Power and its sidekick – corruption and deceit

“A lie does not become the truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil does not become good just because it is accepted by the majority”. Courageous leaders are people who aren’t deterred by adversity or afraid of what people may think of them especially if able to stand over their actions. Courageous leaders motivate people with personal charisma, expertise, integrity, and respect rather than by using their position or authority as a way to perpetrate wrongdoings. Courageous people are tough, but fair.  Whereas  dishonesty comes in many shapes and sizes. Of course, some people may tell a lie in error of judgement in which they may believe their words when they are spoken. Others tell bare-faced lies, knowing full well that they are being deceitful and destructive. So, why do people lie? The reasons are countless and often are to deceive people on some important issue. People lie to make themselves look better, steal the credit, cover up poor performance, conceal mistakes, deflect the blame, protect their reputations, and to deceive and manipulate people. Regardless of the motive, the ultimate results are the same. As someone once said, “The worst thing about being lied to, is knowing you’re not worth the truth.” It is a misconception that the ultimate power belongs to those who govern our country because the greatest power has always, and will always, belong to the people.  “Oh what a web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”. So it is imperative that those who have power be honest and honourable and carry out their duties to the highest standards of integrity.

Deception and lies can leave us with massive amounts of regret. We may have made choices with harmful consequences to avoid telling the truth, especially if you are in public life and must save your position. Looking back at life with regret is one of the toughest things to get over, because you cannot change your actions in the past, and only suffer the consequences when found out. We must have a lot of high powered people around today that live with regret for their actions, and can’t change or undo them. People in power suffer severe consequences if found out telling untruths that hurt or defraud other citizens. At the core of lying we only deceive ourselves, because we don’t have enough psychological strength to admit the truth and deal with the penalty of fallout that will follow. Lies damage or even poison our characters. Having a good and truthful character is the best defence that we have for all that life throws at us and it is our most important quality if you need to be credible. Misrepresentation and  lying by omission occurs when an important fact is left out to foster a fallacy and deceive others. Lying by omission includes the failure to correct pre-existing misconceptions. The phrase “speaking with a forked tongue” means to deliberately say one thing and mean another or, to be hypocritical, tell lies or act in a duplicitous manner. In the longstanding tradition of many Native American tribes, “speaking with a forked tongue” has meant lying, and a person was no longer considered worthy of trust or being considered responsible, once he had been shown to “speak with a forked tongue”. So how do we feel as a nation with all the irresponsible and damaging untruths and destruction of lives that we have witnessed over the past number of years, and especially in the very recent past?  Is this type of governance really acceptable and where do we go from here. These events destroy the credibility of all politicians, the law enforcers and those who are supposedly the watchdogs for accountability, and leaves a legacy of bad taste that demoralises all people. People in powerful positions have a grave responsibility and have an immovable duty to be exemplary in their dealings with the public and to be truthful in their actions and how they carry out their duties. They are paid huge salaries and are well looked after in their retirement, that the least that people expect is that they carry out their duties with honesty, integrity and commitment. Sadly, we as a nation have been failed to the detriment of many who depend on truth, justice and equality to be fostered and administered in their name. After all that is what representation means and members of the Dail should remember what their job is, to be trustworthy, objective, fair, and doing what is right for all citizens, and that they stand up against injustice –– backing their words with action..

It will be a long time before credibility will be restored and respect gained after such damaging revelations about the arms of the state that are supposed to be the carer’s of society. Unfortunately good people will suffer too in these state bodies and those who give impeccable  service will struggle to be seen as honourable people and their interests questioned, as if they had done wrong. This is the fallout from the misdeeds of those empowered and entrusted to do their jobs in a conscientious and dependable way. Cover-ups and those protecting the misdeeds of others are as guilty as those who perpetrate the “crime.” There is no excuse for dishonesty. None. The truth doesn’t cost anything, but a lie could cost you everything.  I wonder how do liars feel about themselves today? Their integrity in tatters, shamed and humiliated in front of the nation with no place to hide. Suffering the anger of ordinary decent people. Hopefully they will ask themselves “Was it worth it” as the truth will eventually come out and they will suffer the indignity of being called liars and con-men/women.

Peg Hanafin, MSc in Rehab/Couns/Psych

Author of Getting more out of life, Thoughts for your journey, Never Give up.

Parents are the first teachers

When we send our children to school, do we expect teachers to teach them the social skills, values and rules to live by, or is that the job of parents.

Parents are the first teacher of a child and can exert huge influence on what kind of adult they become. So, it is of the utmost importance that parents recognise their own authority, and their duty, to give children the essential qualities expected by society so that they can become happy as they grow into adulthood.

Should children be taught in the home the life skills necessary to ensure that they are well behaved and aware that  certain expectations will have to be met when they arrive at the school gate?

There are many factors that make a child grow into an exemplary adult and these need to be taught by word and example in the home. These are social skills and  values to live by, and other qualities that need to be fostered to allow a child to develop good communication skills as they mature. These are the skills that will eventually determine the quality and the makeup of a child that will last a lifetime.. Teaching by example is by far the best way to ensure that children see and hear the values that you extol and carry out.

  • Teach respect

Parents should instil a sense of respect in their children from an early age. Not just respect for all humans, but also for every other living thing on this planet. Showing respect for pets, animals, birds, insects, as well as trees, plants, the environment, flora and fauna, the rivers, seas and lakes, all give children the sense of care and importance for their surroundings. Parents need to show their children the value of respect and dignity from an early age.  In that way it becomes a normal way to live and behave, rather than trying to instil it later as they grow up. You must earn respect by giving it unconditionally.  Teaching children to respect all aspects of life leads them to appreciate everything they have, including how to treat their parents, siblings, friends and the wider community.

