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A Warning to Parents--Be Careful How Your Children Hear You Discussing the Kavanaugh Situation

Over the past couple of days, I have been horrified at the comments I have seen and heard through social media and news outlets as well as comments from people I know.  Regardless of who is telling the truth in this situation between Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, let’s make sure that we are not sending the wrong message to our children because, if we’re not careful, we can literally silence our own children if they ever find themselves a victim of sexual assault.

For starters, may I suggest that if you have never personally experienced a sexual assault, then please know that you really do not know what you are talking about.  Secondly, it is absolutely 100% irrelevant whether or not penetration happened, or what actual sex act occurred.  IT DOES NOT MATTER!!!    It does not matter whether someone only violated someone with their hands, with their mouth or any part of their body or even another object.  When someone is touched, groped, exposed, penetrated or any other sexual act, it is still a sexual assault.  Yes, I realize that there are different levels of violence and abuse and of course some victims experience horrific violations, however, please know that no one can rate the level of harm someone experiences from their sexual assault.  It’s not something that can be measured.  It’s not something that can be compared.

I have literally heard sexual assault survivors demean Dr. Ford’s experience because it wasn’t as “bad” as their's or because Dr. Ford does not have a memory of everything as perhaps another sexual assault survivor has.  I cannot even fathom anyone who has been through any type of sexual assault ever reducing the pain or the believability of another sexual assault survivor because their experiences were different.

I have heard parents talk about Dr. Ford putting herself in a compromising position.  I have seen people post, once again, pictures of girls dressed seductively, with the caption that if you don’t want it, don’t advertise it.  Are you kidding me?  Let me explain to you what children and women and even men hear when you say and post such things.  Let me explain the dangerous, dangerous message that we send to our children when they hear us discussing such explanations for a sexual assault.

  1. When you talk about what people were wearing before they were assaulted, your children hear you saying:  Are you sure it’s not your fault?  Yes, the perpetrator(s) should not have done what they did, but perhaps if you were dressed differently, you would not have appeared that you wanted to be assaulted against your will.  Your dress sends a message that you are wanting to be held down, against your will and that even if you say “No,” you don’t mean “No” because like I said, you were dressed in a way that announced, “You really wanted it.  So in the end, this is really your fault.
  2. When you talk about that Dr. Ford should not have been at a party with boys who were drinking beer when she was only 15, your children hear you saying:  When you are somewhere that you shouldn’t be, you can’t be upset when someone decides to take advantage of you and molest you, even if you didn’t want it.  Yes, sexual assault is wrong but what did you expect when you go where teenagers are drinking beer?  Haven’t I always told you not to be where there’s alcohol.  This is really your fault.
  3. When you talk about that if Dr. Ford was telling the truth, she would be able to remember where she was, how she got home, etc. then your children and other sexual assault victims hear you saying:  The only way I’m going to believe you about your assault is if you can tell me every detail.  I need to know the time, the place, who else was there, describe the room, describe the house, etc.  If you don’t remember these details, then you must be making this up because who would forget these details if a traumatic event had happened?

Parents, these kind of remarks are so dangerous because God forbid your child end up the victim of sexual assault. You are contributing to their silence.  And, this is a crime that when suffered in silence, the pain can rob you of joy, of healthy relationships, of peace.  When suffered in silence, it can lead to depression, anxiety, suicide and other mental health challenges.  What do our children need to hear us say? 

"Honey, if you ever find yourself a victim of a sexual assault, I don’t care what you were doing, where you were, what you were wearing, who you were with that you weren’t supposed to be with, what was going on there regardless of how legal or appropriate, what rules you were violating or even if you made the stupidest decision of your life, IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT AND YOU CAN TELL ME.  I WILL ALWAYS BELIEVE YOU!"

Now parents, of course we’re going to teach our children I hope to dress in a way that shows respect for themselves and others, but not for the reason of not being raped, but for the purpose of self respect.

Of course, we’re going to teach our children to avoid situations that could put them in harms way to the best of their ability because this will contribute to their safety and happiness.

Of course we’re going to teach them the dangers of underage drinking, drug use, going to parties where alcohol is being served, etc. etc.  But I got news for you, your children are NOT always going to make good choices.  They are going to screw up.  They are going to make stupid stupid choices sometimes because they are children.  If they feel like if they make a stupid decision and something happens to them, that they can’t tell you because they will get in trouble because of where they were or what they were doing, then guess what, they will not tell you. If they feel like they won’t be believed because the person was a trusted family friend or a relative or someone that their family loved or perhaps they don’t remember the details then they will not tell you.   

If they are afraid that they will be judged because they didn’t scream or they didn’t run or they didn’t tell anyone for a long time, then they will not tell you.  Parents you have to ask yourself, if your child was assaulted, would you want to know?  Would you want to walk the path of healing with your child? Would you want to get them professional help if needed?  Would you want your child to believe that they can move forward from this type of pain and find happiness again?  If you want to be a part of that, then they have to tell you.  What are you telling them today, to make sure that they know you are a safe person to tell?

Please stop with your judgements. Please stop saying what sounds reasonable or unreasonable to you what a victim would or would not do or know.  Even if you have been through it yourself, your experience is not their experience.  Please just listen and learn and have compassion on one another.

Business Etiquette 101— A Professional Seeks to Make Things Right Immediately

We all make mistakes.  Quite often it seems.  A professional however, is quick to acknowledge their mistakes and tries to make things right, as quickly as possible.  This behavior requires courage, humility and a commitment to ethical practices.

I think we’ve all experienced working with those who have an endless supply of excuses and a fervent determination to avoid responsibility.  I hope this is not us.  It really is a matter of integrity.  Someone with integrity is honest in all things and that means that they are also honest with themselves and others regarding their performance or lack thereof.

I’m not suggesting that we go around announcing to the world each day all of our failures or weaknesses.  No, not at all.  But what I am suggesting is that we take responsibility for our own actions without blame, without deterrents and without a desire to deceive in any way.

Let’s say that I was responsible for getting a financial report to my boss for a large project coming up and it was due by today at 5:00pm.  I “dropped the ball” on a few things and the report is not ready by 5:00.  Some people, who lack professionalism might:
  • avoid their boss for the remainder of the day so they are not confronted with the missing report.
  • blame the delay on information that has not been received from others that is necessary for the report (knowing that it was their fault because they didn’t ask the other people for the information until yesterday).
  • blame the delay on untrue circumstances like illness, family emergencies, etc.
I think you get the point.

While, someone with integrity might  say to their boss, 
  • “I know you’re going to be disappointed in me, but it looks like I did not plan well and have let this deadline slip up on me without the report being completed.”
  • “I am not going to be able to have the report to you by 5 which I am extremely sorry for, but will have it to you by 5 tomorrow.  I have had to reanalyze my production schedule and have made some changes so that I can keep my commitments to you in the future.  I hope you will give me another chance.  I’m really sorry.”
I think you get the point.

Being honest and ethical does not guarantee job security.  But it does guarantee a clear conscious, honor and self respect.  May each of us acknowledge quickly our mistakes and then recommit to improvement.

Business Etiquette 101--A Professional Does Not Make Unofficial Complaints

Let me ask you a question, “Do you enjoy working with or spending time with those that habitually complain?”  I already know your answer.  Have you ever noticed that when people start complaining, they typically do not start my asking, “Hey do you all mind if I just unload my life right now onto you, so you can carry some of it too?”  But, they should!  That’s what’s happening right?

A professional does not complain, ever.  Now before we get all knotted up inside, let me add…a professional never makes unofficial complaints.  An unofficial complaint is simply complaining with no purpose other than to “let off steam,” build our own support for our anger or to tear down the ones we are complaining about.  On the other hand, an official complaint is when we are unhappy or unsatisfied with the functioning of a team, project, policy etc, yet we have a solution of how to make it better.  If we have a solution for improvement, then we have an official complaint.

We handle official complaints by taking them to our superior and asking permission to share our idea.  If our superior does not respond in a way that is satisfactory to us, then we must decide whether or not to take our official complaint to the next person in the chain of command.  We can do this, once we have informed our superior that we are doing so.

