The Debate On "Mom Friends"

By Rula Al-Nasrawi

I’m pretty sure it’s proven that at least 55% of the world’s population has experienced the “mom friend phenomenon.” For those of you unfamiliar with the term “mom friend,” let me explain. A mom friend is a woman you have befriended either through a Zumba or kickboxing class or work or whatever, who happens to also be a mom. I’m talking about a full on mama bear who takes flower arrangement courses, may own a visor or two, and remembers Woodstock like it was yesterday. Guys, the equivalent for you would be a, you guessed it, dad friend. Mom friends are my jam. I have at least five mom friends at any given time. But lately I’ve been wondering if there’s a dark side to having a mom friend. Here are my pros and cons to inviting a mom friend into your life. 

 

Pro: She’s already been through it.

Look. You honestly need a confident older woman to listen to you and tell you when you’re being an idiot. Mom friends have been around the block a couple of times and can probably offer some valuable insight your non mom friends cannot.

Example 

MF: Listen, when I was your age, Elvis took me out on a date. Then I found out he had six other dates lined up that night. Take it from me: never fall in love with a rock star.

You: Thank you Mom Friend! 

 

Con: She’s from a different eon.

On the other hand, times have seriously changed since mom friend was your age. We’ve already jumped three decades since I’ve started writing this, so imagine how ancient things were back in mom friend’s time. 

Example

MF: I wanted to check out your man’s Facebook the other day and I couldn’t find his website.

You: You mean profile?

MF: His URL? I want to Tweet at his URL how do I do that? By using a hashtag?

You: ???????

 

Pro: She will listen to all of your filthy details.

One seriously convenient thing about a mom friend is that she is all ears, all the time. You can tell your mom friend things you would never tell your actual mom because honestly, some things are just too awk to share. 

Example

You: OMG Mom Friend, I just [insert scandal here] Am I a mess or what?

MF: You GO girl!!!

 

Con: She will probably give you her filthy details.

Look, all I’m saying is that there are some things we just don’t want to hear. Sorry but not down.

Example 

MF: I’m having an affair with the garbage man. Yesterday morning we [insert scandal here] and it was so hot.

You: UGH MOM FRIEND COME ON. 

 

Pro: She probably lives better than you.

Most established mom friends come with a house, cable, a fully stocked fridge, and maybe if you’re lucky a pool/hot tub situation. MILK THAT SHIT. 

 

Con: She will probably try to live vicariously through you.

I’m not speaking for all mom friends, but there are definitely a select few that will try to relive their wild days with you. Try to keep this at a minimum as things could get very embarrassing very quickly. As soon as mom friend starts raising the roof, it’s time to go. 


Why I'm Glad My Father Beat Me

By Justin Chan

I don’t remember the first time it happened, but I do remember that it happened repeatedly.

I was an unruly child back in the early ‘90s, and my father would whip out the infamous feather duster to keep me in line. I’m not sure if he bought it with the purpose of actually wiping the dust off our cabinets. He used to hold it by the feathers and show me the wooden handle. It was slim and flimsy, but the sound it made when it hit my skin resonated like that of a bull whip. If it snapped in half, my father would find something else: a metal coat hanger, a belt, or basically anything that would instill temporary fear in me.

Before you begin to judge my father, let me say that I alone should have that right. Not you. Not my friends. Not my cousins. Too often I come across critics who think they’re the chief authority on parenting. We know what works because we’ve done the research. We’ve met people who have gone through similar childhoods, and they’re all messed up. To them, I say this: Your studies don’t speak for me, so keep your opinions to yourself.

Given the controversy surrounding NFL player Adrian Peterson, I don’t expect everyone to fully understand the story I’m about to tell. The Pro Bowl running back, who currently faces charges of child abuse, allegedly beat his four-year-old son with a switch in May, a punishment I even find horrifying. But I’m telling my story because I’ve seen critics use this extreme case to prove that corporal discipline usually results in resentment towards one’s parents.

To a degree, that claim may be true. Excessive punishment can lead to bodily scars and an uncontrolled anger, which, in turn, can manifest itself in many ways, from a desire for revenge to a strong feeling of vulnerability. But, in my case and perhaps in that of many others, physical punishment can also lead to an appreciation for our parents. Let me explain.

When I was young, I was like many other children. I had a problem with authority. Sometimes, I would get into fights with classmates, despite being warned repeatedly by my teachers that I would suffer the consequences. I wouldn’t care until they called my parents. My mother, who never once laid her hands on me, would then try to calmly reason with me, but I would take advantage of her patience by rudely dismissing her.

My father, however, knew how to shut me up. He would first raise his voice and then begin a countdown. If I didn’t apologize or obey him by the time he counted to zero, he would threaten me with the feather duster. Most of the time, I would stupidly test him by wailing and crying relentlessly. He wouldn’t care. Tears didn’t mean much to him, and he made sure I understood that.

If I talked back, my father would beat me into submission. The punishment became so commonplace that one day my neighbors upstairs confronted him about it. They used to hear me cry as he whipped me repeatedly. One time, they saw me bawl my eyes out as I sat alone on the stairs. They thought my father’s methods were too severe. He, however, believed that he was only following family tradition. His father used to beat him, and I apparently deserved that same fate. If I did something wrong, I would get hit. If I cried when getting hit, I would get hit even harder. It was a cycle that never seemed to end.

Had my father taken a more lenient approach during my childhood, I probably would have been a different person. And not for the better. I would have most likely continued to disrespect my mother, fail school, and get into fights. I was that reckless. In a way, corporal discipline saved me.

Looking back, I don’t blame my father for what he did. I deserved most of those beatings. Some may say that my familiarness with physical punishment is clouding my judgment, but I truly believe that my father raised me with the best intentions. He always wanted me to succeed. When I got a B on an exam, he would ask why I didn’t get an A. When I got an A, he would ask why I didn’t get an A plus. His incessant nagging made me set higher expectations for myself. He knew I could do better, and, over time, I started to believe him. The whippings were merely a means of motivation - something I desperately needed at a young age - and they worked.

Today, my father and I laugh about those rough days with friends and family. Weirdly enough, I wear my childhood like a badge of pride. When I see entitled children freely curse or punch their parents, I seriously wonder how they’ll turn out years from now. My guess? Their future won’t be too bright, unless, by the grace of some higher being, they change their attitude.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying corporal punishment is the answer to every child’s problem. Heck, it should never be the first option of discipline. Yet, I don’t think anybody should have the right to question whether someone who uses it (like my father) is fit to be a parent, unless he or she knows the complete story. My upbringing may have been tougher than yours, but I’m okay with it. You should be, too. 

Justin Chan is a writer based in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @JChan1109


Doubters of Domestic Violence

by Chris Oberdorfer

In light of the events regarding the NFL and its players’ involvement in domestic violence cases, I am frustrated by the reaction of our culture and media.

In my opinion, the deep-rooted problem is how we as a population view domestic violence and rape.  Our tendency is to require the accusers/victims of these cases to bear the burden of proof.  As a population, when it comes to domestic violence and rape, we are doubters .

When I was a freshman in high school, my sister was raped by a boy in her grade.  She had been drinking at a Halloween party and the boy entered the room that she was sleeping in and raped her.

Rape is a heinous crime, but the backlash of the crime was almost worse.  After word got out that the county pressed charges against him, the harassment that she and I endured from our fellow students and “friends” was immense. 

The typical claims that she was drunk and that she had put herself in a bad position were the go-to’s.  I even heard the, “Look at him, who wouldn’t want to sleep with him?” defense.  Judgment was everywhere for her, as was support for him. 

Much like the NFL, the high school I went to took the “wait and see” approach.  While the boy had missed a few days of school while incarcerated, he was allowed back to school to attend classes while the trial played out.  Here’s where the problem lies for all of us. 