  • Teach responsibility

From a very young age parents should teach children to be responsible for their actions. It is important for them to understand that what they say or do has far reaching consequences, and whether or not these consequences are positive or negative, is up for them to decide. It may sometimes be hard to discipline children, but by going easy on them when they do wrong, is doing them a great disservice. Parents should recognise also, that they cannot be “friends” as well as parents when children are in their formative years. They must be kind, caring and always supportive, but at the same time being the authoritative one in the home. Keeping the long -term outcome in your mind will ease your conscience when you are being challenged. Children must be taught that all words and actions have consequences, and as they grow older  will be considered more serious if they do wrong. On the other hand, teaching children that positive actions will result in positive rewards that will put them on the path to being decent, responsible human beings who will have much to contribute to society at large.

3 Teach Tolerance

Children need to be able to tolerate other children and adults, whatever their colour, creed or background. They should be aware that all people are equal and not ever try to diminish their point of view. From an early stage they should be taught to help their fellow man, especially those in need. They should be encouraged to share and be kind, since they may need help of sorts themselves at another time. Sharing their belongings teaches them that giving is an accepted and necessary part of life, especially for those who have ample to share. Children must also be taught to tolerate those who wrong them, especially children who have bullying problems. Making them aware that this is how some children manifest emotional problems that they are unable to deal with, is a good lesson to learn. They must learn that there are many things in this world that cannot be changed, things that they may not like, but being able to deal and handle them is an added bonus. If they are able to work out and deal effectively with situations beyond their control, they are on their way to becoming a tolerant adult. Many problems will arise over their lifetimes when tolerance will be needed. When they are shown the way early in life they will put these experiences to good use and avoid conflict by understanding how someone else may feel.

4 Teach self control

Teaching self control is one of the most important tasks that a parent teaches a child. Bad behaviour should never be tolerated and tantrums and sulks are predictors of future problems. There should be no negotiations when rules are broken, if a parent gives a command, that should be adhered to. As a child grows older, an explanation becomes more appropriate, but the rules should still be enforced. Children who learn to control their emotions and behaviours in the face of temptations, impulses or desires, will quickly become independent adults. Children who have to be constantly told to do their homework, or clean their room or do their designated chores, rather than doing them of their own free will, may eventually be in trouble when they leave home and have no one to keep reminding them. When parents are no longer there, they find themselves at a disadvantage in having someone to guide them or goad them into action. Lack of self- control and willpower is the most significant barrier to any change and causes endless problems as a child grows up.

Children should be taught how to control the basics of life like, money management, be able to prioritise their resources, manage their time, by keeping promises made and by reigning in emotions. Being able to keep control during the tough times is also important, so they do not dig themselves into a deeper hole or by acting in  a way that has a negative effect on themselves or those around them.

Self control see those who lead a disciplined life as they grow to adulthood, to have received better grades at school, better attendance, less substance abuse, less criminal convictions,  better savings behaviour, and more financial security.  Research shows that the trait of self control predicts adult wealth, and regardless of income, manage to live within their means.  So, what parent would not want a child who has mastered their emotions and have self control when success and wealth are almost guaranteed, no matter if they have a high intelligence or not. If you have rules in the home, have the courage to enforce them reasonably and with regularity.

Teach Honesty

Children need to learn to be honest with themselves and with others. A child brought up to be honest will grow into a trustworthy and honest adult. It is extremely important to instil in children the idea that even if they did something they knew was wrong, it is better to tell the truth about it rather than lying to avoid punishment.  Children will make mistakes and should be taught that this is a learning process. They must be taught from an early age to be honest in what they say and do. They must learn to be upright and truthful in their dealings with money, possessions and time, and be careful with other peoples’ money and the things that don’t belong to them. Being aware of time when they start their working life, and giving an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay for their employer, is a quality that will reap benefits. Stealing and taking without consent what they do not own, must be nipped in the bud and punished. When parents place a lot of value on honesty and show their children by example that you never take what do not belong to you, this is a quality that remains for life.

Teach Integrity

When children learn about morality, decency, virtue, fairness, probity, being upright and honest, being truthful and having strong moral principles, they will come to realise that these values are admirable and an honourable way to live. They will learn the necessity of these virtues with the help of parents, and continue to develop these qualities over time. Having integrity in word and action is a commendable way of living and transferring those values to your children will reap huge benefits during  their life.  Learning that accuracy and truthfulness in one’s speech and actions show an ethic that is prized by society and is one to be developed and nurtured.

Children need to understand the whole notion of what integrity is about. They must learn to do what is right and proper, even when no one is around or the possibility of being found out. Integrity is a prized possession throughout life and one that needs to be fostered and encouraged every day. When you are recognised as being a person of integrity, people will trust and admire you. Children who have integrity, even from a young age, will always have respect from peers as well as adults.

Teach Perseverance

Those who achieve the ultimate success persevere in spite of difficulties, delay or failure. Teaching  children to have tenacity, determination and staying power when the going gets tough, is the way to achieving dreams in life. Success does not happen by accident. It comes after hard work, learning, sacrifice, having an aim in life and staying with it until the task is completed successfully. So many children are scared of not doing well that they never even try. This applies to homework, tests, examinations, new hobbies, or applying for a new job. Children are much more scared of the big world than you may think. From early on, teach a child that it is okay to fail, just putting in the work and doing their best is all that will be asked. Teach children that failures are the stepping stones to learning a different way of doing things that produces a different result. What is not okay is letting life pass by without trying and working hard to get to where you want to go. If children get lax or lazy and lack the motivation to get the job done, then the result of having no  perseverance will raise its head. Children need to know that failure is not the end of the road, but one of the many pathways to success.  The dream life that they may wish for may never come to pass without the gift of perseverance. Hard work and perseverance will always reap success.

