Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts

 

The Boy Scouts of America announced on Wednesday October 11, 2017 that it will admit girls into the Cub Scouts starting next year and establish a new program for older girls using the organization’s same curriculum.

What is the point of having girls in the boy scouts? I have no idea other than pandering to a very small minority of people who feel boys and girls are exactly the same and should always be in the same groups no matter what. Must we be reminded again that boys and girls are different?

I wish all human beings could raise a son and a daughter. I would love to see the people who feel every human is the same in every way recoil in horror as they watch their son behave differently than their daughter. I would love to watch their faces as they give a doll to their toddler son to play with but shriek as he rips the head off and looks inside the carcass to see how the doll was made.

It’s been long established that the male brain is different than the female brain. We learn differently and we see the world differently. That does not mean either is better, it is just different.

Some people seem to believe, for some bizarre reason that we are all equal. We aren’t. This horrible idea of having the girls in the Boy Scouts is a silly attempt to force the issue that we are all equal and should not have spaces where one sex bonds and has activities together. Men don’t always want to be around girls/women. We just don’t. Men and boys like to bond in our own ways just like women and girls do.

It is important  to have single sex groups from time to time. It facilitates a different type of bonding, competition and nurturing. One of the biggest advantage kids can receive from single-sex social groups is a chance to experience life outside the boundaries of ubiquitous gender dynamics.

When girls don’t have to worry about the thoughts of how they will perform when they’re with boys, girls are more likely to explore the depths of their own potential. Girls also get opportunities that are harder to find in organizations where boys make up the majority of participants. When girls and young women are in the position to hold all leadership roles, they learn how to succeed on their own terms. When there is an all female led environment, it means many more of the participants in the group are more likely to volunteer for, and be called upon to take leadership positions because there aren’t any males to compete with. From a very young age, young girls are attuned to incorrect stereotypes that cast men as more intelligent and capable than women. Single sex organizations caters to this need and address issues in ways co-ed ones might not.

That’s one of the many, many benefits of women’s colleges. The same applies to HBCU’s. Not having to stress out about racial issues being thrown at you daily creates an enhanced learning experience for people like me.

The Girl Scouts sounded like they were somewhat disturbed about this too.

“We learned about this through different channels but never directly from BSA leadership. We’ve had competitors come and go and this is yet another competitor. We’re disappointed in the way BSA handled this,” Lisa Margosian, Chief Customer Officer for Girl Scouts, told BuzzFeed reporter Tasneem Nashrulla in a statement.

“We’ve enjoyed a strong relationship and partnership with them over the years and we’re disappointed that the BSA didn’t discuss this with us to say ‘we’re having trouble with our membership.’ This is a direct response to boost their declining membership,” Margosian continued. At this point we’re just about reminding people that we have an expertise in serving girls that the Boy Scouts just don’t have,” Margosian continued in the statement.

Some have pointed out the problem has more to do with the Girl Scouts not having a high award similar to the Eagle Award. The Boy Scouts have the Eagle and the Girl Scouts have the Gold Award.

The reality is that the Girl Scout Gold Award is harder to get than the Eagle Award. There are more requirements to receive it and the girls have to earn it without help from others.  Why isn’t it more prestigious? That is a question the Girl Scouts need to address. Maybe it’s a marketing problem? I have no idea.

The Girl Scouts offer many of the same activities the Boy Scouts do, and to their credit, the Boy Scouts has programs that are open to both sexes.

I don’t see what the problem was. The Girls have their own organization as well as the boys. Are there any place or institution left where it is still safe and acceptable to be a boy, or raise one?

What if we get rid of fraternities and sororities. No more organizations like the Freemasons for men, no more gyms like Curves or Lucille Roberts. No more products made specifically for women. The Olympics? Men and Women compete equally from now on. There will no longer be organizations for women at all. N.O.W. will be N.O.E. (National Organization for Everyone.  Feminism will be humanism. No more women’s colleges. Wellesley will no longer be a school for women. They will be accepting all males who want to apply. Morehouse? A college for black men? No longer. White women will be applying now. Is this the genderless society we want?

