Children, The Web And Social Media.

Our Teens the battle of the web and social media:

The bell rings and the school day finishes. The pupils grab their bags and dash for the door. School bags slung on to their backs and a race for the exit to freedom. Suddenly the cackling of teenage voices is overpowered by beeps and ringtones. Heads drop to the mobile devise screen and fingers work furiously typing out life or death communications, the world might be coming to an end. Phones are lifted and pictures are recorded as proof and uploaded and sent to the command centre. I watch in awe as I am bewildered how this new form of human can cross the road with their head down and miraculously, the various methods of transport manage to stop or swerve and no fatalities are reported.

Dr Seuss, author of The Cat in The Hat
Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

Of course our teens love to go online, I wish it had been invented when I was in secondary school. The Internet is a source of information and can be used as an educational tool. The social media tools can be an asset to maintain and develop supportive relationships. They can help our teens to form their identities, through self-expression, learning and communicating. When utilised correctly they promote a sense of belonging and self-esteem. Most of us adults know how to behave in society, what is right/wrong, acceptable or not? We are generally good citizens and neighbours and so are our teens! Unfortunately those standards slip when we become digital citizens!

Zeeko (http://bit.ly/2jVZaXl) an Irish EdTech start-up which works to educate parents to teach their children to stay safe online has published results of its second School Digital Trend Report. 4,439 primary school pupils completed a questionnaire about their Internet use in 29 schools between September and November 2016. In addition Zeeko asked 913 guardians of primary school pupils in 55 schools between January and June 2016 to complete a similar questionnaire.

Key findings include the extensive use of mobile devices by primary school children, (86% have access to a smart phone, tablet or iPod); the seemingly younger ages at which children say they have open access to the internet (on average 1st class students first went online at 4.9 years old vs. 6th class students first went online at 7.6 years old); and the rise of SnapChat which has taken over Instagram as the most popular social media app with 45% of 6th class pupils now using SnapChat.

 There is a difference between using the Internet and using social media. The Internet can provide a platform of lots of educational tools to assist our children’s learning needs. Yes there is a vast amount of inappropriate material available on the web but thankfully there are tools provided for us to implement to ensure our child never has to see those dark pages. As parents or guardians it is our responsibility to implement those safe guards to protect our youngsters. Social media is a different animal. Essentially the concept is excellent and when utilised for the way in which it was intended it can and is a very positive and beneficial experience.

There are social media sites that ask for the users to be thirteen and over, much the same as your child’s email account set up from school. Be warned if you misrepresent your child’s age online consider the possible implications of this. If your child sees you lying online they may well feel they are entitled to lie if there is an age restriction on another site they would like to join.

Oscar Wilde
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

The key to building and maintaining a positive relationship with our teenagers is to always keep the channels of communication open. This is different to the lectures or talks we give our teens. I mean really connect and when it matters, the ability to relate to them in day-to-day life. This will help you and your teen to overcome the challenges they face growing up.

It is so easy with teens to get locked into unhelpful methods of communicating, arguing, nagging and even criticising. Once engaged in either of those it is very difficult to get out. Remember teenagers still need our guidance and advise not forgetting the boundaries, which have been set during their first decade. Tactics are key to success regardless if you are dealing with an authority adverse teen or a respectful teen. Our teen still needs to know we are interested but watchful, that we care and have their back even when we don’t agree with them. As parents we must develop the skill and emotional resilience to continue offering guidance and help even in the face of Indifference and opposition.

Am I A Good Parent? My Pandemic Reflection.

I never questioned my parenting skills or faults before now. The pandemic has forced me to reflect on a lot of things but none more than am I a good parent? I’m extremely lucky with my girls, they definitely make the job easier. Sure, there have been times when I have wanted to put my head under a pillow and scream until I was hoarse. There has also been occasion when one or both girls have disappeared to their bedrooms to hide from me or just simply take refuge. Trying to school the children, keep them motivated, occupy them, engage them, feed them, keep them safe, cook for the them entertain them, maintain the home etc has pushed me to limits I did not know existed. The dog (Murf) has even gone backwards in the last few months following me everywhere looking for a bit of my attention.

“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.” –Anne Frank

Parent guilt does exist. Before coronavirus, I only worried about building my career, creating a balance and managing the day to day “stuff” of the home while raising my daughters. Let’s be honest that can be stressful enough, whether you are a single parent or not, and then by the time you get home you are riddled with guilt as you feel you are neglecting your children. Just because you feel it does not mean it is true!

Children are for life, I know we all thought they would reach 18 and job done, now time for me. Pop the champagne, we have our lives back, eh no! We cannot divorce them and we just do not wake up on their 18th birthday, open the front door and wave goodbye as we pat ourselves on the back and congratulate ourselves on a job very well done. The worry that we carry for our little darlings never goes away. I can’t always be there for my kids, and if they fall they have to learn to get back up themselves. The real world has a lot of disappointment and inconveniences along the journey of life. But I will always be there to talk, listen and offer advice, should they need it. If it is a simple Dad hug that is needed, well they never run out and I would travel the world to serve upon my Dad hugs.