By the school taking this stance, they too were putting pressure on my sister to prove that her story was valid.  The school essentially re-affirmed to all of our peer harassers that they had doubts .  If the school has doubts, then it is very reasonable for its students to doubt as well. 

While the boy charged with the crime went to class and arrived to supportive masses wearing “Free P” t-shirts, my sister and I had to endure glares and attacks at every turn.  The harassment became so intense that my sister left our school and finished up her senior year through home schooling .

I understand the NFL and my high school’s fear of taking action against someone before due process has taken place.  From my school’s point of view, they didn’t want to kick a student out if the charges were bogus and, they didn’t want to deprive him of his senior year.  Unfortunately, through their unwillingness to take a stance, they allowed and in my mind promoted, the loss of my sister’s senior year in high school. 

There we are: doubters. The original charges and videos against Ray Rice came out in February!  Why all of a sudden are we up in arms about this case?  Well, simply put, because another video came out that actually showed Ray punching his then-fiancée in the elevator. 

Now we pounce .

And again, our problem.  After seeing the first video in February, I didn’t need to see much else to know that Ray cold-cocked his fiancée.  I could put the pieces together.  However, as a society, it seems that everyone had to SEE IT to believe it.  Otherwise, there was doubt.  So much doubt that men and women actually went to the first Ravens training camp practice and gave a standing ovation to Ray Rice as he came out to practice.  Where are those fans now?

I heard nothing from even the most reliable sources until that second video came out.  You needed a TMZ video before you actually came down hard on this man?  For sports fans who saw the first video, shame on us for not reacting more strongly. This is our mindset with domestic violence and rape, we need to SEE IT to believe it.  Do you understand the pressure that puts on the victim?

It is so easy for all of us to put blame on the NFL, and point the finger at them on how they got it wrong.  But what everyone needs to do, (CNN, Fox, MSNBC, society as a whole) is look in the mirror and ask ourselves how we played a role in this. 

I promise you, we did. 

No, we didn’t punch Ray Rice’s wife in the elevator.  No, we didn’t threaten to kill Greg Hardy’s ex-girlfriend.  No, we weren’t Ben Roethlisberger in that club bathroom.  But we asked all of these women to prove to us that what they experienced was real- making the assumption that they would lie, or that it was somehow their fault. 

This is the highest blow possible following one of the most traumatic experiences of that victim’s life.  First she is abused and then she has to prove to the public that it actually happened? Imagine how many women have passed on pressing charges just to avoid the whole ordeal . 

Today, our treatment of women, much like race, has a long road ahead. Perhaps even longer.

Consider the pending domestic violence case of Hope Solo (female). Why have we heard next to nothing about her case while the topic of domestic violence has been so popular on news channels?  I think the key difference is the accuser is a man. As a population, we hear that a woman beat her spouse, and we chuckle.  We consider him less of a man, and we think it’s entertaining that a woman could get so worked up as to beat him.  This train of thought is demeaning to women, is it not? 

In the end, these are issues that we must face as a society.  It is not our place to look at the NFL and say, “You got this wrong, your organization has a problem, fix it.”  If we as a society do not instill the right reaction among ourselves, (as evidenced by my sister’s case in a Virginia public high school ) then why do we attack the NFL for reacting the way that we would?   

Domestic violence is not new; it’s just popular right now.  What is sad to me is that everyone who was up in arms about the original suspension of Ray Rice would have moved past it right after his first game back, if not for the release of that second video. We need to take a look at ourselves, our families, our friends, and at our communities and begin to find ways to address our handling of domestic violence and rape.  This is not the NFL's issue: it is ours.


Chris Oberdorfer is from Arlington, Virginia and now lives in Austin, TX. He came out of the womb singing Tom Petty and at age 2, composed an alternative version of Happy Birthday. He loves dogs, Iced Chais and  the Washington Redskins. Follow him @Christopherdorf