It seems as if people are bending over backwards to try to please people. I’m not in the people pleasing business when it comes to my kids. I already know that boys and girls are different, have different needs, learn and play differently. I’m not sucking up to the left to include my daughter in every event or activity my son is in just for some notion of equality.

This was a really bad idea and I hope there is enough backlash to reverse this short sighted decision.

 

Responsibility

Looking back at how my parents raised me, I realize how important the lessons of responsibility are to children.

I remember my father always reminding me to clean my room. He would make me take out the garbage, mow the lawn, help wash his car and clean the garage. He would offer to wash the dishes if I dried them and vice versa. No, it wasn’t a real offer, it was his way of telling me what I was going to do. He was, in his own way, giving me a small say in the matter.

My mother taught me how to separate the colors when washing clothes, how to iron and fold sheets. She taught me how to dust, polish furniture, how to set the table, how to sew on a button and how to keep our home looking spotless.

My father told me time and time again to stand up straight. He instructed me on how to shake a person’s hand as well as how to speak up with authority.

My mother was supportive. SHE was the one who bought my first set of drums from my cousin. She was the one who said I could make it as a musician. And I eventually did.

I know things are different at my ex-wife’s home, but there is very little I can do about that at this point in my life. All I know is what happens in my home. When our kids are with me, they know that one of their responsibilities is to set the table for the dinner that I cook for them that evening. They also help make the food with me. After we eat, they clear the table,  sweep the floor, and wipe the table and counters. When they sleep over, they make their bed in the morning.

After school each day, my kids know they should never come in my apartment and drop everything to go and play. They must first hang up their coats and put their shoes in the right location. If they get a chance to play after their homework, they take out their toys and put them away where they got them after they are finished. They make sure their room is in the same condition that they found it.

I am starting to notice how my son gets up in the morning, usually before I do, and dresses himself. He is so proud. He also tells me to look in his room because he already made his own bed! My daughter makes it a priority to have her hair washed and styled before we have breakfast in the morning. She also sets the table before we all have breakfast.

While it’s not perfect, after many years as a single father,  it seems like things are starting to get into a groove at daddy’s house. It can be rough on a single person to run a home as the only adult. I don’t recommend it at all. I still don’t see the attraction of the choice of single parenthood. Since I was forced into this life, I will make the best out of difficult situation.

I love the day-to-day aspects of raising children and think having a solid foundation like I had growing up helps. I feel it is important to pass on these values to our children.

I don’t know what other people do, but I feel it is important to teach responsibility to our children and to hold them accountable. It helps prepare them for life on their own.

Many of these lessons last a lifetime.

 

Single Fatherhood in New York City

Back in 2012, I completed an interview for a Columbia University graduate student of journalism named Acacia Squires. She found me through a post I made on a website about single parenthood and thought I would be a good person to talk with about my experiences being a single father in New York City.

I want to share my story.

Some people call it the “pay up or shut up” model; that’s when fathers pay for child support and alimony after divorce, but loose custody of their children. In modern law, parents’ gender shouldn’t matter, only the child’s welfare is important, but research shows that judge’s bias can lead to unequal treatment in the courtroom. In the first of this three part series on single fatherhood, we look at the story of one Manhattan dad and his fight for his children after divorce.

 

Why I REFUSE To Pay Child Support

When people ask me how can I be divorced with two children and pay no child support, I tell them I took a cue from Nancy Reagan; I “just said no.”

I took the road less traveled. One that more men should be allowed to travel.

For the past 18 years, I have been fortunate to be a full-time musician. Since the time of our daughter’s birth in 2003, I was at home with her during the day and working at night. Three years before my marriage ended, my wife and I agreed to switch roles. In order to make this arrangement work, I was extremely ambitious and found a way to work a 9-5 job as well as teach, perform in an Off-Broadway show and perform in weddings and corporate events. I paid all the bills while she took care of our daughter.

