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Listen Before You Pounce

I'm Dr. Laura (a.k.a. "My Kid's Mom") and I'd like to read to you something hilarious. Now the reason I'm reading this to you is not just to entertain you. I am not a stand-up comic, although I do have that edge about me. But it's because I want you parents to realize something, particularly if you jump into way too much defensiveness about your children before you learn more of the facts, like when they get into trouble at school or when there are other issues at school. Your immediate reaction might just be to defend your little kid. Well, you know what? There are times you need to defend them and there are times you need to help them grow up, tell the truth and handle things with honor, character and courage. So here's the humor to remind you of that.

[School Answering Machine, the outgoing message:]

Hello! You have reached the automatic answering service of your school. In order to assist you in connecting to the right staff member, please listen to all the options before making a selection:

To lie about why your child is absent - Press 1

To make excuses for why your child did not do his work - Press 2

To complain about what we do - Press 3

To swear at staff members - Press 4

To ask why you didn't get information that was already enclosed in your newsletter and several fliers mailed to you - Press 5

If you want us to raise your child - Press 6

If you want to reach out and touch, slap or hit someone - Press 7

To request another teacher, for the third time this year - Press 8

To complain about bus transportation - Press 9

To complain about school lunches - Press 0

If you realize that this is the real world and your child must be accountable and responsible for his/her own behavior, class work, homework and that it's not the teachers' fault for your child's lack of effort then - Hang up and have a nice day!

Many of you really need to hear that little bit of humor. I understand, because I, myself, am a mommy and the last thing I wanted was my own kidlet's feelings hurt. And I used to immediately go into "mommy bear" mode, because [in a gruff voice] "somebody's upsetting my kid." But you have to realize, if you want your child to grow up to be a decent, functional person, they have to be held accountable for their actions.

They have to be taught to tell the truth, they have to be taught to deal with disappointment and frustration, and even a little bit of fear. And if you can work with the teachers to help your child do that, then I won't have to nag you, will I?

I'm Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Now go do the right thing.

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A Family of Leeches

Hi, I'm Dr. Laura Schlessinger and welcome to the Dr. Laura YouTube channel, where you get to ask important questions that I think are relevant to a lot of people. And I know this one is. And the answer may seem so obvious, but I think it has a depth that we need to explore.

Tammy wrote (she's 38)...she's writing about her family and the difficulty she has letting them suffer the consequences of their own behaviors. What does that mean?

"My entire family," she says, "on both sides, are addicts." She has no addiction to drugs or alcohol though. Her mother committed suicide when she was a baby. Her father abandoned her on the steps of his own mother and father. The grandparents, along with the maternal aunt and uncle, shared responsibility for raising her, and she is grateful for that.

The issue she continually faces is that her family consistently makes terrible financial choices and many of them cannot pay their bills, and their houses are in foreclosure. "I chose a different path, which was to go to college, marry a great guy and, as a result, I am very financially secure," she writes. "I help my family, within reason, and where I feel I can make a difference. For example, getting the niece off to college, paying for rehab for a cousin, etc." [Good gracious]. "I, however, will not continue to shell out cash for their continual bad decisions: Like buying a new car when they have no money, or re-financing the house and taking out the equity to 'have fun', or to retire early because they don't like their boss. I do not believe this is my responsibility, and regardless of how much money we have, my husband and I didn't work hard to get where we were, so that we could support my family's irresponsibility and bad decisions." Well, you know, she's right. (There's another sentence.) "I believe my position is fair and appropriate, so why does it cause me so much stress to say 'no'?"

This makes me so sad to have to answer, but there's good news and bad news. The bad news is that you have an irresponsible family full of leeches, and in addition to that, you lost your mom and dad. Now you are grateful for the relatives who brought you up, but they're also trying to suck you dry. And you have a sense of responsibility and gratitude because they did raise you. On the other hand, the truth is, you have so few people in your family who are really generous and loving and caring about you. And you know that money is the umbilical cord, and it's hard for you to imagine cutting it. Because then, you know, it's like being lost at sea. They'll just be going off and off and off and off into the sunset, and that's very painful for you to think about.

