Dove with Branch
March 30, 2009 Insights From the Dean of Peace
Notes from the Dean's Desk

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Ask the Dean?
Dean Van Leuven   Global Struggle

Dear Dean, My brother has nicknamed his son "shorty." I have told him this is not a good thing to do. He tells me that it is none of my business. I tell him that Ronald will feel inferior because this name suggests that he is less than other kids. Kids will make fun of him. He doesn't need that in his life. Kids have enough problems without their parents making it intentionally worse for them. My brother thinks it's funny. What can I tell him to get him to realize that he is messing up his kid's life. - Shanna in CO

Dear Shanna, The nickname is not bad because you think it is bad. It is only bad if the child thinks it is bad. If he feels ashamed or depreciated by it then it should not be used because he will accept it as true or feel that others are mean to him. If he likes it, or really appreciates the humor, then it can be okay. Most children do not have sufficient self-esteem to see it as positive or funny. If your nephew is one of those lucky children then okay. But if he is not - and I expect he is not, or your brother wouldn't have told you to mind your own business without an explanation - then pass this answer on to him to consider. You are correct to think that he may be using a form of abuse. - the Dean

Dear Dean, I have a brother who is totally irresponsible. He is not able to keep himself out of trouble. He comes to me with problems like not paying his traffic tickets or the electric bill, and he pleads with me to help him or his family will suffer. I know I shouldn't be enabling him but I always feel sorry for his family and give in. What do you suggest? - Arthur in MN

Dear Arthur, The answer is to give love and emotional support always and think carefully about the other support you give. Ask yourself if you are being caring or enabling? Sometimes this is a very difficult question. If you are having difficulty with this issue talk to someone outside the problem. If you need a place to seek help look up Al- anon. You are facing the same problems as someone who has an alcoholic in their life. Above all, do not feel guilty for problems you have no responsibility for. - the Dean

I welcome questions and/or comments from our readers. Send your Ask the Dean questions or comments to: P.O. Box 535, Elmira, OR 97437, or visit to submit by e-mail.

Law, Politics & Society ... As I see them
  Globe Magnify Glass

We are a compassionate people and when families were no longer able or willing to take care of their non-productive members we created a welfare system to provide for them. This cared for the needy, but it also created a problem in that people would become needy just because it was more attractive to rely on the help of the state than it was to provide for themselves.

About ten years ago we made a general shift in our policy on welfare. We said that welfare was temporary. That people needed to find work; and that we would help them, including training, if necessary. We found many with emotional and/or physical problems and many with lack of educational or job training skills.

Now many are saying the program is failing because so many are just not capable of work. The answer, I believe, is to deal with the underlying problems and prepare them for work. Educational shortcomings can be remedied. We are doing that, but we need to do more. Emotional and addiction problems can be repaired. When we just give up and provide for their subsistence we are just continuing to let them suffer needlessly. If we truly care about others we will put more effort into increasing their quality of life and not be content to just give them enough to be able to survive.

Creating a Peaceful New World
  World Peace

We use anger in disciplining our children because we become upset by what they do, and we then become angry at the situation and often the child. We then tend to mix our anger in with the lessons we are trying to teach the child. But when we mix the "lesson" with our anger, we end up teaching our child that it is okay to respond with anger to things that upset us. When we respond with anger, the child learns anger.

As parents we often don't even realize that we are using anger. The first step in dealing with your own anger as a parent is to become aware of how you feel when you relate to your children, especially to their mistakes or when they are not following the rules. When we respond out of love, the child learns love. If we are free of anger, we teach our children love, not anger. We give them a life of positive love-based emotions. Just knowing that you can raise your child without anger should be reason enough for you to put forth the effort to get rid of your own anger.

Learn to talk about feelings with your children. Find out what upsets them and why. Find out why they feel the way they do. Work with them to solve their problems and to release their anger. Even though their friends display anger, they can learn from you that they don't need to use it themselves. Teach them that they can be far more effective, and accomplish more as a person if they are not controlled by fear and anger. Teach them how not to have fear and anger. You may need to learn this lesson for yourself before you can teach it to your children.

Tips for Peaceful and Joyful Living
  Left Arrow

Monday: Think about your love for your children.

Tuesday: Think about the life values you believe are important for your children to learn.

Wednesday: Think about the effect fear and anger have on your children's lives.

Thursday: Think about the times you get angry with your children.

Friday: Think about the times you use anger or fear to control your children.

Saturday: Remember that you must be what you want your children to become.

Sunday: Think about the changes you must make in your parenting for your children to become joyful adults.

Dean Van Leuven is a psychologist, conducts workshops and is the author of A Peaceful New World and many other books dealing with quality of life issues. Contact him on the web at:

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