Teach Gratitude

Show your children every day how to be grateful for all the things they have in life, for the people who care for them and for their own contribution.  Show them how to be thankful everyday in the home or at school,  by doing chores without having to be asked, writing a “thank you note”  to someone who was nice to them for no reason, or by giving a hand to someone old or disabled. Saying thanks and acknowledging the goodness of another should be encouraged every day. Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has. It helps us to realise our many blessings and this can lessen our needs for wanting more all the time. It strengthens relationships and makes us happier.

Saying  thanks immediately is a custom to be practised as otherwise we may forget. This is good practise for teaching a child to be grateful. Being grateful reinforces the idea that each of us has a civic duty to one another.  Gratitude requires humility, modesty, and respect. We all have experienced people who find it difficult to be grateful for favours done.  When that happens point it  out as a lesson for children to see firsthand.  Children who say “Thank you” will come to understand that when you show gratitude to another it is a way of showing their support for them and what they do. They will also become  a child to be valued by society, since people are always grateful for acts of kindness and graciousness. Good manners and a good attitude thrive on the words “Thank you”, so  teach your children their importance and encourage them to be prolific in their use.

Teach empathy

Like many other skills children learn empathy from example. When parents demonstrate empathy, children develop greater trust and attachment. It is these attachments that drive children to want to imitate empathetic  behaviours. It is important for parents to show respect and empathy to others, regardless of their social status and background. By treating the gardener, spouse, housekeeper, shop assistant, or a family member with a problem with the same level of respect as the wealthy neighbour or  the teacher, you teach by example a very important lesson that we all deserve empathy and respect. Caring for others shouldn’t be a secondary issue, rather it should be the driving force as to how relationship are formed and managed.

Children should be reminded everyday of the importance of caring for others, especially those who do not  have the same advantages as themselves in life, and that the world does not revolve around them. Empathy is not just a concept, it is a way of living and needs to be carried out by our actions every day.  Acts of giving time, talents, and belongings to others, who are less well off, can stress the importance of helping other people and can instil good habits and the practice of empathy. Sometimes children have difficulty understanding  the feelings of others, especially if a difficult person or situation. They may feel frustration, anger, or sadness that blocks their empathy for others. By encouraging them to express and manage their feelings, you help them to be in a better position to resolve conflicts and develop a level of self control that leads to greater empathy.

Teach self sufficiency

In between instilling values and teaching life lessons, parents must also remember to teach life skills to their children. Teach them from a young age, so that it becomes normal everyday living, how to wash dishes, clean the bathroom, vacuum the house, fill the dishwasher, sow vegetables and flowers and keep them watered, or hang out the clothes on the line. Or bring them in if there is going to be rain. Insist on them doing it, so that they will become self- sufficient. When they move out of home to college or their own place they won’t die of shock with all the little jobs that has to be done to keep a place in order.  Teach them the importance of making a list to be done that day, so that they have goals to be met by evening. This teaches responsibility also. They may resent you for insisting on their jobs being done before they can go out to meet their friends to play.  But one day they will appreciate it when they must take care of themselves and where they live.

Every child growing up should be taught the basics of everyday chores and be allowed and encouraged to do them. As they get bigger teach them the basics of cooking, making a sandwich or laying the table. These are all lessons that are just as important as what they learn in school or from books and are skills needed to last every day of their life.

Teach conscientiousness.

Parents can teach and encourage conscientiousness in honesty, responsibility and industriousness. Conscientiousness is a fundamental personality trait  that influences whether people set long-term goals and deliberate over choices and behaviour and take seriously obligations to others. They have virtues like being thorough, careful and vigilant and always want to do a task well. They have qualities of being organised and efficient as opposed to being easy going and disorganised.  When you are rearing children, you must teach by example. Teaching children to work hard and hold down a job in an honest and responsible way becomes a habit that will stand in good stead for life. You teach virtue by being virtuous. Giving example of being honourable to your word will allow children to know that if you say something that you keep to it. Your word is one of the most valuable assets that you have. Your word belongs to you and you alone and is a valuable virtue to have.

Be Role models

Absolutely none of this can be achieved if you, the parent, do not set the stage and be with them in showing them how to achieve and learn from all you have taught.  If you do not model how you want it done but take the attitude “Do as I say, but not as I do”,  as this does not work. The minute you turn your back, they will be gone too. Be the person you want your child to turn out to be. In fact be strive to be a better person  than ever before in your life, if only for the benefit of how you teach and care for your child. It takes a lot of hard work to raise a child, but in that process it will boost your own confidence and self esteem.  Rearing a child that can go out and be successful independently, is the true definition of success in life and one which you will be proud of every day. You are responsible for the example you give to the next generation of children and  grand-children in the future. Good parents who teach their children the way to an exemplary life have seen all that in their home from their parents.

Last but not least.

Tell  your children every day that you trust them, love them and are glad that they are happy and doing their best.  Tell them how proud you are of them and their achievements, however small and insignificant to others, but important to you. As they get older let them make decisions for all the family. Give them responsibility for organising days out, holidays and destinations. Give them control of the budget to do the weekly shop or other necessities. Encourage them to shop sensibly and carefully. Reward them if they make savings on special buys and special offers.  Encourage them to be cheerful and gracious  as they do their work, to be patient and generous with shop assistants, other people that they encounter and to always greet them with a smile and a greeting.  All these attributes garner success for children and how they are perceived in public. Good manners and their attitudes to other people will always be  noticed and commented on. This is the public face of the family you have  reared and good qualities and values will remain with your children for their life.