A professional knows the difference in official and unofficial complaints.  A profession remembers that everyone has a right to come to work and just work, focusing on the job at hand.  Yes, of course we all have personal and professional stressors that we need to discuss with others at times, but we should be extremely careful about how and who we relay these frustrations.  Work is not the place to unload unofficial complaints about the job, our spouse, our co-workers, the weather, etc.  

Let’s make sure that you and I are contributors to the positive energy in our place of work and let’s make sure that we do not distract from the job at hand.  Have a great month.

For information regarding Business Etiquette Training for your staff, please email Monica at:

Teaching Our Children to be Reliable

Parents, this might sting a little.  The fact is, it’s very difficult to teach our children how to be reliable and the importance that this valuable life skill is if we ourselves are not reliable.  I know that you and I already know this, however allow me to ask you a few questions. 

If I were to ask your children today, “When your mom/dad tells you that they are going to do something with you, what’s the chances of that happening? For instance, if your mom/dad tells you that you all are going to do something fun, later today or perhaps on Saturday, will you go?  How likely is it that something will come up and prevent you all from keeping that commitment?”  

A few more questions: do you often tell a friend or associate that you will call them soon or email them soon and then you never do?  Have you committed to helping a friend move, meeting your mom for lunch or a myriad of other obligations that for one reason or another, have been forgotten or not followed through with?

I know we want to raise children who keep their commitments and know that when they give their word to others, it means something.  Parents, this will rarely happen if our children do not watch you and I be commitment keepers.  They must learn to trust and understand that trust comes through keeping our word.

May I suggest that we each ponder if there is room in our lives for improvement in this area.  If we identify that there is room, commit today to not only yourself, but to your family that from this day forward, you are going to do better.  It’s difficult to make changes when we do not tell anyone else about our commitment.  We each need accountability.

If you’re not sure that you will be able to follow through with something, do not commit.  If you do however, make sure that your priority each day is to keep the commitments you have already made to others.  If and when things come up, important things that prevent you from keeping your previous commitments, be completely honest and inform the individual counting on you promptly, so that they may make necessary changes.

May we do what we say so that our children can follow our example.

Very best,

Monica Irvine

We Just Need to Be Kinder

I want to talk about a simple topic, but one I think we struggle with at times, especially inside the walls of our own homes.  It's kindness.

If I were to ask your spouse, companion or kids if you were kind, what would they say?

I think we would all admit that oftentimes, it's easier to be more kind to total strangers than to those we live with, but just because it might be easier doesn't mean that it's okay.

We have to put forth every
 effort to just be kind.

How do we do this?  Here are some great suggestions, but as you might imagine, there are endless opportunities.

Speak softly.  The more gentle and kind your tone of voice, the more likely those around you will listen.

Say "good morning" when you wake up and "hello" when you get home.  Remember that greetings are a polite way to address anyone when you first see them that day or after an absence.

Serve.  Small acts of unexpected services goes a long way in showing your love to others, especially your family.  Take a piece of cake home to your spouse, give your son a back rub, ask your daughter if you could help her do her nails--anything to show others you're thinking of them and enjoy making them happy.

Say "thank you" all the time.  "Thank you for doing the dishes."  "Thank you for watching what I wanted to watch." "Thank you for always being there."

Compliment more than complain.  Compliments go much further in creating love in a home rather than complaining.  I know it can be frustrating when you feel things aren't being done like they need to be done, or assignments or obligations are forgotten about, but complaining usually doesn't motivate people to act.  Most of us are inspired when our hearts are turned to someone in a positive way.  We want to please them.  We want to receive their praise.

Smile.  Let's be honest, how much fun is it to be around someone who's always frowning?  It no.  Just smile.  I'm not saying you have to show all your teeth all day every day, but there's a way to have a pleasant look on your face, and there's a way to have a scowl on your face.  Choose the smile.

Do it because you want to, not so you can get something in return.  If you're choosing to serve, to help, to compliment, etc. in order to get something in return, you're doing it for the wrong reasons. Just do it because doing so makes you happy.  If no one notices, if no one says thank you, just be happy because you're living and loving the way you should and there's nothing that can satisfy you as much as being happy with yourself.

