Category Archives: Family

What we can take away from Penn State, child sex abuse cases

A few years ago I was sitting in a temple prep class (it’s a Mormon thing) when the man giving the lesson told us the story of his childhood. He had been raped and sexually abused. At the end of his story he told the small group that when he walks into a room and speaks to people, he can tell which of the others in the group had also been sexually abused as a child.

I felt like he was looking right at me.

Maybe he knew, maybe he didn’t. I don’t know that I’ve really kept it a secret the last few years, but I’ve never publically announced it. I’m getting ready to, however. Not because I feel like I’ve been holding this deep dark secret, but because I feel like my story helps others.

The recent news of football coaches and other authorities at Penn State covering up, or covering their eyes, to child rape and sex abuse has others coming out to tell their stories.

(And just because I really need to throw my opinion in here: I think the focus should be on Mike McQueary and not Joe Paterno, who should never hold a position of authority again. How he could WATCH a child being raped and not immediately stop it. To make matters worse, he waited till the next day to tell anyone, and it wasn’t even the police. I don’t care what the laws say or how terrified the man was of losing his job – he is one of the many people responsible for allowing child sex abuse to continue. Every person involved should feel ashamed and disgusted with himself or herself. There is nothing more precious in this world than our children. If you allow them to be abused by monsters, realize how you are shaping our future. And I hope Sandusky rots in hell.)

In light of the news, Goldie Taylor decided to tell her story on CNN of how she was raped by a teacher at her high school. She had never said it publicly. Based on her comments, I feel that she may have been ashamed and felt guilty for what had happened to her. I sympathize with her completely. I’ve been there.

But I don’t fully agree with everything she said last night.

goldie taylor tells her story

I was sexually abused as a child. In a book I am writing about the dangers of allowing children to come in contact with pornography, I open with my story. It’s a story that may greatly upset those close to me and those who always wondered what skeletons I was hiding in my closet. Don’t we all have them?

But I have learned from sharing my story with individuals, that it brings them a sense of hope. I am not victim. I am not a survivor. I am a warrior. I can choose to “cope” or I can forge ahead passionately and make something incredible of my life.

I made mistakes, lots of them, as a young adult dealing with the pain of being abused as a child. But I chose to leave it behind me. In fact, after counseling, I no longer feel that aching pain inside when I think of the things that happened to me. I don’t feel sorry for myself. I feel sorry for my abusers.

I chose to forgive them for their choices, and I chose to forgive myself for the mistakes I made afterward. It has made me stronger. It has made me a fighter. It has made me a better and more alert parent.

Maybe there are days when I see the childlike Jennifer pushing through, making me scared and vulnerable. And I embrace that part of me because it makes me human, realistic and more willing to accept faults in others.

I still make mistakes. I’m still untrusting in relationships. Some days I am still afraid to let a man get too close. But I control my future. No one holds me back except myself. And that I have full control over. I strive every day to be a better person, mother and worker.

You can, too. Don’t let someone else’s mistakes hold you back.


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Penn State: It’s all about football

Penn State and Joe Paterno

Photo Courtesy of The Sports Net

This is a guest post from my good friend Jason Smith who is a husband, father and advocate of freedom and truth. He resides in Hurricane, Utah. This was meant as an opinion piece for St. George News, which is currently being updated and will be posted on that site soon, as well.

Yesterday, Penn State played a game without Joe Paterno on the sidelines for the first time in over 40 years; and lost.

Players from both teams knelt in prayer before the game.  Over 107,903 fans (the largest of the year) packed the stadium and cheered for Penn State University, the football team, and for Joe Paterno’s legacy.

But what about the victims?

Somewhere there are at least eight boys (young men now) who lost their innocence, and in some ways their lives, amid the roar of those 107,903 fans, Penn State University, and the legacy of Joe Paterno.

There should never have been a game.

The football field should have had eight white roses on the 50-yard line in a completely empty stadium.

We saw players and fans talking about Joe Paterno, many wearing shirts in support of “JoePa”. We saw teary-eyed coaches speak of the man and his legacy.

But who will speak for the victims?

All I can think about is eight boys who will never watch a Penn State football game – because they can’t and they won’t. All I can think about is a living-hell locker room that at least two boys lived through and will never forget.

Penn State’s new president said the following: “We wanted to demonstrate, not just in the Penn State community but to rest of world, that Penn State is a caring community”  – Translation: “We wanted to demonstrate to the rest of the world, that Penn State is all about football- that’s why we played today” 

Yesterday Penn State played a football game after at least three key members of the coaching staff, and a minimum of three high-level administrators covered up child rapes.

Yesterday Penn State showed the world what is important to Penn State – a winning football team.

Ironically, having a winning football team at all costs is why eight boys will struggle with depression, anger, hatred and dysfunction for their entire lives.

Yesterday Penn State played a football game while eight young men are struggling to understand why football and the power that comes with it are more important than their innocence and lives.