All parents like to give their children the chances they never got, but be wary of going too far with the way you show them your affection. Remember that no matter how smart they are or how they fare in college, that a good work ethic is the most valuable asset you leave your children. Don’t lose authority over them. Discipline and living within parameters set and learned behaviours are all lessons that last a lifetime and are valued and important to live a fruitful life.

The challenge of living your own life

As our Leaving Certificate students ponder on what course to take when they finish second level schooling in a few short months, many are bedevilled with the thoughts of what they want out of life. However,all the data available for successful people, believe that when you follow the subjects and the passion you have for some specific career, you are more likely to excel and become successful in your future.

There is no greater challenge and no greater reward than to be the master of your own destiny. The meaning of life for every person is as unique as their fingerprints, so it is important to ponder and ask yourself “Am I leading the life that I want to live, or am I being dictated to by teachers, peers, family or friends”? Are you making choices based on your values, beliefs or your own needs? Or are you living your life based on the expectations of others? Our personalities, interests, abilities and dreams are not set in stone and we are all adaptable to change, as long as we understand what it is we want to change. In order to live your own life, you must prioritise the things in life that makes you happy and more fulfilled. Searching for your own unique path takes time, trial and error and an understanding of the journey ahead.

For many of us, just knowing what we want to do with our lives is a real challenge. However, when you define what you absolutely want will eventually allow you to reach your goal. Once you know what you want to achieve in life and set that goal, with determination and tenacity you will get there. Following your dreams and what you passionately desire, and recognising the people in your life that you care about, is a big part of becoming happy and contented with your life.

When you are following the pathway you have chosen, the return will be far greater in your workplace or career, and you are more likely to succeed, when you are doing what you really like. In a recent study it was found that the stronger the internal motivation for doing something, rather than the external rewards, the more likely you are to succeed. In other words when you are doing something you love, you will put more energy into it. Our identity is created by our early carers, be that parents or others, and we often try reliving their personalities rather than developing our own. That is why children reared in destructive environments carry those traits into adult life. According to Dr R. Firestone, a person’s true identity can be affected throughout their lives by the experiences they have had, that either damage or support their personality.

In order to live our own lives and fulfil our own dreams and goals, we must distance ourselves and our thoughts from destructive family and societal influences. Most young people take on the value systems and the beliefs of the family and culture they grew up in, or they rebel and become defiant in opposition to what rules they were reared by.

To become your own person, and in order to live your own life, it is important to develop your own personal values and qualities, rather than accepting or rejecting the values and beliefs of those who reared you. When you become a mature adult, you should follow your own principles that will give your life more meaning and belonging. When you are able to differentiate the negative influences of the past, it allows you to become the person you truly are to follow your own desires and be able to live a fulfilling life. We must strive to live our own lives rather than the lives our parents, families or even what society expect from us.

It is important that you know what your own core values are and to set goals that are achievable and that you can accomplish. Write down what you want to achieve, and keep them small to make things easy to do, in the beginning. In a recent study it showed that people were significantly more likely to reach their target if they wrote them down. Make a note of progress as there are no shortcuts to having a meaningful life. Get rid of negative thoughts, beliefs and attitudes that diminish your self belief and self esteem. There will always be challenges and our own thoughts and self- critic  are our own worst enemies. If you want to make changes in your life for the better, you must get rid of the inner critic that will constantly attack how you feel and think. Remind yourself that these are just critical inner thoughts that can be nasty and taunting towards your ambitions for success.

This inner critic will infiltrate your thoughts with a long list of how or why you cannot attain success, so you must break free from those negative thoughts and develop positive thoughts about how you are going to be successful. The inner voice often tries to undermine your efforts by filling your head with self doubts or encouraging procrastination. These thoughts often hone in on your weak spots and undermines your confidence. Believing in your personal power is essential if you want to live your own life. When you believe in your strengths, have confidence and acknowledge your competences, you will realise you have all the requirements needed to be successful and master of your own destiny.

Here,  are 7 tips to help you improve your life:

  1. Be grateful for what you have. Start your day the night before.
  • Be ready to grow up. Drop the attitude. 5. Don’t ignore your emotions, but remember that feelings aren’t facts. 6.  Watch out for negative thinking.  7.  Set up and stick to a routine.


.              Peg Hanafin, MSc.

Author of Getting More out of life

Thoughts for your journey



By-passing the truth

Leadership development is a £130 billion a year industry across the world.  We have that industry thriving in Ireland also and used by those in the public eye and in positions of authority on a regular basis.  Building a professional reputation takes years and only a few minutes to destroy it. One major blunder can destroy years of contributions. This is especially true when it comes to dishonesty and deception. That is why leaders seek out and are taught how to be public speakers, discreet,  evasive, avoid direct answers and how to follow a course of action in order to achieve a goal.

The traditional thought is, that good leaders, be they our elected representatives or those in charge of large conglomerates, whether they are Chief Executive Officers, senior politicians, people who run either state, voluntary or charitable organisations or Church leaders, are expected to be honest, authentic, reliable, transparent and diligent to their duty. They are expected to command respect and give good example to all citizens by their actions and words.

They are perceived and expected to be people with integrity, fairness and truthfulness in the execution of their duties to the ordinary citizen or those they serve. We place our faith in the politicians we elect to take leadership and representative roles in our country. We presume that they recognise that it is their duty to be honourable and truthful in how they deal with their obligations, and be fair and equitable in their dealings with those they represent.

