady Is a Mayor is set in a highly fictionalized version of the place where I actually live. The story involves a disagreement between townspeople who are in favor of economic growth and those who are determined to protect the environment. My book is a comedy, so it ends with the standard happily ever after. In real life, this isn’t often the case.

William Chopik, a psychology prof at Michigan State University, has published a study that indicates living among those whose viewpoint you don’t share can affect your personality. If you are on the Trump train and all your neighbors are Hillary supporters, you may distrust them so much that you withdraw from relationships.

Chopik says his findings could explain why many Americans seem to be consolidating into heavily red or blue geographic areas. This may also explain political gridlock. If you never communicate with anyone different, you don’t learn how to compromise.

Racial segregation is technically a thing of the past, but its implications are far from gone. Maybe we also need to take a look at political segregation.

 

 

Don’t rely on Prince Charming

cinderella-677161_1280.jpg

 

A study done by Hiroshima University (and by the way how ironic is that?) says that Japanese women still expect that their spouse will one day take charge of their retirement finances. Even if they are currently not even in a relationship. The same thought process has also been identified in American women.

The researchers studied data from an insurance company retirement savings plan, the Japanese equivalent to a 401(k). Women and men understood retirement options equally, yet women assumed a “Prince Charming” would make the decisions, or worse, that it would all work out somehow.

Since women earn less money to begin with and then live longer in retirement, the decision to make no decision can have big implications on how comfortable their eventual retirement will be.

I was feeling all superior about this until I remembered that my husband handles all our finances.

C’mon ladies. It’s time to educate ourselves about economic matters. Suze Orman, are you listening?

 

Delayed gratification=weight loss

hunger-413685_1280.jpg

 

I just read yet another study with fairly self-evident results. This one is from McMaster University and St. Joseph’s Healthcare of Hamilton. They found that folks with ADHD and folks who are obese share an inability to delay gratification. This apparently is true of those with any addictive behavior.

Really? Do you mean to tell me I am fat because I can’t turn down a cookie? Duh.

The researchers say that clinical approaches to weight loss should focus more on the long term benefits. I think we all know perfectly well the long term benefits already. But that doesn’t stop us.

I’m thinking this is also a function of will power’s being a finite capacity. For example, I managed to get through grad school with little difficulty but gained 20 pounds in the process if I recall correctly. Should I have focused on denying myself the extra calories and blown off my studies?

Does it have to be an either-or situation?

 

 

 

Brain clutter

clutter.jpg

 

Oh, man. It’s not enough that I have to worry about clutter in my house. Now I have to worry about clutter in my brain.

According to a study done at Georgia Institute of Technology, older people lack confidence in what they remember because their brains have absorbed not only what they focused on but also non-essential info, i.e., clutter-what other conversations were taking place around them, what music was playing.

Younger folks apparently don’t have this problem. Their brains don’t store the irrelevant details in the first place.

The researchers point out that this can be particularly problematic for seniors if someone tries to scam them. They can be convinced they have forgotten something that never took place.

I feel a little ambivalent about all of this. As a writer, I would think that the ability, albeit unconscious, to note more details would be an advantage, not a detriment. Is this a function purely of having lived longer and having more backstory to connect new material to? Do we become less sure of everything as we age just because we’re increasingly aware of how little we really know?

Still searching for meaning

hands-1345059_640

 

I love the results of a recent study done by researchers at the University of Sussex and the University of Greenwich It confirms that bosses have virtually nothing to do with how meaningful employees feel their jobs are. Viktor Frankl had the right of it. Meaning only comes from within.

The researchers interviewed 135 people in ten jobs ranging from priest to garbage collector. They found that people feel they have meaning as a fellow human being; it’s personal.

This can happen when others find what they do matters.  They label this self-transcendent.

The feeling can occur in a situation that is uncomfortable or even painful, what they term poignant

Purpose is not a constant. It is episodic and comes and goes according to circumstances. It also takes a while before we realize that something meaningful has happened upon reflection.

Bosses get in the way when they interfere with employees’ values, judgment, or supporting relationships.

Dr. Adrian Madden of Greenwich’s business school says organizations that master this concept will have greater success in attracting and retaining their best employees.

That only makes sense, right? Who wants to go to work every day thinking “What’s the point?” Why is it so hard for companies to get this?

Post Navigation