I can see so many of my traits in my girls, even a few of the not so good ones! What Covad-19 has made me see is that they really have their own identity and that identity is developing every day. They both are very passionate about different things and I support that, even when I don’t really understand it, but that is mainly because I am Dad and fake tan, hair colouring etc are alien to me, but I embrace it all. I must be doing something right as on occasion my advice has been sought, this alway overwhelms me with fear as the wrong answer can have disastrous affects.

Travel restrictions due to the pandemic have pushed us as a family into doing things together often that we may not have done due to other family commitments. Going for bike rides around the city is one such activity. I would have always travelled to go for a cycle with the girls, somewhere with less traffic but for a large part of 2020 we have been in lockdown which has meant it is city centre for exercise. Being a typical overacting father, I had in my mind we would get ploughed by a double decker bus, die or at the very least end up in a wheelchair and it would all be my fault. We headed off with Daddy duck in front and is two ducklings behind him. Thank goodness I did not give the lecture that I had planned. They took safety very seriously and in the end they were probable more cautious than I was. My point is keeping our children safe is a job we all take seriously, and at times I thought my advice was going straight in one ear and out the other, the reality was it had not and they had learned from the previous excursions.

“When a man dies, if he can pass enthusiasm along to his children, he has left them an estate of incalculable value.” –Thomas Edison

I have one regret in life and that is smoking. When my eldest was about 7 she came home from school and said, “Daddy if you don’t stop smoking you will die and I will have no Daddy.” I love smoking and was excellent at it, 30 a day was a minimum and everyone was as good as the last. My daughter was and is right and I did quit and to this day not only did it help me to live longer, it enabled me to set a good example. More so than ever I have learned my kids pay attention to what I do, how I behave and what I say. I try desperately hard to be a good role model and it is extremely tough when you are a single Dad, trust me it is not like the movies, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan endings are not here.

I have written before about the importance of family dinners and it is the perfect opportunity to get some quality time together without modern distractions. I love hearing about their day, the good, the bad and the ugly and we get to talk about everything and as they get older we even have some heated debates as they form their own identities and beliefs. 

Recently I have heard some pretty hurtful stuff from my kids. Immediately I thought I was failing as a parent. It isn’t a failure, I’m not my daughters friend, I am the parent and they need me to be. I’ve learned to stand my ground and set boundaries and unfortunately on occasion enforced consequences. This is the part of parenting I dislike the most, being unpopular, but as a parent I have an obligation to teach my children and how are they to learn about the values our family strive for? I hope one day to hear my children instruct their children on our values and I suppose then a piece of me will live on.

To see my kids clearly, I have looked at my own past. How was I treated in the family, how was I seen? For example, was I seen as a burden? Do I see my kids as the same and feel put out by them? Do I over worry about them and smother them? Overcompensate for them by doing too much? I love my children and they do stir a curiosity within me. Most of all they make me feel happy and very grateful. I love spending time observing their little quirks, I appreciate how they express themselves and I love how they make me laugh. 

Understanding My Teenager And Communicating With Her.

There exists huge amounts of social pressure on teens today and the opinions of their friends become extremely important. But they still need help and support to build and maintain healthy friendships. I cannot stress the importance of developing a good parent teen relationship, staying connected and especially paying attention to them. Continuing to be a role model, the person they look up to a reliable parent. I am not suggesting becoming their friend just remaining their parent.

“Telling a teenager the facts of life is like giving a fish a bath.”
Arnold H. Glasow

Friendships are a necessary support group for teenagers. They provide a sense belonging and a feeling of value which in turn assists in building confidence. Teens will not always ask parents for information as in some cases they may find it all too embarrassing, for example puberty and what they are experiencing physically and emotionally. Friendships are a good source of information and provide emotional support a sense of security and comfort with others going through the same experiences. For many teens the teen years is where they develop relationships with the opposite sex and romantic and sexual relationships are experienced.

As the transision from child to teen begins it is very normal for teenagers to spend more time alone and with their friends. Essentially this translates to them spending less time with family. Many parents fret about this and fear these intense friendships will become more valuable than the family unit. This is not unusual and if you cast your mamory back and are honest with yourself your behaviour was the same.

Fear not your child, now a teen, still needs you and as they get older and mature you may even need them and who knows they may offer you support. As parents it is important to encourage friendship amoung teens, but it is also very important to know who your teen is friends with and have open conversations about the different relationships with your teen. Encourage your son or daughter to be a good friend there are a few ways that this can be done and the life long benefit is that it will stand to your child for future years in how they develop relationships.

