My daughter’s coach was recently arrested on charges related to child pornography and alleged sexual misconduct with children. I am not going to go into detail about who he was or what he coached her in – these facts are not what it important to our story. What is important is this was a man we trusted in our lives – in our daughter’s life and he “allegedly” is a very bad person.
Let me start at the beginning – when my daughter was 6 years old, a friend introduced us to this coach, I will call him Bill. Bill had been working with their daughter for several months and was really helping her to improve in her sport. Bill began working with my daughter as well, frequently as often as once a week for nearly two years. He met privately with my daughter either at our home or a local park and either my husband or I were always there. I never had a twinge of uncertainty about him. I am a psychologist who has specialized in trauma work, often with children who had been the victim of abuse. Again, I didn’t have the smallest twinge of discomfort around this man. My daughter was never alone with him, but that was because we liked watching her train. It wasn’t because I was worried about him. I even invited him to one of her birthday parties.
Fast forward to present day. My daughter hasn’t trained with Bill for over two years, not because of bad feelings, but because we just got too busy and the sessions faded away. My husband, daughter and I were on a cruise – no cell phone reception and I hadn’t been checking my emails. We pulled into port, I turned my cell phone back on and it lit up. Dozens of text messages about Bill. A number of people had recognized Bill’s picture on the TV news story about his arrest – for child pornography and sexual relationships with children. My husband and I processed the information and had to have a series of conversations with our daughter. We had to talk about Bill being arrested, what he was arrested for and whether anything had ever happened to/with her. We had to explore how she would not be in trouble if anything had happened and how it would not be her fault. So far, she has repeatedly (strongly) denied anything happened, but we will keep checking in with her. I know kids don’t always disclose abuse. I am somewhat comforted by the fact that they were never alone, but I also know perpetrators just need a moment of distraction to strike.
I had a phone call with the investigator from the police department who had me send over a photo of my daughter to compare against the images on Bill’s hard drive. There was no match. For us, for now, this situation is over. It does give me pause to consider who I allow in my daughter’s life and the type of contact they will be given. Part of the reason I stopped doing trauma work and left Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles when my daughter was born, was the fear that I would feel compelled to raise my daughter in a bubble. I would turn around and see potential perpetrators everywhere (family members, friends, teachers, religious leaders, and, yes, coaches). Maybe the sad thing is we need to do this to some extent. Not necessarily that we need to accuse everyone in our lives of attempting to abuse our children, but being exceptionally selective of who gets access and not allowing that access to be unsupervised. It’s unfortunate to have to take such a cynical approach to the world, but right now it seems so much better than the alternative.
If you have been a follower of this blog, you know that I, on occasion, like to imagine what characters of a certain TV show or movie might have to say if given the opportunity to pen a self-help book. Some of these have been serious, some more satirical, but, if I am being honest, all books I would love to write myself. These characters have been such an amazing part of my life. Today, I am finally able to dedicate myself to a show called Firefly. Firefly was a science fiction, space western that originally aired on Fox, but was cancelled before completing their first season. There was such a fan base, Joss Whedon (the executive producer) was able to negotiate making a film (Serenity) to appease those who knew the network had given up on the series way too quickly. If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing the series and movie (watch them in that order), you should immediately download it, purchase it, or whatever you need to do to watch it.
I’m off my soap box now – here is my take on what the characters would have to say:
- Captain “Mal” Malcolm Reynolds: Mal is the owner of the Serenity (the ship). He is a former fighter in the Independent Army. He is cunning, a skilled fighter, and can rationalize his sometimes questionable morals with an “end justifies the means” approach to life. He is fiercely loyal to those in his inner circle. Mal would have a lot to say about maintaining his moral “flexibility” and that failure is not necessarily the end. Suggested title: Firefly – the end is never the end..
- Zoe Washburne: Mal’s right hand “man”, she is a friend from his war days and is his second in command on the Serenity. She is married to Wash. Zoe brings a lot to her shipmates beyond her battle skills – she is able to stay calm no matter the situation and always seems to be able to think clearly. She could offer such insight into the importance of maintaining focus in stressful situations. Suggested title: Calm – the most powerful weapon in your arsenal.
- Hoban “Wash” Washburne: The pilot of the Serenity and Zoe’s husband. He often expresses jealous over the closeness between Zoe and Mal though there is never an indication of a romantic component to their relationship. He is perhaps best known for his humorous take on situations and tendency to always have a quip at the ready. Learning about his use of humor in the face of adversity would benefit many. Suggested title: Laughing in the face of (repeated) impending death.
