25 Mar 2014


According to Lisa Steadman, a relationship expert, a breakup can definitely bring out the worst in people. But rather than letting your ex see your hurt or vindictive side, try focusing on the positives of a breakup whenever possible.
Everyone processes a breakup differently. But to accept it and move on, Steadman advises her clients to avoid these four common pitfalls when it comes to finding new happiness after a breakup.
1. Focusing on Your Ex: All that energy is really a waste though, because it only heightens the negative emotions. "It's really easy to focus on what's next for an ex –who will he date, what he will do –but a woman should really refocus on herself instead."
2. Cyber-stalking: Though the temptation is strong, avoid following your ex online. "The best approach is to just remove him from your social media pages," said Steadman. "It will only upset you and make you feel like you're missing out."
3. Rebound Sex: "Rebound sex can actually send you running back into the arms of your ex," said Steadman. "You miss the comfort from the relationship sex and when it's not the same, it can be very unsettling."
4. Self-loathing: No matter who's responsible for the breakup, women tend to shoulder the burden and turn it into something deeply personal, especially as they get older, according to Steadman. "Women see all of their friends settling down, getting married, and having kids... they think, what's wrong with me? Now I have to start all over again," said Steadman. "And it can feel very exhausting."

Instead of worrying what everyone else is doing, though, Steadman says you should just zero in on what's positive in your life and remind yourself of what was wrong in the relationship. "Don't view a breakup as a failure," she said. "It isn't about everyone else. It's about you and your next steps."
Rationality is not always easy to come by when matters of the heart are at stake, but putting a positive spin on a breakup can bring closure and peace faster.
Think about all of the good stuff in your life, like healthy friendships, how well school or your career is going, how supportive your family is and what your next steps are in terms of chasing what you're passionate about. A bad relationship can hold you back, so you're much better off with this fresh start.
"The best news ever is when a woman looks back and says that she's glad she broke up with an ex," said Steadman. Just remember that you'll be okay, and you will find happiness again.
FROM: Just Break Up? Don't Do These 4 Things –K. Parsons for GalTime.com

21 Mar 2014


 The daily lives of children are not all about positive feelings. All children have moments of disappointment, discouragement and self-doubt. In every family, there will be moments of anger and misunderstanding. In healthy development, children recover from these moments. Whether on their own or with our support, most children bounce back. Too often, however, children do not quickly bounce back. Painful feelings linger longer than they should. Vicious cycles are then set in motion, and bad feelings lead to bad attitudes and bad behavior. Criticism and punishment lead to anger and defiance or secretiveness and withdrawal; and then to more criticism; and then to more defiance and more withdrawal.
Our task, as parents and guardians is to recognize these moments and begin a process of repair. Children learn invaluable lessons from moments of repair. They learn that, although it is not always easy, moments of anxiety, sadness and anger are moments and can be repaired. Disappointments are disappointments, not catastrophes, and bad feelings do not last forever.
A Pathway Toward Emotional Maturity
We have now opened a pathway toward emotional maturity. In these moments, children begin to develop a more balanced, less all-or-nothing perspective on the disappointments and frustrations in their lives. As a result, they will be better able to "regulate" their emotions –they will be less urgent in their expressions of distress, less insistent in their demands and able to think more constructively about how to solve emotional problems.
Moments of repair may also lead to a reduction in the level of stress hormones and other stress-related physiological processes that, when prolonged, are damaging to children's physical and emotional health.
Ten Minutes at Bedtime
I therefore recommend that parents and guardians set aside some time, every day (perhaps 10 minutes at bedtime), for kids and parents to have a chance to talk and to use this time to repair moments of conflict and misunderstanding. This may be the most important ten minutes of a child's day.
In these brief daily conversations, we should ask kids if there is something they might want to talk about –perhaps a problem he\she is having at school or with friends, something he\she is angry with us about or what she may be anxious about the following day. 
When there has been conflict in our relationship with our kids, it is especially important for us to take the lead and begin to repair hurtful interactions. We need to make a deliberate effort to set aside criticism and judgment as long as we can and hear her side of the story. Discussion and disagreement, even problem solving, can come later. Don't stay angry.
I also encourage parents and guardians to take responsibility for their own emotional responses, acknowledge their errors and, when appropriate, apologize to their child. (We can say, for example, "I know I was really angry at you earlier. Maybe I got too angry.")
Some parents express concern that, in apologizing to their children, they may implicitly condone their child's disrespectful or defiant behavior and diminish their authority as parents. This fear is understandable, but unfounded. Our apology does not excuse our child's bad behavior. ("You still should not have hit your sister.")
In my opinion, when a parent initiates repair and offers an apology, he has modeled an important lesson in interpersonal relationships and gains authority with his child, because our children's acceptance of adult authority is, ultimately, based on respect.
Of course, children do not always make this easy. And sometimes we may not know what to say. But our willingness to make the effort is important in itself.
Patient listening receives far less attention than it deserves in current parenting debates, in our understandable concern with children's achievement and character development. In my experience, however, there is no more important parenting "skill" than this and nothing we do as parents that is more important for our children's emotional health –and for their success in life.
Original Article: “The Most Important 10 Minutes of a Child's Day”
< K. Barish, Ph.D.