Have a great month and remember to be kind!

Monica Irvine

How Do We Teach Our Children to Have Moral Courage?

Can we teach courage?  Can we help our children to develop moral courage, the courage to stand up in the face of adversity, staying true to both themselves and the things that they hold dear and true?  As we look around, it’s easy to see that our society is struggling to not only identify moral conviction, but to also identify when and the best way to stand up and be a voice for good, a voice against oppression of the weak, and a  voice of strength for all that is right.

I believe that we absolutely can teach moral courage to our children who will need it to be engraved upon their hearts and minds in order to leave this world better than they found it.  We start, like with all things, when they are very young.  We start by helping our children to notice injustices, those in need and those who need an advocate.  It’s more than just noticing, but it realizing that we as individuals have enormous power to cause change.  Unless we believe that one can make a difference, than we might shrink at the opportunity to do so.

A great way to start is to continually find and read about and discuss others from the past who have done just that.  There are so many books to read to our children, but why not be more purposeful in the books that we choose, starting when they are very young.  Look for books about common people who have demonstrated great courage, moral conviction and impeccable character and because of these qualities have made a huge difference in individual lives.  We never want to underestimate the importance of the single individual.  

Another wonderful thing we can do to teach courage to our children is to help them overcome things that they are afraid of.  Teaching our children to do hard things is imperative to their success.  Such things might be: going over to another child on the playground and introducing themselves and inviting them to play, role playing with our children what to do when they see another child being teased or bullied so  they are prepared to defend those who need defending, teaching our children to speak for themselves at a very early age by refraining from speaking for our children, and many other things.

Finally, it is important to help our children to identify their own strengths, talents and abilities that God has given them.  As they identify their unique abilities, as parents, it is our duty to help them to understand that the reason God has blessed each of us with these talents is to bless the lives of God’s other children.  When our children better comprehend that they have the power to do great good on this earth, it unlocks the doors of compassion, service and advocacy.

Courage is to act, even when we are afraid, but it takes practice.  Start today.

Just Because You Can Doesn't Mean You Should

I would like to speak about a topic that I'm rather sensitive about as I see our society getting farther and farther away from this etiquette consideration.

It's polite to be aware of who is within our earshot when speaking about certain topics or using particular language.  

Something that has most definitely changed in recent decades is the manner that women and men will speak in the presence of those of the opposite sex.

Today it seems like there are little boundaries about conversation.

Let me give you a few things to consider.

Gentlemen, its not polite for you to speak about vulgar topics, use foul language, or speak about gross or inappropriate things when you're in the presence or earshot of ladies.

Recently I was stuck on a crowded bus with two gentlemen standing right in front of me wearing prestigious suits and holding professional briefcases.  They appeared to be quite the gentlemen.  Then they started speaking.

They began a discussion with me standing right in front of them, that was anything but appropriate.  I thought to myself, "I wonder why they think it's okay to speak like that in front of me?"  It was obvious--they didn't respect me or themselves enough to watch their tongue in front of a lady.  Let me remind you something about manners.

Manners are not lists of dos and don'ts.  They're an outward expression that shows how you feel about yourself and those around you.  That's why it matters.

Ladies, it not polite to speak negatively about men, use foul or inappropriate language, or speak of feminine health issues in the presence of gentlemen, especially those you don't have a close personal relationship with.

As ladies you want to seek helping those around you feel comfortable, and as you speak in a way that is ind, generous, and gracious, others will be more comfortable in your presence.

Both ladies and gentlemen should be careful to keep their conversation positive, upbeat, and cheerful when speaking at the dinner table.  You want to be a source of strength, encouragement, and positive energy to others, and the way you use your tongue will most definitely be a source of strength or a source of weakness to yourself and others.

Do your best to be aware of those around you when it comes to your language and speech.  

Yes, this is a free country, and yes, you may say whatever you want to.  Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

Restraint and respect are two traits that every gentleman and lady has.  Do you?

Monica Irvine