After two years of trying to fit back into the corporate world, I noticed a lack of communication between my wife and I. My focus was on our family; her attention appeared to be on the social calendar. My frustration with what seemed to be a lop-sided allocation of duties in our home-made for several stress filled months. Not only was I the sole breadwinner, I took care of many of the duties at home. The birth of our second child only intensified the tension in our home.

Working a full time job, gigs and doing much of the house work burnt me out so I quit my corporate job. Meanwhile my wife was unwilling to continue the therapy sessions we’d set up to find a way to repair our marriage. She hired an attorney and filed for divorce.

Our custody battle began in Family Court. During our first hearing, I received a court order for spousal support, which stated I was to continue paying all the bills until our case went to Supreme Court. On top of paying the household expenses, I had to pay my ex an additional $500 cash each month. I was furious. I questioned why I was responsible for everything and my wife was only responsible for being with the children.

Soon after filing, my wife began using the children as pawns. She filled the kid’s day with play dates, and after one of our many heated arguments, took the kids to her mother’s home in another state for two weeks so I could not see them. In addition to the attempts at alienating me from my children, my wife called the police after several arguments in futile attempts to have me vacate the marital residence and be thrown in jail. Luckily for me she was never psychotic enough to hurt herself or abuse the criminal justice system’s bias against men.

When our case was transferred to New York State Supreme Court, things began to change. A few months into our dispute I received an unlikely source of inspiration. My family had given me a father’s day gift certificate to a men’s spa. Here is where I received life-changing advice from a female staff member who’d gone through a divorce several years before. She and her former spouse had mutually agreed that their son be raised by his father. She informed me that in New York State, couples had the option to “opt out” of paying child support upon dissolution of marriage. I immediately called my attorney and told him I wanted to do just that: opt out.

I must acknowledge one piece of the puzzle that gave me a slight advantage that no one has today. At the time of my lawsuit, New York was the last state who hadn’t adopted no-fault laws. This gave me leverage that no one can use in court today. Now, everyone is at the mercy of their spouse and can’t contest their divorce. In fact, most people have no idea that your spouse can file for divorce for any reason and not have to prove why they want out of the marriage. This is a real disadvantage for the monied spouse in my state because the custodial parent gains an advantage with the child support guidelines. The spouse who makes more money is ordered to pay the non-custodial parent.

At the time, my attorney and I decided to contest my ex’s grounds for divorce. We were willing to compel her to tell the truth under oath. My ex would have perjured herself in court since there were several inconsistencies in her sworn deposition. Her attorney decided it would be unwise for her to proceed in that manner. This was the turning point that forced a settlement.

 

After 11 months in and out of court, we agreed that my parenting time would take place during the day; hers at night and that no one would pay child support. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I walked out of the courtroom secure in the knowledge that I could financially support our two children in a way that made much more sense to me. I did not succumb to the societal pressure to pay an ex-wife, child or spousal support because men have historically done so.

I’m not sure many men have the testicular fortitude to endure the pain it takes to achieve this goal today. Particularly since the avenue I pursued is now closed off to men in the family court’s crusade against fatherhood. I certainly thought of giving up but never did. I was also determined to get the court to understand the seriousness of my desire to be a fully committed parent and I was willing to go through the financial expense of seeing it through.

During my custody battle, I came to a deeper understanding how the courts system works and how the law applied in my particular case. I persevered by demonstrating that I was rational, reasonable, and always focused on the best interest of my children. Instead of relying solely on my attorney’s advice and historical precedent, I saw the bigger picture and thought long term.

I used several tactics to my advantage. I never left or was forced out of our marital residence, I managed to avoid physical altercations by keeping my emotions in check as much as possible, avoided being taken to jail by the NYPD by calmly explaining my side of the story and kept my focus by remaining totally devoted to my two children. I always took the high road and never talked badly about my ex to our children, no matter how tempting. I still don’t-she is the mother of our kids. They love her just as much as they love me.