Sometimes young people do not realise that all friendships are not forever. People change over their lifetime and friends that your child is close to now, might not be the friendships they have in years to come. The occasional fallout between friends is natural. Help them navigate through conflict. Show respect to others and they should be respectful to you!

“I tell my child, if I seem obsessed to always know where you’ve been, it is because my DNA will be found at the scene.”
Robert Brault

As a parent there is nothing worse then making the tough decisions and suddenly becoming the “bad person”. Perhaps being told how much they hate you and how you are ruining their life and followed of by the slamming of doors and then to top it off, picture without sound. It is not our job to be our child’s friend. Our job is far more complicated than that. Children and especially adolescents need limits they crave boundaries and structure. And as teenagers they most definitely need a healthy separation from their parents. Our job is to teach our children and when and they will disobey dish out consequences. If you become their friend it is impossible to lay down the law and be respected by your teen. If you have treated your teen as a friend you will create confusion and they will believe that their power is equal to yours.

As our children grow up they strive to learn where they fit in and what is their place in the world, it is our job to guide and give them the time and space to grow into each phase developing to the next stage. Treating them as a peer/friend will not allow them to be kids.

We Have A Responsibility To Feed Our Children Healthily!

“Child hunger and child obesity are really just two sides of the same coin. Both rob our children of the energy, the strength and the stamina they need to succeed in school and in life. And that, in turn, robs our country of so much of their promise.” Michelle Obama

We are living in a time where we just don’t have enough time. People are rushed. They’re over worked, over scheduled. Not enough resources. …But the thing that I want people to understand in this campaign is that families can make small manageable changes in their lives that can have pretty significant impacts.
Michelle Obama

A research, published in The Lancet medical journal, pulled together data from 31.5 million children and teenagers aged five to 19 who took part in more than 2,000 studies. It discovered that universally, the estimated number of obese children and teenagers had risen 10-fold in the previous four decades.

Between 1975 and 2016 the number of obese boys in the world increased from six million to 74 million, while a similar trend for girls exhibited a growth from five to 50 million. Girls in Ireland ranked 79th globally for obesity, while boys ranked 98th. Though obesity in adults is measured simply using Body Mass Index (BMI), identifying it in children is more complex. The study authors used a WHO statistical method that looks at levels of deviation from a “normal” average. Children become overweight and obese for a variety of reasons. The most common causes are genetic factors, lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating patterns, or a combination of these factors.  

In most cases surplus weight is due to overeating and under-exercising. Children need extra calories to fuel their growth and development; if they have taken in the appropriate amount of calories, they should add pounds in proportion to their growth. But if they consume more calories than they’re burning off, the result will be unnecessary weight gain. Childhood obesity is almost always a result of a number of factors working together to increase risk.  These include:

Diet: Regular eating of high-calorie foods, such as takeout food, biscuits and other baked goods; fizzy minerals, sweets and crisps contribute to weight gain. Snacking is another large culprit. 

Absence of physical activity: Computers, mobile phone, tablets, television, and video games collaborate to keep children inside and inactive. This means they burn fewer calories and are more likely to put on weight. Worries about the safety of playing outside and a dependence on cars instead of walking does not help either. 

Environment: If a child opens up the fridge or kitchen cabinets and is greeted by bags of crisps, chocolate, etc., then that’s likely what they will eat. Equally, if you keep your fridge stocked instead with healthy and tasty cut-up fruits and veggies (berries, carrots, red pepper strips) low-fat yogurt and higher-fibre granola bars, then they will go for the healthier food (rather than eat nothing at all). 

Psychological factors: Like adults, some children may turn to food as a coping mechanism for dealing with problems, like stress, anxiety, or boredom.  Children struggling to cope with a divorce or a death in the family may eat more than usual as a result.

Genetics: Some children are born into a family where obesity already exists, they then may be genetically predisposed to the condition, particularly if high-calorie food is readily available and physical activity is not promoted.

A fat man is never so happy as when he is describing himself as “robust.
George Orwell

Socioeconomic factors:  Parents may lack the time, skill and resources necessary to purchase/prepare healthy foods as fast foods are becoming cheaper and more readily available. 

Medical conditions: Although not widespread, there are certain genetic diseases and hormonal disorders that can affect a child and cause obesity, such as hypothyroidism,Prader-Willi syndrome, cardiovascular disease insulin resistance, which is often a sign of impending diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders and even sone cancers such as colon, breast and endometrial.

The number of overweight or obese infants and young children (aged 0 to 5 years) increased from 32 million globally in 1990 to 41 million in 2016. The vast majority of overweight or obese children live in developing countries, where the rate of increase has been more than 30% higher than that of developed countries.