- Inara Serra: a Companion – the series version of an escort or mistress (higher standing than a prostitute). She displays great civility, compassion, and dignity. She shares many character traits with Mal which only complicates the romantic tension between them. Both have difficulty accepting each other’s choice of occupation. She seems to struggle with the idea of becoming vulnerable to someone she cares for. Suggested title: Caring for others, caring for myself.
- Jayne Cobb: Oh, Jayne and his adorable hat. Jayne is a mercenary which is supposed to mean he will do anything if the money is right, though Jayne sticks with this crew even when he should be tempted to travel elsewhere. He often asks the questions no one is willing to ask (with good reason) and complains about helping others – especially if it puts him at risk. There is likely a lot more to this man than meets the eye, but he’d punch you in the nose if you ever called him on it. Suggested title: Survival: You can’t get paid if you’re dead.
- Kaylee Frye: the ship’s mechanic who is also known as the heart of the ship. She loves all of her shipmates with her whole heart and only wants the best for them all. She has fallen in love with Dr. Simon Tam, but struggles to share those feelings, instead hinting and hoping he will figure it out. Likely, she did not believe she was worthy of him and was terrified of possible rejection. Suggested title: Great risk can bring even greater rewards.
- Simon Tam: a trauma surgeon who is on the run after breaking his sister, River, out of a government research facility. His sister’s care is his primary focus and he sacrificed his own future and career to rescue her. His feelings for Kaylee complicated his situation as he often found himself being pulled in multiple directions. Unfortunately for Kaylee, River typically wins his internal battle. Suggested title: Even in space, blood is thicker than water.
- River Tam: smuggled onto the ship by her brother, Simon. She is a gifted child prodigy who was operated and experimented on by a government agency hoping to use her skills for evil. As a result, she has psychic powers and extraordinary combat skills. Due to her time in the research facility she suffers debilitating anxiety and PTSD. Her erratic behavior frequently worries those around her. Suggested Title: When special doesn’t feel good
- Shepherd Derrial Book: a type of pastor – he functioned as a sort of moral compass for Mal. Mal didn’t always follow his recommendations, but he did always listen and consider them. He got along well with everyone though was not eager to engage in battle alongside them, feeling killing was against his religious beliefs. His religious beliefs were often stretched through his time with the crew of the Serenity. Suggested title: Doing wrong for the right reasons.
I was tempted to include The Operative, a character who played a central role with the cast during the movie Serenity, but somehow it felt like cheating. I wanted to focus on those who started in Firefly and then continued on in Serenity. What do you think? Am I being too picky? What do you think his book would be about? Whose story would you most be interested in reading?
Many of you have heard about the recent news surrounding the Duggar family – the family best known for being extremely fertile and extremely religious on the TLC reality series “19 Kids and Counting”. If you haven’t heard (or you’ve been locked in a basement somewhere with no internet access), the eldest son, Josh, was recently revealed to have molested a number of young girls (some of whom were his sisters) when he was a teenager. For more information on the nitty-gritty please read here: http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/21/us/josh-duggar-child-molestation-allegations/index.html.
Now there are those that will defend Josh and his parents in the way they managed “the situation” (otherwise known as molesting innocent children) and there are those (hopefully many more) who would like to tie them to the stake and plan a fricassee. You can kinda get which way I am leaning here, right? Well, I am the mom of a young girl, so I am most definitely biased. That is not the focus of this blog though – there are plenty of these types out there.
I want to focus on how sad it is in this day and age, we continue to hide sexual abuse and “protect” the perpetrator. I can, somewhat, understand Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar wanting to protect their child, but what about their daughters – hell what about everyone else’s daughters? As near as I can tell, Josh never had intensive psychological intervention to address his inappropriate sexual behaviors. Supposedly, psychological treatment was “made available” to his victims, but I am a wee bit doubtful. Am I the only one who finds it unlikely that this treatment was anything more than religious teachings on the importance of forgiveness? I do not see this family taking their kids into the local mental health center to address their trauma.
Sexual abuse should not be shameful for the victims (though I typically prefer to call them “survivors”). Our focus should never be on taking care of the perpetrator, rather making sure the survivors of his deviance develop the skills necessary to lead healthy and happy lives. I am not choosing this revelation about the Duggar family to condemn them for their religious beliefs, their political views or their ideas on family planning. I typically strongly disagree with all of these, but rather I am using this new information as an opportunity to remind us all we need to focus on those who are hurt rather than on those who hurt. We need to focus on the innocents who are harmed. Josh Duggar should not have been protected. He should have been turned over to the authorities to pay whatever consequence legally necessary for his crimes. This should happen every time – no matter who, what, when, where or why. This family failed it’s daughters- and in turn, failed all of ours as well.
