Developmental Milestones and When It’s Time To Call The Doctor

Dear Brenda,

I have a three and a half year old boy. Since I can remember he bangs his head when he is awake or asleep. He doesn’t feel any pain, or so it seems. He doesn’t get angry when he does it. He is a very sweet child, but he has his way of doing things. He is very, very neat and precise for his age. He started mingling with other children in his class about 6 months ago. Both of my children are in half day in school.

Most of the times it doesn’t seem as if he understands me. If he hurts his sister, sometimes for no reason, and I talk to him firmly he just nods and continues to hurt her.

I’ve tried everything, talking, shouting, naughty corner, but nothing works. He’s going to ‘big’ school in a year and a half and I’m concerned that the teachers won’t understand him.

At the parent meeting his teacher told me that he is very advanced for his age, but he has strange ways, e.g.; when he’s playing with blocks, (and he wants to play alone) he first sorts all the colors together, then all the shapes. If anyone interferes he gets very upset.

If things go his way, he is very sociable.

Do I need to worry?

Dear Worrying Mom,

Watching our babies grow is what parents do. We want to know that their language, thinking, social and emotional skills are where they should be. What if they’re not? What if we notice something about our precious one that’s atypical? Well, what if. As a parent you need to follow through on your concerns. Here are some of the things that caught my attention.

Head banging. Our babies are used to a rocking motion while in the womb and will rock their bodies or bang their heads to soothe themselves. This behavior can occur when they are over or under stimulated, and it usually stops by four years old.

“Most of the times it doesn’t seem as if he understands me.” This caught my attention too. As did this, “If he hurts his sister, sometimes for no reason, and I talk to him firmly he just nods and continues to hurt her.” It makes me wonder if he is able to read the social and non verbal cues, for example, that crying might indicate that his sister is in pain, or if he can tell from Mommy’s face whether she is happy or sad. These are developmental milestones.

It would probably be best to bring the concerns you’ve written about here to the attention of your pediatrician. Your pediatrician will be able to rule out medical reasons for his behavior and then might be able to get to the bottom of some of these concerns. If there are any problems, it is better to start therapies earlier, as they would be more effective.

You’re a great mom. Be well.

– Brenda

Brenda Breaks it Down: Wanting to forget a relationship

Hi Brenda,

I’m a gay woman and I spent the last 5 years in a relationship with someone with borderline personality disorder and PTSD. It was on again off again many times over and I’ve finally walked away for good. She is in therapy though it’s not seemed to help, in fact, over the years her condition has worsened. I know she’s not been honest with the therapist. She drinks heavily with the meds she’s on for her disorder. I’ve seen so much, the out of control days and nights. The lies and the threats of suicide and the one attempt that landed her in the hospital. That one was supposedly to keep me from leaving.

I did walk away. I’ve finally realized I can’t fix her and I can’t be happy and healthy with her. I’ve pretty much gone through the four steps of battered woman’s syndrome, though I was never physically abused, it was all mental.

I have no idea how this will affect my future relationships and trying to explain this to someone that’s never “been there” is frustrating. I went through the depression and I’ve coped with the ideology of “fake it till you make it.” It’s working, though I still think about what I went through often. I feel like I’ve talked about this to death and I just want to forget and move on. My job is definitely an escape and I am cultivating my social life more and more. Do I just keep telling myself to give it time? I could go to therapy but I’m really not wanting to re-live it all again.

Dear I-Just-Want-To-Forget,

Wouldn’t it be great if I could tell the future? What I can tell you is that if you’re starting a new relationship with the same story you just shared with us about your last girlfriend, I guarantee you, you’re heading toward the friend zone faster than you can say “Dinah Shore Weekend” or “Meet Me in Michigan.” It’s frustrating because you’re leading with the frustrated you, the you that carries the shame or embarrassment or remorse or regret for getting into this relationship in the first place or for having it fail.

Here the deal darlin’, it’s okay to be human, to fail at something, to outgrow a lover. It’s okay to say yes to your own health and happiness. Yes, give yourself some time and while you’re at it give yourself some compassion and forgiveness, too.

Mental illnesses aren’t like other conditions, often they are hidden unless our potential partners share that information or are even healthy enough to do so. It’s up to us to know what feels right and to know that we deserve health and happiness, too. You walked away; you knew you deserved more, so there’s no need to “forget” what happened. You need to only remember what you’ve learned. I think you’ve got that covered.

– Brenda

“Rape” as a football drill command. We should know better.

Dear Brenda,

My son is 15 years old and during his football practice at our public high school the coach uses the word ”rape” as a command for a drill. The boys will then attack and tackle each other.

I think this is very unhealthy and that it promotes violence and aggression. This is 2011 and we should know better. The principal thinks that it’s fine.

Help!