Now the good news! The good news is that you've got a wonderful husband and kids, and his side of the family is terrific. So there are times you have to cut your losses; accept the fact that there was minimal there anyway. I like you helping somebody in your family who's trying to do something with their lives...that's terrific. You grew up in spite of all of this chaos to be a very decent, loving, caring person. But don't let that be used against you.

I'm Dr. Laura Schlessinger. I look forward to hearing some of your questions, right here, on the Dr. Laura YouTube channel. Take care.

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Behind the Music: An Interview with Benjamin Pratt

[Rolodex box being used as slate]
Dr. L:This is an example of how high tech we are here on the Dr. Laura Program, which is me (I am my kid's mom) and we have one of our most celebrated peeps here. This is Benjamin Pratt, who engineers and orchestrates our music. And I wonder, what does that mean? What do you do with music?

Ben:Basically what I do is I take the brilliant answers that you give the listeners and [gestures with thumbs up] I try to encapsulate music coming into the next segments so it just accentuates it. It makes it creative. It's somewhat like sound designing a movie, except it's a radio program. So I try to find music that matches up with the calls and make it interesting to listen to and, of course, make you laugh.

Dr. do you do that in the few seconds you have? I mean, how does many pieces of music do you have and how do you know where to dive in to?

Ben:Well, in an attempt to make myself irreplaceable, I've designed it around my brain, and I've come up with key words. So when you're talking to a caller and I'm sitting back and I'm taking my notes, I think to myself, "What is this call about?" And I've found commonalities between certain topics, whether or not it's sex or marriage, abusive relationships, brothers, sisters...whatever the topic might be, and I've categorized them as such.

Dr. L:And how many do you have, all-in-all?

Ben:I just cracked 1,000.

Dr. L:Oh my gosh!

Ben:So you picked a great time to ask me. I have exactly 1,000 songs. [pounds Dr. L's fist in a friendship gesture] I might cut myself. [laughs]

Dr. L:When you first came aboard, what was it like working on this show? Because this is a different show than sports and other things you've done.

Ben:Absolutely. Because I came from a sports background and so coming to this kind of a show, I walked in a little bit like a deer in headlights because I didn't know exactly what to expect. And previous to working for you, you know, dating your...I could take things for face value. And you can't look at life the same when you know a lot of the answers behind why people do the things they do. When you go to a club or a bar or you're just talking to somebody in a coffee shop, you can see things that you couldn't see before so you can't even plead ignorance. So it made dating very difficult.

Dr. L:So I interfered with your personal social life.

Ben:Yes, my self-destructive...

Dr. L:Until recently.

Ben:Yeah, until recently. But the beauty is that using what I've learned on the show helped me find a fantastic woman.

Dr. L:[whispers & smiles] Yes, she is. Okay, now, what did you...if you ever want to reveal something so personal, what did you, sitting here listening to the show, what was special to you that changed something in your life and your way of thinking? Was there one particular call or?

Ben:I can think of one right off the top of my head because there's been many, because, unfortunately, sometimes you see your own flaws in the callers and you learn about yourself in the process. But one of them was about being on time and this was [both laugh] this was a...

Dr. L:He's still not terrific at that, but all right.

Ben:I'm getting better. And it's partially due to an "ah ha" moment that I had listening to you talk to a caller. You were explaining that being late was saying, you know, "You're not going to control me. I'm not going to play by your rules...I'm not going to show up..." And the key was, you made the point, "Did you ever notice that people who are late are always late the same amount of time?"

Dr. L:[laughs] Yes.

Ben:And I thought to myself...always, and for me it's 30 minutes. That's my number and in the mornings when I'd be getting ready I'd look at the clock and, "Oh! Right on 'Ben' time!" But even...

Dr. L:Which is different from Pacific time...