Without intervention, obese infants and young children will likely continue to be obese during childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

My Rant On Bad Manners And The End Of Respect.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It all boils down to respect, consideration and honesty. It’s that simple. Am I a dinosaur an extinct form of mankind, the kind that still opens a door for a lady, walks on the outside of a path, respectful of our elderly, uses my mobile phone in a manner that is not rude in the company of others. I believe social media in general is a positive attribute to society but I do not use it as a platform to ram my opinion onto others, I do not feel it necessary to be unkind and hide behind a screen to voice my dislike for one of my 1200 friends of which I probably know only 200 and my real friends are 10% of that figure. No, if I find myself in a position of unhappiness I will discuss it face to face or if they are toxic walk away from them. There is a very fine line between extreme rudeness and harassment and bullying. Actually we have invented new sayings for acts of bullying and harassment, one such saying is “road rage”.

The great secret, Eliza, is not having bad manners or good manners or any other particular sort of manners, but having the same manner for all human souls: in short, behaving as if you were in Heaven, where there are no third class carriages, and one soul is as good as another.
George Bernard Shaw

I am not a right winged misogynist desperately stuck in the 1920s. I have just noticed as a society nobody checks himself or herself and thinks, it just comes straight out of their mouths without care or consideration. Bad manners are now the norm. My earliest memory of witnessing behaviour, which I knew was not right and should be not accepted, was watching American tennis star John McEnroe and his outburst on the tennis court and his complete disrespect for opponents, spectators, and television viewers. I wonder what was going through Bjorn Borg head. It is hard to believe he was allowed get away with it and let continue to compete and become a role model for youngsters. TV chef Gordon Ramsey is another personality that has managed to earn a career out of rudeness. What kind of example are we setting for our children if this behaviour is acceptable and even promoted?

Contempt for authority is endemic, aggressive citizens roam the streets at night in a competition to see who is the most obnoxious and has no respect for public or private property. It is “mine” and “I will take” or just destroy. The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C have not surprisingly confirmed that playing violent video games can link to aggressive behaviour. The games, they say, are one way in which children are exposed to aggressive actions over examples of empathic and sociable behaviour, and that it is an “accumulation” of such factors that are likely to influence behaviour.

“The research demonstrates a consistent relation between violent video game use and increases in aggressive behaviour, aggressive cognitions and aggressive affect, and decreases in prosocial behaviour, empathy and sensitivity to aggression,” http://www.apa.org/pi/families/review-video-games.pdf

As I follow the daily media commentary with reference to “Brexit” it disturbingly reminds me of divorce. I feel sorry for the children stuck in the middle, no fault of their own as each side accuses one another with elevated voices trying to impose their point of view criticising the other person, exaggerating their short comings in a competition to see who is the rudest. The child being dragged into a war of words a choosing of sides and even though they don’t know nor understand what they are arguing about they are excepted to come to a conclusion. There is and will never be any winners, no victory laps just collateral damage and a broken family. Children left believing what they have witnessed and experienced is acceptable behaviour.

Is it too mush to expect people to cover their mouths when sneezing, refrain from spitting or even stand up when greeting a fellow human with an outstretched hand to shake? It is such a shame little value is held with regard to experience otherwise we might listen and hear what our elderly have to say.

Cultures vary their greetings, clothing, expectations about how children should behave, numbers of husbands or wives, beliefs in god, gods. People celebrate but also go to war about these differences.  I have had enough of bad manners and believe and expect that good manners are timeless and I hope they will become fashionable once again and sooner rather than later. As parents we have a responsibility to our children and society to consistently educate them in good manners and when you receive bad manners never lower your standards. Other role models such as teachers, celebrities, politicians, world leaders and those who are responsible for online social media have a huge part to play to ensure our values of civilities does not vanish for good.

Good manners sometimes means simply putting up with other people’s bad manners.
H. Jackson Brown, Jr

In the meantime we as parents must not fail or children and society and educate our children how to act in public, how to care and how to be polite? Ignorance cannot be accepted as an excuse nor alcohol or drugs. Just because the world is a busy place is not an excuse not to say “please” or “thank you”.

“It’s a pity so many of us persist in regarding politeness as being merely a superficial social grace instead of what it really is, namely one of the necessities of life. Quite apart from politeness for its own sake, and as a matter of plain justice, it is invaluable as a sort of cushion or buffer to hold off the jolt that would otherwise disrupt the harmony of things.” Zealandia.

Children Living With Peer Pressure.

Wanting to be more like your friends is a normal part of being a teenager. Peer influence or peer pressure isn’t always a bad thing, but sometimes it might be a concern for you or your child. If this happens, there are things you can do to help manage it. Peer pressure is when you choose to do something you would not otherwise do, because you want to feel accepted and valued by your friends. It isn’t just or always about doing something against your will. 

