All Articles Tagged "values"
In the midst of fact-checking our post on celebrities who beat addictions today, we were all a bit surprised to read of Oprah doing coke quite regularly back in the ’80s. This was a tale I’d heard once before, the details of which had escaped my memory, so I decided to do a little more investigating to see just what Oprah had said about her prior drug use, and more importantly, if she ever explained why she started using in the first place. That’s when I came across this January 14, 1995 article in the Observer-Reporter that relayed the details of Oprah’s confession on her talk show as she spoke with a guest who, too, had been addicted to the drug. After describing the drug use as her life’s “great big secret,” Oprah admitted that she was introduced to coke by a former boyfriend and started using because of their relationship, adding:
“I can’t think of anything I wouldn’t have done for that man.”
Almost gives you chills, right? As I looked that quote over and over again I thought really, anything? You can’t think of anything you wouldn’t have done for that man? But then I had to be real with myself for a second and think, am I so far removed from that?
While I can certainly think of a host of things I wouldn’t and didn’t do for my ex, it likely wouldn’t take much effort for me to come up with an equally long list of things I told myself — and him — that I wouldn’t do and couldn’t tolerate, yet ended up participating in and putting up with anyway. Sure, I was young — or younger — as Oprah would likely say of herself if she ever chose to speak on her past relationship again. But when is youth ever an excuse for compromising your personal values? You don’t have to be old to stay true to yourself. It’s just supposed to be easier to do after you have several years under your belt — theoretically.
I’ll spare myself some of the guilt and embarrassment of sharing the details of those things I accepted in the name of love and desperation, but they all fall under the general categories of dishonesty, disrespect, and disconcern for my general well being. Like lying about the role, shall I say, of certain women in his life, or calling me a half-a**ed b***h during an argument in public, or asking me to do things that could put me in jeopardy. I can puff out my chest and say I exited stage left once some of these things happened, but I can just as easily put my head down and think of how long it took me to decide to leave — for the last time. Truth be told, my list of things I wouldn’t have done for that man wasn’t all that long, and it appeared to get shorter and shorter as time, and our relationship ,went on. So yeah, I’m not so different from Oprah after all. We all have our drugs of choice, hers just happened to be a literal one.
Unfortunately, almost every woman has wasted a “there is nothing I won’t do for him” attitude on the wrong type of man and gotten ourselves caught up into some mess that makes us one of those but now, born-again relationshipers. And though we all like to think we could never, ever, ever find ourselves traveling back down that road again — and hopefully most of us won’t — some of us will. For some reason, those cliche sayings, like “never cry over someone who won’t cry for you” or “never make someone a priority who only treats you as an option,” are coming to mind right now, but the issue here isn’t really the other person. Whether the individual you’re involved with is worth readjusting your moral compass isn’t what’s up for debate. What needs to be assessed is your self-worth and whether you value yourself, the person you have to live with every day, more than another person who may be in you life for nothing more than one reason, maybe a season, and likely not a lifetime. This is why so many relationships books start with chapters on self-love and knowing oneself because peer pressure is very much alive in relationships and if you haven’t already established who you are and what you stand for, well, that’s how you end up doing coke with your boyfriend of six months, or taking someone back umpteenth times after they’ve already showed you who they are is not a good match with who you are.
Oprah and I may have dropped the ball in our “younger” years but I think we can both say that now we can not only think of a laundry list of things we won’t do for a man but also know that we really won’t do them. Let’s hope most women out there can also say the same.
How many times have we heard, or even said one of the following statements; “Good men are hard to find,” “There aren’t any good men available,” “A majority of men are homosexual or on the down low,” or “All good men are already taken.” These statements and many others have more often than not been said by woman of all races, creeds and color for a number of reasons. However, what I want to know is what is the definition of a good man? What does he look like? Does he carry himself in a certain manner?
There are a variety of adjectives that can describe and define a good man, but are these adjectives based on what he has, or who he is? Most women may initially define a man as good, or a good catch based solely on his exterior; meaning we have the tendency to focus first on the way he looks, his style of dress, what kind of job/career he has, so on and so on. But do these things truly define a good man? The answer is no. Now don’t get me wrong, these characteristics are nice to have, but they should not be the primary or the initial focus of a man, nor should they increase his value. The makings of a good man are not his outer possessions, but they are within his internal character.
As women, me included, it is imperative that we learn how to look in a man, rather than looking at him. And not only that, but we must learn what to look for inside of a man because his internal characteristics are what make him who he is. But I believe this is not simply a question of what we as women desire in men, but it is a question of what our morals and values are. Do we value physical and exterior qualities more than we value internal qualities? Or is it that we don’t know what characteristics to look for in a man? But then again, it could also be a question of how many women were raised to view men.
I recall a case study I conducted of one hundred women from a wide range of ages, socio-economic, religious, and educational backgrounds. The study asked women to list the top ten traits/characteristics (ten being the least important, one being the most important) they desired in a mate along with a brief explanation as to why these particular traits were vital to them as a woman, and the results were as follows: 10. a tie between intelligence and being physically fit, 9. selfless, 8. a tie between faithful and financially stable, 7. a good communicator, 6. a tie between career/goal-oriented and loving, 5. respectful, 4. a tie between family-oriented and honesty, 3. attractive (as in good looks), 2. God fearing. And the number one trait women desire in a mate is a sense of humor.