Ben:Correct. But my girlfriend noticed. She said, "I noticed that you've been know, you move your butt now. In the mornings, when you call me and you say 'I'm on my way to work', I notice that you're there." So it's definitely an improvement. When we're going out on a date, I'm ready to go and I'm sitting there waiting, and now I'm waiting for her.

Dr. L:As it should be.

Ben:Of course.

Dr. L: In terms of working on a show where people are calling in with problems and dilemmas and ethical, and moral, and psychological issues, do you ever go home with any of this rattling around in your head?

Ben:Yeah, pretty much every day. And the...

Dr. L:Is it stressful?

Ben:Um, no. It's only been a little stressful at times when I knew that I saw myself in a call. And you think about it and you say, "Okay", you know, "How does this apply to me?" And it's like anything else: it's information. And it can be used properly or improperly. And I had a relationship once where I think I used it improperly, and I was constantly just putting the girl up against these criteria. And it's very stressful because you're not dealing with a robot, you're dealing with a human being. But using it as a method to understand so you can be more compassionate, as opposed to a tool to check somebody else, is a more positive way to use it. So I've found that it's benefitted me much more as I've matured and understand how to properly use what I learned on the show. So I would say that the only time, non-call related, that I'm stressed out is if we have a technical catastrophe or if an ISDN fails or something like that, that can offer a tense moment. But, you know...

Dr. L:Not because I get tense about it. I tend to laugh when there are electronic problems.

Ben:Yeah, you know, and I just...because my goal is to make...

Dr. L:Well it must help because I don't get excited about it.

Ben:It does. It makes my job easier because it's hard if everyone around you is panicking. And, of course, for me, my goal is to make your life easier. Is to be a support system, and feedback, and to give you someone to look at when you're talking to the callers so you have a person sitting there, and I'll catch you making eye contact with me. And I can see that how I react and what I do can help feed you and it just all works nice.

Dr. L:Yeah. I think you're integral to the show.Have you seen the show evolve?


Dr. L:From what to what?

Ben:Well, when I first started...I've seen it be more creative, and I'm not trying to pat myself on the back, but I like the fact that...getting the feedback from the audience. And the music...the back and forth with you and I, I think is a lot of fun...and the music adds to that. I've also noticed that, from the therapy aspect, watching you as time has gone on, you just get better and better. And I'm not trying to just blow sunshine. Your ability to...the polish in your reads on people when they don't give you information, and you're able to just get a sense. Every year I just notice it gets sharper and sharper. And they'll say three words and you want to take them here and they're just like, "I want to talk about apples, Dr. Laura." And you're like, "No, you want to talk about oranges." And oranges is the answer. The flow of the show is just going smoother and smoother.

Dr. L:I'm always impressed after a call when you ask me some questions, "How did you get from there to there?" "How did you know that?" It's very interesting. During the commercials there's kind of an ongoing dialogue, unless of course I'm thinking, in which case I go, "Benjamin, I can't talk. I'm thinking."

Ben:Yes, well, in the very beginning you said I was too...

Dr. L:Oh yes.

Ben:This was my first time...

Dr. L:You were filling in.

Ben:Yes, filling in and I didn't know what to do. You know, you're working for Dr. Laura. And so I tried to talk to you during the breaks and...

Dr. L:[makes hand gesture of quacking duck] Blah blah blah...

Ben:Yes, exactly.

Dr. L:I said, "Please! I cannot work with that man. He won't shut up."

Ben:But I did a great job.

Dr. L:Yes! He did.

Ben: "Just tell him he's too chatty."

Dr. L:[laughs] And I've enjoyed...I think we're working on our fifth year together.

Ben:Yeah, I couldn't believe it.

Dr. L:[extends arms out for hug] Happy anniversary.

Ben:Aww, happy anniversary to you too. Thank you very much. It's a pleasure.

Dr. L:Thank you. Well, we'll see you next time with another one of our magnificent peeps from the Dr. Laura Program. Meanwhile [looks at Ben] wave! Bye!

