Archive for August, 2016

Helping Adult Children And Their Parents To Reconnect

Friday, August 26th, 2016

Estrangement happens between people. Insight of the day! Estrangement happens in families. Some are reconcilable, some are not. Some relationships can be reconnected with an objective mediator with the appropriate skill sets. That is where I come in – and I’m glad that I do! One of the more enjoyable, and successful, things that I do in my practice is to help adult parents reconnect with their estranged adult child. In some situations the situation is reversed and the adult child is trying to get back in the good graces of the adult parent and is seeking my assistance to accomplish this.

What I have been experiencing a lot lately is an adult parent coming to my office to speak of a heartbreak that exists. These parents have been shut out by their adult son or daughter. They want to understand why and hope that I can facilitate a more harmonious relationship.

Here’s how it works. I get “the story” from the shut-out adult parent. During the narrative I usually pick up on part of the reason why the other adult child has banned him/her from his/her inner circle. I close this initial narrative by asking the adult parent to text/call the other adult child involved and ask if s/he would meet with me one time to explain the “exile”. Usually the “exiler” is pleased to come to and give me the reasons for this chosen behavior.

At the conclusion of these information gathering sessions I then invite them to come in together to see what might be done to develop a better relationship. Deep down most parents and children would like some form of peaceful, maybe even nurturing, relationship. Love usually runs deep, though sometimes it is buried for a time.

Generally in such cases there has been some mistakes made that the adult child considers to be grievous. Sometimes it is a single incident when a behavior took place that led to the estrangement. Most often it is a style of interaction that the adult child finds to be frustrating and, therefore, puts up a strong barrier.

In the latter category it is often when the adult parent has crossed the line by judging and/or advising the adult child as to what s/he should do in particular instances. (“Shoulding” on people generally is not a good idea!).

Respected Reader, if you or someone you know is in such an estranged situation, act on it. A parent-child relationship at any age is precious and important. Every effort to reconcile this relationship is a great idea!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates

Seven Damaging Fights Couples Have

Saturday, August 20th, 2016

As I listen to people in my office I hear every imaginable thing. People express their concerns, fears, anxieties, sadness, angers, guilts, hopes and dreams. I listen well, express empathy, and begin the process of moving forward to solutions for these presenting concerns. Some therapeutic beginnings are more difficult than others. These are the ones that begin with couples sharing their “down n dirty” fights. The hateful emotion and residual bitterness is hard to stomach. Mutual disrespect, resentment, and lack of support are the results. But, such is the life of many couples who either should not be married or need to learn better skills to avoid such toxic encounters.

Bibi Deitz wrote and interesting blog on this topic listing seven toxic fights that couples have. I will list them and comment on each for your education and edification- if so warranted.

  1. Sex: Are you surprised? Sex is so emotionally loaded. Want to do it, when to do it, how to do it, etc… can lead to hurt feelings, rejection, anger. Thus, words or exaggerated behaviors may result creating a toxic encounter.
  2. Money: Excess spending, anal control, fiscal infidelity, lack of transparency all are factors raising the temperature gauge leading to toxic encounter.
  3. Mudslinging Fight: This is when some trigger situation opens up some extreme put downs. Favorite target areas to disparage are looks, weight, and intelligence. Mean spirited name calling is ugly and creates another toxic encounter.
  4. Partner’s Family: The rule of thumb here is that a person can talk trash about his/her family but the partner cannot. People can get very protective, sometimes irrationally, about their family. Can be weird.
  5. Control Partner: One partner continually badgers and harasses the other into behavior or activity that is wanted by that person. At some point the dam breaks and the harassed one blows up and escalated rhetoric results in another toxic encounter.
  6. Household Chores: Who does what (the dishes), and how (the “right way” to load the dishwasher), and when (the next day?) are frequent disagreements. Is the division of labor “fair”? Is score keeping going on? Household chores frequently lead to toxic encounters.
  7. Have Nothing To Do With Situation At Hand: These are build up explosions emanating from stale resentments that burst forth out of the blue. These outbursts certainly can lead to another toxic encounter.

Well, Respected Reader, any of these occur in your household? How about some others that are not mentioned here?

It’s tough to re-connect after one of these toxic encounters. Avoid if at all possible.  Bruised feelings and egos can take time to recover and get on path toward re-kindled love. But it is worth the try!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates

What Have You Left Behind? Still Need To Do What?

Friday, August 5th, 2016

Along the pathway of life you make choices to acquire, keep, or leave behind. At a given time these choices appear to be the “right” ones, the best available. Categories may include friends, lovers, parents, siblings, kids, jobs, finances, cities, habits, beliefs, activities, material “stuff”, etc…

Since one of my mottos, and practices, is the Socratic dictum, “the unexamined life is not worth living”, I frequently look at the quality of life that I am living. There is the occasional glance backward seeing if any choices made need correction or modification. If not, and it is a negative thought, I leave it behind, savoring only the good stuff. It has been freeing, cleansing, and motivating to leave behind that which no longer is meaningful and/or additive to my life.

In the present I examine the above categories, some more than others, on a regular basis. Again, I am assessing if some new choices need to be made, what is to be kept, and what needs to be left behind. That which enhances my life in some form or fashion is welcomed and appreciated. That which does not affirm, support, or move me forward is left behind. I will not go through life carrying any unnecessary “baggage”! Many a sage has counseled to “travel light” through life.

Your goal in life is to become all that you can be – develop the whole self – all of your potential. A weighed down person is not free or capable of making the hard choices to shed some of the heaviness that exhausts any efforts to move forward. Have the courage to make the hard choices.

This “examined” life is called intentional living – seeking and developing a life of purpose and passion. This mention of my life style is meant to invite you, Respected Reader, to ask yourself to what degree do you “examine” your life and the choices made. Is your day to day “heavy”? Is there some “baggage” that needs to be left behind? I do not know anybody that does not have some “dark closets” to clean out and leave behind. Are you an exception? Doubt it.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates