Tag Archives: family

A Time Honored Tradition Banned: Father/Daughter Dances

By, Amy M. Voltero

Dictionary.com defines time honored traditions as respected or valued because it has existed for a long time. How many times have you been to a baseball game and witnessed the first pitch being thrown?  Tailgating is every die hard football fan’s pleasure. There’s nothing better than setting up a tent and the barbecue grill, and psyching yourself up for three hours of sacks, touchdowns and first downs.

The country’s singing of the national anthem is also a time honored tradition prior to a sporting event.  I can remember being a kid waiting to see which famous celebrity was honored to belt out our country’s theme song.  Another childhood memory was saying the, “Pledge of Allegiance,” in homeroom when the teacher was taking attendance. My most fond memory of time honored tradition is preparing for the Father/Daughter dance at my elementary school. I loved getting dressed up, and looked forward to having the best dance partner, my Dad. We would do the dough see dough, the jitterbug and dance to slow songs.

In Cranston Rhode Island, Father/Daughter dances, and Mother/Son baseball games are now obsolete. Thanks to the ACLU, American Civil Liberties Union and a complaint fueled by a single mother in the community. The issue at hand was her daughter was denied entrance to the dance due to her father not being in her life. That means persons in charge of admittance to the event, discriminated against this young girl for something out of her control.

These events violate Rhode Island’s gender discrimination law. Superintendent Judith Lundsten informed school organizations gender-specific events would no longer be allowed after school district attorneys found that, while federal gender discrimination laws exempt such events, Rhode Island law does not.(Fox news)

According to the Associated Press, “I acknowledge that many of these events have long traditions and for many parents, these types of gender-based events are not an issue,” Lundsten wrote. “However, this is a public school system and under no circumstances should we be isolating any child from full participation in school activities and events based on gender. Please be all-inclusive when planning your events.” (Fox news)

Some families in Rhode Island are outraged. Despite the differences in family structures, there are some families who want to practice traditional family values, and that includes, partaking in events such as the above. Parents who struggle balancing their time between work and parenting, look forward to these dances, and in creating memories that will last a lifetime.

I am in agreement with Superintendent Lundsten’s statement.  Family structures in the 40’s and 50’s, families consisted primarily of two parents, siblings and sometimes grandparents.  The norm of family structure in the year 2012 consists of one mother or father, two mothers or fathers, or a sibling or alternate family member could be acting as the primary caregiver. Children should not pay the price for the hand they were dealt. I believe such events, should not be excluded from a child’s life. Just change the name, why completely ban this time honored tradition?

As most of you know, I wear the hat of mother and father. Balancing work, recovery and parenting can leave an overwhelming feeling of guilt at times, for not spending as much time with her as I want to. The rush of daycare and work preparation, dinner, bath, playtime and bed feels as if I am on auto pilot some days. When all is said and done, I work from home, listening to her seaside lullaby cd, and reflect on my day and shortcomings. I always come to the same conclusion, I wish there was more time in the day. As she gets older, I realize I will be wearing more hats; coach, tutor, cab driver, etc. My hope is to be able to find an even balance between life on life’s terms and parenting. By the time my daughter reaches the age of dances, hopefully the ACLU will have come to an agreement with communities in bringing back these traditions, only under a new title, so single parents such as myself will be given the same opportunity, as generations before, to cherish these Kodak moments.








Unhealthy Relationships: Are You A Victim Or a Volunteer

By Amy M. Voltero

Being unaware of unhealthy relationship is very common amongst us. The dynamic can exist between family members, significant others, bosses, co-workers, schoolmates and friends.  My experience on the subject has surrounded mostly relationships with significant others.

As an addict in recovery, I have become educated on the reasons why I thrived off of such relationships. I am not only recovering from addiction to substances but from codependency, low self- esteem and people pleasing.

When I was not in recovery from these issues, I found myself attracted to the bad boy. Oh yes, the bad boy is mysterious, sexy, somewhat controlling, great in bed, fearless, ego driven and my least favorite, emotionally detached. Instant gratification! Presto!!!!

