April 24, 2014

Marriage Confidental by Pamela Haag: A Book Review

I agreed to review this book after reading an interview where Pamela Haag, author of “Marriage Confidential: Love in the Post-Romantic Era,” explains her views on feminism and marriage. I was excited to read it because I thought that it would finally look at the very personal side of  marriage in a way that explored how to make marriage work for the individual. But that is NOT what this book is about at all.

Haag writes in the book’s introduction that her “first goal in this book is to give voice to this yearning, and to the low-conflict, melancholy marriage, and to show the millions of us who are in these ambivalent marriages that we’re not alone” (xII). But what is immediately apparent is that Haag is looking for justification. She is seeking a reason to explain why she is (1) not happy with her husband (2) too scared to change her life (3) a bad mother. In other words, when a women who is unhappy in her marriage and disappointed in her life choices writes a book about the trouble with marriage as a whole, all you get is a book that reads like a list of multiple reasons to cheat.

I was turned off almost instantly as the last thing we need in this world is a book that supports the destruction of the family unit – especially one that does it through pseudo-psychology. Marriage is not an institution whose outcome relies on the decisions and acts of others. It is only as good as the two people involved and when one does not take the vetting process seriously, you end up with Pamela Haag’s “Post-Romantic Age” marriage – a marriage of regret, emptiness, and personal failures. Haag misses the mark when it comes to explaining the various kinds of marriages that exist in the world. She tries too hard to put them in a box of her own making instead of allowing them to be what they are – reflections of those people involved in them.

Take her anecdotal couple “Peter and Alice” who marry not out of love but because Alice wanted a baby and Peter has good sperm. That’s right, Alice marries Peter not because she is attracted to him or because he makes her happy, but because she wanted a baby.  Suffice it to say, their sex life is boring and Alice is unhappy…

Um, excuse Ms. Haag, I call foul! This sham of a marriage is not the norm nor did it ever have a chance in hell of surviving or being one of happiness. Yet, Haag blames marriage and not the shallow, stupidity of a woman who was obviously not ready to be a mom let alone a wife. And this is not the first couple she uses to further her “anti-marriage agenda.”

There is Bill who married his best friend and has been in a sexless marriage for 20 years. He tells Haag, who has met him on-line, that he is unhappy about the sexless marriage, not because he misses the intimacy and connection with his wife, but because she will not agree to an open-relationship or a swinger lifestyle and threatens to divorce him if he cheats. Again, this sounds bogus! Almost like something one would say when seeking to begin an affair with someone who has no way of verifying the validity of his words. And of course Haag takes this at face value ignoring the myriad of reasons that his marriage my be sexless. Obviously cultivating intimacy takes work and is not as simple as saying, “spread ‘em baby, I’m looking for love!”

And the book continues with these kinds of stories. What could have been an honest look at the state of marriage today is turned into a joke. Haag’s sophomoric research and failure to remove her own disdain for marriage from her writing does nothing to help her accomplish what she says is her goal. Like Manning Marable’s book on Malcolm X, too many of her assumptions are unsupported and presented for nothing more than shock value. And it’s a shame too. Marriage is complex and deserves more than a biased exploration.

*This book review is a part of the TLC Book Tour. I received a copy of the book from TLC.

Kristina Daniele

Kristina Daniele

Kristina, Founder and Oz of We of Hue is one of many doing it across hues-homeschooling, wifing, mothering, and business building. She is a web designer and social media consultant with a love of building communities on line. She looks forward to intelligent conversation that is eye-opening and statement-making.

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African-American children’s books that inspire and empower

by Shannon Harmon

You don’t have to wait until African-American history month to learn about and celebrate the lives of powerful men and women who contributed greatly to the well-being of all Americans. Not sure where to start? Here are some really amazing books that demonstrate the power of leadership and courage in the face of tremendous obstacles. We’ve often heard the names Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman, and these amazing women led complex, challenging lives and rose above hardship.

Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride
By: Andrea Davis Pinkney
Illustrated By Brian Pinkney

Her story is layered, and you may be reluctant to share a book on slavery with a young child. However, this book does a great job of engaging young minds through a vibrant retelling of Sojourner’s life. She was a towering figure with an electrifying voice, and when she spoke, people paid attention. Sojourner knew that no one would hand out equal rights, and she traveled across the country fighting for equality.

We’re inspired by her bravery and courage in the face of death threats and other indignities. Acclaimed children’s author Andrea Davis Pinkney takes her story and makes it accessible for young children in the 4-6 age range. By doing so, she ensures that Sojourner’s rich history will be carried forward to future generations.