My darling daughter has an amazing dance teacher who likes to remind her that sometimes in life you are the windshield and sometimes you are the bug. Such an important lesson! This isn’t about whether it is fair or unfair, it just is. This is something we can apply in all areas of our life:
- My daughter was disappointed her dance had not scored higher at a dance competition. It wasn’t “fair” because the judges were “biased” and only liked hip hop.
Well, my dear, that is how it is sometimes. Sometimes you are the windshield and sometimes you are the bug.
- A client expressed frustration that I “always” win when we play board games in session. (I don’t cheat to let kids win – I think it sets a bad precedent.
Sorry, buddy, but sometimes you are the windshield and sometimes you are the bug.
- A friend was pulled over for speeding and received a rather hefty traffic fine. She was extremely frustrated because “everyone else” was speeding and she was the only one pulled over.
Well, that sucks, but sometimes you are the windshield and sometimes you are the bug.
- A family member (who will not be named) was upset because a co-worker was promoted over her despite her perception that she was a much harder worker, a more diligent employee and generally better suited for the new position.
I get your frustration, but sometimes you are the windshield and sometimes you are the bug.
I have had many experiences in my own life when, unfortunately, I have been the bug. I have not enjoyed those experiences, not once. I have found it important to keep perspective, though, because there have also been numerous times when I have gotten to be the windshield. All too often we focus on how much it sucks to be the bug that we lose sight of all the wonderful windshield experiences we have had.
Has this happened to you? I’d love to hear more examples of when you’ve been the bug AND times you’ve gotten to be the windshield. I can tell you in my daughter’s dance situation there have definitely been times when she has placed over kids who danced much better than she did that day. (Please don’t tell her I said that…) On those days, she got to be the windshield.
Oftentimes, celebrities will say that they don’t consider themselves to be role models for their fans and do not want the pressure of feeling responsible for their choices. I was thinking about this in relation to my daughter Charlie. She is 10 years old and is very aware of what her favorite celebrities are up to – both positive and negative. At first we tried to steer her away from certain people – because of the way they would behave or dress or because of drug and alcohol use. But then we realized we were missing out on a learning opportunity – the Anti-Role Model.
You may ask just what is the Anti-Role Model? The way I look at it, the Anti-Role Model helps others learn how to act by demonstrating what NOT to do. We have had the opportunity to discuss drug use/abuse through the actions of both Michael Jackson and Charlie Sheen. This lead to numerous conversations about the dangers of drug use and how it causes you to act like someone you are not.
We are able to discuss the impression people might give based on how they dress and how they act. We talked about dressing and acting as though we respect ourselves and were able to use specific celebrities as examples of what NOT to do (sorry, Miley Cyrus, but my girl is really young for your wrecking ball).
We talked about the importance of being well-spoken and being able to put words together in such a way as to convey intelligence, education and character. We were able to point out those who did not give such an impression (withholding names to protect the not-so-innocent) and those who excelled (thank you, Emma Stone).
These role models and anti-role models are everywhere in our lives – not just in pop culture and celebrity. They are in our community and in our schools, in our churches and in our shopping malls – they are everywhere. They may not be trying to be a role model to our children, but they are anyway. It is up to us to help our kidlets determine how to learn from these people.
I think I may be a bit obsessed with my self-help books series. Not sure if I am entertaining myself or anyone else, but it is Harry Potter’s turn! What would the beloved (and hated) characters of this wonderful series have to share in their individual self-help books? Here are my ideas:
- Harry Potter: Ah, the “boy who lived”! We all know his story and the pressures he faced as he sought to save the world, avenge his parents and defeat “he who shall not be named.” Talk about huge expectations he had to live up to and it all sat on his shoulders from infancy. What an amazing book he could write about deciding your own fate and not allowing others to choose your path for you. Title: Steering your own broom.