Dear Concerned Mom,

Fear of rape is a cold wind blowing ?all of the time on a woman’s hunched back. – Marge Piercy

For a coach to use the word “rape” as a command for a drill in which the young men attack and tackle each other is unacceptable. Not because I think the members of the football team are mindless jocks who will have a Pavlovian response whenever the word is mentioned outside of football practice. It’s because as the Coach conditions their minds and bodies for a game of football, he is also desensitizing these young men to weight this word carries. Rape is an aggressive and violent act. Obviously the Coach is trying to generate a certain level of aggression he believes is necessary to play the game, however, while doing so he is creating an equivalency in their minds that is inappropriate and completely unacceptable.

The principal’s reaction was dismissive. Perhaps he or she is reluctant to address the issue in an honest and forthcoming way because they’re more interested in winning football games. Perhaps he or she is more interested in winning than in using their influence and the influence of the Coach to send a clear message about language, power and sex. The Coach and the Principal have missed a teachable moment and these young men lose because they don’t receive a mature message about the power of language. This happens too often. Adults rationalize unsuitable behaviors, language or treatment of certain groups and the most impressionable members of our society walk away from experiences like this with a certain coarseness, a lack of sensitivity. And while the rates of juvenile sex offenses continue to increase, this Coach and Principal believe that it is okay to not address this seriously.

So what’s a Mom to do? Here’s the deal:

  • You are your son’s first role model. Talk to him and tell him exactly how you feel about the Coach using such a loaded word in such a cavalier fashion.
  • Tell your son that you are going to take action because you believe it’s wrong. If your son balks at the idea of you taking action, let him know there are other places and leagues he can get his football fix and that this is something you strongly believe in and this is what people do when it is something they believe in, they take a stand.
  • Write a letter outlining your concerns and your demands to the school superintendent, and then copy to the members of the school board, the PTA, the school principal and coach, the executive director and the communications director of the local rape crisis center and the local newspaper.
  • Request to speak at the next school board meeting. Read your letter. Demand a response.

Good luck.

– Brenda

Brenda Breaks It Down – Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Doesn’t Apply To Herpes or HPV

Dear Brenda,

I started dating this guy in August of 2009. He was living with his daughter’s mother at the time but told me that they were not together. He spent his birthday with me in August and my birthday was in September so we spent my birthday together too. He gave me a $1000 and told me to by myself something nice and the week after he gave me $500.

We had sex in October and he didn’t want to use a condom. I asked him to, but he insisted that he didn’t like them. I have herpes and couldn’t tell him and I didn’t have an outbreak. After we had sex I talked to him the next day and the day after but then he stopped answering my calls. I automatically assumed I’d given him herpes and that he didn’t want to see or talk to me anymore because he wouldn’t answer or return my calls.

I got an abnormal pap smear in November that was caused by HPV, but they told me to wait six months to see if it will come back normal. I was so hurt that I was worried about giving him herpes and now I’m thinking he gave me HPV.

At the time we had sex, I noticed a bump on his private part and he said it was nothing and I told him that I think it’s HPV and that’s why my pap smear is abnormal and he argued that it was nothing.

So now he comes over and has sex with me and then he doesn’t call or answer his phone for days. When I ask him why he does this to me he says he is busy working.

And now my friends trying to hook me up with other guys because they think I’m being stupid for him.

I am feeling so depressed. What should I do? Please tell me what you think is going on.

Dear Too Hot for Herpes,

I’m just going to give it to as I see it. This might be hard to hear darlin’ with that bruised heart you’re carrying around, but the truth is, he doesn’t love or care about you. And while your friends mean well by trying to “hook” you up with other guys because they think you’re being “stupid” for him, the real deal is that you don’t need to be with anyone right now. Stevie Wonder and the Five Blind Boys of Alabama can see that, and so can I.

What I also see here is that you can’t handle the truth, and I’m talking about the truth about your health. The truth is that you have herpes and HPV darlin’ and that puts you at a greater risk for more serious infections, such as HIV, which in turn means that you must take better care of yourself and you must insist that whomever you have sex with wears a condom. Because all of that feel good that comes with sex is not worth dying over.

Now I’m not going to pretend that I’ve never had unprotected sex, I have. I’ve sat in clinics waiting for test results with my nerves about to jump out of my skin. I have friends with herpes who don’t tell because they’re embarrassed. The truth is that over 60 million Americans have herpes 1 out of every 6 women and 1 out of every 8 men. There’s still a lot of embarrassment about it, though there needn’t be. It’s not a death sentence; it’s a ‘be more careful’ sentence.

I also know that men will throw money at a woman, or things like purses or jewelry in order to get them in bed. They will tell you they love you, they’ll tell you whatever you want to hear. Don’t fall for the okey doke. You don’t have to accept gifts (Uh oh, I hear a pack of women howling that I’m wrong about this one) especially when the gifts are over the top. A $1000 (if that’s true) after just meeting someone is a bit over the top. Honestly. Men who do that have usually have nothing else to offer and they just want to get in your pants. Don’t fall for the okey doke.

