Tag Archives: education

Back To School: More Than Just Blues!!


By, Amy M. Voltero

Traffic on 93 and 95 are at a screeching halt, as vacationers attempt to beat the rest of their comrades, back to “home sweet home.”

They pack up yet another car, full of children, bathing suits, flip-flops, beach toys and chairs, and the wonderful memories of summer, 2012, yet one more time, anticipating their return, the following year.

The transition from summer to fall is more difficult to master, as would the change from other seasons. Parents rush to the mall or outlets, for school shopping, retail stores entice shoppers with their, “End of summer sale,” while changing storefronts, displays and merchandise, to welcome the fall season.

True, the end of summer can cause back to school jitters for children, but parents as well. Parents spend three months, filled with backyard barbecues, day trips, and a little r&r on the beach, to reward themselves and their children for a job well done, during the school year.  These lazy days are replaced by, getting kids back on a rigid routine. Parents then juggle their lives at home, work, children’s schedule, and begin to fear the upcoming months.

Back to school, means the anxiety, depending on what grade your child is entering. Each age comes with a different stumbling block. For some, children entering pre-k or kindergarten, separation anxiety, are the most common.

As children enter higher grades, the pressure of not making sports teams, being popular, picking out the right “outfit”, a larger workload, this means, more homework at night, for both parents and kids. Bullying becomes a worry, how to talk to your children about saying “no” to drugs and alcohol, safe sex, and seeing the warning signs of a child or teen, pushed to the limit are all real issues we as parents will encounter.

The important thing to remember is that children will feel our stress, no matter what age they are. Encourage your children to try new things, and always given them praise for a job well done. I cannot stress how important it is to develop an open relationship with your children. Don’t rely on schools, peers or the media to teach your children. As Parents, our job is to educate or children on the dangers and the severity of real life issues. Having an open relationship, and communicating these issues, such as peer pressure, managing anger and stress, substance abuse, safe sex, talking to strangers, can save children from taking the wrong path, later in life and from possibly taking their own lives.

All too often, I read the paper, and some MIT student has committed suicide from the pressure of college, or just life demands and other’s expectations.

Another common read, Ashlynn Connor, a 10 year old from, Ridge Farm, IL, took her own life, by hanging in her own bedroom closet on November 11, 2011. She was considered, “An All American girl,” an honor roll student and cheerleader who had dreams of becoming a veterinarian. (Courtesy of Michael Inbar, Today Show)

The kids at school bullied her, by calling her a slut, and for cutting her hair, saying she looked like a boy. The day prior to her taking her own life, she had told her mother what the kids at school had said to her. In a brief interview on the Today show, Ashlynn’s mother said, “She never talked about killing or hurting herself.”

National Suicide Prevention Week beings September 9th, through September 15th, 2012. With organizations like this, more parents and children are becoming educated on the signs and how to prevent disaster.

I realize that bringing issues such as these, to light can be a sensitive area for some parents. The earlier we, as parents, begin to become educated, and then the probability, of changing statistics regarding our children, becomes greater.

I wish you all, health and happiness for the upcoming school year!













Politics or Promises?

By Amy M. Voltero

Aah politics, oh how do I love thee? I don’t claim to be an expert one bit. I couldn’t tell you who was in office before Governor Deval Patrick, or who was Mayor before Menino. Wait hasn’t Menino been mayor since I was born??? I don’t read much of the newspaper or watch the news often, due to the involuntary consumption of Sesame Street, Barney and the Wiggles, but I feel as through, I know enough to make an accurate judgment. All these FABULOUS men and women declared our nation’s politicians have two things in common:

1.  They BS their way during campaigning: Promise beneficial changes to gain prospective votes. Once elected, AMAZING, they do the exact opposite of what they were originally standing for. SHOCKING!!!!

2. All share the same million dollar smile!!! I can’t count the number of pictures I’ve seen of local politicians, where it looks like someone has pinched them ever so painfully in the buttocks. It’s like the only thing that changes in a given photo, is the scenery, and clothing of course. Hysterical!

I understand that SOMEBODY has to run our cities and State, on the contrary, wouldn’t it just be easier to pick the candidate who shares the same origin surname? I mean really. My grandmother told her children to, “Vote for the guy with the Italian last name.” That’s exactly what I did.

Yes, I am the jerk who is registered to vote all these years, who sometimes doesn’t bother to waste valuable time, standing in line with the rest of my neighbors, to cast a vote for someone whose main priority is climbing the political ladder by false pretenses and cutting corners.  I think I’ll pass. I would rather get hate mail for the rest of my life from people telling me I’m not an American, and that I should be ashamed of myself for thinking so. Blah Blah Blah.

I do however hold the deepest respect for those men and women who serve our country overseas, and in the states, every day. Those are real heroes. True they are under direction of our nation’s President, but don’t think for one moment I would even invite him over for Sunday dinner. I have the utmost respect for police officers, firefighters, pilots, EMT’s and the citizens of our nation. People who put their lives at risk, or save the lives of others. Take 911 for example, the fallen men and women, died to save the rest of us, and our country. Heroes!!