- Hermione Granger: Such a bright child! Hermione, though muggle-born, was leaps and bounds ahead of her classmates in wizard knowledge, potions and spells. This great intellect was both gifted to her, but also the result of hard work and intense studying. At times her skills (and confidence) was off-putting to others, but she never felt she needed to hide just how capable she was. Her book would encourage other children (especially girls) to be proud of their abilities and never to pretend to be less than they are. Title: Shine your light: Protecting your patronus
- Ron Weasley: As the best friend of Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, it must have been such a challenge to remain positive and self-confident. Harry is a legend and Hermione is better at “everything”, but somehow Ron remains (mostly) loyal and supportive. His value wasn’t in being the best or the brightest, but in being the truest friend. He could offer guidance in finding one’s value in oneself and not in comparison to others. Title: Being the best me I can be.
- Severus Snape: Such a multilayered man, Professor Snape. He started out as the villainous potions teacher who strove to torment/destroy our hero, Harry Potter, and then we learned his own torturous history and undying love for Harry’s mother. Even as we learned more about him, new questions began to form. It never really felt as though we were ever fully able to understand him. He would be a great source of advice on doing the right thing even when it is not popular. Title: Friends in disguise: Seeing behind the enemy’s mask.
- Draco Malfoy: Born of a pair of Voldemort’s followers, Malfoy didn’t have much of a chance of ending up on the side of good. A bully from a young age, Malfoy hid his own insecurities behind a mask of over-confidence and arrogance. Though he ultimately chose not to commit the worst of crimes (Spoiler alert: He refused to kill Dumbledore), Malfoy was often sniveling, jealous and cruel. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if he could write a book detailing the importance of rejecting the negative influences of others? Title: Casting off Evil: Digging deep for the good within
- Lord Voldermort: Tom Marvolo Riddle was a half-blood wizard with a troubled childhood which lead to significant mental health issues. He had an insatiable need for power and extreme hatred for all muggle and half-blood wizards (non-pure bloods). This is especially interesting given his own lack of pure blood status. It reminds me of closeted gay men who bully out gay men. Self-hatred at its finest and he really ran with it. If you can say one positive thing about Voldemort, it is that he was persistent. If he had received numerous hours/weeks/months/years of therapy, Voldemort might have come to realize his destructive actions were really about trying to destroy himself. Title: I deserve to be named.
- Albus Dumbledore: Professor Dumbledore is the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The books focus primarily on the time when Harry Potter is a student at the school. Dumbledore aided Harry in all of his adventures, even when Harry didn’t know he was helping. Dumbledore is completely on the side of the good guys against Voldemort and all of his minions. The author revealed late in the series that Dumbledore was gay. I like that this was no more important to his character development than had he been straight. It was just part of who he was. Title: Happiness can be found in even the darkest of times.
- Sirius Black: Harry’s godfather, he was a close friend of both of his parents, Lily and James Potter. He spent a number of years in the torturous Prison of Azkiban. Once able to escape, he attempted to aid Harry in his quest to defeat Dumbledore while striving to protect Harry at every turn. Sirius was an animagi, turning into a large black dog at will. Ultimately, Sirius was killed during an epic battle. Title: Man’s Best Friend
- Rubeus Hagrid: The groundskeeper at Hogwarts, but he really is so much more than that. He is the three amigos’ (Harry, Ron and Hermione) trusted confidante and biggest supporter. He is half giant and half human. Hagrid was once a student at Hogwarts, but was unjustly forbidden to do any further magic. (He occasionally sneaks it.) His book could describe how you don’t have to be the most powerful to have the greatest impact. Title: Power is in what you give, not what you can do.
- Argus Filch: The caretaker of Hogwarts – he roams the halls looking to catch students engaged in some form of mischief. The students of Hogwarts (especially Gryffindors) dislike Filch because he is weird and creepy. He absolutely is a necessary component to the smooth functioning of Hogwarts, but it is hard to be liked when you are the one enforcing all of the rules (with the creepy cat, Mrs. Norris). Title: It’s not easy being me.
Which of these books would you be most interested in reading? Maybe it’s because I am a little twisted, I would, personally, want to know what Voldemort would have to say. Would he be able to see the errors of his ways or would it be a narcissistic rant about why he should have kicked Harry’s booty. I would be interested in finding out.
Do you remember that scene in Pretty Woman when Vivian (the prostitute played by Julia Roberts) is talking to Edward (the billionaire played by Richard Gere) about the punch his attorney, Stuckey (played by Jason Alexander) threw at her? She wonders how boys always know how to punch a woman and make it feel like her eye is about to explode. She asks if boys are taken aside in gym class and taught this “skill”. Of course they aren’t and, as Edward Lewis points out, not all boys hit.