13 Mar 2014


Dear Son,
It seems like yesterday you were blowing poop out of your diaper onto your mother's lap. Yet here we are, on the verge of the birds-and-the-bees conversation. The poop was way easier.
Before we talk about sex, though, I want to talk about marriage. Not because I'll shun you or shame you if you don't put them in that order -- although I hope you will -- but because I believe the only good reason to get married will bring clarity to every other aspect of your life, including sex.
Buddy, you're probably going to want to get married for all the wrong reasons. We all do. In fact, the most common reason to get married also happens to be the most dangerous: we get married because we think it will make us happy. Getting married in order to be happy is the surest way to get divorced.
There are beautiful marriages. But marriages don't become beautiful by seeking happiness; they become beautiful by seeking something else. Marriages become beautiful when two people embrace the only good reason to get married: to practice the daily sacrifice of their egos.
Ego. You may be hearing that word for the first time. It probably sounds foreign and confusing to you. This is what it means to me:
Your ego is the part of you that protects your heart. You were born with a good and beautiful heart, and it will never leave you. But when I was too harsh toward you, or your friends began to make fun of your extracurricular choices, you started to doubt if your heart was good enough. Don't worry, it happens to all of us at some point.
And so your mind began to build a wall around your heart. That happens to all of us, too. It's like a big castle wall with a huge moat -- it keeps us safe from invaders who might want to get in and attack our hearts. And thank goodness for your ego-wall! Your heart is worthy of protection, buddy.
At first, we only use the ego-wall to keep people out. But eventually, as we grow up, we get tired of hiding fearfully and we decide the best defense is a good offense. We put cannons on our ego-wall and we start firing. For some people, that looks like anger. For other people, it looks like gossip and judgment and divisiveness. One of my favorite ego-cannons is to pretend everyone on the outside of my wall is wrong. It makes me feel right and righteous, but really it just keeps me safe inside of my ideas. I know I've fired my ego-cannons at you from time to time, and for that I'm truly sorry.
Sometimes we need our cannons to survive. Most of the time we don't.
Both men and women have ego-walls with cannons. But you're going to be a man soon, so it's important to tell you what men tend do with their ego-walls -- we justify them by pretending they are essential to being a "real" man. Really, most of us are just afraid our hearts won't be good enough for the people we love, so we choose to stay safe and protected behind high walls with lots of cannons.
Can you see how that might be a problem for marriage?
If you fall into the trap of thinking your ego-wall is essential to being a man, it will destroy any chance of having an enduringly joyful marriage. Because, in the end, the entire purpose of marriage is to dismantle your ego-wall, brick by brick, until you are fully available to the person you love. Open. Vulnerable. Dangerously united.
Buddy, people have sex because for a moment at the climax of it, their mind is without walls, the ego goes away and they feel free and fully connected. With sex, the feeling lasts for only a moment. But if you commit yourself to marriage, you commit yourself to the long, painful, joyous work of dismantling your ego-walls for good. Then, the moment can last a lifetime.
Many people are going tell you the key to a happy marriage is to put God at the center of it, but I think it depends upon what your experience of God does for your ego. Because if your God is one of strength and power and domination, a God who proves you're always right and creates dividing lines by which you judge everyone else, a God who keeps you safe and secure, I think you should keep that God as far from the center of your marriage as you can. He'll only build your ego-wall taller and stronger.
But if the God you experience is a vulnerable one, the kind of God that turns the world upside down and dwells in the midst of brokenness and embraces everyone on the margins and will sacrifice anything for peace and reconciliation and wants to trade safety and security for a dangerous and risky love, then I agree, put him right at the center of your marriage. If your God is in the ego-dismantling business, he will transform your marriage into sacred ground.
What's the secret to a happy marriage? Marry someone who has also embraced the only good reason to get married.
Someone who will commit to dying alongside you -- not in 50 years, but daily, as they dismantle the walls of their ego with you.
Someone who will be more faithful to you than they are to their own safety.
Someone willing to embrace the beauty of sacrifice, the surrender of their strength and the peril of vulnerability.
In other words, someone who wants to spend their one life stepping into a crazy, dangerous love with you and only you.
With my walls down,
< Kelly M. Flanagan, Clinical Psychologist,