“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”
― Bruce Lee

The term ‘peer pressure’ is used a lot. But peer ‘influence’ is a better way to explain how teenager’s behaviour is formed by wanting to feel they belong to a band of friends or peers. Peer pressure or influence is not all negative it can be very positive. Your son or daughter may be influenced to become more self-confident, try new pursuits, or become more involved with schoolwork and activities. But it can also have the opposite effect and be negative too. Some teenagers might choose to try things they typically would not be interested in, such as smoking/drinking or taking part in other antisocial behaviour.

Normally it is just the simple things such as listening to the same music, watching the same TV shows, wearing the same clothes and even inventing their own language to communicate although this often sound alien as it is imported from the US. Coping with peer pressure is all about getting the balance right of your values and that of fitting in with the group.

Unfortunately it is a fact of life that peer pressure may present more negative influences on children who feel they do not have many friends or struggle with self-confidence. These adolescents may feel the only way to be included/accepted is to take on and consent to the behaviour of a particular group.

Of course as a parent this will cause concern and you become worried that your teen is being too influenced by their peers and not being guided by the values you instilled in them. Another reason for worry may be that you feel your child will not be able to say no when it matters and behaviours could lead to antisocial behaviour. If you cast your mind back to when you were the same age and experiencing peer pressure you may remember on occasion you did things that your friends did and sometimes you choose not to engage in some of the other activities your peers got involved in. The same will be for your child. You have given your child the tools to cope and a strong set of values so it is more likely they will know where to draw the line and exclude themselves from the company of their friends if their behaviour is becoming unacceptable.

“Confidence is knowing who you are and not changing it a bit because of someone’s version of reality is not your reality.”
― Shannon L. Alder

Some good tips to help you and your child manage peer pressure include:

  • ïKeep the lines of communication open.
  • ïAdvises your child, suggest ways they can say no if they feel they are being pressured into something they are uncomfortable with.
  • ïExplain there is always a way out, they can phone or text you. Assure them you will not be annoyed. If necessary invent a safe code they can send you so you will come to the rescue immediately.
  • ïAssist your child in building up their self-confidence this will encourage them and give them the tools to be comfortable in making their own decisions.
  • ïThe wider your child’s social network is the better, encourage them to get involved in activities they are interested in and support them.

Without a doubt good communication and a healthy positive relationship with your child will forever encourage them to communicate with you and help them with deflecting any unwanted negative influences/pressures from peers.

Covid-19 And Ageing Parents

“Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter” famously said by Satchel Paige. Covid-19 is effecting the most vulnerable and most of the deaths are in the over 70 age group. My parents are both 84 and since the outbreak and especially the cocooning, I have unfortunately noticed a deterioration in their physical and mental health. I somehow became their carer without ever realising it and I am happy to do it. It is something I have been doing for the last 20 years but more so in the last 2 years. It is tough watching loved ones age and that is made harder if health problems exist. I can’t imagine how they must feel and even think about the fear involved. 

Most of us live a busy life and find ourselves preoccupied with our schedules and that is very normal. I have being making some mental notes of my experience of the good things I have managed to do and the not so good. The worlds ageing profile has grown massively over the last 50 years. In Europe consistently low birth rates and higher life expectancy are transforming the shape of the EU-28’s age pyramid; probably the most important change will be the marked transition towards a much older population structure, a development which is already apparent in several EU Member States. In the U.S. the share of the population younger than 15 and older than 65 years has also increased in recent years. In China in 2019, population aged 65 years and above for China was 11.5 %. Population aged 65 years and above of China increased from 3.7 % in 1970 to 11.5 % in 2019 growing at an average annual rate of 2.32%.

Madeleine L’Engle once said, ‘The great thing about getting older is that you don’t loose all the other ages you’ve been.” That is so true and looking back over myself I have changed so much, physically and mentally. You can still be productive in your own life whist giving your ageing parents care and attention. Without a doubt it is isolation, boredom, and loneliness which is effecting my parents. Mobility is now becoming an issue and I worry that since the outbreak they have lost the ability to drive or because of everything driving would now be dangerous and this in turn will compound all of the above mentioned and certainly their independence! I listen to my folks talking about old friends and unfortunately a lot of them have died and this definitely has an effect on them, it is so tough. Even at 50, I miss some friends whom have died and death does scare me because my children are still young and need a lot of parenting to ensure they are ready for the world. The opportunity for our parents to attend social engagements are gone for the time being and friend can’t be visited or even friends can’t visit them.

Looking after my parents has become a top priority and the thought of them going to a nursing home is not an option I will take. I am lucky I live pretty close to my parents and can visit them daily to check in on. My daughters can video call and they love this. Of course they would love a hug from them but during this pandemic it is not an option. So virtual hugs are all the rage in my house.

It is not difficult to maintain frequent contact with your ageing parents. Even if you are not living close to them, technology lets us see each other and it means so much to them. Imagine if you could not see your child! There really is no excuse not to be contact with all the technology we have available to us. I am lucky both my parents are alive it would be so much harder if it was just one parent as I fear they would fall foul of depression.