I am wondering if someone has taken my ten-year-old aside and has been giving her tips on how to be a teenager. I don’t mean the eye rolling and deep sighs – she has that down already. I’m talking more about psychological warfare. Let me explain. The other day my daughter and husband were hanging out and she looked at him and said, “I love you Dad.” He smiled and said, “I love you, too, peanut. Will you still love me when you are a teenager?” Her response? “Of course I will. It just won’t always feel like I do.” Seriously. Who took her aside and gave her this little piece of insight?
I now have visions of older girls at the dance studio laying out the game plan. I have can imagine a huge chalkboard with lessons detailing how to keep your parents on their toes and how to never allow them to be fully comfortable while parenting a teenager. There are Xs and Os detailing each person’s position and offensive and defensive plays.
Lord, we are in trouble.
In honor of Star Wars Celebration taking place in Anaheim, California this upcoming weekend, I’ve created the self-help books that should have been written by various Star Wars’ characters. I know Star Wars fans are a tough group, so please be gentle if I screw this up. I am in no way trying to offend anyone and any screw up I may make is out of ignorance, not malice. OK – I sound suitably terrified of pissing off Star Wars fans, so here goes and in no particular order:
- Han Solo: initially a smuggler and a scoundrel, the captain of the Millennium Falcon came to believe in the cause of galactic freedom. He fought alongside his lady love, Princess Leia, and her twin brother, Luke Skywalker, in the battle against the Empire. Whether he was acting for his own best interests or the galaxy’s, he could always count on his faithful companion, Chewbacca. He could write a book about the love of a good woman (or a princess), but his best advice would be on the importance of a great best friend. Title: The True Force: Friendship
- Princess Leia (Organa): one of the Rebel Alliance’s greatest leaders. Initially presented as a damsel in distress needing saving, but developed into a strong, fearless leader in her own right. Able to keep a cool head when situations become chaotic, she is more than “just a princess”. She could offer advice on how to stand on your own two feet and not relying on others to save you. Title: A Damsel no Longer: Putting the Power in your Princess
- Luke Skywalker: a Tatooine farm boy who rose from his humble beginning to become one of the greatest Jedi ever. He battled the Empire, fell in love with his sister (he didn’t know she was his sister) and ultimately saved the Rebels. Did I forget to mention he also learned the head baddy was also his father? This guy would have one messed up family reunion! Imagine the advice he could give about the dangers of taking on family member’s individual issues. Title: Loving Your Sister Without LOVING Your Sister
- Chewbacca: (Chewie) – a legendary Wookie Warrior his is also the co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon (along with Han Solo). Known for his fierce loyalty (and quick temper), he helped the Rebel Alliance defeat the Empire. Able to understand the spoken word (not sure what language the Rebels were supposed to be speaking), but unable to “speak” due to limitations in his vocal chords. Communicated through a series of grunts and growls. He could offer insight into the importance finding ways to effectively communicate with the people in your life. Title: Being Heard: Understanding the Real You
- C-3PO: a protocol droid designed to be in service to human beings. His main functions are to assist in etiquette, customs and translation, so that meetings between cultures run smoothly. Often seen in the company of R2-D2. Built by Anakin Skywalker (spoiler alert: He becomes Darth Vader) and accompanies Anakin’s children in their battle against the Empire (lead by Darth Vader). Oh, the stories he could tell – though he probably wouldn’t since it wouldn’t be polite. Title: War is Not an Excuse to be Impolite
- R2-D2: A resourceful astromech droid, R2-D2 served Padme Amidala, Anakin Skywalker, and Luke Skywalker in turn, showing great bravery in rescuing his masters and their friends from many perils. A skilled mechanic and fighter pilot’s assistant, he formed an unlikely but enduring friendship with the fussy protocol droid C-3PO. This odd friendship could inspire us all to venture outside our comfort zone. Title: Beep boop beep beep boop beep beep beep
- Obi-Wan Kenobi: A legendary Jedi master, Obi-Wan Kenobi was a noble man and gifted in the ways of the Force. He trained Anakin Skywalker, served as a general in the Republic Army during the Clone Wars, and guided Luke Skywalker as a mentor. He was killed while helping Han, Luke, Chewie, C-3PO, and R2-D2 rescue Princess Leia from Darth Vader. Small bit of irony – he was killed by the apprentice he once trained (Darth Vader). Title: Never Train Them Too Well
- Yoda: legendary Jedi master who was stronger than most in his connection to the Force. Small in stature, but wise and powerful, training Jedi for 800 years. He was responsible for training Luke Skywalker and helping him to use the Force. Not only a great Jedi, Yoda was also a bit of a philosopher and often had just the right thing to say at just the right time. Imagine what he could offer readers! He could write about conquering your fears, for example. Title: Named Must Your Fear Be Before Banish it You Can
- Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader): Discovered as a slave on Tatooine, he had the potential to become one of the most powerful Jedi ever, and was believed by some to be the prophesized Chosen One who would bring balance to the force. Instead, he was seduced by the dark side of the Force and led the Empire’s destruction of the Force. There remained a streak of good in him and this caused him to be conflicted in his actions. He desired connection, but was too afraid of potential loss. Title: It is Never too Late to do the Right Thing
- Jar Jar Binks: A clumsy, well-meaning outcast from Naboo, he struggled to prove his worth throughout his life. He became a representative for his people in the galactic capital where his best intentions and eagerness to please were exploited by scheming Senators and others in position of power. Jar Jar Binks is much maligned and criticized. He is found annoying by many. Title: Mesa Think Yousa Can.