I know, I know, how could a person like myself hold the views that I have? As a recovered substance abuser, I told people what they wanted to hear. I said I was sorry; not knowing sorry was an action word. I made promises I never intended to keep.  Now that I have become educated on my addiction, I am now able to put the shoe on the other foot. I was able to see that my broken promises were part of my self- seeking behavior, and that’s not okay. The same should go for our politicians. How can you sleep at night, knowing you have no intention of keeping promises? I believe that actions speak louder than words. Until then, sweet dreams!


News Flash!! Parents, You Could Save Your Child’s Life

By Amy M. Voltero

I wrote this piece in June, 2012, for a local photographer and dear friend’s self- esteem gallery. The subject of bullying, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, suicide and violence, has been more visible over time. Where does education start? How does self-help play a role amongst the children of our future? How does our upbringing shape our identity as adults?

I can’t stress how important it is today to begin education on the dangers of drugs and alcohol, inappropriate touching, safe sex, strangers and depression. Giving children positive reinforcement and affirmations shapes a child’s self image. Education on the above, starts at home, not in the classroom. Parents, please, please, please, get educated! Learn to talk to your children, and have an open relationship. Most people my age grew up in a home, where the rule of silence was that of the white elephant comparison, and fueled the saying, “The less I know, the better off I am.”

Not true!! Parents, the more you know, regarding proper education and warning signs of depression, low self esteem, substance abuse, ect, the better the odds are, in preventing these issues. Warning signs are, in my opinion are  apparent. The problem is, parents don’t quite know what they are looking for.

Just a little history on how substance abuse and low self esteem has affected my life.Figured it was appropriate to tell you I do  not hold a college degree on these subjects, but I do have life experience! Professors can’t teach my life in a classroom.

Merriam-Webster defines self-esteem as, “A confidence and satisfaction in one’s self.”

As a young child, I struggled with having any self- esteem. I grew up in an alcoholic and dysfunctional household. My father was the best father he knew how to be, considering his upbringing. He was extremely materialistic and superficial. He was absent, emotionally and mentally as early as age five. He wanted his children to be the most attractive, athletic and popular. That meant, pushing me beyond my limits. When he wanted me to go jogging with him, to avoid other children  making fun of me for being slightly overweight.  When dinner was served, he would comment saying, “Are you going to eat ALL that?” In lieu of his comments, I would not eat dinner then proceed to sneak food. I hid my secret eating habits from him, to avoid a conflict and make him happy.

Those learned behaviors carried into my teenage years and into my adulthood. I actually believed that I was unattractive and undesirable by everyone.  So, I picked up drugs and alcohol so I wouldn’t have to feel the pain of my poor self- image. I was co-dependent, which I didn’t learn until many years later. I was attracted to the “bad boy,” and began acting like a caretaker. I was used by every man I dated. These men I dated were criminals, alcoholics and addicts, and had what I thought, more issues than I did. I was attracted to this type of man because of the way I felt about myself. I thought I could save them, in an effort to avoid looking at myself and my own issues.

What I learned after many years of trying to achieve recovery from drugs and alcohol, and therapy is that, I didn’t feel complete without a man. I needed somebody by my side 24 hours a day, because I couldn’t stand the person I had become.

Being over two years clean and having been blessed with open-mindedness, honesty and willingness, I was able to understand that my father was just as sick as I was. Accepting that my childhood was unchangeable, was the beginning of my healing process.  I chose to listen to the voices in my head. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

I also learned that body image has nothing to do with self esteem, unless you allow it to shape your thoughts, feelings and actions.  When you make the choice to listen to negative self talk, you are saying, “I am not worth being happy, and embracing life to the fullest.” You are denying yourself the opportunity to grow as a woman, to your full potential.

My self- esteem today is defined by my accomplishments in recovery, being a single mother of an eighteen month old daughter, Mia, and being accountable and responsible. Today, I am not defined by a man, but defined by my ability to take a stand in carrying the message for women struggling with self -esteem issues and drug addiction. I chose to carry the message of hope to ensure that loving yourself is possible. I love myself, flaws and all. Accepting that there is no such thing as perfection, is a true weight lifter.  I never thought I could ever look in the mirror and like the reflection staring back at me. Today I do. I live an honest life and pay it forward whenever possible.

I am a firm believer that our stories have been written for us. There are signs everywhere and detours along the way.  It lies within our strength, knowledge and desire to choose the right path. Usually, it isn’t until we have had enough pain that we make the decision to change our lives and get educated regarding self-esteem, substance abuse and the negative effects it can have on our lives.  As human beings, we are our biggest critics and worst enemy.  I will end with this, “Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Get out of your own way, be yourself and love the skin you are in!!!