Other traits and characteristics women desired were: romantic, legally employed, outgoing, trustworthy, a good lover, understanding, loves children, open-minded, educated, stylish, supportive, dependable, great personality, a leader, caring, a great listener, likes to travel, tall, a friend, spiritual, affectionate, a good cook, strong, patient, independent, helpful, healthy, Christian, loves his mother, a protector, mature, a great provider, and disease free. While all of these traits and characteristics make sense, and reveal what different women think defines a good man, my questions and concerns are what traits matter more to women, and why? And how do we as women truly define what a good man is? Many times a lot of women measure a man by standards they set based on what they have (the independent woman), what they don’t have (the completion seeker), and what they desire to have (the potential gold digger), so on and so on. Rather than doing this what women should do is measure a man for who he is by observing his character, his good works, the way he speaks and interacts with people, so on and so on to see who he really is and begin to define him from who he shows he is. Good men are not hard to find, they are not all taken, and yes there are plenty available to have a productive and prosperous relationship with. It just depends on how one defines what good is. Ladies, what characteristics do you think define a good man? What matters more to you?
Liz Lampkin is the author of Are You a Reflection of the Man You Pray For? Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Lampkin
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It seems as though every day there’s a new survey about teen pregnancy, whether it’s a CDC report of states with the highest and lowest teen pregnancy rates, or teens speaking on what and who most influences their sexual choices. “The Target Speaks” study finally gives a voice to this misunderstood demographic. The survey conducted by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy provide findings drawn from two surveys: one given to young unmarried adults between the ages of 18-29 and one of the adult population of 18 and older.
What I find when I talk to today’s youth is that more and more the challenges of sexual health are more about values and conflicting ideas of what healthy relationships are than they are about birth control and reproduction. I said it once and I’ll say it again: Most teens (not all, but most) are educated enough to lead a class about birth control, but they have no concept of self-love, respect, communication and what sex really means to them. We can give out all of the condoms in the world, but the truth is, many teens and adults alike continue to confuse love with sex and use sex as a means to build confidence, find love and acceptance. Interestingly enough, “The Target Speaks” survey reveals just how disconnected we are with today’s youth and our own values and how those values impact the influence we have over their decisions.
For example, about two-thirds of unmarried young adults 18-29 (67 percent) incorrectly believe that teens have the highest number of unplanned pregnancies. However, most unplanned pregnancies occur to women in their 20’s. The media is flagrant with infotainment like “16 and Pregnant,” “Teen Mom” and Lifetime’s “The Pregnancy Pact,” which may be responsible for misleading the public into believing that teen pregnancy occurs more frequently than it actually does. Although the United States is an industrialized nation with one of the highest teen pregnancy rates, it is actually on the decline. According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2008 teen pregnancy reached its lowest level in 40 years.
As for adults, the survey also reveals that although most Americans pride themselves on having sexual morality and values, our actions fail to fall in line with those beliefs. One in five young unmarried adults report that even if a condom is handy, they still will not use one unless their partner insists. Additionally, many of us aren’t practicing what we preach because our sermons are faulty. Four in ten young adults agreed with the statement, “It doesn’t matter whether you use contraception or not; when it is your time to get pregnant, it will happen.” A whopping 72 percent revealed they knew little or nothing about IUDs and 36 percent of young adults incorrectly believe that a woman should “take a break” from the pill every couple of years.
Meanwhile, as we are repeating to teens the importance of postponing parenthood until adult years, 67 percent of adults between the ages of 18-29 responded that, “Getting pregnant and having children is one of the most important things people ever do.” We spend so much time sending misleading messages of what not to do, that we fail to highlight the accomplishments we expect from of our youth such as completing school or getting a job. In this economy, it’s getting increasingly harder to find examples of how education and hard work pay off; you have to remember that for many teens the examples they witness daily is that the quickest way to independence, financial stability and housing is to have a baby. While many of their peers struggle to gain financial stability when choosing a more traditional path, those with children are living on their own and leading “adult” lives even if it is through government assistance. ”Your children are more likely to delay sex, pregnancy and parenthood if they feel they have meaningful goals for the future and a way to reach them,” stated the National Campaign in an article published in Essence magazine titled “8 Tips For Talking With Your Teens About Sex, Love and Relationships.”
How do we expect our youth to make healthy sexual choices when we aren’t even sure of our own sexuality? Just the other day I discussed with a group of young ladies the differences between love and sex. One of the ladies felt comfortable enough to reveal how she met the father of her child and stated the following: “It was at party. He grabbed my hand and the next thing I knew we were having sex.” My co-worker later questioned how I was able to keep my jaw from dropping to the floor and continue to talk to the girls about choices and the expectations of sex without going into “pedestal preaching” mode. The simple answer: I am comfortable with my own values and sexuality. When you are comfortable with your own choices and code of conduct you can therefore respect the choices of others and encourage them to challenge their thoughts and actions.
Before we judge what we view as reckless and irresponsible behavior, we must first reflect on our own faults as adults and pay close attention to the examples we are setting and the subliminal messages we send all the times we are NOT having the sex talk, or living recklessly ourselves. We can’t expect our youth to take an honest look at their attitudes and values if we aren’t even willing to do so ourselves. To learn about more about the survey’s findings, visit: “The Target Speaks.”
Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee.
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