October 10, 2008

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The Art of Diplomacy - What's in It for You? We hear so much about the need for diplomacy these days in everything from international relations to bi-partisan relations, but the art of diplomacy isn't just for national leaders and members of Congress. Diplomacy, the employment of tact to find mutually acceptable solutions to a common challenge, can be employed by everyday people in everyday situations to the benefit of all. Shakinghands Think of the many challenges we face: Your daughter, a freshman in high school, wants to date a senior. Your five-year-old son doesn't want to share his new Play-Doh set with his cousin who is in for a holiday visit. Your coworker speaks so loudly on phone calls that you can't focus and he's tired of your dirty looks. Your Aunt Rose doesn't speak to your Aunt Mary, but is the sister of Mary's husband, Bob who rarely gets to see Rose. How are you going to please everyone with the seating plan at your wedding reception? Situations like these pop up all the time and they can really push our buttons if we let them. The result? Anger, arguments, hurt feelings, crying and worse. So how can the art of diplomacy make a difference and what's in it for us? Well, diplomacy is a way of handling sticky situations that leads to consensus and compromise. In other words, it is a way of finding a solution that everyone can live with which, admittedly, is often easier said than done. Happily though, diplomacy involves certain skills that, given some practice and patience,
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Hazing - Are Our Kids Going Too Far? Hazing is a well-known and long-standing part of the fabric of our society. If we haven't been through it ourselves, we likely know someone who has. But the practice of hazing as a way to indoctrinate a new member of a club, team or other group is on the rise and the ages of the participants are dropping. Is this just a normal part of growing up or should we be concerned? College fraternities and sororities are perhaps the best known of the groups that regularly require hazing as a rite of initiation, but lately it seems that many high school and even middle school groups are joining in. School Cheerleaders band members have been suspended for participating in dangerous hazing rituals, cheer leading squads have jumped into the fray and even some church youth groups are sheepishly admitting that they too have crossed over to the dark side. Although many still think of hazing as a harmless prank, a joke that leaves everyone, even the “hazees” laughing, hazing is more pernicious than it might appear at first glance. Hazing is defined as “any activity expected of someone joining a group (or to maintain full status in a group) that humiliates, degrades or risks emotional and/or physical harm, regardless of the person's willingness to participate.” The key here is that the activities are, by their very nature, designed to humiliate and degrade . . . and include the risk of physical or emotional harm. And the fact is that, as with so many things, our kids are busily trying to outdo each other. Hazing is becoming an on-going game of one-upsmanship. The activities are getting more risky and more violent. Should we be concerned? What's causing this and why are our kids directing so much anger and viciousness at their friends? These are good questions and I'm afraid I don't really have the answers. Could it be that our kids have been exposed to so much violence, from the nightly news to movies and video games, that they have become desensitized and callous? There is a lot of psychological research that suggests media violence can have such an effect on children. Have we as parents lost sight of our values or are we simply failing to

Lori Jewett

I'm an overly educated stay-at-home mom with two kids and the need for adult conversation.

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