OK… Should I be expecting burning crosses in front of my house (or Rebel Alliance Stars)? I know it was questionable to include Jar Jar Binks in this list. He was a horrible character and everyone hated him. I think I felt bad for him a little and wanted to give him a bit of his dignity. Are there others I should have included in his place? I predominantly stuck with the original trilogy (which is somehow now the middle trilogy) because that is the one I know best. It represented a significant period in my childhood. I have to admit to more than mild curiosity how they are going to merge the characters from my childhood into this new trilogy. Fingers crossed it won’t suck!
I am incredibly focused on self-help books these days – probably because I wrote one (http://www.amazon.com/Life-Lessons-Teenage-Girl-Inspiration/dp/1630472026/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1428760259&sr=8-1), but I can’t help wondering what various characters might write about if they wrote their own self-help story. I have covered male super heroes (https://psychobabblechat.com/2015/04/05/superhero-self-help/) and their female counterparts (https://psychobabblechat.com/2015/04/07/superhero-self-help-ladies-edition/). What kind of mom of a 10-year-old girl would I be if I didn’t explore those fabulous Disney Princesses? I could have any or all of them write about their mommy-issues (seriously what is up with moms in fairy tales? They are either dead or evil?), but I tried to go a different direction here. Let me know what you think – did I screw the whole thing up? Is my daughter going to be pissed?
- Cinderella: the pretty princess in blue had a hard road of it. Her mother died when she was a young child and her father remarried a woman with two daughters who all hate her. To top it all off, her father dies leaving her to be raised by these hateful ladies. Cinderella was turned into a house servant cooking and cleaning for her emotionally abusive step-family. This young lady needed to learn how to assert herself and set appropriate boundaries with others – unfortunately, she wasn’t able to until she met the Prince. Title: No One’s Servant: Brushing off the Cinders.
- Belle: the only child being raised by an absent-minded inventor father, Belle was frequently left to her own devices. This found her often with her nose in a book. She didn’t seem to have many friends though she was friendly with all the people in their small town. The locals often commented on how odd they found it that Belle read so many books. (Surprise – a smart girl!) The story details Belle being taken hostage by a Beast who was terribly mean and ends with their falling in love. I’m not going to comment on the Stockholm Syndrome demonstrated here. (Stockholm Syndrome I when a hostage starts to develop positive feelings for their captor and will even protect them against the police.) Belle’s contribution would best focus on the importance of girls valuing and having pride in their own intellect. Title: Knowledge is Power
- Sleeping Beauty: Aurora was born to the King and Queen. Fairies were invited to a party to bestow gifts on the child, but one fairy was left out, got pissed and cursed the child. She would prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die on her 16th The King and Queen tried to protect their child by sending Aurora away so she would not be able to be near a spinning wheel on her birthday. Aurora learned the truth and returned to the castle, pricking her finger and falling asleep. She was saved by the kiss from a prince. If only she had listened to her parents and waited one more day! Title: Want a Long Life? Listen to your Parents!
- Ariel: The Little Mermaid was raised under the sea by her father, King Triton, along with her many sisters. I think her mother was killed when Ariel was super young. Ariel was in love with Prince Eric (though they hadn’t really met) and wanted a set of legs more than anything. She was not satisfied with her mermaid tail. Even once she and Eric fell in love, there was no discussion of his becoming a merman (is that a word?) and instead Ariel permanently sacrificed her tail and kept a set of legs. She could write an amazing book about the importance of loving and accepting yourself as you are and not changing for others. Title: Loving Myself – Tail and All.
