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Around Town: There are ways to model good behavior

October 18, 2013|By Anita S. Brenner

After Dr. Melissa Johnson gave a program on girls and cliques for the La Cañada Unified School District last year, I invited her to speak to the La Cañada Thursday Club.

Even though I am a past president of the Thursday Club, doing a swan song as the club's current vice president, bringing in a psychologist to discuss relationships is slightly out of character. I've practiced law for nearly 40 years, with a focus on trial work. My law school class was less than 7% female. Cliques? Hand-wringing? Oprah? Not my cup of tea.

Teamwork. Collaboration. Getting the job done. Whiskers on kittens. These are a few of my favorite things.

Readers who crave “yin” are better served by my dear friend and colleague, Dr. Joe Puglia, who, like many Marine Corps combat veterans, is mostly from Venus. His column does relationships and philosophy. My column does dogs and murder.

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Actually, I'm exaggerating. Dr. Joe is tough. Mea culpa, but back to Johnson. She is a licensed psychologist with bachelor's and master's degrees in education, and a doctorate in psychology from USC. She runs the Institute for Girls Development in Pasadena (www.instituteforgirlsdevelopment.com).

Johnson told us that back in the day, studies concluded that little boys were aggressive and little girls were not. The current literature recognizes that girls are equally aggressive but use social interaction, not physical fighting, to make their case. She said that effective assertiveness should be viewed as a way of teaching others how you want to be treated and of modeling good behavior for our daughters.

Johnson's approach is good medicine not only for the Thursday Club, but for what ails us as a nation. There have always been rough times, but it feels as if we live in a dominant national culture of rude behavior. The phrase “you're welcome” has been replaced by “no problem.” Elected officials engage in name calling. When grown men and women call one another “communists” and “terrorists,” it's time for a reality check. It got so bad that even Anthony Weiner thought he could run for mayor.

Snap! Weiner put-downs are a snide form of social aggression. My bad.

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