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Blog Author:
Sheila Broderick, LCSW

I recently read the book by Daniel Bergner, “What Do Women Want?: Adventures in the Science of Female Desire.” After my initial eye rolling “who but a guy can talk about female sexuality?” thoughts, I opened my mind and read.  Then I heard him in an interview say the following beautiful words.  I was so moved that I pulled over to the side of the road in order to fully attend to what he was saying.

“I sometimes think we have to be a little braver about just caring more. Caring, and being open about caring about sex, with one’s partner sounds like it should be easy, but I think often it’s not because you can fail and you can feel hurt. And so I think that candor and caring are important and might well be the root to maintaining passion.”

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Blog Author:
Sheila Broderick, LCSW

It really is true what they say about being a parent.  One day their little chubby hand in yours crossing the street, telling you they want to live with you forever.  And the next, packing up and going to college.  I used to think of this as such a desperately sad thing.  But I have come to understand that these are the thin places, where the sacred meets the profane.  And you don’t get one without the other.

I walk around campus now and it is teeming with beautiful faces.  And while so often we wish for the quiet of the summer, I have to admit; it’s good to see everyone again.  Once again, I am part of a tribe, a thin place.

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Blog Author:
Sheila Broderick, LCSW

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Blog Author:
Sheila Broderick, LCSW

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Once parents find out that I specialize in treating the effects of sexual assault, if they have girls, they often ask me what they should say to their daughter to keep her safe.

 

First, I will say actually you should be talking to the men and boys in your life about the daily realities of violence toward women because we will never make any progress until 50% of the population stops absorbing this problem as a way of protecting the feelings of the men in their lives.

 

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Blog Author:
Sheila Broderick, LCSW

“He doesn’t get points for that.”  It’s one of the most common “sheilaisms” you will hear in my office.   We quite simply live in a culture that literally awards boys points for merely NOT walking into a room and punching a woman in the face or raping her or telling her to go make him a sandwich.  How often do we get annoyed with young mothers in grocery stores for their loud children and how often when it’s a dad struggling, do we offer help or at the very least think to ourselves “oh look at that great dad babysitting his children?”  Imagine thinking a mom is babysitting her children.

I’m hearing a lot of pain at work these days.

I hear anger.  I hear hurt.  I hear excuses and defensiveness and minimizing.  I definitely hear minimizing, and my personal favorite, helplessness.

We can’t do anything.

I am not going to call any one person or any one group out specifically, but I am referring to the various themed parties that occur on most if not all college campuses.

I believe we as the old people are missing a chance to invite our college students to take a developmental step forward, evolve and imagine that when they use racial and gender stereotypes for their entertainment that this hurts.  It hurts people.  Actual people.  It causes harm.  It causes pain.  It makes some of us think “is there a place for me?”  “Is there room at the table?”

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We do a pitiful job of talking to our children about sex.  I am appalled at my generation.  I suspect we don't talk about sex to our children because we still don't understand our own sex lives.  I talk to adolescents daily about sex and when I ask them how many of them had a parent talk to them about sex, very few raise their hands.  And even among those, the sex talk generally focuses on “don’t get pregnant (or get a girl pregnant), don't get a disease and the ever popular, if it’s a girl “don't be a slut.”

It depresses me.

I offer you what I have learned from my children and other people’s children – this is what they need us to talk to them about:

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The really beautiful thing about turning 48 on a college campus is the gifts you receive from the 18, 19 and 20 somethings who cross your path.  There is so often a hint of old soul wisdom behind those unwrinkled flawless eyes.

Recently, I shared some very disappointing news with one such soul.  I found myself feeling ashamed of all of us that we cannot seem to figure out how to hold people accountable for the ways they harm one of us.  I felt immeasurably sad and overwhelmed with guilt that I could not protect her from the harsh reality of the frailty of humanity nor our inherent brokenness that keeps us from hearing and being heard.

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