So is it too much to ask that those in charge, and those with whom the book stops, tell the truth and be honest in their replies and service to the public. Or, do we justify leaders who bypass the truth to cover someone else’s mistakes, delude, misinform, mislead, or question their lack of integrity? Do we expect (and even accept) those who have responsibility for the welfare of all citizens to become embroiled in untruths, evasion of the facts and not take action to rectify the wrongs perpetrated on individuals or on society at large? When wrongs are perpetrated, the ripple affect applies and many people are hurt by such actions.

Over the last number of years, we have been subjected to a continuous and daily diet of malpractice, dishonesty, deceit and lack of integrity from both State and Church, as well as the voluntary, charitable and state funded organisations. Some of those who have the power in all of these organisations have chosen to betray the trust of the ordinary citizens of our country by their words and actions. In recent days we looked on with dismay and disbelief at our Taoiseach having to make a public and humiliating apology in the Dail for untruths told and for misleading the public about known and accepted facts. Even the most junior person in any organisation would not alone check the facts of an issue being put into the public domain before appearing on television and radio, but be certain of what was said at meetings, and with politicians, check with the  other high powered ministers in the Dail or others with the relevant knowledge.

All of these humiliations for the leader of our country is damaging, not alone in Ireland, but across the world and have repercussions for everybody. Those that represent the citizens of our country are expected to be people of honour and have the courage to tell the truth. People in power have the opportunity and the support of others to deceive and  betray the public and use their position to instil fear and obligation in others with lesser authority.  It is now quite clear that we have many people in positions of power and trust, that flaunt their authority and expect people to believe and respect them. When these scandals happen, they are extremely damaging to our citizens who feel that those in high positions can deceive and literally get away with lies and falsehoods as they deem fit. We all know that even the worst liars tell the truth sometimes, the problem is, how can we trust them in the future.

It is hard to decide what the fallout from these lies and the unprecedented collusion by senior personnel in the state will have on people. We see the unquantifiable damage that was done by the scandals in the church to both old and young. Disillusionment and anger is still felt deeply by these scandals. The denial by those in authority and the public outrage and censure at cover ups of the destruction of so many lives, have destroyed the trust and respect that people had in the Catholic church. Church authority has been eroded and their truthfulness questioned on important issues that will take a lot of redeeming. Good clergy fell foul of the fallout from the scandals that infiltrated the church and have suffered in spite of their innocence and were not supported by their superiors or those in charge. That still applies to this day.

The same will no doubt apply to how politicians will be judged by people and by those who question the values and  principles, along with the ethics and morals that should be expected from those in high office.  Good politicians will take the brunt of these low standards and will suffer eventually from their fallout. Will it be fair when all politicians will be painted with the same brush, as is what happened to priests and nuns?

Those in positions of trust and power have an enduring duty to give good example, have  ideals and integrity, be truthful in their behaviour and be honest and moral in how they conduct their lives and  show respect for the positions held. We have a mammoth task in this country to rebuild a society where honour, justice and equity can be relied on to be delivered to all citizens. When those in leadership and who hold the rein of power fail to uphold values that are expected of them, we all as a society suffer from their lack of respect and loss of reputation. This is a very dangerous place for society to be and for the example that is given to the next generation who will have to pick up the pieces. A difficult job. It takes twenty years to build a reputation and only five minutes to lose it. Was it worth it, is the question that must be asked as the public has had enough of mismanagement and mistrust from state institutions and their senior bosses. But how is it going to be changed?

Peg Hanafin, MSc.

Author of Getting more out of life

Thoughts for your journey.


The facts about cannabis and the effects it has on our teenagers in its many forms

Do you think that the use of cannabis is harmless? Well read on and find out the facts and then decide. There is a lot of talk about drugs in society today.  Some of it is true, some not. Much of what is being “promoted” actually comes from those selling them. Reformed drug dealers have confessed that they would have said anything to get others to buy drugs. People have unlimited access to all kinds of illegal drugs in every part of Ireland today. So what are the consequences for those who use?

Everyone knows about cannabis, it has been around for centuries, so what’s all the fuss about now? Cannabis describes any of the different drugs that come from Indian hemp, including marijuana, and a whole range of other street names as well as hashish. One of the reasons cannabis is big news today is that the nature of the drug has changed a lot over the years. Cannabis has become one of the most trafficked illegal drugs in the world. It no longer just grows naturally, but is grown under conditions that makes it much more potent.

The potency relates to the THC content –  the chemical in cannabis that gets you “high”. Some types of cannabis are grown for its potency and are extremely high in THC. This means that there is a higher risk of negative and damaging effects from using it. The more potent forms are grown to be more addictive. The potency varies between the different types of cannabis ie. resin, marijuana, or hashish, which is made from the resin of Indian hemp and is six times stronger than marijuana. Unlike alcohol, cannabis does not come with a label telling you how strong it is. You cannot tell from just looking at it. Regardless of the name, this drug causes hallucinations and has a substance which distorts how the mind perceives the world you live in. So one never knows what strength this drug is or the resulting harm caused by its use.

What are the risks?

Cannabis or marijuana is one of the drugs young people use the most. The effect is usually felt within minutes. The immediate sensations include increased heart rate, lessened co-ordination and balance, and a dreamy unreal state of mind. It also creates a severe impact on the lungs. The mental consequences for users are equally severe with users having amongst  other dangers, poorer memories and decreased mental aptitude.  Cannabis can trigger underlying mental health problems. It has hallucinogenic properties which can make you feel paranoid, anxious and in some people, lead to a psychotic episode.