- Snow White: Anther young woman being raised by a single father after her mother dies young. What else? Oh, yeah, he married an evil women who hated her, dies and leaves her alone with an unloving stepmother. This stepmother was horribly vain and could not tolerate Snow White surpassing her in beauty. Mommy Dearest then ordered the huntsman to take her into the forest and cut out her heart. Long story short, the evil queen is vanquished and Snow White finds true love in the arms of a prince. Along the way, Snow White became friends with seven little men who she came to consider her family. She could offer advice about the power of friendship and how you can, sometimes, choose who to include in your family. Title: The Power of Friendship: Banishing the Darkness.
- Tiana: Tiana is a hardworking waitress in New Orleans who dreams of owning her own restaurant. Her progress is briefly derailed when she is turned into a frog and falls in love with a prince who was also turned into a frog. Tiana is the only Disney Princess who has an official job. Tiana did not rely on magic to make her dreams come true, but instead saved money by working hard so she could buy her restaurant. The lesson she could share best with others is the importance and value of hard work. Title: Making your Dreams Come True – Be your Own Fairy Godmother.
- Jasmine: Jasmine was being raised in a life of privilege by her single father (again… no mom), the sultan of Agrabah. There were certain expectations of Jasmine, the most important being that she would marry a wealthy man of whom her father would approve. This was a tough pill for Jasmine to swallow. She wanted adventure and to see the world, but most importantly, she wanted to marry for love, not for money or status. She could offer guidance on knowing your own mind and standing up for what you believe. Title: Not JUST my Father’s Daughter
- Mulan: Mulan is a young woman being raised in China by her mother, father and grandmother. When her father, an injured war veteran, is called back into service, Mulan disguises herself as a male and enters the service in his place. Mulan initially struggles in the service, but quickly learns how to use her intellect to overcome any physical weaknesses she may have related to her male counterparts. Of course, she also falls in love (hey, it is Disney). Readers would benefit from learning about how to find alternate solutions to life’s problems. Title: Thinking Outside the Box (or Dress)
- Rapunzel: In the Disney version, soldiers of a King and ailing Queen discovered a magical flower that was given to and healed the Queen. When their child was born, she had golden hair that glowed and could heal others when she sang a specific song. An evil woman kidnapped the young child and locked her away in a tower so she could keep the magical powers all to herself. Rapunzel creatively found ways to keep herself entertained the many weeks, months and years she was locked away. Of course, a dashing man helps to save her and reunite with her parents (and falls in love with her), but her book would not be about a love story, instead it would be about the importance of the arts and creativity. Title: Saved by the Arts: Painting my Way out of the Tower
- Pocahantas: Pocahantas is being raised by her father, the Chief of the Powatan tribe, following her mother’s death (another dead mom). She is fearful she will be forced to marry a warrior from her village when she encounters an Englishman, John Smith. They fall in love which exacerbates tensions between the tribe and the English leading to many injuries and deaths. John Smith is nearly executed, but is allowed to return to England once Pocahantas begs for his life. She is the only princess who does not end up with her man at the end of her story. This relationship is not the most interesting thing about her, rather it is her connection to nature. Pocahantas talks with plants and animals and feels affinity with them. Title: Being One with Nature: Connections are All Around You.
I know there are more princesses left uncovered, but I had to draw the line somewhere. Off the top of my head, I missed Elsa from Frozen and Merida from Brave. Was there anyone else? What do you think their stories might have been? Maybe Elsa could have written something about facing your fears. Merida – the importance of family maybe? Thoughts?
My Superhero Self-Help blog (male edition) was so well received (https://psychobabblechat.com/2015/04/05/superhero-self-help/) that I felt it only right to allow their female counterparts to represent as well. I know female superheroes (or superheroines) are not equally represented in pop culture, but their stories are just as pointed and important. Narrowing my list down to ten was a bit of a challenge, but I avoided those that were female counterparts to male superheroes (i.e., Supergirl to Superman or Batgirl to Batman). I did think it interesting they were always called “girl” to their partner’s “man”. That is a discussion for another day.