What I think is going on is that you want a relationship with someone. Not just sex. You keep working it backwards by jumping into the most intimate part first without getting to know them or letting them get to know you. Relate to them out of the bedroom. Give them time to show you who they are, and pay attention. Put on the big girl panties and have an honest talk with them about herpes and HPV. Know your worth, you’re worth more $1500, your life is worth more than that.

– Brenda

Brenda Breaks It Down — The Minute Men

Dear Brenda,

I have a problem with my sexuality. I hardly last 5 minutes in bed with my girlfriend. I have tried many tricks but nothing much has changed. What can I do to offer my girl good sex? What can I do to last long in bed?

Thanks a lot for your advice

Dear Help Me-Love-Her-Long-Time-Guy,

Well darlin’ let’s start with defining some terms. Sexuality is how people self-identify as a man or a woman. It may also refer to how people identify in terms of their sexual preferences, meaning if they identify as being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. The experts define premature ejaculation as when a man ejaculates or comes or cums, depending on your preferred lingo, prior to or in less than one minute after his penis enters a woman’s vagina. Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s move along.

So when it comes to ejaculation the normal range is 5-10 minutes and from what you wrote, you’re right up there. You didn’t say which tricks you tried so I did my research and here it is:

Mind over penis— when you “master your domain” do you know the point at which you’re about to cum? You need to know that, so when that moment comes, you can…

Change positions—some positions stimulate the penis more than others. When you find yourself getting close to the point of no return, change positions. Speaking of which, have you tried…

Ye olde missionary—yes a body-to-body missionary position is great, however once she lifts her legs, more stimulation occurs. Switch positions, sit cross-legged, put her on top, and let her wrap her legs around you, touch, and play. Lay back, let her stay on top, and move however she wants for as long as she wants, unless you’re getting that “loving feeling” then it’s time to change. While you’re doing all of this…

Don’t be the “Bull in a china shop” –You don’t have to charge through lovemaking by pounding away. We’re not churning milk into butter here. Think about and develop a technique that works for you, like small shallow strokes interspersed with the deeper ones. Please remember, in and out is burger place, not a sexual technique. Circle those hips! It takes the stimulation off of the head of the penis and focuses it more on the shaft giving you the extra time you desire.

Foreplay—you should be familiar with this and you should do it. I never heard one of my female friends say, “Oh that guy just gave me too much foreplay…” Never heard it. Never will. You should also be familiar with the woman parts, particularly the clitoris. I personally the “G” spot is myth and the clitoral orgasm rules.

Condom – try wearing a condom, this will reduce the sensation and perhaps help you last longer. And hey! You should be wrapping it up anyway. Safe sex is the name of the game in case you haven’t heard.

I hope some of these suggestions help. I’ve been on the receiving end of this and to be honest, it can be quite disappointing. We women though, love you men so much we say really nice things like, “It’s okay, we can try again later” or “I understand it happens.” Then we jump out of bed and head for the nearest vibrating shower head and relieve the tension. Hopefully she is willing to be patient while you try some of these things. Good lucky my friend.

– Brenda

Brenda on being pregnant and alone

Dear Brenda,

My boyfriend just told me he doesn’t want to be in a relationship. I’m 7 months pregnant and been nothing but faithful. He doesn’t even come home some nights. What do I do?

Dear 7 Months and Counting,

Men scare easily. Especially when it has to do with commitment or anything that includes feelings. They often define themselves by their freedoms and a baby and a baby’s mother often disrupts their image of the ‘studly’ rock star they believe themselves to be. Don’t count him out just yet; just know that when it comes to reliability and support he’s a can short of six pack. I know his indifference hurts. He’s being an *sshole right now, and that doesn’t negate the fact that once you loved and something innocent and beautiful has formed from that.

So here you are darlin’ with this baby growing inside you, a tangible expression of hope and promise, your swelling belly a declaration that life goes on and on and on. And so must you. You must continue to care for yourself, to continue your prenatal care, keep your doctor appointments. You must read and educate yourself on what to expect during the remaining months of your pregnancy and what to expect during the birthing process. It is up to you to offer your soon-to-be-born child the best health possible starting out. In short, it’s not about him right now. It’s about the baby.

I realize that this is a time of uncertainty and wonder, of intimacy with this life inside you and anxiety about the future. There are options and decisions have to be made. You can choose to be a single mom or you can choose adoptive parents for your child. Either decision needs a conversation and a support system.

Being a single mother is wonderfully challenging, thrilling, hard, thankless, and is somewhat easier with a rock solid support system. And while single moms get a lot of sh*t for being just that, we (present company included) are a phenomenal bunch of get-it-done attitude, resilience, dedicated people who know our families are different and the same. We keep more balls in the air than an over-caffeinated circus clown. We ‘do the damn thang’ day after day after day.

