Posts Tagged: Julie Cole

The Many Faces of Abuse

November is Women Abuse Prevention Month in Ontario, and I have a story to tell.

How long will our society allow abuse to happen?

Growing up, I had a teacher and a mentor I was extremely close with. With only ten years between us, as an adult, our friendship strengthened and we have remained connected throughout my life. Although I spent much of my twenties traveling and living abroad, our friendship never waned. She was that friend who always got the call from the labour and delivery room when I had a new baby, whose daughter was my flower girl, and who is the Godmother of my youngest daughter.

Almost two years ago, she seemed to disappear. I never thought much of it – everyone gets busy and consumed in daily life. I never questioned it because our friendship has stood the test of time and circumstance. I got a little curious when she cancelled a trip we had planned. Next, she skipped my daughter’s (her God-daughter’s) birthday and finally, she didn’t turn up for our little girl’s First Communion. I certainly thought it was odd and she didn’t offer any real excuses, but I’m not a grudge-holder and never questioned her love for me or my family.

Shortly after the missed events, she turned up at my house one night after the kids were tucked into bed. She looked emaciated, having lost a ridiculous amount of weight since I last saw her. Her face was pale and her eyes looked lifeless.  At that moment I truly thought that she was coming to tell me she was sick and dying.

I was wrong. Even though she looked completely vacant and she had lost a part of herself, she was not dying. Over the next several months, we spent nearly every night together talking through the end of her 31 year marriage. I discovered why she had become the shell of the vibrant and spirited woman she once was as she admitted to enduring years of financial, psychological, and emotional spousal abuse. These soul destroying acts had taken a terrible toll on her.

Twenty months later, and after countless hours of abuse counseling and group therapy, my determined friend has faced her situation with bravery. Not only is she committed to her own successful recovery, she is passionate about advocating women empowerment for others who are living the same nightmare. This is her message of strength and hope that she will share with the world.

With the timing of the Jian Ghomeshi fiasco and November’s designation, it is a good reminder that women like my friend are everywhere. They are living among us. They are us. And they’ll only share their stories when we are prepared to listen.

 

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

Not on my watch Waterboy!

I avoid behavior issues by keeping my kids on the ice!

Last week I had to step out of the arena during one of my daughter’s hockey games to take a phone call. As I was talking on the phone, I noticed a kid had plugged the indoor water fountain and was allowing water to spill over onto the floor. He was also spraying the water from the spout causing a tsunami like effect which also wet the floor.

There were about a dozen adults sitting in the lobby watching this go down. Clearly, none of them were his parents. As I was trying to wrap up my call, I looked at each one expecting someone to intervene and put a stop to Destructo-Boy. They all just looked blankly at me and did nothing. Water was everywhere and they just sat there like nothing was happening.

I cut my call short and immediately said, “Hey kid, cut that out – you’re making a mess.” Then he looked at me and said: “I don’t have to. You’re not my mom.”

Well, I must have shot him the look that only my kids can tell you about. Within a few minutes I had him on the floor with paper towels wiping up the water mess he made. I praised him for doing such a good job then went back to watch my daughter’s hockey game.

Clearly there are a few issues with this situation:

  • Where were the parents? While this is an issue that bothers many people, I actually don’t mind seeing kids wandering around unsupervised. But, if parents are going to let this happen, they had better be prepared to allow other parents to step in and address their child’s behavior with their own discipline technique or arrange for child care if they can’t supervise.
  • Why didn’t any of the other parents shut it down? What were they afraid of? Were they afraid that the kid would say, “You’re not my mom” and they would have no response? Or were they afraid he’d go running to his parents and get an earful for “parenting” their child?
  • I have to say, I was in complete shock when he spoke those words to me. Of all the children in my life – friends, neighbours, cousins, nieces, nephews – no one has ever said that to me. When I told my kids the story about my little water loving friend, their eyes all bugged out in disbelief that a kid would say that to an adult. They all wished they had been there to see my face.

How do you feel about dealing with other people’s kids? Am I the only one who expects you all to give my kids a swift kick in the butt if they are misbehaving? Heck, I count on you for parenting help. Would you have stepped in or left it to the parents to deal with?

 

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

Mean Girls: Sexist Stereotype or Reality?

My gals live in a drama-free zone!

We’ve all heard the term “mean girls.” It refers to the notion that tween and teen girls are exclusively and irrationally mean to one another. A notion so popular that it was made into a movie, which was so popular they followed it up the sequel, Mean girls 2. Personally, I find the term bothersome – though any generalization, particularly when it targets young women, makes me twitchy.

Sure, I’ve heard some girl bullying stories and I know that friendship, emotions, social lives and defining one’s place in the world are all complicated issues for young people. As they develop into tweens, then teens, it’s no longer about making friendship bracelets for one another and fawning over their pop idol. Sometimes along the journey, kids find themselves acting in a way that might not reflect the kind of person they will be once they mature.

Honestly, with three girls ages 9, 12 and 13, I have had no personal experience with “mean girl” situations. None have them have had any friendship drama, issues with exclusivity, cyber bullying, or experienced general “mean girl” attitudes from their friends and peers about a girls clothing or status.

I tried to reflect on why maybe we’ve been able to avoid this drama that we hear and read so much about.

 

  • Role modeling. My girls don’t see me act petty or gossip about people. I don’t speak badly of my friends or other women. I try to role model good behavior.
  • Resilience. I find that if my girls have a problem with a kid, they tell that kid and move on without holding a grudge. Perhaps that is a result of being a part of a big family. We HAVE to deal with our issues and move on in our family or we couldn’t function otherwise. With so many people in one household and so many personalities there is too much room for conflict. Perhaps my girls have generalized that skill with their social groups outside of the home. I’ve also noticed that if a kid is being a goof, my daughters are not desperate to gain that kid’s acceptance or approval. They simply move on to their other friends. They don’t try to hang out with kids who don’t want to hang out with them.
  • If my girls do tell me about a child at school who is not acting kindly to others, I remind them that something is likely going on with that kid or their parents, at home or otherwise, that is making them feel vulnerable and insecure. Their behaviour may be reflecting that. We need to be patient, but also speak out and self-advocate.

I’m pretty sure there are many mothers out there doing these same things, yet have kids who seem to attract drama and conflict in their social situations. Is the mean girl phenomenon one of many stereotypes or has this been a real issue in your family? What has been your experience and what lessons do you have for how to deal with mean people?

 

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

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