Let’s admit ladies, the regular guy can seem boring, right? I have now learned that the “regular” guy is the safest route to go, if you are a woman like me.

Seeking a man with this type of façade, has been my biggest downfall. I always say, my first addiction is a man, then substances. In my experience, I have learned that we mostly want what we can’t have. I believe that dynamic exists with both sexes. If you are stubborn like I am, then, you probably won’t give up until you get what you want, OR you will give up when you have had enough pain.

What we don’t realize, or even care about when we are consumed with this relationship, is the consequences that follow the game of cat and mouse.

My therapist has educated me on this type of dynamic. It’s called, “The Pursuer and The Distancer.”  You think he’ll solve your self-esteem, body image, family, and work problems – not to mention your financial woes and spiritual blockages. You believe the “right relationship” or the “perfect man” will make everything better. As we pursue, in order to compensate for some inconsistency in our lives, the distancer will pull away.

The need to feel loved or wanted is a natural. When you have any type of insecurities, or have been exposed to an unhealthy environment, you are more likely to seek relationships which have been modeled in your past.

You find yourself lowering your standards, going to what we call all-time lows. Hitting the lowest point depends on how much pain we can handle before our actual breaking point. It starts off small, like cancelling appointments or other obligations to compensate spending time with the other person. You will make sweet gestures like bringing them a coffee, when you grab one for yourself. Show up at important events, just to show your support. Harmless, right?

Our all-time lows rear their ugly heads when we choose to ignore the warning signs. He or she becomes expectant of past gestures, demand the unthinkable, and manipulate using guilt trips in order to get what they want. They will use the adoration we have for them in order to feed their ego and to maintain control of us. By this point, our insecurities and low self-esteem are allowing this type of abuse to exist.  We think, we cannot do any better, and that the more we do for someone, the more they will like us.

In the end, we end up getting hurt. We have rearranged our lives, emptied our bank accounts, and ran in circles chasing our tails, hoping for returned love and affection.  How could this have happened? I did everything that person asked? The only way to break this pattern is by getting help. Taking a look at yourself and becoming educated about unhealthy relationships is the first step. Becoming aware on the signs of abuse is the key. Abuse comes in many forms, physical, verbal, mental and emotional. Once you can identify these warning signs, you will be giving yourself the gift of self-awareness.

Feeling less than, unwanted, unattractive and unloved are just a few of the reasons that prompted me to add some spice to my life, by chasing the bad boy. My bad boy is all of the above characteristics, and also an addict. Loving an addict, can be the most painful. Reality says, as long as someone is in full blown, active addiction, I will never be number one. There is no way to differentiate between the good guy, and the bad guy, because I made excuses for the unacceptable behavior. I made excuses because I remembered that underneath the addiction, I was a good person.  I didn’t know how to put the shoe on the other foot, without jumping in with both feet. My life became their lives. I can’t say I lost myself, because at that point in time, I never had myself.

Today, I am educated on my personal issues, addiction, self-esteem, and healthy relationships. Just because I have these tools, doesn’t always mean I use them 100% of the time. Recently, more often than not, I have found my toolbox in the basement rather than easily accessible, on my tool belt. Luckily, something greater than me intervened, and saw I had endured enough pain. I didn’t jump in with both feet, but was beginning to try the other shoe on. I am grateful for the pain I went through because it has allowed me to bring myself back to reality. I am writing this for all of you to see, because I am freeing myself from the pain I allowed. Having been educated on the above, I’m aware I took a step backwards and have named myself a volunteer, not victim for the most recent hurt.

I am not ashamed to admit, my all-time lows. If anything, admitting my faults and insecurities on paper, for all to read, makes me a stronger woman.  I hope some of you who read this will identify and take the time to reevaluate your current relationships and your lives. If I have helped just one person, then my work here is done. “ Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail”- Ralph Waldo Emerson