Recent studies, including from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, showed the connection between cannabis use in adolescence and schizophrenia. These studies state that it doubles your risk of developing schizophrenia as an adult. Previous research has shown that young adolescents who started using cannabis/marijuana before the age of sixteen are at greater risk of permanent brain damage and have a significantly higher incidence of psychiatric disorders. This is the critical period in life during which drug use can be damaging and cause permanent health risks.

TEENAGE YEARS are the worst time in a person’s life to smoke cannabis, a prominent Irish child and adolescent psychiatrist has said.

Dr Bobby Smyth was reacting to a study concerning the drug’s effect on the adolescent brain. He works for the HSE at the Youth Drug and Alcohol Service in Tallaght and referred to the growing evidence that cannabis has a long-term negative impact on the developing brain.

A study published yesterday in American journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found cannabis can lower the IQ of young teenagers and may cause permanent mental impairment. The most persistent users suffered an average eight-point decline in IQ between adolescence and adulthood.

Users experienced significantly more attention and memory problems than non-users, the study found. This was the case even after taking account of different educational backgrounds and use of alcohol and other drugs.

The tests showed wide-ranging mental decline among men and women who began taking cannabis at a young age and continued using the drug regularly for more than 20 years.

A disturbing new study from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, USA, highlights and confirms the dangers of adolescents smoking cannabis.

Results of this research have also shown that young people who regularly smoke cannabis or weed have a greater risk of schizophrenia and can suffer long lasting brain damage. Researchers say the drug is particularly dangerous for a group of people who may have underlying tendencies to a genetic mental disorder or have mental health issues. It also highlights the dangers of teenagers smoking cannabis during their formative years. The study  found that even short- term exposure to cannabis impair brain activity with the damage continuing into adulthood.

A separate study  carried out only last month by the Imperial College, London, revealed that long-term use of cannabis destroys dopamine, the feel good chemical in the brain that inspires a spirit of get up and go. It suggests that it can lead to individuals becoming withdrawn, lethargic, listless, apathetic or indifferent. Cannabis users who partook in the study said they had all experienced psychotic- like symptoms, such as having strange sensations and having feelings of paranoia and fear. Dr Michael Bloomfield, of the above college, said there is mounting evidence that the idea that cannabis is a harmless drug is untrue.  He has noted short term side effects include a decrease in short-term memorydry mouth, impaired motor skills, red eyes, and feelings of paranoia or anxiety.  Long term side effects include addiction and decreased mental ability in those who started as teenagers. Also noted was the behavioural problems in children whose mothers used cannabis during pregnancy.

Aside from a skewed or twisted change in perception and mood, the most common short-term physical, and impact on the structure of the nervous system, include increased heart rate, increased appetite and consumption of food, lowered blood pressure, impairment of short-term and working memory,  lack of co-ordination, depression, panic attacks , anxiety and concentration. Users also suffer from bronchitis and brain abnormalities.

Some users experienced episodes of acute psychosis, or psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, mania that is marked by delusions, hallucinations, incoherence and distorted perceptions of reality, which usually abates after six hours, but in rare instances, heavy users may find the symptoms continuing for many days. So why are we ignoring these horrendous side effects of cannabis?

A reduced quality of life is associated with heavy cannabis use.  Society appears to have accepted the use of cannabis as a recreational drug, but when the effects of its use show such alarming after effects, is it not time that all parents educated their children and themselves about its immediate and long-term dangers . The younger you are when you start using, the higher your risk of becoming addicted to cannabis. Heavy and long-term users  experience withdrawal symptoms  that include:  Anxiety and restlessness,  insomnia, loss of appetite,  depression and  problems with concentration and attention. Cannabis in all its forms is now readily available, and young people have no problem accessing it. It is long overdue that users be made fully aware of the dangers they are putting themselves in.

It is interesting to note that animals given marijuana by researchers have suffered structural damage to the brain.

Is smoking a joint the same as drinking alcohol?

The facts are that alcohol contain one chemical substance only; ethanol. Cannabis/marijuana and all its associates, contain more than 400 known chemicals, including cancer-causing substances found in tobacco smoke. Unlike cigarette smokers, “pot” smokers tend to inhale deeply and hold the smoke as long as possible to increase the effect of the drug, worsening the damage to the lungs.  Alcohol is eliminated from the body in a few hours but THC stays in the body for weeks, possibly months, depending on the length and intensity of usage. THC damage the immune system, alcohol does not. I am not proposing using alcohol, far from it, but these are the facts about cannabis.

Some users in the research project experienced an episode of acute psychosis, or a psychiatric disorder such as schizophrenia, mania that is marked by delusions, hallucinations, incoherence and distorted perceptions of reality, which usually abates after six hours, but in rare instances, heavy users may find the symptoms continuing for many days.

A reduced quality of life is associated with heavy cannabis use.  Society may have accepted the use of cannabis as a recreational drug, but when the effects of its use show such alarming after effects, it is time that all parents educated themselves and their children about its dangers. Cannabis in all its forms is now readily available, so it behoves society that the time is long past  for users to be made fully aware of the dangers they are putting themselves in.

Cannabis/Marijuana changes the structure of sperm cells, deforming them and even small amounts can cause temporary sterility in men. It can also upset a woman’s menstrual cycle. It is one of the few drugs which causes abnormal cell division which leads to severe hereditary defects. Studies also found that mothers who “use” before birth may result in their baby having mental abnormalities, reduced initiative, and lessened abilities to concentrate and pursue life goals as well as an increased risk of leukaemia in their children.

These are the facts from renowned institutions and researchers for you to study, and allow you to make an informed judgement for you and your children.

Peg Hanafin, MSc. Rehab/Psych/Couns.   18/4/2017

Author of Getting more out of life, Thoughts for your journey and Never Give up.

Doing chores in childhood makes us happier adults

Some parents, as well as children, may not like the results of the longest longitudinal study ever conducted. Over a period of the last seventy five years and still continuing, The Harvard Grant Study, made landmark findings on how to drive human happiness and success. The most amazing factor found was that people who had carried out more chores and housework in childhood became happier and more self sufficient in adulthood. In certain cases, the value of doing chores out-weighed even the strength of familial bonds.

By insisting that children help out with chores, like taking out the rubbish bins, looking after  helping with the dishes, picking up their clothes and being part of a family, children realise that “I have work to do, the work of life, in order to be part of life. It’s not just about me and what I need today, but I am part of a family, an ecosystem, and will eventually be part of a workforce”. This is how you train children to participate in responsibilities and the importance of daily work.

Dr Leonard Sax, Physician, psychologist and internationally acclaimed author, in his recent publication of “The Collapse of Parenting” presents a sad picture documenting the decline of achievement, respect and control, gratitude and humility and the psychological health of children. He states that rising levels of obesity, lack of exercise, depression and anxiety, turbulent behaviour and even addictions among the very young, as well as the prescribing of psychiatric medications to children and young adults, can be traced to parents letting children call the “shots” and having no parameters and little or no discipline in the home. Many parents now shirk away from being dictatorial, or in charge, and end up abdicating their authority and duty, rather than taking a firm stand whilst rearing their children.

The introduction of smart-phones, free texting, playing video games and surfing the net, means that children are becoming increasingly reliant on peers and the media for direction on how to act and how to behave rather than parents giving such guidance at home. In short, Sax argues that parents are failing to prioritise the parent-child relationship and are allowing child-peer dynamics to take precedence over their authority. Thus, resulting in children having no guiding standards of right and wrong, no morals or values, who lack discipline and control and who look to their peers and the Internet for direction, instead of going to their parents.

It is time that parent authority returned to enable children to grow into disciplined and well behaved adults. We look at teenagers drunk and disorderly on our streets every weekend, many dabbling in drugs from an early age. Every day, the occupancy in St. Patricks Institution, a remand centre for males under seventeen, is approximately 129 (2013). It was found that 48% of boys and 34% of girls in remand homes were entirely illiterate. We may say that this is the fault of schools, but all research shows that the first learning for children begins in the home by parents, and that goes for literacy and numeracy as well. An alarming 41% of children in remand homes reoffend over the following three years, adding to the belief that once an offender the chances of learned behaviour continues.

Parents appear to have lost their control in these instances and children have not learned from the experience. The statistics also show that poverty and exclusion are factors in children being remanded for offences, but all parents should be aware that the pitfalls of bad behaviour, including underage drinking and using illegal drugs, are there and readily accessible for all young people today. There is no greater stress on any family than when a child is acting out of control in their community. Children reared with privilege should be reminded regularly that they must show example and not have bad behaviour made acceptable, and excuses made, by who they are or what their background.

Parents today suffer from confusion. On the one hand they are being told that they cannot punish or slap their children and on the other that they are rearing out of control youngsters. Children who behave in a disrespectful way to parents, teachers, peers and the environment, grow up to be disrespectful adults. Recognising the authority of parents and ensuring that children conform to the rules and regulations set out for them are the first acts of discipline a child will learn. Too often in today’s world the parents allow their desire to please their child to govern their parenting. Sometimes this may be because of their working hours and the little time left for sitting down and talking to their children. It is often the case that the parent who puts the child’s wishes first may earn only the child’s contempt, not their love. A parent’s duty is to focus on teaching their child to become a responsible adult.

Children and teenagers need unconditional love and acceptance. They may throw a tantrum when being reeled in, but they still know that parents love them. Whereas children who depend on their peers for love and support, which is always conditional, are unable to provide the stability needed when growing up  and will suffer the consequences.

Parents need to teach children from a young age the value of self- control, perseverance, honesty and truthfulness. When you teach children to be conscientious, which is a major forecaster of a useful, productive  and fulfilled life, you are giving them the tools to be more successful in the work place and in relationships. Many studies show that rearing a young adult to be conscientious ensures them of having more money and having more satisfaction in later life. Data also shows that they have better health and live longer lives and they are less likely to use drugs and alcohol or engage in risky sexual behaviours. Being conscientious means having self control, discipline and keeping to your word, and is one of the biggest predictors of success in all walks of life.

Teaching your children by good example is an inescapable truth. Parents must give good example themselves in self control and self discipline and enforce rules that promote these values. When children are taught the importance of showing gratitude and appreciation, saying “please” and  “thank you”, being courteous, that every choice they make has far reaching and unforeseen consequences and the importance of integrity and honesty, this is the eventual adult that your child will become. When you teach children humility and  the acceptance that all people are equal and deserving of respect, that makes for good citizenship. When you teach children to have the courage to stand up for what is right, even if no one else does, is an admirable way to instruct children.  There is no greater responsibility or duty on any  parent than to rear a child with qualities and values that will form the core of their lives and attitudes and how they will eventually grow up to be adults that you are proud of and can take their place in society.

In addition to teaching children life-skills that will remain in their minds, teaching the importance of religious beliefs and practice and praying and attending church services together,  having enough of sleep, limiting time on screens, are all necessary virtues that will bring happiness and contentment in their lives.

Enjoy rearing your child, as all too soon they become independent thinkers and doers, and that important time when you have the influence and the power to have a loving interaction with them, that will have long-term implications on another human being, will pass by. Having a balance of listening, doing and sharing the meaning of life will return great benefits to any parent when the child becomes an adult. That their off- spring  will have become a loving, caring, responsible citizen that understands and contributes to the needs of others  will be your joyous return . You can then know you are and have been a good parent.