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Deflecting Arguments Against Staying-at-Home

Hi I'm Dr. Laura Schlessinger and I just published a wonderful, touching, moving book (if I say so myself) In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms. Now I know a lot of you are (shh!) closet stay-at-home moms; you don't really want people to know. Why? Because they insult you, and they degrade you, and they demean you, and they argue with you. Well I'm going to tell you how to win all of those arguments, so that you can feel good about doing what I think is the most important thing I've ever done in my life, and that's being an at-home mom.

So I want you to be able to deflect the arguments that these other people are giving you...even your mother, for goodness sakes, this following way: "I don't understand know, it's just as good if they go to daycare. They learn a lot there and they get to play with each other, and you're just being selfish, and you're wasting your education...and you are just being boring and your husband's going to leave you one day." That's a lot, isn't it? Yeah.

This is how you're going to handle it. You're going to go, "You know, you're probably right. But it is just so cute when he's lying in his crib and all of a sudden he notices his hands and starts playing with them. Or, or when he's in my lap and I'm feeding him and he's starting to drool and then he tries to feed me. Or when he just ran up after he was playing with his friends and he is all filthy and dirty and he threw his little pudgy arms around my neck and said, 'I wuv you mom.' You're probably right though...I would hate to miss those things."

I'm Dr. Laura Schlessinger. The name of the book is called In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms. See you next time.

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Nanny? Babysitter? Care Worker? or Mommy?

Hi I'm Dr. Laura Schlessinger and I'm here to talk about my newest book In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms. Now the first question I'm normally asked in any kind of interview is, &'Why did you write this book?& . And that's the problem right there. I think I started thinking about this book about 25 years ago when I was on the old, old, old Donahue show. Remember that? It was one of the first talk shows?had an audience. I was there with my first book Ten Stupid Things Women Do To Mess Up Their Lives.

The book had nothing in there about being a mother, nothing in there about being an at-home mom, but clearly, because I was showing some respect for women, I got jumped on all over the place by the audience about being a stay-at-home mom. It was so weird.

So &'poof& I had this great moment when I said, &'Okay, okay, I have a question for the audience.& Well, Donahue looked shocked because I sort of took over the show for a second from the podium, and I said, &'All right, all of you are going to die right now and you're going to be recycled right now, and you can choose whether or not you want to come home or back to life with a babysitter, a nanny, or a day care center, or a loving mother. Stand up if you would choose one of the first three.& And I'm looking around the audience and nobody gets up. So somehow inherently, in some part of every woman's psyche, there is that built-in connection to be a mommy that has been &'dissed& and minimized, and attacked in our society. As if somehow women lose something by giving up motherhood.

Well, here I am, 25 years later, going through the feminist nonsense myself and finally becoming a mother and I know from what I speak. If I come back, I want to be with a mommy, not a nanny, not a day care center, and not a babysitter. How about you? This book helps reinforce what is truly unique and remarkable about every woman: the possibility of motherhood. "In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms;" you deserve it. I'm Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Be back next time.

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Stay-at-Home Moms Need Praise!

Hi I'm Dr. Laura Schlessinger and I just published a book called In Praise of Stay-At-Home Moms. Now, there are no arguments, there's no data, there's no research. There's nothing about the argument between working moms and stay-at-home moms. This [book] is all about praising you women who sacrifice to make sure that the person loving your child... paying attention to your child... experiencing a bug walking across the room with your child... being with them the first time they discover their fingers or the first time they have a worry or thought?who is there to help them understand it and face it, enjoy it, have some fun with it, learn from it and be able to grow with it? That's you; an at-home mom.

So how does being an at-home mom benefit your kids? Kids are not inanimate objects. It's not food in one end and clean up the other end. They are growing and developing every day. And they're going to be thinking about what's right and wrong, and friendships and love, and God and morality. And just about every thought a human being could have starts churning around in these little minds, and who do you want to have influence them? Somebody you pay minimum wage? Even a family member?not as good as you. You want to inculcate into your children your way of viewing and loving and enjoying the world with all the commitments that are important to making life have purpose.