Who Is Harriet Tubman?
By: Yona Zeldis McDonough
Illustrated by Nancy Harrison

This lively and engaging story takes us on a journey through the life of Harriet Tubman. She was a leader, freedom fighter, and courageous African American woman who stood for something larger than herself. As she found her way to freedom, she personified the notion that “we are our brother’s keeper” and risked her life countless times to bring others to freedom as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. Ms. Tubman’s bravery saved lives and kept families intact. She is a remarkable example of fortitude and fearlessness.

A Picture Book of Sojourner Truth
By: David Adler
Illustrated By: Gershom Griffith

This easy-to-read picture book can be enjoyed by young children from 4-6 who read independently. The book focuses on Sojourner’s childhood and how she grew up to make such a huge difference for African Americans, women and all Americans. Children will put this book down feeling proud and inspired to prepare themselves for leadership.

The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr.
By: Johnny Ray Moore

We’ve heard the story of Dr. King before, but this book makes his story accessible to the youngest of readers in a easy-to-hold board book. He touched so many lives with his bravery, courage and unbreakable spirit, and this book ensures that his legacy lives on. It’s never too early for kids to begin to learn about hard work, integrity and leadership–all hallmarks of Dr. King’s life.

These great books for children would be a perfect addition to any bookshelf as these pages are filled with heart, courage and leadership–an example for African American children and all children.

Shannon is a writer, attorney and entrepreneur. She is committed to empowering families through proper legal protection, literacy and entrepreneurship.

Visit her at http://www.writewellforbusiness.com and http://www.multicultibaby.com/
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Kristina Daniele

Kristina Daniele

Kristina, Founder and Oz of We of Hue is one of many doing it across hues-homeschooling, wifing, mothering, and business building. She is a web designer and social media consultant with a love of building communities on line. She looks forward to intelligent conversation that is eye-opening and statement-making.

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Book Review: 365 Perfect Things to Say to Your Kids

by Michele Dortch of The Integrated Mother and Write to Incite

The words we speak are powerful. They can uplift and encourage. They can demean and destroy. Yet, in the midst of a busy work-life it’s easy to overlook the power of words, even for the most well-intentioned working mom. That’s why I was excited to receive a copy of Maureen Healy’s new book, 365 Perfect Things to Say to Your Kids.

I had an opportunity to interview Maureen recently about her perspective, her book and her work with parents and children. I hope you’ll enjoy the conversation and use her book as a resource as you speak powerfully into the lives of your children.

A conversation with Maureen Healy

Michele: What do you see as some of the major challenges facing working moms trying to manage their career role alongside their parenting role?

Maureen: Some of the major challenges are lack of time, lack of assistance and lack of understanding the complexity of their lives as working mothers.

365 Perfect Things to Say to Your Kids was created to solve one of these major challenges – lack of time. It has a year full of easy-to-use sayings that any busy mom can use on the way to dropping their child off at school each day. Such sayings were specially crafted to help mothers feel more positive, purposeful and playful in their busy lives nurturing children.

I will also say that I admire working mothers today – whether it is their choice or necessity to work. I believe it sets a positive example for children (boys and girls) to see their mothers not only raising them but contributing their unique talents to the world. Kudos to each of you.

Michele: Thanks Maureen! Now, circumstances are difficult for many working families today, as they face job lay-offs and other unforeseen life challenges. When it comes to parenting, what is a common mistake parents make in the face of these challenges?

Maureen: Too often, in my opinion, parents look at “what is” over and over again. It creates a sort of depressed mindset that pervades their life. And I deeply believe in using challenges and obstacles (i.e. layoffs, financial crisis, loss, suffering) as a stepping stone towards happiness. You see children are always watching and listening. They are looking to figure out this “life thing” and how to handle challenges, obstacles and disappointment.

Parents can teach children by the clarity of their example. As more and more parents focus upon the positive aspects of any situation, begin recognizing more fully their potential and make the necessary efforts to foster change – they will be teaching their children that they can effectively face whatever situation is presented to them in life. This is a huge lesson. It is the development of resilience in children. Growing children that feel confident about their abilities to persevere will be a gift beyond words. This much I know is true.

And I am not in any way saying this is easy. I recognize this can be a painstaking process. My own life led me to Tibetan Buddhism as a path to learn how to utilize troubles on a path towards happiness.

Michele: The theme of your book is “the power of words.” From a child’s perspective, how are our words used to fortify (or unknowingly destruct)?

Maureen: Every child creates his or her world through our words. Children begin shaping their sense of self and others through the words spoken to them. It is for this reason that positive words have the potential to have a lasting and positive impact on children while hurtful words can be damaging.