Some feedback on Never Give Up

Never Give up picture

Peg I will never give up, after reading some beautiful articles from your fantastic book, so uplifting, and so positive, every reader will be so enriched by opening just any page and reading,they will not be able to leave it down.Truly a beautiful book thank you Peg for publishing this treasure. 11 out of 10 from me.(Davy Ryan)

Couldn’t leave it down…loved reading it peg.(Irene Whelan)
I’m really enjoying reading it Peg, it’s giving me great advice and making me realise that I can Never Give Up, thank you (Mary Crosby

Living with Poverty and the Poor Health that Inevitably Follows

Did you know that 5,400 die in this country every year unnecessarily and prematurely? The fact that we have the highest number of premature deaths than any other country in Europe,  including Northern Ireland, should alert the people in power that an urgent review of our Health Services is imperative. We as a society should not have to bear the loss of young people dying before their time. The Combat Poverty Agency also state, that those who are poor and underprivileged account for more than two and a half times more early deaths than those who are better off in Society.  That is a staggering figure to be inflicted  on those who struggle every day to make ends meet and should not be tolerated.

People who live on low incomes or live on Social Welfare are more likely to suffer poor health and  experience  more psychological distress and live shorter lives than those with adequate incomes. We see the incomes of one parent  families, people with disabilities, the elderly and the sick, being diminished by added taxes and cuts in social welfare, long waiting times for hospital appointments  or to see a specialist, at a peril to their health and wellbeing.  Research has clearly shown that how we manage the overall poverty suffered by people in this country, is adding to the problems of society at  large.

In Ireland for households headed by people who are ill or disabled, the risk of poverty has risen sharply.  People  who are disabled and suffer ill health are more likely to live on low incomes because of being unable get employment, even in temporary jobs. The connection between poor physical  and mental health escalates their poor quality of life. This imposes stress, isolation and depression on already challenged lives trying to live on an inadequate income to meet their needs. The majority of people who suffer physical or mental disability do not participate in community activities, which  escalates depression and further fuels feelings of uselessness and hopelessness.

Can you believe that with all the criticism  and the inadequate services being provided by the HSE, that Ireland’s health spending is higher than many of the worlds developed countries.   In 2012,  the spend by the HSE was 13.6 billion euros,  and in 2014 it had risen to 14 billion euros.  Surely the time has come to examine the medical resources to see if this high level of spending corresponds with similarly high levels of output. If not why not?  Where is all this money being spent?  Definetly not on those needing urgent medical care and a hospital bed. Until those who have the power to change things, do so, lives will continue to be lost and the burden on the State’s finances further increased. Government agencies must co-ordinate the different services much more efficiently to give value for money and to give care to those in need of medical services, paid for by our taxes. It is unacceptable in a wealthy society, that along with being poor, or vulnerable, their chances  of longevity is also placed at risk.

The enjoyment of good health is increasingly  seen as a human right. We are all critical of avoidable deaths and injury on our roads, street violence and domestic violence. Government saw fit and brought in a law to ban smoking in public places and now in cars. So  it can’t be rocket science to address the predicament that people find themselves in when needing medical healthcare, and stop the staggering number of premature and unnecessary deaths.  This statistic places Ireland higher than any other European country, including Northern Ireland. This is not acceptable and those responsible carry a heavy load on their shoulders.

If the health of people was a priority  with the Health Services to try and match those of other European countries, the tackling of social deprivation and inequalities would be addressed. Our Government and Social partners committed themselves to building a fair and more  inclusive society and that people would have the resources and opportunities to live a dignified life.  This has not happened, in fact, inequality has become more pronounced and high levels of poverty and  disadvantage  are tolerated and a blind eye turned to the devastating consequences. Those in charge appear not to recognise the long-term damage this causes to everyone living in this country and obviously have not the skills to address it, or do not have the desire to do so. If they did, it would be the first thing to be examined when carving up the finances and ensuring we all get value for money.

Public opinion should be fully aware of the burden that  preventable deaths place on the tax system, as well as the disproportionate  number of early deaths carried by those who are poor. We should all speak out about the injustices perpetrated on vulnerable poor, disabled people and children. Now that another election is in the offing, maybe the voice of compassionate people might be heard and make a difference. These frightening statistics should be treated  as urgent and addressed by our leaders, to change what is happening to those who need care and attention. Medical card holders are less likely to see medical specialists, and the poor should not be put on long waiting lists that sometimes allow a sickness or a disease to develop beyond fixing.  This will eventually take up longer hospital stays, more medication and more doctor’s visits.

We are now heading into another budget as to how the money for the next year is spent. With an election in the offing and sweeteners being offered to the electorate, wouldn’t we have a better country if the needs of the poor were given priority.  Robbing Peter to pay Paul has proven to be a disaster. Integrity and honesty would serve the people of this country far better than politicians ingratiating themselves with those who vote. Statistics show those who are poor or disadvantaged are less likely to vote.  If the system gave value for money, that would eventually benefit everybody and make our country fair and equitable. Examining where  all this money is being spent, being more transparent and accountable and being more productive, would help stop the spiralling costs of the HSE and identify where the excesses are.

Being poor, sick, disabled or unable to care for themselves, are all barriers on the road we travel. For those  who are in the power seat, and in whom people trust to do the right thing, we hope that they will honour their commitment and place the old, the vulnerable, the sick and disabled at the top of their list, and give people hope, longer lives and some measure of fulfilment in the short lives, we all have to live.