You are very important as an at-home mom. It isn't just about &'what's for dessert mom?!& . The book is called In Praise of Stay-At-Home Moms and bless you.

See you next time.

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Bebe, The Wonder Dog

Hi, I'm Dr. Laura and this is my master, Bebe. She has taught me many tricks. She does things and I give her tidbits. That's a pretty smart dog to teach a human that. So we're going to see some of the stuff that she has taught me. [Commands] Good girl. Bebe, climb. I love this little dog. She taught me to lean back. Isn't that good?

All right, now, piècé de résistance. Ready? [Throws down dog treat] That is a snack she likes. Watch this. Good girl. [Moves snack close to Bebe] I'm going to disappear. And you can come around and see if she's going to touch that. I don't think so. Bebe, free! Good girl! What a good girl!

See, she's taught me well. She does those things and I feed her. [Laughs] Now, dogs are very smart, if you think about it. Because, we tell them to do things and they do it. They sit and bark at us and we have no clue as to what they're talking about. So I'm wondering which one has the IQ. But this is my baby...come here sweetie. [Picks up Bebe]

She is really a very sweet dog and it's sort of interesting, dogs have their habits. At eight o'clock on the button, she runs upstairs and jumps into bed. Doesn't matter if we're not there. Eight o'clock, she's on the bed. I get into bed, she snuggles with me and she doesn't snore. But if my husband moves, she growls. [Laughs] Like, "Don't bother me. I'm sleeping." [Kisses Bebe on the head] I think it's great to have a dog, especially when your one kid is away in the military and you have to have somebody to nag.

We'll see you next time. Bebe, can you say goodbye? No, she can't.

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TMI! Helping Those Who Give Too Much Information

Hi-ya! Dr. Laura here and welcome to my Dr. Laura YouTube Channel where, among other things, you get to ask me some questions that perhaps you couldn't get on the air because Kimberly wouldn't accept your call...she's like that sometimes. All right, I don't have a name for this but it says:

"How can I discourage a co-worker from spilling out all the personal details of her life to me, without damaging our working relationship? We've worked together on lots of projects and I'm her supervisor on some projects."

Well, it's funny how things flash into your mind. I was just about to give you a very articulate, brilliant answer to this when I remembered being in that very same position when I was in graduate school. I was at Columbia University, at the medical school, working on my doctorate in physiology at the time, and this girl kept coming and telling me about her boyfriend. And it was like every day she kept coming and nagging to me about her boyfriend and I gave her brilliant advice. I can't remember what any of it was right now, but I remember, at the time, I said, "You should do shouldn't do should do shouldn't do this..." And none of it seemed to make any difference, because she kept doing what she was doing.

So, frankly, I got tired of it. I got frustrated with it...didn't quite know what to do. I wasn't trained as a psychotherapist at that time in my life, but you know, I'm a reasonable and compassionate human being. She came in that one last time and started in again. And I walked over to her, put my arms around her and just hugged her and said, "I can't help you, but I care." She started crying, with all her mascara going over all the one (you know, I'm in graduate school and you don't have a lot of money) decent blouse I had and I'm thinking,"I have to be very compassionate, loving..." At the same time I'm going, "Oh darn, she's going to wreck my blouse and it'll never come out!" (I hope she's not hearing this right now.)

But, you know what? Somehow just hearing that the answer couldn't come from me, meaning it really couldn't come from anybody else, she knew what she had to do and she had to face it...and simply that I cared about her enough to hug her. I'm of a big belief that physical contact...holding somebody's hand, taking both their hands when you talk to them, putting your hands on their face when you're trying to communicate something very important and being gentle about it, giving hugs...I think these say more than a thousand words. Anyway, she did dump the guy. He was really bad for her.

But remember, you're not going to talk somebody into facing the things that they're scared to face or uncomfortable to face. But you can show them that you care enough about them that you wish they would take care of themselves. After that, it's really out of your hands.

I'm Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Come again to our YouTube Channel.

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You're Not Being Fair!