I visit my parents on average 6 days out of a week and the day I don’t visit they ring me to see if I am ok. During Covid-19 if possible try to call on them. I can’t explain how much it means to them. Despite all the technology in the world there is no substitute for a physical visit. It works two fold where it is good for you to check on them but it is super good for them to receive a visit.

If your parents are not using modern technology, and mine were not! I urge you to teach them or quite simple write out clear instructions. A lot of these can be found online and a quick copy and paste and enlarge the print they will have the know how. Remember to turn up the volume. This is also of benefit to them and keeps the boredom at bay. There is also a whole new world for them to explore and chat about. They can also keep in touch with friends. My dad had a zoom coffee date with a group of his friends and my mum is on FaceTime to her sister!

Remember ageing parents need the attention of us, their adult children. I makes them happier and safer.

The women online you will meet.

Gone are the days when we used to meet potential love interests through social circles. They still do exist but there are not many fish in these shallow waters. Hence the popularity of online dating has gone through the roof. Possibly one of the main contributors to this development is time or the lack of it. It is so much easier to sit at home and browse through thousands of profiles, swiping left or right. The menu is overflowing with choice but surely this makes us judgemental and if honest we dismiss a person for a shallow reason that we possible would not if we were to meet in a more conventual setting. Let’s face we tend to aim high and swipe right with people we think would be out of our league, a new winning strategy we take hiding behind our sofa. So what are the different types of ladies out they’re waiting for us?

The man girl: All of us love her, but she is better suited as a friend in the long term, and us guys don’t like to loose friends. She is one of the lads, she relates to us and does not have many female friends because this chick just gets on better with men.

The talk, talk, talk, talk, and talk woman: This woman is easy to spot, she never shuts up or stops texting essays and no matter how hard you try to reply, beep, another text arrives with unnecessary information. It won’t be long before you are bored, frustrated and driven to distraction, you will know every little detail about her and you will be lucky if she remembers your name. Thankfully there is a mute button followed by delete. If for some reason you have a death wish and meet for a date, make sure there is a back door to exit from.

The single Mum: Naturally online dating sites are littered with single parents, and there is nothing wrong with that. Beware you need to know what you are diving into, forewarned is forearmed! Your life will end up like hers, centred around her little darlings and you possibly won’t like them but only because she has done nothing but focus on them and they demand her attention as required 24/7. However single mums are genuine, but you need to think long and hard are you ready for this level of commitment?

The genuine lady: Believe it or not, this very rare type of woman exists and if you are lucky enough to come across her you have won the lotto. They have no hidden agenda, what you see is what you get! They are fully independent and happy with their life. Do not pass by, she is wonderful!

The Hookup lady: Yes ladies, just like men there are women who just want a one night stand, it is just sex without any obligation. The difference is women are more open about it than men. 

The know it all woman: This woman believes she is better than everyone, however if you dig a little deeper into her she is the complete opposite. This wannabe will pretend she is living the dream lifestyle, the one she thinks she deserves. She will probable have a few designer accessories or good knock offs. If she thinks you have the money that can afford her desired lifestyle she will pursue you. In essence she will be so opinionated and often get the wrong end of the stick you will head for pastures greener.

Hot but not: Online dating is full of women (and men) whose profile pictures portrays a very beautiful woman. The photos may be very old or airbrushed but when you meet this lady she is unrecognisable to what you thought you were going to meet. I cannot understand why women do this as when reality catches up and the man disappears she must be left feeling rejected. 

The never single lady: The lady who lives in fear of being on her own and will take any man up until the next better one turns up. This woman is always online looking for the man that does not exist. They are intense at the start and the cracks on the wall will appear and either you run or she has found someone she believes is better for her, the trend never ends.

The gold digger: Let’s face it she wants your money, it is that simple. But where us men fall for it is they are typically attractive and very engaging. They are easy to spot with the questions about your job, bank balance and any other materialistic thing they are interested in.

The health nut: As men we always think we should be taking better care of ourselves but rarely act upon it. This lady has run the 10 km race and is looking forward to the marathon. She has left the bedroom before you have had your first dream. This lady will have many suitors but not everybody’s cup of tea. Make sure you have health insurance.

Dr. Dolittle: This animal lover does not hide the fact that her animals are her life and come first. Her profile photos look like something off Noah’s ark. This is extreme but it may be something of interest to some.

The happy ending: This dreamer has her fairytale mapped out in her head since she was born. She knows what she wants, the perfect wedding, home and children. This is make believe so she will normally settle for the very next best or the man who is close to giving her what she wants. This lady probably is not in love with you but as long as you satisfy her dreams you are functional for her.

The nut job: This psycho hates men and will come across aggressive, if you stay around long enough she will be abusive and possible violent. She is certainly unpredictable, very Jekyll and Hyde. She will want to know where you are at all times and why. When this goes pear shaped and it will warn your family and friends cause she will contact them.