I know all too well the stories of men who get taken advantage of by unscrupulous attorneys who don’t offer alternatives and other potential options their clients can pursue. State ordered child support should only be enforced when a spouse chooses to abdicate the responsibility of raising their children. There is no excuse for a parent to abandon their children. In my subsequent research, I have discovered that many fathers do not want to leave their children. Many times they are FORCED out.

 

Mandatory arrests laws that were written to protect women over the years have often been abused and are at times used to force fathers from the home straight into jail. This, in conjunction with punitive child support orders and the threat of imprisonment if it isn’t paid have been just a few of the reasons for the increase of widespread fatherlessness over the past 40 years.

The threat of divorce, child support orders or jail should ever stop a devoted father from having a healthy relationship with his children. No one should have the right to deny that important relationship unless there are serious criminal matters and there is due process.

Today it seems that many women intentionally abuse a system that was set up in the 1950′s and 1960′s to assist with the necessary expenses of child rearing for children that both parents gave consent to have. Now that women have joined the workforce in unprecedented numbers–and birth control frees them from the constraints they were otherwise under–it makes little sense to keep men stuck back in an era that has long passed. Women don’t want to go back to that era-men don’t either. If times have progressed for women, why are men forced to stay in the past?

I have seen many cases where spousal and/or child support is automatically assumed to be part of divorce even though it may be unwarranted, and most attorneys don’t even discuss potential options for their clients. I truly feel that men who desire to be a part of their children’s lives need not pay their future ex-wife at all.

My ex wife and I, more often than not, peacefully co-exist without a state ordered child or spousal support. I must emphasize this particular point: if anyone chooses the road I took, it requires a lifelong commitment of taking care of your children – something that unfortunately, most men today are not even given an opportunity to do.

I feel the default option in custody cases should be joint legal and physical custody with no court ordered child support absent a strong reason. Start with a 50/50 split of parenting time with the children. If that can’t happen and money needs to be transferred, the person receiving the funds needs to be held accountable for how the money is being spent. As it stand now, there is no way to account for how the funds are being used for the children.

 

The more often we keep the filthy claws of state and federal government out of our lives, the better. Once they get in, they never let go. The formation of the family court system, the state and federal offices of child support enforcement and all of the affiliated positions associated with it, has resulted in the creation of a massive state controlled Industry whose sole function is to affect the massive transfer of wealth from the father to the mother. The increase in state intrusion in our personal lives coupled with the culture of entitlement and unreasonable expectations currently embedded in our public consciousness, creates a system that feeds upon itself. It appears that this former government safety net has turned into a spider web. Eventually it will bleed fathers dry and the real victims will be their children.

When there are two loving parents that want to be actively involved in their children’s lives after divorce, there is no need to travel down the expected path of family court and mandatory child and/or spousal support. Women can learn from my story and understand that just because you may no longer love the father of your kids, your children do. Children need their mother AND father. Find a way to stay out of that hell hole they loosely call “Family Court.” I am living proof that there is another way.

AIN’T TOO PROUD TO BEG Breaks Berkeley Rep’s House Record

Berkeley Repertory Theatre announced that the world-premiere musical Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations is the highest-grossing production in its nearly 50- year history. With box office receipts already exceeding $3.1 million – and sales still not completed – Ain’t Too Proud has become a bona fide hit.

“We are thrilled with the success of this show,” says Managing Director Susan Medak, “and equally thrilled that its success will help us support so many other productions that are also wonderful but may not have as monumental a reach.”

The show, originally scheduled for a limited run, was extended an additional four weeks to meet demand, and must close on November 5.

https://www.broadwayworld.com/article/AINT-TOO-PROUD-TO-BEG-Breaks-Berkeley-Reps-House-Record-20171005

John The Lion

 

When I put my kids to sleep, the bedtime ritual can often seem routine. I tend to make it fun when they are with me overnight. I already feel a strong bond with both of my children, but the little things we do with our kids sometimes have greater meaning than we think.