Yesterday Penn State continued the cycle of abuse.



Posted by on November 13, 2011 in Family, Relationships & Personal Growth


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Real answers for helping children who are being bullied at school

Real answers for helping children who are being bullied at school

I’ve done stories in the past about how to prevent bullying and what children, parents and school officials can do when a child is being bullied. Some of the answers from experts and parents were pretty helpful, and many times experts and parents didn’t agree. One expert said “don’t fight back.” A parent said “put your child in karate.”

I guess it depends on your situation and your child’s personality. But the other day I had to have this discussion with a child who was facing a real bully at school. The tension between the two boys had been escalating over a few weeks but one day the bully took physical action. The child being bullied, who was now angry and upset, didn’t know what to do. He wanted the bully to be stopped and he wanted the bully to get in trouble, but he didn’t want to tattle tale and get abused further by the bully.

The child approached his teacher and asked if he could go to the principal’s office. The teacher asked why. The child, not knowing the teacher well and not sure that he was all that comfortable with her simply said, I’ll tell you later.

Once in the principal’s office, the child was able to talk about the bullying. He talked about the events leading up to the physical altercation. He admitted that he wasn’t completely blameless. When the bully called him names, he called the bully names right back – mostly out of fear that if he didn’t stand up for himself the bullying would get worse.

The principal called the bully into the office and the two boys talked it out. The principal asked the child what type of punishment the bully should receive, in which the child said, “We talked it out so let’s give him another chance.” The principal then had a discussion with both boys and discovered other things going on in the school that needed to be addressed.

This being the first class of the day, the child finished out the school day, buried himself in his DSI on the school bus home (despite being teased for not having friends), and made it home from the bus stop to his house.

Then he saw his mom and he broke down. He had stayed strong all day long and when he found the person he trusted the most, in the comfort of his home, he cried and got angry. He yelled and did all the things any victim does once they feel safe.

His mom, initially angry that her child came home and began yelling at her, realized his actions were a result of something else, and did not discipline the child for acting out. She waited. The child said there had been problems at school and went to his room to calm down.

At this point, mom was pretty nervous. She knew there had been issues with one particular boy at school but she didn’t know what to do. She began searching online and found a website that helped her. When her son returned to the room, she followed it step by step. She recognized the warning signs and then gently asked about what had happened at school. She stayed calm and learned as much about the situation as she could. She promised her son they would handle it together. She worked out scenarios with her son about what he could at school when the bullying happens.

Then she called the principal and the teacher. The mom let the principal speak first, at which he immediately acknowledged that he should have called her prior to now. The principal apologized for asking her son what consequence the bully should receive in front of her son. He apologized for allowing a child to make an adult decision and assured her there are policies in place for this type of situation. He promised the mom that he would follow those procedures the next day.

Mom informed the principal that certain behavior is not to be tolerated and she would not tolerate the school being lenient on bullies. She then spoke with the teacher and explained why her son wasn’t comfortable going to anyone to discuss the bullying. Mom then set up a meeting with the teacher and her son so they could discuss why his grades in that class were not as good as they used to be.

Mom is now following up with her son and the school to ensure there are no further problems. The principal did take action against the bully. Mom is hopeful that the bullying will stop, but she cannot guarantee it.

Had mom not accessed that site, she may have instead gotten angry with her son just as he finally felt comfortable letting out his emotions. Upon learning the truth, she would have called the bullies parents herself and possibly caused further problems for her son.

It is hard to know what to do in difficult situations, but the steps outlined on the site were an answer she needed immediately. Early intervention can prevent depression and low self-esteem. Children are too young to handle these things on their own and they need to know that their parents are there for them. In some cases, more will need to be done and other professionals may need to get involved.

For this mom, she now believes the next step is to help her son improve his self-esteem. For him, that just may mean enrolling him in karate.



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Posted by on November 1, 2011 in Family


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Your Children Belong to the State

According to a judge in Texas, your children no longer belong to you.

Don’t believe me? Read here:


Who is better to raise your child than you? According to this judge, the state you live in.

Now say mom had left a welt on her child, or there had been real signs of abuse. But that wasn’t the case. The mom spanked her toddler and the paternal grandmother took the toddler to the hospital. Now how convenient is it that the paternal grandmother now has custody of the children?

Then the judge tells the mom: “You don’t spank children.”

Says who?! Who said the judge is allowed to make that determination? Is he going to come home and raise your children and cook them dinner and teach them to be responsible adults and do their homework with them?

I didn’t think so.

Watch out parents, this sets the precedent. Any time you upset your ex spouse, their family, your family, your neighbors – you may be an easy target to be a convicted felon.


Posted by on June 20, 2011 in Family, In Jen's Opinion, Politics


Kids Without Dads

When I was pregnant with my oldest the last thing I wanted was to get his dad involved. We weren’t talking, we weren’t dating, we didn’t even like each other all that much by the time the relationship ended. I was pretty convinced that I could handle it all on my own. And for about 8 years I pretty much did that. But it was hard and I made my fair share of mistakes, including thinking that I could just find a replacement dad in someone new without the due diligence of making sure they were a good dad.

My dad adopted all five of us children, but what I failed to think about that many years ago as I just assumed that any guy could step into that role, was that it took my dad three years and my parents a lot of patience before that adoption took place. All I knew was that this guy was my dad; and a dang good one at that. So when I was a single mom dating I thought it would be an easy thing to find.

Boy if I’ve ever been wrong!

And by the time I realized that not just anyone can step in and be a good dad and by the time I decided that single parenting was better than introducing someone new to your kids before doing your due diligence, I noticed that my son was acting out and asking a lot of questions about his biological father. And yet, I still hesitated to contact him. We had only spoken a handful of times over 8 years and I really had no desire to co-parent.

But one day I took a good look at the situation and I decided that since his dad is not a criminal or drug user as far as I knew, that my son deserved and needed to know who his dad was. He didn’t have a step dad that treated him like his own son like I had growing up. And he was angry that he was attending school without a dad to show off or talk about. He didn’t know his dad’s name, hair color, whereabouts, etc. And so he blamed me.

My son now knows his dad. They have met several times, they talk on the phone occasionally. While their relationship isn’t magical (his dad lives all the way across the U.S.), my son is no longer angry and he has accepted the situation for what it is because I allowed him the chance to make his own choice regarding his father. And he knows he has one, and he likes the extra birthday gifts. He likes the extra attention he gets when he talks to his dad, even though he won’t admit to it. But I can see a change in him when they talk, his mood lifts a bit to know that there is someone who cares about him other than myself and grandma.

I’m sure someday I will still meet the “right guy” and he will be as good to my kids as my dad is to me. But I know I did the right thing by allowing my son to have a relationship with his dad.

The Deseret News reports that 1 in 3 kids are without their fathers. Do any amount of research and you will see how much that has hurt our society. Be around a boy who grew up without a dad and you will see what a struggle it is for the child and the parent. My three-year-old has been far easier to raise because he has a very good relationship with his father.

Moms, if your ex is not your favorite person but is not a criminal, a danger to you or your child, you owe it to the dad and your children to allow them to have a healthy relationship. If you are keeping your children from their dad for selfish reasons, you will only hurt your children. If you are living on welfare and avoiding collecting child support because you think you won’t have to give dad visitation that way, you are hurting yourself, your child and the taxpayers. Do the right thing. Don’t wait 8 years like I did.

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Posted by on May 23, 2011 in Family


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Fun Adventures Close to Home

When I discovered that my son’s spring break plans were going to be canceled or postponed, I knew I had to find something fun for him to do instead – on a single mom’s budget. So I asked my Facebook friends, only to find that they are pretty dang clever! Here were their great ideas:

Tracy: Do a scavenger hunt. Get out a map and find different locations to go to Dixie Rock, Cove Fort, a hill top somewhere. then make up clues for him to figure out where the next location is. Give him the next clue when you get to the location he figured out. Even for lunch, give him clues to his fav restaurant…In and Out….. If he collects things. Have him find a rock or take a picture, then when he finishes he will have the memories of that day. The last location should be some sort of store to buy a box for the rocks or a photo album, but still make him figure out the clue to the gift.

Mark: Take him to the rides in Vegas, and the bunny ranch.

Jenny: Arches in Moab – A great adventure!

Colter: Vegas is 2 hours away, a lot closer than Idaho (Grandma’s house). Leave early morning, spend the day at the Adventure Dome, maybe see the free show at the Bellagio, or Treasure Island, stop by the M & M store and buy him a souvenir, and head home. Perfect 1 day trip.

Johnny: Lagoon and Hogle Zoo.

Spring: Hoover Dam is a super cool day trip, too! My kids loved it, and you can drive over the new bridge!

Tracy: Grand Canyon!

Sandie: I would go along with Johnny on this one… Not sure Vegas is a good place for kids and the fun for them is short lived because of all the restrictions… Never been to the Hogle Zoo or Lagoon, but heard it was fun… Although in Vegas there is this really cool place that I took my grandson to. It was a nature park and it took all day to go through and its way interesting… All kinds of things a boy would like… It’s called Springs Reserve… They even have workshops where the kids can make things…

Jane: I say Vegas, lots to do, it is close. It is exciting as Disney would have been – the shows, Freemont Street, the over head show, painting vendors, fun junk food for treats (ok I know but come on one day’s worth is ok). The Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay, the lions at MGM, the white tigers at Mirage, the pools are open already. I say even stay a night just not a weekend night, too expensive then. Good luck, I know as a Mom it’s hard to see our kids disappointed, but we can only do what we can.

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Posted by on March 3, 2011 in Family


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