Such a statement is not intended to scare parents. Parents needn’t be perfect. But as more and more parents harness the power of words they can more consciously raise happier kids.

Put into more psychological terms the words of a parent play a key role in a child formulating a positive self-concept nurturing such qualities as optimism, confidence, courage, connection and self-trust.

Michele: As I read your book, I noticed how the sayings resonated with me personally; for example, “You are here to do what ONLY YOU can do.” Are you finding that parents are enjoying the sayings as much as children?

Maureen: Great question. I have received an overwhelming response from parents that they have deeply enjoyed the sayings themselves. It is these types of sayings that they so deeply yearned for as a child.

Michele: What influences did you drawn upon to develop the sayings in the book?

Maureen: Sayings in this book were crafted from things in my life that inspired me. Such things may include friends, nature, conversations, teachings, books, films and child clients. I was also deeply influenced by my Tibetan Buddhist background to help craft sayings that educate children about emotional awareness and formulating a skillful worldview (one that helps self and others). Plus I believe that I was influenced by leading thinkers from varying backgrounds so it encouraged me to create sayings with a universal appeal (non-denominational).

More about Michele Dortch: Michele Dortch is a professional copywriter, adjunct professor and mother of three. Her ears perk up at the mention of work-life effectiveness, I/O psychology, running, or technology & business trends.

If you liked this post, you will definitely enjoy our others. Be sure to subscribe to our feed to be automatically updated when those awesome posts are live.

*originally published on January 18, 2010 on The Integrated Mother. Republished here with her permission.
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Book Review: A story of self-injury and healing

Willow is the story of a young girl of the same name who is dealing with, in addition to the typical superficial mishaps of being a teenager, the loss of her parents due to a car accident of which she takes the blame. She is riddled with guilt, loss, fear, and isolation all while trying desperately to stay out of her older brother’s way. But, she finds a way to cope – self-injury. She cuts herself with a razor in order to stop the pain of life from overpowering her. And even when she has made a connection with someone, she finds it difficult to give up her relationship with her razor.

As I read Hoban’s beautifully written descriptions and highly emotional insights, my eyes would well and I found myself often times nodding in understanding. I sympathized for her as I understood the struggle that she felt to overcome an unhealthy attachment in order to allow healing to take place. And better yet, I understood the guilt not just because there were so many things left unsaid between myself and my sister (who passed away three days after I began this book), but because I could not save her.

During my years as a teacher, I was very concerned that most young adult literature is really depressing and involves such horrible images cutting, rape, and more. But Willow is not like most YA novels. It has depth. Willow is a multilevel character with intelligence way above her age level who understands and appreciates Shakespeare and Anthropology. Even her cutting is well planned and executed. Hoban writes about it as if she were writing about a functioning alcoholic who has planned his drinks throughout the day. Willow is so dependent on her “cure” that even after she is discovered, she cannot give it up.

Willow is a great read. It’s very educational for parents and kids alike, explaining the reasons for cutting in a way that does not trivialize the real emotional and physical pain that goes along with it. In addition, it may help young adults understand that verbalizing one’s feelings is the first step to healing.

*this post was first published on Mom on the Rise
Kristina Daniele

Kristina Daniele

Kristina, Founder and Oz of We of Hue is one of many doing it across hues-homeschooling, wifing, mothering, and business building. She is a web designer and social media consultant with a love of building communities on line. She looks forward to intelligent conversation that is eye-opening and statement-making.

More Posts - Website

Introducing Hill Harper’s “The Conversation”

THE CONVERSATION: How Men and Women Can Build Loving, Trusting Relationships, the new book by Hill Harper (of CSI: NY) gives insight into how individuals can find good and lasting relationships. He shares his thoughts on how to to repair the relationship between Black men and women and even holds men accountable for their silent condoning of negative behavior. Check out the trailer below.

Kristina Daniele

Kristina Daniele

Kristina, Founder and Oz of We of Hue is one of many doing it across hues-homeschooling, wifing, mothering, and business building. She is a web designer and social media consultant with a love of building communities on line. She looks forward to intelligent conversation that is eye-opening and statement-making.

More Posts - Website

Oprah Winfrey Biography Giveaway- THE WINNER

Please accept our apologies for the delay in choosing a winner for this giveaway. The days got away from us and somehow the deadline went unnoticed.

And the Winners* are:

[Read more...]

Kristina Daniele

Kristina Daniele

Kristina, Founder and Oz of We of Hue is one of many doing it across hues-homeschooling, wifing, mothering, and business building. She is a web designer and social media consultant with a love of building communities on line. She looks forward to intelligent conversation that is eye-opening and statement-making.

More Posts - Website