Here are the amazing self-help books these amazing female superheroes would have to offer:
- Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman was born as warrior princess of the Amazons who took on the secret identity of Diana Prince when she came to live in the “Man’s World”. She has a number of superpowers and abilities as well as an arsenal of weapons at her disposal (i.e, lasso of truth and an invisible airplane). She fought against the bad guys, while also often working together with other women to battle injustice. She was a woman who demonstrated her own strengths while supporting other’s successes. Title: It’s a (Wo)Man’s World
- Storm: Ororo Munroe was born in Kenya after her tribal princess mother fell in love with an American photojournalist. She was orphaned at age 6 after her parents were killed in a botched aircraft attack. Ororo suffered lifelong claustrophobia after having been buried in rubble during the attack. Ororo is classified as a mutant and was recruited with the X-Men due to her special abilities – complete and total control of all things weather-related. Title: Digging Out: Finding the Strength to Survive the Storm
- Rogue: Anne Marie grew up in Mississippi and had a relatively traditional upbringing until her latent mutant abilities kicked in injuring her boyfriend. Rogue’s ability includes absorbing the life force (and any special abilities) of any person with whom she has skin to skin contact. Rogue learned of this ability the hard way when she kissed her boyfriend leaving him in a coma. Rogue ran away from home ultimately ending up joining up with the X-Men. Title: Developing a Loving Touch
- Phoenix: (also known as Marvel Girl and Dark Phoenix) Jean Grey is a mutant with telekinetic and telepathic powers that manifested when she saw a childhood friend hit by a car. She is often found to be warm, loving and nurturing, but (despite all of her powers) is typically best remembered for her marriage to Cyclops, training with Charles Xavier, friendship/romance with Wolverine, and relationships with other X-Men. Title: More than Just a Plus One
- Black Canary: Dinah Laurel Lance is the child of the original Black Canary (also named Dinah) and private investigator, Larry Lance. The younger Dinah grew up with her parents and a number of disbanded Justice League members as her aunts and uncles. Young Dinah wants to be a costumed superhero like her mother, but her mother feels the world is too unsafe. Young Dinah became the Black Canary against her mother’s wishes demonstrating advanced fighting skills and reflexes as well as the “Canary Cry” which can damage or stun foes or objects. Title: Following in My Mother’s Footsteps – A Cry in the Dark
- Huntress: Helena Rosa Bertinelli was born in Gotham – the daughter of a prominent mafia family. She was kidnapped and raped at 6-years-old by another mafia don to torture her father. She was sent to boarding school (with a bodyguard) and was combat-trained. At 19, she witnessed the mob-ordered murder of her whole family and vowed to end the world of the mafia with her special battle skills. Title: Turning Your Pain into Purpose
- Elektra: Elektra Natchios was raised in Greece, living a privileged life with her tycoon father after her mother passed in childbirth. Elektra and her father were held hostage when she was 20-years-old and her father was killed. Elektra vowed revenge, dropped out of college and moved to Asia to study martial arts. She was eventually corrupted by her own impulses and became an assassin. Title: Revenge: Giving in to my Anger
- Invisible Woman: Susan Storm Richards was raised in Long Island, NY, with her parents and brother, Johnny. Their childhood was not without tragedy and Sue ultimately became a mother figure to her younger brother. When her boyfriend was about to lose funding on his research project, Susan and Johnny decided to accompany the boyfriend (Reed) and his pilot on an experimental test flight. They encountered cosmic radiation which endowed them each with special abilities. Susan can make herself invisible and control invisible force fields in combat. Title: Seeing the Real Me.
- Scarlet Witch: Wanda Maximoff is the mutant offspring of X-Men villain Magneto (discussed in a later blog) and his wife, Magda. Magda ran away with the twin when she realized Magneto had mutant powers. Magda ultimately went crazy and died. Wanda and her twin brother, Pietro, were bounced around as orphan children and suffered a number of tragedies. Because Wanda was raised near a mystical mountain, she developed the ability to use magic as her mutant powers. She can manipulate reality, is an expert combatant and is a sorceress. She briefly joined her father’s band of villains before becoming an Avenger and fighting for good. Title: Not My Father’s Daughter.
- Black Widow: Natasha Romanova was born in Russia during World War I (she looks really good for her age, right?). The Nazis set her apartment on fire and her mother threw her out the window to a Russian soldier before perishing in the fire. Her backstory is a bit sketchy after that – she was either trained with a group of female orphans to be spies or was later kidnapped and trained. She was a master assassin until she was able to break away (or be rescued) and began to fight on the side of good. Title: Your Life is Your Own: No One Can Decide For You
I must say I am amazed at the number of these women who had some sort of sexual abuse, molestation and/or rape trauma in their lives. My guess is the creators of these characters felt it would give them more depth and some sort of rage/unpredictability. Is there someone great that I left out? Did I screw up someone’s backstory? Let me have it! I can take it!