I’ve been telling stories to my daughter ever since I can remember. She is a lot older now, but for the first few years of her life I had this little thing I did before I tucked her into bed. I tell the story of John the Lion and his daddy.

Since I love being creative, I would just make up stories of a little lion and his dad on many adventures. I start out the story with John saying, “daddy…daddy… DADDY! Can we go to….” I would insert a specific place that a kid would want to go, like the zoo, the park, the circus, etc. Then I would keep the story going. Daddy would reply “No John, we can’t go now because it is too……late, or too far…etc..” I would make up some lame excuse. John would plead for his dad to take him and he would finally give in to his request.

The story would unfold from there. I would actually surprise myself with how interesting my stories would be. My daughter LOVED it. It was just a little thing I would do to have a special bond between her and I. It started to fade away during my divorce a few years ago because I was not able to tuck her in to bed. My court order kicked me out of the marital bedroom. Looking back, I would never suggest ANY man agree to be kicked out of their own bedroom or home. Don’t allow the relationship between you and your children ever become interrupted. But I digress.

So, when I finally got my own apartment and the kids would stay with me, I revived John the Lion. Well, at least I tried. Sleeping in a completely different place with a slightly new routine was tough for a while. My son, who was 2, missed his mother and it was still a little rough on my 6-year-old daughter at the time.

I slowly weaved my storytelling back into our bedtime routine over the years. Children tend to be highly adaptable. Now, my 5-year-old son begs me to tell stories. My daughter is even requesting some of the old stories I used to tell her. It’s amazing how I even remember the details of the classics.

The new stories are fascinating to both kids. I guess my 30-plus years of creativity and improvisation as a musician has applications in places I would never suspect. It can be quite a challenge to make up a complete story on the spot, but is incredibly rewarding to see the smile on their beautiful little faces before they fall off to sleep.

Sometimes it is the little things that make all the difference.

This is just one of my favorite parts being a father to two wonderful kids. Maybe one day they will continue John the Lion’s adventures to their children. Something tells me they will.

Rock Band

I spoke with my son yesterday on the phone and asked him how his after school program is going.  Unfortunately, I’ve been out of town so I haven’t been able to see his transition into his new school this fall. Usually, he doesn’t tell me much but he sure was eager to let me know of a new activity.

My little man said he was in a thing they called “Rock Band.”   There is one kid who is about his age who plays guitar. He said, “Dad, I heard him play and he is good.” “He played a bunch of notes really fast on his guitar and I was Iike, WHOA!”

I asked him, “well, what are you going to play?” “Well, I’m playing the drums,”  he replied. He went on to say, “they have a bunch of pieces for the drum set but still need more cymbals, I think” “They gave me some sticks and asked me to play something, so I did.”

He let me know that they were impressed with his ability to play a beat or two. I guess he is a natural at the drums? Maybe it’s genetic.

I asked him how many other kids are in the after school activity. He said there was about five kids total. I said, “that is great!” I asked, “who else is in the band?” He said, “the teacher is playing the bass, and that is it , so far”

I told him its a great foundation for a band. He then told me that after he played a little beat, he let everyone know that his father plays drums too.

He said, “yeah, he’s a PROFESSIONAL!”

They were pretty excited to know that this kid has a dad who actually makes a living from playing music. I guess it elevated his status a little.

It might have been cooler if his dad played in an actual rock band, but I guess, two Tony Award winning broadway musicals ain’t too bad.

I think the kids would want to know what a professional musician does. Maybe I’ll come in an start a school of rock at his school in conjunction with the Rock Band class. Who knows, maybe there will be a musical made from this idea…oh wait….Andrew Lloyd Webber already took that idea.

Oh well.

It’s fun to hear how excited my son is to be involved in that activity. We’ll see if he really wants to spend more time learning drums or doing what he really seems to spend most of his time engaged in. That would be the game of soccer. He is as passionate about soccer as I was about drums at his age.

We’ll see what happens. Maybe I’ll give him a lesson or two when I get back to town.