I'm Dr. Laura Schlessinger and welcome to the Dr. Laura Channel. And I'm so appreciative that you parents see us as a source of information for dealing with your kids and technology. You know, kids have always been, let's just say, stubborn, recalcitrant and want to make their own choices when they're too young to understand all the ramifications. So how do you deal with some of this? Well, here's one question:

&'For our 14 year old girl, we set a rule that during Monday to Thursday of a school week, the internet is only to be used for school work activity. We set up a filter to monitor her activity and told her that we did that. Yet, she violated the rules more than once. We suspended all of her activity for a few days. She violates again, we increase the punishment duration and she violates again. We took away the internet and monitored her for 24/7 for 6 months. Now after doing well for a few months, she's at it again. We explain that actions have consequences but it doesn't seem to be working. What are we doing wrong? Her explanation at one time was, "It's not fair." But after a while she says she knows it was wrong and is sorry. However, it repeats again.&

This is one of the rare times I'm going to agree with the kid. [laughs] That's not really fair. You know, it's like in the old days when you could be on the telephone during the school week for a half an hour. Well the same thing holds now, even though we're talking about internet. During the week, you can be on the internet, talking to your friends or looking up stuff?you know, you put the filters on them so that they can't go to inappropriate places?for a half an hour a night. I think it's unreasonable to say &'zippo& . It invites cheating.

Yes, she should obey everything you say, but in the real world I think a little compromise is better because it teaches a child. It's like eating two cookies, not a thousand. If you tell a kid, &'You can't have any,& then they tend to gorge. If you tell them, &'Okay. Let's have two cookies a night as a treat,& then that'll probably be the maximum and they won't be tempted to do more. And you want to teach your kids moderation. So you can tell them, &'Up to a half an hour.& If you want to do five minutes, that's good. If you want to do 28 minutes, that's good. If you want to do 15 minutes, that's good?you have a half an hour tonight to be on the internet, on a school night. You're not going to get the stress and strain. So, sometimes, you parents are just not being fair. I'm Dr. Laura Schlessinger. If you still want to listen to me [laughs] tune in to my next YouTube video. Oh, I know I've got the kids now.

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Say "No" to Day Orphanages

Hi, I'm Dr. Laura Schlessinger. You've heard me many times, and probably many of you have gotten annoyed hearing this, that I call child care centers sort of day orphanages. Well, why do I do that? I guess I've never been convinced that hired help was equal to, much less superior to, the loving attention and nurturing from a mommy and/or a daddy. So I want you to hear this from a child care worker.

"Hi, Dr. Laura. I don't get to listen to you very often [jokingly sobs] because I work at a child care center during the days you are on the air. I just want to let your listeners know there is no replacement for mom and dad. No other person will treat, nurture, guide or give your moral values to your children better than yourselves.

I had to get a job, so I chose to work at a child care center. My lunch break was to pick up my children from school and bring them back with me. I still raised my children. Remember most or a lot of the child care workers are young with no children and no experience. We certainly don't get paid much either. I'm not saying they don't care for your child, but NO ONE can do it like mom or dad. Please get a smaller house, a less expensive car or just tone things down, so a PARENT can stay home and raise their children.

Thank you so much for always being on target
(oh, you think I'm always on target? [smiles]) with your 'Never To Be Humble' opinion. From Pam, who loves her three children."

We've heard a lot about how women are entitled to their opportunities and their power. And they should not be held back by children hanging on to their ankles while they are trying to run up the stairs of a career and self-actualization. I've been on both sides of everything now. And, I have to say, the reason I start my program each and every day with "I am my kid's mom", is that, even though he's going to be 23 soon and he's in the military and can shoot 40 bullets through the same hole at 300 meters, the most important thing I've ever done is raise him and be his mommy. And I have degrees and awards and this wonderful program where I get to try to brainwash you into doing the right thing for your family. And remember, when you die your legacy, your memory is not in your CV, it's not in your bank account, it's in the people who tell the wonderful stories about you because you meant so much, because you were actually there.

I'm Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Now go do the right thing.

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