The homemaker: This lady wants you to take care of her, she does not want to work and is happiest in the home. If independence is what you seek this lady is not for you. But let’s face it I know plenty of men that want a quiet life and this lady is perfect for them.

Covad-19, Online Dating, A Guide For Women By A Man.

Covad-19 is still here and lockdowns have been in place for some time now. Online dating sites are exploding with users looking for love, or are they? I’ve survived on planet Earth for 50 years and had my fare share of dates as I progressed through the decades. In recent days my boredom got me thinking about the various different types of males that exist and how they portray themselves to women. Men talk to men about their strategies in finding the ideal woman, whether it is for one night, one week, month, year or lifetime. Essentially we are a predictable creatures with various personalties. Because men don’t use these strategies with other men we can get along with each other in harmony. I understand how this fact may worry women, but we, men just ignore it and move on.

covad-19
waterfall of love

When you sign up to an online website the possibilities seem endless, it is an exciting and interesting experience. So much choice appears in front of you as you swipe left or right, believing love is just around the next corner. But them suddenly there is not as many matches as you first thought, and you begin to dig a little deeper into the profile of the matches you have made and suddenly you see a pattern and not every possibility is worth pursuing. Now you begin to concentrate on how they have written their bios, question the profile pictures they have chosen and how they engage in conversation. At this stage you know not all of them are worth chatting to, let alone considering to meet for a coffee, but then it depends exactly what you are looking for at the time you enter the unknown world of online dating. For those of you who are about to embark into the unknown these are some of the characters you will meet, for those of you whom already have been online no doubt you have met these guys.

The online newbie: That was me. I had absolutely no game plan, I didn’t know what I wanted and talked to everybody that I matched with. I thought at the very least if they had bothered to swap right, I at least should have the manners to say hello and introduce myself. Some questions posed to me I tried to dodge as I thought it was a bit forward or why would someone ask me that considering I haven’t met them. In hindsight I would avoid me, I did not have a clue what I wanted or why I was even online. My suggestion is delete me you are only wasting your time and energy.

The Romantic: I have a friend who epitomises this. This dude has love tattooed on the brain, he really believes in love and Valentine day tops Christmas. He quotes songs and maybe even poetry to the point it may make you want to vomit. Everybody is superficial in todays world, he tells you. His profile picture is of him in the sunset or with a dog rubbing noses and if he is on a yoga mat, run for the hills. Oh he does do yoga. You will alway get a good morning and a goodnight. If you meet, he more than likely will come on too strong, you will tell him to slow down but he argues how perfect you are for one another. He is not in a rush to get you undressed and into bed, he is playing the long game, you will have an eternity to make love. Soulmates who’s astrological signs are completely in line. Your phone will beep all day as he texts you question after question, this guy is in a rush to know everything about you. You may be interested in this and even enjoy it but it will end in tears, usual his!

The middle-aged hero: the adventurer on steroids: This overactive male runs, walks, cycles, etc. He has passed 40 and in a mid-life crisis, the bucket list is full and he is in a rush to achieve goals. Balding or simply just turning grey, this man is charming. Profile picture is with his niece or nephew or somebody else’s kids and more than likely there is a dog thrown in for good measures. You needs to know he likes kids and maybe even yours, despite his complete lack of commitment to settling down with you. This guy wants you to think he is mature and values you and is interested in a good conversation. Yes, you will do for the current adventure he is on, this is a man-child and he is jumping off that cliff to avoid responsibility. If this is something that interests you treat it like the car you want but makes no sense, take it for a test drive and bring it back!

The player: This guy is online with the sole purpose of getting you into bed and once that is done he is dust! It is casual and it is just sex. He will complement you and say all the right things till you are naked and conquered then it is goodbye and you are deleted. The photos of him shirtless or his muscles bulging out of a tee-shirt are gone and you just have the memories. This guy will make little effort, but you are keen and will do the traveling, you have maybe three dates to get your clothes off before he has moved on to his next victim. Be careful, this guy will push your boundaries until you yield or run. I hope you run for the hills. But perhaps you want a fling with no strings attached.

The married or in a relationship guy: This cheater will hunt his prey either from distance or without a picture, or maybe a picture disguising he’s true identity. Discretion is a necessity on his bio, this dude is a serial cheater and everything is planned, organised, he is premeditated. No morals exist, he wants casual, it is that simple. 

Just divorced/separated: This poor guy is vulnerable, it’s a tough place for him, but he is horny. He just wants someone to like him and go out with him and feel like he is in a relationship again, oh and have sex. This guy dated last when online dating didn’t exist. If you are up for a rebound this is more than likely your guy, even though this is not his intentions. He is still processing what happened in his last relationship and blaming her for all the years wasted. 