The other option is a brave one, a selfless act that takes courage and support. I’m talking about adoption and have several friends who have adopted children both domestically and internationally. Some have sought open adoptions and are in constant contact with the birth mom, while in other situations the birth mother initiates all contact. And still, there are situations in which there is no contact with the birth mom whatsoever. Adoption has changed and there are so many ways to facilitate something that can work for you. What I do know is that these children are so wanted and loved and it is a delight to be a part of their lives, to see the tenderness, and the celebration of family that these parents might not have ever experienced. A woman who chooses adoptive parents for her child will never know the depth of happiness, or the resounding joy she has given a family. Incredible.

Whatever you decide to do darlin’ know that you will move through this, and no matter the decision you will alternately think you made the right one and the wrong one. Trust yourself. You will make the right. I trust you. Be well.

Brenda

Brenda Breaks Down Consequences for Bad Teen Behavior

Hi Brenda!

I’m from India. I’m a single parent (widow) and I have a son who is 12 years old and he is developing a habit of telling lies and stealing money from the home. A couple of times I’ve confronted him but he always blames his younger sister.

Also he doesn’t like to study at all and academically he’s doing extremely poor. He’s becoming very rude and doesn’t care and respect any one; he doesn’t like correction at all. Another thing he keeps his thing untidy and doesn’t like to bathe. He only enjoys playing on the PC or PlayStation. I really don’t understand how I should help him to improve.

I need your help.

Thanks

Dear Single Parent,

My grandmother would say that your son is acting “mannish.” Meaning that he is testing his boundaries with you, in terms of respect, integrity, academics and hygiene. How far can he go? What are the consequences to his actions? Those are questions that not only you need to answer; they also need to be discussed with him. He can’t continue to steal, bring home poor grades and keep bad hygiene and play on his PC or PlayStation. Here’s the deal:

  • Have a family meeting in which expectations regarding integrity, grades, housework, and respect.
  • There should be an opportunity for the children to self-correct.
  • If they do not self-correct then there should be consequences.
  • If rules are broken, things are taken away. And yes, definitely include the PC and the PlayStation, favorite shoes, posters from the wall, if it means something to him, it can be part of a consequence.

I also wonder if there a man in your life, a brother, an uncle, or cousin that could spend some time with him, one on one. I think he might need that attention right now and that a man that could talk to him about the importance of good hygiene and respect.

That’s all I got for you my love. I hope it helps.

Readers what do you think?

– Brenda

Brenda on Jackholes and Boundaries – Lying men and broken promises.

Dear Brenda,

I’m writing to you because I want to get another opinion on the situation going on with my daughter.

She met a guy and was dating him for 3 months, he told her that he would give her a truck and that he sold his house and the money he got from the sale of his house was going to be put down on another house. He has taken money out of her purse, and because he said he was buying a house for them to live in she didn’t pay the rent on her apartment. She also sold her van, believing that he was going to give her his vehicle. He disappears for a day or two with no communication with her.

Now she has no vehicle, cause she sold it and has an eviction notice on her apartment, she has two young children that are now without a vehicle or a home, he also didn’t pay the cell phone bill like he said he did and it got shut off, so my daughter was left without any communication, transportation and is now homeless.

She said she was done with him, but now I find out that she is talking to him and letting him come over her house, I tried to tell her that she can’t believe anything he says and she should just cut her losses and not have anything to do with him. I told her I would not be helping her with rides unless she totally ends it with him. now she is angry with me, she just never seems to learn by her mistakes. I just wanted to know what you thought of the situation.

Thanks for listening.

Dear Mama Lion,

What amazes me about women is that some of us still believe in the knight in shining armor, who will give us a “trusty steed,” pay our phone bills and provide shelter for us and our children. We love so fiercely, and can become so blinded by happily ever after that we ignore the red flags, we don’t question, we forgive too quickly when boundaries are ignored or crossed.

For the record, this man is a jackhole, who is undeserving of the love and devotion that your daughter has shown him. Yes, she should cut her losses, lose his phone number, move and leave no forwarding address.

Still, I wonder if your daughter loves herself to see that she deserves more than someone who takes money from her purse, or promises to take care of a bill and then doesn’t keep that promise, and lies. Doesn’t she believe that she deserves more?

While Mamas will have the sex talk with their daughters, equally important is the discussion about boundaries. Boundaries will help our daughters make better decisions about acceptable behavior in regards to their body, how they are treated and their space. I hope you will talk with your daughter about boundaries, and how important it is to set them in the beginning of a friendship or relationship.

Your daughter needs to know her worth, and that she deserves better than a lying jackhole, she deserves someone who respects her as a woman and a mother and she must learn to demand no less than that.

Best of luck,

Brenda

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