Sugar daddy: Rich and interested in the younger lady. Be aware after some time you will be traded in.

The tourist: Only here for a new nights and does not want to spend any time alone. It is a hookup so do not fool yourself. It does what it says on the tin!

The lunatic: This guy is screwed up and should be nowhere near a dating site or a woman. He needs time out. This guy will come across committed, responsible, well dressed and very presentable. Give him time and all this issues will surface, be it trust or commitment ones. This man has baggage and his probably still in love with his ex. He will claim to be the perfect guy and probably need to be in control of everything, the alpha male or at least the wanna be alpha. He is well versed and possibly read the books on how to get a woman. All is profile pictures seem normal and I have no doubt his bio has been researched and probably copied from earlier research. This narcissist sociopath will drive you insane. I hope you never meet him because he is hard to spot at the beginning.

The commitment dude: This guy has a bit of everything in him from the above mentioned. He will make the effort to engage when communicating with you, he knows from experience this is a process and he is not afraid to put in the work. This guy is genuine and if after he meets you and does not remain in contact it is because he feels it was not a good match and not because he was trying to use you for sex. He understands it is impossible to have a relationship with every woman, if he meets the right woman he will put the effort in. He wants to fall in love and have a meaningful relationship, emotionally and physically. He is not scared to put himself out and won’t loose faith.

The Best Journey After My Marriage.

It was inevitable my marriage was going to end, but I believe both of us can honestly say we tried damn hard for it to work. When we eventually admitted to each other it was over there was a sense of relief. We decided I would remain in the house until such a time our children had got used to the idea and we had sorted out a few of the finer details. The day I moved out I really thought it was going to be easy, and I was looking forward to the beginning of a new chapter in my life. In truth I hadn’t moved on as much as I thought. I went through phases of praising her and hating her and sometimes at the same time! Emotionally I was a car crash and quickly realised I needed to be patient with myself.

“Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get–only with what you are expecting to give–which is everything.”
–Katharine Hepburn

I was lucky enough to be openminded and decided to sign up for some therapy. I have told this to very few people, probably because of the stigma attached. It was the best and hardest thing I ever did. The end result was I became very comfortable and accepting of myself. I reflected on my past mistakes and learned a great deal from it. The end of my marriage was not because of my spouse, it was both of us equally. However, the marriage was over and I had to concentrate on my mistakes to ensure I would not make them again.

Friends, mainly male were green with envy and offering to assist me in setting up profiles for online dating sites. Their intentions were good but I declined and decided to be celibate for a while. I had two reasons for this decision. 1, I needed some time for myself, get my head together. I was far from ready to jump back on the saddle. 2, I have two daughters and what kind of message would I be sending them. I am their Dad and role model. I found being alone, a single parent a super experience, it gave me time to focus n my children and myself.

I became the person I wanted to be, and embraced my new identity. I had time to pursue many of my interests that had escaped me during marriage. I lost the extra weight I had been carrying and four inches off my waist. Although during Coronavirus lockdown one inch has magically reappeared. I swim at least 3 km 3 times a week. This was great me time whilst an even better way to stay fit. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely hate the thought of undressing and getting into the water, but feel amazing when I get out.

Once our children arrived I took the role of parenting very seriously, I had always wanted children and was blessed with my two daughter. I would rather stay at home with then go out. This was a problem in my marriage and I can understand now how it must have annoyed my ex. I should have made more of an effort and I regret not doing so. When I became single I had to get out of the house and socialise, otherwise I would have slowly gone mad. I have made lots of new friends and enjoy the banter. It’s also nice to have a beer and watch a match with other supporters. In essence when I was alone I had not realised how isolated I was from the world compared to when I was part of a couple. I had focused too much on my family unit and not others around us. We have a tendency to keep distance in our friendships when we are in a relationship or marriages, because of our priorities and lack of time to do it all. I’ve cleared space now, turned to my friendships and given them my time.

Divorce is like taking off a blindfold and I learned my true friends are immediately. The friends who stick around, those are your friends, keep them close. If a person who is not blood related stands by your side when you are in the dark, you can be certain they really love you. Love them back. That was hard to learn, many of my family did not stand by my side and I do not mean take sides, I was not looking for that.

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”
–Maya Angelou

Only have a relationship, when you are ready. Take time to observe how you feel. Fall in love and take precautions for heartbreak. The first person you fall fo  after your ex, is usually the opposite in character to the person you were married to. During this time, explore yourself. I swore I would never date certain types but the person who is probably perfect for me is all the things I said I never wanted. This is because I did not have a clue what I wanted, I did not know me. I had to let down my guard and be prepared for anything. I have learned there is no deadline on this journey, don’t hurry. Take time. Enjoy this adventure while it lasts, because life will surely settle in again. I know I will reflect on the time I spent alone as the most petrifying and liberating period in my life.